Author: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I do not own Brick McKenna or any rights to the television show "McKenna", nor am I making any profit from this story.
Summary: When an old injury resurfaces, Brick's torn between trusting his father to be there for him or facing it on his own.
Author's Note: I was so excited to see a McKenna category here at ffnet! Back when McKenna aired, which was September 1994 (Wow! Where has my life gone? ) I wrote this story for my own enjoyment. That, of course, was way before I ever heard of ffnet or knew that others wrote stories about their favorite tv shows. (I thought I was just crazy and needed therapy.) Anyway, I'm not sure if anyone has an interest in this story or not, but I had to honor this show and this new category by posting it anyway. So without more babbling, here's the first part.
Brick McKenna knew that if he didn't get off the horse right then, he might fall off. Slowly and gently, he dismounted but the dull ache in his head only intensified. Leaning against his horse's flank, he took a couple deep breaths and clamped his eyes closed, tried to will the pain away.
For three months he had been fine but now the pain had returned. Apparently not his anger, his frustration or even his willpower were able to make it go away forever.
Gradually the pain eased and Brick opened his eyes to view the beauty of God's hands. The McKenna house was five miles back. Not so far away from the mountains and the river he was viewing, yet it was far enough away from Jack.
He and Brick had argued all morning about the usual: everything. It was at those times that Brick wondered why he was still hanging around. After all, he had a racing career he could go back to.
Brick smiled to himself because that was a joke, all on him. The headaches he had, they were a bitter keepsake of that lifestyle.
And yet he still missed it.
"Nice of you to return," Jack chided Brick as his son entered the stable.
It was past midnight. Everything was dark except the barn and Brick hadn't been aware of Jack's presence until he spoke.
Brick said nothing as he took off the saddle and began brushing down the horse. Hearing movement, he knew Jack stood directly behind him but he didn't turn to face him. There was no use, he couldn't win an argument against his father.
"Things don't turn out like you want them to and you just bail out. That's what you're best at, right, Brick?" Jack demanded.
Brick finished with his horse, put the brush away before finally facing Jack. "What do you want me to do? Hang around till we work out our differences? 'Cause that'll never happen, Jack." Then he brushed by his father and strode toward the house. But Jack was only a few paces behind him when he entered the house. His father slammed the door closed behind them.
"You never think, Brick! You just do! Anything you like and who cares who it hurts as long as you're in control," Jack lobbed to his son's back.
Angrily, Brick spun around, incredulously sputtered, "Control? You think that's what I'm after? If I wanted control I certainly wouldn't have come back to this house!"
Intimidatingly stepping up to be toe to toe with his son, Jack challenged, "Well, why did you?"
And that question had plagued Brick after every blow up he and Jack had. "I truly don't know but I've got a career to get back to."
Jack didn't even try to hide his contempt for his son's vocation. "Racing isn't a career. It's a rush. One that may or may not pay you enough to survive."
The slur cut viciously through Brick, had him heatedly volleying back, "You're one to talk. You make people pay for a rush! You're no better…" But he broke off and began to massage his temple. The pain had returned sharply and quickly.
Recognizing the look of pain on his son's face, Jack immediately grabbed onto Brick's shoulders. "Brick, what's wrong?" his tone laced with concern.
"Nothing. I'm fine," Brick mumbled even as Jack guided him to a chair.
Pressing Brick into the chair, Jack kept a hand on his son's shoulder and crouched down by his son's knees.
Bowing his head, Brick held his head in his hands, could hardly think for the pain. It had never been so bad before.
Tersely watching his son in pain, Jack felt a helpless panic rise in him. "Brick, what it is?" he urgently demanded in a gentle tone.
"It's just a headache," Brick managed but he couldn't bring his head up to reassure his father.
Though his expression scoffed at Brick's explanation, Jack didn't contest it, simply stood up and headed to the kitchen. He returned with a glass of water and a bottle of headache pills. Shaking out two pills, he held them out to Brick. "Take these," he commanded.
When Brick pulled his head from his hands, the world spun for a minute. Slowly, everything came into focus and he looked at Jack, was taken aback by the look of unconcealed concern on his father's features. Not commenting on his observations, he took the pills and proffered glass of water from his father's hands. Swallowing the two pills, he reached for the pill container and began shaking out two more pills.
At first, Jack wasn't sure of his son's intentions, but when they became clear he exclaimed, "Whoa," and he grabbed Brick's hand that held the pills. "Two is enough."
"Not lately," Brick replied before realizing what his admission replied. And Jack, of course, didn't miss his meaning.
"What are you saying? That you've been having a lot of bad headaches?" Jack's voice turning gruffer with concern and reprimand.
"No. I'm not saying that," Brick hastily denied, keeping his eyes averted from Jack's. "I just have a killer one right now and two pills aren't going to do much."
Jack gave Brick a stern glare but it was wasted on his son, who purposefully wasn't looking at him. Taking the pills from Brick's hand, he put them back in the container and closed the lid shut with a resounding snap. "Take two now and two more in four hours and if you still feel bad, you're going to a doctor."
