Summary: Time had passed since Eastgate, though perhaps not enough. One year after the events of The Crucible, Adam finds that certain hurts never heal, and some scars never truly fade. A WHN for The Crucible.
Rating: G Word Count: 1,173
The Scars Series
Scars that Never Fade
Scars that Shatter Trust
Scars that Distort Reality
Author’s Note: Written for the Pinecone Challenge and extended for the Bonanza Brand Library.
Scars that Never Fade
“Hand me that rifle, Joe. The best we can do for ‘im right now is put ‘im outta his misery.”
The deep lines between Hoss’ brows spoke of how much the deed would hurt his tender heart. Normally, Adam wouldn’t fault him for it. The steer couldn’t go on with a leg busted that bad—not on a cattle drive that was only half over, at any rate.
In fact, normally, Adam would’ve been the first to take up the rifle; to get the miserable deed done and over with so his brothers wouldn’t have to.
As Hoss raised the rifle with reluctant hands, Adam felt his insides go cold as ice. It’d been a year already. One whole year. You should’ve been over it by now, don’t you think?
Normally, he would’ve told the cynical voice to shut up—he’d gotten pretty good at shutting it out since… Well, since East Gate and… and everything…
At that moment, however, the ground seemed to shift. Because he was raising the gun, curling his finger around the trigger.
Bang! The long-buried memory exploded in his mind. A slight stumble was enough to get him to Hoss before his brother could fire.
The trigger. Don’t pull—
Confusion swirled around the lines of pain as Hoss started, glancing back. “Aww, come on, Adam, you know we gotta—”
Don’t pull the trigger. Don’t—
Cold beads of sweat began to line his forehead; his brain raced as he wet his lips. Dry. The sun would only get hotter from here and everything was so dry.
Always too dry out here. Too… The trigger. Don’t pull—
“There has to be another way. Look,” Adam began, keeping his hand wrapped tightly around the barrel of the gun, “we can still help it, just like we do at the ranch.”
Hoss shook his head. “Yeah, but we ain’t at the ranch. Ain’t no way we can heal ‘im properly on a cattle drive.”
He was acutely aware of both his brothers’ stares narrowing on him, studying him. Wondering what the hell is wrong with you.
Well, what is wrong with you, Cartwright?
He couldn’t say. Not now. Not when his heart was beating for fast he could barely breathe. Not when everything was shouting at him to save them all while he still had the chance.
Save them. Save yourself.
“Come on, Adam, let go, will ya? Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”
The rifle moved; Adam’s mind screamed. A desperate cry of survival. “Hoss, stop!”
“Adam, what in tarnation—?”
“Adam,” Joe tried from somewhere off to the side, his tone cloudy with emotions Adam couldn’t identify, “what’s your problem, huh? Can’t we just get this over with?”
“No, we can’t.” Can’t, can’t, can’t pull the trigger! “There has to be another way—”
No guns, no—
When Hoss began wrestling the weapon away, Adam only clung to it tighter. “Dadburn it, Adam! Why can’t ya just let me—?”
“Because if you shoot her, we’ll never be able to get out of here!”
A silence settled over them, heavy and suffocating. Words once spoken can’t be taken back. Adam was reminded of this when he heard Joe suck in a breath; when Hoss’ grip on the gun briefly faltered.
Because now they all knew. They understood, and the worst of it was Adam wished they couldn’t. For so long, he’d wanted them to understand, to know what he went through out there. To be able to relate. Now, he wished more than anything that they would look at him like he was crazy. Like they didn’t understand a darn thing he was saying.
And yet, they did.
After all, isn’t that what you always wanted, Cartwright?
One year. One whole year and still that desert haunted him. One year. You’d think you’d have gotten over it by now…
Like it was a smoldering branding iron, Adam released the rifle. Schooling his face into a neutral expression, he forced himself into a slow, steady retreat—no matter how loud his brain screamed at him to turn and run.
“Never mind. Just…” He shook his head, not daring to look either of them in the eyes. He knew what he’d find there. He’d seen it all before. You don’t need their pity.
They’re just concerned, that’s all.
Sure. Or maybe they still think you’re insane.
Waving a dismissive hand, Adam turned away. “Never mind.”
He didn’t look back; didn’t answer when Joe called out after him.
Yet, he couldn’t help but flinch when he heard the inevitable gunshot.
Oh, and here you thought it was over.
Heaving a sigh, Adam retreated to Sport, finding relief in simply stroking his friend’s mane.
“Shh,” he whispered to the steed, though whether he was trying to soothe the horse or himself, he couldn’t tell. “It’s all right.”
Some scars never fade, I guess. How unfortunate.
Squeezing his eyes shut, he sucked in a long, slow breath.
“Adam?” If one more person said his name like that—in that careful, treading on eggshells tone—he was going to…
What? Came that haughty voice from within again. You’ll kill them like you killed me?
Banishing the old argument to the depths of his tormented mind, he looked his father in the eyes, determined to play it cool. Because if he acted like everything was fine, he might be able to convince his mind that it really was.
“Is everything…” Ben’s gaze held that studious glint, ever-knowing. “… All right?”
“Fine.” With a tug, Adam mounted Sport, then risked a glance at Hoss and Joe. “We lost one of the steers.”
“I know,” Ben replied with a grim nod. “I heard the shot.”
As his father sucked in a breath, Adam felt himself holding his own. “Adam…”
Adam. Adam. Adam.
Are you sure you’re all right, Adam?
Adam, you spaced out again.
Hey, Adam, I’m not trying to pry—honest—but you seem a little…
Ben seemed to backtrack after that. Out of the corner of his eye, Adam noticed the way his pa appeared to be sizing up the situation. “Son… you’re sure you’re—”
“I’m fine, Pa. Now, are we going to get this drive moving again? We’ve lost enough time already, don’t you think?”
