Summary: Johnny struggles with the changes in his life.
Word Count: 1275
“What are you doing out of bed?”
The voice startles me, booming as it does so unexpectedly from the doorway. It makes me lose concentration on what I’m doing, and that’s trying to keep myself upright as I cautiously make my way from my bed over to the chair by the open window.
I needed to see the outside world, to reassure myself that it was still there! Fool idea, I know. But life right now ain’t making much sense.
I’m weak from blood loss, dizzy from the remnants of a fever, and so I stumble. My legs betraying me just when I needed them most.
The floor rises to meet me and I close my eyes against the impact. I’m falling like a lead balloon and I know it’s gonna hurt!
Just like the voice, the huge hands take me by surprise, catching me, lifting me, easing me back onto the bed, but not before the strong arms tighten around me. Holding me . . . holding me close like I’m . . . like I’m something precious!
For the briefest moment, I feel safe, safer than I ever remember feeling before.
Then suddenly, I don’t feel so good. My head is spinning and I daren’t open my eyes; should I find the room to be spinning too, I know I’ll lose the contents of my stomach.
I can hear him talking to me, but he seems so far away! Still, I hear concern in his voice, real concern and it’s for me!
He’s calling my name. No one’s ever called me John before and I like the way it sounds, the way he makes it sound. There’s a familiarity about it, as if he knows me, really knows me!
Something cool and damp glides over my face; it’s a pleasant and welcome sensation. It helps chase away the darkness that’s been hovering around me. But I’m not ready to open my eyes, not yet; I don’t want to break the spell.
I feel his hand on my forehead; it lingers there a little before moving to rest on my cheek. Who’d a thought this giant of a man would have so gentle a touch!
His tone changes then, becoming firm and authoritative as he eases me onto my side. I struggle against him simply because I hate being told what to do, but I’m no match for his strength or determination.
Insistent fingers seek out the wound caused by Day’s gun. Their painful probing initiating an angry hiss from my lips. He’s not pleased either. He tells me it’s bleeding again and seconds later I feel the pressure needed to stop the flow.
Shards of agony tear through my back and I curse him out loud, calling him a few choice names as the torture continues. They’re met with a sharp and to the point reprimand. “Watch your mouth, young man!”
Anyone else and I’m damn sure I’d a spat back more of the same. But for some reason, because it’s him, I hold my tongue. Still, I force my eyes open and glare up at him.
He ignores the icy stare, efficiently renewing the dressing and bandage. Once done, he breaks the uncomfortable silence “You’re lucky you didn’t break those stitches!”
I look away suitably chastised. Damn him! Why does he make me feel like some foolish kid?
He holds a glass of water out to me and I snatch it from him, unable to hide the anger I again feel towards him. I hear him sigh; there’s a sadness about it and I know I’m responsible for that.
“Thanks,” I force out awkwardly, trying to make some kind of amends.
I can tell it’s appreciated, because he eases himself down to sit beside me on the bed. I slowly meet his gaze, hating the tension that’s once more built up between us.
“You know if you want anything, need anything, you only have to ask. Scott or I would have helped you…”
“Yeah, I know,” I snap back at him. I’m having difficulty accepting their willingness to help. I ain’t used to folk fussing over me – not like they’ve been doing – and I don’t want to get used to it neither!
He stares at me thoughtfully; I hate it when he does that and he does it a lot! I’m left wondering what he’s thinking . . . what he thinks about me! He has to be wondering just what sort of man I am. I look away again, suddenly feeling so very unworthy of him and everything Lancer is, even the name.
The short time I’ve been here, the time I spent in town weighing things up, well, it’s been made clear that Murdoch Lancer is a much respected man, honorable and law abiding! So how the hell did he manage to sire a no-hoper like me? I guess it’s a question he must ask himself time and time again.
“This . . .” he begins a little hesitantly, “us . . . you Scott and I . . . well, it’s difficult, I know, but . . . .” The long pause that follows forces my eyes to meet his. He looks as uncomfortable as I feel but he continues, “I believe it’s something worth striving for.”
I don’t know what to say to that. He’s talking about family now and I know nothing at all about that! All I know is that it’s something I’ve never had. I’ve been on the outside looking in a few times, and I’ve liked what I’ve seen, envied what I’ve seen at times.
But presented with the possibility of sharing in it, well, I’m left wanting to run and hide! The thought of it all going wrong terrifies me. Isn’t it better I remain ignorant of it all than get a taste for it, and have it up and turn sour?
He seems to want it – Scott, too – but the biggest surprise of all is that I do too!
The moment I first set eyes on this place something stirred inside of me. A need. A yearning to belong somewhere, to something and to someone.
I’d sensed something up on that rise, I felt like I’d found something once lost to me. But I quickly pushed that feeling aside; it scared the hell out of me and still does! I fear waking up one morning and finding it all just a dream!
Right now, it’s so real it hurts! It’s within my grasp, but should I reach for it, will I be able to keep a hold?
If I stay, if I sign those papers, part of all this will be mine; I’ll be a part of something good. I guess the old man’s trying to tell me that nothing good comes easy.
“Yeah,” I finally answer him, but I mustn’t sound too sure about it because he looks searchingly at me. I bet he’s wondering if I’m really worth the effort.
His expression softens into a smile; he seems prepared to give me the benefit of the doubt. Most men wouldn’t. But then, he isn’t just any man, is he? And what he is to me is the very crux of the matter!
My father is no longer the faceless specter who’s haunted me my whole life; a heart beats in his chest and . . . well . . . I guess he ain’t the monster I thought he was!
He’s struggling with things too, and so we’ve been pussyfooting around each other the last few days.
That ain’t gonna help demolish the wall that stands between us. But right now I think we’re both scared of pushing the other away.
No, nothing good comes easy.