“What in the hell were thinking trying to ride across that desert, Boston?” Johnny asked irritated.
Scott sighed. The Lancers had arrived home late last night after Scott’s ordeal of being lost in the desert and all three had fallen into bed. They all had slept in as Murdoch had insisted on a light work day. Now as he and his brother led their saddled horses from the barn to ride fence for a few hours Johnny was upset.
“I apologized yesterday, Johnny. I’m sorry. I know I worried you and Murdoch. I made a mistake.” Scott looked at his brother and knew his words were not sinking in. He glanced around at the hands doing their chores. Teresa was out in front watering her potted flowers. Who knew where Murdoch was? He knew his brother and he were going to have it out but it wasn’t going to happen here. Scott stopped and mounted Charlie and spurred him into a gallop. He turned around; Johnny was hot on his tail. Scott looked ahead and decided to pull up at a large tree to discuss his brother’s latest angst. Scott was ground tying Charlie when Johnny grabbed his arm and whirled him around.
Scott was taken back at the look of anger on his brother’s face. He suddenly realized that his brother’s dark mood ran much deeper than yesterday’s incident in the desert.
“Why are so angry with me brother”? Scott asked quietly keeping his tone even.
“Why!?” Johnny gasped incredulously. “I was out most of the day yesterday in that desert looking for you or what was left of you! We saw buzzards circling….I thought it was you Scott! When it was your horse I was still frightened for you. And when we came back to that mine and I heard shots I was afraid I wouldn’t be in time. As it was you were seconds away from taking a bullet to the face! Johnny stopped sucking in air after his rampage. He couldn’t get that scene out of mind, his brother on the ground and that damn outlaw pointing his gun at him seconds from killing Scott. The look on Scott’s face shook Johnny to the core. He looked resigned, accepting that he was going to die.
“Look Johnny. I lived it!” Scott said meaningfully. “It was never my intention to worry you or Murdoch. I know, I know I should have used better judgment but I can’t change it.”
“It’s past and gone, you mean?” Johnny asked coldly.
“Something like that.” Scott said looking down at his boots. Scott didn’t see the right hook coming but certainly felt it as his head was whipped around and he was driven to the ground.
Scott sat up gazing at his brother, rubbing his jaw, a sad look on his handsome face. “Why do you want to hurt me Johnny?” he asked unable to keep his voice from breaking.
“Because you hurt me!” Johnny retorted angrily. “All that crap about family and then you go a pull a fool stunt that could have easily gotten you killed!! What then, big brother?! I ain’t ever let anyone in like this, not so much that I couldn’t ride away! But you had to work your way in, make me care….and for what? So I could bury you in that desert or someplace else when you get your stupid Boston dandy self killed!!?”
Scott sighed shaking his head and asked in a soft voice. “If I stand up, are you going to let me keep standing, brother?
Johnny turned away. “Can’t say.” He replied curtly.
Scott regarded him silently for a few moments. “Then I guess I will stay down. There are no guarantees brother. I know you realize how dangerous the west is. It’s true, I could be killed out here … so could any of us. But we won’t have to face it alone. The rest of our family will be there for us. If I had died yesterday Murdoch, Teresa, Sam and Jelly would be there for you and would have helped you through your grief, same for me if something happened to you.” Scott said earnestly.
“It ain’t worth it.” Johnny said bitterly.
Scott stood up. “I see.” Scott said unable to keep the hurt out of his voice.
Johnny swore and hit Scott again this time with a left round house knocking him to the ground again.
Scott groaned and sat up again. “God Johnny, what do you want from me?” his voice now filled with pain. He shook his head to clear his senses. This was not going well. He understood his brother’s fears because he felt the same when Johnny was in danger but caring so much was new to brother. Sure he had made close friends throughout his young life but he’d always been able to leave them behind. Scott knew Johnny had loved his mother but she had hurt him badly too. He’d even tried to leave Lancer with Wes but he had come back. Scott knew this was his doing. He’d wanted to know his brother so he’d kept chipping at the wall Johnny had built up. He’d even paved the way for Murdoch and his son to become closer by serving as a buffer between the two of them.
