by  Mary Whimsey


The blush of dawn may yet restore

Our light and hope and joy once more

Sad soul, take comfort, nor forget

That sunrise never failed us yet!


Celia Thaxter, 1878 


Johnny rolled out of the bed pulling his pistol from beneath the mattress as he went.  Crouching on the floor he looked around the room for what had woken him.  He saw the familiar shapes and shadows of his room in the hacienda. Puzzled he slowly stood up.

“Watch out!”

Johnny turned swiftly to stare at the door between his room and his brother’s.  The cry had come from the other side of the heavy door.

Scott’s voice.

Sounds like old Boston is having a nightmare, thought Johnny, taking a step closer to the door. 

He glanced out the window and judged by the position of the moon that it was about two hours before dawn.  That meant just over another hour’s sleep before someone started ringing that big bell in the tower to roust them all out of bed.  He could use another hour’s sleep.

As Johnny was about to slip the pistol back in its hiding place he heard, “No, God, please, no!” from the other room. 

Frowning, Johnny walked back to the door.  Maybe Boston was sick or something.  It wasn’t his lookout but well, maybe he ought to check. Slowly he opened the door to the adjoining room. 

Dressed in nothing but the bottom half of a set of long johns Scott Lancer stood next to his bed.  He was tall and very thin.  In the half light he appeared a lot like how Johnny would expect a ghost to look.

Johnny had seen a lot of expressions on his half-brother’s face during their short acquaintance –annoyance, satisfaction and anger among them.  But he had never seen real fear in Scott’s eyes before. 

“Hey, Boston, you all right?” asked Johnny softly.

Scott continued to stare wide eyed into the darkness.  He was looking past Johnny at something only he could see.

Johnny thought that Scott was still asleep.  He’d heard somewhere that it wasn’t wise to wake someone sleep walking.  Even so he didn’t see how he could just close the door and go back to bed knowing Scott was standing there lost in what looked like hell.

Johnny hadn’t decided exactly how he felt about his half-brother.  He was still getting over the surprise of having a brother; an eastern dandy of a brother at that.  The way he saw it they had nothing in common but a father neither of them knew.  Scott with his firm voice and tendency to always do the expected, in their father’s eyes the right thing, seemed to Johnny far too much like the old man in spite of his silly hats and Scottish trousers.

“It sounds like a war in here, Scott,” he said, deliberately using the word.  Although he knew little of Scott’s life before he’d come to the ranch, Johnny did know that he had been in the Union Army during the war.  He reckoned, based on his own experience, that something that scared a man as badly as Scott looked had to be a memory full of gunfire.

Scott blinked and took a step back.  His fists came up as if he thought he was going to need to defend himself.

Johnny stepped back and put his gun behind him. “It is just me, brother,” he said in the same gentle voice he’d use to sooth an agitated horse.

“Johnny,” said Scott hoarsely.  He sounded short of breath.

“How many other brothers you got?”

“None, at least none anyone has bothered to tell me about.” Scott shoved a hand through his fair hair and looked around the room.  His gaze returning to Johnny he said, “I woke you.  I’m sorry.  Damn, I guess I woke the house.”

“I doubt it,” responded Johnny.  “Teresa is clear the other end of the hall and the old man’s room is downstairs.”

He leaned back against the door jam and crossed his arms; the six-shooter held loosely in his right hand.  With his dark head cocked to the side he watched Scott struggle to shake off the effects of the nightmare.

“Sounded like a bad one.”

Scott blew his breath out over his teeth.  It made a whistling sound.  “Bad enough.”

Johnny noticed that in contrast to his own room, Scott’s was neat as a pin. The drawers were all closed; his shaving tackle was laid out next to the ewer and bowl on the washstand in the corner. A thick book sat next to the lamp on the table by the bed. ( No wonder he gets nightmares, thought Johnny, reading big books like that.)  A pair of trousers and a shirt were folded over the back of a chair. 

