Warnings/Spoilers: Modern AU.
Disclaimer: No, don't own Lancer.

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Again?

Seriously?

Bell swung open his door catching Murdoch's hand in mid-knock.

"I am not holding any letters for you. You better tell me those boys of yours are in one piece and Teresa is not involved in any teenage angst – which you damn well know I'm as clueless as you about that."

"Harlan Garrett is coming."

Joe winced and waved the shell-shocked looking man into his house. "How'd that happen?"

"I invited him."

"That was stupid."

Murdoch was nodding before Joe got the words out. "I know, but it has to happen. Scott has questions. We've been skating around it, but only because we've hardly had time to take a deep breath since the boys arrived."

"You couldn't do that without the old bastard showing up at your door?"

Murdoch shook his head and Joe saw that all to familiar bewildered, hopeless expression on his face. It wasn't a look Lancer wore well.

"Scott was on the phone. Harlan wants him to return to Boston."

"He didn't agree, did he?"

"No." For a brief moment a spark appeared in Murdoch's eyes, but disappeared all too soon. "But I see it happening. Harlan was putting him in an awkward position."

"Murdoch…" Joe couldn't help the sigh. "Scott's going to be in the middle no matter how you'd like to keep him out of it. Can't be helped."

"I don't have to make it worse for him."

"Hence the invite."

Lancer gave a nod and ran his hands over his face. "Then Johnny brought up his stepfather."

Joe frowned. "You know him?"

"Not personally. Just of him – once the detectives found him. His name is Gabriel Madrid. He's in Spain right now, but Johnny would like him to come at some point."

"Christ."

"I overheard him talking on the phone. Johnny calls him Papa."

"Well, shit." Bell shook his head. "Go sit down."

Murdoch dropped into one of the fireside chairs like his bones couldn't hold him up any longer and kicked his legs out.

Joe opened a cupboard and drew out a bottle and a couple of tumblers. If ever a moment called for that expensive Scotch, this one screamed it in capital letters. Using the small table between the chairs, he set the glasses down and filled them up. At least to the point where they weren't in danger of losing a drop picking them up.

And they proceeded to drink. Not drunk, but more to take the edge off. A nice mellow buzz where he watched the tension melt from Murdoch's shoulders. Relaxation led to reminiscing of days past - which segued into first times – of everything.

Murdoch told a convoluted story involving his junior year in college, a party busted by the cops, an escape to only end up partially clothed ten miles from his apartment and no money. A red Beemer and a red-head.

Gut aching from laughing, Joe swore to Murdoch that he would never repeat that story - especially to his sons.

The exhaustion Murdoch had been keeping at bay overtook him around two and Joe settled back to greet the dawn.

Morning came with the comfortable routine of making coffee and a thoughtful Murdoch seated at his kitchen table. The tension hadn't returned to his face, but that was just a matter of time. Right now the edge was off and that was the best Joe could do. Given the situation Murdoch was facing, Bell wasn't even willing it would last until he left the driveway.

And there wasn't a damn thing anyone could do about that.

Joe walked with Murdoch to the doorway. "Your sons, they're getting to know you now."

"I hope it's been long enough."

"They're smart. They'll figure it out."

Murdoch looked bleak. "They figure it out, they may leave anyway."

As Bell watched the Jeep bounce its way down the driveway, he wondered if Murdoch wasn't right.

~The End~