Scott gazed at his brother’s troubled face. Perhaps he had been wrong but everything in him told them he hadn’t. There was no future for his brother as a gunfighter. He shook his head. Hadn’t it been proved when the Pinkertons had rescued Johnny from certain death at the hands of the Rurales.
Sensing Johnny was not going to answer him he decided to continue to try to get through to his brother. He realized he probably would receive more blows as angry as Johnny was.
Scott swallowed. “Sometimes families hurt each other but most times they don’t mean too. I don’t want to hurt you. When you left with Wes I pretty much begged you to stay. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do. I told myself I was trying to save you from an early death. But maybe I was being selfish, wanting you to stay for me, holding you back for me. Me…because I didn’t want to lose you. I guess I wasn’t thinking about you, about what you wanted.”
“You should have shut your mouth and let me go back to Madrid.” Johnny hissed angrily.
Scott’s slate blue eyes grew dark. “Don’t be ridiculous, Johnny! Madrid? A persona you hide behind. Fine! Have it your way but Johnny Madrid is my brother as well as Johnny Lancer and all the Johnny’s in between them, son, friend, rancher. All of you. That’s who my brother is. I never delineate between them. I only ever see you, Johnny, you!..my brother.
“God damn you, Scott!!” Johnny spat balling his fists.
Scott stood up and took Johnny’s upper arms in his hands searching Johnny’s eyes. His anger melted. “I think I understand Johnny. If you had left, I’d still have been here in this country you know so well. Yesterday without you I’d have died because I made a greenhorn mistake and you’d have eventually heard of my demise. And even though you stayed it very nearly happened anyhow” Either way you would have blamed yourself. So you are in between the rock and the proverbial hard place. ” Scott said with an anguished voice tears filling his eyes. “Oh God, Johnny I am so sorry. I pulled you in and this bond formed between us and I know how strong we both feel it. I just never took into account that it might be too much for you, that I pushed too hard, too fast. That it was too foreign for you, that it might hurt you more than it made you happy.”
Johnny nodded and Scott pulled him into his arms and held him close. How had Boston done it? Put into words what he was feeling even when he couldn’t. He hadn’t even known what was troubling him so. Yesterday it had hit him so hard how fiercely he loved Scott. He had known he cared but faced with Scott’s possible death he had felt destroyed. The way he felt about Scott frightened him, it truly did. And fear was something he hadn’t felt for a long, long time.
Scott let his brother go. “Did you mean it about it not being worth it Johnny ?” Scott asked quietly. “Because I could go back to Boston if it made things easier for you…”
Scott was cut off when Johnny tackled him ending up on top of him landing several painful punches to either side of his rib cage . “You…ain’t….going…back….to….Boston.” Johnny said between punches.
“Enough!” Scott said pushing his brother off him. He gave his brother a half smile. “You’re a hard man to talk to brother.” He said ruefully rubbing his ribs. “I could do without the beating part.”
Johnny got up and gave his brother a hand up. His anger evaporated. “I’m sorry Scott. I guess I was pretty angry. It’s worth it Boston but it scares me. Yesterday I was so scared for you and me.”
“I know.” Scott said going over and sitting up against the tree. “I promise to be more careful brother. Does that help?”
Johnny dropped down beside Scott. “It does.” He said simply. “Scott, I don’t understand how this got so out of control.”
“I might have a theory on that.” Scott said lazily closing his eyes.
“Sure you do.” Johnny said grinning. “Well lay it on me big brother.”
“Johnny Madrid is a part of you, stop trying to kill that part of you off. He keeps you in control, not fear or anger and protects you when bad things happen.”
“That a fact?” Johnny said in an amused voice. “I thought you said there was no Madrid.”
Scott got up and stretched his aching ribs. “There is no separate entity is what I meant, little brother. He’s a part of you like Lieutenant Lancer is a part of me. Son, grandson, brother, rancher, friend, Harvard grad, Boston socialite, intelligent, tall, good looking…all part of me.” Scott said in an easy banter grinning at his brother.
Johnny stood up smiling. “There room in there for all that, Boston?”
Scott turned to face his brother. “And then some.” He said as he let go a right hook knocking Johnny to the ground. Scott mounted Charlie and looked down at Johnny and smiled.
“That little brother was courtesy of Lieutenant Scott Lancer.” Scott called as he galloped off.
Deborah 2013 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org