The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Johnny's Birthday Star


Johnny sat at the table looking at the family and friends gathered together for his birthday, and thinking 'My birthday. It wasn't so long ago that I did not know the date of my birth or even how old I really was. Mama, you never were one to bother with details, like the fact I had an older brother, among other things.'

Dinner was a wonderful feast with all of Johnny's favorites, as well as some tamer dishes.

The gathering at the table was extended to include, along with Murdoch, Scott and Teresa, Jelly, Dr. Sam Jenkins, and Johnny's pal Green River's sheriff Val Crawford. Murdoch made sure to include Cypriano and Maria at the dinner. They are Johnny's Tio and Tia, and were also part of the family.

Consuela was doing the serving tonight so Maria could enjoy sitting down with the family. After dinner she brought in a huge chocolate cake with candles on it.

Teresa smiled and said "Make a wish Johnny and blow out the candles."

Johnny did so, and after the after the cake was served and eaten, they all gathered in the great room. It was time for Johnny to open his presents.

Johnny was feeling a bit embarrassed by all the attention. "Presents? It is only two days until Christmas. I didn't need presents today."

"Son, these are your birthday presents, so let's see what you got."

"Well I guess I will get started."  Picking up Teresa's gift first. Noticing her smile, Johnny smiled back. Opening the box, he found a white dress shirt with small embroidered designs on the collar and down the front placket.  As he took it from the box he noticed a second shirt. It was a red shirt with embroidery just like his well worn favorite shirt.

Giggling, Teresa told her brother "Johnny, I am sorry, but the mercantile did not have any pink material, so I had to use red."

The room erupted inj laughter. "Very funny Chica. I keep telling y'all my shirt ain't pink. It is faded red! I do thank you Teresa. These are really nice." He reached over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

Scott's gift was next. "I'll have you know little brother that I sent all the way to Boston for your gift."

Unwrapping the box, Johnny removed the lid and stared at a pair of plaid riding pants just like Scott's. Sitting, mouth open, he tried to make the words come out. "You shouldn't have brother. Really, you shouldn't have."

Most of the room was snickering, and Scott could no longer hold a straight face. "Johnny, your real gift is under the pants."

Johnny removed the pants as if they would bite him. Scott had gotten him a new pair of Mexican spurs. "These are great Boston. Mine were getting pretty worn."

Scott, not yet ready to let the pants die asked "I guess that means we won't be riding the range in matching pants." Scott waited for Johnny's reaction.

"Are you kidding? Barranca would not even let me come near him it those things."

Murdoch was enjoying the boys' banter. "Maria why don't you give him your gift."

"Gracias Patron". Maria handed Johnny a large tin of assorted cookies, and reached to kiss her nino.

"Wow, are these all for me? Oh I love you Mamacita. Thank you so much." He snagged a couple of cookies to much on before closing the tin.

Maria admonished Johnny, "Do not eat them all at once, nino. You will be sick!"

Chuckling, Sam spoke up. "If he does Maria, I am sure some castor oil will set him right again."

Johnny glared at Sam which had no effect on the doctor. "Not funny, Sam."

Murdoch's gift was next. It was a heavy lined coat. He smiled as Johnny tried it on.

"This is great. It fits just right. This will really help keep me warm when I am riding fence during winter. Thank you."

"You are very welcome, Son.  Sam you are next."

Johnny opened the gift from Sam. It was a pair of heavy gloves and a thick scarf. "Wear them in good health, my friend. And I mean GOOD health, young man."

"Thanks Sam. With these and my new coat we can really go on that hunting trip this winter. Murdoch wants to take me and Scott up to the North Country to hunt."

Val stepped up next, and handed Johnny an envelope. Johnny was looking at the envelope and back at Val, seeming a bit wary.

"Well, open the blasted thing will ya? I could grow roots waiting on you, Amigo."

Johnny opened the envelope and took out a paper. He started reading it to himself. a look of confusion on his face.

Scott was growing impatient. "Well, what does it say brother? Read it to us."

"This paper says Johnny Lancer gets one free pass. I don't get it Val."

"It means the next time you come to my town and tear up the saloon, you get a free pass. I won't haul your carcass to jail, but you are still liable for the damages, or your Daddy will have to settle up the bill."

"Aw Val. That won't happen. When's the last time something like that happened?"

Scratching his chin, Val answered, "Seems to me it did about two weeks ago."

Murdoch gave Johnny a stern look. "And if that happens, you and I will have a long discussion in the barn, understand?"

"Yes sir." Johnny squeaked out, as the room began to ring with laughter. He began to pout knowing he was being laughed at by the room. "What are you laughing about Boston? You were there in that fight with me."

"Little brother that was only because you tried to take on the three hands from the Jamison spread. I might add they are each the size of a mountain. When you got thrown through the window, I figured I'd better help. After all, that is what big brothers are supposed to do. Besides, if I brought you home after they finished with you, I would have had to explain it to our father."

Jelly stood with his hands on his vest lapels. "Now come see what Cip and I got you for your birthday. Y'all will have to come outside to see it."

The guests and family headed outside. Johnny noticed nothing out of the ordinary. He looked at Cypriano and then to Jelly with a questioning expression."

Cypriano called to his son, "Mateo, bring out the birthday gift and turn her loose por favor."

