Word Count 2,090
An episode tag for Legacy
Disclaimer: If you recognize them, they aren’t mine. If you don’t, I own them.
Johnny and Murdoch rode hard, each hoping against hope that they would reach Scott before he could complete making the biggest mistake of his life. Both men knew that Harlan Garrett had blackmailed Scott, telling him that a murder warrant existed against Murdoch and he would be arrested and charged, if Scott didn’t return to Boston with him. In truth, Murdoch had been forced to kill a man who had ambushed him and was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing by the law.
It galled them both that the older man could do that to Scott, his own grandson, who he professed to love.
Scott had proven his love and loyalty to his father by agreeing to leave the life and family he now loved more than any he had ever known in order to keep Murdoch out of prison, or worse.
Johnny had told the elder Lancer about the Degans, witnesses to the killing of their father and now being paid by Harlan for their ‘testimony’ to Scott about the events of long ago.
Johnny had been upset with his father, when Murdoch had not tried very hard to prevent his eldest son from leaving Lancer. He had simply chalked it up to the fact that Scott was a grown man and could make his own decisions. That hadn’t set well with Johnny at all. He wasn’t willing to lose his brother, a man he had come to love more than the ex-gunfighter ever would have believed possible. He had gone into town, discovered what Harlan Garrett had done and come home to tell his father about it.
To his credit, once the truth of Garrett’s plan was known, Murdoch had wasted no time in going after Scott.
Now, as they rode cross country toward the road, they had heard a rifle shot. Not, having any idea that it had anything to do with Scott or his grandfather, they had not even slowed down but continued on, fearing that someone may need help. Murdoch had already decided that if there was someone in trouble, he would stay and do what he could while Johnny went after his brother.
Johnny and Murdoch had rounded the bend and seen Scott half lying, half sitting on the ground.
Even though Scott had been disoriented, he was still aware enough to know his grandfather was in trouble. He kept insisting he had to go help the elderly man.
Johnny had grabbed his brother and tried to hold him down. It hadn’t taken long for Johnny and Murdoch to realize, after seeing the blood on the side of Scott’s head, that he had been the one that was the victim of the rifle shot.
After insisting that Johnny take Scott to a nearby ranch, Murdoch had ridden off to see if he could help Harlan Garrett. He didn’t like the man, was in fact, very angry with him for what he had done to Scott, but he wasn’t going to leave his former father-in-law to be killed. In addition to that, he knew that Harlan, for all his deceit and conniving, had already lost the battle to keep Scott for himself.
As Murdoch rode away, Johnny called after his father, but the man just insisted that Johnny get help for Scott before riding off down the road in the direction the wagon containing Harlan Garrett had taken.
Scott, now sitting on Barranca in front of Johnny, was still struggling. “Must help grandfather.”
“Murdoch’ll take care of him,” Johnny assured the agitated blond.
He tried to keep the bitterness out of his tone, when he said the word ‘him’. Scott was injured and upset enough. He didn’t need to hear his brother voice his distaste about the man. “You’re comin’ with me.”
Johnny gripped his brother tighter around the waist when he felt Scott slip sideways, as Barranca backed up several steps before being swung to the left.
By the time Murdoch reached Harlan, pinned down behind some rocks, Johnny had gotten Scott well on the way toward help. Johnny wasn’t sure if the silence was good or not, because he had no idea whether it meant his father was not in immediate danger or if he was just too far away to hear any gunfire there may have been.
As they rode, the dark-haired young man felt more and more of Scott’s weight leaning against him. “You still with me, Boston?”
He was answered with a groan. “That a yes?” Johnny asked.
The returning mumble was indistinct, except for the word ‘grandfather’.
Again Johnny’s anger was aroused. It was aimed directly at Harlan Garrett. Still, he wondered, how could Scott be concerned about someone who lied to him, then blackmailed him into leaving Lancer when it was so obvious, even if Scott hadn’t expressed his desire to stay, that he didn’t want to return to Boston. That, in Johnny’s mind, wasn’t love on Garrett’s part. He firmly believed that Scott’s loyalty to that old reprobate was sadly misplaced.
More mumbling. “Need to help him.”
“No, brother, you don’t.” Under his breath, he said, “That old coot don’t deserve anything from you, especially your help.”
Arriving at the neighboring ranch, Johnny rode up the the house, yelling for help. Mildred Wyman, an attractive, middle-aged woman with slightly graying brown hair, came out onto the porch. “Johnny…” she started to greet him cheerfully before she realized that Scott was hurt.
“Bring him inside, Johnny.”
Mildred Wyman led the way through the door. When Johnny, his arm around Scott, half dragging his brother, entered the room, Mrs. Wyman told him to lay Scott down on the sofa.
“What happened?” she asked, as she bent down to examine the source of the blood that by now covered half the left side of Scott’s face.
“Ambush,” was all Johnny said by way of an answer before asking, “Is Jonas here?”
“Yes, he’s in the barn.”
“I need him and several ranch hands. Murdoch may be in trouble.”
Mildred Wyman was too experienced a ranch wife to be shocked by that statement. She shooed Johnny toward the door with her words. “Go. I’ll take care of Scott.”
