Summary: On coming home after a long day out, Adam find things are not quite as they should be. There is someone lurking, someone with evil intentions. But as Adam realises that, it’s too late already to stop the inevitable.
Word Count: 1100
Adam rode the last furlong to the ranch at a slow pace. The ranch yard lay abandoned, lazily sleeping in the warmth of the late afternoon sun, void of any life. Not a single sound was audible, not a bark, not a neigh, not a clatter of tools, not a shout, not a laugh. Nothing.
He narrowed his eyes and, heightening his attention, took a closer look around. Nothing unusual but the stillness. This was just…fishy.
He looked up and down the front porch, tried to spy behind the bunkhouse and into the kitchen-garden. Everything looked peaceful and quiet. Too peaceful and too quiet, actually. He’d better be on guard. Slowly he continued his way to the yard, carefully checking right and left.
When he heard a creak just above his head, he knew he had made a fatal mistake in forgetting the small window in the barn gable below the pulley. But the second he realised his mistake it was too late already, and he knew he was doomed. There wasn’t anything he could do to prevent what was bound to happen.
“Hold it!” The voice from the gable window was used to command, and it carried the authority of someone who knew he would be obeyed. Someone who knew he had the upper hand.
Adam froze, then gingerly turned his head up to look at the window. He saw a mere shadow, a blurry figure with a foot in the pulley-hook letting himself down in a smooth movement on the pulley rope before Adam had a chance to cry out and prevent the shadow from pulling a potentially dangerous stunt. The shadow, all clad in black, with a cape draped around his shoulders, landed with suspiciously practised ease right in front of Adam’s horse. Sport threw his head and gave an irritated whicker at the sight of the overgrown bat.
“Quiet, boy,” Adam reassured the puzzled horse and tightened the reins. He looked expectantly at the grimly set mouth and squinted eyes under the enormous black hat with the gargantuan bouncing feather that blocked his way now.
“Villainous villain,” shouted his caped capturer with much feeling. “Hands up where I can see them, thou evil intruder!”
At a look at the wooden gun that was pointed at his chest, Adam wound his reins around the saddle horn and raised his hands.
“By Jove,” he said and shook his head in a show of resignation. “Methinks I am caught!”
The feather bounced even more as the figure nodded eagerly. “Oh, yes, and thou wilt not carry on with thy evil plans, repugnant cretin!”
“Repugnant cretin?” Adam raised an eyebrow.
The black hero looked uncomfortable. “Yes,” he said hesitantly. “But that’s nothing bad, is it, Papa? I heard Mama say it.”
Adam chuckled. “Yeah, I guessed so. It’s a bit more creative than villainous villain.”
For a moment he was captured by the image of his wife admonishing…let’s say…a highwayman with the phrase “villainous villain”, and somehow from Juliet it sounded much less ridiculous. Especially when he visualised her eyes throwing lightning bolts from under high-arched eyebrows while she spoke the words. He was brought back to reality by another attempt at a snarl, about an octave lower than the usual voice of his six year old son.
“Now confess, villain, what doth thou evil plans entail?”
Adam suppressed another chuckle. “My evil plans…. Well, methinks my evil plans were just thwarted by thee, Black Prince, which turneth out to be a pity, really, because a not inconsiderably sized bag of candies for my, um, starving offspring played a rather important role in them.”
Maybe he should have adopted a less triumphant tone or at least have refrained from grinning so self-confidently. But after having been forced to play the villain, er, the villainous villain eight times since last Friday, every time ending up bound to one of the posts on the front porch to be eventually rescued by a grinning self-proclaimed lawyer in a rustling skirt, who declared she had put in a good word for him with the Black Prince and he owed her now, he felt he needed a little taste of revenge.
Well, one should never underestimate a six-year-old. His attitude changed in a split second. With one quick motion the black cape was gone from his shoulders and draped around his hips. A second movement made sure a black neckerchief was covering the lower half of Henry’s face. Gone was the Black Prince, arrived was an even darker hero of a boy with too much British influence.
Henry’s hazel eyes sparkled. If ever a child had been the perfect mixture of both his parents, Adam thought not for the first time, it was his son. Henry might have looked like a child-version of his father but his mannerisms and face expressions alternated in being mirrors of either Juliet’s or his. Today he clearly was all his mother’s son. And so he held his hands out for Henry to bind them even before William Wallace had demanded it.
“Nay, nay,” the little Scot scolded him. “First ye hand me them crown jewels. They’ll feed me people far ages!”
Adam took the candies from his saddle bag and delivered them without an argument. One had to admit when he was defeated. And maybe being cooperative prevented the worst.
“What about this, noble William,” Adam tried cheerfully. “I’ll give you the crown jewels and promise you another load tomorrow if you let me go now, so I can take care of my poor starving wife and children—”
Of course, William, Knight of Elderslie, was too smart to believe a lying English spy, whose name, by the way, might not possibly be Marlowe? (Really, they had to make sure Henry stopped mixing up centuries, Adam thought.) And so, in about no time, Adam found himself with bound hands, his horse being led by a candy-sucking freedom fighter, who chanted with much fervour, “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
Adam just hoped that the grinning lady-lawyer would be in the mood to put in another good word with William—and preferably before supper.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. ~ George Bernard Shaw
A/N: With many thanks to Sklamb, for another wonderful beta.