Scars that Shatter Trust (by HarpistforHim)

Summary: Certain hurts never heal and some scars never truly fade. Adam is aware of this now, however, simply being aware doesn’t make moving forward any easier. Even a seemingly normal trip home with his brother blisters the scars that he thought were healing. A WHN for The Crucible.
Word Count: 1,949  Rating: G


The Scars Series
Scars that Never Fade
Scars that Shatter Trust
Scars that Distort Reality

Author’s note: This story is part of the Scars series, which takes place a year after the episode “The Crucible.” While it isn’t necessary to have read the first ones before reading this story, reading the first parts of the series might enhance the overall storyline a bit and make more sense of the following story. Enjoy!


Scars that Shatter Trust


“Where are you two fellas headed?”

It was a simple question—almost too simple. Just like a gun: simply made, yet loaded and deadly.

Not for the first time, Adam wondered why people couldn’t mind their own business.

Because everyone has an ulterior motive, right?

Right, Cartwright…?

That voice… It seemed a part of him, now. Always there, never leaving—no matter how many sleepless nights he spent trying to banish it from his mind.

Didn’t I tell you? You can’t escape me.

Or yourself.

Pursing his lips, he did his best to ignore the taunts. The sooner he and his brother could get back on their way, the better.

Hoss, for his part, didn’t seem to feel Adam’s sense of hurry, smiling and falling into that neighborly “I trust everyone” attitude Adam had come to despise in the recent months. His middle brother had always been the most outgoing of the Cartwright offspring in certain ways, and it was once a trait Adam greatly admired. That genuine smile bestowed upon the surliest of strangers; the easy conversation and relaxed demeanor…

It used to bring a smile to Adam’s face. Nowadays, he didn’t really like to think about when or why it changed.

Sticking out his hand, Hoss grinned at the waystation master. “I’m Hoss Ca—”

“And I’m Adam. We’re just passing through.” Not taking the time to dwell on—or even acknowledge—the confused look Hoss shot his way, Adam nodded at their horses. “Now, how much to feed and water the horses so we can be on our way?”

The elderly owner nodded and named a price. “You fellas in a hurry?”

Adam forced himself not to wither under Hoss’ scrutinizing stare as his brother drawled, “Well, I didn’t think we were. And if we are, we sure didn’t use to be.”

“It’s been a long journey,” Adam explained. “We’re just a bit anxious to get home.”

Nodding again, the station master gestured toward the barn. “Feed’s in there.”

“Thank you,” Adam said, handing the man his payment.

“I suppose everyone has that drive to get home sometime or another.” The man’s chuckle grated on Adam’s nerves, but he couldn’t really say why. “And some folks can’t seem to get far enough away from it! Where’s home for you two?”

Alarm bells went off in his brain so fast, he couldn’t be sure of their cause at first.

“Just where are you headed?”

“Back… I hope, eventually, back home… the Ponderosa.”

Flashes of East Gate plagued his mind and he shivered. Because of you.

No, the voice shot back. Because of you.

Because you can’t get over yourself, Cartwright. It’s like I said: I’m the better man.

Adam’s nails bit at his palm as he clenched a fist. You’re not even real.

Not anymore. You made sure of that. Remember?

How could he forget?

How can I forget when you’re always there to remind me?

Kane’s twisted grin would forever be branded on his mind, Adam knew that. He just wished it would stop picking the worst possible moments to show itself.

Resisting the nagging urge to squeeze his eyes shut, Adam tightened his grip on Sport’s reins.

“The great Ponderosa. Oh yes, I’ve heard of it. Who hasn’t?”

“Not too far from here, actually,” Hoss replied with a smile. “Virg—”


The stranger glanced from Hoss to Adam. “City?” 

“State.” Adam could’ve kicked himself as soon as he said it.

Both his brother’s and the station master’s eyebrows shot up. “That’s… a long way off, ain’t it?”

“Now you can see why we’re in a bit of a hurry. Thank you again. Come on, Hoss.”

Without another word, Adam led Sport into the barn, all the while trying not to drown in the hurricane of memories threatening to consume his mind.

What a brilliant answer, the voice sneered. A brilliant answer by a brilliant mind.

Oh, just shut up…

Hoss joined him a few minutes later, taking just long enough for Adam to wonder what he was saying to that stranger.

Telling him your names, no doubt.

Shut up.

And where you live…

I said—

So he can come and find you.

Stop it!

You’re too rich, Cartwright. And that’s only one of your many issues. Everyone knows the Ponderosa. Your daddy made too big a name for himself.

I said, shut—

But if it makes you feel better, you just go ahead and hide behind your witless excuses—

Shut up!

Only when bolts of pain shot through his hand did he realize he’d slammed it into the side of the stall.

“You all right there, Adam?”

Startled more than he’d ever care to admit, Adam whirled around, half expecting to find Kane staring him down with that blasted rifle in his hands.

What’s the matter, Cartwright? Mind playing tricks on you again?

