was no use. No matter how much he wanted to believe that he belonged at
Lancer, the truth was he wasn't even sure he had the right to claim the Lancer
name. If what Teresa had said was right, then he didn't belong at all, his
mother had seen to that. That everyone, but him, knew that she had left
Murdoch to run off with another man was bad enough, but that the news took
another piece of him with it, was worse still. There was far too little of
that boy left inside him, and with his Johnny Madrid's dignity threatening to
take the rest, soon there would be nothing left of Johnny Lancer.
understood that Murdoch or Scott were unsure of the man who stood before them.
Like everyone else in more than one territory, they had heard the stories that
had been born of fact and fiction that had given rise to Johnny Madrid's
reputation and wondered about the true man inside. Johnny had seen the silent
questions on both men's faces as they questioned his loyalty to the Lancer
name and he couldn't blame them. He had made no secret for his reasons for
coming home. Johnny had voiced loudly not only his monetary reasons for
setting foot once more on Lancer land, but clearly, his preferred distance
from his father and his newly discovered brother.
How strange to his ears that word was. Oh, he had had over the years, men who
had called what they had as a gang, a 'brotherhood' of sorts, but Johnny had
never really had someone who cared enough to watch his back. And now, the
thought of having to giving up the real thing, even after such a short time,
was more painful than Johnny had imagined. But, who was he trying to fool? He
didn't belong here. Scott, with his fancy tweed pants and funny city hats
belonged to Lancer more than he did. He was the son that Murdoch needed.
Smart, responsible and with out a past that could drop you dead in the dust.
Yeah, Scott was the true Lancer son, but Johnny was going miss him, more than
he would let on, even to himself.
matter how many times he went over it in his head, it came out the same in his
heart, it hurt, but he didn't belong here. His past was not only a danger to
him, but it was a danger for those who were close to him and he couldn't,
wouldn't put his family in danger because of the mistakes he'd made.
to the dresser, Johnny looked into the mirror. There he was, Johnny Madrid,
gunfighter, son, brother--killer. Quickly looking away from the cold and harsh
truth, Johnny quickly opened the draws and pulled out his basic needs for
traveling. There was no turning back; he couldn't turn back. Not this time.
town the day before********
must done something right for such a windfall," A happy voice called from
behind him as Johnny leaned against the bar, enjoying a well-earned beer.
"I don't belief my luck, Johnny Madrid in the flesh."
heard the scratching of chairs being discarded and the rapid shuffling of feet
as the saloon patrons tried to make themselves invisible, but still see the
show. He tried willing the voice to disappear, but he knew it was a lost
cause. Taking large swig of his beer, he put the glass down and glanced
around. "Do I know you kid?"
no, but I know you," the younger stranger replied eagerly as he pushed
himself from his chair and sauntered slowly to the bar, keeping a short
distance between he and the object of his attentions. "Seen you work.
Faster than Satan hiself so I heard, but I've seen faster."
side on against the bar so he could see the stranger a bit better, Johnny took
in the long black duster and matching outfit, the ominous look contrasting
with the well shine sterling silver buckles that decorated his holsters and
hat. The former gunfighter reasoned that the well-dressed stranger was only
about eighteen if he was a day and looking to make a name for himself.
"I'm sure you have, there's always someone faster, and the name's Johnny
Lancer." He corrected.
man's got a right to be buried under any name he wants, but I'll make sure the
world knows I killed Johnny Madrid."
it was. The words came as no surprise to Johnny, he had heard many times
before. "Well, you'll be killing Johnny Lancer, Madrid's long gone and as
for the world, I don't think it will care one way or the other." Johnny
sighed as he began to resign himself to having to defend himself again.
"A man has a right to be buried under the name he chooses, so he also has
the right to know who it is that is taking that life away from him?"
call me La Muerte in some parts," he said quite proudly.
Johnny translated slightly amused at the name so obviously thought up by the
kid himself. "And just how many men have you killed to earn this fearsome
reputation of 'La Muerte'?"
men," the boy answered.
like one' Johnny thought to himself as he shook his head. This kid was
destined for an unmarked grave in some town where they wouldn't even remember
him ever being there. "Well, La Muerte," Pausing to empty his glass,
Johnny stepped away from the bar and held his hands away from his guns.
"You're going to have ten and one in the back, because I'm not about draw
young man pushed back his coat so that he would have quick access to his guns
as he eyed the former gunfighter. "You getting old Madrid. The man I saw
on that street that day, wouldn't have backed down from a fight."
told you, Madrid is gone." Johnny reiterated as he turned and started to
walk from the room. "The name is Johnny Lancer."
die Johnny Lancer!" The stranger called as he went for his gun.
reaction, or the instant realization of everything he had to lose, Johnny
would never know, all he knew was his response was faster than the young man's
to the present*****
his clothes into his saddlebags, Johnny tried to dismiss the young man's death
as unavoidable, but how could it be when what you are sets the path you walk.
He could still see the stunned look of surprise on the young man's face as he
fell to his knees, his unfired weapon slipping from his lifeless hand. Tired
of thinking and needing to be gone before the others woke up, Johnny put the
letter he had written and the deed to his part of the ranch on the bed and
didn't look back.
snorted into the air, shifting uneasily as he became unnerved by the confused
signals he was getting from his rider. Unsure of what was expected, the
palomino slowed its gait and waited.
it's not fair taking this out on you, is it, boy?" Johnny apologized as
he leaned over to rub a calming hand down Baranca's neck. Taking a deep
breath, the gunfighter straightened in his saddle. "Don't look
back," he whispered to himself as he closed his eyes. "It's looking
back that got you thinking in the first place." With his mind made up,
Johnny looked toward the end of the road and spurring Baranca on, headed
toward his past.
and shine, Brother," Scott pounded on the door of his brother's room. It
was unlike Johnny to over sleep, but after the day he had in town, they all
decided to let the young man lay in a little longer. "You're going to
sleep the best part of the day away," Scott called as he opened the door
and found himself facing an empty room.
confused, than surprised, Scott imagined that his brother, unable to sleep,
had risen early and was probably halfway through checking the south pastures
by now. Never quite sure if he would ever fully understand this new brother of
his, Scott shrugged and was about to leave the room when he caught sight of
two neatly place papers on the middle of Johnny's bed.
Lancer hadn't known his sons for very long, but he had heard that tone in
Scott's voice before. It had occurred during their first weeks together, Scott
had used same fear-tinged voice, as they stood helpless, watching as the
raiders who were threatening Lancer, shot Johnny from his saddle. The memory
of his instant reaction to protect his remaining son and hold him back from
rescuing Johnny's body still shamed him.
