A Legacy Worth Keeping
By Cadillac Red
Takes place not long after the events of "The Legacy" episode.
A long pause told the older Lancer brother that the moment he'd been expecting had come. He and Johnny were camped alongside a river on a pleasant summer night, having been sent by their father to survey the far northern border of the ranch that bore their family name. It was only the second long journey they'd taken together but Scott had discovered a pattern to his younger brother's trailside evening routine, one he doubted said brother was conscious of himself.
"Well… I was wondrin' somethin'. Ya don't owe me an answer, o' course…."
Scott smiled to himself as he stared up at the star-strewn black sky above them. They had settled into their bedrolls, side by side, only a minute before. "Just ask. If I don't want to answer, I won't."
Johnny hesitated a moment longer and then apparently decided to take the plunge. "Why didn't ya ever marry that Julie? I mean… she sure was pretty and … real nice."
Scott was surprised by the question even though he'd expected Johnny to use this time alone to find out more about Scott's life before the two of them had arrived in California some eight months earlier. Until now, the questions had always been more general, focusing on what it was like back east, what Scott would be doing now if he was still in Boston, and so on. He hesitated a moment, not sure what to say. He had friends back east but they had never had these kind of personal discussions. Of course, he'd never had a brother before.
"Like I said, ya don't have ta answer—"
" I don't mind. I was just… gathering my thoughts, I guess. I cared about Julie a lot once. She was… easy to imagine as my wife someday. She's very… restful and pleasant to be around."
Johnny snorted. "Well, that don't sound like a reason to get married."
Scott exhaled softly. "Exactly. We… we were thrown into each other's paths, by my grandfather and her father, mostly because they wanted to merge their businesses. We had similar backgrounds and… well, I guess my grandfather thought it would be easier to get control of Mr. Denison's business if I just happened to be his son-in-law. I went along because Julie was beautiful and, as I said, it wasn't hard to imagine being married to her someday."
"Ya said that before, Scott. 'Some day'…."
This time Scott had to laugh. "You can be very perceptive at times, little brother."
"Yeah, I been told that before."
"By someone equally as perceptive, I imagine."
"Uh-huh. So… what happened? Back in Boston, I mean."
Scott pressed his lips together momentarily, considering how much to share with the younger man. It hadn't been one of his finer moments. But this was his newly-discovered brother, and somehow it seemed appropriate to let Johnny know him, warts and all. He sighed once again, then jumped in. "Well, we got engaged. There were lots of parties to celebrate and for a while, I just got swept along. People kept asking us to set the date but… I kept putting it off. I don't think I even knew why but it just felt like there were things I had to do before settling down."
"How old were ya? Maybe ya just weren't ready to get shackled…."
"I think you're right but I didn't say that, not to Julie or… anyone. Back in Boston I belonged to a couple of gentlemen's clubs and that kept me busy. We… Julie and I had a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Every night there were parties, concerts, balls, and so on. Then I ran into Barbara…."
Johnny turned on his side and crooked his arm, resting his head on his hand. "Barbara?"
Scott nodded. "Barbara. She was beautiful too. Blonde, big blue-eyes. She'd been married young and widowed when her husband – a much older man, an English lord—
"Yes, it's a … title of the English aristocracy. Well-to-do people with connections to royalty get to use it. It's not important to the story though. Her husband had died only a year after they were married. She'd just come home from England after her year of mourning and… well, she was looking for a good time. And I was too, I guess."
"And Julie found out?"
"I think Barbara's father thought I should marry his daughter, under the circumstances. He… spoke to my grandfather at their club and…. Mr. Denison was there and overheard."
"He clean yer clock for ya?"
Scott laughed. "No, he would never have done that."
"Yer grandfather got mad though?"
"Well… he wasn't happy but mostly they blamed Julie for not "fixing a date" for the wedding. When Mr. Denison talked to her about it though…."
"That was the first time she heard 'bout Barbara," Johnny said with certainty.
Scott lips turned up into a half-smile. "Yes. I did mention you're very perceptive, didn't I? Julie… was not happy. She and Barbara were old rivals, going back to when they were debutantes—"
Scott grimaced. "It's not important. She broke our engagement…. I couldn't really blame her."
Johnny remained silent for a moment. Then he whistled.
Scott raised his head and turned to Johnny, shooting him a curious glance.
"Well, now…. That's… really good ta hear," the brother said with a grin.
Now Scott's eyebrows rose. "What? That I wasn't faithful to the woman I planned to marry?"
"Well…. No, that's not good ta hear but it's not surprisin' either. You just weren't ready to get married, the way I see it."
Scott nodded and laid back down. "So what's the 'good' part, then?"
"All this time, I thought you were the 'perfect' son. I figgered I'd never be able to measure up. Now… well, it's good ta know you've done some things ya… maybe ain't so proud of, that's all."
Scott smiled into the night sky. "Oh, I've done a few things I'm not proud of," he said.
"Yeah? What else?"
Scott's smile widened. "If you think I'm going to share them with you, think again, little brother. I reserve the right to keep some secrets, even from you."
Johnny smiled and laid back down. Staring up at the night sky, he sighed. One more question occurred and he asked it quietly. "Are ya sorry she didn't stay at Lancer?"
Scott didn't answer at first. He wasn't sure exactly how much Johnny had guessed. But then, he'd found this younger brother to be incredibly good at figuring things out, as he'd already told him. "I asked her to stay…."
"Yeah, I kinda figgered. Are ya sorry she said no?"
Scott turned to Johnny, a serious look on his face as he considered the reasons why he'd asked Julie Denison to marry him and stay at Lancer. Given everything he and his grandfather had put her through, it had seemed like the right thing to do at that moment. He hesitated, trying to decide how to answer, and then a slow grin spread across his face as he realized this was the one person in the world from whom he didn't want to keep many secrets. "No. No, Johnny, to tell you the truth, I'm not sorry at all."
A matching grin lit his brother's face. "I'm not sorry either, brother," Johnny said as he laid back down. "I think the only settlin' down either of us is ready for is the kind the ole man offered us." He exhaled deeply and drifted immediately into peaceful sleep.
Scott watched him for a moment thinking once again about what a miracle it had been to find out he had a brother, and for that brother to be someone he now loved so much. And to have a father who had loved him his entire life, and had given him this brother.… His family was a legacy he truly wanted and valued. He laid back down and looked up at the stars. "You are absolutely right, little brother," he whispered into the night. Then he too fell into a deep, peaceful sleep.