The Lancer Fanfiction Archive

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Winj

 

New Blood

 

 

 

The day after signing the papers that gave them all one-third ownership of Lancer, Scott began his new life. Murdoch had spent the previous evening talking with his sons about ranch life and what he expected of them and what that life entailed. Scott, admittedly, was overwhelmed, yet excited to start this next chapter of his journey through life.

Murdoch had decided that even though Johnny had some experience with ranching, Scott needed to be "broken in". He instructed the young man to work with Cipriano for the time being. Knowing the seasoned vaquero would watch over his eldest, he was satisfied this was the best course of action.

So it was that a sleepy Scott Lancer joined Cipriano at the corral the next morning at dawn. The three cups of coffee he'd had at breakfast had not quite kicked in yet and he was hoping the older man would be gentle with him this first day.

"Buenos Dias, Senor Scott," Cipriano called cheerfully.

"Good morning," Scott said softly.

"Are you ready to learn the ranchero?"

"Yes, I'm ready," Scott said determinedly although he wasn't really sure just how ready he was.

Cipriano nodded and smiled, then a vaquero brought Scott his horse and they set off to the north pasture.

*******

The chore for the day was to move the herd to new grazing in the east pasture. Cipriano explained the rudimentary elements of the job as they rode. He was unsure of the young man, knowing a little of his background. He had been impressed with Scott's shooting and riding abilities and his take-charge attitude. Still, this was a lot different than fighting off land pirates. This was hard work, back breaking manual labor, and he wondered if the nuevo ranchero had ever known anything like it.

When they reached the herd, the men were waiting for them as instructed. Several of them were new hires, replacing the many the ranch had lost during the recent range war. Still, there were a dozen or so older hands. Men who had been loyal to Murdoch through it all and they eyed Scott warily. Speaking in Spanish, then English, Cipriano explained what he wanted done and set the men to the task.

He had Scott ride with him at first, showing him how to move the cattle, how to round in the strays, how to make his horse move the way he wanted. Scott found it difficult. He was no stranger to horseflesh, but this type of maneuvering of the animal was foreign to him. He had quite a bit of trouble with that and catching the strays. Everytime he would ride after one, it would bawl and run the opposite direction he wanted it to go.

Cipriano watched him, trying to be patient with the patron's hijo. He rode up to Scott and explained again how to move the cattle where he wanted them to go. Scott tried valiantly, but by noon, he had caused more work for the others than he'd accomplished.

********

Murdoch rode out to the south pasture to find Johnny, who was repairing a fence line with three other hands. He heard them laughing and speaking rapidly in Spanish as he topped the small rise. The laughter died and the talking ceased as the men saw the boss riding in. Murdoch winced a little but the reaction was as always. Don't cause trouble with the boss, was the hands' motto. That meant do the job, no goofing off, not that they had not been working hard the entire time.

Murdoch dismounted and tethered his steed to a low hanging tree branch, then surveyed the work with an appraising eye.

"Looks good, you've gotten a lot done," he said to Johnny.

"Yeah, these fellas know what they're doin alright," Johnny said sofly.

"Johnny, I've changed my mind. I'd like you to ride over to the north pasture and help your brother," Murdoch said.

Johnny eyed the man with a grin. "By the time I get there, they'll be done. Besides, I thought Cipriano was taking care of Boston."

"He is but I just think it would be good for the two of you to spend time together," Murdoch explained.

Johnny nodded his head. "Sure," he said simply, then tossed his hammer down and spoke to the men in Spanish.

He vaulted onto Barranca and looked back down at his father. "I just hope he doesn't think I'm babysitting him," he grinned and kneed the palomino into a gallop.

*********

By the time Johnny caught up with the men in the north pasture, it was past noon. He had expected to find them much further along and frowned when he noted they'd gotten all of five miles behind them.

"What are you doing here?" Scott asked.

"Nice to see you, too, Boston," Johnny grinned. "Murdoch sent me out to give you a hand."

"I see," Scott said, obviously insulted.

"It wasn't my idea, Boston. Just doin my part," Johnny said and rode over to Cipriano.

"Hola, Cipriano."

"Hola, Johnny."

"Is there a problem, amigo?" Johnny asked.

"No, no problema," Cipriano replied.

