Snow Day
by  Southernfrau

Disclaimer:  Lancer and it's characters do not belong to me.  If they did you can bet your bippy all 51 episodes and the B/W pilot would be available on DVD tomorrow! 

Rating:  I wrote this people.  You know how I am!  Parental Guidance -13 with a dash of Innuendo and for a little strong language. 

Thanks to Barb and Tammie for the beta read. 

Thanks to Chris for beating into my head that stories cannot be written entirely with pronouns.

Thanks to Winj: whose stories are a great help in learning to write the banter between the brothers.  Also because she gives as good as she gets in the sarcasm department.

Thanks to Renegade and Janet for being the test subjects for the story idea.

A special thank you to Sammi and Sharon, the Scottland Queens, for giving me the title Lady Southernfrau (later shorten to Lady SF) during the story Betrayal.  You will all see how I used the title to insert my self, vicariously, into the story.  In thanks, to the Queens, the entire scheme-planning scene, in Scott's bedroom is for their pleasure as well as the 'gloves' and bathhouse.


Snow Day By Southernfrau


Cold air wrapped the Lancer hacienda as the hands of the grandfather clock counted off the passing of time, slipping steadily towards a new daybreak.

Scott Lancer sighed softly as his lean form snuggled into the warmth of the extra quilt added to his bed.  Slowly his eyes opened and peered around the half- darkness of his room.  Something felt different.  Nothing in his room seemed to be disturbed.  The blond Lancer lay quietly, listening.  Thinking maybe his younger brother was struggling with another nightmare, Scott rose from the bed, taking the top most quilt to wrap around his shoulders.

Leaving his room, he padded with cat like grace across the hall to Johnny's room.  Scott pushed open the door and gazed with fond affection at his little brother. God, how I love him. Everything seemed fine.   Johnny was curled up tight.  His covers were bunched around his waist.

In a wave of protectiveness and concern, Scott strode over to the bed and pulled the covers up over his brother's chest and shoulders.  He smiled in amusement at the youngest Lancer's mussed hair and sleep position.  Johnny had a habit of sleeping on his left side with his left hand resting on the pillow by his mouth.  Murdoch once told Scott, while they sat watch over an injured Johnny, that he slept in the same position as a baby, because he sucked the thumb on his left hand to get to sleep.

Assured that everything was fine in his brother's room, Scott returned to his own.  Standing on the thick rug, at the foot of his bed, Scott studied the room.  He was still trying to figure out what had awakened him.  The only thing even remotely unusual was the brightness of the moonlight falling silently across the floor.  It sure is a bright moon tonight.

Striding to the window, Scott opened the heavy drapes completely, to peer out.  He gasped in delight.  Sometime during the night, snow had softly descended to shroud the barren gray winter landscape with a cloak of crystalline white.  The moonlight shone on the diamond like glitter embedded in the frozen cover, making the night seem much brighter.

So that's what woke me up.  I thought it was much closer to morning because of the brightness of the moonlight.

Standing at the window gazing upon the winter wonderland below, Scott recalled his childhood and the heady excitement of days spent sledding on Beacon Hill.  I am going to take my little brother sledding today.  Grandfather sent my old sled out before Christmas.

Glancing at his mantle clock, Scott noted the time was 3:30.  I have 2 and a half hours until breakfast.

Scott began formulating his plans.  He was glad the workload during winter was light.  The hands would have no trouble tending to the ranch responsibilities on their own, while Scott enjoyed a day of the childish pleasures, he had missed sharing with his brother when they were younger.

The blond Lancer scrunched down his eyebrows and pursed his lips as he thought his first obstacle to a day of fun would be convincing his father.

Crawling back under the warm covers, Scott was giving deep thought and consideration to the exact argument and words that might get through to Murdoch.  How could he talk the gruff old Scotsman into a day off, without too much grumbling?

Suddenly pale eyebrows shot upwards into the soft tufts of ash blond hair falling against an aristocratic forehead.  Slate blue eyes widened and twinkled in delight as a knowing smile creased the noble bearing of Scott Lancer's face.

Ah Hah!  I know just how to get him to agree.  It might be unfair of me, but I'll remind him that Johnny never got a chance to enjoy this type of childhood activity because of his rough and poor up bringing.  Yes sir, all I have to do is play on the old man's guilt. Scott  chuckled and rubbed his hands together briskly, saying, "Well Lt. Lancer it looks like you are still quite the strategist."

Satisfied he had a plan that  would work, Scott allowed himself to be reclaimed by the silence of early morning.  Winter blue eyes shuttered closed for 2 more hours of sleep.

Just as the minute hand ticked into place at 5:30, Scott's eyes fluttered open once more.  This was one of the few times the older Lancer brother could recall feeling wide-awake at 5:30.

Scott jumped from the bed and rushed to the window to make sure he had not dreamed the snow.  He smiled in delight as he noted the fluffy white ice crystals covered the landscape all around the hacienda, as well as all the way up to the distant mountains.  I bet from the South mesa it looks like the ranch house is sitting in the clouds with all this white around.

Shivering against the morning cold  Scott rushed to his wardrobe to choose warm clothes for the day.  He pulled a pair of thick brown wool pants up over his long legs and slim hips.  He left them hanging open while he pulled on a  flannel shirt.  He tucked in the shirt and closed the fasteners on his pants.  Scott grabbed another pair of socks to pull over the ones he had worn to bed.  Then he pulled on his boots.

Scott  was halfway across the room headed for the door when he remembered he had not shaved, washed his face or combed his hair.  He rushed to the washstand to take care of his appearance.

At 5:45, Scott was marching down the hall to Murdoch's room.  He had one thing on his mind securing the day off for the Lancer brothers.

