Summary: Is it real or is it…
Word Count: 1900
The Giggly Sisters walked upstairs behind Joe, thinking how nice and taut his butt was. And how well his trousers fitted round it, even if they were a little short on length. Joe grinned at them, well aware of the direction their thoughts had taken. He flung open the door to his room and looked cautiously around before stepping inside. “I was just seeing where the furniture was,” he explained. “It moves, you know.”
The girls looked round, seeing that the bed was where they had expected it to be. The room was large (ah these old houses!) and it was nice and warm. Outside, the snow was piled high, apart from where they girls and Joe had been building snowmen. There was a whole yard full of them now.
The redhead struck a dramatic pose. “Is this a fireplace I see before me?” she intoned, and fell about laughing.
“Well what does it look like?” Joe returned. “Of course it’s a fireplace. We’d freeze to death otherwise!”
“Yes, but we do know of fans who hadn’t noticed the existence of the fireplaces in your rooms,” the blonde explained.
“How do you not notice a fireplace?” Joe asked. “It takes up a lot of room!”
“They hadn’t watched The Stillness Within,” the redhead said. “Or, at least, they didn’t pay enough attention to it!”
Joe looked thoughtful. “I even spoke about the fireplace in that ep,” he said. “Gosh, I was good in that.”
“You’re good in everything,” the blonde said, warmly.
“Still,” the redhead said thoughtfully, noticing how the late afternoon sunlight bounced off Joe’s curls and trying very hard to concentrate, “This fireplace is a bit, well, how shall I put it?”
“Basic?” the blonde supplied helpfully. “There’s a distinct lack of mantelpiece, isn’t there? It’s more a sort of glorified hole in the wall than an actual fireplace. Do you think it actually works?”
Joe pondered the situation carefully. Now that came to think about it, he couldn’t remember a fire ever burning in the grate. Actually, come to that, he wasn’t entirely convinced there was a grate. He bent down to investigate further and the sisters sighed in unison as his pants tightened over the most perfect butt in Nevada.
The blonde could bear it no longer. “Joe, have you ever noticed that when you wear your green jacket, your pants seem to get shorter?”
Joe smiled knowingly. “Well, the seamstress in Virginia City spends ages on making sure all my pants fit just right across the butt, so I don’t really like to complain.” As ever, Joe had his priorities straight.
The sisters looked around the room with interest.
“This is a much nicer room than the one you had in the Truckee Strip!” announced the redhead, bouncing on the bed. “That was so sparse it looked like a prison cell.”
Joe looked flustered. “Well, that was a strange episode,” he mumbled. “I even pulled a gun on Pa. And then my girl died. Having a pitchfork around isn’t a good idea!”
“Blue dress,” the sisters chorused. “And it was early.”
“You maimed jolly well in it,” the blonde said, and heaved a big sigh.
“I maim well in all of them,” Joe said, proudly.
“Why was your dresser not up against a wall in Quality of Mercy?” asked the redhead. “Was there something on the camera side of it that you didn’t want the viewers to see?”
Joe looked thoughtful. “I don’t think so,” he said, doubtfully. “I thought there should be a wall there, but there wasn’t.”
“And what was that hideous brown dressing gown you wore in Song in the Dark?” the blonde asked. “It looked like it had been handed down to you by a monk!”
Joe pouted attractively. “That’s hardly fair!” he protested. “At least it’s not as bad as that scary maroon one with the white facings that Pa wears!”
The girls had to agree with him there. They were only grateful that Ben always got dressed for breakfast: facing that satin monstrosity first thing in the morning was not a prospect either of them relished. Joe sat down and the sisters noticed how his trouser legs rode up even higher, almost exposing the top of his boots.
The blonde walked slowly around the room, shivering slightly as she passed the picture of the extraordinarily ugly Indian, who appeared to be scowling at everyone.
“Who choose the pictures in this house anyway?”
Joe shrugged. It was not a question he had ever given much thought to. The pictures were just there, and that was that. It was akin to wondering where the horns above the living room fireplace had come from (presumably a woolly mammoth, he thought) and why anyone in their right mind would think they were an ideal ornament. Plus, they were so high up, Joe wondered seriously if they were dusted more than once a year, if that. Perhaps he should have a little word with Hop Sing.
“All families have their little foibles!” he protested. “Look at you: you’ve got a bear for a pet.”
The redhead gave him a hard look. “That’s hardly the same.” She suddenly realized she hadn’t seen Paw for sometime and hoped he was all right. A sudden bellow from downstairs told her he probably wasn’t …
The blonde winced as the dulcet tones of Ben Cartwright reverberated throughout the house. He sounded as if he was shouting into the teeth of a force 9 gale and all the windows rattled ominously, while downstairs the shade of an oil lamp shattered.