Mateo brought out a beautiful light chestnut mare, and turned her out in the corral. She started to run laps around the corral. She stopped only to paw the dirt.

"She is beautiful. Is she really for me?  Thank you Jelly and thank you Tio." Johnny started to climb into the corral to get acquainted. The horse lowered her head and started another round.

Murdoch stopped Johnny. "No son, she was just recently caught, and she hasn't been gentled yet. We did not want to start with her. She is yours alone to work your magic on. Once you have her gentled, she would be perfect to mate with Barranca."

Johnny, still looking at the mare turned to speak with Murdoch. "Can you imagine the foal we would get? Boy, Barranca will sure be happy with this lady."
"Let's go back to the house everyone. Scott and I have one more gift for you, Johnny."

"Another gift? But you have all given me wonderful gifts, and I thank each of you."

Murdoch stepped to his desk to retrieve an envelope which he handed to Johnny. "Happy birthday Son."

Johnny opened the envelope pulling out its contents. He read the paper, and said nothing for a couple of minutes before finding his voice.

"I don't understand. This is a deed to the big section of land by Spring River. Why are you and Scott giving this to me? We are equal partners, except for the tune calling."

"Son, this can be the first step in you one day achieving your dream to breed and break horses. "

Johnny stood, mouth open staring at Murdoch. "Really? Horses? This is great!"

"This is first and foremost a cattle ranch, but I can see the advantages in branching out. Scott tells me the Army is always looking for good horses. "

Johnny rushed to Murdoch, hugging him tightly. "Thank you Papa!" Remembering he was in a room of family and friends, he quickly broke free of the hug. He could feel his face turning red as he turned to face the room. Everyone was smiling.

The evening wound down and with Val and Sam staying the night, everyone headed to their rooms for some sleep. Murdoch was checking to be sure all doors were secured for the night when he noticed Johnny sitting near the fire, staring at the tree.

Murdoch called to his son. "Johnny? Aren't you going to bed?  It is getting rather late."

"I'll be up in a little while. I am not tired. Guess too much excitement today."

Decision made, Murdoch went over to Johnny and spoke. "Want some company?"

"Yeah, that would be nice. I was just sitting here watching the fire as it reflects on the ornaments."

Murdoch settled on the couch. "Anything special on your mind Son, or is it private?"

"No not at all, just thinking. When I came first here I didn't have a family for many years. I really did not know what family is all about. I was headstrong, arrogant, angry and I let my temper get the best of me."

Murdoch didn't want to interrupt Johnny but he silently thought 'No argument there.'

"Seems we fought all the time. I was not used to having anybody tell me what to do or not do and when to do it. You know I don't take orders very well."

Murdoch chuckled at the remark, and Johnny laughed as well. He then continued.

"I started to realize what family really meant; how they care for each other, and look out for one another. I was not used to anybody caring or looking out for me. It got easier, but you were the one who guided me. You were sort of a light to show me the way. Ya' know those wise men and shepherds followed a star that led them on the right path to the stable. In a way you were my shining star, showing me the way; showing me I could be something other than a gun hawk for hire. I am so thankful you never gave up on me."

Son, I really don't know what to say to that. I am so blessed to have my family back. I love you so much. From the first moment I held you I knew that you, and some day Scott would be the future to own and make Lancer thrive for generations to come. I never stopped loving you, ever."

Murdoch looked over at Johnny and saw a tear running down his face. He reached over and pulled Johnny into an embrace.  They sat there for quite some time just looking at the tree before Murdoch spoke.

"Something is missing from that tree!"

Johnny looked at Murdoch and stated "Huh? We put every single ornament on the tree exactly where General Teresa insisted they should go."

Standing, Murdoch spoke to Johnny. "Stay right there. I will be right back."  He returned in a few moments. He held a shiny silver star with engraving on it. He handed it to Johnny to read.

"To my son, John Ian Lancer. December 23rd 1847 You are in my heart forever."  Johnny was taken by the star and the engraving. "You bought this when I was born?"

Murdoch smiled. "Well not when you were born. You were only two days old that Christmas.  I gave it to you on your first birthday and let you choose where to hang it on the tree. You seemed mesmerized by it. You would visit your star every day." Murdoch's mood changed. Now with unshed tears he continued.

"The next year you and your mother were gone. Paul and I put up a tree every year for Teresa. I still hung this on the tree each year. As the years past and the hope of getting you back started to dim, I closed off my heart.  The star became too painful of a reminder that you were gone. I put it away in my dresser the year you would have been ten. Now I have you back. You and Scott being here with me has given me much joy. I opened my heart again and began to feel. As a family we can do anything. The star will be on our tree every year from here on. My son, you can have the honor of hanging the star on the tree."

Johnny walked to the tree and hung the star where all could see it. Murdoch got up and walked to Johnny still at the tree. He put his arm around his shoulders as they looked at the star. As they stood at the tree, the clock struck 12.

"Well young man, we better get to bed. There is a lot to do before Christmas day."

Together they headed for the stairs.




~ end ~
23 December 2019
This was written in honor of the late James Stacy's birthday. It is my tribute to this wonderful man. He brought Johnny Madrid Lancer to life for us over 50 years ago. Happy Heavenly Birthday.

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