Stopping in front of his father's door, Scott took a deep breath and rapped softly on the wooden door.  At the Lancer patriarch's deeply voiced, "Come in", he turned the knob and stepped confidently into the room.

Murdoch Lancer glanced up into the mirror he was standing before, as he got ready to shave.  He smiled as his oldest son approached from behind.

"What has you up so early this morning, son?"

"I'm on a mission, sir." Replied Scott.

"Sounds serious, son, care to explain it to me?"

"That was my intention, sir.  I would like to ask that you listen to my entire statement before you make a decision."

Murdoch grimaced in the mirror at his own reflection as he wondered what Scott was up to.  I hope Johnny hasn't gotten into some kind of trouble again and Scott is trying to smooth things over before I find out.

The Lancer patriarch turned around and leaned against his dresser.  "You have my undivided attention, son."

With a quick affirmative nod of his head and a few brief seconds to collect his thoughts, Scott began his rehearsed recitation.  "Sir, as you know Johnny was afforded very few opportunities as an adolescent for childish activities.  He was too busy just trying to survive.  I feel that's why he sometimes acts so impulsively.  He is finally settling in and enjoying being part of a family and having a support system.  He can let loose and relax because he feels secure.

Seeing he had Murdoch’s attention, Scott forged ahead.  "I would like to do a little more bonding with my younger brother today by spending time enjoying one of the things we should have been able to do together as children."

Becoming unnerved that his normally opinionated father had stayed quiet for so long, Scott finally blurted out, "Sir, it snowed last night.  I would like your permission to take the day off so that I can take my little brother sledding."

Murdoch chuckled out in relief that Johnny wasn't in trouble and because it was very unusual to see his eldest son so flustered.

The gray-haired Scotsman, hedged a little before saying, "Well, when I saw it snowed last night I had planned for you to help load hay to take out to the pasture for the cattle.  I guess the hands can accomplish that on their own.  You have my blessing to take the day off for a little bonding and childish pleasure.  That is if you can get Johnny to agree.  You know how he hates cold weather and being cold himself.  The first time he saw snow as a toddler he cried and wouldn't let me put him down.  He thought they were tiny little clouds falling from the sky," smiled Murdoch with fond recollection.

Scott laughed as he commented, "Well, I'll make sure he dresses warm."

"See that you do Scott.  Johnny just got over that chest congestion last week.  He's not use to the cold like you are.  In fact I have an old coat that's thick and warm that he can wear over that bolero jacket he is so fond of."

Stepping to the wardrobe the Lancer patriarch rummaged through it until he produced a soft tan suede coat with sheep's wool lining. "The sleeves will be a little long and it will be roomy, even with his bolero jacket under it, but it's better than letting his chest get too cold."

Scott looked quizzically from his father to the coat.  Murdoch realized what he was thinking and snorted as he replied, "No it hasn't fit me in years, but it was too nice to get rid of."

"Thank you, sir.  I'll make sure your coat and youngest son are returned no worse for the wear."

"See that you do Scott, I can replace the coat, but Johnny is the only little brother you will be getting out of me."

The Lancer patriarch shook his head and snickered as a happy Scott strode from the room.  If time and fate weren't so fickle my boys could have enjoyed childish antics together years ago.   Murdoch returned to shaving.


Down the hall, Scott pushed open the door to his brother's room without knocking.  Walking quietly to his brother's bedside, the blond Lancer smiled as he noted that once again Johnny was curled up.  His blankets were twisted and bunched around his legs.  The youngest Lancer's left hand still lay, fingers slightly curled on the pillow next to his head.

It always amazed Scott to see Johnny relaxed in sleep.  The young man that seemed wise and old beyond his years when awake was the opposite in sleep.  When he slept, he appeared years younger than he was.  Stifling a snicker, Scott thought,  If I were a really mean big brother I'd stick my hands outside your window for a minute and then press them to your warm back, to wake you.

Instead Scott settled for running his index finger right down the middle of Johnny's nose, from bridge to tip.  He  watched in amusement as his younger brother scrunched his eyebrows twitched his nose and swiped at his face with his right hand.

Reaching out, Scott tried his maneuver again.  He watched as once more Johnny reacted the same way.  The third time he tried his luck, his wrist was caught in a tight vise like grip and he was unceremoniously jerked into the bed.

Scott sat up, caught in the glare of two sleepy blue orbs.  Johnny's next words made him realize his brother had sensed his presence all along.

"Boston, what the hell are you doing?  If you weren't my brother you would have a belly full of lead right now." Stated a sleep raspy voice.

"Good morning, little brother.  I thought I would come wake you up so we can get a head start on the chore Murdoch assigned us for the day.  From what I understand, it's going to take all day."

"Huh!"  How do you know what we're doing today?  Murdoch don't assign chores until breakfast." Groused the still sleepy dark haired Lancer.

"Oh, but we have a special chore today because it snowed last night."

"SNOWED!"  Jumping from the bed  Johnny raced across the room to the window.  "Damn, I'll be colder than a well diggers butt all day.  I don't guess there's any chance we're doing book work today?"

"I'm afraid not little brother.  Murdoch has as extra special chore for you today.  A chore only I can help you with."

Johnny could tell Scott was excited, happy even, about what they had to do today.  He decided to give his big brother a hard time about what ever it was; after all aggravating Scott was one of his best talents.

Scurrying back across the room,  Johnny dove back into his bed.  Burrowing into the covers, he announced, "Well, if you're such an expert at it, that you can teach it, then you don't need my help.  I'll just sleep in this morning.  It's cold and I've been sick.

"Sorry, Johnny, but Murdoch has already assigned you to this chore. Aren't you the least bit interested in what it is?"

"NO! I am not interested if it means staying out in the cold and the snow."

