An ANC Lancer story
Disclaimer: I’m not inclined to disclaim nothing and you can’t make me.
Thanks to Kit for the quick beta and fine tweaks
Author’s note: For the LTAN Summer Challenge
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
As heat waves rose from the blacktop, shimmering and distorting the view of the landscape, Scott smoothly downshifted and negotiated the turn from the major thruway onto the back roads leading to Lancer ranch. Responding to the smooth purr of the finely tuned motor, his jaw muscle contracted; causing his cheeks to slightly raise the Ray Bans perched on his nose.
Straining against the tightness of the harness style seatbelt, Johnny frowned as the maneuver caused him to drop the spare sunglasses he had just pilfered from the glove box. He didn’t need to glance over to confirm Scott had increased his speed since hitting the smaller road; he could sense it in the surge of the engine and see it in the blur of the scenery.
“What’s the big damn hurry,” Johnny growled, squirming in his seat as he tried to alleviate the pinch of the harness against his shoulders. His hand inched toward the release clasp in the center of his chest as the Porsche was shifted into a higher gear. The low slung sports car felt like it squatted closer to the road, hugging the asphalt as the world zoomed by.
“Don’t you dare remove that belt,” Scott ordered, his gaze never leaving the road, “You know Dad’s rule about safety. And I’m in a hurry because Dad is waiting on this charcoal so we can have a nice relaxing evening grilling out by the pool.”
“Seems to me, Dad also has a rule about speedin’.” Smirking, Johnny pantomimed drawing a six-shooter, his shot hitting Scott’s center mass.
“Dad’s not here,” Scott drawled in imitation of his kid brother’s Texas accent. He smoothly shifted gears again, the black Porsche flying low past the out cropping of rocks that trail-marked the private road leading to the hacienda. A smile bloomed on Scott’s lips as he anticipated the fuss Johnny would make when he whipped the car onto the gravel road.
A motorcycle cop pulled from behind the rocks, blue light flashing.
“Busted,” Johnny crowed in delight, straining to turn around in his seat to watch the approach of the patrolman.
“SHIT!” Scott exclaimed, downshifting, slowing and carefully braking to a stop within just yards of the ranch access. “Since when do the county cops do road duty this close to Lancer?”
Cuffing Johnny on the head because he was still snickering, Scott removed his sunglasses, tossing them forcefully on the dash. He squirmed slightly on the seat and dug his wallet out of his back pocket, acquiring the appropriate cards; and then rolled down his window as the officer approached. Somewhat peeved to be in a position of being caught in the wrong in front of his little brother, the first words out of the blond’s mouth were waspish. “Officer, what were you doing hiding behind those rocks? This is private property; as in Lancer land.” Not to mention it was also part of a military reserve. Scott handed over his license and registration.
The sunlight bounced off the patrolman’s helmet as he shook his head at the attitude. Removing his shades, he glanced down at the license, and then peered into the car and noted the mirth of the second, much younger passenger. “Why, I’ve been waiting on you,” he smirked.
The startled cop backed up a step when the passenger’s dark head -- now adorned with an expensive pair of aviator’s glasses -- appeared out the driver’s window. Mouth going full bore, Johnny grinned up at the chopper-jockey. “Well, he got here as fast as he could.” The youth yelped as a hand with slender fingers grabbed his hair and jerked him back into the vehicle.
“You are not helping matters, Johnny,” Scott ground out. “And give me my damn sunglasses, BRAT!”
A scuffle ensued over the purloined shades, the brothers momentarily forgetting they had an audience. The boys tumbled from the car when the officer -- intending on instructing them to exit the vehicle -- opened the door.
As fast as he hit the ground, Johnny nimbly leapt to his feet, dancing away as he righted the sunglasses on his face. He had the audacity to smirk and then stick his tongue out at his older brother.
Scott was slower getting to his feet, having been winded by Johnny’s elbow ramming into his gut during the fall. Once on his feet he staggered and stumbled towards the sometimes bane of his existence. He was drawn up just short of catching the scamp by the officer grabbing his arm.
“Sir, have you been drinking?” the officer asked, censure heavy in his tone.
“Nope, but he’s been speedin’,” Johnny exclaimed as he executed a running man dance move. “Damned near from the second we got off the highway!”
“Yes, he was,” the cop replied, as if he was grateful for the information. “You, sir,” he gestured towards the convertible, “were doing ninety-five in a fifty-five zone.” He pulled himself erect. “If you two would please stand here by the car, I’ll run your license.” It was not an invitation.