But Scott had been right, Johnny wasn't dead and as movement return to
his body, his eldest had without a second thought for his own personal safety,
had run to his brother's side and pulled him from danger. These were the two
men he was now proud to call his sons.
what is it?" Murdoch asked as he stood to meet his son.
Johnny, he's gone."
do you mean, gone?"
mean gone, as in packed," Scott snapped as he pushed his free hand
through his hair. Remembering the papers, he found the blonde man passed them
to his father. "He left these for you."
the first piece of paper he was surprised to find Johnny's deed to his part of
the ranch. With his frown deepening, Murdoch tossed the deed on the table and
turned his attention to the next piece of paper.
not one to write letters, never really had anyone to write to, but I couldn't
leave without telling you why. My mother already put us both through that Hell
once. I won't repeat her mistake. I didn't expect a lot in hearing from you
again old man, and I didn't think I'd cared whether you lived or died, but I
surprised myself. I care.
once said to us boys, what happened before is in the past and forgotten.
Nothing's that easy, Murdoch, nothing's ever that easy.
past won't die an easy death. Don't think I ever really expected it to, I
guess. But it's my past and it's a past that shadows me as the boy in saloon
proved yesterday. He is just the beginning.
don't belong at Lancer. I never have. If you were honest with yourself, old
man, you know you'd agree with me. A gunfighter may be useful at times, but as
not going to say don't look for me, cause if there is one thing I know, it's
that you won't. Not because you don't care about Johnny Lancer, but that you
still mistrust Johnny Madrid. Don't worry, I don't hold that against you, old
left you the deed to my share of Lancer. I don't see how it belongs to me,
though I am taking Barranca. He and I are one of a kind.
Teresa and Jelly that I'll miss them and Boston, tell him to stay out of
trouble, because I won't be there to bail him out anymore.
Murdoch cursed as he handed the letter back to Scott to read. "Does he
think so little of us?"
Murdoch," Scott said sadly as he glanced up from the letter. "He
thinks so little of himself."
going on?" Teresa asked, feeling the tension as she entered the room.
"Where's Johnny?" She was more than a little worried about the
youngest Lancer, since she learned about the incident in town. Since the death
of her father, Teresa had come to see Murdoch as a second father and Scott and
Johnny as the brothers she never had. It hurt her to see her 'family' in
gone," Scott said sadly as he passed the letter to Teresa.
She whispered as she dropped into a chair and silently began to read.
was going so well. What really happened in town yesterday?" Murdoch asked
his eldest son, hoping that somewhere in the facts, there was the real reason
to why Johnny left home.
told you." Scott sighed in exasperation. "I came along when it was
all over. But the Sheriff said that all the witnesses agreed, Johnny did
everything he could to get the boy to walk away, but he wouldn't. He's not
reverting to his old ways Murdoch, if that's what you're thinking."
wasn't," Murdoch answered firmly, tackling his son's anger head on.
"But there is more to this than what Johnny is saying in that
what do we do about it? If you think I'm just going to sit here and let him
not going to do any such thing. Saddle the horses." He ordered before
turning to Teresa, he could she see was eager to be of help. "Teresa, can
you get provisions for at least four days ready please?"
Realizing she was wasting time, Teresa left the room to get the supplies.
Murdoch called after his eldest as his son opened the front door on his way to
saddle the horses. "He's not only your brother, he's 'my' son. I let you
both go once, I don't aim to do that again."
was an unspoken urgency to the two riders as they entered Morro Coyo. Both men
knew the longer it took them to find out the real reason behind Johnny's
sudden departure from Lancer, the harder it would be to find him. The only
person they could think of whom would be most likely to hold any answers for
them would be Sheriff Birch. Wasting no time, they tethered their horses in
front of the jail and hoped he was in his office that day.
about finished hanging the last of the new batch of wanted posters on his
wall; Sheriff Birch turned at the sound of his office door opening.
"Murdoch, How are ya? Scott," Sheriff Birch greeted the rancher and
his eldest son.
Horace, and you?" Murdoch shook the officer's offered hand and tried to
get the everyday pleasantries over and done with quickly.
fine. What can I do for ya, Murdoch?" Birch asked before realizing that
the rancher could only be there to check up on the shooting which had involved
his youngest. "If yer worried about the incident with Johnny, I already
told Johnny and Scott here, it was a righteous shoot. Johnny ain't in any
trouble with the law. Well, not 'this' lawman anyways."
and Murdoch both recognized the sound of trouble.
you're saying he 'is' trouble with the law in some way?" Scott asked
before his father had time to voice the identical question.
shrugged his shoulders as he walked to his desk and pulled open one of its
draws. "Well, I can't say that for sure," the Sheriff said as he
withdrew a folded piece of paper, "I wasn't sure what to do with this.
When another Sheriff sends ya a poster of a fella, ya usually post it, but
this one--well, it seemed kinda personal to me and it just didn't seem
reward poster--on Johnny?" Murdoch asked, trying not to voice the fear he
held for his son's life.
sorts," Birch replied as he passed the folded poster to the rancher.
"It's from a Sheriff Bede Cale, from down Los Almos way. I found the same
poster in the dead boy's money pouch."
Johnny saw it?" Scott asked as he scanned the unfolded warrant.
this legal?" Murdoch asked, waiting for either man of the law to answer
as he continued look over the reward poster for Johnny Madrid.
took the other copy," Birch answered Scott's question, before turning his
attentions back to Murdoch, "and as far as I know it 'is' legal. That is
if Johnny as Johnny Madrid broke a law as far as this Sheriff Cale is
concerned," Horace shrugged. At forty-two-years, he had been a lawman for
only ten of them, and then the job only came by as a way to put food on the
table for his family. He knew the basics of law and that was about it.
"But it don't mean I have to post it."
or not, Sir," Scott said as rubbed at the nape of his neck, concern for
his brother seemingly etched now permanently on his face. "Any gunfighter
looking for a name and five hundred dollars is going to be trying to collect
on this. What are we going to do?"
I have this?" Murdoch asked, gesturing to the wanted posted.
Birch nodded. "Take it. It was hard enough these days when you're a
Sheriff to stay alive, let alone having Johnny mad at me."
watched as his father ignoring the sheriff's remark, pocketed the poster with
determination as if he'd already made up his mind on a course of action. He
nodded his thanks to the Sheriff before heading to the door.
Scott called after his father, "Murdoch? Where are we going?"