As Johnny watched Scott reached for his trousers. His movements were oddly rushed, as if he was in a great hurry to dress and get out of the room. He was still breathing hard.

“You know it is a couple of hours till dawn.”

“Is it?  Then you should go back to bed,” said Scott as he picked up a pair of boots and started towards the door. 

“You ain’t gonna start working this early, are you?  You’ll make me look bad.”

His brother turned and looked at him with what might have been a grin; then shook his head, “I’m going up to the roof to watch the sunrise.  And I do apologize for waking you.”  With that he left the room carrying his boots.

Johnny stared after him with pursed lips.  He had the feeling this wasn’t the first time Scott had watched the sunrise from the hacienda’s roof. 

He pushed off the wall and returned to his own room.  He glanced at his bed and then back through the adjoining door to the door Scott had gone through. 

“Ah, hell,” he cursed as he picked up his own trousers from the heap of clothes on the floor.


Still carrying his boots, Scott moved silently as a cat through the dark house. Once he’d crossed the great room he let himself out through the French doors and made his way to the stairs that led to the roof.  There he set the boots down and stood leaning on his hands against the balustrade, his head hanging.  He took a deep breath of the cool air and blew it out slowly.

The nightmare and the memories that it brought with it were still with him.  They often came when he was overly tired. It seemed to him he had been bone tired from his first day on Lancer.  He was all right.  He knew it was only a dream, only memories, that as desperate and tragic as the events that created them were they could not hurt him now. He had, by the grace of a God he sometimes had trouble believing in, lived through it all. Now was years after, now was here at Lancer.  Now was what would save him if he could only catch his breath.

It was quite a long time later that he raised his head and looked out over the dark land.  Soon the sun would come up.  He would watch it bring the land into sharp relief.  There was such comfort in this land for him.  There was so much space; the gentle green hills rolled to the mountains.  The air was fresh and clean.  He could breathe here. With the sunrise the memories would retreat like the shadows they were to the corners of his mind.

Calmer, he stood straight and stretched his arms above his head.

Damn, I wish I hadn’t woken Johnny, he thought. He probably thinks I’m afraid of the dark and that will be something else, like my clothes and my accent and probably my table manners that in his eyes makes me unfit for life here.

Scott was pulling on his boots when a sound on the stairs startled him.  He turned around to see Johnny step onto the roof carrying a coffee pot and two heavy ironstone mugs.  A full grown African elephant would have surprised him less.

“I thought you went back to bed.”

“Well,” drawled Johnny, “I was sorely tempted.  But then I started thinking about coffee and so I just wandered down to the kitchen to brew some.  Since I was up I figured I’d come see if the sunrise looks different from up here.”

He sat the mugs on the balustrade and poured the fragrant brown liquid into them.  He handed one to Scott.

Scott sniffed appreciatively.  “You brewed this?”

“Yeah,” answered Johnny with his hands wrapped around his own mug.  “Can’t you make coffee?”

“Not any I’d want to drink,” said Scott sincerely.

“Bet you can’t cook either. I’d have starved by now if I couldn’t cook.  I guess you always had people to do that sort of thing for you.”

A flicker of his nightmare appeared in Scott’s thoughts.  He pushed it away as he said, “Most of the time.”  Then he took a sip of the hot liquid and smiled.  This little brother of his was always full of surprises.

Brother.  They used the word between them almost as a taunt.  Scott knew he had started it.  Johnny had tagged him Boston when they met.  Scott wouldn’t have minded the nickname except that he knew Johnny intended it to refer to more than where Scott was from.  It was a way of making fun of Scott and everything about him. 

Scott’s first thought had been to call Johnny Mexico since that’s where he had spent most of his life.  But it wasn’t the same.  When Johnny used Boston it referred only to Scott.  Scott knew enough about California to know that there were tensions between Mexicans and the more recent arrivals.  It was hard enough for the two of them to be civil without bringing California’s history into it.

