Notes: Implied Methos/Byron (yes, really), with a kinda sorta D/M err... vibe? (I have no idea how to categorize it). The sequel to Practical Applications, a story in the Echoes the Sea series, WIP. Thanks to strangevisitor7 and ninjababe for the beta!
Character(s): Methos, Tony Stark, Ezra Standish, Duncan MacLeod, Pepper Potts,Amanda, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, James Rhodes, Nick Fury, Charlotte Sparrow, Other Original Characters.
Summary: Friendship takes work; being friends with Tony Stark requires danger pay. When Tony said ‘I am Iron Man’, he affected the lives of those closest to him – they just never dreamed how much. Like a pebble tossed in a pond, the ripples eventually touch all in their path.
The Way We Were
The glass she hurled against the stone of the fireplace exploded with a resounding pop, giving her a brief stab of grim satisfaction. She stared at the resulting destruction, the light of the fire reflecting off the shards of Waterford crystal that now lay scattered around the hearth. The sudden memory the sight evoked was not a good one, and she harshly shoved it back where it belonged. Now was not the time to dwell on past tragedies.
She had tried to explain to Methos, had tried to apologize, but in the end, his unwillingness to even attempt to understand had triggered a responding anger, and they had fought. Well, they had until he’d walked out. But that was always his answer, wasn’t it? she thought bitterly. Several hours had passed, and honestly, she had no idea if he would even come back; or if she wanted him to.
Charlotte paced the room, now with a new glass that she’d refilled several times with single malt, barely tasting the fiery liquid as it slid down her throat. By the time Methos did return, she’d had too much to drink, and her simmering resentment needed only a spark to set it off.
“That bottle had a lot more in it before,” he observed as he threw himself into a chair.
“So you’re the booze police now?” she snapped back.
He only shrugged, which just made her angrier. Then he said, “You really are spectacularly foolish, Charlotte.”
She almost threw another glass, though this time, it wouldn’t have been aimed at the fireplace. Not replying, she shot back her scotch before pointedly refilling the tumbler with more.
“Being Immortal is supposed to be a secret, or had you forgotten that? Stark is arguably the most famous person in the country, perhaps the world, and you’re going to go traipsing after him to Afghanistan! A locale, I might remind you, where they enjoy removing one’s head from one’s shoulders!”
“I can handle the publicity! And the press will be interested in Tony, not me. I can keep it low profile.” Okay, that was probably stretching the truth; she’d appeared in enough tabloid spreads since becoming part of Tony’s inner circle to know there would be interest. But damnit, she was tired of Methos treating her like she was a simpleton. She’d taken care of herself for a long time and didn’t require him to tutor her in what it meant to be Immortal.
He rolled his eyes. “You give ‘low profile’ a whole new meaning.”
Cocking her head, she asked with mock sweetness, “Is that what you told Byron? After all, he really hid his light under a bushel, didn’t he?”
He obviously hadn’t been expecting the turn the conversation had taken, and didn’t immediately reply. Finally he said, “This isn’t about Byron.”
“No, this is about you being a goddamned hypocrite!” she shot back. “Was fame the death of him, Methos? I’d really like to know.” She was being a bitch, and she knew it, but she was all for burning her bridges tonight.
He was glowering at her now, but all she did was look at him expectantly, waiting for an answer. Charlotte had met Byron once, at a party in London, a few months before his death. She’d loathed him on sight, and he hadn’t liked her much either. Both of them wondering just what they might have in common that would interest a man like Methos. The resulting introspection after their brief acquaintance had left her uncomfortable and disconcerted.
Running a hand through his hair, he shook his head. “If you must know, MacLeod was the death of him.”
She blinked. Now that, she had not been expecting. Arching an eyebrow, she said coolly, “My, my, I didn’t realize Duncan had a jealous streak – should I be worried?”
Methos slapped the leather upholstered arm of the chair he was sitting in. “You’re being ridiculous! We’re friends, nothing more, so stop trying to twist this around to make you feel better!”
“Really, Methos, do you honestly expect me to believe that?” She threw his words from earlier back in his face. His refusal to believe that she and Tony had never been intimate was at the crux of her anger.
Standing, he crossed his arms across his chest. “Fine, you want to play this game? Then you look me in the eye and tell me that if given the merest hint of encouragement, Stark wouldn’t have you in his bed without any hesitation.”
Glaring, she pointed a finger at him. “I will if you will!” His accusation had hit a little too close to home. She couldn’t tell him that, and he knew it. “But you won’t, will you? Because you expect me to trust you! But you sure as hell don’t trust me, do you, Methos? Just admit it!” She slammed the glass down on to the table.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with trust, and everything to do with you deluding yourself! I know you, Charlotte, know your weaknesses, predilections; you will smash yourself onto the rocks if you keep on the way you’re going. Stark isn’t worth it!” He was pacing around the room now.
“You think you know me?” She laughed bitterly. “You walked out of my life a century and a half ago, without a backward glance. You know nothing! Who you think you know is the girl I was, when I was mortal. I haven’t been her for a very long time, Methos. There is a piece of her buried with every husband, every lover, and every child. And now? There is nothing of that girl left.”
“As I said, deluding yourself. We never entirely lose who we were, Charlotte, no matter how much you’d like to think so, or wish it true.”
“And of course, you’re always right, aren’t you?”
“No, I never said that,” he said tightly, “but I’ve lived a very long time.”
“And you don’t think that is as much a handicap as my youth?” She snorted. “It doesn’t give you special powers to see me, Methos, my heart, my soul. You think you have me all figured out because you knew me three centuries ago, because you were my teacher. But I have news for you; you don’t. If you can’t be bothered to get to know the woman I am now, and accept the life I’ve made for myself, then us, all of it,” she waved a hand, “is worthless.”
He nodded. “Maybe you’re right,” was all he said before striding from the room.