Word count 8,368
I don’t own Lancer or the characters from their show. I do, however, take them out for a run around the ranch. The characters that are mine, can’t be used without permission.
The distant rumble of gunfire caught the attention of the young man riding along the rim of a hill. His fancy black and white paint, dancing nervously under him.
He edged closer to the side, in time to see a wildly racing stage coach trying to evade a group of bandits. There were 5 men on horseback, chasing the stage coach.
The man riding as shotgun, was trying his best, but they soon over whelmed him. He was shot from the top of the coach, to fall like a broken doll to the ground below.
The 3 passengers inside the coach, were being tossed around like balls in a basket. Two women, one elderly the other young, and a young blonde man roughly 24 years old.
As the driver tried to navigate around a large rock formation, he lost control of the stagecoach. It went up on 2 wheels and eventually it tipped over onto it’s side.
The driver was dead on impact with the ground. The women were screaming as the coach tipped over. As the coach came to a stop on it’s side, the cries from the inside had stopped as well.
The bandits had all ridden past the stagecoach. As they were coming back, the young man, blood on the side of his head, went to help the women up.
The young man on the hill sat still on his horse, and watched what happened next.
The bandit leader, took an instant dislike to the young man, and hit him in the gut with the butt of his rifle. The action was swift, and he didn’t see it coming, and he crumpled to the ground.
The leader looked at the younger girl, and as his hand reached out to touch her hair, the older woman voiced her objections.
As the sound of the gunshot echoed along the valley floor, the man on the hill squinted. His sapphire eyes, growing icy and cold, as he swore softly under his breath.
The young girl tried to get to her companion, and she was hoisted onto the leader’s horse. He jumped behind her, yelling to his men to take the extra horses. And they all left, the young girl screaming for her companion.
After they had disappeared into the horizon, the man on the hill rode down to see if the young man was at least alive.
He jumped from his horse, and walked over to where the young man and older woman laid. He checked her first, and saw no life. He pulled a small blanket from the wreckage, and laid it over her face.
Then he bent down to check the man. He found a pulse, wasn’t strong, but it was there. He walked to his horse and pulled the canteen off and walked back.
He poured water on his neckerchief and wiped the blood from his head wound. That illicited a soft moan from the man on the ground.
As the eyes slowly opened, the young man was instantly leary.
” Who are you?! What happened?”
Johnny sat back against his heels and softly said, ” Well, the stage coach was attacked by bandits. They seemed to take a real dislike to you, and that old lady over there. Not gonna put much hope that girl they took is gonna last much longer either.”
Scott sat up and lifted his hand to his head, and it came back with blood on his fingertips.
” Hey, wouldn’t touch that. You got a chunk of skin outta ya head. May need stitches, but I ain’t a Doctor.”
Scott lifted up his head and his silver blue eyes locked on Johnny. When he looked up, Scott saw vivid sapphire eyes. He knew most Mexicans didn’t have blue eyes, so he realized this man in front of him could be of mixed heritage.
Johnny wrapped the piece of cloth around Scott’s head, carefully. Then leveled the sapphire eyes on the man’s face again.
” What’s your name Mister? I’m Johnny.”
” Scott. Thanks for helping me. I don’t suppose the horses are any where close by, are they?”
Johnny chuckled softly and said, ” No, I’m sure they are long gone from here.”
Johnny helped Scott to move back against the overturned coach, and he squatted next to him.
As he handed Scott the canteen, he said, ” Where were you headed Scott?”
Scott lowered the canteen and said, ” A place called Morro Coyo. I’m heading to a ranch called Lancer.” Scott was not prepared for the reaction he saw on Johnny’s face.
” Lancer!? As in Murdoch Lancer!?”
Scott saw Johnny’s eyes kind of frost over, and he was looking at someone he wasn’t too sure about.
” Never met the man myself. But I’m guessing you have. Is there something I need to know.”
Johnny stood up and paced for a few minutes. ” Yea! He threw my mamma and me out when I was 2. Got no use for the bastard!”
Scott looked at Johnny and softly said, ” If you were on his ranch when you were little, oh my God, that makes you my Brother!”
Johnny spun around and said, ” No Brother of mine! All we share is that bastard’s blood!”
Scott stared at Johnny, trying to see something that said family, but all he saw was a very angry young man in front of him.
Scott sighed gently and said, ” How far is the nearest town, that I could get some help?”
Johnny lost that angry frosty look, and laughed low. ” Well, that’s gonna be a problem. The nearest town of any size is about 20 to 25 miles away. I don’t think you are in any condition to walk that far. Especially with them fancy clothes on. You won’t make it 2 miles.”
Scott pushed up against the stagecoach, and was a bit wobbly on his feet, but he was standing.
” Well, I have to do something, so I guess I’m walking.”
Scott turned and started to walk and Johnny’s loud insistent voice made him stop.
” Hold up a minute! You’ll never make it if you walk. Can you ride?”
