The Rifleman
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Fan Fiction

Not Again
Written by Vanessa Rose aka lilyrose

For Judy, Morgan, Cowgirl, Wildwest, Howard, Duchess McCain, Zanza, and lastly, to all the Fan Fiction writers.

(This story is a few months after season three episode "The Wyoming Story Parts One & Two")

North Fork Schoolyard

"Oh really?" Mark overheard his friend Billy say to Freddie, his best friend.

"Yeah, don't tell Mark though. He would just blabber it all over." Freddie whispered. Mark was in a tree--yes, hiding in a tree, he was waiting to scare his friends by dropping out of the tree but they had come under the tree to share secrets.... Didn't Freddie always share secrets with Mark instead of Billy?

"Hi guys." Mark said. Freddie and Billy looked up at him.

"Mark! What are you doing up there?" Billy asked, surprise all over his face.

"Nothin'. I was just waiting for you guys to come." Mark replied keeping his face calm. What had Freddie told Billy?

"Why don't you come on down and we'll go fishing?" Freddie suggested.

"Sure, just a moment." Mark said as he turned around to get down when he heard a voice behind him.

"Mark McCain! What are you doing up there?" Pa boomed. Startled, Mark slipped; he tried to reach out onto a limb. He fell on his left arm, crying out in pain. Immediately, Pa was at his side helping him up.

"Mark, are you all right?" Pa touched his shoulder that he had landed on. Mark cringed, scooting away from his Pa's hand.

"Pa, I think I'll be okay." Mark stood up blushing from embarrassment. His friends watched him with concern in their eyes.

"Do you think you'll be able to fish with us?" Freddie asked.

"No, I don't think so, Freddie." Pa said before Mark could answer. "I want Doc Burrage to check his arm." Mark balled his fists. Now Freddie and Billy would become closer if he wasn't there....

"No, Pa, I really think I'll be okay." Mark insisted.

"Well, I insist that Doc look at your arm." Pa ordered.

**********

"How is it, Doc?" Lucas asked as Doc Burrage put Mark's arm in a sling.

"Well, itís just broken. That's about all." Doc Burrage replied.

"That's about ALL??!!" Lucas almost shouted. He quickly composured himself when he saw the surprise on his friends' faces. "I mean, itís broken?"

"Which means, Mark," Doc Burrage looked straight into his son's eyes. "You don't have to do the dishes, you can't lift anything heavy, and you will have to be careful with Blue Boy." Usually Mark would leap up from the bed he was sitting on and would be so hyper that Lucas would have to tie him down so he would eat his dinner but this time Mark looked sad or disappointed.

"Are you sure, Doc Burrage?" Mark asked with uncertainty in his eyes.

"Yes, of course I am." The doc replied. "Come back in four weeks to see if itís better." Lucas smiled and they all walked out of the doc's office.

"Mark, how about we invite Miss Millie into joining us for supper?" He suggested. Mark lit up like a little boy.

"Sure, Pa!" Miss Millie smiled at them.

"You haven't asked me yet, Lucas." She said.

"Oh yes. Right. Miss Millie, would you have dinner with us at the restaurant in the hotel?" Lucas said. Millie smiled.

"Yes, I would love to!" She said dramatically. They all laughed together as nothing was wrong.

The Next Day
--The North Fork Marshall's Office---

"I really wanted to stay home with Mark, Micah. He broke his arm and I've always been there for him." Lucas mumbled the last part but Micah heard it perfectly.

"Lucas boy, you can't be with him all the time. What about the time when you left to Wyoming? Or when you were stranded in the desert or when he---" Lucas put his hands up stopping Micah's speech.

"Okay, okay, Micah. I get it. But do I really have to go to this trial?"

"You sound like Mark!" Micah groaned. Lucas laughed. "Lucas, you're the only witness--not even Mark knows what happened."

"What does Mark not even know about?" Millie asked stepping into the Marshall's Office. Lucas and Micah exchanged a look.

"Go ahead, Micah." Lucas said leaning back into his chair.