Almos," Murdoch answered as they reached the horses. "We going to
find out why this Sheriff Cale finds the life of your brother to be worth five
Muerte', the boyish gunfighter, who had for a few brief minutes, believed he
had found a way to make his reputation in Morro Coyo, instead found himself
living up to the name in a way he hadn't bargained on, was now dead. The sad
thing was that with 'La Muerte's' death, Johnny Madrid's reputation had just
added another notch to it, whether Johnny liked it, or not. The very
reputation that the young dead gunfighter had so hungered for.
the guilt for the loss of the young man weighing heavily on his soul, Johnny
reached back into his saddlebag looking for the poster that the Sheriff had
found on the kid's body. Finding it, Johnny spread the paper out over the back
of Barranca's neck, studying the sketched likeness that stared back at him
with lifeless eyes. Of course, he had seen wanted posters before, but never
one with his face on it, and never one signed by Sheriff Bede Cale.
Bede Cale'. Now, there was a name and a profession Johnny never thought he
would hear mentioned in the same breath. When he'd seen that name on the
bottom of the poster, his blood had run cold. It was as if the devil himself
had come back to life. In a way, he had, for only with the devil's providence
could an animal like Cale have stayed alive for so long.
now?' Johnny silently grieved for everything he had left behind at the ranch.
Why, when he had finally received everything that had been kept from him,
including a glimpse of the Johnny Lancer he was always meant to be, why did
this particular ghost have to come back to haunt him?
damned wanted poster!" Scott snarled with contempt for the paper that his
father carried in his pocket. "That's why Johnny left us, because of that
damned stupid piece of paper!"
or the man behind it," Murdoch reasoned.
has got to start believing there's nothing that he could have do which would
change how we feel about him; nothing."
was right about one thing," the elder of the Lancer's responded sadly as
the two men continued riding toward Los Almos. "When I sent the
Pinkertons to track down my sons, I never imagined that one of them would be
the infamous Johnny Madrid."
you still sent for him," Scott's voice held no recriminations toward his
father. "That meant something to Johnny, or he wouldn't have signed for
his share of Lancer."
The older man sighed. "Or maybe, he just thought I saw it as payment for
his 'gun'. I don’t know what Johnny was thinking, but what I do know, is
that I haven't understood all of the decisions that Johnny has made since he
came home. Maybe Johnny sees that as a lack of trust?"
do you? Trust Johnny I mean?"
pulled hard on the leather in his hands, reigning his horse to stop as he made
contact with his son's eyes. "You're my sons. I trust you both with my
~~Two days later in Los Almos ~~
set of eyes peered over the saloon doors, scouring the near empty streets of
Los Almos as they kept an eye out for any unexpected activity. Not that the
new 'peacekeepers' of this small town were expecting any trouble. The
townspeople had long lost the will to fight them after the tragic death of
their 'beloved' Sheriff.
ol' man,' Chavez chuckled as he kept watch on the street. The memory of the
overweight, fifty-something Sheriff, trying to face Cale down in the street
that day was still a puzzlement to him. The town did nothing, but watch from
behind their drawn curtains as their Sheriff was left to die in a hail of
bullets fired by not only by Cale, but also by the other members of the gang.
The lengths the old man had gone to save the town surprised the Mexican, while
the Sheriff's so-called friends and neighbors did nothing, but hide under
their beds. If Cale had been the old man, he would have left them to their
fate. None of them were worth dying for.
to wet his parched throat, Chavez was about to head back to the bar, when he
caught movement out of the corner of his eye. "Rider comin' in," he
warned the others.
you see who is it?" A voice inquired from behind him.
stained teeth were revealed as a grin spread across the cowboy's face,
"Looks liked yer Christmas has gone and done come early for ya, Bede?"
alone at the far end of the saloon, Sheriff Bede Cale showed no sign of
emotion as he continued to deal himself cards.
Madrid saw no sign of life as he entered oddly quiet town. The only suggestion
that the town was populated at all was the faint movement of curtains and the
sure-fire inner knowledge he was being watched.
Barranca in front of the saloon, Johnny glanced around the street once more
before heading to the swing doors and pushing them open.
Pealing his hat from his head as he covertly eyed the room, Johnny
noticed that all sets of eyes bar one had watched his entrance with great
I'm here," Johnny announced as he begun to unconsciously turn his hat
around in his hands.
that means what to me, Madrid?" Cale called from the back of the room,
without looking up from his solitary card game.
that was the whole point of sending out those posters wasn't it? To get me
the posters," Cale tossed down the cards and leaned back in his chair
until it rested on its back legs. "I do hope I didn't cause you too many
problems there, Johnny boy. I was just having a little fun with -- an 'old
friend'," he smiled as took a long hard look at his visitor.
Johnny said as he walked slowly over to Cale, eyeing the rest of the men in
the room as he did so.
only sent out enough to get your attention." Cale shrugged as he rocked
on the chairs back legs.
enough to get me looking over my shoulder, or enough to get me killed?"
Johnny asked as he stopped directly in front of Cale's table.
outdrawing Johnny Madrid?" Cale laughed as he let his chair drop back
down to the floor with a thud. "Hell would freeze over first."
you'd be the one to know about Hell, wouldn't you, Cale?" Johnny sneered.
sniffed as looked down his nose at Johnny, "Don't play the high and
mighty with me, Madrid. We both know you've made your own visits to
wanting to give Cale the satisfaction of seeing his discomfort at the turn the
conversation had taken; Johnny slammed his hat down on the table and stared
Cale down. "What do you want, Cale?"
" Cale smiled. "Now, that's the five hundred dollar question, ain't
a seat." Cale's voice was colored with a trace of an order about it as he
gestured to an empty chair at his table. "Get my friend a drink over
here." He called to the obviously nervous bartender before turning back
to Johnny. "What will you have? Whiskey, or whiskey? I'm afraid the beer
ran out two weeks ago."
wasn't about to leave Los Almos, at least not until he had some answers.