Scott smiled and said ” US Calvary 7th Regiment in the Union Army……. So yes, I can ride.”
Before they left the wrecked stagecoach, both men decided to bury the 3 dead bodies. Johnny said some words over the bodies in what Scott assumed was Spanish.
When finally ready, Johnny jumped gracefully into the saddle. He held his hand out to help Scott up behind d him. As they rode at a trot, Johnny quietly asked.
” So where were you coming from Scott? You have a strange accent.”
Scott laughed loudly behind Johnny and he said, ” Strange accent, huh? I guess to someone in the west, it does sound strange. But to answer your question Johnny, I’m from Boston.”
” And you came all the way out here to what, meet your father? When was the last time you saw him?”
Scott lowered his head and Johnny heard the soft sigh.
” I’ve never met him Johnny. My mother died when I was born and I lived with my grandfather.”
Johnny was quiet for awhile, and Scott thought he wasn’t interested in talking. When Scott heard Johnny clear his throat and start talking.
” I don’t remember much about when mamma and me were there, at Lancer, but I sure do remember the times after. I was beat on by the kids in the villages we moved around too. Blue eyed Mexican kids, well, they don’t have many friends. Sometimes, even mamma’s men would beat me, just for being in the room when they wanted to be with her.”
Scott’s eyes closed as he tried to imagine that and he quietly said, ” You didn’t have any friends Johnny? That must have been so hard.”
” Oh, I got used to it after awhile. I could tell when they would want to beat me up, and I’d run from them. I’d hardly have enough food to eat, so I’d start to steal.”
When Johnny stopped talking, Scott felt his body trembling.
” You okay?”
Johnny was very quiet and Scott began to think he was angry.
” Yea, just remembering when she died. Well, one if her men strangled her and I saw. I tried to get him to stop, and I couldn’t. What could a 10 year old kid do?”
Scott lowered his head and closed his eyes. His little brother has sure led a rough lonely life. It was then Scott made a decision.
” Well, little brother, whether you want a big Brother or not, you have me. I’m going to have your back. No one will beat on you ever again.”
Johnny stopped his horse and slowly turned around to look at Scott. There was a definite twinkle in his deep blue eyes as he smiled slowly.
” Do you have any idea of who I am Scott?”
” Well, you are my little Brother named Johnny.”
There was a rich, low throaty laugh from Johnny. His smile got even wider and he said, ” Scott, ever hear of the gun fighter Johnny Madrid?”
” No, is that who you are? Johnny Madrid?”
Johnny started the horse again and said, ” Yep, Johnny Madrid, gun hawk. The fastest and deadliest of them all.”
” I found the man about 6 years ago. I had been practicing with my colt all those years. I’d watch the other gun hawks, and I taught myself. I got faster and deadlier as the months went by. When I saw him in a town one day, I called him out. When he went for his gun, I saw the flicker in his eyes, and I shot him before he cleared leather. I looked down at him and said, ‘ You were killed by Johnny Madrid.’ And I’ve been Johnny Madrid ever since Scott.”
Scott sat on the back of the horse, his mouth hanging open. ‘Just what the hell is going on and who is this guy who is my brother?’
Johnny got quiet and it was about an hour later before he spoke. It was a soft quiet voice.
” Scott, you’ll see just how deadly I am, when we get to a town and someone recognizes me.”
Scott chewed on his lower lip and he said, ” What happens when they recognize you Johnny?”
” You’ll see Brother. All I ask is you don’t interfer and don’t distract me. You could get me killed.”
Scott was a bit confused and a whole lot concerned. His little brother was a dangerous gunfighter.
They rode in silence for awhile, and soon Scott began to see buildings. Johnny steered his horse towards what appeared to be a livery.
Scott slid off the horse and approached a little dirty looking man banging on an anvil, shaping a horseshoe for the horse tied to the corral fence.
” Afternoon Mister, what can I do for ya?”
” I’d like to buy a horse and tack.”
He put the hammer down and put the horseshoe into a bucket of water. He pulled off a dirty pair of work gloves.
” Only got a couple horses for sale. Come on in and pick the one you like.”
Scott appraised the horses and his eyes locked on a dark chestnut mare who looked like she could go a long way. He noticed she was well cared for and her hooves were trimmed and well cared for as well.
As Scott turned to tell the man he wanted to buy her, he saw the man hauling a well used saddle and tack.
” How much for this horse and the tack?”
The little grizzled man rubbed his chin and he thought for a bit. Then he looked up at Scott and said, ” How about 100 bucks for everything?”
Scott smiled and reached into his pocket and pulled out a nice leather wallet. He peeled off 100 dollars and handed it to the man.
” Thank you very much Sir.”
Scott began to put the tack onto the horse. She stood quietly as he moved around her, pulling straps tight. When it came to the bit he wanted to put in her mouth, she was pretty stubborn. But Scott got his way.
He grabbed the reins and walked the horse out of the old barn. He found Johnny, still on his horse, not moving, just watching.
