The Rifleman
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The Unwanted Return - part 2
Written by Vanessa Rose aka lilyrose

Lucas lifted his eyes as he laid on his bedroll. Micah had forced him to sleep. Razor and Micah's horse had been exhausted trying to find Mark's trail. Where was Mark now? Was he all right? Did he have enough food? What was happening to him? Did Miguel treat him kindly--no, he wouldn't treat Mark kindly. Lucas remembered that Maria's grandfather had no tongue because of Miguel.

"Lucas, get some sleep. That won't help Mark." Micah scolded across the slowly dying fire. Lucas turned on his side and looked into the darkness... Where was his little boy?

********
Maria's hands were tied with rope to her horse's saddle horn. She had almost rubbed her wrists raw to free herself. She now realized that the boy lying next to her, was Mark McCain, the boy that had been kidnapped by that awful Miguel. Poor Lucas, what would he be doing right now? Pacing on the ground, worrying for his only son? She looked in the dark, to stare the boy who was lying down with no rope around his wrists. She gritted her teeth.

Miguel must think that Mark wouldn't escape. She lowered her eyelashes and slept.

********

Mark woke up with a swift kick in the leg. He grunted and rose to his feet.

"How are you, Mark?" The man asked who towered over him. Mark didn't look at him. He was too tired to even think. They had traveled all night to a new campfire till they met up with three other men and a woman who looked really familiar. Mark glanced at the captive beside him. It was Maria from the small village!

"Miss Maria?" Mark whispered. Her eyes flicked open.

"Mark!" Maria said. The man was irratated. He suddenly grabbed Mark's arm and pulled him off the ground. Mark bit his lip from crying out.

"I said, how are you?" The man hissed close to Mark's face. Mark looked at him, slightly trembling. He wasn't afraid, he couldn't be. He had to be brave for his Pa.

"I'm okay." Mark stammered.

"The name's Xavier but you'll have to call me 'pa' for now." Mark felt Maria's gaze on him. "Okay?" Mark nodded wanting to just be alone with no one's hand on his arm. Xavier pushed Mark to the ground, he landed with a thump.

"Are you all right, Mark?" Maria whispered. Mark noticed that she was tied up.

"What about you? Why aren't I tied up like you?" Mark asked. Maria shrugged.

"I don't know... It hasn't been long since we saw each other, has it?" Maria replied. Mark nodded.

"Pa will be so upset." He said rubbing his eyes. Suddenly, someone threw a canteen at Mark.

"Hey, nino, why don't you fill the canteens?" Rio ordered. Mark sighed and started to get up when Maria grabbed his hand.

"Mark,"

"Yes, Miss Maria?"

"Be careful." Mark smiled at her trying to reassure her.

"Yes ma'm." Mark got up from the ground and started to fill the canteens with water from the creek.

********
Miguel stared after Mark.

"That boy's not that weak when he was the first time I took him." He commented to his younger brother.

"Well, last time he thought his pa was dead, remember?" Rio replied. Miguel shrugged.

"Si, si. We have to get him...I don't know, a little broken, huh? Y'know?" Miguel said. Rio laughed.

"Xavier will definately take care of that." Rio replied, grinning. "He's back so soon?" Mark handed the canteens to Xavier.

"Leetle one! Start breakfast! Maria is a little busy, no?"

*******

Maria squeaked as Miguel stepped to her.

"My Maria. How are you this morning?"

"I'm not your Maria!" She snapped. He laughed, stepping back. She tried to loosen her bonds but then Miguel touched her hair. She breathed heavily. Why couldn't she just wake up from this nightmare?

Then his finger touched her face.

"Go away, Miguel!"

"Aw, Senorita, be nice to my older brother, please?" Rio asked teasingly. Maria heard a "Leave her alone!" and saw Mark literally jump on Miguel's back.

"MARK!" Maria exclaimed. Miguel accidently dropped his knife. Maria used her feet to pull it towards her hands. The men shouted playfully watching Miguel and Mark fight. She had nearly finished cutting her ropes to the last strand when Miguel punched Mark in the face. He dropped to the ground.

"Mark!" Maria screamed breaking free from the ropes. She ran to his side. He was unconsious! She gently touched his face. "Mark, please be all right, your father will be so upset if you do not wake up."

"He'll be all right, Maria." Miguel grabbed her by the waist pulling her away from Lucas' unconsious thirteen-year-old boy. He pushed her to the side.

*********

Mark woke up with a headache and a bruise on his cheek. He was on his bedroll with no rope... Why didn't he have any rope tied around his wrists?