"Then I guess I'll have whiskey," He smirked while taking a seat on
the offered chair.
choice," Cale grinned at the younger man before giving the young
gunfighter a closer look. "You've changed, Johnny. Can't put my finger on
it, but there's something different about you."
you haven't, Cale," Johnny responded tersely. "You still can't get
to the point without a gun in your hand. Why sheriff? Why Los Almos? And why
the wanted posters?"
laughed as he banged his hand on the table. "I take it back, Johnny. You
haven't changed a lick. The first things you ask about are me, the town and
then yourself. That damn conscience is going to be the death of you,
minute now I'm guessing," Johnny said bluntly as he nodded to the
bartender as his whiskey was placed on the table.
in good time, Johnny." Cale answered cryptically.
sudden commotion from outside the saloon had Johnny swiveling in his seat. His
heart sank as he saw his father and brother pushed into the saloon at
I found these two lurking around outside town."
managed to control his anger at being followed, but was barely to keep his
concern for his family's lives from registering on his face as he turned his
back on the newcomers.
reaction to the strangers didn't go unnoticed by Cale, but as it had
disappeared as quickly as it had appeared, the sheriff wasn't so sure what
he'd seen. "Do you know these two, Madrid?"
took a second to debate the consequences of any action he would take before
nodding, "Yeah, I know them."
frowned as he waited impatiently for Johnny to explain how he came to know the
two men, "Well?"
old man's Murdoch Lancer, and the other is his son." Johnny explained
with casual indifference. "They've been chasing me since Morro Coyo,
after that bounty you so kindly put on my head."
scrutinized the two men more closely, and quickly came to the conclusion that
the two strangers were no bounty hunters. Ignoring Johnny, he looked at the
older man. "You don't look like any bounty hunters I've ever seen, more
like ranchers to me."
father wasn't after the bounty, I was," Scott retorted angrily.
"Madrid was trying to make time with my girl in Morro Coyo, so when I saw
the wanted poster, I thought why not? I could get rid of Madrid and get some
real money out of the deal."
you, a four-legged meat herder, thought you could take Johnny Madrid?"
Cale scoffed. "And even brought your Pa along to watch you do it?"
followed my son." Murdoch interrupted as he shot a look of disgust toward
Johnny for affect. "I'd heard a lot of things about this Johnny Madrid
and the kind of man he was. I couldn't be assured of a fair fight with a
gunfighter of his reputation. I wasn't about to let my son face 'him'
alone." It hurt Murdoch to talk about his son like he was some dirt to be
cleaned off his boot, but he could see both he and his sons were now fighting
for their lives.
ya hear that, Johnny? The man talks about you're like you some back-shooting
help what the man believes," Johnny knew deep down his father was lying
to protect them all, but hearing his father put voice to all the insecurities
which he had about himself still hurt.
sure what to make of his two visitors, Cale picked up his whiskey and downed
the contents of the glass. "Take them to the jail. I'll decide what to do
with them later."
wanted to turn around and reassure Murdoch and Scott that he would get them
out of this, but he knew couldn't afford to show Cade that he cared one way or
the other. As his father and brother were led away, Johnny stared at the far
wall of the saloon and tried to think of way out of the mess he had rode his
family into all the while under Cale's steady gaze.
had watched Johnny closely as the two men were lead away and though the
gunfighter hadn't seem to show any emotion one way or the other toward the
strangers, the would-be Sheriff was still wary of his old acquaintance.
to settle the knot that had tightened his stomach, Johnny had to force himself
to appear indifferent to the two 'bounty hunters' plight. "Well, now that
you've got them out of my way, are you ever gonna to tell me what this is all
Madrid. I've learned over the years that if you wait long enough, you get
everything you want." Delivering
a bitter snort in Johnny's direction, Cale stood up and made his way toward
to keep busy and stay out of the gunmen's way, the skittish barman was
unprepared for the sudden and snake-like attack as Cale stepped up to the bar
and grabbed him by the front of the shirt, pulling him down hard over the
want you to do me a favor. I want you to get that young daughter of yours to
whip up something nice for our prisoners," Cale ordered softly into the
frightened man's ear. "Then
I want you to deliver it 'in person' to our 'guests' and get to know
them--become their friend."
Mr--Sheriff Cale, Sir--I--,"
do it, Trumble! By the time you get back, I want you to know who they are and
what they want. Do it, and that 'pretty' little girl gets to live untouched
for a little while longer." Cale threatened.
only fifteen, Verity was one of prettiest girls in town. Isaiah knew that some
of Cale's men had already been looking at her. If one of them were allowed to
get his hands on her, his darling daughter's life would be ruined forever and
he couldn't let that happen. After the death of Sheriff Horton, the
townspeople had decided that if they did what was asked of them, the men would
eventually ride away and leave them alone. Isaiah wiped his mouth with his
shaking hand, before doing what he had done since the nightmare had begun. He
man," Cale grinned as he pushed the man away.
as the flustered barman meekly scurried from the room, Johnny couldn't help
himself. "Still like making grown men feel like dirt, don't you Cale."
A man?" Bede Cale laughed before his lips curled back in disgust.
"No one in this town is worth an ounce of the air they're lucky to be
still breathing. Not one of them."
why stay here?" Johnny asked as he brought the conversation back to why
he was there in the first place.
you'd be amazed at the things you find in a small town like this and you find
yourself not wanting to leave."
I've got. Took a stagecoach couple of weeks ago. Carried pay for some miners
down south. It'll keep us going for sometime to come. No, Madrid, it's not
money." An amused Cale watched as Johnny trying to think of what Los
Almos had that was worthy of keeping the gunman in the town.
both know it was something that you wanted me here for," Johnny remarked
as he drained the last of the whiskey from his glass.
is it, someone?" Cale asked with a malicious grin.
Murdoch and Scott were roughly pushed into the jailhouse and left alone, the
younger Lancer wasn’t about to give up so easily and raged at the cell doors
as if hoping to break the iron strength of its lock. Once he was assured that
he and his father weren't going anywhere soon, a bruised hand from punching
the cell bars proof of that conclusion, Scott began to pace the small space of
their prison. "Well, this was a good plan." He mused as he rubbed
his sore knuckles.
here and Johnny's still alive, that's good enough for now," Murdoch
responded with a shake of the head at his son's painful and hopeless gesture,
"And sit down, son, you're making me dizzy."
you see Johnny?" Scott asked as he ignored his father's suggestion and
continued to pace. "He still had his gun. Do you think he's here because
he wants to be? Did we follow him for nothing?"
Murdoch said emphatically, "If that was the case, Johnny wouldn't have
lied about us. No, he was protecting us for some reason. He just didn't want
this 'Sheriff Cale' to know that he's my son."
my brother," Scott sighed as he let himself drop on to the cot beside his
your brother," Murdoch repeated softly.
excuse me, gentlemen," Trumble called from the doorway where he had been
standing. And listening. "I was told to bring you something to eat."
is it, someone?'
puzzled over Bede Cale's cryptic hints to the possible reasons behind all
this. He was certain, having passed through the town only once or twice in his
entire lifetime, that he didn't know anyone is Los Almos. At least, no one
well enough for this to be the result. Damn it! Think Madrid. Think. Scott
and Murdoch's lives could depend on it.
one of his men to take over from barman Trumble, Cale made sure the others in
the saloon kept their guns and eyes trained on the silent gunfighter as he
took another drink. Bede Cale was
familiar enough with Johnny to know that his casual appearance covered an
agile mind and body, one that wasn't going to sit still for unanswered
questions for too long.
far, this had gone better than Bede had ever thought it would. Sure, he had
run a risk by printing the wanted posters, but still unable to locate Madrid,
it was the only way he could see to draw the gunfighter out into the open.