Scott saw the man on the other side of the street, staring at Johnny.
” Get on the horse Scott. Move away and remember what I said.”
Scott moved to mount the little mare, and he suddenly pulled the rifle from Johnny’s saddle.
” I feel better with a gun handy.”
Scott got on the horse and moved away from Johnny and turned to watch what his brother did.
Johnny saw Scott was at a safe distance, and he slowly moved his horse closer to the other side.
The man slowly got up and spit a wad of tobacco juice onto the street. He just glared at Johnny and slowly said, ” Well, mestizo. I shall finally have my revenge on you for killing my only son.”
Johnny smiled slowly and looked to Scott to be relaxed in his saddle, but he was actually coiled like a rubber band, ready to react to the slightest movement.
” Your son drew on me first Montenegro. Everyone saw it was a fair gunfight. You should have kept a tighter rein on your kid, and he might still be alive.”
Scott saw the twitch in Montenegro’s eye from where he was, and he watched his brother. He was still on his horse.
Montenegro was tightly wound and his eyes were moving rapidly, and he slowly licked his lips.
Johnny’s left hand moved to the reins, his right hand was inches away from his gun. Johnny’s smile was still there, and Montenegro saw how his eyes chilled over.
Scott saw the way Johnny was watching this guy. He said his brother’s eyes frost over and the slight smile on his lips and he shivered.
Then that voice, soft and deadly, came to Scott’s ears. It sounded almost like Johnny was having a good time.
” You wanted to dance, well here I am. Or do you wanna shoot someone off their horse with a bullet in the back. I don’t have all day Montenegro.”
Just that soft voice, combined with those glacial blue eyes and the easy posture Johnny presented, made Scott really glad he wasn’t the one facing Johnny.
As Scott continued to watch, he wasn’t sure that he’d seen Johnny draw, but he heard the roar of a gun. Montenegro laid on the walkway, half on and half hanging over. Dead before he knew it. He didn’t even clear leather.
Scott took the whole scene in. He saw his brother’s gun in his hand, held steady, even after the fire shot out and propelled the bullet into Montenegro’s chest.
Scott mounted the mare and he moved slowly to Johnny.
” It’s me Brother.”
” I know.”
Johnny holstered the gun. He turned to look at Scott, and his eyes were the bright sapphire blue that Scott recognized. But there was a look of sadness there also.
” You ready to leave Boston?”
Scott smiled at the remark and said, ” Yeah, let’s get going Brother.”
They slowly rode out of the tiny dusty town. He would have liked to find a bed and some food, but he figured his brother didn’t want to stay in the place he just killed someone.
Once they hit the outskirts of the town, Johnny let his horse have his head. Scott smiled as he saw his little brother relaxed in the saddle. He gently urged the mare, and she kept up with Johnny’s horse.
They rode full out for 5 minutes, and then Johnny pulled his horse to a grinding halt. The pinto fought the pull on his mouth, and to Scott, it looked like he was going to rear up. But Johnny controlled him beautifully.
Scott looked at his brother, who was looking out over the horizon.
” That’s my life. For the past 6 years, that’s all I’ve been. A gun gawk, trying to survive.”
Scott got quiet and said, ” Maybe it won’t be so bad if you came to Lancer with me. I’m sure this Murdoch Lancer would welcome you back. Maybe start a new life.”
Johnny turned his sapphire gaze on Scott.
” He threw me out when I was 2, what makes you think he’d want me now? A dangerous gunhawk, living on his ranch, putting everyone in danger. “
” You are his son Johnny. No matter who or what you had to become to survive, you are still that man’s son.”
Johnny looked at Scott a little deeper. A small smile came to his lips, as he saw the determination in Scott’s silver blue eyes.
” Say I ride with you to this ranch, and I meet Murdoch Lancer and he does let me stay, what will I do? Not much call for a gunhawk who has put his gun up. “
Scott laughed easily. ” I’m sure we will have chores to do around the ranch. I don’t know what kind of a ranch or how big, but I’m sure we can learn together, Brother.”
Scott noticed Johnny’s head lower and then that soft, gentle voice saying, ” I like when you call me Brother. Always wanted a big brother when I was growing up. Someone to talk to, play with ….. Someone to protect me from the other kids. They were more cruel than the adults. I guess it hurt more when the kids were hateful.”
At hearing Johnny’s words, Scott’s heart broke for the pain and loneliness his brother had to endure.
” Well, together we’ll find out little Brother. If things don’t work out for us, we’ll leave.”
Now Johnny laughed, soft and very throaty, almost like he was purring.
” Leave and do what Boston? First, we’d have to get you some different clothes. You stand out too much as a green horn.”
Scott thought for awhile and then said, ” Oh, we’ll figure that out when we get to it.”
Johnny nodded and smiled a genuine smile at his brother, and turned his horse and waited for Scott to come along side. They started out again.
As they rode, Scott talked about his life in Boston, his part in the war and his grandfather and his opinions of everyone.
