Fandoms: Iron Man/Marvel Movieverse, Highlander
Warnings/Notes: WIP, spoilers for Iron Man II as this is set during the events of the movie, gen friendship with background het.
Character(s): Tony Stark, Methos, Ezra Standish, Pepper Potts, Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Natasha Romanoff/Natalie Rushman, James 'Rhodey' Rhodes, Joe Dawson, Justin Hammer, Original Characters.
Summary: Their whole world changed when Tony revealed he was Iron Man, but that wasn't nearly the end of it.
"Wasn't that something?" Joe Dawson jerked a thumb towards the flatscreen TV on the far wall of the saloon. The twenty-four hour news channel had just finished replaying, for what seemed like the hundredth time, Tony Stark's 'statement' last night from the deck of his Malibu home to the news helicopter hovering overhead.
Charlotte looked up briefly, the little lines of stress around her eyes fighting with the fatigue that weighted down her shoulders for dominance. "You could call it that." Shaking her head, she finished signing the checks that Joe had put in front of her.
"Thanks." Joe slid the checks towards him. "That'll take us through to the end of the month. He paused, before reaching out a hand, laying it on Charlotte's. "If you don't mind me saying, you look like you could use a vacation."
She flashed him a crooked smile. After their rocky start, she had become quite fond of Methos' good friend, despite him being a Watcher. Not to mention, he was the best manager the Standish & Black Saloon had ever had. "After Monte Carlo, I think I'm swearing off vacations for a while."
He squeezed her fingers, and then pulled his hand back, one finger tapping the table top. "Maybe you and Methos should take a break, go somewhere quiet."
She raised an eyebrow. "Do you now?"
"Hell, I'm an old softie underneath this suave and polished exterior." He chuckled. "There must be someplace special to you two."
Biting at her lower lip, she thought about it. "Do you know, Joe, Methos and I have never been away together; no long weekends, or romantic getaways." When she'd been married to Jack, Methos was a constant in their lives, sharing uncounted adventures with the pirate captain. Later, in New Mexico, they'd never had but a brief space of time together before Methos' past had caught up with him, and he'd left, just before their wedding. The realization made her surprisingly melancholy. "I'm actually not sure if it's his sort of thing. Is it?"
Joe looked startled, realizing it was a question directed at him, not a statement. "Well, I don't know—we don't have that sort of relationship—but I think the old man definitely has the capacity for a little romance. Maybe he just needs reminding."
"Maybe he does." Her eyes sparkled with amusement. "I shall take it under advisement."
"I hear the Poconos are real nice this time of year."
"The Poconos?" Chris Tanner asked as he walked up to the table.
"Joe is suggesting romantic getaways," Charlotte explained to her godson as he sat down next to her.
Chris grinned. "I think the Poconos are a bit of a step down when you own your island in the Caribbean."
Laughing, she said, "True." Leaning over, she kissed him on the cheek. "What a pleasant surprise, love. I wasn't expecting you this morning."
"I wasn't expecting me either," he agreed. "But some business has come up. I called Uncle Ezra, but he didn't answer." Chris Tanner in addition to being Ezra Standish's Watcher, was also an accomplished attorney, and handled all of Charlotte and Ezra's legal affairs.
"He left last night; Amanda is in some sort of predicament and needed his help." Joe just rolled his eyes at Charlotte's news, and she shot him a smile. She wasn't sure if Amanda was really in trouble, or just enjoyed the attention. "So, what business?" When Joe started to get up, she put a hand on his arm. "You don't need to go, Joe. Does he?" she asked Chris.
Shrugging, he replied, "No reason to." He pulled some folders out of his briefcase, laying them on the table. "You've become an even wealthier woman," he told his godmother." He pushed the folders to her. "Tony Stark has decided to give away more than his company."
Charlotte's good mood evaporated instantly. "What has he done?"
Chris picked up the top folder. "This is for Ezra. Tony's apparently bought up all the land around Four Corners, including the ghost town it is now, all the way to your old ranch, the old Larabee spread and the cemetery."
She stilled, the memory of gravestones, one in particular, darkening the morning light that poured into the saloon. "Aunt Lottie," Chris' soft, sympathetic query pulled her back.
She clenched her fist, forcing herself into the present. "What else?"
He picked up the second folder. "Several million dollars' worth of oil shale leases, the majority now the property of your charitable trust, the Black Foundation, the remainder deeded to you."
She stared at the folder in his hand, then at the table, realizing there were two more. Placing a hand on the one nearest her, she picked it up, opening it and scanning the contents. "Dalthorpe?" she whispered.
At Joe's questioning look, Chris explained, "Her father's estate in England, where she grew up. It's a Stark property, used mostly for social functions. Ezra finagled Tony into buying it not long after Tony met Charlotte. Of course, that was long before Tony knew about them being Immortal."