Blowing out a sigh, Adam forced his eyes into an exaggerated roll and turned back to Sport. After all, it was better to come off as annoyed at his brother than scared of his own shadow.


“I thought I told you not to sneak up on people like that.”

Even with his back turned, he could practically see Hoss’ shrug. “I guess you did, at that. Though, I didn’t know walkin’ into a barn counted as sneakin’.”

The whatever on the tip of Adam’s tongue was quickly swallowed in favor of saving what little remained of his dignity. The last thing he needed right now was to sound like Little Joe on a bad day.

A thick silence settled over the two as they fed their horses—so thick, Adam found it difficult to breathe.

Or maybe that wasn’t due to the silence…

“So,” Hoss began, clearing his throat and cutting through the tension, “all that nonsense back there… What was that, anyway?”

Yes, Cartwright, explain your madness to your brother. I’m sure he’ll understand.

Shut up.

“Do we have to disclose our full backstory to every stranger we meet on the side of the road?”

“No, I suppose not, but what’s wrong with being neighborly?” Hoss was treading lightly and trying not to show it, yet Adam could tell by the sound of his voice.

He’s walking on eggshells. They’ve all been walking on eggshells since—

Adam stroked Sport’s mane and silently counted to ten. “We’re not his neighbors, Hoss. We’re just strangers passing through. Can’t we do that without constantly drawing attention to ourselves?”

“Now, what d’ya mean by that?”

Chubb whinnied, but Adam didn’t dare look back. He could control his voice just fine, but he couldn’t say the same for his face. No need to give yourself away.

No need to make him worry again.



He drew a slow breath. Control. He was the one in control.

So why does it still feel like I can’t make a move without Kane giving me his permission…?

“Do you realize we get in more trouble telling people we’re Cartwrights than anything else?”

“That’s… true, I guess. But don’t ya think that might be a bit of an exaggeration—”

“Face it, Hoss, it happens all the time.” Somehow, his hands had found a brush because he realized he’d been rubbing down Sport for a few minutes now. “You tell a stranger you’re a Cartwright and immediately their twisted mind starts to turn. The Ponderosa is too big, too well-known. The next thing you know, someone’s taking advantage of you, or holding your medicine for ransome, or bushwhacking you in the middle of the desert and then—!”

The previous tension paled in comparison to the silence that followed his outburst.

As Adam tightened his grip on the brush, he finally let his eyes slide shut. When will it end…?

Haven’t I suffered long enough?

That laugh… It echoed in the back of his mind on repeat. Over and over without rest—without even the smallest reprieve.

If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a dozen times…

Stop it.

You can’t escape me, Cartwright. It’s a waste of energy to even try.


How could he forget?




Never before had he grown so tired of hearing his own name. Not when they said it like that. Like he was just a cracked pane of glass waiting to shatter.

“Adam, are you all right?”

“Come on, Adam, talk to me.”

“You can’t go on like this, Adam. It’s not fair to us and it’s not fair to you.”

Yeah? Dropping the brush, he snatched up Sport’s reins. Well, what do you want me to do about it?

“Talk to us.”

I’m trying.

“Just tell me how I can help.”

I’m trying.

“It might help to get some of it off your chest and out of your mind.”


“Forget it,” Adam muttered as he led his horse toward the open doorway. “I’m ready when you are, but take your time.”

Hoss’ gentle hand on his shoulder both stopped his advance and sent shivers down his spine.

Look at yourself. Scared of every shadow, just like a skittish barn animal.

His brother’s steady voice successfully banished the one tormenting his mind—for the moment, at least.

“You wanna talk about it?”

For a moment, Adam considered the offer. For as long as he could remember, he’d always been able to talk to Hoss. They had a special sort of bond that made confiding in each other easy—even easier than talking to their own father sometimes.

So, maybe… Maybe he’d understand. And even if he didn’t, he would listen.

Hoss always listened.

But do I really want him to hear what I have to say…?

Tell him, the voice taunted, returning again with a vengeance. Tell him how you sank so low out there you couldn’t even recognize yourself. Heck, you still don’t recognize yourself, do you?

Adam shook his head. You made sure of that, didn’t you?

“No,” he finally told his brother.

Hoss nodded, understanding lining his face. “Well, you know I’m always here if ya changer your mind.”

With a nod, Adam tried to move forward, but the gentle grip on his arm tightened ever-so-slightly.

“Not everyone we meet’s out to get us,” Hoss began slowly. Even out of the corner of his eye, Adam could see the pain lacing his brother’s bright blue orbs. “You know that… right?”

Adam jerked out of the light hold, though the gesture was weak and half-hearted at best. “Could’ve fooled me.”

Then, he led his horse out of the barn before Hoss had a chance to preach him a proper sermon.

It’s never going to be the same again, is it?

Not as long as I’m around, Cartwright.

Too often, he found himself playing the “what if” game. A dangerous sport that led to sleepless nights, guilt, and far too much regret for one man to handle alone.

What if he’d stayed with Joe in East Gate?

What if Joe had gone with him?

What if he’d just kept quiet about all that money in the first place?