He settled on brother because he suspected that it pinched Johnny in the same way Boston annoyed him.  Scott did not want to be seen as a dandy greenhorn.  Johnny didn’t want to be reminded of his relationship to either Scott or Murdoch Lancer.

Johnny sat slightly sideways on the wide balustrade, one leg drawn up.  He looked off towards the east where the sky was showing the first signs of lightening.  Scott stood close to him sipping his coffee, looking east as well.   They were quiet for a long time.

In the month they had been at Lancer the brothers had spent very little time together.  The first few days there had been the conflict with the land pirates with which to contend.  Johnny had been wounded during the fight and confined to the house for the better part of a week.  Scott had spent that week on horseback following Cipriano, the Segundo, trying to learn about the ranch.

For months the few vaqueros who had stayed loyal during all the trouble had kept close to the hacienda.  The vast ranch and its cattle had been left alone.  Now it was time to take stock and see just how bad things were.  Murdoch Lancer still had trouble sitting a horse.  That meant the Segundo and his sons were his eyes and ears. 

Scott and Johnny were sent with crews in different directions to check on stock, fences, streams and line shacks.  They would go several days without returning to the hacienda.  When they were there in the evening Murdoch expected them to sit down to dinner with him and Teresa. Meals were always tense. 

Murdoch’s conversational style left much to be desired in Scott’s opinion.  His father either lectured or gave orders.  The only topic was the ranch; how much work there was to do, how it should all have been done yesterday.  Scott thought much of what Murdoch said was out of frustration of not being able to do more himself.  Unfortunately much of what he said sounded like criticism to Johnny. Most meals ended with the youngest Lancer saying something his father found disrespectful. Johnny would toss down his napkin, push his chair back and walk out leaving Scott to try to sooth Murdoch’s temper by distracting him with more questions about the ranch. Poor little Teresa would sit quietly looking close to tears on these occasions.

Even on evenings when little was said Johnny would stay no longer than it took him to eat.  He would escape to the bunkhouse and the vaqueros who made him feel so much more welcome than his father did.  Scott would sit at the table and share a glass of brandy with Murdoch.  Their conversations were stilted.  As soon as he possibly could Scott would politely excuse himself saying he had some reading he wanted to do.  Normally he would read three pages and fall asleep.

The preceding evening had been the same as many others. Murdoch had said something about the need to gather cattle from the south range.  Johnny had groaned at the prospect and they all had to endure a twenty minute lecture on how “ranches do not just run themselves”. Johnny got up and walked away while Murdoch was talking, passing Teresa who had just come from the kitchen with a cherry pie for dessert. 

Scott ate two pieces trying to make up for her disappointment at Johnny eating none.

“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”

Johnny’s mellifluous voice broke in on Scott’s thoughts. It was such a smooth, pleasant voice, out of keeping somehow with what Scott expected of a gunfighter.

Scott turned to look at his younger brother.  Johnny’s intensely blue eyes were staring directly into his.  Wondering what could be of such great importance to him, Scott asked cautiously, “What is it?”

“Why’d you break cover that day? That wall is more than a foot thick; you could have held them off all day shooting from behind it.”

“As I’m sure you remember you weren’t behind the wall.  You were right in the middle of the fight,” said Scott with a slight shrug, “and you were hurt.”


“So?” repeated Scott, his voice rising slightly in surprise.

“Well, yeah, I mean what do you care if I get myself shot up?  If I had gotten myself killed this whole place would have come to you in the end.”

“Egad! I should have thought of that,” said Scott, smacking himself on the forehead in mock amazement. He could think of no other response to such a ridiculous notion. Scott had been a soldier; it was second nature to him to help a comrade. Just what kind of life had the boy led that would let him say that in all seriousness?

“Don’t you fun me, Boston,” said Johnny sharply. He slid off the wall and stood toe to toe with his brother. “I saw your face that first day when the old man waved that paper at you.  You’d have done most anything to get this land.”