Scott could feel his well thought out plans caving in from the impact with Johnny's stubbornness.

Peeking out from under his covers, Johnny watched the dismay rippling across his brother's handsome face.  Realizing Scott was truly disappointed, the impish younger brother finally relented.  Throwing the covers off he snorted,  "Alright already, what are we doing today that you're some kind of expert at?"

Scott's eyes danced as he replied, "You will be spending the day learning about the effects of weight, gravity, force and velocity of a wooden conveyance on precipitation in it's solid form under my tutelage.

The dark haired Lancer narrowed his eyes as he asked suspiciously, "Is it legal?"

"My dear little brother, would I lead you astray?  Of course it is legal, why even the most upstanding of citizens on Beacon Hill have learned this fine art."

Smirking outright Johnny finally implored, " Dang, Boston what are you talking about?"

Falling back on the bed, Scott howled with laughter before replying, "I'm taking you sledding, little brother."

"In case you ain't noticed, Boston, it snowed and it's cold and you want to go play in it.  Huh!  I like my fun hotter."  Replied Johnny with a mischievous grin on his face.

"Well answer me this little brother, would you rather haul hay to the pasture or spend the afternoon with your older wiser brother, out in this crisp cold air riding down hill on a sled?"

"Hummm, let me think, haul hay or haul butt?  I guess you talked me into it, Boston.  You only have one sled though, so how will that work?"

"My sled is extra long, as a child, it would seat me and three friends so I am quite sure the two of us will fit on it just fine.  Of course after you learn how to handle it, you can make some runs downhill by yourself."

Johnny snorted before replying, "learn how to handle it.  There can't be that much to it.  All you do is sit down and push off."

"Oh, contraire, brother mine.  You'll need to learn to steer it and stop it.  The day is wasting.  You need to get up and dress warmly, wear two pairs of socks and lets get started with a nice hot breakfast."

Crawling off the bed Scott  turned and picked up the coat Murdoch wanted Johnny to wear, from the foot of the bed.  " Murdoch wants you to wear this coat.  He doesn't want your chest to get cold since you were sick last week.  You can wear your bolero jacket under it because it will be big enough."

Johnny scrunched up his face in distaste.  He hated wearing thick clothes.  They made him feel bound up.  That was one of the main reasons he hated cold weather because he hated the thicker clothes that kept him from drawing his gun easily.

Taking note of the dissatisfied look on his brother's face, Scott added as he laid the coat back on the bed, "You have to wear the coat Johnny, whether we are sledding or hauling hay.  I don't think you will find the subject open to discussion with our father.  Besides, he is just looking out for your best interest."

Grabbing his little brother in a headlock and ruffling his hair,  Scott stated, "Get a move on.  I'll be waiting downstairs for you at the breakfast table."

Mumbling to himself, Johnny pulled a pair of relatively new black jeans from a drawer and pulled them on.  I don't want to wear my leather pants in the wet snow and then have to spend the evening oiling them.  He grabbed a pair of socks to pull over the ones he had worn to bed. 

Looking through his shirts Johnny realized they were all made of rather thin material. Well if big brother wants me to go sledding he will just have to donate one of his flannel shirts to the cause. Johnny sat down and put on the extra socks then pulled on his boots.

Johnny grabbed his favorite bolero jacket and the coat Murdoch wanted him to wear and headed across the hall to Scott's room to snitch a shirt.

Stepping into his big brother's room, Johnny stopped to inhale the scents that always told him his brother was about.  Scott's room smelled just like him: leather, books, ink, the English soap he bathed with and the crisp smell of the cologne he wore that reminded Johnny of the ocean for some reason.

Opening Scott's wardrobe he found a striped flannel shirt in shades of brown and tan, with black lines running through it.  It had been a present from Teresa, but Scott had never worn it because it was not to his taste.  Johnny slipped the shirt on and grimaced at the overly long sleeves.  He turned back the cuffs to shorten them and then buttoned them.  I am beginning to wonder if my arms are short or if Murdoch and Scott's are just too long. Spying himself in Scott's cheval mirror, the dark haired Lancer smirked at his reflection, thinking he was glad he didn't have to dress like this everyday.

Leaving his brother's room, Johnny took the stairs down to the kitchen.  He chuckled at the double take Maria did when she caught sight of him looking more like his older brother than himself.  He hung the jacket and coat on the back of his chair before sitting down and telling his father, "Good morning."

"Good morning, son.  It looks like you dressed warmly for the weather."

Scott's eyes narrowed as he realized his brother had plundered clothes from his room again.  "Little brother, I don't mind lending you a thicker shirt due to the weather, but this time please return it clean."

"This time", echoed Johnny.  "I don't know what you're talking about.  I don't ask to borrow clothes from you that often."

"Correction, brother.  You never ask to 'borrow'; you just go in my room and take what you want.  The last time you took one of my dress white shirts, you wore it to the cantina, where you got tomato stains on it.  It never got returned to me until Teresa found it under your mattress, when she was cleaning."

Murdoch burst out loud in laughter at the sheepish look on his youngest son's face.

Scott glared at his father stating, "That is exactly why he does things like that, people laugh about it.  I am sure he wouldn't be very happy if I just strolled in his room and made off with his clothes."

"If you don't care about your pants not being long enough and your shirt sleeves being too short, go ahead.  I don't mind sharing", smirked Johnny.

Shaking his head Murdoch informed his sons,  "You boys are very lucky.  When I was a lad not only did I share clothes with my brothers but also the same room and bed.  Now are you going to fight or eat a hot breakfast and go sledding?”

"We aren't fighting."  Replied the Lancer brothers in unison.

Maria began setting scrambled eggs, steaks and biscuits, honey and jam on the table.  All the while ranting in Spanish that if Miss Teresa were not at the Andersons there would be no way Juanito would be out in this nasty weather today.  She left no doubt as to her displeasure of her nino chancing getting another case of chest congestion.  Throwing a disapproving glare at the Lancer patriarch, Maria rounded on the boys; shaking her finger in their faces she commanded them to be back in the house by noon for a hot lunch and brief rest if they were planning to sled all day.

The brothers merely looked at their father and rolled their eyes when Maria turned back to the stove.  She never even turned around as she snapped out, "I saw that, I am not crazy."

"Eat up little brother.  When we're done we'll bundle up and head to the barn to get the sled.  Then we can walk up to the rise we always stop on to look at the hacienda.  That's a good hill for sledding."

"WALK!  You mean we ain't gonna ride up there?  This is starting to sound like work to me, Boston."

"Oh, come on Johnny.  You know good and well, you would not subject that pampered horse of yours to this weather, if it were not necessary.  Half the fun of sledding is pulling the sled to the top of the hill and then riding it down again.  I'll make you a deal, if this isn't some of the most fun you have ever had, if you truly don't enjoy yourself, you can sit on the sled and I'll pull you home again."

"Boys, I would like to interject something here.  I expect you to be careful.  No dare devil stunts.  Don't get so carried away with fun and games that someone ends up hurt.  If I end up sending for Doc because you get fool hardy, it will come out of your pay."  Exclaimed the Lancer patriarch.

"He's talking to you Boston.  I am always careful.  I always think things out before I try them." Announced Johnny with a wicked grin on his face.

Murdoch Lancer sputtered coffee all over his hand and shirt at the unmitigated gall of his youngest son's statement.

Standing up, Scott put his coat and hat on as Johnny finished his milk.  He was pulling on his gloves, fanning the long slender fingers and sliding them with practiced precision into each snug finger compartment while Johnny stood and put on his bolero jacket and hat. 

Johnny removed his work gloves from the jacket pocket and put them on.  All the while watching his father from the corner of his eye, he started to step around the table, when Murdoch cleared his throat.  Johnny glanced back at his father and noted the raised eyebrows and pointed look at the thick coat still hanging on the chair.  Snatching the coat from the chair the youngest Lancer put it on as his older brother snickered at him.

The coat was indeed too roomy and overly long on Johnny's smaller frame causing Murdoch to decided he or Scott one would have to drag Johnny, kicking and screaming if necessary, to town soon and have him fitted for a properly sized winter coat.

Once he was buttoned up, Johnny streaked for the door, hollering, "Beat you to the barn, Boston!"  Before Scott could give chase, Murdoch called out, "Scott, remember what we talked about this morning.  If your brother thinks he can do it he sees no danger in trying.  Be careful."




Exiting the house  Scott gasped and caught his breath as he was hit in the face with a powdery lump of snow.  Wiping the snow from his eyes, Scott glared at his brother.  "Little Brother, it's a good thing you don't know how to pack a firm snowball. I guess I need to add snowball-making lessons to our agenda today.  Part of the lessons will be the rules for snowball fights, the most important one being never aim for the face because a properly formed ball can cause damage to any areas not covered by thick clothing."

"What's the fun in proper, Boston?"

Shaking his head the older brother took note of the devilish aura emitting from his brother.  Johnny's blue eyes twinkled with merriment; they seemed even bluer than usual compared with the fluffy whiteness all around him.  The fingers on the gloved hands were keeping a silent cadence as they drummed softly against the thick black jeans.  Johnny's booted feet were twitching slightly against the stones, unsure of whether or not to take flight before Scott decided to retaliate.

"Relax, brother.  I'm not seeking revenge but when we do get ready for our snowball war let me warn you, I was the champion of Beacon Hill.  I made the best-packed snowball.  I was the fastest at it and I had the deadliest aim."

"Really, the same thing has been said about me too.  All the guys in Boot Hill would have to agree, if they could, that I have the fastest and deadliest aim."  Smirked the former gunfighter.

Johnny had steadily observed his brother for the telltale signs that he was about to move against him. 

Scott's slate gray eyes dilated slightly just before he announced, "I'll get your smart mouth, little brother."

Scott lunged forward in an attempt to grab his younger brother.  Johnny's lightening quick reflexes kicked in and he dug in his boot heels to take off.  The slick leather soles of his boots were unable to grip into the snow-covered patio.  His forward momentum caused Johnny to pitch forwards further as he felt his feet sliding out from under him.

Scott had managed, in his lunge at Johnny, to grab the tail of the overly long coat.  He yanked back on the coat, hoping to stop Johnny's fall on the hard stone.  He managed to stop him from falling face first, but he also kept him from being able to tuck and roll. The youngest Lancer's knees took the brunt of the impact with the stone patio floor.

Great, we haven't even made to the barn to get the sled yet and here he is falling already.

"Johnny, are you alright?  You didn't hurt yourself, did you?"

Twisting to the side to get off his knees, Johnny sat down on the ground and glared at his brother.  "What the hell did you do that for, Boston?"  He stared at his brother as he rubbed his knees.  "If you had just let go of my coat, I could have tucked and rolled then I wouldn't have busted my knees on these stones."

"Sorry, Johnny.  I just wanted to help.  Can you get up?"

Both brothers glanced up with startled looks at their father's deep voiced question, "What's going on out here?"

"Johnny slipped and fell. I was trying to keep him from hitting his head and instead he landed on his knees."

Walking over to his youngest, Murdoch kneeled down next to him.  "Are you hurt, son?  Pull your pants legs up and lets get a look."

Johnny struggled to pull the thick material of his pants up past his knees.  Finally they were high enough to inspect the damage, both knees were red, but Murdoch didn't think it would do much more than just bruise.

The Lancer patriarch pulled one pant leg into place as Johnny pulled the other down.  Before he could get up off the ground Maria appeared in the kitchen doorway.  She called, "Juanito, get up off the cold ground.  You have no business sitting there like that, you will catch a chill."  Turning her ire on Murdoch, she exclaimed,  "I told you this was not a good thing."

Murdoch and Johnny rolled their eyes as he helped his son up.  "Boys, please be careful today.  We will never hear the end of it from Maria if either of you get hurt, especially you Juanito," chuckled Murdoch as he pinched Johnny's cheek.

The youngest Lancer's face turned bright red over the pinch when he realized Cipriano had been witness to it.

Murdoch was still chuckling as he told his Segundo,  " Scott and Johnny will be taking the day off to enjoy the snow, let's go have some coffee and make crew assignments."

Cipriano turned for a last look as the Lancer brothers headed to the barn. This is a good thing that the Patron's sons should take a day to enjoy the fruits of their labors.  They are still young men and it is good to make time for fun too.

The brothers made it to the barn with no more incidents.  Scott went to the hayloft to retrieve the sled while Johnny stopped to talk to Barranca.

"Hey, Barranca.  It's cold, amigo.  I'm gonna let you stay right here in this warm barn while I go sledding with Scott.  He has some crazy notion that pulling a piece of wood to the top of the hill and then sitting down on it and careening to the bottom of the hill is fun."

The golden horse whinnied, snorted and shook his head before rolling his eyes, as if to say, Is he crazy?

Johnny laughed as he nuzzled the horse's head to his cheek.  "I know, I know.  It sounds as wild as some of the schemes I come up with.  I ain't that fond of the cold but this means a lot to Scott to share a part of his childhood with me.  Besides I can't think of anything better than spending the day with my brother.  Here comes Scott now, I'll visit with you later.  Frank will be here any minute to feed you."

Scott could barely contain the joy on his face as he peered over the edge of the hayloft.  "Little brother, are you going to talk with that horse all day?  How about come over here and let me lower the sled to you."

Johnny hurried to stand beside the hayloft ladder.  He reached up and grasped the end of the bright red sled as his brother lowered it down by the rope.  Johnny sneezed and shook his head as he breathed in the fine particles of dust and hay that fell from the sled.

Jumping down the last few rungs of the ladder, Scott eyed his brother with concern etched on his handsome features.  "I thought your congestion was all cleared up, Johnny?  Are you feeling alright?"

"I'm fine.  I just got hay and dust in my face and it made me sneeze.  You and the old man are driving me crazy with this babying business.  One or the other of you are always trying to tell me what to do.  Get plenty of rest, drink lots of juice, take this crappy medicine, stay in the house or wear a warmer coat.  I managed to survive a lot of years with out all them rules and I still grew up."

A wicked grin passed briefly across Scott's face before he innocently replied,  "Just think little brother, if we had been there to 'baby' you while you were growing up maybe you would have kept growing until you were over six foot tall like the rest of the Lancer men."

The ex-gunfighter glared with narrowed eyes at his older brother before back handing him in the gut.  "Too bad you can't draw and shoot your gun as fast as you shoot off your mouth, big brother."

"Touche`, brother.  Are you ready for the first sledding lesson?"

"Uh, Boston, in case you ain't noticed, there ain't no snow in the barn."

Blowing out his breath in exasperation, Scott replied, "The first rule of sledding is to check the sled over to make sure it is in good condition with no loose or missing parts."

Scott quickly tested the running blades to make sure they were secured, that all the slats were tight and that the steering and pulling rope were not frayed.  Satisfied everything was fine, the blonde Lancer stated, "Now we are ready to head for the hill."

"Let's cut across the pasture, Boston," suggested Johnny as he picked up a stick and threw it for their collie, Lady SF ( Sweet Friend).  The dog took off like a flash to retrieve the stick.  Just as the brothers slipped between the fence rails the excited dog came back with the stick. 

"Good girl, Lady.  Okay, drop the stick."  Commanded Johnny.

The collie merely sat down, dropped her head and peered up at Johnny.  With her tail wagging wildly over the thought of playing with her favorite Lancer, Lady SF shook her head and growled.

"Oh, so you want to play rough, do you?  All right, bandito, stick them paws up," stated Johnny.

The well-trained dog sat up and lifted her paws, still refusing to drop the stick.

"Now, are you gonna drop the stick or am I gonna have to fill you full of holes?  You have until the count of three. Unos, dos, tres, sorry Lady I guess I should count in English. One, two, three, " counted Johnny.

"Alright, I warned you."  The ex-gunhawk flashed out his right hand, index finger pointed at the dog and hollered, "Bang, Bang, you're dead."

Lady SF dropped the stick from her mouth and pitched backwards.  Laying on her back with her feet in the air, she twitched her legs several times.

"Die already," exclaimed Madrid, "Or I'll have to tickle you to death."

Johnny launched himself onto the collie and began scratching and tickling the happy dog.

Scott Lancer shook his head and laughed at the antics of the two on the ground.

After several minutes of rolling around in the snow with the dog, Johnny got to his feet and invited his canine friend to go sledding too.  The faithful collie jumped onto the sled Scott had been pulling, cocked her head and gave him a look that said she was ready.

The Lancer brothers looked at each other and laughed.  Johnny shouted a challenge to his brother, "Bet I beat you to the hill."  He took off as Scott hollered, "No fair, I am pulling the sled with your guest on it." 

"So you're the sledding expert and Lady don't weigh that much."

Running in the snow was not something Johnny was use to; he barely made it to the base of the hill before his brother.  The youngest Lancer bent over and struggled to pull enough of the cold air into his breathless body.  He was still deep breathing when Scott slid to a stop and bent over to began deep breathing too.  Lady SF sat on the sled looking at her humans like they were crazy.

When the two brother's breathing had returned to normal they started the trek up the hill.  Scott noted the clouds were starting to build back up in the sky.  He wondered if they would get more snow or if it would warm up past freezing and rain instead.




As they walked up the hill Scott explained how to pull the rope to the right to steer right and to the left to steer left.  He emphasized to stop you pulled back on the rope, throwing your weight on the back end of the sled to make the running blades dig in to stop.

At the top of the hill, Scott walked along the top ridge and scanned for the best path down the hill, without obstacles.  Choosing a spot, he had Johnny sit at the front of the sled.  He showed him how to position his feet on top of the sled. 

Lady SF decided to ride too and nestled herself between Johnny's legs. 

Scott gave a quick starting push then jumped on behind his  brother and placed his legs beside Johnny's on the edge of the sled.

The sled picked up speed as it flew down the hill.  The bite of the cold wind snatched Johnny's breath and numbed his nose and ears.  The long hair of the collie lifted in the breeze and tickled and caressed the smiling lips of the youngest Lancer causing him to laugh out loud.

Leaning forward, with his arms squeezing his brother's sides as he steered the sled, Scott could hear and feel the rumble of laughter emitting from Johnny. 

At the bottom of the hill, Scott leaned back and pulled the rope to stop the sled completely.  The collie jumped from the sled, barking and wagging her tail.  She burrowed her face into the snow and then lifting her snout covered with the cold powdery mix, slung it off on to the brothers.

Brushing the snow off his face, Johnny turned to look at his brother.  The bright blue eyes of the youngest Lancer were dancing with excitement and amusement.  "Hey Boston, that was cold but fun.  It sure beats the heck out of rolling down a hot sand hill, which is what we use to do when I was a kid."

The brothers jumped up and started the trek back up the hill.  Once again Lady SF took up her position on the sled.  As they crested the rise of the hill, the collies keen eye's caught sight of a rabbit and she took off in hot pursuit.  Her warm breath was leaving a trail of small puffy clouds in her wake as she chased her quarry.

The two Lancers positioned the sled.  Before sitting down Johnny implored his brother not to take a straight path this time but to weave around. He wanted Scott to test whether or not he could make him loose his balance and fall off.

Scott simply grinned and replied, "Oh, so you want me to let her buck?  Well, hold on little brother cause I am going to give you a ride you will not soon forget."

Scott gave a mighty push to the sled and jumped on the back and took the rope from his brother.  He began pulling the rope right and then left.  With each pull the sled would veer to the direction it was pulled.  Scott was musing to himself how snow seemed to insulate the world and make it sound quieter yet magnified each noise.  He could distinctly hear the blades of the sled as it cut through the snow with a shoosh.  He could hear the gasps in between laughs from his brother, as he sucked in the cold air assaulting his face. Scott could even hear the distance bark of the Lancer's collie as she continued to chase the rabbit.

Near the bottom of the hill, Scott veered to the right again and caught the running blade in a depressed area that ran horizontal across the base of the hill.  This stopped the sled abruptly and tossed both brothers off the side onto the ground.

Scott sat up and began brushing the snow from his coat.  With a start, he realized Johnny was still lying supine in the snow.  His heart lurched into his throat. Before he could call out; his younger brother sat up, eyes wide, lips quivering in a mischievous smile and hollered, "Hot dang, I like it.  I really like it.  Come on let's go again and this time it's my turn to drive this contraption.

The two Lancers made their way to the top of the hill for what would be many more trips down before lunch.  In between trips, when their legs would become fatigued from the climbing, Scott showed Johnny how to make the perfect snowball for throwing at unsuspecting prey. Then of course they each made a stockpile of the projectiles to use on each other.

The sun was getting high in the sky.  The air was getting warmer, which was making the snow wetter as it started getting slushy.  Noon and lunchtime were fast approaching so Scott suggested they start making their way back home to have lunch.

"Oh, come on Boston, just one more ride then we will go home."

Scott chewed his bottom lip trying to decide.  Seeing his brother was wavering, the youngest Lancer said, "You know you want to Boston.  The way it's warming up and the clouds are building, it will probably rain and this will all be gone.  This is probably our last chance for a long time."

"Alright little brother, one more trip and then we head home.  I am not chancing Maria serving me my own head on a silver platter."

"Hey, Boston, since your legs are older if you want to wait down here I'll go by myself.  You haven't let me go without you yet."

Looking back up the hill, it seemed to Scott that it had gotten steeper over the course of the day.  It didn't take long for him to decide to grant his brother's wish.  Before sending him off Scott reminded him to be careful.

Whooping and hollering, Johnny climbed the side of the hill.  Once he got to the top, he positioned the sled and waved to his big brother.

Scott smiled and was waving back until he saw his brother cock his head to the side, like when he has one of his bright ideas that usually goes very wrong.

Johnny did indeed have a bright idea.  He knew he had excellent balance.  He had balanced himself; standing on his saddle with the horse running before, so he decided to he would stand on the sled.

Johnny picked up the rope handle and stepped up on to the middle the sled.

Scott Lancer was frozen to the spot he was in.  He couldn't move so he screamed, "Johnny, NO!"

It was too late though.  The chain of events were already in motion.  With a loud Yee Haw, Johnny dropped one foot to the ground beside the sled and pushed off.  The front of the sled dipped and then started it slide down the hill.  It appeared to Scott that the sled was moving much faster than it had all day.  He was convinced it was too, when the wind rushing past his brother's face tipped his hat back and lifted the black silky hair to flutter in the breeze.

Scott stood gap mouthed, eyes wide in horror as his younger brother careened precariously towards the bottom of the incline.

The athletic young Lancer rode the sled as easily as he would a horse. Everything was fine until he whizzed past  Scott and pulled back on the rope to stop.  As the sled was stopping, friction caused his feet to slide forward.  Johnny's feet went out from under him, forcing him to fall on his behind and then flipping him in a elbows over butt summersault off the back end of the sled.

Scott hurried to Johnny's side. He was laying face down in the snow.  He helped his little brother sit up.  He was concerned to see blood in the snow on the younger Lancer's face.  Scott dug his handkerchief from his pocket and began brushing the snow off.

"Stop, Boston!  I am fine.  I didn't break nothing, I bit my tongue when I landed on my butt."

"Are you sure you're okay?  God, Johnny you scared me half to death!  That was a dangerous stunt to pull.  You better be glad you didn't get hurt.  Remember what Murdoch said?  Come on, we are definitely heading home now."

Johnny got to his feet.  He pulled off his right glove and put two fingers in his mouth to whistle for Lady.  Finding his tongue hurt too much to whistle, he asked Scott to call the dog.

Scott whistled shrilly and the collie appeared at the top of the hill, then started her way down.  Johnny put his glove back on and brushed the snow from his clothes while they waited on the dog.

Lady SF got to the bottom and immediately took her spot on the sled for the ride home.

The brothers had walked maybe ten paces when a fine mix of sleet and freezing rain began to mist down on them.

Scott and Johnny trudged through the snow that was getting slushier by the minute.  The cold wetness seeped through clothes already damp from sledding and snowball fights. 

"I swear Boston, I think my feet are blocks of ice.  It didn't feel this cold while we were sledding.  I can't wait to get home and warm up."

"Actually it was colder this morning, but your clothes were dry.  Now that they are damp and getting wetter, because of the rain,  it feels colder.  We need to hurry and get in before we both catch a chill."

Johnny slapped his brother in the gut and hollered, "Bet I beat you to the house and have a shot of tequila in my hand before you."

The younger Lancer took off like a shot.  Even though he was pulling the sled, Scott's longer stride helped him stay hot on his  brother's heels. 

As they ran across the pasture, the freezing rain and sleet really started coming down heavier and with a biting wind.

The brother's slowed their pace long enough to crawl through the fence.  Lady took the chance to jump from the sled and raced for the warmth of the barn.




The Lancers hurried on to the house.  They left the sled on the patio by the French doors and then burst into the great room with the cold air and crisp fresh smell rushing in around them. 

The siblings were tripping over each other in their quest to be the first to reach the liquor cabinet.   Neither brother wanted to lose the contest to be the first with a glass of instant liquid warmth in their hands.

The Lancer patriarch's mouth gaped open at the antics of his sons.  He smiled and shook his head, then bellowed, "Boys, close the door!  You're letting the heat out."

Seeing Johnny had made it to the cabinet during Murdoch's shout, Scott turned and secured the French doors.  He made sure the doors would stay shut.

The blond Lancer turned back around just in time to catch his cocky little brother's salute to him with his shot glass.

Scott was about to do a little verbal sparring with his younger brother when Maria came into the room to see what all the noise had been about.  The surrogate mamacita took one look at her ninos in the wet clothes and the slush trail on the floor from their boots and began ranting.

"I told you this was not a good idea.  Look at how wet you are.  You are both half frozen.  There will be no lunch until you get a bath to warm up."

Neither brother moved.  Maria came further into the room waving the big wooden spoon she had been stirring lunch with and continuing to rant.  She stopped by Johnny, who was bending over as he laughed and telling his brother, "She thinks we're loco."

Mamacita's big wooden spoon connected with the youngest Lancer's backside.  "OUCH!  That hurt."

"Si, and it will hurt some more if you and your hermano do not go get a warm bath as I told you," stated Maria.

Scott  snickered as he took Johnny by the elbow and head for the bathhouse.  "Which was more warming little brother, the tequila in your belly or the blistering whack to the seat of your pants?"

Murdoch called after his boys, "I'll go get you some dry clothes.  You two go get your baths.  Maria put the water on to heat earlier."

Once in the bathhouse the brothers took two tubs to fill with water.  Scott declared he got the bigger tub since he was not only the older brother, but also the taller brother.  Johnny merely shrugged as he informed him it would also take him longer to fill the tub.

The younger Lancer did indeed finish filling his bath first.  He took off the over sized coat and bolero jacket.  Then he toed off his boots and peeled off the two pairs of wet socks. His were toes stinging against the frigid tile floor. The flannel shirt he had snitched from his older brother's room was still dry so he laid it on the bench.

Scott had removed his coat, socks, and boots and was beginning to unbutton his shirt as his younger brother stripped off his damp jeans.

Murdoch knocked and entered the bathhouse as Scott pulled off his moisture-laden pants.  He was in the process of placing their dry clothes on the bench when his youngest son struggled out of his long johns.  As Johnny turned to step into the tub Murdoch and Scott sucked in their breath and gasped loudly.

Stunned at his family's reaction, Johnny inquired, "What's wrong with y'all?  I ain't growed nothing new since the last time you saw me in my birthday suit."

"No, but you have acquired something you didn't have before."  Stated the Lancer patriarch.  "You have a spoon shaped mark on you back side."

Johnny walked towards the tall mirror on the bathhouse wall.  He gasped when he saw  the perfect spoon shape imprinted on his behind.  "It stung when she popped me, but she really did hit me harder than any of the other times she smacked me with the spoon."

"Your skin was damp and cold and the pop just brought the blood to the surface." Replied Scott.

"Not a word about this to Maria, boys.  She would feel terrible if she knew she left a bruise on you, son."

