Notes: 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, Joe Dawson, 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.
“He’s a fine man,” Charlotte said with obvious affection, watching as Chris walked away.
“But you don’t think much of his employers.” There was a note of question in Duncan’s statement.
“No, I do not. It is a loathsome organization, made up of those not much more than Peeping Toms that call what they do noble. There isn’t a thing noble about it!” She clenched her fist. “And what I can never forgive myself for is being the reason that Vin got dragged into his involvement with them due to my carelessness. And his descendants have kept his charge, all these long years later.”
“Ezra’s first challenge; I was so caught up in my own fears for his safety that I forgot his challenger might have a Watcher. He did.” She laughed bitterly. “And that Watcher approached Vin, holding the bounty on his head over him to get him to cooperate; to become Ezra’s Watcher. They said they could make bounty go away, that they had powerful ties to make it happen.”
“The Vin Tanner I knew would have never agreed to that, no matter the temptation.”
“Of course not! In the end, he did it for Ezra, he did it for me; to protect us both.”
“That sounds like the man I knew,” he agreed. “They’re not all like that, Charlotte. There are many Watchers who are decent men and women who truly believe they are doing a service by recording our lives.”
“The very idea of what they do makes my skin crawl, Duncan, and there is nothing you can say to change my mind.”
“Maybe I can’t, but I can tell you that on one of my best friends is a Watcher, Joe Dawson. I won’t say that it has always been smooth sailing for us, but I would trust Joe with my life.” It was obvious to Duncan that Methos had never mentioned Joe. What else had Methos kept from her? He wondered if Methos realized what a dangerous game he was playing if he wanted to keep Charlotte’s trust.
“And I truly hope you will never find that faith misplaced,” she said quietly. Then she shook her head and changed the subject. “You said there was something I needed to know,” she reminded him, “before Chris arrived.”
A part of him wished he’d never said those words, but there was no taking them back. He leaned in closer, brushing the top of her hand with his fingers. “Kronos is dead; he will never come between you and Methos again.”
“Dead? How?” Her voice was flat.
“I took his head,” he replied simply.
There was a lost look in her eyes. “Then Methos knew,” she whispered.
“Yes, he was there.” But somehow, Duncan wasn’t sure that was what she meant.
“All this time, he knew.” Now there was anger in the words.
“I’m sure he had his reasons for not telling you.” But that sounded hollow even to his ears.
“Doesn’t he always?” she spit out. Before he could respond, she’d jumped to her feet. “I’m sorry, Duncan, but I need…. I’m sorry.” She fled the table, heading towards the back entrance of Standish & Black as if she had demons behind her. With no second thought, he followed.
What a fool, Ezra thought sourly as Methos engaged in an animated conversation with a man sitting next to him at the bar. If Methos honestly thought Charlotte would countenance his latest scheme, he was insane. Honestly, why was it that those who were supposed to be closest to you were so often the most blind? Sometimes he wondered if a part of Methos still perceived Charlotte as the young injured mortal he had first met in 1765. God only knew his own childhood still touched upon his relationship with Charlotte and Maude nearly two centuries later. Perhaps it was one of the inevitable pitfalls of immortality.
His idle musings were abruptly cut off by the ringing peal of an Immortal presence – though these days, with the saloon being the regular haunt of so many of their kind, it was hard to guess who it might be. Scanning the room, he caught sight of Charlotte, making her way to where the oldest Immortal sat with his friend, Duncan MacLeod close on her heels. But it wasn’t the look of concern on Mac’s face that brought Ezra to his feet, unconsciously moving to intercept his cousin; it was the absolute lack of expression on hers. That did not bode well, not at all. The rare times he had not been able to read her had signaled either utter loss, or all encompassing fury; though when it came to Methos, it could be both.
Ezra reached Methos at the same time Charlotte did, though she seemed to be oblivious to his presence. And Methos seemed equally oblivious to her mood, a wide grin splitting his face as she came to a halt next to him.
“Charlotte, I want you to meet a good friend of mine, Joe Dawson,” he said cheerfully, waving a hand at the mortal sitting next to him. “I was thinking he would be the perfect solution to your staffing problem!”
Behind Ezra, Duncan groaned, before saying, “Hey, Joe.”
“Mac,” the man replied jovially, reaching out a hand that Duncan took in his, shaking it warmly.
Charlotte’s eyes fixated on the man’s Watcher tattoo, plainly visible where his left arm lay against the smooth wood of the bar, becoming completely still. Dear God, all hell was about to break loose, of this, Ezra was certain. Something had been seriously wrong before, but now…. He had to at least make an attempt. “Cousin, Mr. Dawson is an experienced bar manager and—” Whatever else he might have said never made it past his lips as her eyes locked on his for the briefest of moments, making it clear that he needed to hold his tongue. Ingrained childhood reactions indeed, he thought ruefully, obeying her silent command.
She turned to Methos… no, that wasn’t it, she turned on Methos. “How could you?” she said with a quiet menace. “I trusted you!” She didn’t even look at the mortal. “You bring his kind here, endangering those most dear to me? You are faithless, Methos, faithless!” Before the stunned Immortal could respond, she was already striding away.
“Something you forgot to tell me?” Joe asked Methos dryly.
“She’s just overreacting, she’ll come around,” Methos replied, throwing off his surprise at Charlotte’s outburst, once more completely self-assured.
Ezra bit back angry words with some effort; it wasn’t worth it, and Charlotte needed him. When he made to follow her, Duncan stopped him with a hand on his elbow. “Let her be,” he said gently. “Please.”
He nodded, touched by the obvious concern that the other man evidenced. Once more, he wondered why Charlotte couldn’t have fallen in love with an honourable man like MacLeod, instead of the ancient Immortal who held her heart. “What happened?” Ezra waved a hand towards the back of the saloon where the two Immortals had initially entered. “Something was wrong long before she realized that Mr. Dawson was a Watcher.”
Methos sat up straight at his question. “What do you mean?”
But Ezra ignored him. “Come now,” he encouraged, when it appeared Duncan was going to try and dissemble to protect Charlotte’s confidence, “you know I love Charlotte dearly and should know if there is something as wrong as I suspect there is.”
Duncan sighed, rubbing his eyes before finally relenting. “We were talking, about the past, the reasons Methos left.” He looked apologetically at Methos. “She had a right to know.” It was as if some silent communication passed between Methos and Duncan.
Methos fixed Duncan with a flinty gaze. “It wasn’t your place!” he hissed.
“Wasn’t it? It was yours, but you decided to keep her in the dark, the fear always in the back of her mind,” Duncan accused. “Someone needed to tell her; it should have been you.”
“Damnit, Mac!” Methos jumped off the barstool he was sitting on. “I had my reasons, reasons that are none of your god damned business! You have no idea what she….” He cut himself off, shaking his head. “No idea,” he muttered. He turned to Joe. “I need to go, I’ll talk to you later.” Joe nodded. “Are you coming?” Methos asked Ezra. The surprise must have shown on his face. “You are the only person alive who was with her then, and you need to be there now,” he explained enigmatically.
Ezra nodded, finally putting the pieces together, feeling a chill even in the warmth of the saloon.