The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Charlene

 

LaughingJohnny

 

Dotting That I

Missing Scene/Episode Tag: Chase A Wild Horse
Disclaimer: Lancer is owned by whoever owns it. I’m just playing with them Hope y’all enjoyed. Thanks to my friend Patty for being my bestest beta reader across genres. 

“You’re a damn fool, Murdoch Lancer. A damned old fool.” Murdoch grabbed the ledger off his desk and walked to the French doors as more self-recriminations bounded through his head. He watched his youngest son put foot to stirrup and effortlessly bound into the saddle. Johnny rode through the gate, his right hand jerking the reins of the black stallion that had caused so much confrontation.

Murdoch closed his eyes. No, the horse did not cause this. No, the blame was lain firmly at his own feet. Oh, Johnny had made a mistake, but his handling of it. Abysmal. What kind of father was he? What kind of father searches for almost twenty years for his child only to push that child out of his home and out of his family’s lives?

He would never forget the bounce in his boy’s step and the sweet smile on his face when he proudly told his father about capturing the black stallion and the herd of mares. Then the hurt that flashed over Johnny’s face before he could mask it with anger when Murdoch had diminished his accomplishments and berated the boy instead.

Then there were the Strykers. Accusing Johnny of being a horse thief. Did he defend his son? No, he did not. His anger with Johnny for not finishing the job, for the cattle that went into the south gully, had caused him to tell the Strykers to take the horses. Not that they had earned them, he knew that looking at them. He gave them the horses to punish Johnny, just as he had taken Johnny’s toy horse from him when he was two and had misbehaved.

Murdoch sighed and moved from the French doors when he could no longer see Johnny riding away from him. He did not want his son to leave. God knows he didn’t. “Coward,” he cursed himself under his breath. He called for Johnny to come back ... in a whisper ... that even he could barely hear. He looked up at the door as Scott and Teresa came in. Their eyes accusing him. They did not have to speak, their thoughts clearly written on their faces. Wordlessly, he turned from their stares. He couldn’t stand to see their accusations; Murdoch already knew that he was damned by this sin. No, there would be no absolution for this.

Clutching the ledger, he stormed into his private study off the great room and slammed the door. There would be no discussion. No, this hell he needed to walk alone. He could not soothe their worries and fears when his own heart was breaking.

Regrets never were something that he let occupy his life ... oh hell, he thought as that lie started to float through his brain. He might be able to fool others, but he knew better. He’d lived with regrets. Regrets that he had sent his Catherine away, that he wasn’t with her when she died, that he didn’t have the courage to fight Harlan Garrett for Scott, for losing his Maria and Johnny, for not finding Johnny, and now ... now he would have to live with the worst regret of all. He finally had his lost boy and threw him away like he didn’t matter at all.
“Maybe it takes twenty years of just living with this kind of land. Maybe it's not for you Johnny." What the hell had he been thinking? Saying? "I wish I had a chance to break you in easily, but I don't. You've got to make up your mind who you are and where you belong and if it's not going to be here, I want to know it now."

Why, you old fool, why did you need to “know it now”? Hadn’t Johnny begged him not to push him too hard? Hadn’t he been trying, so hard, to change his entire way of life to make you proud of him?

You pushed him out that door with your words as surely as if you had picked him up and thrown him out. Murdoch sat, clutching the ledger to his chest and closed his eyes to ward off the tears that were pooling in his eyes.

He knew he had failed. He should have begged his son to stay or forbidden him from going. Instead, all he had said was "You'll need some money." He did not even look at him.

He didn’t have to see him to hear the pain in his boy’s voice when he said "Only what you figure I got comin’."

“And what did I do? What did I say to you, Johnny?  I said that you haven't drawn anything in two weeks. Twelve dollars. Twelve dollars was all I told him he had coming, all I said he was worth.” Murdoch groaned and dropped his head into his hand. Twelve damn dollars. Then to make matters worse, he told his son "You better sign it. Receipt of wages." He told his son to count it, to count twelve dollars. It might as well have been thirty pieces of silver. The betrayal was as bad. He did not even hand him the money, he threw it at him, threw it on the desk.

And Johnny ... what had his son done. He had looked at him, straight in his face, and Murdoch watched his son’s eyes and saw the boy’s heart break. Johnny signed the ledger, did not count the money, turned and walked out of the door. Walked out of Murdoch Lancer’s life.

What was the boy walking to? Murdoch knew. He saw him sign the ledger. He dotted the “I”. An “I”. Murdoch knew, before he even picked up the ledger, he knew. He opened the ledger and looked down as his finger traced the name. His sons name, his son’s future.

Johnny Madrid.

Johnny had dotted that damn “I” and here, alone, Murdoch Lancer wept.

 

~end~

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