Notes: A crossover with Magnificent Seven and a story in the Echos the Sea/Aces Immortal series. Thanks to strangevisitor7 and ninjababe for the beta.
Characters: Methos, Duncan MacLeod, Ezra Standish, Original Characters.
Summary: It’s been a century and a half since Methos last saw Charlotte and Ezra. His reappearance in their lives brings back many memories; not all of them happy ones.
Added Note: While there is no major character death in this, deaths a century in the past are referenced. I guess it comes with the territory when writing about Immortals.
May You Find Peace
“I am so sorry I’m late,” Charlotte said to Duncan, sounding a little out of breath. “I had to go out to the east vineyard to check the new Grenache plantings for frost damage. It took longer than I expected.”
“No apology necessary,” Duncan said, pulling out a chair for her. “Not too bad, I hope.”
“Thank you.” She sat down. “It could have been worse, but we will lose some of the vines. I hope you haven’t been waiting too long.”
He shook his head, pouring her a glass of wine from the open bottle on the table between them. “I’ve been enjoying the afternoon. Your tasting room here in town is lovely,” he complimented.
Looking around the sheltered courtyard, the old adobe walls draped in scarlet petaled bougainvillea, Charlotte smiled. “I have to agree.” She pondered for a moment. “Perhaps you’d like to share the space with us? It’s a prime location and having a presence in town really does draw more business than only having a tasting room at the winery.”
Duncan’s eyes widened in surprise. “Charlotte, that’s very generous of you; I would be honored.”
“Methos thinks a great deal of you, and you seem a trustworthy sort.” Her eyes twinkled impishly. “And the rent would be quite reasonable.”
Chuckling, he raised his glass. “A toast, to friendships both old and new.”
Raising her glass in return, she clinked it against his before taking a sip. Then she noticed Duncan looking at her hand. “I didn’t realize I was still wearing it,” she said softly, following his gaze to the rose gold wedding band on her finger. Then meeting Duncan’s eyes, she put the glass down, holding her left hand out in front of her. “It wasn’t a good night; too many memories haunting the dark.”
He nodded sympathetically. “I know what that’s like. Charlotte,” he began tentatively, “I realize we don’t know one another well, but if you ever need someone to talk to, I’m here. I know any relationship with Methos is…complicated, and it might help to have a friend who understands that.”
Biting at her lower lip, she looked uncertain. She appreciated his offer, but she had never been one to trust easily.
“No pressure,” he said with a lopsided grin. “Just wanted you to know.”
She made her decision; he was right, having someone to talk to would be a relief. At the best of times, there were few that she could confide in, and when it came to Methos, that number became zero. Taking a deep breath, she said, “After Methos left, I fell in love with a man who was a good friend. Chris and I eventually became more than friends; first lovers, then husband and wife. We’d been married seven years, when finally, it was time for me to move on. We had bought land in California, here in San Luis Obispo, and were going to start a new life here together. But he was killed mere weeks before we were to leave; he died in my arms.” Her voice shook a little as she remembered. “He died, but my daughter and unborn grandson lived due to his bravery.” She twisted at the ring on her finger. “Methos reappearing in my life has brought back so many memories, and last night, they overwhelmed me.”
Duncan took her hand, squeezing it. “Methos hasn’t been forthcoming with the details, but he left because of Kronos, didn’t he?”
Shock suffused her. “You know about…”
“His past? Yeah, I do.”
She drained her wine in one long swallow, Duncan refilling her glass as she began, “It was the spring of 1867, and Ezra had arrived during one of his patrols….”
New Mexico Territory ~ Spring, 1867
“It might be wise to stay in Four Corners till the danger is past,” Ezra said. Forestalling her protest, he added, “At least Charles and the children.”
“Surely the Texas Rangers will stop them before they cross into New Mexico Territory,” she argued.
“They have yet to do so,” he pointed out dryly.
Sighing, she nodded. “Very well, I shall speak to Matthew. But I will not be driven off my land by outlaws, no matter how nefarious they are supposed to be!” she warned, waving the Wanted Poster in her hand at Ezra.