The officer retreated to his motorcycle; watching in amusement as the teen continued to taunt and tease the driver, brandishing the sunglasses like a trophy. And then the youth made the mistake of dancing too close to his victim; and was quickly ensnared in a headlock, the shades ripped from his hands. Then, turning his attention back to the business at hand, the patrolman scanned the read-out on his handheld computer. Surprise colored his face as he read the return report. Sighing, he punched the appropriate button, and started back towards the two youths who were now standing beside the car. He didn’t miss the brunet’s last jibe.
“Wait ‘til Dad find’s out,” the kid snickered. “Your ass will be toast!”
The blond driver, whom the cop now knew to be Captain Scott Lancer, turned around and began to thump his head against the left hand fender of his car.
“Hey, officer,” Johnny called out, “ain’t drivin’ with a head injury,” he pointed towards his self-punishing brother, “the same as drivin’ drunk? I mean, ain’t that considered bein’ impaired?” His face brightened. “Maybe I should take the wheel to get us the rest of the way home.”
Feeling sorry for the older brother (as he was one himself to two), Officer Getraer decided to bring the youth down a peg or two. “Are you even old enough to drive?” he asked, peering over the top of his own sunglasses at the boy.
Scott snorted. Lifting his head, he swiped the hair from his brow and -- sensing he was talking to someone sympathetic to the cause -- responded, “He’s been driving me crazy since the day he was born.”
Handing over Scott’s cards, the patrolman laughed. “You check out fine, Captain Lancer.” Punching the small red button on his hand-held, he printed out the ticket and handed it off. “But I still have to give you a ticket. If you don’t wish to contest it, you can pay it on line. I did give you a break, in appreciation of your service and didn’t deduct points.” He tapped his helmet in a polite salute. “You have a nice day and keep your speed down.”
Scowling at the ticket in his hand, Scott growled at his brother. The boy was still laughing. “Get in the damn car, Johnny.”
“OUCH!” Johnny shouted as he entered the car from the driver’s side and Scott placed his foot on his backside to send him sprawling headfirst into the passenger’s seat. The shove was hard enough to propel Johnny across the shift box, and the walnut knob rammed against his crotch. “Fuck, that smarts,” Johnny gasped, his voice cracking.
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
Remote in hand as he prepared to turn the poolside outdoor flat screen onto the evening news, Murdoch’s attention was drawn to the sounds of a scuffle coming from the double French doors that lead from the Great Room to the pool area. Laying the remote down, he readied himself for his sons’ latest shenanigans.
Scott was striding through the doors, the bag of charcoal slung over his shoulder, his other hand wrapped tightly about Johnny’s head as he forcefully dragged him along. Johnny’s complaints were muffled due to the fact his mouth was pressed against his brother’s chest.
“Not one word about that ticket,” Scott hissed, bending his head towards Johnny’s ear. Johnny yelped as his brother’s grip tightened to an uncomfortable level.
“Scott Garrett Lancer, is there some reason why it appears you’re abusing your brother, trying to smother him and tear his head off at the same time?” Murdoch glared at his sons, his father’s intuition telling him something went on while they were gone on their errand; something resulting in a little blackmail and cover up.
Abruptly turning the teen loose, Scott exclaimed, “I was just cuddling him.” He smiled and proffered up the bag of Match Light.
Harrumphing as he accepted the charcoal, Murdoch scowled. “There’s a fine line between cuddling and holding someone so tight they can’t get away.”
“Thank you, sir, for clarifying that. Anything else I can do for you, Father?” Scott grimaced at his own words. Watch it, Lancer, you’re about to overplay your hand.
Eyeing his sons suspiciously, one gray brow arching over a disbelieving eye. “I think I have everything under control now. While you boys were gone I mixed and formed the hamburger patties and brought out all the side dishes, condiments and drinks and stored them in refrigerator.” Heading for the open air barbecue hut built by the pool, he shouted a request, “One of you grab the remote and turn on the television while I light the grill. I want to see the six o’clock news.”
Sprinting towards the outdoor living area, Johnny deftly executed a flying leap over the back of the cushioned wicker couch. Snatching up the remote he powered on the seventy-two inch screen. In high definition, with stereo surround sound, the impeccably coiffed and suited up anchor solemnly wished everyone a good evening; and then went right into the first story about Wall Street announcing the economy was once again slowing, setting back financial recovery.
Shaking the remote at the screen, disgust making his body twitch, Johnny exclaimed, “Why the Hell do they always start out tellin’ you ‘good evenin’’ and then start right in on tellin’ you why it isn’t?” Dropping the remote on the coffee table, Johnny reprised his acrobatic stunt as he made his way back to the French doors.
