AUTHOR: Mistress Marilyn (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DATE: October 1, 2005
FANDOM: 'Lancer' (CBS-TV western, 1968-70)
PAIRING: Johnny/Scott (James Stacy and Wayne Maunder)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own 'em. They belong to 20th Century Fox, to CBS and the respective actors of the series, and to the ages. This is a work of a fan, done for no remuneration save the satisfaction of the work.
WARNINGS/RATING: Slash, incest, self-inflicted violence, angst.
BETA: CharlieMC, thanks as always!
DEDICATION: To my old bicycle fondly named after Johnny's horse.
AUTHOR NOTES: Written for the pre96 Ficathon. How can it have been more than 30 years since this lovely western aired? This is definitely Alternate Reality, set after the events of the series. The title is taken from this week's prompt at another fanfic challenge list -- 'requiem' -- the Latin word for 'rest,' the first word of the mass for the dead. There's a huge library of Lancer fanfic, but I can't seem to find any slash.
SCENARIO: Someone becomes a priest.
WORD COUNT: 2,198
"In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen."
The air inside the small chapel was dry and still. The bustle and dust of a normal day in the small border town didn't penetrate the thick adobe walls.
On his face on the stone floor, he was oblivious to anything but the beating of his heart and the images in his head. The latter he unsuccessfully tried to obliterate by the clumsy repetition of a Latin mantra; the former he attempted to slow by controlling the intake of his breath.
"Juste judex ultionis, donum fac remissionis ante diem rationis. Righteous judge of vengeance, grant me the gift of absolution before the day of retribution."
Arms wide, legs straight, he lay prostrate before the simple altar.
"Father Juan?" said a tentative voice from somewhere behind him. "I don't mean to disturb you, but, can I bring you anything?"
The voice registered. It was Pedro, the young man who swept the church floor and kept the dust from accumulating on the benches. He lay still now and held his breath, making no acknowledgment of the inquiry. Would Pedro think him dead and leave him lying there, or would he go for help from someone who cared enough about a strange, wandering priest to interrupt his or her business to respond to the boy's concern?
He was vaguely aware of shuffling feet as Pedro moved away. He went back to his controlled breathing, oblivious to the throbbing of the taut muscles across his back and shoulders. When the pain became unbearable, it would be time to begin the prayer for the dead.
Hours passed. Pedro didn't return. Either he hadn't been able to convince anyone to come or his simple mind had forgotten altogether his visit to the church. 'Father Juan' continued to lie on his face on the floor, but he had ceased his prayers.
He had fallen asleep.
Sleep was something he could not completely control. Sleep took over his mind, relaxed his body and brought back the images he worked so fervently to eradicate during the day. In his dreams, his burnished skin was not as dark and his hair not as long. He wore no cassock or collar, and his footsteps jingled with the sound of spurs. A gun was slung low on his hips and his blue eyes were shaded by the brim of a hat.
And the other was there -- the man he wasn't really sure he could ever know or understand, the stranger who had become his closest friend and confidante, the one he had reluctantly learned to call 'brother.'
Handsome. Articulate. An Easterner with a Harvard education. Braver than he looked and more capable than he realized. He had started out as a fish out of water, flopping awkwardly and sometimes uselessly on the dry bank of a foreign world, then slowly stretching out, adapting, breathing easily and moving gracefully, visibly growing and finally gleaming in the bright California sun like another creature altogether, a strange and beautiful one that couldn't be ignored.
Better he had been ignored -- better than the dreams that revealed him in all his confusing beauty, somehow masculine and feminine at the same time, hard and angular yet groomed and pleasantly-scented, proud and unapproachable yet sensitive and empathetic.
As he slipped into a dream state, the images became actions, and he tugged on a clump of wheat-colored hair with strong fingers, turning that sculpted face toward his, inhaling sweet breath. He could taste as well as see the golden skin, he could smell the fresh male scent, he could feel the rising heat beneath his hands. And then he was thrown on his back by the pressure of agile legs, and he reached up to catch the firm body that bore down on him.
The only audible evidence of the dream was labored breathing, a ragged sound that woke him as he realized it was coming from his own occluded nostrils pressed against the stone floor.
He was also instantly aware of his own hardness meeting the stubborn resistance of his rough resting place, and he released a long sigh, imagining the necessary punishment for his recalcitrant body.
His muscles screamed a noiseless protest as he slowly rose from the spot he had occupied for hours. The air in the chapel remained dry and still. Nothing had changed since morning, except for the angle of the light reflected from the high window at one end of the lofty, open room.
Tired and sore, he made his way to the narrow hall that led to the tiny cell behind the altar, trying not to think of the small loaf of bread and pitcher of water he would find. When had he last eaten?
He fell on the bread with the buzzing fury of a locust, mindlessly erasing every crumb before he washed the remains down with the warm water. He sank to the straw pallet, his eyes staring at the colorless wall as he ate, ignoring the dark, dried spatters on the gray floor.
He was panting.
Then, without warning, he heaved a dry sob from deep in his chest. He pressed his brown hands against his face, willing himself to be calm, afraid his meager meal would be lost and he would be too weak to do what came next. Instead of battling with the sudden, stark clarity of memory, he decided to give in to it. He stretched out on the thin pallet and allowed himself to think of the past.
When had the son of a rich rancher become a religious and a flagellant?
It had happened just as quickly and unexpectedly as had the former gunfighter turning into that rich rancher's son.
Little more than a year earlier he had not been known as 'Father Juan.' He had been Johnny Lancer, one of the heirs to 100,000 acres and the bloodline of the powerful rancher Murdoch Lancer. And even earlier he had been Johnny Madrid, heir to nothing but blood born of violence, a gunslinger with a keen eye and a gentle-but-rarely-seen smile.