After hearing what the man did a few times, Johnny then decided he really didn’t think much of Scott’s grandfather.
Without a warning or anything, Johnny handed Scott a piece of jerky.
Scott took it and said, ” How’d you know?”
Johnny clicked a dark eyebrow at his brother, and said , ” I could hear your stomach complaining. Figured it needed something to do besides bitching. Besides, the next town, we’ll get supplies and then a bed and the best dinner you ever had.”
Scott smiled at Johnny’s description of what his stomach was doing. He felt his mouth drooling with the prospect of real food. And a bed! He wasn’t too fond of sleeping on the ground. Scott kept his mind thinking of the next town and all that he could indulge in. It made the long stretch of the desert, able to pass quickly.
Johnny also was in deep thought as they rode in silence. He went over Scott’s words, the underlying message he was getting. That if things didn’t work out at Lancer, Scott would leave with him. While that thought pleased Johnny, he knew it could also be very dangerous for Scott. Anyone could recognize him, at anytime.
Johnny sighed and closed his eyes for a minute. He was beginning to like Scott, sure wouldn’t want him to get in the line of a bullet.
Three hours later, they were walking their very tired horses into a sleepy town. It looked like everything was closed for the night.
Johnny led them to the livery and he called out for someone named Jose. This kid about 14 years old came out of the barn.
When Jose saw who it was, he broke out into a huge smile, that lit up his big brown eyes.
” Johnny! Is so good to see you! You need to stable that spoiled horse here!?”
Johnny laughed, a rich deep laugh and dismounted. He turned and wrapped his arms around Jose.
” He’s not nearly spoiled enough! You been behaving or is Carmen about ready to kick you out!?”
Jose looked down and stubbed his toes into the soft sand, looking like a kid who just got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
” Ahh Johnny, I’m behaving. Carmen isn’t on my case, much.”
Jose lifted his head and locked those same big brown eyes onto Scott, who was tiredly dismounting.
” Is this a friend of you’re Johnny?”
Scott could feel the distrust going up in this kid. Then Johnny said, ” This is Scott. He’s my Brother. I’ll explain when we get to Carmen’s. Okay? Now get these horses bedded down and I’ll see you in a bit.”
Scott pulled the rifle from his saddle and followed Johnny. They went to a small house and Johnny knocked.
When the door opened, Scott was hit with the vision of the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
Carmen saw Johnny, and as she squealed her excitement, she threw her arms around his neck.
” Johnnnnyyy! “
Scott smiled as his brother was pretty much mauled by the lady. She sure did love his brother.
” How are you Johnny? I heard you were in a Mexican jail? Why has it taken you so long to come back?”
Her questions were coming at Johnny, like bullets from his gun.
Johnny was laughing and he said, ” Carmen, Carmen! Relax. We’re gonna be here for a day or so.”
Carmen finally let Johnny breathe, and she looked over his shoulder at Scott.
” Who’s this Johnny?”
” My Brother Scott. It’s a long story Honey, and as soon as Jose gets here, I’ll tell you both.”
Carmen put 2 cups of coffee on the table and Scott exclaimed it was the best coffee ever. Carmen blushed.
As soon as Jose came in, Johnny began telling them the whole story.
Carmen sat in a chair by Johnny and said, ” My goodness Johnny! You both have had a real adventure, haven’t you?”
Johnny lifted his hand and caressed her cheek. ” Yes, we have. It’s not over Honey. We’re heading to California. Going to our father’s ranch. I may settle there, if I can get away from my life.”
As Carmen’s eyes closed and she leaned into his touch, Johnny quietly said, ” I want to hang up my gun Querida. I’m so tired of always !looking over my shoulder. Killing stupid men, because all they can see is the reputation they want. I’m just tired. I want to have family and a place to feel safe. I’m hoping to find it in California.”
We all sat quiet for a few minutes and then Carmen stood up.
” Well, the least I can do is fix you both a great meal. You can use the upstairs bedroom, it’s got 2 beds.”
She set about in her tiny kitchen to cook and Johnny said, ” Let’s go and get some ‘ cowboy clothes’ for you Boston.”
Johnny told Carmen they’d be back in a bit and left. Scott grabbed the rifle and slung it over his shoulder.
” Never can tell Brother. It might come in handy.”
Johnny softly chuckled and they went to a store that handled ‘cowboy clothes’.
Scott got a couple shirt, jacket, pants, boots and a hat that sat on his head nicely.
Before they left, Johnny walked to a case that held revolvers. He had the owner of the store pull out a couple he liked.
” Hey Scott, try these. Which one feels right in your hand?”
Scott picked up one after the other and from his expression, Johnny could tell his brother didn’t like any. The last one Scott picked up from the counter, Johnny knew.
Johnny had Scott pick a holster and 3 boxes of bullets, and then paid for all the stuff.
” You didn’t have to buy this stuff for me Johnny, I have money.”
