Time Well Spent (by Molly)

Summary:   A what happened next for the episode “Chase a Wild Horse.”
Category:  Lancer
Genre:  Western
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  1035

 

 

It’s been a month since Wes died, and a lot’s happened in these last four weeks. We got the fencing finished and the herd moved, and as soon as Scott was up to riding again, me and him did some more surveying. Add to that the normal everyday jobs that need doing on a ranch this size and our days have been pretty long and full. It’s been what Murdoch would call ‘time well spent’.

We’ve managed to catch our breath in the evenings, and that’s about all I have done after sunset, ‘cepting eat of course! I ain’t had any hankerin’ to go into town, not even on a Saturday night. I ain’t strayed off Lancer land at all; truth be told, I’ve been kinda reluctant to leave what I so nearly turned my back on.

It was all a bit of a rude awakening; I’d learned another lesson the hard way. Still and all, a lot of good has come of it — me and the Old Man, we’re…well, we’re doin’ alright.

There’s just him and me in the great room right now; Teresa’s visiting a friend and Scott’s up in his room writing what he told me was a long, overdue letter to his grandfather.

Murdoch’s at his desk too. He’s got his head in a book, but it ain’t the reading kind; it’s a ledger. Just as soon as he’s toted up all them neat little figures, him and me are going head to head in a game of chess. I’ve been looking forward to it all day, I think he has too. We’ll talk as we do battle; that’s something we do a lot more of now — talk.

See, we’d talked some on our way back from the black mesa. Maybe it was the thrill of the chase that loosened our tongues or maybe it was the charms of twilight. Whatever it was, we both opened up a little, and have been doin’ much the same since.

He knows I didn’t mean to let him down, how much I regret what happened. And I know he didn’t mean the things he said, that he was just trying to protect me from Stryker and his men.

Still, I don’t know what was going through his mind when he handed me his pocket watch, and something surely was. He was about to tell me, only to suddenly think better of it.

“What?” I’d urged, irritated by his reluctance to share his thoughts with me. It didn’t get me anywhere, though; he answered me with a shrug and a quiet “Nothing”

All the fight drained from me then, and for some reason, the precious metal nestling in my hand lost some of its luster. I tucked it away, out of sight and out of mind.

Anger taints a man’s actions, has him do what the rational mind would declare unthinkable. I went and sold a priceless treasure that day, and all for money I knew Wes and me would just drink away.

That beer tasted sour on my tongue and the whisky burned like the fires of hell, and both sat miserably in my gut.

I told Wes I needed some air but what I really needed to do was think. I’d messed up, and I was beginning to realize by leaving Lancer I’d messed up some more.

But I wasn’t ready to admit that just yet and I managed to half bury that notion. I told myself I was doing the right thing, that I didn’t need Lancer, and Lancer sure as hell didn’t need me!

Then, just as I was getting used to the idea of leaving, Scott showed up, spouting a truth that had my insides roiling.

I couldn’t watch him leave, or ride away. I was hurting enough as it was.

And then Wes…well, the way he dared the devil, I guess he always was living on borrowed time.

But just in time, I realized mine didn’t have to be! I didn’t have to walk away from the best thing that had ever happened to me.

Walk! Who am I kidding? I wasn’t walking; I was running! Running like some snot-nosed kid.

I told myself I could go back but not without the old man’s watch! I wouldn’t be able to look him in the eye if that wasn’t safe in my possession.

So I got it back and tucked it once more where it belonged — in my pocket.

In quite moments such as this, I take it out and think on it, wondering what stories it could tell.

I’m turning it over and over in my hand; I like the way it feels, its weight, the warmth that fills me when I acknowledge yet again that  it’s mine, and the fact the Old Man gave it to me.

I open it up, study its face, all the time contemplating how many times my father’s done that very same thing.

Its ebony figures are bold; they stand proud against a white background. Delicately fashioned hands move tirelessly under its crystal dome. The mechanism’s hidden and is as mysterious to me as the workings of the human heart; all I know is that they both beat with life of their own.

I close it, hearing the reassuring snap of the clasp before holding it to my ear to listen to the steady passing of time.

Murdoch had said it was old but it was still a good time piece; that and the fact its gold is really all I know about it.

I want to know more.

I gaze in Murdoch’s direction, get to my feet then step over to stand beside him. I hold out the timepiece and wait for his eyes to meet mine.

“John?”

“You said it was old.”

He smiles at me. “It is. It was my father’s…your grandfather’s…”

Once he starts talking, he can’t seem to stop and I’m carried away, back in time, back to people and places important in his life and important now in mine.

***End***

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