Now his own blood decorated the floor of the tiny cell as he lost himself in the strangely seductive life of a nomadic cleric and penitent.
What had he been told as a boy by the aging schoolmarm who longed to interest him in an education by recounting stories of the Age of Chivalry, fanciful tales of dragons and magic? Wasn't there a hero named Sir Lancelot who had a fall from grace and went mad for a time, wandering the countryside, unable to return to his life as a knight until he had suffered enough?
Suffering. He was becoming intimately familiar with suffering.
Shrugging off his long, black garments, he reached for the stained, knotted rope. He kneeled on the hard floor next to the straw pallet and leaned forward, his face near his knees. Then he whipped the flail backward, scourging his already striped back. He swallowed his moans and swung harder, remembering his body's defiance and weakness during the prostration.
Finally his arm stilled and he slumped forward, unconscious.
He heard a familiar voice, the deep, fine voice of his brother, calling him back from the darkness.
"Johnny! I've been looking for you. Where have you been?"
He looked up and saw Scott's strong, angular face and clear eyes looming over him, slowly lowering toward him. He closed his own eyes and waited, waited to feel Scott's firm, comforting touch, the same touch that had cooled his fevered brow, bandaged his occasional wounds, steadied his quaking muscles when he was overcome by nightmares or illnesses, anger or doubt, passion or even fear. He waited.
And when he looked up again, he was alone and the tiny cell was dark and empty.
He remembered. And he started to recite the prayer for the dead.
"Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord." He spoke slowly and carefully, stumbling over some of the Latin. "Et lux perpetua luceat eis, let perpetual light shine upon them."
Light. Where was his candle? He crawled on bare knees to the small table that held the now-empty pitcher and the candle. Where was the flint?
Finally, he gave up on lighting the room and bowed his head.
"Requiescant in pace. Amen," he finished. "May they rest in peace. Amen."
Scott. Murdoch. And now, Johnny.
Johnny and Scott Lancer, born of two different mothers, raised in opposite worlds, had been brought together by a father who sought them out and then challenged them to take on the responsibilities of a vast, working ranch all the while ignoring the pain of a broken family. The situation was so unlikely, it seemed even less real now than the eccentric life of a gunfighter-turned-priest.
The attraction had begun so innocently, brotherly love growing in two men unaccustomed to familial affection, growing into something more intimate, more treasured and ultimately far more binding than blood. How could the orphaned Johnny Madrid have known or cared what was appropriate between two brothers? Wasn't it too late to try to teach this lesson to even a settled Johnny Lancer?
By the time the bond was sealed, it was too late for them both. And they put aside any thoughts of what was acceptable and what was forbidden. Wasn't the fact they had finally found one another proof enough that the world's rules needn't apply?
When Murdoch Lancer inevitably suspected, he blamed Scott, the elder brother, the more educated, more effete, more refined of the two. And Johnny erupted, a violent outburst that led to a scuffle, an accident, and to . . .
"Requiescant in pace," he murmured again. "Rest in peace."
He needed water. Pulling on his clothing, ignoring the pain as the rough cloth met his torn skin, he steadied himself and walked toward the rear entrance to the church. Clutching the small pitcher in one hand, he used the other outstretched arm to find his way in the darkness, remembering when he had been blind for a short time and had needed to learn to rely on his other senses.
There was a well in the courtyard, and it stood out clearly in the moonlight.
He sighed as he lowered the bucket, imagining how good the water would taste in his dry throat. The sensation of drinking, of feeling the cool, soothing touch of the water on his chapped lips and swollen tongue was as welcome and as thrilling as the first time Scott's mouth had covered and invaded his.
He sat on the edge of the well, drinking, the sounds of the village night hushed and faraway. His eyes had quickly become accustomed to the dim light; the moon was nearly full and lent a ghostly aurora to the shapes around him. He saw a rider in the archway leading to the courtyard, and he imagined for a moment that the figure on the tall horse wore armor, like the knights of old in the stories told by the schoolmarm.
The rider dismounted and led his horse toward the well. He, too, was undoubtedly thirsty.
He, too, was a wanderer.
"May I draw water for my horse?" the newcomer asked in a polite voice . . . a deep voice . . . a familiar voice.
"Help yourself," he said, looking up, knowing what he would see.
Scott. As he had so many times in the past weeks, he saw his lost brother, this time outfitted by the moonlight in shining silver armor. He knew he was hallucinating again. But he enjoyed watching the luminous face with its fine nose and pointed chin as recognition lit up the tired eyes. The man tossed down his hat and came close.
"Johnny? Is that you?"
He smiled, pushing back his unkempt hair. "'Course it is," he answered, expecting to see the shining figure in front of him disappear at any instant.
Strong arms grasped him, and warm breath touched his face. "My God, Johnny, I've been searching for you for months!"
"Sure you have," he said. "Sure."
The eyes were liquid and the high forehead creased. This Scott looked older, thinner and more worn than the young man who had rolled with him in the yellow grass and clutched at him across the mattress of his four-poster in the wee hours of the California summer.
"That you, Scott?" he said uncertainly, confused now by this flawed vision of his brother.
"Johnny! Why did you go? Murdoch didn't blame you for his fall or the broken leg. It was an accident. It was something he and I had to work out."
This Scott stared now at the collar and cassock. "Why are you dressed as a priest?"
"I'm Father Juan," was the answer. "Johnny Lancer is dead. I just recited his requiem."
He saw in Scott's sad eyes that he recognized the madness. The grip on his arms remained firm, and he was pulled toward the brother-in-shining-armor.
"It's all right now, Johnny," Scott said in a calm voice. "You've done your penance."
"It's time to come home."