Warnings/Spoilers: Modern AU
Disclaimer: Nope, don’t own Lancer.
Summary: Another kitchen conversation. Follows Chips & Salsa.
The barrel of the semi-automatic machine gun pointed their direction. Johnny fought to free his hands from the rope binding his wrists. Damn this assignment. Bad enough he was in this stinking jungle with the heat and the bugs, but why did Scott have to be here? Shouldn’t have followed. This was Johnny’s gig. Take pictures of the drug runners. Get the story, get the proof – it was his job.
Scott had no part in that. Looking sideways, Johnny saw his brother’s head bent low, his hair sweat lank and plastered to his brow. His shirt bloodied and torn, cargo pants weren’t much better. Johnny wasn’t much better. Drug runners sure weren’t known for their gentleness.
Suarez, the biggest shit of them all, was smoking his cigar with one hand, a pistol in the other. In a lazy motion he lifted the 9mm, aimed it at Scott.
Scott turned to Johnny, smiling –
Wetness splattered Johnny’s face and –
He bolted straight out of bed to wind and rain blowing into his room. Heart slamming against his chest at a frantic rate, he swiped at his face. A full minute had to pass before he accepted that rainwater and not Scott’s brains glistened on his fingers.
Legs feeling like noodles, he closed his window, leaning against the damp sill.
Mexico. Not something he had much time to think of as of late. Shit, why’d it come out tonight?
Johnny thought he had sorted through that mess. No, he wouldn’t forget it, but the dreams had tapered off. Hearing from Jorge had gone a long way in helping. Jorge and his family were doing well, the cartel taken down. A wannabe cartel, but that didn’t make them any less dangerous.
He hadn’t even known about Scott then.
Deciding that his legs were steady enough, Johnny threw on a long sleeve t-shirt and sweat pants for a trip to the kitchen. Sleep sounded good for tomorrow night.
Hardwood cool on his feet, Johnny padded down the stairs and into an occupied kitchen. His heart gave a funny little jump to see a face that wasn’t dirt smeared and bloody with a fatalistic expression of a man about to die. Just open curiosity.
Scott offered up the coffee pot. “Storm wake you?”
Johnny snapped up a mug, holding it out to be filled. “Had the window open. Rain blew in right on me.”
“That would do it.”
Better than brain matter any day. Johnny’s stomach heaved at the thought. Scott’s gaze sharpened. The sound of another set of feet making their way down the steps distracted them both.
Murdoch entered the kitchen with bed head so wild Johnny choked on a laugh while Scott did that eyebrow raise thing of his.
Their father’s eyes were open enough to see his way, but Johnny couldn’t swear that Murdoch was fully awake. His next words cemented his suspicion of sleepwalking.
“You’re making the wrong drink.”
Scott looked down at this coffee, then at Murdoch. “What is the right drink?”
“Chocolate is for storms.”
Johnny blinked and resisted the urge to wave his hand in front of Murdoch’s face as he went into the pantry, still talking.
“Stay out of Teresa’s way.”
“What?” Johnny set his cup on the counter. “Murdoch, you awake?”
Scott let out a huff of laughter, levering himself up on the kitchen isle with all the look of a spectator. “Let him be. I want to know how chocolate and storms relate.”
Murdoch emerged with an armful of containers. The Ibarra Chocolate stood out with its yellow can and red stripes. He placed them all on the counter and pulled out a saucepan. Curious, Johnny hoisted himself up next to Scott, observing as Murdoch placed four chunks of chocolate into the pan along with honey, water, pinch of salt, a little instant coffee and one dried chili pepper. Murdoch brought the mixture to a boil, and then let it simmer, stirring constantly. A minute later, he slowly added milk, mixing it in until the steam rose.
In another bowl, Murdoch beat an egg until frothy, then added vanilla extract. Next, he poured the chocolate over the egg and beat it until he had an impressive amount of foam.
Fascinated, Johnny and Scott remained where they were, so both startled when Murdoch turned their direction, a serious look on his face.
“Remember, stay out of Teresa’s way.”
Murdoch looked awake. Sort of.
Scott leaned forward, elbows on knees. “Murdoch – ”
Light, quick footfalls on the steps, a swish of robe and a blur of long hair arrowed into the kitchen.
“Gimme.” Teresa held out her hand. “Now.”
Murdoch handed the prepared cup over.
Teresa inhaled deeply, sighing. “Chocolate is for storms.”
Johnny leaned back on his hands. “They’re both nuts.” Although, the aroma had him seconds away from drooling.
Teresa glanced up, eyes almost hidden by the fall of hair. “You have no idea.”
“I think we’re beginning to,” Scott said, grinning.
“Here.” Murdoch handed them each a cup. The heady aroma of chocolate and warmth bathed his face before Johnny took a careful sip.
Scott licked his lips, shooting Murdoch a hard look. “Wait a minute. You only make this when it storms?”
That couldn’t be right, but Teresa nodded as she took another swallow. She aimed a grin Murdoch’s way. “It’s our deal. Otherwise, we’d be as big as houses.”
Murdoch shrugged, focusing on his own drink. His hair, affected by gravity had settled, making him more the man Johnny was used to seeing. “We have a Pavlovian response now every time it storms. Even dead asleep, once the rain starts, we can’t ignore the call.”
“How long have you done this?”
“Over a decade. Started when Teresa was a little squirt.” Murdoch rested a hand on her shoulder. “Paul started it. Storms used to bother Teresa.”
Laughing, Teresa leaned into Murdoch. “Bother? Terrified is closer to the truth. I just knew the Wicked Witch of the West would come or a house would fall on us.” Her voice softened. “Dad said ‘oh,no – storms are the best ‘cause it’s chocolate and chili time and didn’t I know that? When the next storm came, the Wicked Witch of the West was the last thing on my mind.”
With a melancholy smile, Murdoch said, “The habit stuck.”
“Who’d want to give it up?” Teresa spoke down into her cup. Murdoch pulled in her a little closer. Didn’t take a genius to figure out the other reason for keeping the ritual.
Paul, while gone, was still very much a presence. From the employees mentioning little things to Teresa and Murdoch. They didn’t say much, but they didn’t have to.
Nor were they ever, since memories lived on in storms and chocolate with chili.