The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Winj

 

Doubts

 

 

 

"Johnny, come here. Ya gotta see this!" Jelly called as he approached his friend on the boardwalk in front of the saloon.

"What's goin on?" Johnny asked.

"Scott's in the finals of the turkey shoot. It's just him and Ben Harris left."

"Really? I do hafta see this." Johnny followed the older man to the end of the street.

A crowd was standing in a semi circle and Johnny climbed up on somebody's buckboard to get a better view. His brother was taking his turn and hit the bullâ€s-eye dead on. Johnny smiled, he knew Scott was good with a rifle, of course so was Ben Harris. It was still a tie and it could go on for hours or it could end with the next round. Johnny never could understand why they didn't just shoot the turkey and get it over with.

He jumped down and managed to get himself positioned in the front of the crowd; most people still got out of his way. Ben Harris fired again and hit dead center. Scott approached the firing line and took aim. He squeezed the trigger and there was a deafening ' awwwww ' from the crowd.

"Well, Scott, looks like ya missed it completely," the judge said.

"Look again," Johnny said softly.

The judge looked at him curiously.

"He didn't miss, he hit inside Ben's hole."

Someone brought the target to the judge and he studied it, his eyes widening in surprise.

"He's right! It went clean through Ben's hole!" he exclaimed and showed it to those nearby for affirmation. "The winner is Scott Lancer!"

*

"Thanks, brother, I didn't think they'd buy it from me." Scott smiled as he watched Jelly take his prize to the wagon.

"I wouldn't have either if I hadn't seen it myself," Johnny said with a grin.

"I don't believe I've ever met anyone who could see as well as you can, brother."

"Well, the problem most people have, Scott, is they don't look at what they should be lookin at. Everybody was watching you aim and fire. I was watching the target to see where it hit."

Scott nodded his head.

"Good shootin , by the way," Johnny added.

Scott laughed. "Now that sounds familiar."

"Come on, Boston . I'll buy ya a beer."

"You will?" Scott asked, stopping in his tracks at the offer.

Johnny grinned. "Sure, a man shoots that good, he deserves more than a stupid bird."

"Scott! Jelly told me, congratulations," Murdoch called as he approached his sons.

"You missed it, Murdoch. It sure was pretty," Johnny said.

"Why didn't you get in on this, Johnny?"

"Well, I figured I had an unfair advantage."

"Oh, is that so?" Scott asked, amused.

"Sure, nobody would have tried if I was shootin ." Johnny grinned devilishly.

"You know, brother, I think I could have taken you."

"Is that a challenge?" Johnny asked, narrowing his eyes.

  Murdoch looked at the two of them and sighed. 'Always competing', he thought.

"If you think you can handle it." Scott egged it on.

Johnny shrugged. "Let's go."

"Do you think you could wait until after you buy me a beer?" Murdoch asked.

They looked at their father, then at each other and shook their heads simultaneously then headed for the firing range.

*

"Hey, Joe, got anymore of those targets?" Johnny called.

"Sure, Johnny. Got a stack of ' em . Why?"

"Never mind, just let me have ' em ."

"Aren't we going to do it here?" Scott asked.

"Do you want the whole town watching, Boston ? I mean, I'd hate to humiliate you in front of everybody," Johnny said, quite serious.

"Humiliate me? I think you're afraid they'll see me beat you and your reputation will be shot. No pun intended." Scott couldn't help from smiling.

"Come on."

*

They rode out of town a ways and found a good spot to set up the targets.

"How do you want to do this? Set off paces?" Scott asked.

"Nope, you just pick the distance and the first one to miss the bulls-eye loses. Can't get any simpler than that," Johnny said, checking his gun.

"You're using a pistol?"

"Just set it up wherever you want it, Scott. It doesn't matter."

Scott shrugged, then grinned to himself as he walked away with the target. He set it up about four hundred yards away and Johnny grinned at his back.

"Uh, you're just going to shoot one bullet at a time, right?" Scott asked when he noticed Johnny putting on the black leather glove.

"Right."

"Who goes first?"

"Haven't you ever done this before?" Johnny asked, a little exasperated with all the questions.

"Actually, no."

"You go first since you won dinner," Johnny grinned.

Scott smiled and took aim, pegging the bulls-eye. He stepped aside for his brother. Johnny drew and fired once and hit dead center. They kept it up for almost an hour. Johnny was beginning to worry he would run out of ammunition.  

"Should we put a time limit on this?" Scott said, quite seriously.

Johnny laughed. "Sure, when you fall over from exhaustion, we'll stop."