His brother smiled and said, ” It’s okay Boston, I just wanted to.”
Scott put on one set of the ‘ cowboy clothes’ and strapped the holster around his narrow waist. He looked in the mirror, and Johnny said, ” Now you fit in Boston!”
They picked up Scott’s packages and the rifle Scott laid on the counter and left the store, heading back to Carmen’s place.
Out of nowhere, 3 guns went off, 2 shots hitting Johnny, one in his left thigh the other in his right shoulder.
Without even thinking, as his brother went down to the walkway, Scott dropped everything and took up a stance over his brother, rifle at the ready.
When Scott spied the 3 men that had shot at his brother Scott took careful aim with the rifle and fired 3 times in rapid succession. 2 men fell from the rooftops, one escaped.
Scott helped his brother up and they went to Carmen’s house. She sent Jose to get the Doctor. Scott laid Johnny on his bed and tried to make him comfortable, while they waited for the Doctor.
After the Doctor took the bullets out, he told Scott that Johnny would be fine in a couple of days. No riding until that time.
After Scott thanked the Doctor, Johnny opened his eyes to look at his brother. Scott saw, in Johnny’s deep blue eyes, that he was in a lot of pain. But Scott learned his little brother would steadfastly refuse any type of pain meds.
Johnny softly sighed and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he had the pain under control.
” I guess, I owe you my life Boston. Fancy shooting by the way.”
In an even softer voice, Johnny said, ” Thanks Brother. I guess you do have my back.”
Johnny closed his eyes and soon Scott heard his soft even breathing. He sat in a chair and pushed his brother’s soft black bangs from his face.
Scott softly chuckled and said, to himself really, ‘ You need a haircut Brother.’
A soft voice said, ” I don’t think so Boston.” Scott smiled at his brother and went downstairs.
Carmen was still cooking and she looked up as Scott sat down. She put a cup of coffee in front of him.
” How’s Johnny?”
” Sleeping, for the moment. I’m sure when he smells what you are cooking, he’ll wake again.”
” I’ll fix him a plate and bring it up to him. Doc said he should stay off that leg for a few days.”
” And he strapped Johnny’s right arm to his chest. Some muscle was damaged, but he said it should heal. It’s his gun hand, so I know he’s a little worried about it.”
Scott had a frown on his face as he sat at the table. Carmen came and sat next to him. She put her small hand on top of his and quietly said, ” He’s gonna be okay Scott. He’s been injured bad before, and came thru it just fine. Johnny is a fighter Scott, he’ll be fine. You’ll see.”
Scott lifted his head and looked into her dark brown eyes. He saw a truth in her eyes that put Scott’s heart at ease.
A few hours later, Scott was in the chair upstairs, watching his little brother sleep.
Soon, he saw the dark lashes begin to flutter. Johnny’s eyes opened and it took him a few minutes to focus.
He saw his brother in the chair and smiled. ” Still watching my back Boston?”
Scott laughed, as did Johnny. They talked quietly about the one who got away.
” He’s still out there Johnny. He could still come for you. The Sheriff told me that they were the Lewis brothers. They been trouble for about 3 weeks here. The one who got away, Brian Lewis, is the worst of the three. He’s a stick of dynamite waiting to go off, and he doesn’t care who gets in the way.”
Johnny got quiet, chewing on his bottom lip. Finally, he said, ” Carmen and Jose, they could be in his sights. Even you Boston. We have to make sure they aren’t harmed. They are very dear to me Scott.”
Scott saw the worry in Johnny’s deep sapphire eyes. He was beginning to like Jose and Carmen as well, and certainly didn’t want anything to happen to either of them.
A knock on the door interrupted their talk. Jose and Carmen came in with 4 plates of a delicious smelling meal. 3 of the plates were put on a table. Johnny was perched up against a mountain of pillows, and Carmen put his plate on his lap.
The meal was good and just spicy enough, but not too much that Scott couldn’t eat it. Johnny smiled his approval and dug into his meal. He did have a bit of a problem eating left handed, but he soon conquered the handicap.
” Carmen, that meal was delicious! I’d never tasted anything like this before.”
Johnny laughed and said, ” Well, I hardly would think so living in Boston. It’s a favored meal among Mexicans, and Carmen fixes it beautifully.”
Scott noticed the pretty pink blush crawling slowly up her cheeks and he smiled.
After awhile, Johnny’s eyes began to lower. Carmen and Jose picked up the plates.
Carmen bent and gently kisse Johnny’s cheek and softly said, ” Sleep well. I’ll see you in the morning.”
As she stood, she smiled at Scott and bade him a good night as well. They left and shut the door quietly behind them.
Scott very carefully helped Johnny to slide down on the pillows, then he pulled the blanket up higher on his chest.
He turned and sat on the other bed and began to get ready for bed. As his boots hit the floor, Johnny’s soft voice said, “So how do you like Carmen?”
” I like her and Jose. They are good people.”
