Word Count 1,950
Just a short piece written a few years back. It’s not my best work but it was fun fluff. No profit was made and there are no claims to owning anything of value.
I’m not tired and I’m not gonna go to sleep.” Johnny glared at his father while laying flat on his back. It wasn’t the best position for him to be in for this argument but he didn’t have much choice at the moment.
“You’re not? Are you sure about that, Son?” Murdoch smiled indulgingly at his younger son while putting away some of the boy’s clothes that had been left strewn about.
It was a familiar feeling. He had once done the same with toys and books that had been left lying about by his little toddler. He would put Johnny to bed and then straighten the room while he waited for his son to settle down to sleep.
“Nope! I’m not!” Johnny watched his father move about the room wondering what his ‘Old Man’ was up to.
“And you can’t make me.” Johnny said under his breath thinking his father couldn’t hear him.
“Well we’ll see.” Murdoch had of course heard the boy.
“You have to stay in bed whether you’re tired or not.” Murdoch did stop long enough to point his finger at his petulant son. “Sam’s orders.”
It amused him that Johnny could still have that same look he had seen so many times when he was a child. The one that said I don’t have to and I ain’t’ going to. It was all he could do to keep from laughing out loud at his son. He relished these small reminders that stirred his memories from before Johnny had been snatched away by his mother.
Johnny had been thrown from a green broke pinto while trying to help move a herd of cows from one of the upper pastures earlier that week. Something had spooked the young horse and a usually competent Johnny had been tossed on his rear and then before he could roll out of the way the pinto came down on top of him with his front hoofs. Things had gone from bad to worse before the little pinto had been scared away and the men could get to the fallen cowboy.
Johnny had tried to sit up and dust himself off but the effort made him hiss. His ribs sang out with pain and his arm wouldn’t cooperate making Cipriano suspect it might be fractured. It was obvious that he probably had a concussion since he couldn’t seem to focus on anyone or anything without pain shooting through his head. The Segundo made the younger Lancer lay still and sent a hand back to the hacienda for a wagon to transport Johnny back in order to insure he sustained no further injuries.
Of course along with the wagon had come Jelly, Teresa and Murdoch, just one more thing to frustrate him. The main concern had been spinal injury but once Sam Jenkins had finished his examination it was determined that the worst was two broken ribs a fractured left arm, a mild concussion, and some deep bruising. Everyone was grateful that the injuries had been no worse because it easily could have gone badly for the younger Lancer.
Johnny of course didn’t agree with the instructions of taking it easy and staying in bed for the next two or three days. It was important to keep him quiet in order for the ribs to begin mending without fear of the young man doing more damage to himself.
Finally after three days of battling with him, Sam allowed the boy to venture downstairs to sit on the couch where he could be well supervised by his father or brother. He resented the fact that Sam wouldn’t let him sit alone outside or even just walk around. It irritated Johnny to no end that he was forced to be carefully monitored while recovering. Scott didn’t have to be watched all the time when he was convalescing from some minor injury. It wasn’t fair, and the youngest Lancer just couldn’t understand why he had to suffer the indignities of being treated like some disobedient child that couldn’t be trusted.
Murdoch smiled to himself as he thought about the performance his son had put on the whole time he was relaxing on the couch. He was also very amused at how Teresa had made such a fuss over the boy. She had Johnny propped up with plenty of pillows to keep him comfortable. He had been tucked in with a blanket to ensure he didn’t catch a chill with another one nearby in case it was needed.
Afraid if he complained about her fussing over him, Johnny had held his peace until she disappeared into one of the other rooms. Once he saw the back of her disappearing into the next room he threw off one of the blankets and tossed a couple of the pillows off the couch. He had then proceeded to carefully sit up straight and had seemingly even considered standing and walking around the room. One look at his father’s raised eyebrows however quickly changed his mind. He settled instead for just planting his feet on the floor, and sitting up in total defiance, knowing that a more reclined position had been what his family had in mind for his trek down stairs. It wasn’t a huge step towards regaining some independence but it was all he was going to be allowed at the moment.
Twenty sighs, fifteen ‘can I’s’ and an hour later Murdoch decided that Johnny had stayed up long enough for that day. He could see fatigue creeping up on the boy and the last thing he wanted was for Johnny to have a set back from having over done it his first day out of bed.
“It’s time to head back upstairs Son.” Murdoch had informed the young man as he stood and started towards the couch.
