Victory [AR] by Wendy K

An episode tag for Legacy
What if Murdoch had been successful when he went to Boston all those years ago?

Murdoch Lancer felt a bubble of exultation well up in his chest and he had to clamp down on the urge to let loose with a fierce victory whoop. For one thing, that kind of outburst might get him some funny looks from the other passengers who had also come out on deck to enjoy the nice weather. For another, the small blonde boy snuggled against his side would be startled from his much needed nap.

The Scottish immigrant turned California rancher had done it. He’d actually done it. His trip to Boston to retrieve his son had been successful beyond his wildest imaginings.

He had been almost certain of his defeat – like an inadequately armed knight about to face a very large dragon – but when he’d announced himself at Harlan Garrett’s Beacon Hill home, the look on his former father in law’s face had been one of resigned acceptance.

The Bostonian had known this day would eventually come. Harlan had confessed to Murdoch, somewhat sheepishly, that he’d even been tempted to have papers drawn up making him Scott’s legal guardian. He knew a few judges and wasn’t above slipping them a bribe if needs be. But he knew in his heart that it would have been wrong and that his dear departed Catherine would want Scotty to be with his father. While Garrett couldn’t bring himself to proactively relinquish the boy, he had vowed not to put up a fuss if Murdoch ever showed up to claim him.     

As for Scott, he’d been a bit overwhelmed by it all. Here was his father, a giant stranger with a deep voice, come to take him away from all that was safe and familiar. The idea of traveling by ship to live in “the wild west” made for a grand sounding adventure but Grandfather wouldn’t be coming and neither would Mrs. Timmons, the housekeeper, nor Miss Chadwick, his nanny. All the people he considered family would be staying behind. For a five year old boy, it was both scary and exciting. He’d gone from clinging tearfully to his grandfather to bouncing around joyously and back again, all at the drop of a hat.  Fortunately, Grandfather had consented to arrange for Shadow, Scott’s beloved dappled gray pony, to make the trip as well. And that was a very good thing because Scott was quite certain that Shadow would be extremely lonely in Boston without him.    

Needing to get back to Lancer, father and son hadn’t gotten to spend as much time getting to know each other as Murdoch would have liked before the pair had boarded a ship bound for Panama. They’d only packed some essentials for Scott and left the boxing up of books, toys and the small amount of clothing deemed suitable for life on a ranch in Harlan’s capable hands. Beyond some undergarments and a few good suits for going to church, the majority of it was left behind. Sturdier, more serviceable clothes would be purchased once they got to California.

Murdoch was shaken out of his reverie by a tug on the sleeve of his jacket. Scott had woken from his nap and was staring up at him with wide blue eyes in a solemn little face.  

“Hey there, Sprout. Did you have a good nap?”

The small blond head nodded.

“Are you hungry?”

Another nod.

“Let’s go see if we can find you something to eat.” Murdoch got up from the bench where they had been sitting and held out his hand. Scott slipped his smaller one into it and the pair made their way along the deck towards the galley. But after only a few steps, Scott pulled away from Murdoch, rushed over to the rail, and pointed at something in the water. “Look, Papa!!” he exclaimed excitedly, “Whales!!”

Murdoch’s heart did a little flip-flop. When Catherine died and Harlan had taken Scott east, he didn’t think he would ever get to hear his first born call him Papa. Hearing it now, after five long years of hoping and yearning, was music to his ears.    

The rancher once again felt the urge to let loose with a yell bubble up within him and this time, there was no holding it back.


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