Warnings/Spoilers: The High Riders
This story is based on the characters and premises of many talented people.
Essentially - not ours, no profit being made, etc. This is just for fun.
Summary: A What Happened Next scene for The High Riders. Takes place after Johnny collapses and Scott carries him to the hacienda.
“Let me down.” Coming to and feeling the slight swaying motion made him nauseous, and hanging upside down was disorienting and more than uncomfortable.
“Once we’re in the house,” Scott grit out, “and we … are … there.” Opening his eyes, Johnny could see the tiled floor below him.
“Scott, bring Johnny in here.” Murdoch’s voice, low and concerned. A dizzying switch of direction and they entered another room.
A blurry swish of skirts out of the corner of his eye indicated Teresa was also around.
“Easy,” came Murdoch’s rumbling tone and Johnny’s world shifted as Scott bent over.
Large hands landed on his back and shoulder to steady him to the bed, his feet never touching the floor. The world wobbled and spun, and it took longer than it should to realize he was sitting on a bed being manhandled out of his jacket, shirt, and boots. On reflex, Johnny pushed at the intrusive hands.
Strong hands gripped the sides of his head, forcing him to look at the one holding him. “Johnny, the doctor is here and needs to look at your wound.” Scott’s face came into focus in front of him. “We are removing your clothes before you lie down on your stomach on the bed. Teresa isn’t in the room. Are you with me?”
Nodding, he would have liked to say something about Scott’s precise details, but Johnny needed those simple details to relax. Scott let him go only to pull and tug at whatever he had been trying to remove.
Something pressed against the wound and all the spinning, wobbling, and pain came rushing back hard enough that staying conscious proved impossible.
The room was darker and softly lit when Johnny was aware once again. The size of the figure in the chair beside indicated that it was Murdoch.
Without a word, Murdoch picked up a glass of water from the nearby table as his other arm eased under Johnny’s shoulders. Murdoch propped him up enough to drink the water without choking on it. Just the pure pleasure of satisfying the uncomfortable thirst was worth the pain of pulling on the wound. He drank down a glass and a half before he had enough.
With the same care, Murdoch situated him back on the bed. The glass set aside, Murdoch gazed at Johnny’s face before brushing a large hand over his forehead, checking for fever.
“Need anything else?”
Not feeling up to talking, Johnny shook his head. The weight of his limbs pressed into the softness of mattress.
“Go back to sleep, Johnny.” It would have sounded like an order if it wasn’t for the gentleness of Murdoch’s tone.
Johnny couldn’t find a reason to argue.
The second time Johnny remembered waking up, the room was shadowed with dawn’s light. The lamp was still lit, but more for Scott to read his book. His brother, and that was going to take some getting used to, looked comfortable in the chair, with socked feet crossed at the ankles and propped up on the bed by Johnny’s thigh. It took his muddled mind a moment to connect this man with the fancy dressed easterner he almost sat on in the stagecoach.
Noticing Johnny was awake, Scott placed the bookmark before tucking the book down by his thigh, and removing his feet from the bed. Like Murdoch, the first thing he did was assist Johnny in drinking water, who managed a couple of glasses.
“Nothing tastes quite so good, does it?”
“Speakin’ from experience?” Johnny didn’t know enough about Scott to decipher the expression that crossed his face and wasn’t given the opportunity to pursue it. Not that he would at this point anyway. They didn’t know each other beyond meeting, and confronting a man they both should call father. Add fighting each other before fighting everyone else, it had left very little time to become acquainted.
Except Scott had one solid right hook. He still felt that one.
“I have been told that once you are awake for more than five minutes, Maria will bring you something to eat. Broth and such, but you need to eat something.”
“How long you have you been here?”
“For a couple of hours. The doctor will be out to see you later this morning. He left instructions that you were to remain in bed, drink, eat a little, do nothing to aggravate your wound, and sleep.”
“Doctor said so, huh.”
“Doctor said so. I believe Murdoch has every intention of seeing you follow his instructions down to the syllable.” For the first time Scott showed some emotion beyond the calmness he seemed to exude. His hands fiddled with the glass he held as he looked away from Johnny. “Think you worried Murdoch more than a little. He thought you had been killed.”
“Closer than I liked, but I wasn’t.”
Scott slanted his eyes towards him. “All part of the plan?”
“Didn’t say that. Those shots were supposed to miss me.” Johnny huffed out a small laugh. “Think the ol’ man feels like we’ve given enough arms, legs, and guts to the cause?”
Scott grinned. “I don’t believe he meant that literally, but you did make an impression.”
“Think you did too.”
Scott inclined his head to acknowledge the compliment. “Perhaps next time we should work on a plan together.”
“You think there will be a next time?” Johnny shifted on the bed in an attempt to find a more comfortable position. The wound wasn’t too bad, but falling off his horse had left an overall ache.
“Brother, our father has the biggest ranch around; he shows a confidence and wealth that others want the easy and violent way.” Scott leaned back in his chair and brought his long legs up to settle on the bed. “I believe our respective skills will be required again.”
“So we have Lancer covered. What about Murdoch?”
He could see Scott knew what he was asking, and for a moment Johnny didn’t think he would respond.
“That, Johnny, is more than a simple military problem and out of my realm of expertise; unless I miss my guess, yours too.” Johnny concurred with a slight inclination of his head. “I’m not willing to compete with the ground that Murdoch professes he loves more than anything God ever created.” Scott circled a hand in the air to encompass Lancer at large. “For now, signing off on a partnership will do. The rest we’ll see how it goes. Agreed?”
With eyes that remained locked with Johnny’s, Scott pulled out his book and settled back in the chair giving every impression that he wasn’t leaving Johnny’s room anytime soon. If Johnny found that comforting, he ignored it. Instead he was tumbling around the thought that this stranger shared in his confusion about their father, and appreciated that this was one issue he didn’t have to tackle alone.
“Sounds like a plan, Brother.”