Assumptions for all Lancer fanfic written by phoenix:
1) The Lancer Ranch is located in the San Joaquin Valley, five to ten miles southwest of Modesto, California, which became an official town in 1870* and was incorporated in 1884*,
2) Modesto is located on the Tuolumne River, near the Stanislaus River, and has grown tremendously since the railroads began to connect it to other parts of the country. In fact, Sacramento and Los Angeles were fully connected by good, solid, non-interrupted railroad lines by 1876*,
3) California became a state on September 9, 1850* and, since that time, the area surrounding Modesto has evolved into a thriving community,
4) Modesto became a major railroad stop making it a town able to offer a full range of goods, services, schools, churches and other community functions. With Modesto providing for the needs of those living within a large radius of the city, the smaller towns built before the 1850s, to serve gold rushers and the early ranchers in the area, shuttered up and became ghost towns,
5) During the 1850s, the San Joaquin Valley evolved from being gold rush territory and open range. It became an area known for its agriculture and cattle ranching. With the railroad support available in Modesto, and a few strategically placed dams to stabilize the water supply, the land in this area became, and remains today, some of the most productive farm and ranch land in California, and
6) Murdoch Lancer sent for his two sons in 1871. Scott was 25-years-old when he arrived and Johnny would be turning 21-years-old later that same year.
Additional assumptions for this Lancer fanfic story:
1) Occurs in the years after the end of the TV series,
2) For this story, Murdoch lives at the main house with Teresa and her family. When they married and were ready to start their own families, Scott and Johnny built houses within a short distance of the main house, and
3) Johnny has been married to his wife, Beth, for nearly four years. She grew up on a ranch and is more than up to the task of taking her place as part of the growing Lancer Empire.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL EVENING
PRELOGUE – ON THE RISE BEFORE HOME
“What a day … What a day!”
Johnny shouted out to the sky and couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear. After a long day on the range with one of Lancer’s many crews, he had spent the late afternoon hours at the main house with Murdoch and Scott. It was their monthly ‘going over all the facts and figures’ meeting which he had learnt to tolerate, but still didn’t look forward to.
Today had been different. Today, the revenue from one of the ranch plans Johnny had suggested was finally making an impact on the Lancer bottom line. It felt good when his father and brother stopped talking and congratulated him on the program’s success. Scott and he had even shared a silent chuckle behind Murdoch’s back as each man remembered the fight Johnny had put up to get Murdoch to agree with his idea.
Old news, he and Murdoch butting heads, but it felt wonderful to have been vindicated in such a provable way. There could be no arguing over Scott’s facts and figures, plus his brother had suggested they expand Lancer’s business in this area.
“What a day!!”
He hurried his horse on over the last rise before home. He couldn’t wait to tell Beth about his day. It was going to be a great evening.
CHAPTER ONE – THAT EVENING
Johnny tried to smile every time his wife, Beth, glanced up from feeding their baby. He never could get used to how beautiful she looked while easing one of their boys towards sleep. Even this evening, when Beth was trying to feed their ten-month-old, supervise Johnny’s feeding of himself and their older boy and get a few mouthfuls of her own supper down.
“The chicken is dry. I wish your meeting with Scott and Murdoch hadn’t kept you late.”
He tried to catch her eye, but Beth was concentrating on getting James settled. Johnny decided to wait to share the news he had from this afternoon’s meeting. His wife didn’t seem in the mood to discuss their ranch’s financial status.
“I’m sorry to have been late, again. But the chicken is great; I love the way you cooked it.”
“I baked it!”
Beth looked up, then away, so fast, he barely managed to try smiling her way.
“If you like it so much, why did you dump hot sauce all over it?”
“I’m sorry. I like it with hot sauce; it’s an old habit.”
“You like everything with hot sauce. I’m not sure why I bother cooking since you want it all to taste the same.”
They had only been married for a few years, but Johnny’s husband instincts told him to let that one pass. Beth had been preoccupied since he arrived home a bit earlier, but he’d had little success getting her to talk about what was on her mind.
“Why sure, Michael.”
He moved another portion of the food Beth had already cut up into small pieces for their three-year-old on the boy’s plate. Michael’s highchair was next to Johnny’s chair and he was enjoying his supper without paying much heed to the tension between his parents.
“Make him say ‘please.’”
“But, I already …”
“Make him say ‘please,’ Johnny.”
Johnny turned to see his little boy already putting pieces of the chicken he’d given him in his mouth. The change in his mother’s tone of voice left Michael’s eyes darting from his mother to his father, then he stopped and simply smiled at his bewildered father. For an instant, Johnny thought he’d seen his first flash of their future together as confused men trying not to aggravate the women in their lives.