With a bounty of five hundred dollars dead or alive, it was a sure way to
bring out the good shooters, but he also knew how good Johnny Madrid was and
he put his money on the Mexican to outdraw any and all comers. Cale had bet
everything on Johnny. First, that he would be the winner in any shootout.
Secondly, that the Johnny Madrid he had known would come looking the person
who had posted the reward. 'Sheriff Cale' had won all those private bets in
himself on his plan, Cale noticed the reappearance of his errand running
barman. Nodding in acknowledgment of the old man's signal from the doorway,
Cale followed Trumble to the storeroom.
there's more to like about you than I thought, and our friends spilled their
guts, which I doubt," Cale sneered. "Or you lucked out. Which is
it?" He asked as he struck a match on wall and lit a cigarette.
shifted uneasily on his feet as his hands nervously played with his hands.
"Y-You promised. Verity? No one will touch her?"
an apathetic sigh, Cale exhaled a cloud of smoke. "I ain't promisin'
nothin'--but your daughter is safe--for now. Have you got anything, or are you
just blowing hot air, old man?"
needed more assurances than Cale was giving him, but he at least knew that he
had at brought his daughter a little more time from the horror of Cale's men's
cruel touch. Trumble wiped at his dry lips and began to explain. "I-I
overheard-- somethin'. Don't know if it's-- important, or not. Th--Those two
men, you have in the--the jail. Well, I--I overheard them say that they were--
his brother and father."
Cale asked, his eyes narrowing.
fella you've got in there," Trumble stuttered nervously.
Madrid's father and brother?"
what they said," Trumble stuttered nervously.
Johnny Lancer?" Cale grinned as he dropped the cigarette onto the floor
and stubbed it out with his boot. "Well, well. Never know what the day
will bring. You did good, Trumble. Good enough to keep your precious daughter
outta bounds at least--for a couple of days."
She's all I have." Trumble pleaded as he made a grab for the gunman.
to the old man's hysterics with a solid backhand, Cale watched with disgust as
the old man collapsed to the floor. "She's a whore. They're all whores,
the lot of them" he snarled. "About time she learnt what she's good
for. Now, get up and get behind the bar before I change my mind and send
Chavez to break her in right now."
Trumble sobbed as he got to his knees. "Don't do this, she's just a
girl with a weak, sniveling, coward of a father. She's better off without
you." Drawing his weapon from its holster, Cale looked down at the old
man with contempt and blinked as he pulled the trigger.
heard the shot and came running into the room to protect his leader, but
wasn't all that surprised to find instead, the old man dead with a hole
between his eyes. "He look at ya wrong, Bede?" The Spaniard
chuckled, knowing his boss's temper as well as he did.
could say that," Cale replied as he dismissed Trumble with a wrinkle of
his nose before turning his attention to his henchman. "Chavez, get one
of the men to go and bring the young 'bounty hunter' into the middle of the
street and wait for me."
but knowing better than to ask why, Chavez nodded. "And me?"
our little find? Go and get her from my room. Hold her here in the storeroom
until I call for you."
don't understand," Chavez shrugged before holding his free hand up in
surrender. "Yeah, I know, I don't need to. I'm going."
was of no surprise to Cale as he re-entered the Saloon to find Johnny now
unarmed and on his feet, surrounded by rifles and pistols, all aimed at the
disturbed gunfighter's chest.
to the rescue as always, Johnny boy," Cale said curtly as he checked his
clothes for spots of blood that might off splattered off the dead man's body.
"Well, just like 'last' time, you're little too late."
all became suddenly so clear to Johnny, what had been the motivation behind
Cale's plan. "I should've shot you when I had the chance." The
hotheaded gunfighter snarled.
you should have. But you were a little too busy bein' a hero. And that's the
difference between you and me, Johnny, I ain't no hero. You never could shoot
a man for what you 'believed' he had done. I could." Cale stated
venomously as he cast a cold eye over the gunfighter.
Sonof--!" Johnny growled as the truth clutched at his heart with an icy
grip. "It was you! You killed her!" With his face haunted by the
memories of the beautiful young woman he had fallen in love with, the enraged
gunfighter made a move toward Cale, only to be stopped by an abrupt jab of a
rifle barrel into his ribs.
gave her what she deserved," Cale replied with no self-recrimination in
his voice. "She was a whore. At least, she was until you got in the way.
And she'd still be alive, if you hadn't meddled in matters that didn't concern
was no one's whore, especially not yours, you murderin' bastard!" Johnny
spat as he made another attempt to lunge at the Sheriff, this time to be
felled by the butt of a rifle to the back of his head.
that right, Johnny?" Cale smiled as he gestured for his men to pick up
the dazed man and follow him outside.
jailer's scuffle with his father as he was pulled from the cell, was still
fresh in Scott's mind, as were the threats that had been made to Murdoch's
life. He knew what he had to do. Allowing himself to be prodded along by the
point of a rifle, Scott was pushed into the street.
this all about?" Scott asked the man behind him.
nudge from the weapon, was Scott's only answer.
into the sunlight, Scott's attention was taken by a commotion coming from the
other side of the street. Once his eyes became accustomed to the light, he saw
two of Cale's men dragging Johnny into the street. Wanting nothing more than
to run and help, he could only watch helplessly as his semi-conscious brother
was dropped unceremoniously to the dirt.
Mr. Lancer." Cale called from the Saloon porch.
this all about?" Scott asked as he kept one eye on his brother, who was
slowly dragging himself to his knees.
Cale asked, feigning surprise at the question. "You are a bounty hunter,
are you not? Go ahead, collect your money!"
at what Cale was unwittingly suggesting, Scott watched Johnny, willing him to
stand. Suddenly he noticed his
brother's empty holster. "He's unarmed. Besides, your poster said, 'dead
looked at one of his men and snapped his fingers, receiving Johnny's gun in
return. "Madrid now has his gun," he said, throwing the weapon into
the dirt at Johnny's feet. "And I've changed my mind. I want him dead. Do
you want the five hundred dollars, or not? Now, Mr. Lancer, surely you have no
qualms about killing a known gunfighter? A man, who has killed so many times,
he's lost count? You certainly can't be indifferent to the man who would play
loose and free with your woman if given half a chance?"
shook his head, slightly relieved to see Johnny rising on his own two feet,
then quickly alarmed at seeing how weak his brother still was as he stumbled
forward on faltering legs. "Look at him?" the blonde Lancer pointed
toward his struggling brother. "He can hardly stand. It would be murder,
pure and simple."
then. Maybe Johnny 'Madrid' won't have such high-faluting morals.