"You sure haven't gotten very far," Johnny said, eyeing the man.

"Si, it is true. We have had some difficulties," the vaquero answered.

"Scott holdin you up? It's okay, you can tell me," Johnny said.

"He is learning, it will take time," Cipriano said in defense.

"Si. Just hope the old man realizes that. What's his biggest problem?" Johnny asked.

"Cow pony," Cipriano said, rolling his eyes in exasperation.

Johnny laughed and tipped his hat at the man, then returned to his brother's side.

"Mind if I show you some things?" Johnny asked, locking eyes with Scott.

"Not at all," Scott replied.

"Just watch me, okay? Don't do anything else," Johnny said as he rode up and cut a steer from the herd.

Johnny rounded the steer, causing him to bolt away. He worked Barranca's reins, moving him sideways, back and around the steer, all the time gently urging the animal in the direction he wanted it to go. In a minute, the steer was back in the herd and Johnny rode back to Scott's side.

"Now, I'm gonna cut out another one, and you do it," he said and went back to the herd.

Scott approached the steer slowly, working the reins and trying to get the horse to obey, but it became skittish at the unfamiliar commands and refused to obey. Frustration began to build in Scott, he was sure he would never learn how to do this right.

"It's not the horse, you know that, right?" Johnny asked gently.

"I'm sure the horse knows exactly what it's doing," Scott said shortly.

"Try it again and go slow, don't jerk on the reins," Johnny advised.

Scott nodded and once more approached the wayward steer. The horse was becoming as frustrated as his master and he had had enough. He bucked and tossed Scott off him easily.

Scott went flying through the air and landed hard on his back, the wind knocked out of him. Before he could figure out what had happened, Johnny was beside him asking if he was okay.

"I ... I think so, just got the breath knocked out of me," Scott said in harsh bursts.

Johnny grinned widely. "You got more than that, Boston. Do yourself a favor and let me help you up."

"I'm fine, I said. I just needed to catch my breath," Scott insisted as he started to rise.

He quickly gave up on that idea as the pain in his backside let itself be known.

"Scott, let me help you. You're laying in a cactus," Johnny said, trying hard not to laugh. "Just take my hands and let me pull you up quick."

Scott swallowed hard and allowed Johnny to pull him to his feet. He could hear the vaqueros laughing their heads off as he stood.

Johnny surveyed the damage, allowing himself a smile while he was behind Scott. "Well, I don't think you'll be riding back to the house," he said, unable to control the laughter any longer.

"I'm glad you all think this is so funny," Scott huffed indignantly.

"I'm sorry, Boston, but it is," Johnny fell out laughing, holding his sides and turning away from his brother.

"How do you suggest I get back?" Scott asked, trying to ignore being the butt of the joke.

"Well, one of two ways. Either you let me .... remove the needles, or I can go get a buckboad for you to lay in," Johnny said, controlling himself finally.

"You don't really think I'm going to let you .... in front of them?" Scott asked.

Johnny became serious then, seeing his brother's discomforts. "Cipriano, go ahead without us," he yelled.

The vaquero waved a hand and began the drive again. They could still hear the laughter as they watched until the herd went over a small hill and down the other side.

"Okay, let's get this done," Johnny said.

"How?" Scott asked.

"Well, I'm gonna pull out as many as I can then, well .... you'll have to ... I'll have to be able to see where they are," Johnny said, suddenly very uncomfortable.

"Great!" Scott said, blushing a little himself as he endured the humiliation.

Johnny got down to business and began methodically removing the cactus needles from his brother's backside. He was covered from mid back down and it took quite a while to get them all. When he was finished, Johnny cleared his throat.

"Okay," was all he said.

Scott looked around to ensure they were alone and unbuckled his gunbelt, then his pants and lowered them so Johnny could see the rest of the damage.

"Ouch!" Johnny exclaimed as he looked at the needles. "Just a couple but they went in pretty deep. Just stand still."

He removed the rest of the cacti from his brother's skin, leaving small drops of blood in their place. "That's all of 'em but you're bleeding a little bit. I'll fix you up when we get back to the house. Gonna have to put something on those just to be on the safe side," he reported.

Scott sighed deeply. "I don't suppose we could keep this just between us?"