Finally getting the pain under control, Brick raised his head, defiantly asked his father, "Are you doctor Jack now?"
Fighting a strong urge to rail at Brick, Jack gruffly responded with a "Go to bed, Brick."
Brick wanted nothing better than to comply. His bed was truly calling him. However, there was a slight problem: he wasn't sure he could stand up without passing out, let alone maneuver the stairs. "I think I'll sit here for a while," he casually told Jack.
But Jack wasn't fooled. He still noted the pain in Brick's eyes and he had also seen the flare of panic when he ordered Brick to go to bed. Telling himself not to react in fear, to not let Brick skitter away from opening up to him, he calmly took a seat on the couch across from the chair where Brick sat. When he leaned forward to draw closer to his son, his growing concern was already tightening up his muscles. "Brick, this isn't just a headache," he softly accused.
Staring into his father's eyes, Brick allowed, "Alright. It's a migraine."
Meeting Brick's pain dulled eyes, Jack surmised, "This isn't the first one you've had lately, is it?"
Brick remained silent though his eyes steadily remained locked with his father's.
Recognizing Brick wasn't going to answer, Jack had to make his own conclusions. "And the one you have now is so bad you can't even crawl to your room." Though he had made sure no condemnation carried in his tone, Brick didn't reply.
"Fine," Jack announced as if Brick's silence had confirmed his statement. Standing, he approached Brick, "Let's get you to bed and we'll discuss this tomorrow." Without waiting for Brick's approval, Jack carefully picked up his son's arm, looped it over his shoulder and pulled Brick slowly to his feet, his arm sliding supportively around his son's waist.
As slowly and as gently as Jack had drawn him to his feet, Brick still almost passed out. It was Jack's strength, not Brick's that kept the younger McKenna from collapsing onto the floor. Brick quickly tried to support his own weight but the pain in his head was stealing his strength. Now there was no way of proving to Jack that he was fine.
Though Jack had guessed at his son's condition, he was still shocked to be totally supporting him. "Brick?" he exclaimed but even as he spoke, Brick was recovering slightly, was taking some of his own weight.
"I'm fine," Brick declared even though he knew there was no hope his father would believe him. Though part of him knew that it wasn't just his father he was trying to convince, that he was trying to convince himself, had been for days.
"No, you're not fine, Brick," Jack stated, his jagged fear turning his tone rougher than normal.
"All I need is to get some sleep," Brick stated, wanted that to be true. Needed it to be true.
"Yeah, right," but Jack's tone was one of sarcasm, not anger. "Think you can make it to your room?" Again his concern and worry were evident in the timbre of his words.
"Yes," was all Brick said, tried to instill as much confidence in that one word, in the look he leveled at his father as he could.
Without challenging that declaration, Jack began helping his son to the stairs, but he halted at the base. "I could carry you…" he offered tentatively, not because he wouldn't do that for his son, but knew that Brick, though he was his son, was his responsibility, he was also a grown man, had his own pride to contend with.
Brick immediately became defensive. "Forget it. I don't need your help anymore." And he attempted to step out of Jack's grasp. Instantly Jack tightened his grip on Brick's waist and grabbed his son's shoulder, halting his son's retreat.
"You can't make it up these stairs by yourself in the condition you're in," Jack bluntly said, swinging Brick's arm back over his shoulders even as Brick shot him a look that could melt metal. "You didn't want me to carry you, so I'm not. But me helping you isn't up for debate."
Again, recalling that he couldn't win against Jack, Brick, with a nod of his head, conceded the battle, allowed his father to help him climb up the stairs and into his room. He had had to close his eyes a few times during the journey to ensure he didn't topple backwards or stumble to his knees. When Jack manhandled him to the edge of his bed, he nearly laid down immediately, wanted to.
Crouching down to be eye level with Brick, Jack worried prodded, "How are you doing?"
"I just want to go to sleep," Brick earnestly replied, all denials or pretenses gone.
"Ok, son," Jack gently agreed as he eased Brick back onto the bed. Pulling his son's legs onto the bed, he removed Brick's shoes like he hadn't done since his boy was a child. As he covered Brick with a blanket, he noted that Brick was once again messaging his temples.
Looking down into his son's eyes, Jack felt pain shaft through him, wondered if Brick would believe him if he told him that when his children felt pain, he did too. That, however lacking in fatherly attributes Brick thought he was, he still loved his kids, more than life itself. "You need me, just give a yell, Brick," he offered but in the tone of an order because it was the only way Brick might actually seek his help. Then he started for the door but Brick grabbed his arm and halted him.
"Thanks, Dad," Brick said, his eyes holding Jack's, wondering how his gratitude would be received.
Jack smiled down at his son, fought the desire to run his fingers lightly through his son's hair. "Goodnight, son," he quietly bade. When Brick released his arm, he left the room but purposefully kept the door open a crack, just in case Brick called out for him, needed him.
Left alone with his fears, Brick's heart started to pound.
He was getting worse, not better.
The doctor had been right.
Well, there's part one. I hope someone out there decides to read it and maybe wants the rest that will follow.
Have a great day!