This one is my first crack at writing one of the other Seven. Up till now I’ve only written Ezra and Maude. So a little change of pace!
The titles, ‘When We’re From Sorrow Free’ and ‘We’ll Sing On’ are from a line in a 19th Century American shape note hymn, ‘Wondrous Love’: When we're from sorrow free, we'll sing on.
Characters: Chris Larabee, Charlotte Sparrow
Notes: PG, Magnificent Seven/Highlander, many thanks to strangevisitor7 for the beta and the inspiration. Other stories in the series may be found here.
Summary: Chris looks to mend some fences with Ezra's family.
We’ll Sing On
Watching her in the middle of the paddock, putting the two-year-old stallion through its paces, he realized it wasn’t often he had the chance to catch her in an unguarded moment. And after the events of nearly a month prior, he felt it might be an even rarer occurrence from now on.
He regretted his actions, and those of the other men he rode with, that night when Ezra had revealed both his Immortality and hers. They had all leapt to conclusions about the situation and had judged her unfairly. But even though she would have been more than justified, she hadn’t held them to account for their harsh words. Despite that, he knew those words had had an effect.
She drew the horse to a stop, stroking its throat and laying her cheek against his. He couldn't make out what she whispered to it, but it nickered softly in response.
"Fine animal there," Chris finally said, coming up to the fence. He found himself oddly amused at being able to observe her unnoticed, surprising her with his presence.
Her hand tightened on the horse's mane as she turned towards the sound of his voice. "Mr. Larabee, what a pleasant surprise," she said coolly. He wasn’t sure he believed her.
"Are we back to ‘Mr. Larabee’ again?" he asked with a smirk. "Now I know where Ezra gets it from." He'd finally come to realize that both of them used formality as a way to keep people at a distance.
She narrowed her eyes. "Was there something you needed, Chris?"
He couldn’t help but laugh; something that only earned him an icy glare.
"Haven’t been to town for a few weeks; wanted to see how you were," he commented casually.
She patted the horse, removing the soft rope lead. "I had not realized my comings and goings were of such interest to you," she replied dryly.
He held the paddock gate open for her. "In the job description for me to notice that sorta thing."
She glanced up at him sharply, but saw only a look of pure innocence on his face. "Indeed."
Deciding to throw caution to the winds, he took her arm in his, walking with her towards the house. He was half surprised not to find himself laid out on the ground for making such a forward gesture.
"As you can see, I am quite well," she replied, her accent a blend of her English roots, delicately touched with the honeyed tones of the south where she had lived for so many decades. Though Chris would never admit it to anyone, he enjoyed listening to the sound of her voice.
"Then we can expect to see you in town again soon."
Charlotte sighed. "Mr. Larabee... Chris, there is no longer any pressing reason for me to visit Four Corners. Ezra has his own life there now, and he surely does not need me nosing around in it."
He stopped, taking her hand, pulling her around to face him. "Charlotte," he said, emphasizing the name. She had never seemed like a ‘Pearl’ and he found that he liked saying her real name. "Ezra finally told us some about his childhood; Maude always leaving him on your doorstep, you being like a mother to him from the time he was in short pants. I’m sorry we... I judged you. I know what it's like to want to protect your child."
"Ezra is not my child, Mr. Larabee. Just ask Maude." She laughed, but there was no happiness in the sound. "I was merely a convenient port of call along the way and he no longer requires me in that capacity. I am his teacher, and I will do everything in my power to teach him what he needs to survive the Game. But he has a mother, and friends – brothers," she amended. "My becoming involved again in his life was a mistake."
"That’s a load of crap!" he exclaimed, not caring about the language he was using in front of a lady. She was as stubborn as Ezra, for God’s sake! And though the gambler had explained they weren’t related by blood, he had a hard time believing it at moments like this. "You think you're doing him a damn favour by pushing him away?"
At the flash of pain in her eyes, he sighed and laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "He needs you,” he said in a softer voice this time. “And don't try an’ tell me you don't think of him as your own."
"We can’t have children, Mr. Larabee. It is the price of immortality."
"Seems a steep one to pay," he told her, squeezing the hand he still held. "But I know what I see when you two are together; I see how Sarah used to look at Adam. And I imagine when Ezra was a boy it was the same as when my son looked at his mama." He swallowed back the wave of emotion that the memories evoked. "I know real well what that kinda love looks like, Charlotte."
“I can not be that to him any longer! God only knows I wish it weren’t so, but I need detachment to be his teacher. I will not risk his life because I am too selfish to let him go,” she said fiercely.
Stubborn. “That, as Buck would say, is hooey!” She arched a brow at his turn of phrase. “God damn it, Charlotte, you’re looking at this ass backwards and I swear you gotta be the most pigheaded woman in the damn territory!”
She pulled her hand from his, crossing her arms over her chest, her ice blue eyes snapping. “My, my, Mr. Larabee; your reputation hardly does you justice,” she remarked, her voice laced with displeasure.
Chris scrubbed at his face in frustration. He had sworn to himself that he’d be calm, the soul of propriety, when he had decided to come out to Charlotte’s ranch today. He didn’t know how she always managed to get under his skin so fast, but despite his best intentions, she’d done it again.
Deciding that shaking her might not do too much to prolong his life, he took a deep breath instead. “I don’t have to tell you life is short. And I think Immortals prob’bly understand that better than most.”
She looked at him warily, and then nodded, waving a hand at him to continue.
“If you were dead tomorrow, would you want Ezra to have the memories of your love or some sword trick that might keep him alive a few years longer?” He touched her cheek with a finger, just for a moment. “I know what he’d pick.”
Her eyes bright with unshed tears, she shook her head. "I just want to do what’s best for him."
"Then come back to town with me and spend some time with the rest of your family. We need you around; who else is going to kick our ass when we need it?" He smiled down at her. "I know where we can find a good card game."
She laughed then. "Lord, don't tell me you all actually play cards with Ezra? I haven’t since he was twelve!"
"You're just older and wiser ‘n us," he told her with a teasing smile. "And besides, Buck has some groveling to do for leaping to conclusions that night. We all do."
There was lightness about her that hadn't been there before. "Will there be scotch?" she asked with a winsome tilt of her head.
She grinned. “It would be worth it just for Ezra’s reaction.”
“How’s that?” he asked curiously.
“Ezra disapproves of me frequenting ’such base establishments’,” she explained, her eyes dancing as she did a spot on impression of the young southerner. “It will be mere moments from the time he discovers me in the saloon till he suggests that ’we remove ourselves to a venue more suitable for a lady’.”
Chris laughed explosively, slapping his thigh. “This, I gotta see!”
“Then lead on, my dear Mr. Larabee, lead on!”
The sequel: No Place For A Lady