High Riders has always been one of my favorite episodes. And we have seen it through most everyone's eyes – except Teresa's.

I hope you enjoy.


Through the Eyes of Teresa O'Brien

Thanks to my betas for all their help. I have since tinkered, so all remaining mistakes are of my own making.

No warnings.

FB is always welcome – good or bad.

Chapter One

Teresa O'Brien waited impatiently for the arrival of the westbound stage. It wasn't fair. Not fair at all. Murdoch had asked her to meet the stage here, in Morro Coyo, and escort his estranged son to the ranch. Her resentment and anger grew the more she thought about it. He could have sent Cipriano, the new segundo, anyone but her. But how could she say no? Murdoch was a bundle of nerves, snapping at everyone, pacing the floor, the tapping of his cane driving everyone crazy. By the time she returned, she half-expected to find a rut the size of a wagon wheel in the carpeting. Still it shouldn't have been up to her to put on a happy face and act like she was so excited to finally meet Scott Lancer.

She didn't understand how Murdoch could be so excited. How he could turn a blind eye to all those years when Scott never answered his letters or acknowledged the Christmas and birthday gifts he'd sent every year? Now suddenly, out of nowhere, Scott was coming for a visit.

It couldn't have come at a worse time. With the land pirates taking out some of the smaller, weaker ranches in the valley and her own father killed just six months ago trying to protect Lancer. Murdoch was still recovering from a bullet, shot in the back the same night her father was killed.

Murdoch had enough problems without adding a Boston dandy to his worries.

Teresa knew all about Scott Lancer. Everything she needed to know anyway. She'd been dusting Murdoch's desk a few months ago when she found that he had forgotten to lock the bottom drawer of his desk. It had always been locked before. She'd seen him looking through a black leather-bound folder quickly stashing it away in the bottom drawer if he thought anyone was coming into the great room. It wasn't her fault that the drawer just seemed to slide open of its own accord.

She had sat at the desk reading the first half of the file. Teresa hadn't realized Murdoch had retained the Pinkertons to send him reports on Scott every six months, from the time he was only a year old. How much money had he spent over the years?

Scott went to the best schools in Boston, traveled abroad with his grandfather, Harlan Garrett. He didn't seem to want for anything. Teresa read enough to know there was little doubt that Scott Lancer would turn out to be a spoiled, egotistical eastern dandy.

Now he was coming to lay claim to his share of the ranch. He had no right. He was a complete stranger. Lancer was more her home than Scott Lancer's. She was born on Lancer, he wasn't. When her mother died, when she was two, her father moved them into the hacienda and Murdoch helped raise her. Then that terrible night, when her father was killed and no one knew if Murdoch would live or die, when she sat by his side day and night until she knew that he was going to live. He became her legal guardian not because she had cared for him when he was hurt, but because he loved her.

Murdoch was more a father to her than he could ever be to Scott Lancer.

Though it hadn't been put down on paper yet, it had always been understood that when Murdoch passed on, she would get his share of the ranch. And if Scott abandoned his rights by never showing up, and Johnny was dead as most thought, she would be sole heir to the Lancer Ranch. Already she had been preparing the house for herself. Over the past three years she had carefully picked the house staff she liked, who understood their place. Even Maria, who loved her like a daughter, knew just one word from Senorita O'Brien and Murdoch would fire her on the spot. Through hints, tears and temper tantrums, Teresa had forged her kingdom. And no one would take that away from her.

Now she was waiting for the man who could destroy her world. Well, that wouldn't happen. Scott Lancer had no idea what he was facing.

Climbing down from the wagon, she sought shelter from the noonday sun in the doorway of the stage depot. She thought back to that day in Murdoch's study and remembered growing tired of the listings of schools and academic honors Scott had earned. Instead she read the Pinkerton report on Murdoch's younger son, Johnny. It was three times as thick as Scott's. There were reports of Johnny as a young boy, his mother moving from town to town; always one step ahead of the Pinkertons. Then the report came that Johnny was using the last name of Madrid. What she read frightened her, yet intrigued her. He had become a gunslinger. A gun for hire. There was little chance that she would ever meet Johnny Madrid Lancer. He was most likely dead by now. But it would have been interesting, a lot more interesting than meeting Scott Lancer.

The sound of the stage rounding the last corner into town brought Teresa out of her reverie. Amid a cloud of choking dust, the coach came to a stop in front of the depot.

"Morro Coyo!" the driver yelled.

Teresa looked over at Raul and Ben and smiled. Raul was Cipriano's nephew, and Ben had worked for Murdoch for as long as she could remember and always accompanied her now that Murdoch couldn't get around like he used to. It wasn't safe for her to travel alone from the ranch into town, and on the way back she didn't think Scott Lancer would be much help if there was trouble.

She watched the stage door open and held her breath. Despite her anger, she was also curious to see what Scott Lancer looked like. Murdoch had met him once when he went to Boston to bring his son home. The boy was five and Murdoch said he favored his mother. Would he still resemble the picture of Catherine hanging in Murdoch's room?

