A Lancer short…
No Beta; mistakes all my own…
Johnny is hurting. I got to thinking about how Johnny might’ve felt, at having been forced into a position of having to kill once more.
No profit was made, so FOX needn’t worry.
Here are my thoughts for an added scene in Warburton’s Edge…Hope you all enjoy.
Johnny was on his knees, slumped forwards; his head almost in reverent prayer. He sensed his father at his back; his warmth a complete contrast to the coldness he now felt, as he looked upon his dead friend lying flat on his back in front of him.
‘Done a lot of bad things; had a lot of bad things done to me.’ He sighed, his stomach churning, as his world spun. He’d never liked killing, yet he’d done it, countless times before. ‘Too many times…Is this the one?’ He asked himself, feeling lost.
Sighing, he slumped even further; wishing for the ground to swallow him up; wishing he could simply disappear. He felt so tired, suddenly very old, despite his tender years. He lifted up his hands wincing as saw them tremble, like he was some old drunk, short of a whiskey or two. His brow furrowed even more, as he turned them over, feeling suddenly repulsed. They felt sticky as he moved his fingers, and felt the blood congeal on them. Blood, that was… not his own!
His well-honed survival instincts kicked in, as he tried to get to his feet, but just then he felt his father pull him backwards firmly, so that his back rested against his chest. He sighed as he then felt Murdoch’s long strong arms envelope him, pulling him into the warmth of his own body.
There he remained for a while in silence, sitting between his father’s legs, somewhat comforted by his father’s touch; his eyes closed, as Murdoch’s chin rested on top of his head. Still he wanted to shut out the pain; to shut out the world, but he also knew in his heart, he couldn’t.
‘When’s it gonna end?’ When’s it gonna be my turn?’ The same questions were there, rattling inside; the same ones, he’d asked himself, more times than he cared to remember. As a gunfighter he’d always known his days were numbered; death always trying to reach out to rob him of a life that could’ve been so much more. But as John Lancer, he had just begun to believe he could leave all that behind. He heaved out a long drawn out sigh.
‘I told you, Isham, “no one’s gunnin’ for my ‘ol man”, didn’t I? Why didn’t ya listen, why?’ He knew the answer, almost the moment he had asked it of himself. ‘Pride. God-damn-it… fuckin’ gunfighter’s pride.’ He shook his head, ‘Pride in what, Isham? Jesus, pride in killin’?!!’ His heart felt heavy, constricted and he heaved in some of life’s breath; knowing his friend would never do the same again.
Isham had been someone he had confided in; someone he had ridden with, laughed with and yes, once cried with, when he was nothing but a kid. He briefly chuckled at that, since his older brother and father constantly reminded him, that he was still, a kid!
‘Don’t feel like one right now.’ he thought sadly.
“Johnny?” Murdoch asked, now concerned by the soft laughter he’d heard; wrapping his arms around his son even tighter, like some Mama bear.
“I’m fine, Murdoch … honest…” Johnny said softly, embarrassed by the close contact now, but none the less enjoying it. But he wasn’t fine at all. Killing Isham hadn’t been something he’d considered, when he’d signed on with Warburton.
Now Sexton Joe, had been a very different matter…A smile touched his lips then…. Hell, he had almost looked forward to that particular confrontation; the old instincts he had worked so tirelessly to let go, coming to the fore once more, as he’d slipped back into the role of Madrid.
It had amazed him really, how easily he could do it, but one look at Sexton Joe and he had known a conflict between the two of them was inevitable and he had prepared himself for it, but not for, Isham. Never for Isham.
Yet here he was, dead at his feet. As cold as the coming of winter’s earth below him, and it hurt! God-damn-it, it hurt! He stiffened when he felt a large hand pat his chest, reminding him he was not alone. “Are you alright, son?”
“Yeah,” he lied, his voice as soft as cotton. “I..I guess.” He then admitted shrugging.
His father waited, knowing his son would say more, if he was patient.