Chavez!" Cale called out.
to stand upright, Johnny tried to focus on his surroundings and was confused
when he saw his brother standing down the street, not far away.
"Scott?" he rasped in a whisper. Slowly getting his equilibrium
back, Johnny heard Cale shout and turned in time to see one of Cale's men
pushing a bruised and battered woman down the steps and into the street.
beauty was undeniable. Even the myriad of blemishes and broken skin that
marked her appearance, couldn't hide her true features. Coal colored hair that
once must have been combed back neatly into a bun now fell uneven and matted.
Hidden under the stray locks of hair were a set of brown, almond shaped eyes,
still shining brightly with defiance and pride. With her petite form displayed
more prominently than any decent woman would expect in a public street, she
clung pitifully to the torn pieces of material that she once called a blouse
in a desperate bid to cover her partially exposed bust.
Johnny whispered the name; as if giving it full voice would break the spell
and cause the vision to disappear.
am sorry, Johnny. It is me, Solana, Milisenda's sister. Do you not remember
me?" The young woman appealed, her voice still carrying a trace of
Johnny shook his head, trying to clear his illusion. Now, he clearly saw the
difference between the two women. "Oh, Solana. I thought I'd got you far
from me?" Cale smirked as he leaned against the porch rail. "Well,
fate had other ideas about that. You could have struck me down dead when we
stopped in this little town, and who should I see married to the prim and
proper banker of Los Almos, but Milisenda's whore sister, Solana. Now correct
me if I'm wrong here, Johnny, but isn't this the same girl you helped get away
from me after Milisenda died?" Receiving nothing, but an enraged scowl in
return, Cale shrugged and continued. "You don't have to answer, I know
I'm right. She tastes like a whore; just like Milisenda did."
stood powerless to do anything, but watch as Cale provoked Johnny to the point
of no return.
Johnny Madrid, you have a choice. Either you pick up your gun and throw down
against that 'bounty hunter' at the end of the street there, or I will shoot
Solana where she stands. What's one less whore in the world.
Well, Johnny, which will it be?"
could do nothing but pace the cell, his fear being played out in every step.
The gravity of the warnings, delivered by the barrel of the guard's gun into
Scott's ribs, had not been an idle threat. While every parental instinct told
him to fight, he ceded to the more powerful persuader and watched as Scott was
led away. Now, both his sons were in a situation over which he had no control.
And he didn't like it. If he only knew what was happening to his boys.
guard sat on the sheriff's desk. Half on, half off with his right leg on the
floor to keep him balanced. Knowing he was in no real danger from his
prisoner, he closed his eyes and began to pick at his discolored teeth with a
broken match, giving the task his undivided attention. While in-mid cleaning,
he found himself distracted by a noise coming from the back of the jail.
Reaching for his rifle which laid beside him on the desk, he headed toward the
sound to investigate, pausing briefly at the cell door. "Now, don't you
go anywhere, old man," he chuckled as he continued on his way.
helpless, Murdoch rubbed his fingers through his grey hair and was about to
continue to do the only thing he could do, which was pacing, when he heard the
sound of scuffling and a muffled noise from the back of the room.
to the bars, Murdoch leaned into the cold iron, his eyes following the
direction he had last seen the guard heading.
Murdoch tentatively called, as he wondered what else could go wrong.
only reply to Murdoch's questions was an occasional grunt, followed by a
scrapping sound. The rancher continued to watch as the noisy grunts came
closer and was astounded to see the rear end of a man as he dragged the now
tied and gagged guard into the next cell and locked the door.
are you?" Murdoch asked, gratefully, but was curious as to the identity
of the disheveled man who stood before him.
the guard's pistol into the top of his trousers and laying the 'borrowed'
rifle against the bars, the stranger used the unconscious guard's keys, to
unlock the cell door. "Mr. Murdoch?"
Murdoch Lancer. To whom am I indebted to?" Murdoch asked as he waited for
the stranger to gather his thoughts. The rancher could see by the dark circles
under his eyes and the ripped sleeve ringed by a dried bloodstain, that the
unshaven face man hadn't slept for days. Or cared for his wounds for that
name is Sam Beaudine, Mr. Lancer. I am--was the Banker here in Los Almos.
Though, I can't rightly call myself much of a man anymore, either," Sam
said somberly as he opened the door.
as to what the banker was talking about, Murdoch moved quickly to the window
in search of his sons. "What happened here, Mr. Beaudine?"
happened, Mr. Lancer," Sam answered bleakly as he joined Murdoch's search
with spiritless eyes. "Cale and his men rode in a week ago. I guess they
would've taken the money and kept riding, but--"
what?" Murdoch asked, unable to hold back a relieved sigh when he caught
sight of both his sons standing out in the street.
wife, Solana," Sam whispered as he nodded to the obviously distressed
woman in the street. "She and Cale have a history. Not one my wife should
be ashamed of, mind you, but a history none the less. I'm the one who should
be ashamed," the younger banker whispered as he closed his eyes in
attempt to block out the memory. "I let Cale take her."
look like you put up a fight," Murdoch said as he gestured to the
is nothing compared to what Solana has suffered because I wasn't man enough to
keep her safe," Sam said as he dismissed his wound.
about the rest of the town?"
laughter was hollow as he turned to Murdoch. "What about them? They had
even less courage than I did. Not one of them tried to help us, not one. I was
hoping when I heard about you and your son that you'd be able to help
only half of his attention focused on the banker, Murdoch frowned as he tried
to figure out why everyone was out in the street. "What's going on?"
not sure," the banker shrugged, his own attention centered solely on
Solana. "Though, by the look of it, it's got something to do with that
dark-haired stranger and my wife."
dark-haired stranger--is my son,"
both my sons," Murdoch exhaled as he rubbed his chin apprehensively.
sorry," the banker said softly as he stared sadly into the street.
not," Murdoch answered without thinking. "Johnny's a good boy. A
The banker body jerked as he gazed at the dark-haired stranger more intensely
than he had before. "I thought I heard he was-- Not Johnny Madrid?"
sighed deeply, wondering if that name would ever stop shadowing his son.