"Hey, why do I have to tell her?" Lucas shot a look at him. "Fine, Lucas is a witness for a murder and he has to go to the trial." Millie blinked.

"Mark doesn't even know that you saw someone murdered." The dark haired woman stated. It wasn't a question it was a fact. "But you two have always shared everything, well except for what happened in Wyoming. Look, Lucas, what will you say to Mark about this trial?"

Lucas shrugged. "I'll just tell him that itís a business trip. I don't want him to worry about me while he has to deal with his arm."

"I guess that means you're going to lie to him and he'll stay with me?" Millie asked. Lucas didn't to lie to his son but he had too, the judge told him not to.

"Sorry, Millie. The judge told me that I shouldn't tell any family members." Lucas said. "I'm leaving this afternoon." Millie's jaw dropped open with shock etched all over surprise.

"WHAT?! That's not enough time for Mark to even handle that you're leaving him!"

"He's getting out of school right now, Millie. I'm going." Lucas got to his feet grabbed his hat and his precious rifle.

"I'll have to watch this, Micah. Do you want to come with me?" Lucas heard Millie say.

"Of course, Millie, I should especially if Mark tries to kill him." Micah grunted.

********

"Does it hurt?" Billy asked Mark. A few boys were surrounding Mark to see if he was okay.

"Not that much." The boy replied. He looked up to see his Pa walking to him with Miss Millie and Micah not far behind.

"See ya around, Mark!" The boys left the schoolyard leaving Mark anxious. He knew that expression on Pa's face.

"What's wrong Pa?" Mark asked looking up at him. He watched his Pa twist his hands in his hat nervously.

"Son, I... I..." Pa began then stopping shortly. Mark waited for him to go on.

"Did something happen? Am I in trouble?" Mark asked. Millie stepped in the conversation.

"No, Mark. You aren't in trouble..." Millie elbowed Pa in the ribs.

"Ow..." Pa grumbled. He composured himself. "Son, I have to go away." Mark barely heard the words 'son'. All he felt was the hurt, the anger, the pain, the misery of losing his Pa all over again after the hoof and mouth incident.

"Its only for a week or two, Mark." Pa quickly added. Mark felt like he was going to faint, loose his lunch, cry all at the same time.

********

Lucas watched his son's reaction to his words. "Son, I have to go away." Mark paled blinking blankly. He quickly added, "Itís only for a week or two, Mark."

"You're leaving?" Mark asked. "Again?" Lucas closed his eyes for a second then looked down at Mark. His heart clenched nearly breaking all over again. "Again?" Mark whispered.

"You'll stay with us, Mark. It will be all right." Millie said quickly, watching the sad scene between father and son scene unfold before him.

"I can't stand this any longer! Mark, itís going to be okay! I promise, I swear, it will be all right." Micah said

********

His heart broke into a million pieces.

"Why do you have to go?" Mark cried.

"Itís very important business, Mark." Pa said quietly. "Micah will be coming with me." The words didn't help Mark's wounded heart.

"I can't lose you! Not again!"

"Itís something I have to do, son." Pa stepped forward putting his hand on Mark's shoulder. Mark jerked away noticing the pain in Pa's face. He ran to Blue Boy who was tied in front of the schoolhouse. He buried his face in the horse's neck who softly nudged Mark with his nose.

"Itís not fair, Blue Boy. I just got back my Pa and their taking him away." Mark sobbed. A comforting hand touched Mark's shoulder. The boy looked up to see his Pa with tears in his eyes.

"Mark, I love you so very much. But I have to do this. Itís important."

"Won't you tell me what it is?" Mark asked rubbing a tear away. Pa lowered his eyes.

"Sorry son. I'm not allowed."

"But you always say that we should be honest with each other!" Mark exclaimed.

"I wish I could tell you..."

"When are you leaving?" Mark said bravely.

"This afternoon." The rage inside Mark's chest was too much to bear. His Pa was leaving him for two weeks--practically a month!

"NO!" Mark shouted. He turned and ran away.

"Mark! Come back here! Please! Mark!" He heard his Pa yell after him.

