TITLE: THE ART OF HUMILITY
FEEDBACK: Always. E-mail me at KIANA1@NETACS.NET
DISCLAIMERS: Standard disclaimers. Lancer and the characters are not mine, but the
SUMMARY: Johnny and Scott both learn the art of humility.
Thanks to Sammi for the quick beta. Any remaining errors are all mine, and were inserted after she got her copy.
"Get on your way, fellas," Johnny snarled at the backs of a small crowd of disgruntled party goers.
The tallest one turned and glared in his direction. "Johnny, this ain't no concern of yours."
"Sorry, Lester, but Scott's my brother, so yeah, I reckon it is my business. Now, why don't you fellas go back in and find some nice ladies to wrangle onto the dance floor?"
"Like that would do us any good. Your 'brother'," the word came out as a defamation, "has got every decent gal in there too gun shy to even set foot on that floor."
"Boot shy, you mean," Lester's brother, Harold, grumbled. "Ain't a one of them that ain't got sore feet because of that brother of yours."
Johnny sighed. He had seen this coming, but despite his best efforts, Scott had refused to let Teresa show him some dance steps. Scott did fine with the waltzes, but when it came to some good old western swing, he was lost as a goose. "Can you think of a better excuse to sneak off and find a nice quite place to 'cuddle'?" Johnny suggested, putting a particularly suggestive twist on that last word.
Lester's face lit up. "Hey, Hank, that's right. Who needs to dance!" Armed with intentions that were sure to get them on the wrong side of a shotgun, the small group
headed back towards the festivities.
"I was handling the situation just fine. I did not need your intervention, Brother," Scott snapped sarcastically.
"Sure you didn't," Johnny agreed with a grin. "Only now you won't be wastin' all them good beefsteaks on those black eyes you don't have." More seriously, he added, "If you
wasn't so stubborn, you would've let Teresa show you some of the local dance steps."
"I'll have you know that I learned to dance under the tutelage of the finest instructors on the East Coast," Scott responded indignantly.
"I believe you, Brother, but ain't none of them folks in there had any fancy dancin' lessons. They dance the way they was taught at home, and how they seen folks at these dances do it. I ain't sayin' one is any better than the other, just that they're just not the same, so there's no point in comparing 'em." With deft fingers, Johnny tugged at the buckle on his gunbelt, wrapping it into a neat curl as he pulled it from around his waist. "Now, why don't you hang on to this for me while I'm helping out with the pie throwing contest?"
Scott stared at Johnny in disbelief. "You don't really expect me to believe that you're going to let those kids throw pies at you."
"Sure I am. It's gonna raise a whole lot of money for the orphanage. Every pie has to be bought, and then the buyer has to chip in an extra dollar if I get hit."
"Why not just give them the money?" Scott asked as he accepted Johnny's gunbelt. "Grandfather was always very supportive of the underprivileged, and I feel the same way. Sometimes all a man needs is a helping hand to get back on his feet again. That's
why I made a rather substantial donation earlier this evening. These kids deserve a chance to make something of themselves."
Johnny shook his head, and tried to find the right words to say what needed to be said, without making Scott feel bad. "Scott, it ain't all about money. Sure, that money is gonna keep a roof over their head and their bellies full of food, but those kids need more than that. They need affection, and knowing that someone cares enough to give up a piece of themselves, not just part of their pay. Throwing money at them is easy, but making time for them is just as important." He grinned at his older brother. "Sometimes you gotta forget being all proper and mannerly, and just be a kid again."
**** **** **** ****
Before too long, Johnny was covered in cherry, blueberry, blackberry, gooseberry, pumpkin, and just about every other pie that could be baked by the fair ladies of the community. They all beamed with pride when, after getting hit, Johnny could identify the baker just the taste. Teresa, especially, was thrilled when her special boysenberry surprise pie was given a round of applause and a bow from the pieman, himself.