"He was. He's Johnny Lancer now."
sir," Sam turned and offered his hand to Murdoch. "I am in your
son's debt. He once saved my Solana from a life no woman should be forced to
endure and I will be forever grateful to him for that."
took the offered hand, and was oddly surprised to be proud of the man Johnny
Madrid had been. "It's not me you should be thanking, Mr. Beaudine, but
in Johnny's stead, I'll accept. Now we need weapons " the elder man
frowned as he made a frantic search of the room. Spying the rifle Sam had left
against the cell door, Murdoch moved instantly to pick it up. Checking the
weapon's chambers, he was disappointed to find it nearly empty. "Only two
rounds left. What do you have?"
pulled out the guard's pistol and checked it out. "Five. What do you have
in mind, Mr. Lancer?"
moving back to his position at the jail window, Murdoch pointed to the other
side of the street. "We didn't get a proper introduction, but I take it
the man in the white shirt, black vest, and coat is Cale, right?"
right, yes." Sam agreed, even though his deepening frown gave away his
sudden uneasiness. "You're not thinking-- Mr. Lancer? Not counting your
sons, there are six men out there. We can't-- Not with just the two of us. And
not with just these." He gestured to the weapon in his hand as he shook
not going to," Murdoch replied as he calculated the risks of his plans
against his son's lives. "Tell me, which man is Cale's right-hand
whether to put his trust in this unspoken plan, Sam tore his eyes away from
the rancher at his side to point to the Mexican standing with his rifle aimed
at Solana's back. "That's him--The Mexican. His name's Chavez.
Please--" the banker begged as he tore his eyes from Solana in an
unfinished plea for his wife's survival.
Beaudine, we haven't got time for me to be gentle about this." Murdoch
stared gravely into the banker's eyes. "Look out there. You wife has a
gun aimed at her back. My sons are seemingly being forced to face each other
with guns. If the people we love are going to have half a chance, we have to
act now. I have a clear shot of Chavez. You should be able to take out Cale
from where you are. The rest should scatter."
if they don't scatter? Or if we miss? I can't risk-- I just can't," Sam's
voice shook, his body trembling under the strain as he turned away.
I can, Mr. Beaudine, and I will." Murdoch's voice was firm and
determined. "I was given no say to live when my boys were taken from me
once before. This time, I will die keeping them."
can't," the banker repeated, shaking his head as he backed away from the
window. "I just can't. Sorry Mr. Lancer," Without warning the banker
found his retreat stopped as a powerful hand gripped his arm and pulled him
back toward the window.
'wanted' my help, Mr. Beaudine and I just happen to 'need' yours."
Murdoch said coldly. Then, he took a deep breath, willingly himself to stay
calm before he lost control of the situation. "Mr. Beaudine, you called
yourself a coward before. Said that you let them take your wife. Tell me, how
will you live knowing that you had a chance to save her, but you didn't?"
lip twitched as he bowed his head to look at the weapon he still held in his
shaking hands. "I'm not a very good shot," he nervously smiled as he
looked up to face the rancher again. "I'm only a banker after all."
or not, Mr. Beaudine," Murdoch replied, letting out the breath he'd been
unconsciously holding since he saw the banker's courage wavering. "You
and I seem to be all our families have. Now, get in position and on the count
of three just squeeze the trigger. Don't jerk it. Remember, just aim and
if I miss?"
still have the element of surprise," Murdoch said optimistically,
"Let's just pray that's enough."
I'm waiting Madrid, what's your answer? Are you going to trade bullets with
the bounty hunter, or are you going to watch Solana die?" Cale called
out, pleasure at seeing his plan succeed apparent with the self-satisfied
smirk plastered on his face.
he could just stop the world from spinning, Johnny thought, maybe he could
think of a way to get them all out of the mess he'd got them in to in the
first place. Swaying slightly, Johnny turned away from Solana to face his
brother. Scott seemed just as powerless as he was to find a way out of this
knew he had to act quickly, but even he was surprised when he heard himself
call out, "Madrid! I want my five hundred dollars and if I have to kill
you to get it, I will."
this is a plan, Boston, it stinks. Johnny hoped his eyes said the
frustrated words to his brother across the distance of the dusty street.
was relieved to see that his brother's dazed expression had faded to a mild
confused look of puzzlement. What he wasn't so happy to see was that Johnny
didn't seem too impressed with his plan. Not that Scott knew what that plan
his brother, Johnny turned his glare on the true focus of his anger. "I'm
not going to fight him, Cale."
shook his head as he gestured to the gun that still lay at Johnny's feet.
"Pick up the blasted gun!" The gunman ordered as he pulled out his
own weapon and aimed it at Scott.
no choice, Johnny took a deep breath, stooping to pick up the pistol from the
street. Checking it for bullets, Johnny wondered if he could take Chavez and
Cale down before they could fire on the their respective targets.
even think it, Madrid." Cale warned the gunfighter. "Not even 'you'
are that fast."
a shot shattered the air and Chavez was knocked off his feet. Followed in
quick succession by another, but Cale warned by Chavez's untimely demise
flinched in time and the bullet only grazed his arm.
Cale and his men began firing across the street at the unknown shooters,
Johnny, Scott and Solana took their chance and made a run for it.
stopped shooting as two more of his men went down and turned to see Johnny and
the others fleeing. Taking aim as he evaded another bullet, his shot went
wild, but he still managed to bring down the 'so-called' bounty hunter.
Solana ahead of him, Johnny heard Scott's painful grunt and turned in time to
see his brother fall. Unsure whether he could focus enough to kill anyone,
Johnny gave fire cover as he grabbed his brother's arm and began to drag him
toward an unhitched wagon.
me," Scott groaned as he used his free hand to try and stem the flow of
blood from his thigh.
miss getting to tell how stupid your plan was? Never, Boston," Johnny
huffed as he struggled to shoot and pull his brother along at the same time.
than the one, you never had, brother," Scott joked, grimacing in pain as
he tried to help his Johnny haul his weight.
this time, Madrid," Cale hissed as he a bullet whistled passed his ear,
and renewed his aim at his two targets.
as Johnny was nearing the safety of the wagon, his gun clicked empty. As time
seemed to stand still, he watched Cale take aim and at the same split second a
bullet spun him to the ground, Johnny could have sworn he saw Cale fall.
the town had confirmed that Bede Cale was indeed dead and what was left of his
gang had high-tailed it out of town, it was like watching a ghost town come
back to life as people spilled out of their houses.
