This takes place after the flashbacks in ‘I Am Going To The West’, my current WIP. It’s no secret that Methos leaves, since that’s been established in prior stories, but I have avoided any other major spoilers for IAGTTW, so it’s safe to read this, honest! And now Casey will stop harassing me! The woman is a terror! [runs away]
The title came to me while listening to the song ‘Where Shall I Go? (A Cowboy's Hard Times)’. You can find the lyrics here.
Rating: PG15 for adult situations.
Notes: This story picks up just after the closing scene in the final episode of the series, 'Obsession'. WIP, Magnificent Seven/Highlander, a story in the 'Echoes the Sea' series. Many thanks to strangevisitor7 for beta duties and brainstorming.
Characters: Ezra Standish, Chris Larabee, Vin Tanner, Buck Wilmington, Josiah Sanchez, Nathan Jackson, JD Dunne, OFC.
Summary: There are times when the only way to escape the dark, and the demons that haunt you, is to have friends who refuse to let you fall.
Added Note: For those of you new to the series, Ezra is an Immortal, as is Maude. Charlotte was Maude's teacher and Ezra's. Some of these stories are set in the Old West, and others are set modern day.
Too Young For Heaven ~ Part One
New Mexico Territory, Spring, 1867
“If you want me to come, then of course I will. But I think you overestimate any influence I might have with Chris.”
“Thank you, Charlotte,” Ezra said, relief colouring his voice. After discussing the situation with Vin and Buck, the three men had decided that Charlotte might be able to reach Chris in that dark place he'd fallen into after his grievous encounter with Ella Gaines. And Ezra privately hoped that it might prove to be a much needed distraction for Charlotte, who seemed to be trapped in a darkness of her own.
She nodded. “Let me change and tell Charles and the children I shall be away for the day.”
Ezra Standish cast a critical eye over his cousin as she threw the last of the feed to the chickens. The morning sun washed over her, giving him a sharp reminder of just how much weight she’d lost in the weeks since Methos had left.
He cursed the ancient Immortal for the wreckage he’d left in his wake; though a part of him couldn’t help but think it was for the best. Ezra had never thought the man was good enough for Charlotte; but at the same time, it pained him to see how right he’d been.
Oh, she put up a good front, acting as if all was well, making sure that none of her children felt a moment’s uncertainty or concern at their mother’s betrothed leaving a few short weeks before their wedding. But Ezra wasn’t fooled, though he had gone along with the pretense for Charlotte’s sake. He made his livelihood reading people, and she was like an open book to his practiced eye. That, added to a lifetime of familiarity with the woman who had been like a mother to him, made her current distress all too apparent. Her smiles were forced, and laughter, on those rare occasions when it passed her lips, was for effect with no real joy behind it.
Charlotte had told him once that Immortals had to want to live, that state of mind could be as important as one’s skill with a sword. Observing her over these last weeks, Ezra realized just how right she’d been. Except now, it was Charlotte whose emotional state was in question.
It wasn’t just Methos leaving that had caused this melancholy, of that, he was certain. A few weeks after the man had left, something had happened; whatever it was she had refused to confide. He had glimpsed the fear in her eyes before she’d shuttered all emotion away and was concerned enough that he was seriously considering contacting his mother. Despite the sometimes fractious relationship the two women shared, Ezra knew that Maude was the one person Charlotte might confide in. If the situation didn’t improve over the next few days, he would send a telegram to his mother, requesting her presence.
She seemed to sense his regard, glancing over her shoulder at him as she set down the feed pail. He plastered on a congenial smile, offering her his arm. As she took it, he felt her lean against him, just for a moment, before pulling back. This time, he didn’t hide his concern, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and pulling her close as they walked back to the large hacienda style ranch house.
“I am fine,” she said softly, but without much conviction.
“And I’m afraid I no longer believe that, Charlotte,” he replied quietly. “I haven’t spent enough time here with you and the children. I intend to remedy that, I promise you.”
“You are not responsible for me, Ezra,” she told him tiredly. “You have your own life to live, and I have no wish for you to feel some sort of obligation towards me.”
He stopped dead in his tracks, pulling her around to face him. “You are my family! I refuse to let you push me away. Whether you like it or not, dear cousin, I intend to look out for your best interests,” he told her firmly.
“You’re a good boy, Ezra,” was all she said in response, and that worried him more than anything else.