Frowning as he opened the match box, Murdoch speared his younger son with a harsh look. “Johnny, that’s twice now you’ve jumped the furniture. We’ve discussed this reckless behavior previously.” The stern set of his face was an implicit demand it better not happen again. Striking a match and tossing it on the briquettes, Murdoch inquired, “And where are you going? I thought you boys were going to swim while I cooked.”
Turning to face his father, his eyes still rolling over the jumping reminder, Johnny gestured to the interior of the house with his thumb. “I’m goin’ to put my shorts on so I can swim.”
“Please wear a swimsuit and not your cutoff jeans,” Murdoch requested, lowering the grill rack. “The threads in the fringed end come out in the water and clog the pool drain and filter.”
Shrugging, Johnny grimaced. “I don’t have trunks. In Texas, all the guys just wear cutoff jeans.”
“There’s plenty of spare swim gear in the pool cabana,” Scott announced, pointing towards the building. “I know because that’s where I keep mine so I don’t have to go upstairs every time the notion strikes me for a swim.”
Completely forgetting the dressing down he had just received, Johnny dashed towards the cabana, nimbly jumping the unlit fire pit instead of going around it.
“JOHNNY!” Murdoch shouted in exasperation.
“Oops, sorry I forgot,” he exclaimed as he disappeared through the door with a snicker.
Following at a sedate space, Scott paused long enough to ask, “What is it with this habit of jumping and flipping over stuff here lately? Is this some kind of stage he’s going through?”
Scrubbing his face wearily, Murdoch bit back a groan. “Probably another test to see how fast he can drive me totally insane. Or more likely, he does it just to see if he can make it. I do know he’s trying bigger obstacles and getting more reckless. We had a discussion about it the other night when he hurdled my desk.”
Stopping by the refrigerator, Scott stooped to retrieve two Lite Heinekens. Popping the top, he handed one to his father and took a gulp of his own. The two older men almost spewed their second mouthful when Johnny dashed from the cabana wearing a pair of vintage California surfer shorts with a bright orange background and large white flowers. The trunks fit him perfectly, right down to the length catching him just above the knee.
“Aren’t these great?” Johnny asked, strutting confidently across the pool deck and leaping in the air and twirling as he modeled his find.
Using the palm of his hand to wipe a few drops of beer from his mouth, Murdoch chuckled. Trust my colorful son to find the brightest, loudest pair around. “You might find this hard to believe, but those were Jelly’s.”
Scott choked on his beer; waving his father away as he got the coughing under control. “Our Jelly?”
Johnny was just as surprised. “Gramps?!” he crowed.
“Yes, your Gramps,” Murdoch confirmed, setting his beer down on the counter. “Back in the 1960’s when those board shorts were popular your Gramps was quite the surfer.”
“Wow…he must have been a really cool old dude,” Johnny surmised.
Thumping his brother on the noggin with a quick flick of his middle finger, Scott laughed. “Johnny, Gramps wasn’t an old man in the 1960’s. He would have been in twenties.” Sipping on his Heineken, the blond walked towards the pool house to change in to his trunks.
As was his habit, Johnny’s mind was already on something else. Anything other than his Gramps on a surfboard; that was just ‘way too much for his mind to ponder. “When are we gonna eat,” he asked, patting his trim belly. “I’m starvin’.”
Murdoch grinned. When aren’t you starving, son? he thought. “You might as well go swim. It’s going to take awhile for this charcoal to burn off so we don’t get a lighter fluid taste in our burgers.” He closed the grill, adjusted the draft, and then turned to trim the ends off the corn.
“Can we light the fire pit later so we can make S’mores?” Johnny asked as his hand slowly snaked towards his father’s abandoned beer.
“I don’t see why not; we’ll wait until closer to dark,” Murdoch shrugged, grunting as he chopped the end off of an ear of corn. “And put that beer down,” he snapped without even turning around.
Shit, how does the old man do that? He didn’t even turn around and yet he knew I’d picked his beer up. Resisting the urge to stick his tongue out at his father, who was chuckling, Johnny turned; took several wide steps, and then cut a summersault in midair and landed a spectacular cannonball in the pool.
“HEY!” Scott protested from the lounge chair where he had just settled in, “Watch it, you little snot-puppy, you almost wet my Kindle.”
“What are you reading, Scott?” Murdoch called out from his corn preparation task.