Johnny smiled softly and said, his voice slurring with encroaching sleep, “I almost married her. She’s very special to me Brother.
Before Scott could say anything, Johnny fell into a gentle and healing sleep. Scott continued to get ready for bed. When he finally laid his head on the pillow, he actually sighed in delight. He slid his pistol under his pillow and was soon asleep.
There was a sound that was going in and out of Scott’s mind. He didn’t want to wake, and he automatically slid his hand under the pillow. His hand found his gun and his fingers closed around the handle.
Slowly, Scott heard the window opening. His hand tightened around the gun.
As soon as he heard the boots hit the floor, Scott sat up, the gun held out in front of him.
” Who the hell are you and what are you doing here!?”
The man froze in the wake of staring down the barrel of Scott’s gun. Scott stood up and disarmed the man of a very sharp and dangerous looking knife.
The door suddenly flew open and Jose and Carmen stood in the doorway, Carmen holding a rifle in front of her.
” What the hell!? Are you and Johnny okay Scott? Is this the brother who wants to kill Johnny. He doesn’t look so tough, does he?”
As soon as the guy had stepped into the room, Johnny was instantly awake. He smiled at his brother.
” I see you have my back again Boston.”
Scott lowered his gun and said, ” As long as Carmen has a bead on him with that rifle, I think I will go for the Sheriff.”
Jose was already going out the door, and Carmen and Johnny both laughed.
” Think Jose is way ahead of you Scott. Perhaps you can get dressed again, before the Sheriff comes here.”
Scott had the decency to blush at Carmen’s words and her raised eyebrows.
After the Sheriff left with the man, and Carmen and Jose went back downstairs, Johnny looked at Scott. His blue eyes sparkled and he said, very softly, ” Is this gonna be a habit of yours Brother? Saving my life. “
” Until you are up and around and using your arm, yes I am little Brother.”
Johnny grinned a huge smile and Scott matched it with one of his own.
They stayed with Carmen and Jose for a few more days. The Doctor came a few more times, and finally cleared Johnny for riding. He unbound his right arm and gave Johnny some exercises to strengthen his arm.
Scott helped Johnny to dress and together they went downstairs for breakfast. As they ate, Johnny said they’d be leaving the next morning. Scott saw the spark leave and then come back into Carmen’s eyes.
” I’ll have food ready for your journey Johnny. But do you really have to go? I’ve enjoyed having you in my life again.”
He reached his hand up and gently caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers. She closed her eyes and Scott saw her lean into that gentle touch.
” Yes Querida, I have to go. Scott and I are on our way to meet our father. We gave a long way to go still.”
Carmen and Johnny stayed touching each other for 10 minutes and then Johnny took his hand away. Scott saw a look of sadness come to Johnny’s face, and he felt sorry for his brother. He knew how much Johnny wanted to belong to a family. To have someone in his life.
The rest of their stay was happy. Johnny seemed to be relaxed as they swapped stories of their life together, before Johnny left.
Carmen cooked a rich thick stew for their last meal together. Scott enjoyed that stew immensely. He told Carmen he’d had something similar to that in Boston years ago. Carmen smiled at his compliment.
As the evening wore on, it was soon evident that Carmen was tiring. Johnny stood up and pulled her up from the couch.
” Go to bed Querida. You are exhausted.”
He leaned over and kissed her cheek and gave her a gentle push towards her bedroom door. When it shut softly behind her, Scott saw Johnny put both hands on the door frame and lower his head.
Scott and Johnny went upstairs slowly, and both got ready for bed. Neither man slept.
Before dawn, Johnny sat up. Scott was already up, buckling his gunbelt around his waist. They quietly left the small bedroom.
As Scott picked up the bundle of food Carmen had packed and waiting, Johnny quietly slid into her room.
He stood at the door, just looking at her as she slept, her long brown hair feathered on the pillow.
He slowly walked to the side of the bed and gently sat down on the mattress. Johnny reached his hand out and gently caressed the hair from her cheek.
” Goodbye Querida. I shall miss you very much. Be well my love.”
Johnny leaned down and his soft lips gently caressed her’s. It was so soft and so brief a kiss, it was like the beating of a butterflies wings.
Johnny got up and walked to the door, stopping for one last look at Carmen. There was a growing sadness surrounding him. When he left the room, Johnny was once again in control of his emotions.
As he walked past Scott, he noticed a tear shining on Johnny’s dark lashes. His heart broke a little with knowing his brother was so sad to leave her again.
As they saddled their horses, Jose came into the livery. He stood by Johnny’s side and quietly he said, ” Wish you weren’t leaving Johnny. Carmen has never been happier than she’s been this week. She loves you Johnny.”
” I know Jose. That’s why I am leaving. To keep her and you safe. If anyone knew you both were special to me, they’d hurt you to get to me. I can’t live like that. You take care of her Jose.”
Johnny hugged Jose tightly and then quickly mounted his horse and left the livery. Scott following quietly.