*

They rode back to town just before sunset and headed to the saloon. Murdoch watched as they walked in but he couldn't tell who had won. Neither of them seemed very happy.

"Well?" he asked as they sat with him.

Scott looked at his brother with annoyance. "He cheated."

"I did not!"

"Why do you two have to compete about everything?" Murdoch asked with a sigh.

"I didn't cheat! I don't have to!"

"You did, too. It wasn't fair, Johnny."

"What happened?" Murdoch asked, not really wanting to get in the middle of this.

"Murdoch, when you keep a vital piece of information from your opponent, it's cheating," Scott proclaimed.

"I didn't keep it from you, I just didn't think it mattered. Besides, you should have known," Johnny shot.

"How was I supposed to know?"

"What do you think I've been doing all these years, Scott? Twiddling my thumbs? And it's your own fault, it was your idea. Thought you'd be cute!"

Murdoch reached out and laid a hand on each shoulder to get their attention. "What happened?"

"He used his left hand!" Scott decried.

"You told me to!"

Murdoch started laughing at this, hard. They both looked at him as if he were crazy. "That's what you're fighting about? Do you know how ridiculous you sound?"

"It's not ridiculous! He decided to shoot left handed. Ain't so easy with a rifle, is it?" Johnny sneered.

Scott glared at him. "I've done it before."

"Oh really? So what you mean is , you kept a vital piece of information from your opponent." Johnny sported a victorious grin.

"I think he's got you there, son."

Scott's face turned red. "Well, at least I won the turkey."

"Only because I wasn't there."

"Okay, okay. I think we've all had enough 'fun' for one day. Can we just drop this and go home?" Murdoch suggested.

*

Both boys were still unhappy with each other the next day and said next to nothing throughout the workday. Murdoch was stunned they could stay mad so long over something so silly. Supper wasn't any better and he'd had enough.

"Do you two know how silly this is? Being angry over a dumb contest."

"I'm not mad. I won," Johnny said with a shrug.

"Fine, you won. Happy now?"

"Yeah, I'm thrilled, Scott. I don't know what made you think you could outshoot me in the first place. Ya just got a big head after winning that stupid bird."

"I did not! I won that bird fair and square."

"Yes, you did. So why does that make you think you could best me?" Johnny asked.

"You're not that good, Johnny. There's always someone faster, you said so yourself."

"Yeah, I did. But that sure as hell ain't you, brother!" Johnny said, raising his voice now.

"That is enough!" Murdoch bellowed. "This has got to be the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard. What difference does it make? You are both good with guns. It doesn't matter who's faster."

"It does to me," Johnny said.

"Why?" Murdoch said loudly.

"Because! No greenhorn is gonna come around tellin me he can outshoot me just because he spent about a minute in the army! You may be good with that rifle, Scott, but you'll never be as good as me and you know it and THAT is what's eating you!"

"Oh really? It seems to me we were pretty even yesterday," Scott said snidely.

"Yeah, it SEEMED that way, didn't it?"

"What is that supposed to mean?"

"It means, Scott, that I wasn't trying!"

Scott glared at his brother, his face turning red. "Is that so?"

"Yeah, that's so!"

"Well, let's just see you at your best!" Scott made the challenge as he stood and threw his napkin on the table.

"Fine by me," Johnny said, his voice much softer and edgier now. They headed out the door and made it to the porch before they both felt a strong hand yank them backward.

"This has gone far enough. I want you to apologize to each other and stop this foolishness," Murdoch demanded.

"Stay out of this, Murdoch."

Murdoch Lancer stared dumbfounded at the dangerous tone of voice coming from his youngest. He released his grasp on them both and threw up his hands.

*

They went to the back of the barn where Johnny always practiced and set up some cans and bottles.

"Where's your rifle?" Johnny sneered.

"I don't need it! Just do your worst, Johnny," Scott shot back at him.

Johnny shook his head at his brother's obstinace and drew and fired before Scott had stopped moving. He heard it though, the unmistakable ping of cans being hit by a bullet six times.

Johnny smiled at him. "Your turn."

To his credit, Scott hit five out of six bottles, though it did take him quite a bit longer to accomplish this.

"Are you done now?"

Scott leered at him, still red with anger.

"You know something, Johnny? I can't believe youâ€re still alive with that amount of insolence."

Johnny gave him a small smile. "Maybe that's why I'm still alive. Ever think of that?" His face darkened then and his eyes took on a haunted look. "Maybe you wish I wasn't?"  

Scott stared at him in utter shock at the statement, his voice coming out in a whisper. "Why would you say something like that?"

"Why are you trying so damned hard to bring Madrid out?"