"Well, I'd say yes Scott, but the hands, well, they aren't gonna let this one go. Not by a long shot," Johnny grinned.

"Great," Scott groaned and mounted his horse. He stood up in the stirrups immediately and Johnny burst out laughing again.

"I'm sorry, Boston, honest," he chuckled.

********

It took a while to get back as Scott needed to go slow and not jostle around too much, but they were finally at the estancia and dismounting when Murdoch walked out to the yard.

"Why are you back?" he asked.

Johnny looked at Scott who looked away.

"Scott had a little accident. Nothin serious but he can't ride today," Johnny said.

"What kind of accident?" Murdoch asked, turning to his eldest.

Scott stood there, suddenly fascinated by the corral, and refused to look at his father.

"Let me get him upstairs and taken care of first, okay?" Johnny said, giving Murdoch a look he hoped the old man would recognize.

Evidently, Murdoch did recognize it and said nothing more, but simply nodded.

Johnny took his brother's arm and guided him away and Scott stared at the ground in front of him as he walked.

He deposited Scott in his bedroom and disappeared for a few minutes, returning with a bottle and a towel. "Drop your pants and lay down across the bed," Johnny instructed.

Scott closed his eyes and wondered how many more times he would have to expose himself to a relative stranger, but he did as he was told.

Johnny cleaned up the multiple pricks in the too white skin quickly and let his brother regain his modesty before speaking.

"Want me to tell him?"

"I would appreciate that. I think I'd just like to stay here for a while," Scott said quietly.

"It's happened to me, you know. Got caught up in a cactus once," Johnny said.

"Did you sit on it?" Scott asked.

"Well, no, fell on it, on my arm," Johnny mumbled. "Well, I'll see ya later," he added and left in a hurry.

********

Murdoch could not help the laughter that rumbled from him when Johnny explained what had happened. Tears were in his eyes as he tried desperately to control himself.

It was infectious and Johnny joined him for a while until they both settled down a bit.

"Maybe I should just work with him on the basic stuff here in the corral, where it's safer," he grinned.

"I suppose that would be best. And you say the hands all saw it?" Murdoch asked, stifling another chuckle.

"Fraid so," Johnny smiled.

"He must have been humiliated," Murdoch said, his laughter dying now.

"Yeah, he was. I think it was worse for him to have me take out the needles than the hands seein him fall into the cactus, though," Johnny said seriously.

"Well, work with him for a few days and we'll see how it goes. I hope ....." Murdoch stopped here, unwilling to voice his deep concern.

"He's tougher than he looks and he's kind of smart. I'm sure he'll catch on. It's just hard when you know everybody's watching you," Johnny said.

"I'm glad you're taking an interest," Murdoch said.

Johnny shrugged. "Figured I should get to know him before he gets himself killed."

********

For the next four days, Johnny worked with Scott in the corral, teaching him how to work a cow pony. Scott was amazed at the techniques needed for the intricate manuevers that looked so easy.

Johnny was incredibly patient with him and he was grateful. That all changed when they started on roping techniques. Scott couldn't seem to get the hang of it and Johnny was losing his patience.

"Try it again," Johnny clipped.

Scott concentrated on the task, holding the lasso just as he'd been shown, looping it up in the air over his head, then letting go only to rope himself yet again.

"I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. I'm not uncoordinated," he said in frustration.

Johnny didn't say anything for a moment, so much so that Scott turned to look at him.

"Let's take a break. It's lunchtime, anyway," he finally muttered.

They sat at the kitchen table with Murdoch and Teresa and ate in silence. Murdoch watched them closely and was gauging whether he should even ask. Judging by the look on Johnny's face when they'd walked in, he decided not.

"How is it going out there?" Teresa asked, taking the burden from him.

"Not very well, I'm afraid. Unless the point is to throw a rope around myself," Scott said grimly.

Murdoch smiled at this. "Where's the trouble?"

"His throw," Johnny said flatly.

"I can't seem to get it from over my head to anywhere," Scott explained.

Silence permeated the room for a few minutes as Murdoch considered the problem.

"Scott, did you play any type of sports at Harvard?" he asked.

"I was on the skulling team, why?" he asked.

"Show me how to row," Murdoch said.

