The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Barbara

 

Johnny

 

Blind Man's Bluff WHN

Entry for the 50 Years Celebration. Thank you Suzanne for all your guidance.

This is an episode tag for Blind Man’s Bluff

Murdoch stepped down into the great room, and noticed his younger son Johnny on the couch, knees drawn up toward his chest and hugging one of the throw pillows.

Johnny’s eyes flickered upwards. “Hey, Murdoch.” The words were barely more than a whisper.

Murdoch didn’t want to sound overly critical. “Hello son. Shouldn't you be resting? You know what Sam said.”

“Aw, Murdoch, don't fuss. I am resting. I just couldn’t stand being in my room any more. I promise I will be right here on the couch. I wasn't going any further. See, no boots.” Johnny smiled, wiggling his toes in his stocking feet.

“Good boy.” But it was hard to shake the feeling that something seemed to be bothering Johnny. “The sunlight is coming through the window pretty strong. Would you like me to draw the drapes?”

“No! Please don't. It’s not bothering my eyes.” The urgency in Johnny's voice concerned Murdoch.

Teresa entered the room carrying a tray of lemonade and glasses. “I saw you when you rode up, Murdoch, and thought you men could use a cool drink.”

“Thank you, darling, that’s just what we need.”

Smiling, she gave Murdoch a quick kiss and left.

Murdoch filled a glass for himself, then one for Johnny.

“As far as the eye can see, the most beautiful spot in the whole world—Lancer.”

When Murdoch turned around he saw Johnny’s attention was focused on the large window behind Murdoch’s desk. His words had been spoken so softly that Murdoch barely heard them.

Murdoch handed Johnny his glass. “I'm sorry, son. Did you say something?”

“As far as the eye can see, the most beautiful place in the whole world. That’s what Teresa said the day she picked up me and Scott at the stage and drove us here. She was right, too.”

Murdoch sat down slowly at the other end of the couch. “Johnny, what's wrong” he asked as gently as he could. “What's bothering you?”

At first he thought Johnny wasn’t going to speak, but then he said, “When you had the accident at the forge, how did you feel? Were you kinda scared that maybe you wouldn’t see again?”

“I felt vulnerable. I was dependent on others. Yes, I was scared. But Johnny, Sam said your vision should be back to normal soon. It’s improving more each day. It will just take a little time. You have to be patient.”

“I know. I know I’m lucky to have my eyes back. I guess I was just thinking of the things we take for granted when we see them all the time. I was thinking about some of the things I’d miss if I didn't get my sight back. That sound silly to you, Murdoch?”

“No, Johnny, that doesn’t sound silly at all.”

He nodded. And grinned. “That’s good, I thought maybe I was going a bit crazy.”

“What would you miss, Johnny?”

“Oh, I don’t know, seein’ a foal being born, the blue sky on a cloudless day, watching Barranca showing off, seeing the wild horses running free. Can't say I would miss seeing the back end of a cow too much.”

They both laughed at that.

“You and me both if I’m being honest.”

“I think people's faces I would miss more than anything. You can tell a lot by looking someone in the face. Not being able to see the faces of my family and friends would be hard.”

“I know that feeling too, son.” Only too well. And hadn’t he sat in the chair that night in this very room and tried to push these very same fears away?

“I think...” Johnny gave Murdoch a swift glance, “I think the one face I would miss the most is the face I wanted to see all my life.”

Murdoch didn’t dare move or breathe for a moment.

“You know I built up in my mind what I thought you’d look like,” Johnny went on. He laughed suddenly. “I never thought you’d be so damn big.”

Murdoch chuckled. “I believe my mother was equally surprised when I was born.”

Johnny smiled. It would be almost impossible to miss the affection in his grin, but then his face sobered and he looked down at his hands. “I wanted to actually see you so I could ask why you threw me and mama away, and then...oh, maybe kill you,” he finished softly.

“Johnny, no...” It wasn’t Johnny’s fault, he didn’t blame him. He didn’t want Johnny to feel guilty for things that weren’t of his making.

“I'm sorry, Murdoch. I know I was wrong, but all I had to go on was what my mother told me. She lied. Boy, I only have to look at your face and I know she lied. Even when you are hollering or chewing my butt out for something I probably deserved I...well, you taught me what family is... and you’ve proven that, to both Scott and me, time and time again.”

Murdoch swallowed hard. He didn’t know what to say. Johnny rarely opened up about anything, particularly about his feelings.

“I guess it ain’t real smart to tell your old man you were coming to kill him.”

“Johnny I...I guess family is all about being honest with each other. I’ll always be grateful we have that.” When Johnny wouldn’t look up he reached over and lifted Johnny's chin to look him in the eye. “Are you alright son?”

Johnny's smile didn’t seem quite as genuine as it should. “I'm fine. Didn't mean to go on like that. Just thinking out loud, I guess.”

Murdoch patted him on the leg then got up to refill their glasses but he spotted something on the floor.

It was a slip of paper with the words, ‘BECUZ I LUV YOU MATTIE.’

He handed the paper to Johnny. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Johnny shook his head but then he looked across at Murdoch.

“Murdoch, was she pretty?” he asked softly. “I never got to see her face. Just saw that pretty golden hair. I know what I thought she looked like when I used my hands to feel her nose and her cheeks, but boy I’d give just about anything to actually see her.”

Murdoch winced. Johnny’s pain was hard to hear. “Yes son, she was a very attractive young lady.”

“With her leaving like that, before Sam even took the bandages off, I never got a chance to talk to her or tell her goodbye. I don’t know, Murdoch.” Johnny rubbed the back of his neck. “I just keep thinking about it. Why do you think she really left? I loved her, and I thought she loved me. We could have made it work. We weren’t together long, but you and my mother only knew each other for a short time before you married.”

Murdoch took a deep breath. “Johnny, listen to what I’m going to say, and please try to understand. You and Mattie came together out of a desperate need. Mattie saved you and for a while, she was your eyes. You saved Mattie from being hurt by the Meeks. You protected her. It is possible that need turned into what you both took for love. It’s not unusual for that to happen.”

Johnny thought for a moment before speaking. “I do understand what you’re saying but...but I did love her. Do you think she’ll ever come back?”

“I don't think so, son. That little piece of land Lem owned is all she knew growing up. She wouldn’t be able to stay there alone.  She’ll have a new life back east, and attend that school Doc Poovey spoke about.”

“Yeah, I guess you're right. I sure hope she’ll be happy, but…” He sighed. “I sure would have loved to see her face to face.”

And what could he say to that? She might not have been able to speak but perhaps Mattie could see further than Johnny ever could.

“You look worn out, son. Why don’t you have a nap before supper?”

 Johnny yawned. “Okay if I stay here instead of my room?”

Murdoch vacated the couch giving Johnny room to stretch out. “Sure son. I’ll wake you when it’s time to eat.”

Johnny stretched out and closed his eyes, murmuring thanks as Murdoch covered him with the blanket from the back of the couch. Murdoch gathered up their glasses and put them on his desk, then went back to take another look at Johnny. His face was relaxed in sleep. Peaceful.

Murdoch smiled. “Sleep, well, John.”

 

 

~ end ~

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