“No. I don’t want to go upstairs. I’m fine. I haven’t been down here all that long.” Johnny cringed as he heard himself whining in protest.
“I know you’re fine but you won’t be if you stay up much longer. You can barely hold your head up now.” Murdoch reached down and helped his son to his feet.
While the whole time swaying and clutching at his father’s shirt for support, Johnny had continued to plead that he was fine and didn’t need to go back to his room and bed.
Then it had happened. Tired of the being confined to his room and bed, Johnny threw a Lancer size fit and tried to pull away from his father’s firm grip. Unprepared for this sudden outburst, Murdoch had barely caught his son before he fell to the floor in a heap. Frustrated with Johnny’s actions the concerned father then simply scooped up his son and proceeded up the stairs all the while being mindful of the boy’s injuries. More protesting from Johnny about being carried and treated like a child made the trip less than pleasant but somehow Murdoch managed to get his son back to his room without losing his temper.
He laid Johnny down and pulled the covers up and settling his son trying to make him as comfortable as possible.
“I mean it, Murdoch. You can’t make me go to sleep if I don’t want to.” Johnny informed his father once again.
Now here he was trying to settle his son for some much needed rest. The last of Johnny’s clothes were neatly put away and still he was fussing about having to stay in bed. It was obvious the boy was forcing himself to stay awake out of sheer stubbornness. Murdoch had caught him yawning twice since they had been in the room.
Between the fussing and the strain of trying to free himself earlier from his father’s firm grip, Johnny was perspiring heavily. Picking up a rag and wringing it out from the water that had been poured into the bowl earlier, Murdoch made his way to the bed and sat down gently began to bathe his son’s face, pushing the hair back out of his eyes.
“You need a haircut. Next time we go to town I think maybe you need to visit Zeke and get a trim.”
“No! I don’t want no haircut and you can’t make me.” Johnny spouted off to his father determined to be difficult.
Murdoch continued to bathe Johnny’s face and avoided arguing with the boy. After a couple of minutes he took the bottle and the spoon and pored the medicine that Sam insisted that Johnny take every six hours for paiin and held it to his son’s lips.
Seeing his father with the medicine made Johnny angry. For the last few days they had been shoving the hated drug down his throat. Grumpily Johnny made his position clear concerning the spoon filled with the vile tasting liquid.
“I’m not going to take that medicine and you can’t make….OUCH!” Too late. It was a dirty thing to do but Murdoch had lately resorted to all kinds of sneaky methods to get the medicine down his son. Pinching Johnny on his leg had proven to be the most successful.
Johnny grimaced and began to cough as the foul tasting liquid coated his tongue on its way down his throat. Before he could protest his father had a glass of water at his mouth offering the cool sweet liquid as a peace offering and a means to get rid of the taste as quickly as possible.
“You sure don’t play fair Murdoch.” Johnny complained after being ambushed by his father and the medicine.
“When it comes to you Johnny I’m afraid fair doesn’t quite factor in.”
Murdoch once again took up the wet cloth and wiped Johnny’s mouth and then dabbed at the little sprays that had landed on the front of his nightshirt. Tired of being treated like a child, Johnny angrily grabbed the cloth and wiped at the stains himself.
For a long time no words were exchanged as Murdoch continued to sit next to his son, watching as the boy struggled to keep his eyes open. He knew patience was his best weapon and that soon Johnny would be unable to continue his battle to stay awake. It brought back memories as he remembered a little blue eyed boy who hated to take naps or go to bed at night just because he was afraid he might miss out on some important event that could take place while he slept.
Murdoch reached up and brushed his thumb across Johnny’s cheek tracing the bruise that had formed there from the accident a few days earlier. Johnny snuggled in closer to his father’s hand as he sought the comfort it offered. Murdoch relished the gesture and knew that a wide awake Johnny wouldn’t indulge in such an offering of love.
He continued to watch and wait as Johnny’s eyes began to close. Just when he thought the boy was sound asleep those blue eyes would make another courageous effort to stay awake. Yes, patience was all Murdoch needed to win this battle with his son.
He knew that the next time Johnny closed his eyes the boy would be sound asleep. He smiled as those blue eyes drooped once more. As they made their final journey he heard his son barely whisper, “You can’t make me.”
Leaning over and barely brushing his lips to his son’s forehead, Murdoch whispered back. “Yes I can.”
~ end ~
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