Scott looked at him with some trepidation but could see the man was quite serious in his request. He began showing them all the way one rowed when Johnny interrupted.

"Stop! Don't move! That, right there, what you just did with your wrist, that's it, Scott. See how you moved it? All you have to do is make that into a snap of the wrist," he exclaimed excitedly.

Scott wasn't convinced and his expression showed it.

"Come on, Boston," Johnny said, grabbing his brother's arm and pulling him from the table.

Johnny half-ran, half-dragged Scott to the corral and picked up the rope.

"Now, do everything the way you were except the throw. When you're ready for the toss, move your wrist like you did, only snap it at the end," he explained.

Scott went through the motions he was comfortable with, then he concentrated on the throw. Remembering his skulling days and to snap his wrist instead of turning it again, he let loose of the lasso. The rope flew through the air and landed soundly around the fence post.

Johnny slapped his brother on the back and smiled broadly. Scott looked at the fence post in utter amazement.

"I don't believe it," he whispered.

"Murdoch, that was pretty smart," Johnny grinned.

"I have my moments," Murdoch replied wryly.

*********

Scott practiced until it was too dark to see the fence post any longer, missing less and less as he repeated the exercise. He finally felt comfortable with the rope and he walked in the house with a smile.

"Finally give it up?" Johnny asked.

"I couldn't see any more," Scott laughed.

"You're doing very well, son," Murdoch commented.

"Thank you, and thank you, Johnny," Scott smiled.

"You're welcome. Tomorrow, you can practice on a real live cow," Johnny laughed. "Oh, on horseback," he added with a glint of mischief in his eyes.

"Oh boy, I can hardly wait. I just hope I can lift my arms tomorrow," Scott replied.

"You missed supper. I left a plate in the oven for you," Teresa said.

"Thank you, I am hungry. Can I get anyone anything?" he asked.

Receiving a 'no' all around, Scott headed for the kitchen feeling quite proud of himself.

********

The next morning, Scott was very sore but he worked out some of the stiffness before going to breakfast and denied any problem when asked. Johnny took him out to the east pasture to work on roping cattle. Not an easy chore, to be sure.

Johnny demonstrated several times before he felt Scott was ready to try on his own. The vaqueros who were tending the cattle became very interested in the proceedings and watched with bated breath.

Scott removed his lasso from the pommel and kneed the horse into a gallop, chasing down a errant steer. When he felt he was close enough, he started his move, flicking the rope over his head confidently. He let loose and missed by inches. Undaunted, he tried again and again. On the fifth try, he nailed it and pulled back on the rope with a hard jerk.

Johnny called out but it was too late as the steer bolted, pulling Scott right out of the saddle. He landed with a thud on the green grass and wondered idly if there were any cactus around. He stared up at the brilliantly blue sky as he sucked the life breath back into his body and waited for his brother.

Johnny strolled over and knelt down beside him, pushing his hat back off his head. "Well, that was interesting," he grinned.

"How do you like my style?" Scott grunted.

"Could use a little work," Johnny chided as he extended a hand and stood to help his brother up.

As he dusted himself off, Scott could hear the vaqueros chuckling. Shaking his head morosely, he wondered if he would ever gain their respect.

"Look, you just pulled too hard on the rope. You have to give them a little head at first so they don't spook like that one did. Pull it tight but don't jerk it. You choked him, that's why he bolted," Johnny explained in a noncondescending voice.

"I understand. I'll try again," Scott said resolutely. And try again he did. Several times.

Though he didn't get pulled off his mount again and he did manage to rope one steer, it took all morning to accomplish.

They sat under the shade of an oak tree together and ate the lunch Teresa had prepared.

"I'm not doing very well, am I?" Scott asked tentatively.

Johnny looked sideways at him. "Well, it takes time, Scott. It's not like you grew up out here." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Johnny wished he could shove them right back down his throat.

But Scott only smiled and nodded his head. "I suppose it just takes time and practice."

"Yeah. You'll get the hang of it, just don't give up, that's all," Johnny said softly.

"I don't intend to give up. I intend to conquer this," Scott said firmly.

Johnny laughed. "You sure are stubborn."

"Seems it runs in the family."