It was still dark out, so Scott couldn’t see Johnny’s face. When the dawn showed over the hills, Scott saw the drying tracks of his tears on his cheeks.
” Johnny, hold up.”
As Johnny halted his horse’s movement, he slowly dismounted and slid to his knees, his head bowed.
Scott got off his horse and knelt by his brother. He heard the soft sobs coming from Johnny. He put his arm around Johnny’s shoulder, and was shocked and surprised when Johnny turned into his brother’s body and cried huge sobs of sorrow.
Scott felt Johnny’s arms wrap around his waist, and his, in turn wrapped around Johnny. He held his brother tightly, as Johnny cried his heart out and trembled.
His heart was breaking, but all he could do was lie against Scott’s shoulder and cry.
Against Scott’s chest, Johnny very quietly said, ” I love her Scott. I wanted to marry her a long time ago. I can’t, I have to keep her safe. No one can use her to get to me. But I love her still.”
” I know Brother, I know. Things will work out, you’ll see. Soon you will be free to love anyone you desire and you won’t have to worry they will be used against you. I promise Brother.”
It took Scott 20 minutes or so for Johnny to cry it all out. He wiped his eyes and sat back from Scott’s body. His sapphire eyes were all the more brighter and intense because of his tears.
” Lo Siento Boston.”
Scott lifted up Johnny’s chin and smiled at him.
” No need Johnny. Nothing to be sorry about.”
Johnny locked his eyes on his brother’s silver blue eyes, and Johnny was amazed. He saw a genuine affection in Scott’s gaze. It brought a soft smile to his lips.
The brothers mounted up again and continued on their way. They had a couple stops in some small towns along the way, to give the horses a bit of a break, and to get a couple cold beers and something to eat.
Soon, the town they came to proclaimed it was Morro Coyo, and Scott breathed a soft sigh of relief that their journey was almost over. They took their saddlebags and rifles and stabled their horses for the night.
They walked to the hotel and got the last room available, thank goodness it had 2 beds. Scott paid and they tiredly went up the stairs.
Scott was all ready to just fall face first into the bed, but Johnny wanted to see what the town offered. And as he said, ” I’m dying for tequila.” Scott laughed and they left the room and went to the saloon.
Johnny peeked over the swinging door and Scott stayed behind him. They walked in and went to the bar, where he ordered a tequila and a cold beer for his brother.
They both leaned on the bar, Johnny leaning his left side against the edge. Just as he was lifting the glass, he heard those words.
” Hey Madrid! What the hell are you doing here!?”
Johnny turned around and with a huge grin on his face, he said, ” Damn! What the hell are you doing here Val?!”
Val walked to where the brothers stood, and wrapped Johnny in a huge bear hug.
” Just wandering around boy. Heard you were in a prison Amigo. How’d you get out?”
Val laughed and said, ” Well, leave it to you!!”
He turned brown eyes to Scott and said, ” Who’s this Johnny?”
” You aren’t gonna believe this Val! This is my Brother Scott. We are going to our father’s ranch here in Morro Coyo. Who knows, I could become a rancher if everything works out.”
Scott held out his hand and after a quick scrutiny from Val, he did finally shake his outstretched hand.
Val pulled Johnny to the table in the back, and Scott followed in the wake. He was amazed when both Val and Johnny sat with their backs to the wall.
Scott took a deep sip of his beer and he said, to Val, ” I’m guessing you are a gun fighter, like Johnny.”
Val laughed and Johnny’s sapphire eyes took on a hard glint. “Oh, there ain’t no gun fighter like Johnny Madrid! I’m not even in the same league!”
” Oh, you pulled my ass out of lots of scraps Val.”
Val rubbed his jaw and got a bit thoughtful as he said, ” Yea, I did at that, didn’t I John. Well, your speed and accuracy was and is legendary.”
Johnny smiled very slow and Scott could see a slight pink tinge come to his well tanned cheeks.
Scott sat, drank and listened to the banter between Val and his brother. He saw how at ease Johnny was with Val, and he wondered how far back their relationship went, and to what extent.
As the evening wore on, everyone drank. Val and Johnny stuck to tequila, Scott had his beer. By the time the saloon closed, all three of them were soundly drunk.
Val started to head to the livery, and Johnny pulled him with him and Scott to their hotel room. Johnny threw Val a blanket and he all but crashed to the floor and was soon snoring away.
Scott and Johnny fell into their beds, barely kicking their boots off. They both took the gunbelts off and all three men took their guns and put them within quick easy reach.
When Scott and Johnny finally woke up well into the morning, it was to see that Val was gone. Johnny seemed to take it all in stride, and set about further waking up. Scott was a bit slower in his desire to wake.
As they were both strapping their gun belts on, Val came breezing back into the room with coffee.
” Oh Val, you are a life saver!”
They sat down on their beds and slowly savored the coffee Val had figured they would need in order to get going with their day.
” You still planning on going to Lancer today Johnny?”
