A Brother

By Cadillac Red

What went through the minds of Scott and Johnny that first day, when each learned about a previously unknown brother?

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Scott

A brother…! By all that is holy, this was the last thing Scott Lancer expected when he agreed to come west and meet his father for the first time in nearly twenty-four years of life. How was it possible that such news never made its way to Boston, that his father had remarried and had apparently had yet another son?

He was in the bedroom they assigned him, dressing for dinner. He had unpacked a few things for tonight including a fresh suit. The one he'd worn to travel in now reeked of smoke after Scott had done his part to try to put out a fire in one of his father's fields that had been torched by someone named Pardee.

As a small boy, Scott had asked his grandfather for a brother. It was a favorite wish for a few years until he was old enough to understand that a child without a mother or father was never going to have a brother. It had been a bitter disappointment at the time but now, many years down the road, it was the accepted truth of his life, that he was an only child. He'd learned to school himself against a sense of envy toward others who had a brother in their lives, including several close friends. In fact, envy was not even the right word, Scott mused as he finished dressing for his first dinner with his father and the unexpected brother he'd met a few hours earlier.

No, it was more that seeing his friends and their brothers always left him with an acute feeling there was something missing in his world, that there was a hole in the fabric of his life, a place where something—someone—belonged who had just never been born. And it was resignation about that inexplicable sadness that Scott felt occasionally, the sense of being alone in the world when he was not ever meant to be.

Scott snorted softly. How absurd, that he still occasionally felt that way, after all these years. The young Bostonian believed that life happened as it was meant to happen, so letting his mind wander down the river of "what if" was a waste of time. That was what he believed and yet… somehow the fleeting but profound longing for the brother he would never have still darted through his mind and over his heart now and then.

Which was why he was still stunned by the turn of events today. Meeting his younger brother had knocked Scott Lancer for a loop. It had taken every bit of his good breeding and countless lessons in the proper decorum for a gentleman not to betray the storm of conflicting emotions that had washed over him in the first hours. A brother! I have a brother! He steeled himself to not ask the many questions he had about Johnny. It was clear the younger man had also grown up away from Lancer – Where? How? Why? What had his life been like? Scott surmised that Johnny had been surprised to learn about a brother also. How could that be, when he was clearly the younger brother? Had Murdoch Lancer never mentioned he had another son to Johnny's mother? The woman had apparently run off—or been put out- with the boy, but to where had they gone? And why?

The questions would have to wait, Scott realized as he saw the time on the clock. He'd been told they ate precisely at 6 o'clock here – ungodly early by Boston standards but the girl, Theresa, had been clear that he and Johnny should not be late. He quickly pulled on his suit jacket and straightened his tie in the mirror, then headed out of the bedroom and down the stairs to have his first dinner with his father and brother…. My God! He had a brother!

Johnny

Dios mio! Of all the surprises he had thought this day might bring, a brother was not one he had even considered. An older brother. How could Mama not have ever mentioned him? Not once?

As he sat on the bed in his room, again Dios mio! He had an actual bedroom to himself. With a big bed and a chair and furniture for clothes he did not own. A comfortable chair by a big window looking out at the vast land his father owned. He had never had a room to himself before, and the only beds he could ever claim were in hotel rooms he paid for.

He'd used the hot water in the pitcher to wash off as much of his travel dirt and the ash from the fire as he possibly could. When he left here, he'd find himself a hotel in the next town and pay for an actual bath, a luxury he could afford with his $1000 payment from the old man once he did what Lancer needed him to do. He'd redressed in the same clothes he'd arrived in once he'd scrubbed himself clean. And grimaced as he realized there was probably a lot of fresh clothes in the trunk his brother had carted from wherever the hell he came from back east.

His brother! He could not believe it! The man was nothing like him. Tall and blond, he'd strode confidently into the room to meet their father with the look of someone who was always welcome wherever he went. Dressed fussy like a lot of easterner's he'd seen over the years. That alone had made him think his surprise brother might be on the next train back east.

But there'd been that flash of temper when the old man told him he'd do what he was told that had stunned Johnny, and the old man too. "Will I?" the easterner had replied, as cool as any pistolero Johnny had ever seen facing down a foe. And he'd pitched right in fighting the fire that Pardee's men had set in one of their father's fields. There was something more to that brother than a frilly shirt and tie.

And the brother, Scott his name was, had never met the old man either. That was a surprise, something Johnny wanted to know more about. Scott hadn't known he had a brother either. Lots of questions there.

As he idly checked the sight on his gun for the tenth time, he thought about how often he'd asked his mama for a brother. No, to be honest, he'd asked her about his big brother now that he really thought about it. As a young un', he remembered asking Mama when his big brother would come to help him. To tie his shoes. Or defend him against another bullying gringo kid in yet another town. A fleeting wisp of a memory or dream had made him think there was a brother somewhere, missing from his life. His mama always shushed him and his stepfather eventually threated him with a whalloping if he did not shut up about it. So he'd stopped asking. But the… space where his brother should have been remained in his mind. And heart.

Shoot, this brother would likely not be the one he'd dreamed about though, and silently laughed at himself. Not likely that fussy easterner would see himself being a brother to someone like Johnny Madrid. He snorted. No, that sure as hell ain't gonna happen—

A knock on the door startled him and his finger went to the trigger. "Johnny?"

"Yeah?'

The door opened halfway and a blond head looked around it. "Time for dinner. Theresa told us not to be late," he said with a slight smile. "Wouldn't want either of us to get started on the wrong foot, on our first day."

"Yeah, I"ll – I'll be right behind ya."

"Okay." The door closed again, and Johnny waited 5 more minutes, doing nothing, just to show he didn't dance to anyone's tune. And to let his racing heart still a bit. Maybe… maybe he'd have a brother after all?