What if, what if, what if?

What if I’d killed him when I had the chance…?

Oh, but you did. Don’t you remember?

I didn’t. I couldn’t have—wouldn’t have. I…

None of it mattered now, anyway. The past can’t be changed.

And if it could, what makes you think you’d get to be the one to change it?



It sure would be nice, though.

With a sigh, he mounted Sport and gave the station master one final glance. He simply sat on his porch chair and gave Adam a nod. Again, he wondered what else Hoss had told the man.

It sure would be nice…

The End


Tags:  Adam Cartwright, brothers, Hoss Cartwright, SAS



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Author: HarpistforHim

I am a woman with a strong love for the Lord, a passion for music and writing, and an avid reader. I’m an Adam fan through and through, and Bonanza fanfiction is just one of the many ways I fuel my passion for history. 😊 Many heartfelt thanks to you for taking the time to read my stories! ~ Olivia 🌺

18 thoughts on “Scars that Shatter Trust (by HarpistforHim)

  1. I *did* remember to comment on this one before, but I just read it again and it still hits me in the gut! Hoss, bless his huge heart, needs to keep working on wearing him down. This will kill Adam if he doesn’t.

  2. Oh girl, I had no clue this was going to be a series of a sort. I’m so excited for more! The internal struggle is so gritty and real, and I love how kind and supportive Hoss is. He isn’t pushing Adam when he didn’t want to talk, but instead is leaving the door open for his older brother. Amazing. Truly amazing. Keep up the hard work!

  3. As much as Adam is still suffering in this story, I can see (or maybe I’m just imagining) some glimmers of healing. As I read through the first half I kept thinking, “Come on, Hoss, say something!” And then he did :0) His offer to talk and the fact that Adam considered it show that maybe time has started mending some wounds. Of course, now, Adam NEEDS to talk! I know he’s a Cartwright, and he’s proud, and he’s a man, and he’s the most inward of the three, but he needs to reach out. Thanks again, for taking “The Crucible” a bit further. Eagerly waiting for more :0)

  4. The great thing about fan fiction is the fleshing out of characters and situations that were simply glossed over in the series. In today’s television Adam’s PTSD would have underpinned an entire season, but back then the trend was one and done. Your take on Adam’s inner struggle is credible, and we know that Kane’s voice is really his own. Also, great job voicing the characters. I always love seeing Adam and Hoss together as they make a natural team, IMO. Thanks for writing! 🙂

    1. For sure! I would love to see a whole season unpacking the Crucible! But since we don’t have that, fanfiction is a good alternative. Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate you taking the time to review. I’m so glad you enjoyed the story!

  5. This was an episode that screamed out for a sequel. You have managed to start that recovery sequence for Adam brilliantly. Thank you and look forward to reading more.

    1. Exactly! The ending left the characters in desperate need for recovery. Thank you so much for your kind review! I’m so glad you’re enjoying this series!

  6. Thank you for this! I’m so glad that Hoss is with him. If anyone can get him to open up it’ll be Hoss. He’s the only person Adam lets his guard down around, and he desperately needs to do that. Kane was the devil and he hurt Adam in every way possible. I was three, and I can still remember how that episode affected me! lol! Adam deserves these fics, his fans do too!

    1. Wow! That’s amazing! I can’t imagine seeing an episode like that and being so young. It’s definitely a killer bit of classic television. Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Yes, Adam definitely needs to let down his guard and Hoss might just be the only one he’ll do it with.

  7. I love that i am not the only one thinking that the cruisibke needed a second part . The damage to the personality ofAdam was severe. He need time to cope and heal. And what better place as with his brothers and pa. He need to feel there trust and understanding. Thanks for this one looking foreward to more

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yes, this is one episode that definitely needed a sequel! Thank you so much for reviewing!

  8. I loved this continuation of this series! The battle inside Adam’s head would have been a real issue for a long time after what he went through. Hopefully Hoss’ gentle nature can get Adam to open up just a little about it though.

    1. Thank you! Yes, if anyone can help him, it’s probably Hoss because he’s so patient and gentle.

  9. Nicely done! We all know Adam must have had to recover after something like that. And the scars would have been with him for quite a while. I remember being incensed that they showed him as fully recovered right off. Thanks for this!

    1. Thank you so much! I totally agree! I wanted to see some recovery on the show, but since we didn’t get that, I feel compelled to write about it. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

    2. It must have taken Adam a long time to come to grips with what happened out there in the dessert. Always hated how there was not any follow up. This episode sure could have used a part two. HopeHoss can help Adam’s tortured mind. Looking forward to more.

  10. Talk about a case of PTSD. That was gripping. The pressure is building and at some point Adam’s gonna blow apart. I was mentally biting my nails. I just wanted to slap that ‘voice’ out of existence. I hope Hoss gets Adam to talk as they ride home or things are going to get messy real soon. Well done on another story in this series.

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it! I hope to have at least two more stories in this series, so yes, it’s definitely going to keep building till the boiling point. So stay tuned! Thanks again!

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