Scott frowned at this and shook his head. "I'm not."

"Funny, sure seems like it," Johnny said softly and walked away.  

Scott stood watching his brother walk away and hung his head. 'Why did I get so angry?' he thought. He stood there a few more minutes before heading into the house. When he did, Murdoch was waiting.

"Where's Johnny?" he asked immediately.

"Didn't he come in?"

"No, he did not. What happened out there?"

"He won," Scott shrugged.

"Did you think he wouldn't?" Murdoch asked then added, " what was that all about, Scott?"

"You know something, I really have no idea." Scott shook his head and walked to the kitchen.

Johnny came down the stairs and headed for the door.

"Just a minute. I want to talk to you," Murdoch called out.

He stopped and sighed then turned to his father.

"Can you explain what is happening here to me?"

"No," Johnny clipped.

"Can't or won't?"

"Can't . Ask the know-it-all. It's his problem, whatever it is," he said and walked out.

Murdoch stood there in a daze, he didn't understand what was happening with his sons but he sure didn't like it. He thought he would try Scott one more time. He found him in the kitchen.

*

"Scott, I want an explanation. This isn't like you."

"I know. I don't know what happened, Murdoch. I swear I don't. It started out as a game, but he made me so angry."

"How?"

"I'm not even sure now. I guess I just didn't like his attitude," Scott said with a shrug.

"His attitude? As I recall, Johnny was only teasing you. There's nothing new about that."

No, Sir, I guess not but ... well, he thinks I can't handle myself. That I have to have him watching my back or I can't even put on my own boots!" Scott felt the anger growing again.

"Scott, that's not true. Your brother respects you. He was praising you about your shooting today. Maybe Johnny's not the problem," he suggested.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you were fine until he started teasing you about his not being in that contest. Did something else happen today?"

Scott dropped his eyes and stared into his coffee cup.

"Scott?"

"It was nothing. I didn't even think anything about it but maybe something Ben Harris said did tick me off a little," he said softly.

"What did he say?"

"He said he was sure glad it was me and not Johnny shooting against him."

"I guess he was wrong, wasn't he?"

Scott smiled a little. "Yes, I guess he was."

"But, still, you felt like you had to prove yourself. Scott, there are some things you're better at and some things Johnny's better at. It doesn't make either of you less, just different."

"I know you're right, Murdoch. It was stupid of me to think I could best him with a gun. It's just that, Johnny was so easily accepted by everyone here. Well, almost everyone. He's so easy going and they all just let him in right away. I know it's petty but I can't help feeling some resentment about that."

"Maybe your brother feels the same way about you sometimes, son."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I don't want to sound like I'm diminishing you, but he's had a lot tougher life than you have," Murdoch said hesitantly.

"I know , we've even talked about it. He says it doesn't bother him, but maybe it does. Maybe that's why he got so mad at me. I was trying to take away something he was better at than me. " Understanding lit his face. "Oh God, Murdoch. What have I done?"

"Nothing that can't be fixed, son."

*

"Hey, where ya goin?" Jelly asked as he rounded the house.

"None of your business," Johnny snapped.

"Well, excuse me fer breathin !"

"I'm sorry, Jelly. I'm goin for a ride. I'll see ya later," Johnny mumbled and took off at a gallop.

"What's the matter with Johnny? He jest bout took my head off!" Jelly asked as he walked into the kitchen.

"Where is he?" Murdoch asked.

" He jest took off on Barranca. Said he was a goin fer a ride."

"I guess that's my cue," Scott said with a weak smile.

"Maybe you should wait a while, son."

"No, it's better if we get it over with, I think." Scott wasn't all that convinced. He didn't know if Johnny was more angry or hurt and it wasn't going to be easy to figure out even after he caught up with him. "Which way did he go, Jelly?"

"South, I think. What's goin on?"

"I'll tell you about it later," Murdoch answered.

"Nobody ever tells me nothin !" he mumbled as he poured his coffee.

*

Scott headed south, following his brother's trail. It wasn't hard, he seemed to be in a hurry and wasn't particular about covering his tracks. 'Maybe he wants me to follow him, or maybe he doesn't think I will, or maybe he just doesn't care', Scott thought. It took him an hour to find his brother by the stream that was a favorite place.

Johnny saw him coming and stood up, positioning himself for a fight.

"I didn't come here to fight it out with you, Johnny," Scott said, noticing his brother's stance.

"Why did you come?" he asked angrily.

"I want to talk, Johnny. I want to apologize."

Johnny looked at him suspiciously. "Well?"