A disgusted Murdoch watched the commotion from the doctor's office as
he waited for news on the condition of his sons. He still couldn't believe the
amount of people that now flooded the once deserted street. Where were these
people when his sons were in the streets about to be gunned down by Cale and
had dismissed the congratulations and gratitude that were heaped on him as he
hovered over his sons' bleeding bodies. Shouting for help, he had been ignored
as the gawking crowd, who seemed to find it far more interesting to stand
around staring at the dead bodies that littered the streets. Unable to hold
his patience back any longer, Murdoch was forced to physically haul a couple
of the townspeople out of the mindless crowd, to help him carry his sons to
the doctor's clinic.
instantly turned at the sound of the doctor's voice and quickly made his way
over to him. "My sons?"
just washed the blood of the blonde Lancer off his hands, Doctor Kessler, a
short, balding man of about sixty-five, finished his cleaning and tossed the
used towel on to a table. "I'll tell you Mr. Lancer, I've never seen two
men so eager to fight over who gets treated first in my life. But, even with
their stubborn streaks, they'll both live." He sounded amused.
than relieved that his sons would survive, Murdoch's attention was momentarily
distracted by a noisy celebration passing by the doctor's window, "Look
at them all! You'd swear it was the fourth of July." The rancher could
barely hide his distain.
Murdoch's gaze, the Doctor couldn't help feel the same elation as the crowd.
"You can't blame them, Mr. Lancer. They have been living in fear for
weeks. The death of Cale has freed this town."
why did it come to this? Why did my sons have to risk their lives to save your
town? Why didn't you save yourselves?" Murdoch angrily demanded of the
wasn't our fight!" The doctor argued. "It was personal between Cale
and the banker and his Spanish who-- 'wife'. It was their fault all this
you doctor? Where were you during all this?" Murdoch asked, trying to
remember he was talking to the man who had probably saved his sons' lives.
sir, am a healer, not a killer," the doctor retorted.
neither are my boys, but they did what they had to do to try and save lives
out there today." Seeing the arguing wasn't going to accomplish anything,
Murdoch changed the subject. "Can I see my sons?"
course," he answered curtly.
to follow the doctor, Murdoch heard the door open behind him and turned to see
Beaudine," Murdoch smiled as he walked up to the younger man and took his
hand. "How's your wife?"
courageous woman, Mr. Lancer. Solana makes me very right proud. She says she's
fine. I don't know if I believe her, but I will be with her every day for the
rest of her life to make sure she is." Sam replied before asking after
the two men who had risked their lives for his wife. "And your
'doctor' says they'll live," Murdoch tried to mask his
do hope so, Mr. Lancer." Sam smiled, "I owe all of you so
I do you. I don't know if you realize it, but you saved my sons' lives out
looked down at the ground, feeling unworthy of the older man's praise.
"But Mr. Lancer, I missed-- twice."
a firm hand to the banker's shoulder, Murdoch refused to let the young man
shoulder any more guilt. "You got Bede Cale when it counted. I'm in your
debt, Mr. Beaudine."
met the rancher steely gaze and accepted the gratitude he saw there.
"Let's call it even." Beaudine grinned as he offered his hand.
are you going to do now," Murdoch asked as he accepted the hand.
"Reopen the bank?
shook his head as he bitterly cast an eye toward the street. "No, Los
Almos holds nothing for me now. We’re packing to leave in the morning. The
sooner we put distance between this town and us, the better."
agree with you more. You both take care now."
too. Can you tell Scott and Johnny that Solana and I will come and see them
before we leave?" Sam asked as he headed for the front door.
do that now," Murdoch replied as he waved the young man off and went to
check on Scott and Johnny.
at the doorway, Murdoch watched his sons as they rested. Each rise of their
chests was a soothing ointment to a bruised father's heart.
my boys the invalids." Murdoch joked. His light-hearted demeanor was worn
as a mask that barely covered the sheer terror he had felt only hours before.
the invalid," Scott grinned as quickly jumped in to tease his brother.
"Shot in the side, hit on the head. He never made any sense before
anyway, now he's going to make none at all."
usually quick repartee between brothers was absent as Johnny refused to join
in with Scott's game.
up on his Johnny's sullen mood, Murdoch attempted to ignore it as he went on
to explain his plans to leave the town as soon as possible.
going home. Nothing's changed."
words had both men stunned.
bolted upright in his bed; the movement pulling at his wound and causing him
let out a hiss as he grabbed his leg in pain. "What do you mean you're
not coming home?" Scott demanded through clenched teeth.
refused to meet either man's gaze, as he went on to explain himself. "I'm
still Johnny Madrid and even though Cale is dead, his wanted posters are still
out there somewhere." Johnny stared straight ahead, releasing a scornful
laugh as he thought of Cale and the damage he'd caused to his life. "The
sonofa-- he still won."
stepped slowly to Johnny's side, as if he was frightened he'd scare his son
away. "He's won nothing. You're coming home where you belong."
his head around to face his father and instantly regretting the movement as
the room spun, Johnny spoke softly as he looked at the occupant of the other
bed. "And if Boston had got killed out on that street today because of
me? How would you feel about Johnny Madrid then?"
lowered himself to Johnny's bed, bringing himself to his son's level.
"The same way I do now. I learnt something today, Johnny. Whether you are
Johnny Madrid or Johnny Lancer, you are still a man I am proud to call
could see the true depth of his father's feelings. Heck, a blind man could see
the love there, but he couldn't risk believing that this could all work out so
easily. That he could actually live happily ever after. "I can't do it.
What if next time, it's, Teresa, or Jelly? I can't risk my family."
could no longer stay quiet, as he watched his brother seemingly bowed and
determined to sacrifice himself for his family. "We're not letting you
go, brother. No matter how much you kick and scream. You have to believe that
together we Lancer's can survive anything."
didn't want to talk about this. It would mean opening himself up for all that
pain again. Why wouldn't they just let him go?
Johnny said sadly, still able to hear his mother's voice. "I believed
every word my mother told me about you Murdoch. All these years of believing
that you left me, that you didn't love me. I believed that I was who I was,
because you abandoned us and I didn't even know you existed, Boston. It's so
hard," Johnny paused as he lowered his head, "to put any belief in
anyone at all.
had never seen so much pure suffering reflected in someone's eyes before, and
it hurt that he hadn't been there for son in those early painful years. He
would have like to curse Johnny's mother for causing their son so much pain,
but he couldn't. She had given him something wonderful, a complex, infuriating
and amazing son.
into his pocket, Murdoch retrieved the papers he had been carrying all through
their ordeal, in the hope he could do what he was about to do. "Well,
this time, you can believe."
Murdoch held the deed out in front in front of his son, Scott held his breath
waiting to see what Johnny would do.
first at his brother and then at his father, Johnny made his decision.
'believe' that's mine," Johnny smiled as he accepted his life at Lancer
for the final time.