I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (by Claire)

Summary:    Joie de vivre!
Category:  Bonanza
Genre:  Western
Rated:  PG
Word Count:  665



The waters stretched out temptingly before him, as infinite and as wondrous as gazing into a multi-faceted peridot; full of possibilities and yet paradoxically complete. Shimmering slightly in the blazing heat of mid-summer, Lake Tahoe sparkled and glistened invitingly before the young man, offering a myriad of possibilities and opportunities just waiting to be grasped.

It was too great a temptation to resist – and Joe had never been one to resist temptation. Life was too short not to grasp each glittering prize that offered itself to those brave enough to accept the challenge.

By now, the sun had reached its zenith in the sky and was beating downwards, the heat reflected inwards by the ring of mountains that surrounded the alpine lake. Shrugging slightly, Joe peeled off his shirt, revealing a lean torso, that gleamed a deep golden-bronze in the summer sun, impressively muscled, yet retaining a slender silhouette. His broad shoulders and powerful chest paid ample testimony to the long hours spent in hard physical labor, sweeping down to a narrow waist, then easing into slender hips and long, athletically muscled legs. Bending over, he pulled off his boots, discarded his pants with glee and then ran joyfully into the crystalline waters.

Laughing with sheer joy and exhilaration as the icy waters caressed every part of his body, Joe threw handfuls of water up into the air, watching as each droplet cascaded downwards, reflecting the entire spectrum of colors. He gasped as the chill liquid hit his smooth chest and then threw his head back and rejoiced at the sheer joy of being young and alive.

Far behind him, half-hidden on a ridge where the scrubby brush grew thick and dense, Adam watched his younger brother’s exploits and felt his heart ache. Had he ever been as young and carefree as Joe? Could he ever recapture the sheer, elemental joy of simply living – and rejoice in that fact?

For a moment, Joe had an eerie sensation of being observed. Seeking to escape the intrusion, he struck out towards the centre of the lake and, once in deeper water, took in a deep lungful of air before diving down to the very bottom of the lake. Propelling himself forwards with powerful strokes, he soon reached the lakebed, where pebbles lay in tumbled profusion, washed smooth by untold years. His long fingers reached forward, grasped a single stone and then Joe kicked upwards, forcing his way through the water, fighting against the growing pressure in his lungs, one arm outstretched triumphantly, brandishing his prize. Breaking though the rippling surface of the lake in a surge of energy, Joe arced gracefully upwards, scattering a rainbow shower of droplets in his wake, before swimming smoothly towards the shore. Shaking his head and body, he strode back towards his clothes, leaving only a trail of damp footsteps in his wake.

Joe leant back upon the sun-warmed rocks, reveling in the heat of the sun beating down upon his naked body, glorying in the sense of freedom. He ran his hands through his hair, easing the thick, curly tendrils into a vague semblance of order and then gazed contentedly up at the panorama that stretched before him. Was there a more beautiful place on earth? Could anywhere shrive a man’s soul more thoroughly? A sense of well-being, of complete and utter contentment suffused his body. Threading his fingers together and stretching his arms languorously above his head, Joe watched a small bead of water trickle slowly down his chest, before continuing its journey southwards over his taut stomach and trickling down his pelvis and thighs. Raising his head, Joe gazed at the majestic mountains soaring before him and let peace ease into every fiber of his being.

Still hidden from sight, Adam watched in silence, ensuring that all was well and then started out on the long road back home.


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