“They don’t call him the Voice of Canada for nothing,” Joe confided. From upstairs it sounded as if Ben could broadcast to the whole of occupied Europe just by shouting.
“That bear’s destroyed my blanket!”
Joe groaned. “Not the Indian blanket! It was left there one day by accident and ever since then fanfic writers like to bring it into their stories as a bit of “local color”! We’ve never liked to tell them it’s really a rug.”
“It’s got a habit of moving about too,” the redhead commented. “And sometimes its not there at all. Is that when you have it on the floor somewhere?”
“Maybe Hop Sing’s washing it,” Joe replied indifferently. “Maybe we’d better go and rescue Paw.”
“Good idea,” she agreed, and the headed out into the hall, which seemed to be a very odd shape, given the layout of the downstairs.
The blonde stopped. “Which room is the bathtub in?” she asked. “You know, the room that Calamity Jane used?”
“Err,” Joe replied. “We’ve never actually seen that room again, although it was very useful. It’s a pity we don’t have an indoor outhouse – if you see what I mean,” he went on, blushing becomingly. “All this messing about with chamber pots and trilling outside in the cold and wet…” He pulled an expressive face. “It’s not very nice, I can tell you.”
“And who get the thankless task of emptying the chamber pots?” the redhead asked, darkly. “Is that why Hop Sing never does any dusting? Because he has to empty the chamber pots? I know which I’d prefer!”
“Dusting!” chorused the sisters, before falling about laughing. House work wasn’t on the top of their ‘to do’ list in any century!
There was the scramble of little paws, and Paw came racing into sight, and threw himself on Joe, cowering in his arms, looking back the way he had come. Moments later, they heard Pa’s feet, as Ben came chasing after the innocent little furry creature.
“That bear has to go!” he bellowed, and they all winced. Ben’s voice in the narrow hallway was overwhelming.
“He’s like a son to me!” Joe protested and the girls ran forward to plead with Ben. Taking a step backwards, Ben banged into the table, which was making a special guest appearance in the hallway. The blonde noticed how bright the hall was, despite no obvious windows or skylights.
“It’s too bad!” Ben fumed. “Just as we’re expecting guests for the weekend.”
A worried expression crept across Joe’s unfeasibly handsome face and a curly lock of hair tumbled boyishly over his forehead. Although the Ponderosa appeared to have an abundance of guest bedrooms, for some strange reason visitors usually ended up staying in a room that bore an uncanny resemblance to his own bedroom. Joe was never quite sure where he slept on those occasions, but it sure hoped it wasn’t with Hoss. Not only did his middle brother take up most of the bed, he snored into the bargain.
Ben just smiled indulgently at him and then caught sight of Paw once again. A myriad of possible uses for the bear suddenly struck him. Take that enormous monstrosity of a fireplace in the living room (and Ben often did, for it was completely hideous, dominated the entire ground floor of the ranch-house and, to add insult to injury, didn’t actually produce much in the way of heat). Paw was just the right size to scramble up the chimney and his shaggy, furry coat would sweep it perfectly. He would make an excellent foot warmer, on those cold, windy, winter nights, when a draft whistled under the door into the great room. He would make a superb duster for all sorts of hard-to-reach spots under the stairs.
Joe took a firmer hold of Paw. “Forget it,” he told Ben, sharply, and Ben wondered how Joe knew what he had been thinking. “Who’s coming for the weekend?” he asked, hoping to distract Ben.
It worked. Ben looked wildly around and began counting doors. “Do we have enough rooms?” he worried. “I’m sure it must be some long-lost friend or relation, but since I haven’t seen them since before you were born, I really don’t remember.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Joe advised. “I’m sure there will be more than enough bedrooms. You could use the east bedroom. Nobody’s been in it since Willow was here.”
“Apart from Hoss, in The Stillness Within,” commented the redhead.
“True,” agreed the blonde. “But there’s always the downstairs bedroom. It’s very useful.”
Ben headed off back down the stairs, muttering to himself about bedrooms. He’d never been sure why Adam had insisted on building a bedroom situated between the dining area, front door and the kitchen. He seriously doubted if anyone staying there could possibly get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Adam sat back in his favorite blue velvet chair and proudly surveyed his very first architectural endeavor. He smiled thinly as he looked at all the cunning innovations he had managed to incorporate into the design. There were always people coming and going in the ranch house, but his clever designs ensured that no-one stayed very long. It was just too inconvenient and confusing for most people. Now, if only he cold think of some way to persuade the sisters to leave and take that bear with them …