Scott was stunned.  He’d had no idea that his face had given away so much when Murdoch Lancer made the offer of a third to each in trade for their ‘arms, legs and guts.’ Normally he was very skilled at keeping his thoughts out of his expression.

“You seemed fairly interested yourself,” he said evenly.

“In being a rancher?” retorted Johnny with a harsh laugh.  “I could walk away tomorrow and never look back.”

Yes, thought Scott, that is everyone’s great fear.  He took another sip of the coffee and regarded his brother over the rim.  Still feeling the effects of his nightmare Scott wasn’t prepared for what appeared to be Johnny’s idea of a heart to heart conversation

Scott spoke carefully; he wanted to be honest about his feeling towards the land.  He also didn’t want to appear foolish or overly sentimental to Johnny.

“It wasn’t greed you saw in my face or at least I hope that it wasn’t.  You’re correct that I was very interested, you might even say excited, when he made his proposal.  I, um,” he paused, frowning.  This was not the time to go into the details of his profligate life in Boston.  “I’ve been looking for some work that would be worthy of my time and energy as well as be something I actually wanted to do.”

“And with your fancy Harvard,” Johnny drew the word out in exaggeration, “education you think that’s falling off horses and stringing wire?”

Scott stiffened.  He did not like being made fun of.  “I very rarely fall off a horse,” he said woodenly.

The corner of Johnny’s mouth twisted into a half smile.  “I’ll give you that, Boston; you know how to stick to a saddle. But that don’t answer the question.”

“I don’t know how to answer the question. I think you’ve read too many dime novels.   You appear to have this idea that I want to see myself as some despot ruling over my little kingdom,” said Scott tersely, doing his best to keep his temper in check.  “Well, maybe that’s what the old man will turn out to be but it isn’t what I want.  I want to be part of something bigger than myself. When Teresa stopped that buckboard, pointed to the valley and called it Lancer I felt like I’d found something of great value that I’d lost; that I’d been searching for without knowing it. I want to work hard and be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I want to bel-”

Scott stopped speaking.  It was no use.  It just wasn’t possible to put it into words.  Besides Johnny didn’t like him, didn’t want him here.  Didn’t want to share a name with him. Scott felt foolish and vulnerable. He turned back to look at the horizon where the first sliver of the sun had appeared.

“You want to belong?”  Johnny’s voice was soft; there was no mocking in it.

Scott stood very still for a few seconds then said, “Yes.”

“Didn’t you belong in Boston?” Johnny asked in a quiet voice, full of curiosity.

“Not the way I once did,” answered Scott slowly.  He continued to stare at the sunrise. Johnny had once again surprised him with his perception. Scott was going to have to stop underestimating him. With an effort Scott managed to banish his memories and focus all his attention on the conversation. “I came out here because I was curious.  Murdoch Lancer has never had any interest in me and I wondered what could have happened that he was willing to pay $1000 for an hour of my time.  The extravagance of the gesture was out of keeping with what little I knew of the man. The land took me by surprise; its beauty, its vastness. I felt drawn to it. When he made that offer it was like having a cherished dream come true; a dream I hadn’t known that I had. That is what you saw in my face.”

“Yeah, well, it is a beautiful place,” said Johnny as he picked up the coffee pot and gestured towards Scott’s mug.  “Can’t really blame the old man for doing whatever he had to do to keep it.  I reckon he’s sorry he made that offer to us now that the threat is gone.”

Scott held his mug out for Johnny to pour the coffee into. “I don’t know but I think not.  I intend to be very useful to him.  I believe that he knows that.  And he’s wanted you back from the moment you were taken.”

Johnny had been about to top up his own mug.  He stopped with the coffee pot tilted in his hand. “What makes you think that?”

“From what I can gather he has never stopped looking for you,” said Scott slowly, again watching his brother over the rim of the cup.  His voice had sharpened, making Scott wonder why what he said would upset him.