"Look, I'm sorry I acted like such an ass. I don't know what got into me. Well, that's not true. I didn't know then but I do now."

"I'd like to know." Johnny was still not ready to give up his posturing.

"I was ... jealous," Scott admitted, red faced now.

Johnny's mouth dropped open and his stance relaxed as he stared in disbelief at his brother, not quite convinced. "Jealous of what?"

"Of you, Johnny. Ben Harris smarted off earlier today about how he was glad it was me and not you in that shoot and I guess it just got to me. When you started teasing me, I got angry."

"But, you won."

"I know, but I got to thinking, what if you had been in it? I didn't think I could beat you. Then .. well my pride got the better of me," he shrugged.

Johnny studied him and shook his head. "No, that ain't it."

Scott looked up at him and gave a small grimace. "No, that's not all of it anyway."

*

"Well, go on."

Scott started pacing along the edge of the stream with his head down. He wasn't sure Johnny would understand and he didn't want to sound like a big baby either. Finally, he sighed and dropped his shoulders.

"When we first came here, you seemed to fit in with the hands. You spoke their language, you were one of them. I felt like an outsider. They accepted you right away, but not me. They were suspicious of me and I caught more than one sneer from them. I know it's been eight months now, but it hasn't changed much. Even in town, people get out of your way. I saw that today when you came up to watch me shoot. I guess I just let it get to me today."

Scott didn't look at his brother until he had finished. What he saw was genuine surprise.

"I don't understand you, Scott. You fell right into place almost from the minute you got here. Yeah, okay some of the hands weren't too sure about you but they don't feel that way anymore. You've proven yourself to them. Everybody has to prove themselves at one time or another, one place or another. I'm sure you had to prove yourself in the army. I'm the one that felt like an outsider, I still do sometimes. Not with the hands but with you and especially Murdoch.

â€And as for people gettin out of my way, that ain't nothin to be proud of . They do it because they're afraid of me. Do you think I like that? I don't. You came out here ready to change your life completely, ready to take on anything you might find. That takes guts, Scott."

"Johnny, I'm sorry. I tried to take something away from you today. I won't ever do that again. I promise."

Johnny knew what he meant, he didn't have to ask for an explanation. He was just glad Scott knew what had happened, really happened today. "I can't believe you were jealous. If anybody should be jealous, it's me and I'm not so you can't be either."

Scott smiled and put a gentle hand on his brother's shoulder. "You're not an outsider here, Johnny. Especially not with me. Don't ever doubt that you belong here."  

"Scott? Let's not fight anymore, ok?"

"Well, I can't promise that but if we do, it will be over something silly. How's that?" Scott grinned.

Johnny smiled back at him but he knew Scott didn't understand what he was saying to him. "I mean it," he said, serious again.

Scott looked in his brother's eyes and the realization of what Johnny meant dawned on him. "Nothing will ever tear us apart, Johnny. No argument or fight will ever keep us from being brothers, forever. Nothing you could ever say to me would make me stop loving you," he replied, his blue eyes intense with sincerity.

Johnny's shoulders relaxed, Scott understood. "Ok, I'm gonna hold you to that." He grinned and started toward Barranca.

*

"Wait a minute, Johnny. Is there something you want to say to me? Something you think will make me angry?" Scott asked, seizing this rare opportunity.

Johnny stopped but didn't turn around.

Scott approached him and walked around to face him. "Nothing, Johnny."

Johnny looked up at his brother, his eyes full of conflict and doubt. He sighed and began. "I lied when I said I wasn't jealous," he said softly.

Scott raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"Sometimes, I am jealous of you. I don't mean to be but ... well, it's just that you seem to get along so well with the old man and all I seem to do is make him mad, or disappoint him. And, well ... you're so calm most of the time and ... you said I was easy going, maybe so, but you're more easy going than anyone I ever met. Nothing seems to bother you. I mean me and Murdoch could be going at it full on and you stay quiet and listen. I don't think I could do that, hell I know I couldn't. I..."

"Johnny, Murdoch said something to me today that made perfect sense. He said there were some things you were better at and some things I was better at. That it didn't make either of us less, just different. That's the thing of it, Johnny. We're just different, but we are brothers and nothing will ever change that. We've had different experiences, different backgrounds, but the fact that we get along so well, well most of the time, is the true testament. I think that, even if we had grown up together, we would still be this different. It's just our personalities, who we are inside. But, as long as we have each other, we can do anything." Scott put his hands on his brother's shoulders.

"Yeah, nobody can beat the Lancer brothers," Johnny said with a grin.

Scott returned the grin. "Let's go home, Murdoch's worried."

 

 

~end~

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