Summary: Eavesdropping leads to an interesting encounter. A Bonanza/Lancer crossover story.
Word Count: 1034
It was the word Boston that caught his attention and had Adam Cartwright listening to the conversation of the two men at the next table.
“Boston, the only way you’d have any real fun would be for it to come up and bite you in the tail,” the dark-haired one said in a half-teasing, half-disgruntled voice.
His tall, blonde companion responded, “You’d have your own tail to worry about if Murdock got wind of that kind of fun.”
“We’re both too old to worry about a hiding from the old man, Boston.”
The blonde looked down haughtily at the shorter man, “I most certainly am, but Murdoch might not agree with that when it comes to you, little brother.”
“Brother?” Adam thought. “I would never have guessed they are brothers. They’re no more alike than,” Adam chuckled to himself, “well, than Hoss and Little Joe. With two so different little brothers, you’d think I’d stop assuming that there should be a family resemblance when it comes to siblings.” Adam took a sip of his beer, and surreptitiously studied the two men. The older one still had the look and sound of an Easterner, and his stance suggested a stint in the military. The younger one looked definitely Mexican until you noticed his eyes. The eyes were as bright blue as the ones his brother Hoss had inherited from his Swedish ancestors.
A wry grin had settled on the younger man’s face, “Don’t matter really; that old man of ours can skin a body with a look and nail your hide to the wall with a word.”
“That he can, Johnny my boy, so we will both be retiring to our beds shortly in preparation for an early departure in the morning.”
“Scott,” the pleading whine in Johnny’s voice was strikingly familiar to Adam. How many times had he heard it in Little Joe’s voice?
Scott shook his long finger underneath his brother’s nose, “Not another word. I will not be responsible for…”
“I don’t need you to be responsible, Boston. I’ve been responsible for myself for quite a while.” There was a flaring anger in Johnny’s voice.
“Well, that is as it may be, but now you’ve got an older brother who intends to see you stay out of trouble, so drink up and come along quietly.”
Adam watched as the one called Johnny relented, swigging down his beer and following his brother from the saloon.
Adam chided himself for eavesdropping. His pa had definitely taught him to allow others their privacy, but the two had intrigued him, and there had been something so, well, familiar about the exchange. Adam smiled. That Johnny reminded him of Little Joe. Not that they looked anything alike. No, it was more the cocky energy and causal charm they both seemed to exude.
It was then that Adam noticed two other men leaving the saloon. Instinctively, he knew that they were following the two brothers. The prickle that always warned him of trouble made him toss a few coins on the table and make his own exit.
Adam allowed his eyes to adjust to the dim light in the empty street. Then he scanned the area just in time to see the two men forcing the brothers into an old storage building. His hand went to his gun, and he crossed the street to peer through a crack in the warped boards.
“I told you we’d meet again, Madrid.” The heavy-set man with the beard growled. He and his partner were holding guns on the two brothers.
“So you did, Morgan,” Johnny replied coolly. The boyish charm was gone. The man standing there had a razor-sharp hardness Adam had seen only in much older men. “I told you then, ‘any time, any place.’ As long as you keep this between just us, I’m ready.”
“I’m not a fool, Madrid. I don’t intend to be gunned down by a hired killer.”
“Fine. Just let him leave,” said Johnny indicating his brother with a slight movement of his head. “He has no part in this.”
That one utterance told Adam that Scott had no intention of leaving while his brother was in the hands of these men.
Morgan laughed, “So he can fetch Papa Lancer to hunt us down? Yeah, boy, we know he’s your brother and that you’re a high-and-mighty Lancer now. No, we’ll just be taking you both for a little ride in that wagon and if they ever find your bodies, we’ll be long gone.” His partner set down his gun, picked up a rope, and advanced on the brothers. As he crossed the path of any bullet Morgan might fire, Morgan heard a gun click and metal press against his head.
“Drop your gun,” Adam’s voice was calm and deadly. Morgan froze, but Scott and Johnny Lancer went into action. In seconds, both of their assailants had been subdued. Adam and the Lancer brothers escorted the two would-be killers to the local sheriff. The sheriff efficiently collected their stories and incarcerated his prisoners.
“We need to thank you, Adam — you did say your name was Adam?” Scott Lancer addressed his rescuer with a smile.
“Yes, Adam Cartwright,” Adam extended his hand, “and you’re Scott and Johnny Lancer? There are no thanks necessary. I’m glad I could be of help.”
“Still, my brother and I are most grateful,” Scott replied shaking Adam’s hand.
Johnny gave his brother a cocky grin as he also shook Adam’s hand. “We are grateful, Adam, even if I could have handled things on my own.”
Scott snorted, and Adam found himself exchanging a look with Scott Lancer that said, “Little brothers!”
Scott cuffed his brother on the shoulder and said, “Excuse him, Adam. Please allow us to buy you a drink.”
“Now you’re talking, Boston,” Johnny interjected his eyes starting to sparkle.
Adam smiled, “I’m sure I’d enjoy that, especially if you’ll tell me why he calls you Boston.”
Scott rolled his eyes, and the three men headed toward the saloon where Adam was soon hearing a very interesting story about the brothers Lancer.