“Thanks, Mildred,” Johnny said over his shoulder, as he headed out the door. His brother had never completely lost consciousness on the way here, but he was certainly not completely coherent, either.
After finding Jonas Wyman and quickly telling him what had happened, the rancher responded to Johnny’s request for help, rounding up a number of the ranch hands that were not out on the range and riding out with them.
It was over half an hour before the Degans had been rounded up and Murdoch and Harlan had been rescued. Jonas had agreed to see that the culprits were taken into town and jailed. He rode with the eldest and youngest Lancer back to his ranch to see how Scott was faring. He knew his wife would have done her best to take care of him.
When they all rode up to the ranch house, Mildred, having heard them arrive, came out onto the porch. She was trying to smile, but wasn’t as successful as she had hoped. She hadn’t wanted to give the impression that all was well, but she also didn’t want to scare the Lancers.
As soon as Murdoch’s right foot swung over the saddle and hit the ground, he asked, “Mildred, how is Scott?”
“Sore, disoriented and a bit angry that he couldn’t go with you to rescue his grandfather.”
Johnny started to say, “In other words, he’s pissed off,” but caught himself in time. He was sure Mildred had herd words far worse, but he wanted to show at least a bit of politeness. He also didn’t want a lecture from Murdoch.
The Lancers walked into the living room of the house. They saw Scott lying prone on the sofa, a white bandage wrapped around his head just below his hairline. His jacket was draped over the back of a nearby chair.
“He wouldn’t go lie down in a bed,” Mildred told them, as if talking about a defiant child. “He insisted he wanted to be right here when you came back.”
Murdoch knelt down beside his son. “Scott,” he called softly. However, it was the touch of his father’s hand on his shoulder that roused the young man.
“Murdoch? Johnny?” Scott said drowsily.
“We’re both here,” Murdoch said. Then he added, “We’re both fine,” before Scott could ask.
“Why wouldn’t you be?” Scott asked. “Did something happen?”
Mildred had to smile now. “I told you he was a bit disoriented.”
Suddenly, Scott sat bolt upright. “Grandfather!”
The move was an ill-advised one, as he grabbed his head in both hands.
“Easy, son,” Murdoch said, as he gently pushed Scott back down. “Your grandfather is fine. The Degans, who are the ones who shot you, are being taken to jail, and I sent a couple of the Wyman hands to escort your grandfather to Lancer.”
Scott closed his eyes. He was relieved. His head was pounding and the crease the rifle bullet had gouged above his left temple burned like fire.
He opened his eyes. “You two all right?” he asked, looking at his father and brother. He didn’t remember that Murdoch had already told him they were fine.
“Yes, son. We’re all right,” he answered in an indulgent tone. He would keep saying the same thing as many times as he had to, tokeep Scott calm.
Three hours and several glasses of lemonade later, it was decided that Scott, after sitting up a while and being lucid in his comments during the conversations that were held, could go home.
While Murdoch met in private with the Wymans, mostly to thank them for what they had done for Scott and helping apprehend the Degans, Johnny sat beside Scott.
“Why did he lie to me, Johnny? Why did blackmail me like that? He raised me. I thought he loved me.”
“He wanted you to go back to Boston with him.”
“I know that, but why wouldn’t he listen to what I told him my life is at Lancer now?”
Johnny didn’t feel like defending Harlan Garrett. He also didn’t want to hurt Scott any more than his grandfather had already done.
“I guess he wasn’t willin’ to accept no for an answer.”
“I would think he would want me to be happy, and I’m happy here. I told him that.”
“He wanted to win. I think maybe it had as much to do with beating Murdoch as it did having you with him.” Johnny shrugged. “He just didn’t want to share.”
Scott sighed. “I know intellectually you’re right. It just hurts to know he would do that to me, no matter the reason.”
Johnny reached over and squeezed Scott’s shoulder. “He just didn’t realize how much what he planned t odo would hurt you.”
“Or didn’t care,” Scott added sullenly.
As much as he wanted to ease his brother’s mind, there was a limit to how far he would go to give Harlan Garrett the benefit of the doubt. Truth was, he believed Scott was right. The man didn’t care, as long as he got what he wanted. It irked Johnny to think that he didn’t want a loving grandson. He wanted someone he thought he could have power over.
Scott deserved so much better. At least now, he had a brother and a father that truly cared for him, as a person with his own mind, not a puppet that could be controlled.
Johnny smiled encouragingly, when he saw Murdoch turn toward them. “We’ll soon be home, Boston. Our real home.” He gave Scott’s shoulder another affectionate squeeze.
Johnny wanted his brother to ride with him, but Scott insisted on borrowing a horse and riding by himself.
At a look from his father that said ‘Don’t argue with your injured brother’, Johnny shut up and silently agreed. However, he was determined to ride beside Scott, just in case.
It wasn’t long before all three Lancers were riding through the arch and headed for the hacienda.
Scott’s grandfather would be waiting for them. None of them knew how the confrontation would go. Whether the man would be a gracious loser, so that he might salvage some kind of relationship with his grandson or whether he would continue to try and influence Scott to leave California remained to be seen. They only knew that they would face Harlan Garrett united.
~ end ~
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