He looked at the young man lying on the bed then gently brushed the dark hair off the fevered brow. It was going to be a long night.
He remembered Johnny as a toddler who brought so much laughter and happiness to the hacienda, but that turned to tears and sorrow when the boy and Maria disappeared. He thought about all the years of hunting, all the disappointments, and that awful day. The day the report arrived with the news about Madrid. Now both sons were home and they were slowly becoming a family, finally.
It hadn't been easy to make them a family after all the years apart. There had been problems and numerous fights; they were mostly trigger by the doubts about Madrid. He knew Johnny had tried to walk away from the world of the gunfighter but someone from the past would show up or some young punk wanting a reputation. Then the fights would start and Johnny either left or was sent away for a few days. 'Why did it have to be so hard?'
Johnny seemed to be a magnet for trouble. How many times had he sat by this bed tending a sick or injured Johnny? When he was asleep all signs of Madrid disappeared and in his place was a boy, a boy who should never been forced into a life of poverty and abuse. It never ceased to amaze him that Johnny had lived through hell but still managed to come out a decent and honorable man. A son to be proud of, the question was, was he?
A soft moan brought his attention back to Johnny, he reached over and felt his forehead. The fever had finally broken. He looked out the window and noticed the soft light of dawn over Johnny's mountain.
The bedroom door opened and a deep voice, full of concern, asked, "How's he doing?" He walked over to the bed and lightly touched Johnny's shoulder, "He doesn't feel hot anymore." Relieved the ordeal was over he reached up and ran his fingers through the silky dark hair.
"Better, the fever broke now he's just sleeping." He stood up and stretched. They both laughed at the cracking sounds, "My old bones…"
"I know how you feel old friend." he put his arm over the other man's shoulder, "Come on Maria has breakfast ready. You look like you could use some coffee."
At the door the Murdoch turned and looked at Johnny who was now sleeping peacefully. He had been so afraid he would lose his son, again. He turned back to his friend. The friend who sat up all night tending his sick son, the friend who would protect his son, the man he trusted with his life and the lives of his sons.