Disclaimer: I can't lay claim to the Lancers. At least not in a legal sense.

Summary: The Lancers battle in the present to banish shadows that reach out from the past.

A/N: I hope you all enjoy the beginning of this new story. I'd love to know your thoughts on it.

BANISHING SHADOWS

BY White Wolf

Chapter One

Johnny had risen, shaved, dressed and then barged uninvited into his brother's room, as was his usual custom. The older man had long since given up trying to dissuade Johnny from his habit of doing so. He simply tried to be up and dressed before the intrusion occurred. However, if forced to, Scott Lancer would have had to admit that he looked forward to his younger brother's morning sojourns into his room. It had proven to be an interesting way to begin most mornings.

"What's happenin', brother?" Johnny greeted with a cheery smile, as he fastened the last button on his sage green shirt.

"Nothing different from yesterday or the day before, or just about every other day you 'forget' to knock."

Scott tried to sound annoyed, though he had to turn away to hide the smile that was twitching at the corners of his mouth.

"Aw c'mon, Boston, you know you love my morning visits," Johnny remarked, as he indulged in another of his habits, that of fingering the items on Scott's dresser.

As usual, there was nothing new to be found there, but each day Johnny hoped to discover something he hadn't seen before, hoping it would provide another chance to niggle his big brother into revealing more of his life story, like the first time he had found the photograph of Scott in uniform with Gen. Phillip Sheridan. That had proved to be quite a revealing piece of Scott's personal history.

"A small knock of warning would be much appreciated, little brother," Scott groused affectionately, as he finished buttoning his dark blue shirt and tucking it into his gray pants.

"Are you ever gonna get over that and stop complainin'?" Johnny asked, as he then plopped down on Scott's bed, stretching out and propping himself up on his elbow..

He was careful, though, to keep his spurs well away from the bedspread. That was the one thing he knew his brother didn't tolerate and the excuse Scott would likely use to toss him out on his ear. "I've figured you out, you know."

"Oh, you have, have you? And, just what is it you've figured out?" the blond asked, continuing his morning preparations.

"Well, it's simple, Boston. If you really didn't want me in here, you'd just lock your door." Johnny beamed at his logical reasoning.

Scott turned back from checking his appearance out in the mirror and stared at Johnny. "I may have to resort to doing just that."

He sat in the chair opposite the bed and began pulling his black leather boots on over crisp, white socks.. "Anything in particular you want to discuss before we go down to breakfast?"

"Nope."

"Nothing you want to share with me that you don't want Murdoch to know?"

"Nope," Johnny replied again, grinning.

"Well then, brother, let's go down and face the day."

Without a backward glance, Scott headed out the door, leaving Johnny to push himself off of his brother's bed and follow in his wake.

By the time the two Lancer boys had reached the table where they were to eat their morning meal, they had their arms around each other's shoulders, laughing.

Murdoch looked up at the sound of his two sons' obvious good humor. A smile crept onto his face, before a frown soon replaced it. How many happy mornings like this had he missed while his sons had been lost to him? How much of their laughter had he missed hearing? He shook his head. There was no point in pondering the sadness of those thoughts. He had his boys now, so thinking about the past was a fruitless endeavor and one he refused to let mar his morning.

"Something funny you boys would like to share with your father?" He asked with an indulgent look in their direction.

"No, sir," Scott answered, pulling away from Johnny and rounding the table to seat himself in his chair on his father's left.

Murdoch didn't inquire further. He knew that both young men liked to joke around with each other, and if they wanted to let him in on that joke, they would. He wouldn't pry, even about something that didn't appear to hold any deep meaning.

Johnny, now seated on Murdoch's right, reached out and grabbed the plate of scrambled eggs that Maria had placed on the table just before the younger Lancers had made their way downstairs. He gave himself a generous portion and passed the plate across to Scott, since Murdoch had already filled his own plate.

While he slathered butter on one of the hot biscuits he had helped himself to, Scott asked, "Have you decided whether you want us too check the fence around the east pasture or get supplies in town?"

"Yes, I have," Murdoch stated. "If it was just the supplies, I'd send Jelly and Miguel, but after working on the books last night, I need you to take care of some business at the bank in Green River. Might as well get both things taken care of at the same time."

"Yes, sir, that would be a more proficient use of our time."

Scott and Johnny both knew that Murdoch was never one for spending time by going twice to the same place when multiple tasks could be accomplished with one trip. Distances out here were just to great to be wasting time traveling needlessly.

Johnny stared over the rim of his coffee cup at his brother. He didn't know exactly what proficient meant, but he could guess.

"You know, Boston, I think I'm beginning to understand you," he said before stuffing his mouth with more eggs.

"Well, I'll tell you, little brother, that's downright scary."

"Yeah, you should be scared," Johnny answered. "Now, you won't be able to get anything past me." The smile on his face was bright and made his blue eyes sparkle. So did the anticipation of the savory flavor of the crispy bacon that soon followed the eggs into his mouth.