“Michael, would you like more?”
The little boy smiled and nodded.
“What do you say?”
The two Lancer men were pleased with their accomplishment, but only for a few seconds.
“Beth, he said …”
“We’ve talked and talked about it, Johnny. Our boys will have a distinct advantage when they grow up, if they can speak Spanish the way you do. I wish I could.”
“I know, Sweetheart, I’ve been babbling at them both for years. They’ll pick it up, but they don’t use it all day here with you.”
He grimaced and didn’t try to smile when Beth’s glare came his way.
Michael’s sing-song voice interrupted his parent’s silence, stating, “Por favor, Pa.”
Johnny leaned over and gave his boy a big kiss on the forehead. Hard to believe a three-year-old could have such great timing, but the kid most certainly did.
Michael liked playing with his father and held a bite of his chicken out for Johnny to eat.
“Gracias, Miguel, gracias!”
The two of them returned to their supper while watching James fall into a deep sleep in his mother’s arms.
“Here,” Johnny stood up and walked around the table, “I’ll put him down. You try to eat.”
Beth didn’t argue. He lifted their baby from her arms and took him up the stairs to his room. Once James was settled in his crib, Johnny returned to the kitchen expecting his family would still be enjoying their supper. He was starving and had only eaten a small portion of his meal.
“Pa look …”
Michael was on the floor pushing a wooden train engine, with real moving wheels, his Aunt Anne and Uncle Scott had given him for his third birthday. For now, it was his favorite toy and he could wheel that thing around the house for hours on end.
Johnny smiled while using his hand to imitate a train’s engineer blowing the horn, “Choo, choo!”
Michael laughed, then went back to crawling around with his train, mimicking, “Choo, choo, choo …”
Johnny walked to the other side of the kitchen where Beth was starting the dishes.
“Any chicken left, or potatoes?”
Beth moved away when he touched her arm. He stood thinking, but still couldn’t recall a reason to be in the doghouse. It appeared not to matter if he knew the reason or not, John Lancer was most certainly in trouble with his wife this evening.
“How about I get Michael ready for bed while you finish up here.”
“Maybe we can have some of the cake Teresa made for Michael’s party with a cup of coffee when I’m done?”
He kissed the back of Beth’s hair, then swung a giggling, wiggling, three-year-old into his arms and headed upstairs. In a while, the boy was washed, changed and ready for a bedtime story. Beth was circling around the house, picking up and straightening, so Johnny made sure he read a bedtime story in Spanish to stay out of trouble. Finally, Michael was ready to doze off and Beth stopped in to sit with him. Johnny kissed his boy, then headed in to wash his own face and hands. When he was refreshed, he headed downstairs with his stomach aching for some of Teresa’s cake and a cup of coffee.
The lamps were out and the house was buttoned up for the night. Feeling more than curious about what could possibly be going on, Johnny headed back up and found Beth lingering outside of Michael’s room. He stood behind her and placed a hand on each of her shoulders. Unlike earlier, Beth leaned back and rested her weight into her husband.
“He’s beautiful, John.”
“They both are; thanks to you.”
Their quiet moment ended quickly and Johnny found himself standing alone in the hall. Beth had moved away so fast; her skirts caused a draft that tickled his face. Johnny pulled Michael’s bedroom door shut and followed his wife.
Their bedroom was barely illuminated by the small lamp on Beth’s dressing table. Johnny looked around and noted that Beth was standing looking out their bay window. He walked to the nightstand and pulled out a match to light another lamp.
“Don’t light the lamp.” Beth let out an audible sigh, adding, “There’s enough light in here for now.”
Johnny didn’t answer and he didn’t light the lamp. Instead, he walked across the room and wrapped his arms around Beth’s waist. She, once again, rested back into his body, but kept her concentration focused outside their window.
She rubbed a hand across one of his, whispering, “I’m sorry. I know I’m in a mood this evening.”
“Yes, Johnny, I’m fine.”
“Can I do anything … Do you need?”
“No,” she let her chin fall down to her chest, “I’m fine.”
Johnny pulled her close and held tight. Beth didn’t easily cry, but she certainly was crying now. Softly, at first, then she started to cry a bit harder.
He spun her around and lifted her face toward his own, pleading, “You’re frightening me, Beth. Please, please, tell me what’s wrong?”
She shook her head and wrapped her arms around him. While Beth quietly wept into his chest, Johnny simply held her tight.
He thought Beth whispered something, but it was lost in his shirt somewhere.
“I said,” she took a step back and stared at him, “I’m pregnant!”
“You are …That’s great!”