******

That evening before supper, Johnny paid a visit to Cipriano. He respected the man a great deal and knew him to be wise and honest. Johnny explained Scott's problems, not that he had to, but he also voiced his concern over his brother's indomitable spirit. Johnny knew Scott was stubborn and determined but he was also worried about the hands. It was imperative that the easterner gain their respect and soon.

Cipriano listened to the young man, nodding his understanding. When Johnny finished, he sighed and shook his head.

"He must show he is capable for the men to respect him," Cipriano observed.

"Yeah, but he's unsure of himself right now. Especially after the things that have happened," Johnny said, trying to keep a straight face as he remembered the run-in with the cactus.

"Si, he must prove himself and we must help him."

"How?" Johnny asked.

"I have an idea, mi amigo, but it will require a sacrifice on your part," Cipriano said.

Johnny leaned in and listened intently to the plan, ready to do almost anything to give Scott's ego a boost.

******

"What can I mess up for you today, brother?" Scott smiled as they walked to the barn the next morning.

"Now Scott, you have to have a positive attitude. Today, you're gonna do just fine," Johnny said.

They rode back out to the east pasture to practice roping again. Johnny had Scott wait while he went to cut a steer from the herd. This time, however, the steer bolted toward a ravine. Johnny chased after it, waving toward his brother to follow and help out.

Scott kneed his horse and rode off after his brother. He watched, stunned, as Barranca became skittish and bucked. Johnny was holding on for dear life as the palomino edged closer to the ravine.

Johnny felt himself falling the wrong way. He hit the ground and rolled off the edge of the ravine, clinging to a scrubbrush.

Scott grabbed his rope and threw it over Johnny's head, waiting for his brother to secure it around himself, then pulled Johnny to level ground.

"Thanks, brother. That was close," Johnny heaved.

"Are you alright? What happened?" Scott asked, concern sculpting his face.

"Not sure, he just went a little crazy on me. Must have seen something I didn't," Johnny shrugged.

Scott became aware that the men were all watching. When he turned, they all whooped and hollered, clapping their hands and nodding their approval.

"Guess you're the big hero today, Scott," Johnny grinned.

"It wasn't that big of a deal," Scott said, embarrassed.

"Gee thanks. Next time you save my hide, I'll know it's not a big deal," Johnny feigned.

"Senor Scott, that was muy valiente!" Carlo exuded, bringing a chorus of approving noises from the rest of the vaqueros.

Johnny slapped his brother on the back. "That was some lassoing, brother."

"Hey, it was wasn't it!" Scott exclaimed, only then realizing what he had done.

"Si, Senor. You are un experto ahora," Alejandro stated with authority.

"What did he say?" Scott asked.

"He said you're an expert now. Guess you don't need me anymore," Johnny smiled.

"Not so fast, brother," Scott said wryly.

Johnny thought he'd been busted by the greenhorn and hoped his brother would not spill the beans in front of the men.

"I still need you ... to teach me Spanish," Scott grinned.

"I don't know. Might put me at a disadvantage," Johnny teased, relieved his brother had not caught on to his deception.

******

Later that afternoon, Cipriano finally caught Johnny alone.

"¿Está usted loco? I did not mean for you to nearly kill yourself!" he said angrily.

"That wasn't the way I planned it, tio. It really was an accident," Johnny explained.

"You mean...."

"Si, Scott really did save me. I never meant to fall," Johnny said.

"Madre di Dios, Johnny. That was not good. No more games, comprende," Cirpiano said, shaking his finger at the younger man.

"Si, padre." Johnny laughed.

"Absurdo!" Cirpriano muttered as he walked away.

"What's wrong with him?" Murdoch asked as he walked up.

"Oh, nothing. He just thinks I'm crazy," Johnny grinned.

"Well, he is a smart man," Murdoch said, eyeing Johnny with a faint smile.

Johnny laughed at the jab. "Si, he is."

"Scott told me what happened today. You're lucky he was close by," Murdoch said.

"I know. You should have seen him with that lasso. He didn't even think about what he was doing," Johnny said with a measure of pride.

"I suspect that was the idea," Murdoch said, raising an eyebrow.

"I don't know what you mean, Murdoch," Johnny said and walked away.

Murdoch watched him and wondered to just what lengths either of them would go to help the other.

 

 

~end~
2003

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