*******
A single tear slipped down Lucas' face.

"Go talk to him, Lucas." Micah said quietly. The Rifleman nodded and walked towards where his son went. He found him on the cliff edge which overlooked the road.

"What are you doing here?" Lucas asked.

"I watched you. I watched you as you rode on Razor. I'll watch you again."

"Mark, I'll be back. I promise. Trust me, I'll be back. I love you too much to not come back." Lucas said. Mark didn't answer, he just stared straight ahead. Lucas turned him by the shoulders. "Son, I promise that I'll be back. You have to believe in me this time. Look at me son." Mark looked at him.

"Pa, itís hard."

"I know, son."

"I promise that I won't stop believing in you, Pa." Lucas smiled at his wonderful son. Mark wrapped his arms around Lucas' neck and buried his face in Lucas' shirt. "I love you."

"I love you too."

TWO HOURS LATER
--Somewhere near North Fork ----

"How many witnesses are there?" Jack asked his partner in crime and younger brother, Bob.

"One I think." Bob replied.

"McCain?" Jack asked.

"Yep." Bob nodded. Jack grinned.

"We'll get McCain out of the picture and Pop will be free." Jack said already tasting the flavor of vengeance in his mouth.

BACK IN NORTH FORK....

"Bye Pa." Mark said hugging his Pa goodbye. "I'll see you soon." Pa released himself and he mounted Razor. Micah and Pa trotted down the North Fork street. 'He'll be back. I know it.' Mark thought. 'He promised.'

********
Lucas and Micah were greeted by two U.S. Marshalls as soon as they were two miles away from North Fork.

"Hey, Samson." Micah greeted. "Have you been waiting for us?"

"Yup. I don't get why we did this so far from town." Samson said.

"Lucas has kid... He didn't want him knowing that he's risking his neck again." Micah explained. Samson rolled his eyes.

"The Rifleman is always risking his neck." Samson said grunting. "Why don't we get started?"

*******
"Hey, look, there's McCain and those Marshalls." Jack said hiding behind a bush with his pistol in his hand.

"Uh oh. There are only two of us and there are four of them. What should we do, Jack?" Bob whispered.

"Didn't you hear that Marshall say that McCain has a kid in North Fork?" Jack asked quietly. Bob looked his older brother and nodded. "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, little brother?"

"Yup, I think its right in North Fork."

ONE HOUR LATER....

"Aw, come on, Nils. I really want to check on the ranch." Mark complained. "I still have to take care of it."

"Its getting late, Mark. Are you sure?" Nils, the liveryman said uncertain to let the boy go.

"Yes, I'm sure. I've been in town all day. I still need to check on it."

"Fine. Don't be gone too long, Millie's making supper." Mark smiled.

"Okay, Nils. See you soon!" The boy ran out of the office. Nils shook his head. That boy was just like his father.

********
"Get a grip, Mark. You aren't feeling anything but stupid goosebumps." Mark muttered. This time, he nudged Blue Boy and made him go into a gallop. He held the reigns loosely because he only had one arm to use. 'The sooner I'm there, the faster I'll be done'. Once he reached his home, he tied his horse to the post and started to do the outside chores. He looked around and noticed how dark it had gotten.

"Howdy kid." A man said in front of him.

"Uh, hello." Mark replied turning towards the house. "Excuse me." This man was not here for politeness.

"Is the McCain ranch, kid?" The man asked. Mark nodded. "Then you must be McCain's boy." Mark suppressed a shudder thinking up a plan.

"No sir."

"Liar." Another voice said. Mark turned around to see another man behind him with a pistol that was pointed straight at Mark. The stranger held the McCain family photo before Ma had died.

"Give that back!" Mark lunged for the framed picture but the man was too fast. That picture was the last photo of the McCain family together. The man laughed.

"Jack, I think this is definitely the McCain boy." Jack rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, yeah. Letís go, kid." Jack said. Mark glared at him.

"I'm not going anywhere." Mark said firmly.

"Where's your mommy, kid?" Bob asked.

"She's dead." Mark said lowering his eyes then quickly looking back at Jack and Frank.

"Aw, she's dead? How terrible." Jack groaned. "You're coming with us unless you want Bob to destroy the precious picture."

Mark assumed that they were outlaws; they sure did act like it. "What do you want with me?"

"Don't you know, kid? Your Pa is testifying against our Pop so we'll kill you unless he doesn't say anything about what he witnessed." Mark's heart dropped. So that's why Pa had left so abruptly... He had to testify and hadn't wanted Mark to worry. Noticing that Mark had paled, Jack grinned. "So he didn't tell you."

********

"Millie, I'm worried about Mark." Nils said. "He was supposed come back thirty minutes ago." Millie sighed.

"He's probably sleeping in the barn or something. Give him some more time." Millie replied.

"No, I think I'll get and Toomey to go look for him." Nils said, really worried for Lucas' son. He didn't want to be the one to tell Lucas that his son was missing... or worse.

"All right. Be careful."

********
Mark grunted as Bob shoved him into a chair near the kitchen table. He held his left arm protectively. It was definitely sore.

"How'd you injure yourself?" Bob asked.

"Fell out of a tree." Mark muttered. Bob laughed.

"So... Kid, when the people in North Fork let Lucas know that you're missing, he'll come back to find out that you will be dead if he tells what he saw about our Pop." Jack said twirling his pistol, then sliding it into his belt.

"Why are you telling me this?" Mark asked. Jack shrugged, then Mark realized that he wasn't going to be let go--his Pa and him were going to die!

He heard the sounds of hooves, and saw Jack and Bob look out the curtained window. Mark shot up from the chair, trying to reach the door but Jack grabbed Mark's left arm making Mark cry out in pain. Jack clamped a hand over his mouth.

"Shut up, Mark." He said with a low voice. "If someone comes in here, you'll just say that you're staying here for tonight, if you warn the person, he'll die. Got it?" Mark nodded and was let go. Jack and Bob hid in the bedroom. Mark opened the door, rubbing his shoulder and stepped onto the porch.

"Hi Nils!" He forced a cheerful smile.

"What in the world are you doing out here, Mark? You're supposed to be with Miss Millie!" Nils scolded. "I was really worried about you."

"Sorry for bothering you, Nils. I decided to stay out here for the night." Mark replied feeling guilty for lying. Nils looked at him curiously.

"What is with you?"

"Nothin'. I just wanted to stay home."

"Oh. To be close to your Pa, huh?" Mark nodded, his heart slamming into his ribs. He couldn't let Nils get hurt just because of a stupid mistake that he did. "Well, night." Mark turned to go then he heard something crack. He turned around to see Jack standing over Nils' still body holding a piece of chopped wood. Mark's eyes widened and ran to Nils' side.

"Nils! What did you do to him?" Mark asked angrily. He gently lifted Nils' head onto his lap. He was going to have a goose egg sized bump on his head.

"Just hit him on the head, that's all." Jack replied smiling. Bob came out of the house drinking Pa's special whiskey. Mark gritted his teeth.

He had to be calm. Now that Nils was in a bad condition, Mark would have to take care of him... but how would he get him inside the house by himself. He looked around and saw the barn. Yes, the barn! He would have to drag him to the barn. Then he realized he was injured. He looked at his arm and glared at it.

'Why did I have to get injured this week? Why not next week?' Mark thought.

"Wake him up kid. I want him inside the house." Jack ordered.

"I can't do anything with my arm, remember?" Mark snapped. Jack sighed and nudged Nils' side with the toe of his boot.

"Wake up." Bob growled. "I'll pour some water on him." Bob returned with a bucket of water, he dumped it onto Nilsí face. He woke up sputtering and coughing.

"Easy, Nils. You gotta take it easy." Mark said quietly.

"What happened?" Nils asked groggily. Mark could tell he remembered when Jack pointed his gun at him.

"Get inside." He ordered. Mark clumsily helped Nils up into the ranch house.

*********
THE NEXT DAY...
Royal Springs, New Mexico

"Telegram for Marshall Torrance!" A voice called. Micah and Lucas were eating breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The young man handed the paper to Micah. Lucas watched Micah read it as his friend's face paled.