His smile was met with a major frown from his wife.
“Johnny,” she moved away and found a handkerchief from her dresser, “James is only ten months old. We’ve had two children in less than four years.”
“I know we both want a big family, but we talked about taking a break after James.”
“We’ve been careful.”
Now, Johnny had to stifle a laugh. He’d slowly been moving closer to Beth, agreeing as she thought out loud, but he couldn’t lie to her.
“We haven’t been ‘that’ careful.”
Beth blew her nose and looked up to see her husband smiling widely in her direction.
“Beth … We haven’t been ‘that’ careful.”
“I suppose you might be right.”
He couldn’t hold in his laughter, teasing, “Elizabeth Tate Lancer, you know I’m right!”
He spoke and moved at the same time. Once he reached her, they wrapped tightly into each other’s arms.
When they parted lips, Johnny asked, “You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine. Saw the doc when the boys and I rode into town with Teresa this morning.”
They fell back into each other arms, then quickly shed their clothes and met on their bed. When they had done a good job of wearing one and other out, Beth relaxed back on the pillows while running her hand through her husband’s hair. Johnny rested beside her making slow circles around her belly. He was trying to get used to the idea of being a father to three Lancers.
“I love you, Beth.”
He glanced up and finally saw his wife smiling for the first time that evening.
“Maybe,” Beth whispered her hope, “it will be a girl this time.”
“As long as you and our baby are healthy, I’ll never ask for more.”
She smiled and then sat forward to give Johnny a sincerely passionate kiss. He pulled her down into the bed and more than kissed her in reply.
Beth giggled while delighting in his attention.
“Johnny, we better stop. It’s too late.”
He rubbed his face with his hand to cover a laugh.
“You’re right. It is too late.”
Beth smiled, then laughed as he tickled her and pulled her back into his arms.
“Wait,” she tried to talk between kisses, “I thought you agreed with me?”
“I did, Mrs Lancer. In fact, I couldn’t agree more. Considering your condition, it is way too late for us to be worrying about being careful.”
“Oh, Johnny, I didn’t mean …”
His kisses made Beth forget trying to talk and they curled back down in bed together.
EPILOUGE – SEVEN MONTHS AND A BIT MORE LATER
He listened intently and decided the sounds greeting his ears must be made in heaven. Their boys were downstairs with the rest of the family trying to be quiet and failing miserably. A gentle morning breeze was moving their bedroom curtains, ever so slightly, and Beth’s breathing was slow and easy. Johnny was supposed to be resting with her, but he preferred relaxing in the rocking chair watching her sleep.
He was looking at his wife, sending a prayer of gratitude to the skies, and must have slowed down the rhythm of his rocking without being aware he had done so. It didn’t take long for the infant in his arms to stir and Johnny acted quickly to keep the baby from waking its mother. Once he was back to a steady rocking motion, with his little finger giving their baby something to keep its mouth busy, the room returned to its former peace.
Johnny gently moved around his shoulders and neck; their baby had been safely delivered a few hours before and he still hadn’t worked all the tension out of his being. In fact, he noticed his back and shoulders were going to be stiff, again, this time, but he had never dared share that complaint with Beth. He closed his eyes and imagined the look that would come his way if he complained about having sore muscles from holding his wife up while she delivered a baby. Johnny chuckled to himself and didn’t even notice he was drifting away.
He opened his eyes and returned Beth’s smile as she leaned in to kiss his forehead.
“I’ll take him.”
Johnny watched while she changed the baby, washed up and then eased herself back on the bed. Beth smiled and patted the mattress next to her, then turned her attention back to their newborn son. He walked around and curled up beside her as the baby filled the room with sounds that made it obvious he was enjoying his breakfast.
“I think he looks like a David.”
“Is that okay, Johnny? We hadn’t really decided on a name.”
“We hadn’t really decided on any boy’s names.”
He chuckled and she used her elbow to teasingly bump his arm.
“I was so sure.”
“He’s beautiful, Beth, and you’re both healthy. We couldn’t be more blessed.”
She smiled and returned Johnny’s kiss when he leaned up in the bed.
“David,” he eased back down into their pillows, “is a good strong Biblical name. It should serve him well.”
They lay together while their baby ate. Soon, Beth heard the familiar sound of her husband’s slow, steady, breathing. She looked down and noticed David had tired and was sleeping, too. Beth said a quiet prayer and then laid the baby in the bassinette next to her. She slipped down beside her husband and let herself start off to sleep.
“Maybe,” she thought while drifting into slumber, “we’ll have our girl next time.”
Thank you for reading my story. Please forgive any typos or Lancer continuity errors.
Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome at: