Home Is Never Far Away (by Hart4Ben)

Summary:  Ben and Adam’s summertime musings following Kenny and Susan Clarke’s stay at the Ponderosa. WHN Blessed Are They.

Rating: K  Word Count: 654

Home is Never Far Away

Ben dipped his pipe in a bowl of clear water and dried it completely. He then put a few drops of brandy in the bowl of the pipe and ran it through the mouthpiece before filling the bowl again with the amber liquid. He carefully propped the pipe so the alcohol could work to repair any damage that the soap may have caused and took a seat in his favorite red chair with a great sigh. It was going to be a few days until he would be smoking the pipe again.

Though frustrated to have his favorite pipe filled with soapy water, it had been worthy of a good laugh for Adam and him. His normally stoic son swatting at bubbles had them both laughing hysterically for a few minutes. It had been many years since they had jointly participated in such a childish activity. Truthfully it had done both their hearts good.

On a warm evening a few days later, Ben was thoughtful as he rested his backside on the hitching rail and puffed away on his salvaged pipe. Kenny and Susan Clarke’s presence at the Ponderosa had been anything but easy for him and his sons. Regardless of the chaos that they brought, their youthful exuberance made Ben long for days gone by. He remembered many nights while traveling along the trail west when he would sit leaning against a wagon wheel with Adam seated between his legs. Together father and son would stare up into the pitch black sky. Ben smiled at the memory of pointing out the constellations to his bright young son. It had not taken long for Adam to be able to identify them without his help. Ben closed his eyes and reveled in the memory of Adam leaning against his chest and the tickle of his boy’s dark curls under his chin. Those special moments now seemed an elusive vapor, impossible to grasp, as his often aloof eldest son had all too soon grown hesitant to allow his father the joy of that physical closeness.

Ben wondered about such things. Many men were quite rough with their boys. He had always wanted his sons to be able to stand up for themselves, but also be kind, gentle and tender as well. He did not view himself a perfect father, by any means, and yet, he drew comfort that each of his sons possessed a sensitivity toward his fellow man. Though they each struggled with relationships in various ways, Ben was thankful that the pain of their losses had not hardened their hearts.

As Ben scanned the night sky for all the familiar arrangements of the stars, Adam walked out of the house and now stood nearby.

“Your favorite.” Ben pointed just above the horizon to a curved line of stars.

“Ah, yes, Scorpius. Took on much more significance the first time I actually saw one.”

His father chuckled. “Yes, I’m sure.”

They enjoyed a few minutes of amiable quiet before Adam’s voice broke the silence. “Sometimes-“, he hesitated, “when I’m traveling alone-”

Ben remained silent and did not look Adam’s direction, and gave his son time to collect his thoughts.

“I think back on those nights – when it was just the two of us -”

Ben drew on his pipe and waited for Adam to continue.

“I know it had to be a really tough time for you -”

Adam’s words caused a twinge in Ben’s chest.

“But you know, Pa – in my mind – they were good times.”

Ben removed his pipe and exhaled.

“When I look up – and see Scorpius or Aquilla – home just doesn’t seem so far away.”

Ben turned to observe his son viewing the heavens. Adam couldn’t see the glisten in the dark eyes that were watching him, but he felt the squeeze of his father’s hand on his shoulder. Ben knocked the spent tobacco from his pipe before they ambled into the house.

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Author: Hart4Ben

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