And Johnny did not mind being the butt end of a few jokes from the men. Seeing the glowing expressions on the young kids' faces was more than enough to make up for any
of the mocking comments that were supposed to be at his expense. The children's laughter was better music than any fiddler could play, and the way they hugged him afterwards, despite his messy state, was even more of a reward.
After an hour of kids giggling and squealing with delight, the last pie was sold, and the last 'shot' was about to be taken. Johnny grinned as he watched the 'shooter' take his mark. Even through the haze of the cherry glace from the last round, he could tell the next round was going to be chocolate cream - Mrs. Baldermero's specialty, no doubt. That was one chocolate pie he could guarantee he would be wearing very soon. He knew this 'shooter', and he was good. Real good.
"Let him have it, Scott!" Lester yelled from under a nearby tree. In the face of them Lancer vs Lancer showdown, he had clearly forgotten all about being annoyed at Scott
for incapacitating most of the eligible female dancers.
Johnny smiled, then stuck his tongue out to catch a dab of raspberry - nope, it was cherry - filling that slipped down onto his lips. Sapphire-blue eyes locked with gray-blue eyes, but the real contest was taking place a few inches lower. Lips twitched and very slowly two handsomely devilish smiles began to take shape.
"You gonna throw that pie?" Johnny asked too softly to hear, but the twitch at the corner of Scott's mouth let him know that his message had been understood, anyway.
Johnny had to read Scott's lips, but he could make out the 'And if I do' as clearly as Scott had made out Johnny's remark.
Across the throwing line, Scott's eyes danced with mischief. Although only the kids were supposed to do the throwing, Johnny knew that Scott was not going to let anyone take this away from him. Sure enough, Scott drew back, balancing the pie deftly in his right hand, but just as he should have begun the forward swing, he shook his head."Teresa, can you toss me that towel."
Caught off guard, Teresa hesitated, but sent the towel she had been using to dry her hands sailing in Scott's direction, which was caught left-handed.
Johnny wondered what his brother was up to, and was a little surprised when Scott approached him and held out the towel. "Wipe your face, Boy," he said in that teasing tone that Johnny had come to appreciate so much. "Can't have you sharing this beautiful chocolate pie with all those kids looking like a walking pastry yourself."
While he was still a little leery of the pie the remained balanced steadily in Scott's right hand, Johnny accepted the towel and cheerfully wiped away one layer of fruity topping.
"Teresa, do you have another towel handy?" Scott called out over his shoulder. "I think Brother Johnny is going to need at least one more before he's presentable."
"You gonna get me nice and clean so your pie will show up best?" Johnny asked so as
only Scott could hear him.
"Now, Johnny, would I do that?"
Scott chuckled. "Ordinarily, I might, but not today. I figure that anyone willing to put up with all that heckling should at least get to enjoy partaking of one of these pies. And I'll bet those kids would enjoy eating one almost as much as they enjoyed throwing them."
"You're asking to get dirty, Boston." Although they were still joking between themselves, Johnny was serious with this warning. "Them kids are a mess, and they're gonna be all over you."
"I figured as much," Scott replied casually. "But you know something, Brother Johnny. I can always buy a new shirt." The blond head nodded towards the children that were watching with wide-eyed interest from a few yards away. "But those faces are priceless."
Tossing the second pie-smeared towel aside, Johnny slipped his arm around his brother's shoulders. "Now you're learning, Scott." As they headed for one of the long picnic tables, Johnny called out to the kids. "Grab a spoon, kids. This pie is on my big brother!"
Shouts of glee drowned out the chuckles of the adults as everyone watched the Lancer brothers swarmed by the exuberant children. Before too long, a stranger just passing through would have been hard pressed to choose which Lancer brother had actually been the target in the pie-throwing event. The same passerby would have had just as much trouble believing that either of the pie-stained men had ever graced the most elegant formal affairs on the entire East Coast.
On this day, they were both just gracious, fun-loving men, who were willing to share a bit of their hearts and spirits with some very special children.