” Yea. Guess we should get this over with, hun Scott? Would just like to know where I stand I guess.”
” Where we stand Brother. Remember, if he doesn’t want you, I’m not staying either.”
” Well, I’m staying around town for a little while yet Amigo, so if ya need me I’ll be there.”
Johnny smiled at Val and the scruffy man put his hat on his head and quietly left the room.
The brothers finished their coffee and Johnny stood up and said, ” Well, better get to it Scott. Have to ask someone where the ranch is.”
They went down the stairs and the first person they saw, they asked where the Lancer Ranch was. The gentleman pointed them to the road leading out of town, and said, ” Stay on that road. It will lead you right to it.”
They walked to the livery and saddled their horses. They slowly mounted and headed out of town, on the road they were told. They kept the horses to a steady walk, not sure how long they’d be travelling.
About an hour or so later, they stopped the horses on an overlook.
Scott softly whistled and said, ” Wow! That’s quite the view! I wonder if that’s it down there?”
Johnny looked and saw a rather impressive white building, lots of barns and cattle and horses everywhere.
” Won’t know till we go down there, will we?”
They rode down the hill and came to an archway proclaiming the name ‘Lancer’ and a fancy type L.
” Guess this is the right place Brother.”
As they rode into the courtyard, a Mexican ranch hand came out and reached for their horses.
” No, just leave them Senor.”
Scott and Johnny had just dismounted, and the door slowly opened. A mountain of a man, walking with a cane, was there.
He walked out and as he looked at the boys, his eyes began to well up.
Looking at Scott, he softly said, ” Oh my God! You have your mother’s eyes.” Then he turned to Johnny and said, ” You look just like your mother.”
” I’m your father, Murdoch Lancer. You must be Scott and johnny. I never thought I’d see you boys ever. Come in, we have a lot to talk about. “
He turned and went into the house, the boys followed behind him, Johnny hanging back a little bit.
Murdoch limped to a cart in the corner and lifted up a decanter.
Scott and Johnny both got a bit green and both said, ” No, don’t think so.”
Murdoch walked to his huge desk and leaned up against it. He pointed to a set of matching chairs and the boys slowly sat down.
Johnny looked at the large man and he had his eyes slanted a bit, wary and unsure. Scott just looked at him with a subdued expression on his face.
” I’m glad you got my message Scott. I wasn’t sure your grandfather would give you my letter.”
” He didn’t. I intercepted it when he was at his office. Decided I needed to come here and see what you offered. On the way, I was ambushed and met my Brother. We both decided to come here.”
Murdoch smiled slowly at both men and said, ” Never thought I’d see either of you boys again. John, I searched for you for 16 years, ever since your mother took you away in the middle of the night.
Johnny raised his elbows up onto the arms of the chair, and steepled his fingers. His eyes took on a very dark evil glint.
” Ain’t the way she told me old man! She told me you threw us out!”
Murdoch shook his head slowly, a sad look coming over his face.
” No Johnny she ran off and took you with her. I spent every dime I could get my hands on searching for you. I’d just about given up hope of ever finding you.”
Scott turned silver blue eyes to look at Johnny. He could see the confusion on his brother’s face.
” Maybe he’s telling the truth Johnny. Let’s hear him out Brother.”
Johnny relaxed a bit with hearing his brother’s words.
” Okay, maybe you are telling the truth. But I have a couple questions for you too old man.”
Murdoch sat on the sofa and turned to look at his sons.
Johnny got up and began to pace, and Scott knew he was getting a bit agitated.
” Johnny, breathe Brother. Ask your questions.”
Johnny stood by the huge fireplace and then put his hands on the mantle. He lowered his head and very softly, in almost a whisper, he said, ” Do you even know who I am, what I became, because she took me away from home?”
Murdoch looked at his youngest and stood up. He walked to Johnny’s side and gently turned him around to face him.
” Yes, I know who you became and it doesn’t matter to me John. You are my son and that’s all that matters to me.”
Johnny lifted his head and the eyes he turned on Murdoch were shimmering with unshed tears, tears Johnny knew he would never shed.
Murdoch’s large fingers gently brushed the shaggy bangs from his face and he said, just as softly, ” You have a home here Johnny, you and Scott if you want one. Both of you. A home and family.”
Johnny felt his arms going around his shoulders, and turning him into his chest. Johnny closed his eyes and felt his arms sliding around his father’s waist.
” A home and a family. Never thought I’d find that.”
Scott stood up, and walked closer to his brother and father. He felt Murdoch’s hand gently cupping his face.
” Never thought we’d find a home Brother. Guess we stay and become ranchers Johnny.”
Johnny’s eyes lifted to look at his brother and then slid to his father. He saw the love that both men had for each other and for him also.
Johnny’s heart began to thaw and he felt it opening up to love again. Maybe he could stop being Johnny Madrid. He could hang up his gun and find someone to love, someone who could love him also, without the hurt and pain. Johnny finally found family to love him, Madrid and all.
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