"Get up! Its time to move!" Rio ordered. Mark helped saddle the horses this time Rio helped him instead of him doing all the work. "Lucky for you, we didn't get drunk." He walked instead of riding the horses just like last time. It was like everything was repeating. Mark sighed as he walked closer and closer to the Old Mexico-New Mexico border.

*********
Maria's eyes drooped. They had been riding hard for three hours since Mark woke up. He looked terrible though... what would Lucas do if he found out that Miguel had punched his son in the face.

"We'll stop here! Mark--get ready to go into town." Xavier ordered. There was a town nearby? Maria sighed. "You shouldn't have punched him in the face, Miguel. He's now marked and everyone will probably think that I beat him up." Miguel laughed sharply.

"Whatever, Xavier! They won't notice--just get going!" Mark followed Xavier on Blue Boy.

*********
Lucas followed the trail till they found a campsite. It had been warm three hours ago. It looked like there was nine horses! Nine horses!

"Nine horses!? No way! We couldn't even get Mark alive!" Toomey said gasping. Lucas wiped his forehead from the sweat. He turned to look at Toomey.

"Look, Toomey, if you don't want to find my boy, then you can go back to North Fork!" Toomey clenched his teeth.

"No, Lucas, I'll help you." Toomey replied.

*********
Xavier led Mark into the town. The town had people everywhere. Xavier stopped at the bank. Mark bit his lip. This wasn't very good. How could this even happen? Was Xavier going to rob the bank?

"Hello, can I help you?" The banker greeted. Mark's heart pounded in his ears. There was no one in the bank. No one. Mark closed his eyes. What could he do to stop this? Xavier pulled out his pistol. The banker gasped in fear.

"You can help me by getting all the money in this bank." Xavier said pushing Mark towards the man. Mark swung his head around to look at the outlaw.

"No way! I'm not stealing money from people!" Mark exclaimed.

"You better! Unless you want something bad to happen to Maria?" Xavier threatened. Mark stepped foward with a bag in his hand. He shook his head and whirled around.

"No! I won't do anything against the law!" The banker was ready to scream. Suddenly, Xavier hit Mark with the butt of his gun. The boy crumpled to the ground.

**********
The banker gasped and handed Xavier all the money he could give him. Xavier tipped his hat at him.

"Thanks for all the money, banker!" He sneered. The man left, leaving the boy behind. The banker ran forward to help the kid.

"Wake up boy! You gotta wake up!" The banker shuddered. It was Xavier the outlaw who would rob banks by capturing boys to do the dirty work. He slapped the kid awake. "Are you all right, sonny?"

**********
Mark opened his eyes, dizzy.

"I gotta save Maria." Mark whispered.

"Who's Maria?" Someone said leaning over him. He shot up in the bed. Someone put a hand to his chest, stopping him.

"Maria! I have to save Maria from Xavier and Miguel!" Mark exclaimed. A sherriff and a doctor stood in front of him.

"What's your name, kid?" the sherriff asked.

"Mark McCain. I gotta save Maria! They have her!"

"Mark McCain? Lucas' boy? You have been missing for over three days!" The Sherriff exclaimed. "I'll go wire North Fork and the Army that you have been found."

*********
"The plan failed, Miguel! The kid's still in town!" Xavier complained. Miguel cursed and shot his gun at Xavier. The outlaw dropped to the ground, dead. Rio clapped his hands.

"What are we gonna do now, brother?" Miguel stared hard at his brother.

"We're gonna get the boy, and kill his pa right in front of him."

**********
Maria was tied in a chair in a small shack outside of the town. Two men stood over her, guarding. She was gagged and her lips were chapped. Her throat was dry from no water.

"Goodbye, my Maria." Miguel kissed her on the cheek and left.
**********
Another day passed. Lucas and the posse had found a town! Micah sighed.

"Lucas, we need to rest." Lucas nodded. They rested for a few hours before going into town. Micah and Lucas went into the sheriff’s office.

"Hello, Sherriff. I'm Marshall Micah Torrance and this is Lucas McCain." The sheriff looked up, shocked.

"Well, am I glad to see you! Your boy is at doc's! He's been mumbling about Maria, whoever that is." Lucas nearly fainted.

"Mark is here? My son is here?"

"Yup! Ever heard of the outlaw, Xavier Samuels? Well he was tryin' to rob the bank using Mark... You need to check on him." Lucas ran out of the office into the doctor's.

"Doctor! I want to see my boy, Mark!" The doctor nodded.