“Where’d you get that notion?”

“From something Teresa said about how thankful she was that you decided to come this time.  It made me think there were other times you didn’t come back.”

“Yeah, he’s looked before,” said Johnny, finishing pouring the coffee.  He sat the pot on the balustrade.  He picked up his own cup as he spoke.  “My mama always told me to make sure I never let him find me. So I didn’t. A couple of years ago I had a little talk with the man Lancer sent looking for me. I told him to tell the old man to go to hell.  After that I didn’t hear any thing of him until that Pinkerton fellow showed up.”

Scott leaned back against the wall, arms crossed. “Why did you come this time?”

“Well,” said Johnny drawling the syllable out, a sly smile brightened his face. “That fellow showed up at what you might call a crucial moment so I figured I kinda owed it to Lancer to see what he wanted.  And there was that $1000. How come you’ve never been out here before?  I mean I know that it is a long hard trip and all but-”

“He’s never wanted me,” said Scott solidly, standing up straighter.  “It makes sense; as he said my mother died when I was born.  I’ve never completely understood what happened then but from what I’ve been told he never saw me.  He knew I was being well cared for while I was growing up.  I was never hungry that someone didn’t feed me; never cold that someone didn’t wrap a blanket around me.  If he ever gave me a thought he knew I was safe. I wasn’t his problem. It is different with you.”

“Oh, yeah, how’s that?”

Scott thought of a conversation he had heard between Murdoch Lancer and the housekeeper Maria when Johnny was recovering from his wound.  “You were the baby he once held. You were real to him. You were the child he lost. He knows enough of the world to be fairly certain you were hungry and cold at times.”

“I survived.”

Scott looked into Johnny’s blue eyes and found them cold and unfriendly; this was the gunfighter Johnny Madrid looking back at him.  He knew he had trod on uncertain ground talking about Johnny’s growing up on his own.  He stayed quiet and held the younger man’s gaze.

“You know why he sent for us,” said Johnny finally; his stance relaxing.  “He may be a stranger to us but he’s got facts and figures from his Pinkerton agents.  He knows you were a soldier, I guess he figured you’d know how to lead his men since he couldn’t cause of his back.  And he knew my reputation.  Probably thought I was a big risk but maybe one worth taking if it gave him a real gun to put up against Pardee.  Reckon it gutted him to make that offer but it was better than losing the whole ranch and getting himself killed in the bargain.”

“Yes,” agreed Scott, nodding his head. “It was a brilliant tactical move. I admit that he hooked me right away.  I’d have taken on an army to hold on to the land.”

“Including that At Tilla person you was talking about.”

Johnny was teasing now.  His mood changed so quickly it was hard for Scott to keep up.  Still the reference to their first conversation with their father made Scott smile. 

“Attila the Hun ruled all of Eastern Europe. That was over a thousand years ago and we still remember his name.  As I said Day Pardee wasn’t in his class.”

Johnny’s white toothed grin flashed.  “You know, I thought you and the vaqueros really were lost up in the hills that night; that you’d left the old man, Teresa and the families here pretty much unprotected.”

“I suppose that is what a tin soldier might have done,” said Scott with a slight grin of his own.  He was proud that his simple plan for drawing the land pirates into a trap had worked.

“The old man could have told me what your plan was but--”

“Did you give him a chance to?” asked Scott, raising a sandy eyebrow.

Johnny grimaced.  He had been so sure that by riding out to meet the gang of gunmen threatening Lancer, Scott was playing right into Pardee’s hands that he hadn’t stopped to think there might be more to the plan.  He had discounted Scott and believed that only his plan of working inside of Pardee’s mercenaries would succeed. 

“Maybe not,” he conceded with ill grace. “But he didn’t give me a chance to explain what I was doing either. He thought I was one of them.”