Charlotte threw the folder down, white as a sheet. "He's dying." Those two simple words held a full measure of grief. "All of it, making Pepper CEO, giving away fortunes to his friends, charity…the way he's been acting. How could I have been so blind?" The last was practically shouted.
"Aunt Lottie, you don't know that," Chris tried to sooth her.
"He seemed fine when he was here last week," Joe agreed. "Maybe he's just being an eccentric multi-billionaire."
Charlotte's head snapped up, her eyes tearing into Joe's. "Tony was here last week?" When it seemed as if he would backtrack, she said, "Tell me, Joseph!"
Wiping his face with a hand, he sighed. "He was here with Methos when you were in L.A.. Methos introduced us, seemed like a decent enough guy. He and Methos had lunch, a few beers, and that was it. I figured you knew."
"I had no idea.".
"Listen, I think you're borrowing trouble. I mean, after all, this isn't the first time he's given you an extravagant gift," Joe pointed out reasonably. "What happened in Monte Carlo, that had to shake Stark up. He's just reacting."
"Joe's got a point," Chris agreed. "And anyway, you're driving down this afternoon for the birthday party tonight, you can ask Tony yourself."
"I don't know." She shook her head, wanting to believe they were right, that she was overreacting, but Charlotte had learned long ago to trust her instincts, and she knew in her heart something was very wrong. "But you're right, Chris, I'll see Tony tonight, and one way or the other, I will get to the truth." Her hand hovered over the last folder. "I'm almost afraid to ask."
Chris grinned. "This one is for Methos. Tony has given 'Matthew' the endowment that owns and maintains the Stark Collection of Ancient and Rare Manuscripts at USC." Joe whistled lowly, and Chris nodded. "It's one of the preeminent collections in the world; apparently, Tony's father, Howard, was something of a collector."
Charlotte looked a million miles away. Distractedly, she said, "He was." Then, realizing what she'd said, she quickly added, "So I've heard."
But Joe wasn't buying it. "You knew Howard Stark." It sounded almost like an accusation.
"Fine, yes, I did, but the how and why is classified. It was a long time ago, Joe."
Joe looked speculative. "Chris's dad, Kevin Tanner, was a respected Watcher, but he also had ties to an organization called the SSR during World War Two. But I kinda figure you know that already, don't you?"
"You're reminding me of just why I don't like the Watchers," she pointed out. "You know more than is good for you."
Joe held up his hands. "Can't blame a guy for trying to put the pieces together. Besides, it's an occupational hazard where we're concerned." He slapped Chris companionably on the arm. "I bet you could tell some stories about being an operative during the war." He hurried to add, seeing the warning look on Charlotte's face, "Hypothetically, of course."
Giving up, she sighed dramatically. "Hypothetically, I hope I can tell you a few of them one day."
Grinning, Joe said, "Now that's a day I'm going to be looking forward to."
She cocked her head to one side, as if listening to something. "Visitor?" Joe asked, recognizing the look.
As she nodded, Methos strode over to them, kissing Charlotte on the cheek. "You're having a get together and didn't invite me?" he said with mock indignation.
"Just following your lead," Charlotte replied cryptically. Chris looked down, all of a sudden very interested in the salt and pepper shakers on the table, while Joe choked back a snort of laughter.
"Okay, what did I do now?" Methos asked, his eyes moving around the table.
Charlotte picked up the folder, handing it to him. "That must have been some lunch you and Tony had last week."
"Joe," Methos said reproachfully.
"Hey, don't blame me! I didn't know it was a secret. Maybe next time you'll let me in on the details of your clandestine assignations."
Methos just shook his head, opening the folder, reading, his eyes widening. "The Stark collection?" He looked like a kid who'd just been given a candy store. "It's renowned, one of the best in the world, and almost impossible to get full access to."
"I take it you've tried," Charlotte said. "Well, I don't suppose I'm going to see much of you for the foreseeable future."
"I'll pace myself," he said with a cheeky smile.
"Sure." She didn't sound as if she believed it. "We need to talk, Methos."
They walked down the beach below Charlotte's house, so far, in silence. She wanted to know just why Tony had come to see Methos, but a part of her was dreading the answer. Finally, it was Methos who spoke first. "How mad are you?"
She rolled her head back and forth, trying to release the tension in her neck. "I'm not mad, Methos. I'm scared."
He sucked in a breath, his hand coming up to rest against her neck, strong practiced fingers kneading the tight muscles. "Charlotte—" he began.
"Tony's dying, isn't he?" She stopped, looking up at him. "Tell me the truth, Methos."
"They're all dying, love."
"Don't! Don't give me that crap! You know what I mean, and I want the goddamned truth!"
"Charlotte, look, the man is mercurial, and I barely know him, so what his motives were for coming to see me, I only know what he told me. That he wanted to make a fresh start, between the two of us, for you."
She searched his eyes. "That's not everything."
Putting his hands on her shoulders, he shook his head. "No, it isn't, but that's not for me to tell."
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