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, Kronos, 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.
They had walked down to the beach, Charlotte unwilling to haunt her home with the dark memories from more than a century ago. What she had to tell Methos would be said in the fresh ocean air and sunlight.
Sitting on the root of a gnarled old cypress tree at the edge of the beach, holding hands, Methos drew her closer, not pressing her to begin her story. She was rubbing at the bark of the tree as if it were a talisman. “This tree was here when Chris and I first saw this land. We’d honeymooned in San Francisco, and met a man there who told us how beautiful it was in San Luis Obispo. We decided to take a few extra weeks and come see for ourselves. When we arrived, rode out to this beach, we knew that this was the place; the place we’d come to when I had to leave New Mexico.” She looked up at Methos. “We would have been happy here.” There was a raw edge of loss to her voice.
Pulling away, she stood, pacing back and forth, abruptly changing the subject. “It was July, and Ezra had arranged for me to have a holiday of sorts….”
Four Corners, New Mexico Territory ~ Summer, 1867
“Please don’t allow the children to frequent the saloon,” Charlotte instructed Ezra. “And don’t let them eat too many sweets.”
They were sitting in Ezra’s parlour above the aforementioned saloon, Ezra having taken several of the rooms there, turning them into a suite for his residence after he had purchased the property.
Ezra sighed. “Charlotte, please don’t concern yourself. I assure you that I am quite capable of looking after your brood for three days.”
She looked skeptical. “I know you adore the children, Ezra, and I appreciate your thoughtfulness in giving me some time alone, but perhaps….”
“No! You are not staying in town,” he said forcefully. “You will go downstairs, get on your horse and go back home for three days of peace and quiet, just as we arranged.”
She sniffed. “There’s no need to take that tone.” Pulling on her gloves, she stood. “Very well, Ezra, since you are so determined, I shall take my leave.”
“Cousin,” he said placatingly, taking her elbow. “I meant no disrespect.”
Some of the stiffness in her bearing faded away. “I realize that, Ezra. And I am aware that I have been somewhat out of sorts in recent weeks; I should not take my ill mood out on you. I know the children will be perfectly fine in your care, and I appreciate all that you have done to arrange this holiday for me.”
Four Corners was holding an Independence Day celebration; the Standish Saloon providing the fireworks. There was to be a picnic, games, and a variety of entertainment. The town had truly come into its own the last year, and they were going to celebrate. Ezra had suggested he take the children over the festivities and let Charlotte have an unheard of few fays of solitude. Normally, the Fourth of July was one of her favourite holidays, but this year, the prospect of a celebration was just not in her.
“I will walk you down,” he said, holding out his arm.
“Thank you. But just one more thing,” she patted his hand as he rolled his eyes, “please try and restrain Buck’s enthusiasm for introducing Timothy to the working girls . I realize he’s a young man now, but allow me to maintain the illusion just a small while longer that he’s still my little boy. I know Buck means well, but I’m not ready to deal with that just yet.”
He laughed. “Have no fear, Charlotte, your son’s virtue will be in no danger while he’s under my roof.”
Charlotte walked across the quiet courtyard towards her front door, carrying her saddlebags in one hand. Not only weren’t the children here, but she’d given her ranch hands and her maid time off as well, and Charles was on a holiday of his own, spending the week with Nathan and Josiah at the reservation. She wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do with herself. In the months since Methos had left, she’d thrown herself into planning Jemma’s upcoming wedding, arranging to bring a tutor from England for the children, training her horses, anything to keep busy and not think of Methos.
Stepping across her threshold, she stopped dead, dropping the bag in her hand to the floor, feeling the presence of another Immortal. Word had come not long ago that Kronos’ gang had been killed in Texas, and a part of her had the irrational hope that Methos might have returned. Just as quickly as the thought formed, she quashed it down, foolish woman. Swiftly, she pulled her sword from the bag, raising it, before making her way down the hall.
Edging her way past the door frame, she stepped warily into the kitchen. She would remember the vicious smile of her assailant till the day she truly died.
She gasped for life, the searing pain of the bullets as they’d slammed into her chest still vividly imprinted on her nervous system. Her brain furiously attempted to sort out a flood of emotion and memory as life returned to her once dead body. He’d smiled and then he’d shot her. Dearest God, it really was him, she cried silently, futilely trying to break free from the ropes that bound her to a chair. The chuckle that came from behind terrified her; she knew far too much about this Immortal from Methos’ past, a man he’d spent more of his life with than sometimes she could even comprehend. She wanted to scream, to beg, anything to stop what was about to occur. But there was no escape, and she went still, slumping in the chair. All she could hope for was that he killed her quickly, and was gone before Ezra returned with the children three days hence. She needed to do more than hope, she needed to make sure it happened.
A hand came around, sliding down her jaw to her throat, the fingers curling around. It was the hardest thing she’d ever done: not making a sound, not fighting his hold. His face followed his hand as he came around to stand in front of her. Grasping her chin, he pulled her head up to look him in the eye. “This really is my lucky day,” he told her with a self-satisfied grin. “I hadn’t expected you to be Immortal as well. But then Methos always did have a soft spot for women of our kind.”
So he knew Methos had been here. She wasn’t sure how he knew, but he did. The answer was quick in coming as he tossed a framed photograph of her and Methos onto the kitchen table in front of her. It was from the Christmas dance, seven months and a lifetime ago.
“When will he be back?” he asked, no longer smiling.
Back? God, he thought Methos was still here. She didn’t even have a chance to answer his question before he drove his dagger into her hand, down into the arm of the chair she was tied to, pinning her hand to the wood. She wasn’t able to stop the scream of pain that tore from her throat.
“I’m waiting,” he said in a deceptively calm voice.
Finding her voice, she managed to get out the words. “He won’t.”
“Won’t? What do you mean?” He tore the dagger from her hand, the bloody blade now at her throat.
“He ran,” she gasped, “ran when he saw your Wanted Poster.”
Turning away, he paced, muttering to himself in a language Charlotte didn’t recognize. “When?”
“More than three months ago.”
He faced her again, crouching down to look at her. “Then you know who I am.”
She nodded. “I do,” she said defiantly.
He quirked a brow. “You should be terrified.”
She was, but she was also furious. “Of course I am; I’m not a fool!”
“Foolish enough to count on Methos,” he countered.
“Well that would make two of us now, wouldn’t it?” The words were out before she could stop them. The anger she felt towards Methos, anger that she’d refused to acknowledge the last few months, was finally finding outlet in the sheer terror she felt now. Well, she had wanted a quick death, hadn’t she?
But instead of anger, Kronos seemed to find her ill considered reply hilarious. He stood up, laughing until he was nearly breathless. “Touché.” Leaning against the corner of the table, he asked, “Where did he go?”
Trying to keep her voice steady, she said, “He told me he was going to San Francisco, then on to China.” She shrugged.
“You don’t believe that?”
“You know better than anyone that Methos leaves nothing to chance. He left because he was afraid you’d find him, so it follows that he would lie about his destination in anticipation of this very scenario.”
Kronos considered her words. “Or he told you the truth, knowing I’d assume he’d lied.”
“He could be in China or bloody Iceland for all I know,” she said bitterly.
“Wherever it is, I will find him,’ he promised darkly. He leaned in, looking at her intently. “And now the question is: what am I to do with you?”