Warnings/Notes: Complete, 1700 words, gen friendship fic with background Tony/Pepper and Methos/OFC. This is an epilogue 'Til These Memories Are Pearls, and If I Never Knew You, and is set at some indeterminate point between The Avengers and Iron Man III.
Character(s): Tony Stark, Methos, Charlotte Sparrow.
Summary: Methos and Tony resolve to control their destiny.
Riding Into the Sunrise
"Did you sleep well?" Charlotte asked Tony as she joined him at the corral fence.
It was quiet in the predawn, only a few birds twittering sleepily, waiting for the rising of the sun.
"Actually, yes." He accepted the mug of coffee she handed him. "Better than I have in a long time."
She shook her head a little. "Not a lot of sleep, but what I had was peaceful."
"Something like that." She squeezed his arm. "So you're leaving soon?"
"Should be, yeah." His foot tapped the Iron Man armour in its case by his feet. "Riding into the sunrise."
Leaning against the rails, she smiled. "I think that's supposed to be sunset."
"Nope, not for us, Birdie. Sunrise, new beginnings, starting over—no more ghosts."
Nodding, she leaned against him. "I took my own advice last night, Tony. I confided in Methos, shared my fears. It was the right thing to do. If I couldn't trust him enough to do that, how could I ever expect to make our relationship work for the long term?"
"I'm going to talk to Pepper when I get home. You're right, about needing to trust, about letting them know we trust them."
"You were right too, Tony, about the ghosts here. Not just Chris and the children, but what happened with Loki. We only came back here because of Methos' work at the Dark Matter Facility, but now—"
"Now it's a big hole in the ground."
"There's really no reason to stay."
"But you'll come back again one day."
"One day." She wrapped her jacket tighter around herself, warding off the dawn chill. "This ranch, it needs a family, children laughing, love. Chris's cousin, Cecily, and her husband are going to take it over. They have three children, with two on the way."
"Twins? That's a handful."
"They do run in the family," she reminded him. "Cecily's husband, Brandon, just finished his third tour in Afghanistan, and they've decided they want to get back to their roots. This place will be a home again, Tony."
"That's great, Birdie. This isn't a place that should be abandoned."
"No, it should be loved, and the memories of love past, cherished."
"There you are," Methos called out into the quiet, walking towards them with two mugs in his hands. Reaching them, he handed one to Charlotte. "Tea."
"Thank you." She held her hands around the mug, warming her cold fingers. "I was just telling Tony about Cecily and her family."
"If you're sure that's what you want, love."
"I'm sure." She smiled up at him.
Smiling back, he then turned his attention to Tony. "Charlotte told me about the experiments."
Tony seemed surprised. "Jeez, Birdie, when you said confide, I didn't realize you meant everything."
She shrugged. "I know, but astonishingly enough, he agrees."
"I do," Methos confirmed. "But with conditions. I'm participating, and I know MacLeod will want to as well. You need a larger pool for the study."
"I agree. What about Ez?" Tony asked Charlotte.
"He'll want in—probably be mad we didn't involve him to begin with."
"Okay, so larger pool for Project Tortuga. What else?" he asked Methos.
"Tortuga?" Methos rolled his eyes. "Other than Banner, no one else knows about this. No one," he emphasized. "Not Barton, not Romanoff. It's not that I don't think they can be trusted, but the more people who know, the more chance there is that this gets out—and that can not happen."
"I understand. Don't worry, I've put in failsafes, if I ever think the project might be compromised, all the data will be destroyed." He locked eyes with Methos. "I would never do anything that would put Birdie, or anyone else she cares about, in danger."
"That, I do know, Stark, and it's about the only thing that doesn't have me taking Charlotte and disappearing. Just remember that."
Methos raised his mug. "A toast, to controlling our destiny, and not having it control us." They clinked their mugs together, before turning towards the east and the brightening sky.
"To sunrises," Tony and Charlotte said, nearly in unison. Laughing, Charlotte leaned closer, kissing his cheek.
Smiling, Methos raised his mug towards the rising sun. "To sunrises."
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