"Uh oh." Micah whispered.

"What's wrong, Micah?"

"Uh, um. Well, I..." Micah hesitated.

"Tell me!" Lucas demanded.

"Mark's missing... So is Nils." Micah said. "But you still have to do the trial." Suddenly, the judge walked towards Lucas and Micah.

"I know that your son is missing. I decided to make this a private trial which means that no one from town is allowed in... So that by the time Ray's is dead, you will be already gone to North Fork to save your son from Ray's boys." The judge said taking a seat at their table. Lucas tapped his fingers on the table.

"So... I'll just wait here?"

"Yes, until the end of the trial."

"Fine." Lucas slumped in his chair. What was happening to Mark? Was he all right? What about Nils? Was he all right? Questions swirled around in his mind like a hurricane.

TWO DAYS LATER....
Lucas and Micah had thanked the judge as they left Royal Springs. They had to get out of there to find Nils and Mark...

"We're almost there, Lucas. So settle down." Micah said quietly.

"I know. I know... I just hope nothing happened to him."

********
"You know, brother, why have we been here so long? Why don't we just kill 'em?" Bob said scratching his hair.

"Because, none of our agents have told us about what happened to pop. No one gave us anything about McCain... Itís just not right!" Jack said slamming his cup down on the McCain's table. Mark's was tightly roped to a chair leg because of his other arm in a sling. He was sitting on the floor, exhausted. He was hungry but the two outlaw's sons had given him some water and left over scrambled eggs. His hair was messy and he felt like he hadn't slept in days. 'Pa will come. I know he will.' He thought drowsily.

He looked over towards the bedroom door. They had tied Nils up and gagged him in the bedroom. Was he all right in there? Suddenly, Jack put his feet off the table and leaned close to Mark's face.

"I bet Nils told your Pa something! I bet that! Yep, he probably did!" Mark cowered away from Jack's awful breath.

"What could his Pa do, huh? He was in Royal Springs at the time..." Bob slurred his words.

"Oh, right. Yeah, unlessÖ He wired somebody!" Mark blinked his throat dry from the lack of water.

"Could I please have some water, sir?" He asked. Jack rolled his eyes and put his feet back on to the table.

"Bob, get him water." He ordered.

"Why me, Jack?" Bob whined. His older brother gave him a look and the younger brother did what he was told.

*********
Suddenly the back and front doors opened. Micah in the front and Lucas in the back filled the doorways.

"PA!" Mark shouted. Jack quickly untied Mark's wrist and grabbed him, pinning his normal arm behind his back. "Pa!"

"Put the guns down. Your Pa is dead, boys." Micah ordered. Bob and Jack gasped.

"You're lyin'!" Bob said.

"No, he's not boys." Lucas said behind them. "Now, let my boy go."

"No way." Jack snarled.

"Pa, Nils is in the bedroom!" Mark said grunting from the pain. Lucas nodded, feeling everlasting joy to see his boy again. Alive. He pointed his rifle at Bob who pulled out his weapon. BANG! Micah had shot him in the back. Jack loosened his grip on Mark when he saw his younger brother fall dead.

"Really, oh really. Do you think that I will let him go?" Then abruptly, Mark twisted around and kicked Jack in the kneecap. Jack collapsed to the ground. Lucas lowered his rifle and ran to Mark who ran into his arms.

"Mark, oh how I missed you." Lucas said hugging him.

"Uh, Pa?"

"Yes son?" Lucas replied still smothering Mark with love.

"Could you let go of my arm?" Mark asked.

"Sorry."

"Thanks Pa."

ONE MONTH LATER
"How is he doing, Doc?" Lucas asked as Mark and the Doctor left the patient room. "Hey, where is the sling?" A bright smile bloomed on Mark's face.

"I'm all better, Pa!" He exclaimed.

"That's great!" Lucas smiled. "How about we celebrate by going to the restaurant?" Lucas asked slinging his arm around Mark's shoulders.

"I'd love to!"

Father and son walked out of the office with smiles on their faces.

THE END

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
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