Scott heard the hurt in Johnny’s voice.  The land pirates had been shocking in their brutality. Had they over run the hacienda they would have done far more than kill Murdoch Lancer.  Even now it turned Scott’s gut into a knot to think what might have befallen Teresa and the other women.  He couldn’t blame Johnny for being hurt and insulted that his father would tar him with the same brush as Day Pardee. 

“It is not what he wants to believe of you, Johnny,” said Scott deliberately. He was struck by the irony of trying to explain Murdoch Lancer to Johnny when he understood so little about the man.  “As he said we are strangers to each other.  In the situation he was in it may have seemed wiser to challenge you and hope you would convince him you had sided with us.”

Johnny countered with, “He didn’t need to challenge you.”

“That is probably because he saw what you saw in my face, the greed for the land.  He felt confident I would do what was needed to get my chance to own it.  It was a lot harder to judge what your,” Scott paused considering what word to use.  “Why you’d come back this time.”

Johnny silently regarded him.  No emotions showed on his handsome face.

“So,” said Scott drawing the syllable out.  “You thought I was stupid enough to leave the house and women unprotected.  You were going to take on the whole gang, just you and the old man.”

“I’d see you take Barranca over that corral fence so I knew he take those jumps out front,” retorted Johnny brusquely.  “If I could have made cover I would have taken out enough of them to discourage the rest.”

“If you had made cover,” repeated Scott thoughtfully, his mouth twitching slightly as if he was fighting a smile.

Scowling, Johnny said sheepishly, “Pardee got off a lucky shot.”

“Mm,” murmured Scott with a nod, “I came damn near shooting you myself.”

Johnny’s blue eyes widened.  “You thought I was with them, too?” The disappointment in his voice made him wince.  What did he care what Scott thought of him?

“No.” said Scott emphatically.  “I didn’t realize it was you.  I should have recognized the horse but I was focused on picking as many riders off as I could while we still had the element of surprise.   I had you in my sights when the old man shouted, ‘Wait, its Johnny’.”

Scott’s tone was somber.  Johnny realized the memory of those few moments was unsettling to his brother.

“You know Pardee wasn’t the sort of fellow to settle down and raise cattle,” said Johnny in an effort to bring them back to less emotional ground. “He had to have been working for someone.”

“That thought has occurred to me. I’m sure it has occurred to the old man as well. I’m not sorry Pardee is dead but it would have been helpful to have gotten some answers. Still for now the threat appears to be gone and we can get about the business of ranching.”

“With the old man calling the tune,” said Johnny and he whistled a few bars of Oh, SUSANNAH.  “Don’t get sentimental about him being my daddy just cause I was born here.”

Dear Lord, but he is young, thought Scott looking at his brother.  The sun was high enough now to see clearly.  Johnny’s thick dark hair was uncombed; his shirt was untucked; Scott thought of the first year boys at Harvard when he was a senior; older than most because he didn’t start at Harvard until after the war, three years later than planned.

Scott didn’t know if there would be other discussions between the two of them. This was only the second of what he would consider a real conversation.  The first had ended with Johnny making vague threats.  Scott felt he had to make every effort to reach Johnny; to help him understand just how much he was wanted at Lancer.

“When you hit the ground; we thought you were dead.”

“I thought so too I hit so hard.”

“The look on the old man’s face was like watching granite crumble.”

Johnny continued to look steadily at Scott; his blue eyes widening a little more.

“When you put your head up he was ready to go out after you.  And he would have if I hadn’t.  He wouldn’t have done that for some random gun he’d hired.  He would have gone after the child he lost.”

“So you broke cover to save him,” stated Johnny as he leaned over to adjust his pant leg over his boot.


Johnny looked up through his lashes at Scott. The look on Scott’s face brought him slowly to standing.  He could tell Scott was working himself up to say something important; something that would cost him.  Johnny couldn’t imagine what it was unless he was going to admit he’d rather have seen Johnny killed that day.

