Measure of A Brother by Martha

An episode tag for The Fix-It Man

Word count: 1,015

‘A good friend will come bail you out of jail…. But a true friend will be sitting next to you saying WE screwed up, but we had fun!’

Scott groaned as he sat up in the jail cell and held his head, which felt as though it were not completely connected to his body. Actually, he’d have been very happy if that were the case, because his head and face definitely hurt. It was ironic that he was sitting in this jail cell considering all the efforts the Lancer family had made to get it built.

The opening ceremonies had been very impressive. The whole town had finally come together to support the building and the celebration had lasted far into the night.

When Murdoch returned to the ranch early he’d jokingly admonished his sons not to get into trouble. Both Scott and Johnny had decided to stay behind for the night to enjoy themselves. Johnny had grinned and said he never got into trouble and Scott had just snorted and told Murdoch he’d make sure Johnny was good.

Scott groaned again as he held his head. It wasn’t really his fault that he was here, sitting in the new jail. He and Johnny had gone to enjoy themselves in the bar, perhaps to play a little poker or enjoy the company of the ladies who worked there. The bar was busy that night and Scott started to enjoy himself, laughing and talking and drinking.

How was he supposed to know that the lovely Mexican lady, all dressed up in traditional clothes wasn’t the lady he thought she was? Sure, Johnny had warned him, but Johnny could be wrong. His insinuation that she was a ‘working’ girl did not sit well with Scott. Anyone could see that this was a very classy lady. Scott never stopped to wonder what she was doing in a place like that.

Scott hadn’t meant to start the fight. That was the farthest thing on his mind. But when that ranch hand had started pawing at the senorita, Scott had to step in to protect her honor. He was nothing if not a gentleman. Johnny had just left to go upstairs to their room when the trouble started, so Scott was on his own. He wasn’t even really interested in the senorita, but he couldn’t stand to see a lady treated like that. How was he supposed to know that she was already well acquainted with that ranch hand? Scott had just meant to tell the hand to leave; he might even have offered to escort the senorita home to her parents. He hadn’t meant to get into a fight, but when the hand had told him to shove off, the lady was his for the night Scott had seen red and the rest just happened.

Scott swung his fist and hit the ranch hand squarely on the jaw. He didn’t think first, he just swung. How was he supposed to know that the ranch hand was there with his buddies, who all took offense at his action? After all, their buddy and the senorita had been seeing each other for months and now he was stretched out on the floor and his girl was screaming. Scott was soon in serious trouble, trying to fend off blows from at least five directions. He was alone; Johnny had gone upstairs and he was desperately trying to stay on his feet as blows kept coming. Suddenly, Scott realized that he wasn’t alone, as if by magic Johnny was there. Just as he’d reached the rooms, he’d heard the ruckus start downstairs and, correctly interpreting its cause, had come back down to help his older brother.

So, here he was in jail for starting a fight, waiting for Murdoch to make the return journey from the ranch to bail him out. Murdoch was good that way. Scott knew he couldn’t ask for a better father, no matter that he had only recently gotten to know him. The same was true for his new brother; Johnny was a dangerous man at times, but always there when he needed him.

A groan from the bed next to him made Scott turn his head, at least as much as he could without hurting it too much. Johnny lay stretched out next to him and if he, Scott, looked anywhere near as bad as Johnny did, they were a sorry pair. Scott hadn’t looked in a mirror, but he was pretty sure he did look like Johnny who sported a black eye and too many bruises to count. Johnny groaned again and tried to sit up, but fell back muttering that he wished he were dead and when they got out of here he would personally get Scott back for landing them in jail.

They stayed there groaning and aching for several more hours until Murdoch showed up, paid the damages, and bailed them out. He grinned at the sight of his two sons and secretly thought they’d gotten what they deserved. Johnny’s feeble protest that he’d been on his way upstairs and only came down to protect Scott fell on deaf ears. Murdoch held both of them responsible and let them know they would be working off the money he’d had to pay. However, Murdoch had dropped everything at the ranch and, like a true father, had come to bail them out, so Scott and Johnny couldn’t say much in their own defense.

As they left the jail Scott thought, ‘I guess Murdoch will always be there, a real father, to pick up the pieces and help me out, no matter what.’ But it was Johnny’s words as they left the jail that went right to Scott’s heart. Johnny had grinned at him and softly said, “Big brother, looks like we screwed up, but we did have fun, didn’t we?” At that moment Scott was completely sure that this new brother, whom he had met less than a year ago, was the brother he’d always wanted. Only a brother would have had his back like that, taken a beating, and still been able to grin and see the fun in it. Yup, Johnny was definitely the brother he needed most at a time like this.

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~ end ~

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