Warnings/Spoilers: Modern AU.
Disclaimer: No, don’t own Lancer.
Summary: Continuation of the Modern Lancer series. Immediately follows Yesterday’s Vengeance 2009.
“Teresa, honestly, I’m fine.”
Johnny shot a grin Murdoch’s way before turning his attention back to the road and checking the review mirror to see that Scott was still following.
“We’ll be home by lunch. See you then.” Murdoch rubbed his temple. “Love you, too.” He shut off his cell phone.
“It only took about fifteen minutes of Theresa, I’m fine’s to make her happy?”
“Oh, she’s still not happy. That won’t happen until I’m standing in front of her. After the way she lost her father, she’s had anxious moments even when they’re not warranted. She doesn’t need to know the whole story here.”
“How much you going to tell her?”
“Just the facts.” Murdoch rested his head back against the seat.
His father’s pinched expression indicated a beaut of a headache. Falling down the stairs could do that to a person. “You ever going to tell Scott that you had some help down those stairs?”
“Do you think I need to?” Murdoch didn’t move his head or open his eyes.
Johnny huffed out a breath. “Probably not. He knows it wasn’t an accident.” And the odd thing was, Johnny knew he wasn’t guessing about that. “I noticed you gave us a few extra hours to get home.”
“Didn’t want to take a chance that we would be late.” And just like that, he was asleep.
Johnny let out a sigh of relief and looked up in time to see Scott’s car veer off onto a scenic lookout. “Good plan, Murdoch.” He pulled out his cell phone and speed dialed.
It rang twice. “I’ll catch up. Need to walk off a leg cramp.” And that was the end of the call.
Right. Leg cramp. He slowed the car enough to make a U-turn and headed back. A glance at Murdoch let him know their father was out for a while and that could only be a good thing. Even at a distance, he saw Scott pacing. Too bad they weren’t at home to head out to the barn and give the Everlast bag a workout.
The pavement wasn’t in the best shape. Johnny put his best old lady driving to work and crept over the worst of the potholes. Murdoch’s head nodded with the dips but he remained asleep.
Scott faced him when he heard the car, folding his arms across his chest: Bracing or uninviting – maybe a little of both. But Johnny saw Scott’s eyes zero in on Murdoch and his position softened into worry.
Johnny eased the car to a gentle stop, opened the windows to allow airflow, and pulled himself out through the window to avoid the noise of opening the door. He waved Scott off towards the barrier wall.
“He’s fine. Just sleeping and I’d like to keep it that way.”
Scott nodded, turning to rest his palms on the wall and staring out at the vista. Johnny doubted he was seeing any of it. Parking his butt on the wall, Johnny watched the car. The road they were on hadn’t shown much in the way of traffic and he was grateful for it. As a place for Scott to work out whatever was messing with his head, they could have done worse.
“What was in the letter?”
A rustle and a sheet of folded white appeared in front of him. Johnny gripped it between his hands to avoid the wind whisking it away, and read it twice.
Breathing out a soft ‘whoa’, he handed it back to Scott, who tucked it away once again.
“Lot of anger there.”
Scott nodded. “Do you ever wonder if we’ll really find out what happened all those years ago?”
Gabriel popped into mind. “All the time.”
“I knew I had a mother or at least the concept of a mother. But I never thought about her as Mom. She was always Grandfather’s daughter or Murdoch Lancer’s wife. She was never mine.” Scott laughed – no humor involved. “Sound like a selfish five-year-old.”
“I wouldn’t go that far. Sound like a kid that should have had something but didn’t.”
Scott tilted his head towards Johnny. “That smacks of personal experience.”
“You know anyone else who can identify with you more?”
“You’ve got a point.” Scott shifted around to look at the car. “I hated Murdoch Lancer. Didn’t know him, but I hated him as soon as I knew who he was.”
“Yeah, I get that.” Johnny kicked a loose rock out from under his foot. “Was hard to give that up.”
“Very. Hating him was easy. Finding out that he’s had some personal experiences, too … I … shit.”
Scott tilted his head toward Johnny. “Are we having another heart-to-heart, Johnny?”
“God help us, I think we are.”
Their laughter broke the tension and for a while they didn’t bother to talk. Slumping, Scott rubbed his shoulder.
“Shoulder bothering you?”
“Had a little run in with our good friend, Bill.” He gave it a brisk rub. “It’s still a little tight.”
Johnny grinned. “Bill, huh? Tell me it felt good. Feels good just thinking about it.”
“Brick wall did most of the work – took some of the fun out it.” Scott’s smile conveyed a fond memory - with a tinge of violence. “But it had its moments.”
Bet it did. Johnny turned back to the car; Murdoch was still out. “We’ve been at Lancer for going on four months. A lot’s happened.”
At Scott’s lifted brow, Johnny sighed. “Okay, maybe more than a lot.” Thinking back to that late-night conversation over chips and salsa, he made up his mind. “I’m ready to start poking around now.”
“Yeah, I think some of those answers might be headed our way whether we’re ready for them or not.”
Johnny knew Scott was thinking of his grandfather. Gabriel also held part of the puzzle. The fathers they had each grown up with and the one they hadn’t provided the foundation for most of their lives.
Scott brushed the loose rock and mortar off the overlook wall. The wall was crumbling and in need of repair.
As metaphors went, it was a good one.