Scott was having trouble finding the words he wanted.  If it came out wrong, well, the boy would probably laugh at him.  Even if he found the words he wanted it was unlikely that Johnny would really understand what he was trying to say.  He wasn’t sure he understood it himself.

He took a deep breath and pressed his thin lips together.  Johnny watched him with narrowed eyes.

“I could say that I came out after you because that’s what a soldier does, he helps his comrades.  And that would be true.  I could also say that I did it to keep Murdoch Lancer from getting himself killed; that too would be true.  But,” he stopped, frowning slightly, biting his bottom lip.  “But neither of those reasons are the why I broke cover that day.  I told you a few minutes ago that when I first saw this valley I felt that I had found something I hadn’t realized I’d been looking for.  The land wasn’t the only thing I discovered when I arrived here.”

“Boston-” began Johnny warily.

“You are the most unexpected thing to happen to me in my whole life; most of the time I don’t know what to make of you.  But I do know that you aren’t a stranger to me.  Have you realized that we stand alike?”

Without meaning to Johnny took notice of Scott’s stance.  He stood with his arms crossed, his weight forward on the balls of his feet. Exactly the way Johnny was standing.

“That don’t mean nothing,” said Johnny harshly, letting his arms fall to his sides. “You and me, we’re as different as chalk and cheese.”

“Are we?” asked Scott sharply.  “Because it doesn’t feel that way to me.  I’ve had friends, good friends, men I trusted with my life and for whom I would risk mine.  This was different. When I saw you hit the ground I felt cheated.”

“Cheated?” repeated Johnny in surprise.  “Of what?”

“Of knowing you,” said Scott simply.

The bell in the tower began to ring.  A little late aren’t you, amigo, thought Johnny as he licked his suddenly dry lips.  He knew that the small village that was Lancer was coming to life.  He could hear the vaqueros calling “Buenos Dias” to each other in the corral. Maria was probably carrying a heaping platter of eggs and bacon to the table in the great room.  And no doubt Murdoch Lancer was standing at the bottom of the stairs glaring up them, cursing his lay-about sons.

Scott had said his piece.  He had been as honest and open as his reticent nature would allow him to be.  Now it was all up to Johnny.  They could try to become friends, they could give real meaning to the word brother or they could remain separate.

Johnny looked at Scott and felt as if he might be seeing him clearly for the first time.  Before he had always seen the Easterner; he had always heard the cultured voice of someone with whom he had no shared experience. Until now Scott had been the tin soldier- a rival for the respect of Murdoch Lancer; respect that Johnny could barely acknowledge to himself that he wanted.

The morning sun glinted red off Scott’s fair hair. He stood with his arms hanging at his sides, his face relaxed; the gray-blue eyes regarding Johnny gravely.  There was none of the smugness Johnny sometimes saw in Scott’s face; none of the soldier’s stiffness in his shoulders.  Johnny realized that Scott was young, not all that much older than himself.

Johnny gnawed on his lower lip unconsciously mirroring what Scott had done less than a minute before.  He felt scared, an emotion Johnny Madrid had little familiarity with because he had so little to lose. 

Johnny raised his eyes to look squarely into Scott’s.  There was a sort of resignation in his voice when he spoke.

“I don’t know how to be somebody’s brother, Scott.”

A series of emotions flowed over Scott Lancer’s handsome face; sadness, hope, perhaps even affection.

“There isn’t any how to it, Johnny.  You are somebody’s brother.  You are mine and I am yours.”

They stood looking at each other while the rising sun brought the valley below them to life.  Neither knew what to say next; neither was sure if something important had happened or if they had just acknowledged what had been there all along.

Below them a heavy door slammed.  “Scott!  Johnny!” Murdoch Lancer’s voice was loud, almost angry as it reached them on the roof of the house.

“Well,” drawled Johnny slowly, “Brother, it sounds like somebody is calling our tune.”

“It does at that,” responded Scott with a smile. “Brother.”






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