Both Immortals looked up, as another presence made itself known, to see Methos walking across the garden towards them. “Charlotte.” He kissed her on the cheek, before taking the chair next to hers. “Ezra,” he acknowledged.
“Perhaps Matthew can make you see reason,” Ezra said, sounding exasperated.
Methos laughed. “I think you mistake me as having some sort of magical abilities if you think I can make Charlotte see reason on anything.”
“That is enough! I make my own choices, Ezra, and I have nothing else to say on the matter,” she said heatedly.
Methos looked startled at her outburst. “What exactly is going on?”
“In Texas, there is a gang of outlaws terrorizing towns and ranches along the Rio Grande. If they keep heading in the same direction, soon they’ll cross the border,” Ezra explained. “I think it would be wise for Charlotte and the children to stay in Four Corners until the malefactors are apprehended, but my cousin refuses to countenance the idea.”
“That is not true, Ezra! I agree that the children should go to town.”
“But you refuse,” he pointed out. She didn’t answer.
“Bandits are hardly a unique occurrence in these parts,” Methos said reasonably.
“And ordinarily, I would agree,” Ezra told him. “But this band is particularly vicious, and their leader,” he plucked the Wanted Poster from Charlotte’s hand, handing it to the other man, “is the worst of the lot. They call him ‘El Gato’, because they say he cannot die.” He looked at the other two meaningfully. “Perhaps now, you begin to understand my concern.”
Methos nodded, looking down at the yellowed paper in his hands, becoming deathly still as he saw the drawing there.
“Matthew?” Charlotte placed her hand on his arm in concern. What was wrong? She had never seen the look that was in his eyes, not in all the time they had known one another. It was as if all hope and joy had been drained from him, and it scared her as little had in the years she had lived. “What is it?”
Ezra, hearing the fear in Charlotte’s voice, looked at Methos intently. “You know him,” he stated.
“What are you saying, Ezra?” she demanded.
Methos didn’t answer either of them, standing abruptly as he crushed the Wanted Poster in his hands, flinging it away violently before striding off, leaving Charlotte and Ezra without a word of explanation.
Charlotte was waiting in Methos’ cabin when he finally returned many hours later. He didn’t acknowledge her presence as he picked up a bottle of bourbon from the shelf next to the fireplace, pulling out the cork and gulping down a good portion of its contents.
She studied him silently as he drank. There was a darkness permeating the room that was much more than the moonless night that surrounded them. Shivering, she reached over to the lamp on the table next to where she sat, raising the wick to throw more light into the small room.
“Ezra was right.” It wasn’t a question, she knew that the young Immortal had spoken truly; she felt it in her bones.
He looked at her sharply. “We’re leaving, Charlotte. You, me, Charles, the children, Ezra; all of us. We can go wherever you like. Paris, if you choose. You can see Cecily again; I know you’ve missed her. China, the Caribbean, London, Buenos Aires, the Sandwich Islands; you’d like it there.” It was a rush of words, and they washed over her as she tried to comprehend what he was saying.
“Stop! Tell me what’s happening, please!”
“Yes, he was right,” he finally said. “My past…you know what I was, Charlotte. I can not be that again, but if he finds me….” There was a fragility to his stance, as if he were made of glass, with only a gentle strike needed to break him into shards that were razor sharp and deadly.
“Methos,” she stood, reaching out a hand that he took, “he’s hundreds of miles away, and the odds of him and his gang ever coming here are remote at best. You know that!”
He shook his head sharply. “I can’t take that chance.”
“You would give up everything we have here on a possibility?”
“We’d only be giving up a place, Charlotte, not what we have, you must see that.”
“And yet, this place is a part of who I am, Methos, and I will not walk away from it till I must.” She pulled her hand from his grasp, crossing her arms tightly across her chest. “Charles is too old to survive a journey on the trail, his heart is weak; you know that. And Jemma marries in the summer. Would you have me desert my daughter on the eve of her wedding? What you are asking of me is too much, Methos, surely you must see that.”