“You know I used to feel the same way; pride in my trade.” He chuckled, but the sound was not jovial.
“And now?” Murdoch pressed. He needed to know…He wanted to know.
“Now? Well now it’s…it’s… dif’rent.”
Murdoch smiled and squeezed him some more. “Come on son. There’s nothing can be done. You tried to warn him. You tried to stop this from happening.” He paused wishing in some way, that the burden of protection had not fallen on Johnny’s shoulders. “You saved my life, John.” he breathed.
“I know… but…..”
“No son, no buts. We can only do our best with whatever tools the good Lord sees fit to give us. You’re a good soul. Please hear me now. Listen to your old man for once, will you?”
Johnny smiled, that familiar little boy smile, that Murdoch would’ve known, had he seen it. “Alright.” he said shyly, his face flushing ever so slightly now.
“Good boy.” Murdoch patted. “John, you have to let this go; you have to let all the bad things go. Otherwise you’ll let Sexton Joe, Isham and all that have come before, win. They will tear you apart, John and I’m here to tell you, I’m not prepared to let that happen.” He squeezed him even more and Johnny actually winced. “You hear me, John?” he asked pulling him ever closer, “Are you listening?” He asked, shaking him slightly now.
“Yeah.” Johnny puffed.
“I’m not letting you rip yourself apart. You’re home with your family, where you should’ve been all along. I once told you the past was dead and gone. Well, in some ways I was right because we can’t change the past son, but we sure in Hell can change the future and we will, together we will. You did what you had to do, to protect what you love and I’m proud of you, son.”
“Yeah?” Johnny tried to turn his head, mischief in his eyes now.
“Yes, now come on, let’s go into the house, John.
“I need to take care of Isham, Pa.” Johnny protested.
Murdoch all but gasped at the sound of the unfamiliar use of the word ‘Pa’, but he liked hearing it none the less. Not willing to dwell on it however, he chose to pretend Johnny hadn’t said it, “No, I’ll arrange for someone to take care of …Isham… and… Sexton Joe Johnny. You’re coming with me; a stiff drink’s in order, I think,” muttered Murdoch as he started to get up, pulling his son along with him.
Now on their feet, Johnny walked ahead of him, his head still down, “Murdoch, how can you stand to be near me?” he asked softly, “Don’t you know what I am? I’m a killer……You don’t know the things I’ve done….You…”
Murdoch shook his head and walked a little faster, “John, Madrid is your past. You’re my son; my own flesh and blood. You did nothing wrong here. Haven’t you been listening to one word I’ve said?” He then took two large ground eating steps and laid his hands on his sons shoulders, swinging him gently around.
He shook him then, not roughly but affectionately; fatherly…wanting only to show him how serious he was. He then put his finger and thumb under his sons chin and lifted, looking directly into his blue eyes.
“You couldn’t have done any more to save Isham, John. You did what I would’ve done, or Scott, or any of our men for that matter, faced with the same circumstances.” He shook his head, “No my boy, you’re no killer.” He saw doubt in his sons eyes, “You do believe me, don’t you?” He shook him again, harder this time. “Well do you, Johnny?” He pressed.
Johnny finally looked up at his father, feeling like a small boy and wishing with all his heart that he had been with this man all his life. Real tears formed in his eyes at the thought and before he could answer, Murdoch sensed his need and pulled him into a tight hug once more.
For once, Johnny allowed himself the luxury of melting into it. Loving the continued security his father was offering him and rejoicing in the fact that he could simply enjoy the close contact and be a child again; trusting that as long as Murdoch held him, everything would be alright with his world.
“Yes sir,” he finally answered, “I think I do. You’ve a prodigal son, if you still want him?” He asked tentatively, his voice so quiet Murdoch barely heard the question.
Murdoch’s smile could’ve lit the sky, “My boy you’ve no idea. Yes I want him with all my heart, I want him.”
Arm in arm, together they walked into their home.
by Heather M