“I’m about to download Buried Prey by John Sandford,” Scott answered. He held up the Kindle, displaying the screen. “You’ve really got to get one of these, Dad. It’s great being able to read a book the day it comes out.” It struck him then; what a great Father’s day gift this would be…one for dad and one for Ha. A slow smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Maybe even one for the ‘cool old dude’, too; the one who had originally worn the surfer shorts.
~*~ L ~*~ A ~*~ N ~*~ C ~*~ E ~*~ R ~*~
Sighing in satisfaction, Murdoch leaned back and slouched down in his chair, patting his full belly and puffing a cigar. He watched his youngest through the gray haze of aromatic smoke as the boy devoured his third hamburger. It would never cease to amaze him just how much food the slim teen could put away. The boy had definitely been blessed with his mother’s high metabolism.
“Slow down, Johnny. You look like you’re about to gnaw your own hand off,” Scott teased, affection for his kid brother shining in his eyes.
“Well, I’m hungry, and I’ve been swimmin’ all evenin’ while you’ve been sittin’ on your duff readin’,” Johnny declared around a mouthful of hamburger, earning a frown from his father for the display of bad manners. Swallowing the chewed food, he offered up a quick apology, “Sorry,” and then tossed in the last bite and chased it down with his soda.
Murdoch studied his handsome sons, a distant look in his eyes, his mind preoccupied with something. I’ll probably be sorry I let him have that Cheerwine but he should have enough time before bedtime to work off all the sugar and caffeine energy. At times this family seems so normal.
“When can we make the S’mores?” Johnny asked, about to wipe his greasy hands on his trunks but changing his mind and using a napkin when his father’s right eye brow arched. He stifled a burp with a clenched fist.
“My God, you just wolfed down three hamburgers stacked with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and chili, not to mention baked beans and two ears of corn!” Scott exclaimed; gesturing to the debris left on the table from Johnny’s feast.
“Yeah…and now I need something sweet,” the teen replied, a petulant pout beginning to morph across his face at the thoughts of possibly being denied his dessert.
“More than likely, what you need is to loosen your trunks,” Scott teased, grabbing the drawstring and pulling it out to hang down the front of his brother’s shorts.
“Dad,” Johnny whined, “You said earlier we could light the pit closer to dark. It’s dusk now.” Johnny motioned above his head with his hand.
Taking a long draw from his cigar and blowing out smoke rings, his mood serene from the relaxing atmosphere, Murdoch capitulated easily. “You go round up the crackers, chocolate and marshmallows while I light the pit.” Stubbing out the cigar, Murdoch rose from the chair and added, “Fair warning, you aren’t having more than two!”
Scott and Murdoch chuckled as Johnny streaked from the table as though if he didn’t hurry his Dad would change his mind. By the time the youth searched through the pantry for all the ingredients and returned, the pit flame was flickering just right and his father and brother were in the process of clearing the table.
Spying the nice cushioned ottoman on the other side of the fire pit, Johnny determined that was the best seat for preparing his S’mores. Intending to nab the coveted spot before Scott, Johnny picked up speed and instead of traveling around the pit, he jumped it as he had earlier…but earlier it wasn’t lit.
Looking up just as his youngest launched himself, Murdoch shouted, “JOHNNY!”
Johnny screamed as the drawstring dangling from his board shorts trailed through the fire and burst into flames. The shorts, having been made during the sixties -- long before the now mandatory fire safety standards -- instantly ignited. Clawing at his crotch, Johnny dropped the crackers, chocolate and marshmallows into the pit.
Breaking his own rule about hurdling furniture, Murdoch sailed over lounge chairs and benches. Scott tossed aside the tray of glasses and condiments, the containers clattering and shattering against the stone patio as he followed suit.
Harlan Garrett walked out through the French doors just in time to see Scott tackle Johnny and Murdoch sail on top of him and begin to beat gingerly at the boy’s crotch. His shoulders began to shake in earnest as Murdoch picked up his younger son and dunked him into the pool and just as quickly pulled him out. The fire was out; and Johnny looked like a drowned cat. “It appears you weren’t joking when you called earlier and said I’d be missing a great party. Where else but here could I get this much entertainment and a free meal?”
And then the vacuum jar containing the marshmallows exploded, showering the family with slimy, too-warm white goo. Seeing the rage building in his father’s purple face, Johnny struggled to his feet; preparing to flee. Too late. His father already had his elbow in a vise like grip.
He needed a diversion and he needed it fast. “Scott got a speeding ticket on the way home from getting the charcoal,” Johnny volunteered, the words rushing out; pleased when his tactic worked. He slipped from his father’s grip and was vaulting the patio wall when Scott’s shriek reached his ears.