"Aw, and I was gonna ask her to kiss it better, guess it will have to be one of you two."  Johnny's sapphire eyes danced with merriment at his round about way of telling his father and brother to kiss his butt.

Scott stripped off his long johns and threw them at his brother.

"Boys, you might want to quit playing around and get a bath before lunch turns into supper."

The Lancer patriarch gave his sons a chance to sink down into the warm water before he opened the door to leave.

"Mmmmmmmm, this feels good Boston.  I didn't know I was so cold until I sat down in this hot water."

"Yes, I must agree. A nice lingering soak after a day spent in the great outdoors is indeed relaxing as well as rejuvenating."

Johnny shot an annoyed looked at his over educated brother then slung a washcloth at him.  "You can juve all you want to, I am just glad my butt is no longer cold and wet.  If we had stayed out much longer  Little Big Johnny would be in sad shape."

Scott  threw the dripping washcloth back at his younger brother.  "I can't believe you call 'it'  Little Big Johnny."

'Well, it's like this Boston, when I am entertaining the ladies, I don't want to hear nobody's name being called, but mine."

This caused the older brother to pause for thought.  Suddenly Scott grinned wickedly and turned to his brother and said, "I do believe you have made a valid point and Scott Jr. and I concur with your conclusions."

"Yee haw, Boston, looks like there was enough room left in your brain for some more higher education."

The Lancer brothers' snickers ended abruptly when Maria beat loudly on the door to remind them lunch was ready to serve.

They soaped up their washcloths and scrubbed clean, glad of the warmth the action brought back to their chilled bodies.

With a final dunk down into the water to rinse off the two Lancers stepped from the tubs.  They each grabbed a fluffy towel and briskly rubbed the water from their bodies.  They hurried into their clothes before the cold in the air could chill them again.  Finally they sat on the bench to pull on their socks and boots.

 As they walked back through the kitchen, the tantalizing aroma of fresh baked bread made their stomachs growl in eager anticipation.  Scott stopped to lift the lid to one of the pots and found himself on the receiving end of a smack from Maria's big wooden spoon.

The blond Lancer yelped and gingerly rubbed his derrière.  The dark haired Lancer chortled and stated, "Bet that smarts, Boston.  Don't expect me to kiss it better, after all you wouldn't kiss mine."

Scott grabbed his brother around the neck and dragged him the rest of the way to the table as Johnny continued laughing.

"Boys!"  Admonished Murdoch, who was already seated at the table.

"Sorry, sir.  I was just trying to teach my little brother to respect his elders."

With all the Lancers seated Maria and her helper brought in the food.  Since it was a cold day Maria had cooked two soups.  A home-style chicken noodle made with large egg noodles, carrots, celery and chunks of chicken.  She also made the spicy tamale soup the youngest Lancer loved.  There were several loaves of hot out of the oven bread and an assortment of thinly sliced meats for making a sandwich to eat with their soup.

Murdoch and Scott chose to fill their bowls with the chicken soup.  Johnny of course ladled tamale soup into his bowl and grabbed a chunk of bread to dip into it.

The two older Lancers were making ham sandwiches to eat with their soup when the youngest Lancer placed a spoon full of tamale soup in his mouth.

As soon as the spicy concoction hit the sore spot on his tongue, Johnny Lancer gasped.  When he gasped the soup was sucked back into his throat and preceded to go down his windpipe causing him to make a choking and strangling sound.

 Murdoch and Scott watched in astonishment as Johnny shot from his chair with such force he knocked it over.  The youngest Lancer was jumping up and down, his eyes were watering and he coughed, panted and swiped at his tongue.

The Lancer patriarch finally reached over and stopped his son's wild gyrations long enough to ask, "What in the world is wrong?"

Johnny squeaked out, " H..hhh..oo..ttt."

His father handed him his glass of milk and instead of drinking it Johnny stuck his tongue down into the milk.  The youngest Lancer sat down on his chair, his face beaded with sweat and sighed as the cold milk cooled the burning on his tongue.

Scott came around the table, sat down next to his brother and asked, "Are you alright?"

Johnny used his napkin to wipe the sweat from his face.  He was still red in the face as he look towards his father and explained.  "I bit my tongue while we were sledding and when the spices got into the cut area it felt like my tongue was on fire."

"In that case, son, I suggest you have some of the chicken soup, it will warm you up without burning your tongue.  How did you come to bite your tongue?"

The Lancer brothers looked at each other, wondering how much to reveal to their father about the mishap.

Clearing his throat, Johnny replied,  "Oh, it kind of happened when I fell off the sled.  I guess I closed my mouth before my tongue could get out of the way."

Scott glanced at his father with wide-eyed innocence.  "HeHe, I guess his teeth were quicker than his tongue."

Murdoch Lancer might not have raised his boys from infants to their supposed young adulthood, but he did know them well enough to see they were trying to spit polish the truth.  He picked up his spoon and quickly stirred his coffee, causing the strong black liquid to slosh over into the saucer.  He raised the cup to his lips and blew a soft steady breath across it.  All the while he watched his sons squirm in their chairs.  Finally the old Scotsman’s took a few sips and placed the cup back in its saucer.

Scott and Johnny's mouths dropped open in surprise when their father stated, " I assume you bit your tongue when you stood on the sled to go down the hill.  I was standing at the window watching when you reached the bottom, fell on your behind and flipped off the back of the sled."

The brothers looked at each other and shrugged with sheepish grins plastered to their faces.

Murdoch smiled as he picked his sandwich up.  Before taking a bite he told his sons, "Finish your lunch and then we'll all work on the books a while.  It's raining now, so it looks like the snow day is over."

Three satisfied Lancers left the table warmed not only by the hot nourishing soup but also by the warm nurturing sense of family that comes from shared experiences and memories.



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