"He's still resting but you can wait in the room till he wakes up." Lucas thanked him and walked in. Mark looked terrible. He had dirt stains on his shirt and a large bruise on his cheek. He brushed his bangs back. Oh, his son. He had found his son! A tear slipped from his eye and then another one until he found himself sobbing.

"Pa?" Mark's small voice said. "Pa!" He wrapped his arms around Lucas' neck.

"I've miss you so much, son!" Lucas said through tears. After they both cried together, Lucas had something to ask Mark. "Mark, what happened to your face?" Mark looked away.

"I...I was only protecting Maria!" Maria?

"Maria as in... the Maria who helped me when Miguel hit me...." Mark nodded.

"Yes Pa! They have her! Miguel was bothering her so I tried to protect but..."

"But...." Lucas urged.

"But Miguel punched me." Lucas felt hot anger surge through his body.

"He HIT you?! That evil little Mexican--"

"Pa!" Mark exclaimed. The door opened. "Micah!"

"Mark! You're all right!" Micah stepped forward and hugged Mark while Lucas tried to overcome his anger.

********
"McCain!" Lucas knew that voice too familiar. "If you want to save Maria, you better come outside and duel with me!" Lucas turned to look at his son's pleading eyes.

"What should we do, Pa?" Mark asked.

"Son, I'll go out there and save--"

"No Pa!"

"I'm giving you ten seconds! Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six...." Miguel shouted from outside. Mark grabbed Lucas' sleeve.

"No, Pa! I can't handle being seperated from you again." Lucas looked at down his little boy who clutched his sleeve.

"Son, I'll be back."

********
Maria was being held by Miguel. He had his arm around her throat. He threw Maria to the ground, who ran towards Lucas.

"Oh, hello, amigo! Nice to see you again, no?" Miguel smiled at Lucas. Lucas had his famous rifle in his hand.

"So, bandito, you're doing well as a dead man, aren't you?" Lucas said sarcastically. Miguel laughed.

"Gracias, amigo!" Miguel said. "Now, let’s make a deal. If I win I give Maria to you and have your rifle. If I lose, I'll give Maria to you. If you lose, I take the boy---"

"NEVER!" Lucas shouted. Miguel smiled.

"I knew that’s what you were going to say... so I'll give you a little encouragement. If you lose, I take the rifle and you can keep your son... Rio, meet Lucas." Lucas whirled around to see a man who looked just like Miguel drag Mark out of the doctor's with Rio's hand clamped over his mouth.

"Mark! Are you okay?" Lucas asked, feeling angrier. Mark barely nodded because Rio had a really strong grip.

"No guns. Just knives." Miguel threw a knife to the ground.

*********
Mark squirmed in Rio's arms. He wanted to kick out or do anything to save his Pa. Pa wasn't that good fighting with knives.

"Let the games begin!" Miguel ordered. Mark watched as Pa and Miguel circle each other. Suddenly, things turned unfair and Miguel punched Pa. Mark let out a muffled cry for his pa. He started kicking. The two men started to punch. Then his Pa overcame the bandit. The bandit was pinned but reached for a knife in his boot. Mark startled to struggle harder.

"PA!" Mark shouted as Miguel was about to strike Pa.

********
A shot rang in the air. It was Maria. She had grabbed Lucas' rifle and shot at Miguel's knife in his hand.

"Get up you, scoundrel!" Maria shouted at the bandit. She glared at him as Lucas forced Miguel up. Maria turned around and pointed the gun at Rio. "Let the boy go." Rio clenched Mark's arms, pinning them behind his back. He cried out. "I said, LET HIM GO!" Rio laughed. Then Micah pointed a gun behind his back.

"You better do what she says." Micah threatened. Mark was let go who fell to the ground. He cradled his arm. Lucas ran over to him.

"Are you okay, son?" Mark nodded.

"I may have sprained my arm, though." Mark replied. Maria smiled. Father and son were together at last.

*********
ONE MONTH LATER....

"Well, son, are you glad that your arm is okay?" Lucas asked his young son as they stepped out of Doc Burrage's office.

"Yeah, I sure am. I can't wait to get home!" Mark smiled. Millie Scott ran up to them.

"Lucas! Didn't you think about getting the boy some food before he starts on his chores?" Millie scolded. Lucas laughed.

"Of course I didn't forget, Millie. I just thought we could have a quiet evening together..."

"Pa! I think Miss Millie is talkin' about havin' lunch with you!" Mark interrupted. Lucas swatted his son's hat off his head.

“Son, why don’t you go on home and start the chores?”

"Pa!" Mark groaned and picked his hat off the ground.

Father and son were together at last.

 

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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