Standard disclaimer applies
Warnings: None, if you don't mind seeing the boys in a very different light.
This was penned in answer to Marilyn's 'What if' challenge, with the intent of Murdoch seeking Johnny only for his gun, and Scott was a conceited dandy. Sure am glad they turned out different on the show, but this was fun. Enjoy, Mary
Johnny had enough. The homecoming, if you wanted to call it that, went pretty much as he expected. His mother had been right all along. He was not wanted then, and had no business at the ranch, now. After a few minutes with his father, Johnny knew the sad truth and was ready to ride, but had given his word. He might never amount to anything more than a feared gunslinger, but always kept his word.
The promised one hundred dollars was collected and glancing at the clock on the wall, he owed the man another 15 minutes. Not bad. One hundred dollars for thirty minutes of his time. Would keep him in whores and bullets for quite a while if he stayed out of poker games.
The first time Johnny laid eyes on his father, he was astounded. The man was as big as a mountain and built just as solid, even with a bum leg. His brother, and that thought brought a sordid chuckle, was a conceited, blue-blooded snob. There was no other way to put it.
The blond haired easterner had turned his nose up at Johnny the minute he walked in the door. Three days of walking through the desert and hitching a ride on the back of a wagon hauling a crate of chickens didn't help, and Johnny pulled yet another feather from the brim of his hat and flicked it on his father's desk.
Murdoch glowered and Johnny's steely eyes flashed darker, almost begging for an excuse. He was not welcome, that was plain to see. But the old man eyed his gun, and Johnny knew why he was summoned.
“That don't come on the lunch, old man. This is listening money,” Johnny said, patting the envelope tucked into the lining of his jacket. “You want my gun, it's gonna cost ya. That's if I care enough to hire on. You got a bit more time left. Talk.”
“Damned right I want your gun,” Murdoch snapped. “Why the hell do you think I summoned you?”
“Weren't for love of family, that's for sure,” Johnny snorted, shooting a hateful glare toward Scott. If the snooty dandy threw just one more distasteful look at him, Johnny just might have to plug him in the plaid covered, skinny ass.
The remainder of time was spent listening to the old man, and Johnny stood, tucking his hands into the waistband of his calzoneros. Throughout the entire conversation, not one word of welcome passed the old man's lips. His eyes remained hardened, not a hint of warmth showing. So the old man was facing Pardee. And with a dandy by his side, to boot. Served the old bastard right. He sure had a heap of trouble.
Johnny's chuckle earned another look of reproach, not that he cared. He had stopped long ago. Needing to leave before he lost control of his temper, Johnny pushed away from the desk and headed for the door. “You're on your own. Oh, and if you're smart, you'll send the women folk away for their own safety. Pardee don't play nice.”
Johnny bent low at the pump, running cool water over his head. Shaking the droplets from his hair, he took a deep drink and stiffened, feeling a presence approaching. Watching the progression of the long, lanky shadow and catching a bit of plaid from the corner of his eyes, Johnny stood and turned slowly, a cold grin spread across his face.
“Washing the blood from your hands, brother?” Scott taunted.
Johnny reached back and threw a roundhouse punch that felled his city bred sibling. Turning back to the pump, he let the water flow. “I am now.”
Worn out from the trauma of meeting his father and brother, Johnny lay against his saddle, watching the spiraling embers of the campfire flickering up toward the night sky. A soft breeze blew over the lake where he camped, ruffling his raven soft hair. Stirring his coffee, he relaxed, his faithful friend, a black stallion dubbed Renegade, nibbling at his mug.
“Now, don't you go slurping my coffee. It'll stunt yer growth,” Johnny laughed, gently pushing the horse aside. Reaching into his pocket, he held up a lump of sugar, soft lips fluttering across his fingers as Renegade devoured the treat.
“You know boy, Mama was right. She always said that you can pick your ass, but you're stuck with your family. Yep, it's true. So I rode on. It's better this way.”
Deep in thought, he sipped at the steaming brew. “You know, it's been a while since I've seen Mama. It seems like a good time to head down Texas way. You'll like Brazos, amigo. Mama will probably box my ears for being gone so long, but I'll bring her sumthin pretty. Maybe I'll get her a right pretty comb for her hair.”