“And Ezra? Would you risk him?” Ezra was Methos’ trump card; one she knew that he hoped would override her objections to leaving.
She took a shaky breath. “I will explain the danger to Ezra and he will make his own choice. But he will not leave his compatriots; I can tell you that now with no doubt in my mind.”
“And you will not leave him.”
“Then you’ve already made your choice.”
“As have you,” she pointed out, holding her emotions tightly in check.
“I’ll leave in the morning.”
Closing her eyes, she nodded. “May you find peace wherever you might go, Methos. And I hope that you will remember me and how much I loved you.”
“That, I will never forget.”
San Luis Obispo, California ~ Present Day
“And we never saw one another again till the day I walked into your winery.”
“Charlotte, there’s something you should know…,” Duncan began, only to be interrupted by the arrival of a tall blond man who appeared to be in his mid forties.
“Chris!” Charlotte reached out her hands, taking his to draw him down to the chair next to hers. “And how is my favourite godson today? Are you feeling better? Bronchitis is not to be treated lightly.”
He rolled his eyes good-naturedly. “I’m fine, Auntie Lottie.”
She gave him a look that he ignored with a smirk. She hated being called ‘Lottie’, but Chris was the only one that got away with it. When he’d been a little boy, he’d never quite been able to pronounce ‘Charlotte’ properly, and Ezra had been the one to instigate the child calling her ‘Lottie’. Something he still did till this day.
“Duncan, this is my godson, Chris Tanner. He’s the best attorney on the west coast,” she said proudly. “And, Chris, this is….”
“Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod,” Chris finished, his sky blue eyes alight with recognition. He held out his right hand. “It’s an honour to meet you.”
Duncan took the proffered hand, shaking it. “You’re a Watcher,” he stated, looking at the distinctive tattoo on the other man’s wrist.
Chris waggled his eyebrows. “In a manner of speaking.”
Charlotte snorted, her face taking on a dark expression. “Chris and his forbearers have protected me and Ezra from that odious collection of voyeurs for more than a century,” she told Duncan, the venom in her voice more than evident. “I am forever in their debt.”
Chris patted her hand, calming her. “It’s all right,” he said softly.
“It’s not, but we’ve had this discussion before.” She sighed. “You are so much like Vin, dearest. He would have been so very proud of you.”
“Vin,” Duncan muttered under his breath, an intent expression on his face as if trying to remember something. “Vin Tanner!” he exclaimed suddenly.
Charlotte and Chris looked both startled and amused. “I’m Vin Tanner’s great grandson,” Chris told him.
“I thought you looked familiar,” he explained. Duncan looked at him more closely. “The resemblance is remarkable.”
Chris beamed at Duncan’s words. “You knew him?”
“We rode together once, both of us after the same fugitive. He was a remarkable tracker and a good man. I was happy to hear his name had been cleared – I never believed he’d done what he’d been accused of.”
Obviously delighted, Chris said, “Maybe we could talk some time.”
“I’d like that. I could tell you some stories about him that you might enjoy.” Duncan had a wicked grin on his face as the two men shared a conspiratorial grin.
“Whisky and women,” Charlotte said, sighing in mock despair. “Men!”
They all laughed, enjoying the moment, before Chris stood. “I have a deposition to get to,” he said regretfully. “Will you remind Uncle Ezra that he needs to sign those new contracts by the end of the week?”
“I will.” Chris leaned down to kiss her on the cheek. “And don’t forget you’re coming to dinner on Friday.”
“As if! I wouldn’t miss a chance at chocolate strawberry cream pie for anything!”
“And feel free to bring a guest,” she told him, her eyes twinkling. She raised a hand as he began to protest. “Yes, I know, butt out. But you can’t blame me for trying!”
“Goodbye, Auntie,” he said with fond exasperation. He took his leave of her and Duncan, promising the Scots Immortal that he would call him for that talk about Vin.