Travis Yoke stepped out of the stage first, holding his hand out for his wife Florence. They had been in Denver to attend their son's wedding. Next came a Jesuit priest, most likely Father Domingo's replacement at the mission. Then a cowboy – no a vaquero - jumped down, lithe as a cat. Dressed in a charro jacket and salmon colored shirt, her heart skipped a beat when the sun glinted off the row of silver conchos lining the outside seam of his leather pants. He was young, handsome and oh so dangerous looking. He was definitely not the type of man Murdoch would ever let her see. Her best friend Anna May would be so envious to know that she had spotted him first. Murdoch would have a fit if he knew the kind of thoughts that went through her head sometimes. But she was nearly seventeen, almost a woman.

She watched him catch a pistol the driver threw down from the front seat and easily slip it into his holster. It added to his look of danger and she had to turn away before he caught her staring at him.

Teresa almost forgot why she was here until the last man stepped off the stage. Blond, tall and dressed in a gray three-piece suit, he'd looked like he just stepped out of the pages of Goody's Magazine. He couldn't have looked any more out of place in his frilly collar and cuffs and the burgundy bowtie that matched the color of his lapels. Even the trim on the bowler hat matched.

She heard Raul and Ben snicker behind her. She almost snickered herself, but she needed to greet Scott in the way that Murdoch would expect. No doubt Scott would tell his father if he wasn't treated like royalty.

Teresa sighed deeply and walked toward the stage. "Mr. Lancer?" she asked sweetly.

To her utter surprise, the man she had guessed was Scott and the vaquero both answered at the same time.

"That's me," the blond answered.

"Yeah…" the vaquero said.

"I'm sorry," she said, "which one of you said…?"

"I did…" both men answered at the same time.

No, it couldn't be. Teresa looked from the Scott to the vaquero. Could it be Johnny? He didn't look like Murdoch. But neither did Scott. He had the dark complexion of a Mexican, yet when he looked at her she saw the most startling blue eyes. Hadn't Murdoch once said that his Johnny had his mother's looks but the Lancer blue eyes?

"You're Johnny," she said, and then looked at Scott, "then you're Scott Lancer."

Johnny shoved the stage door shut, taking a few steps closer to Teresa, his shoulder nearly touching Scott's. She saw it for what it was. A move to assert his authority. Her heartbeat quickened.

"He's no Lancer. My mother only had one kid, and that was me."

"Likewise," Scott snapped.

What was she going to do now? Murdoch was practically in shock waiting for one son to arrive. What would he do when both his sons walked into his life at the same time?

"Oh, well…" What a stupid thing to say. "Oh well?" She had to get her composure back. "He didn't expect you both at the same time – but actually you're both right – it's Mr.

Lancer who had two." She wasn't making things any easier.

"Two what?" Scott asked.

"Wives - and - sons." She looked at each of them. They couldn't have looked more different. "You two."

Scott sat next to her on the buckboard. He had graciously offered to drive, but she had just as graciously declined. Johnny sat in the back on top of one of two trunks Scott had brought with him from Boston. Every time she glanced back, Johnny looked so relaxed. Scott sat with his foot propped up on the front of the wagon, but his lips pressed tightly together belied his attempt to look relaxed too.

"Tell me, Teresa, you work for my father?" Scott glanced back at Johnny. "Our father," he amended.

"I was born on Lancer. My father was the foreman here for fifteen years."


"He was murdered last November."

"Murdered by who?"

Teresa urged the horses to go a little faster. She really didn't want to have this conversation now…not until she knew a little more about them.

"I can't imagine how surprised Murdoch is going to be to see both of you at the same time," she said, loud enough for Johnny to hear also.

"No more surprised than I am at the moment," Scott said.

"Your grandfather never told you that you had a younger brother?" That seemed odd to Teresa, but right by the reaction she saw on Scott's face.

"No. No, he didn't. Possibly because Murdoch never felt it necessary to tell him. Perhaps if there had been some correspondence from my – father – I would have known."

Teresa's heart skipped a beat. What about all those letters and gifts? Had he not received any of them? It wasn't her place to ask. Not now at least. She needed to let things play out a bit first…bide her time.

"And you didn't know you had an older brother, Johnny?"

"Just me and my Mama," Johnny answered, a hardness in his voice that sent a shiver down Teresa's spine. "That's all there was, that's all we needed."

"Am I right in assuming that you have never met Murdoch either?" Scott asked, turning around to look at Johnny.

Johnny snorted derisively "Oh, I met him all right. Don't remember him. But I met him. I was born here. Then one day when I was about two, the old man decided he didn't want a Mexican wife or a half breed for a son and told her to hit the road…and just a minute, don't forget Buster here."

"That's not true, Johnny! My father said your mother just disappeared with you one morning." She didn't have the heart to tell him the whole story. That his mother had taken off with a gambler. That was for Murdoch to tell him.

"That's not the way I heard it."

"My father would have no reason to make up a story like that."

"Not saying he did. Just sometimes people get their stories wrong."

"Perhaps your…our… father can clear the confusion. Then you can go back and ask your mother…"

"Kind of hard when she's been dead for ten years."

Silence, except for the clop of horseshoes and the jangle of tack, descended over the buckboard. Perhaps her job was going to be easier than she thought. A few well placed words, a hint here and there, and she could have them at each other's throats before they knew what was happening.