Scott didn't think that remark required an answer, so he just turned his attention to the food on his own plate. Inside, though, he was laughing.

Half an hour later, breakfast was finished, and Murdoch had given Scott and Johnny their instructions for the bank business he needed taken care of and handed the list of supplies to Johnny, who folded the lengthy piece of paper, shoved it into his pocket and headed for the front door.

Both brothers stopped long enough to buckle on their gun belts and retrieve their hats before moving out toward the barn. They were not surprised to find the wagon hitched up and waiting for them.

x x x x x

As the Lancer brothers made their way toward the town of Green River, another pair of brothers were entering it from the opposite direction.

Roger and Danny Fleming, ages 20 and 19, respectively, had been raised on a farm in southern Oregon. Their parents had been honest, hard working people, who had toiled all their adult lives to make a decent living for their family. Unfortunately, honesty and hard work were not what their two sons had inherited from them.

The dissatisfaction and rebellion had started almost as soon as the red-headed boys were old enough to think for themselves. They wanted more than a dirt-scratching existence on an tiny farm in the middle of nowhere, descriptions Roger and Danny had often thrown in their parents' faces.

Their life of crime had started out as simple mischief, then progressed to petty theft in the surrounding farms and in Turner, the nearest town to them.

Though both had had the fear of God thrown at them by their elders, it hadn't stuck, yet, neither had ever been arrested. There was no official law in the town of Turner, and the circuit judge only came through there for one day every two months. The boys, while not particularly bright, knew enough to make themselves scarce at exactly that time.

However, it was clear to everyone who knew them that it was only a matter of time before "those Fleming boys" would end up in jail, if not at the end of a rope.

But, petty theft wasn't what Roger and Danny were interested in engaging in, not for long anyway. It only paid for their budding life of crime until they could do better. They had set their sights on grander pursuits.

What no one in and around Turner knew was that the two brothers spent a great deal of time, and most of the ill-gotten gains, practicing with their six shooters. They often competed with each other, while taking target practice. Their ultimate goal was to find a famous gunfighter, kill him in a main-street shootout in a town large enough to have an audience that would spread their new-found fame.

In their minds, it would be pure gravy from then on. Just how they expected both of them to face a single gunfighter and each come out with a reputation, they hadn't figured out yet. It was indicative of their short-sighted plans. But, that didn't make them any less dangerous.

As they made their way down the main street of Green River, the Fleming brothers spied the gun shop and turned in toward it, tying their horses to the hitching rail in front.

There was a sign hanging inside the glass pane of the door that read, Closed, but neither brother could read, so Danny tried the door and found it locked.

"Damn, they ain't open yet," he groused, shaking the door violently, as if doing so would suddenly allow them entrance. The youngest Fleming was not known for his patience.

"We're early, Danny. I'm sure they'll open soon enough," was Roger's unhurried assessment. "We'll wait."

Snorting out a breath, Danny realized there wasn't much he could do about the situation. If left to him, he'd just as soon break in and steal whatever took his fancy, but they couldn't afford to get into trouble before they had gotten the ammunition they had come for. It would take close to the last of their money, but even they realized that without bullets, there would be no gunfight and without a gunfight there would be no reputation.

After waiting a little over five minutes, a middle-aged man with gray hair and a moustache came down the boardwalk, stopped at the gun shop door and unlocked it. He turned the sign to show Open, as he entered.

The Flemings were right behind him.

"Howdy, gents," the store owner greeted, as he put away his satchel, and hung his coat over a hook on the wall behind the counter. "What can I do for you this fine morning?"

"We need four boxes of .45's and two for a carbine," Roger said.

Jim Bently smiled and said, "I can fix you gents up with that," before turning around and opening a cabinet door behind him. He pulled out the four boxes of .45 caliber bullets and set them on the counter. Then, he moved down to another cabinet and retrieved those requested for the rifle.

While Roger paid for the ammunition, carefully counting out a fist full of coins, Danny opened one of the boxes and began to load his almost-empty handgun. He slipped three of the bullets into the cylinder. Reaching down, he pulled one more bullet from the box and shoved it in to join the others. Grinning, he spun the cylinder, then slipped the Colt into its holster on his right hip.

"Anything else I can get for you?" Bently asked, as he eyed the worn holsters these two had strapped on. Even their guns looked a little worse for wear. "I've got some really nice side pieces here, as well as some finely crafted holsters."

From the look of them, Bently didn't really think these two would have the extra money for such items, but as a businessman, he was willing to inquire, just on the off chance that he was wrong and a bigger profit could be had.

"Naw, we got all we need right here," Danny said, as he patted his holster and sneered.

For some reason he couldn't explain, the way the young man gestured, the look on his face and the way he said the words "right here", gave the gunsmith a chill down his back.

After a moment of silence, Danny blurted out, "I heard that Johnny Madrid settled in these parts. That so?"

TBC