He didn’t wait for Ben to reply. He couldn’t.
Not without completely falling apart. Again.
Like you did back in that desert. Remember that?
Urging Sport forward, he put as much distance between his family and himself without abandoning the herd altogether.
‘Course, you remember. Everyone does.
Just… Adam closed his eyes again, only briefly this time. He didn’t have time for this; had to focus on the drive. Just…
Would it take another year? Two? Three? How long would the memories haunt him? How long would he have to worry about triggers popping up out of the blue like this?
Some scars never fade. Just remember that.
… shut up.
Tags: Adam Cartwright, Angst, Ben Cartwright, brothers, Hoss Cartwright, Joe / Little Joe Cartwright
26 thoughts on “Scars that Never Fade (by HarpistforHim)”
I’ve read this before but I never commented. (Bad me!) This is so good, and so heart wrenchingly sad. Adam obviously doesn’t know how to deal with everything that happened. Even though he wants the family’s help desperately, he doesn’t know how to ask. He’s the tough one, the one with all the answers. He’s a little boy who needs his Pa.
After experiencing what he did with Kane, Adam most definitely would have suffered with what is now referred to as PTSD. Love,the way you have written this with Adam still very much under Kane’s influence, which of course he would be. Good story and thanks.
The Bonanza writers didn’t have to follow up on this episode but it definitely needed following! You did a great job showing us the trauma Adam was left with and that it’s not something that just goes away. I liked the way you used a sort of stream of conscious style of writing, and I think the use of “shut up” was fantastic. There was a lot of meaning packed behind that simple phrase. Thank you for sharing this, now I need to go read part II :0)
You and Kane really got inside Adam’s head for this one, Olivia. This short piece packs a punch. Great job. I’ll be looking for more from you. 🙂
Thank you! I’m in the midst of working on the next one!
A wonderful insight as to how Adam must have for a very long time, after his experience with Kane. I always thought that there should have been follow up episode . It would have been very hard for Adam, but he had the love and understanding of his family. I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks for posting.
A wonderful insight as to how Adam must of felt for a very long time after his experience with Kane. Nobody would be able carry on as normal, I always thought that there should have be a follow up episode. You portrayed his a feeling perfectly and the understanding of his family. I really enjoyed reading it.
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, to this day, I still want a follow-up episode for the Crucible.
EEP. This turned out wonderful, my friend. You did such a great job portraying each of the characters in this story, especially Adam. His inner thoughts, actions, and dialogue matched him excellently. The concept of the story was intriguing as well and fed my craving for a story showing what happened after “The Crucible.” 🙂
EEEP! Thank you so much, dear friend! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It was a fun one to write because of how difficult it was to get into Adam’s mind regarding this past trauma. Thank you so much for your wonderful words! They make me so happy!
I always thought it was ridiculous to think he just “got over” his experience. Thank you for such a realistic glance at what Adam probably went through Excellent…excellent!
So ridiculous! After going through such a physically and mentally scarring ordeal like that, Adam would take a long time to recover. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you!
I always think back on that episode,and how my heart went out to him.Life’s scars are not easy to heal,if at all.Adam was strong enough not to let them take hold of his life but they are still and will always be there as reminders of man ‘s hate and insanity.
I always think back on it too. Poor Adam suffered so much in that episode. Thanks for your thoughts! Glad you enjoyed it!
A very realistic account as to how Adam was still feeling, after the terrible events he went through. No one would get over that in an instant and, unfortunately, it would have been likely Adam suffered for a good while to come.
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
A tragic yet lovely story highlighting Adam’s slow healing. With trauma like his, reactions and memories can pop up at any moment. It’s the little comments and suggestions that Kane used to dig into Adam’s psyche – to chip away the parts needed for survival – those took the hardest hit for Adam. Here it’s losing the only means of escape – the mule. Great job of showing how that fear reappeared after so long a time, and apparently not long enough. Also, showing how his family ‘understood’ and let him get through it at his pace – no pity just compassion and support if he wanted it. Well done.
The way Kane played with Adam’s mind is what makes the healing process so hard. It wasn’t just the physical scars, but the mental ones as well. Thank you so much for your feedback! I greatly appreciate it! I might make a short series out of this showing some other minor triggers that might come up during the Post-Crucible months/years, but who knows. XD
Dur et aussi tout en finesse.
Les cicatrices psychologiques n’appartiennent qu’à la personne qui a vécu un traumatisme.
Ici, le cas d’Adam est fortement marqué.
Ce qui me plait aussi, ce sont ses conversations intérieures, ne pas se prendre au sérieux pour se donner du courage ?
Merci beaucoup! Les pensées intérieures d’Adam étaient si intéressantes à écrire parce que j’aimais imaginer ce qui pouvait se passer dans son esprit à un moment comme celui-ci. Merci encore pour votre avis !
Thanks for this inside in Adams mind. You told it so good. His emotions, the love for his family , the stugle for sanity. You can feel his strugle to not let Kane win again. Love it.
Thank you so much for your kind words! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
This was a rather interesting look at what Adam went through in his mind in the Crucible. It must be awful to not be able to forget a very bad thing that happened in your life. thanks for the read.
Yes, I can’t even imagine how difficult the healing process would’ve been for Adam. Thank you so much for reading and reviewing!
Going through something like that is bound to scar someone for a very long time, even someone as strong as our Cartwrights. Loved hearing the banter of Adam’s thoughts inside his head. So natural.
Oh, for sure! Thank you so much! I appreciate the time you took to leave a review! It means a lot. 🙂