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His body was draped across the bed like a dark island. The pale sheet drew a lazy line that started somewhere near his left hand, tucked firmly under the pillow which was at a rakish angle and bent up against the headboard, across half of his broad, chiseled back to his right hip and still managed to offer modesty. From there, it trailed to the floor like a cloth waterfall, a muscled leg entwined in the material and peeking out as a dark, patchy pattern in the downpour. The cloth ended in a puddle on the hardwood floor, exposed right toes hovering bare inches above.


Murdoch couldn’t help but smile in the darkness, the sheets glowing in the yellow light of the hall lamp behind him. Johnny slept like he was awake – a constant moving current. The bedding didn’t stand a chance. Still, the aged Scot marveled at how his younger son could sleep so soundly in such a cold room with so much skin exposed. The older man automatically crossed his arms across his chest and rubbed himself as he considered closing the window. Johnny always insisted the window be open, even if it was just a crack, year round so instead Murdoch opted to quietly retrieve the comforter from the floor and toss it over the slumbering form.


With a quick flick of his wrists the comforter settled quietly his sleeping son. Johnny twitched slightly and then snuggled deeper into the bed with the whispery disturbance.


Murdoch shook his head remembering another time not so long ago that he wouldn’t have made it past the door frame without that customized Colt pointed at him. Mutual trust had taken some time to grow and there were tangible results - Johnny slept soundly now, a simple luxury that had been denied him most of his life.


Quietly closing the door, Murdoch stepped across the hall and pushed open the door to Scott’s room. When the gold lamp light fell across the bed he could see that his elder son was curled up in a snug ball, the blankets and comforter tucked neatly under his chin. Only the blond-topped head was visible, Scott’s face relaxed in deep slumber. Earlier in the evening the young man’s cheeks had been flushed pink from a little too much wine and a roaring fire. He’d been nagging his brother to join in singing Christmas carols with him and Teresa. Johnny’s steadfast refusal to sing any song that had ‘fa la la la la’ in it had entertained them all but Scott, as usual, was able to get his little brother to join in.


Again, the eldest Lancer smiled in the dark as his hand rested on the doorknob. His mind wandered to the Pinkerton report regarding his older son he'd received weeks before Scott had actually set foot on Lancer. The circumstances in which his son had been contacted by the agent fit the pattern of the rest of the report. Scott Lancer had been a troubled young man with a restless spirit, lacking any real purpose.


So different, yet the same in one way; both boys had found a direction in life here at his side. Murdoch felt a stinging sensation in his eyes and smirked. Sentimentality wasn't something he was known for, yet there it was. Thoughtfully, he wiped a big hand under his eyes to stop the tears but it did nothing to stop the feelings.


Then he knew that was the gift he'd been given, unknowingly, by his sons. As he'd given Johnny peace of mind and Scott a sense of purpose, they'd given him freedom to have sentiment, the guilt of his part in their years of separation wiped clean.


Murdoch Lancer quietly closed the bedroom door and crept down the hall to his own room knowing he, too, would be sleeping soundly this Christmas Eve.


Happy Holidays!


The End

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