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. Some mentions of Pirates of the Caribbean in this part.
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.
Too Young For Heaven ~ Part Seven
Chris sat under the apple tree in the back garden, wrapped in a blanket, his feet propped up on a box with a cushion. The late afternoon sun had warmed him and he’d drifted to sleep not long after Ezra and Timothy, Charlotte’s oldest boy, had settled him there. This despite the nap Charlotte had insisted he take after he’d sat in the parlour, listening to Penny play the piano for an hour. Now he half dozed, watching Charlotte, who’d come out to join him a short time ago. Her lap was covered in lace, her head bent in deep concentration as she placed fine stitches across the fabric that would be Jemma’s bridal veil. Her oldest child’s wedding was in less than three weeks, and every time Charlotte was sitting, she was working on some sort of wedding finery.
He was content to enjoy the companionable quiet, watching her delicate fingers work the needle, remembering those same fingers had placed the precise stitches currently in his abdomen. He supposed she’d had a lot of practice in the nearly a century and a half she’d been alive. Once more, he cast his thoughts back to their conversation of that morning and his mental curiosity about her first death; he seemed unable to turn his mind from the subject.
Seeming to sense his regard, Charlotte looked up from her sewing, the sun making her pale blue eyes sparkle. A small smile pulled at her lips as she said, “You may ask, Chris.” She put her needle aside, folding her hands on her lap. “After all, the question has been burning a hole in your brain these many hours.”
God damn it! Seemed mind reading ran in the family. He looked at her ruefully. “Hate it when you and Ez do that.”
Chuckling, she waved a hand at him. “Well?”
“Don’t want to bring up bad memories,” Chris demurred. She didn’t respond, merely waited patiently for him to decide. Sighing, he finally asked, “How did it happen for you; when you died?”
“I was shot,” she said simply.
“That it?” he asked, trying to dampen his curiosity, but not succeeding very well. Lord, the more time he spent with her, the more he realized that a great many of the things that drove him crazy about Ezra came from her.
She pondered for a moment. “It was sufficient to the task.” There was a look on her face that practically dared him to rise to the bait. Yeah, just like Ezra.
“I’m thinking I owe Ez an apology,” he told her, half amused, half aggravated.
She laughed delightedly. “Why, Mr. Larabee, whatever can you mean?”
He shook his head, grinning, and recalled a time last year when the very infuriating ‘Widow Black’ had him entertaining thoughts not so innocent in nature. That was before Matthew Adamson, her old friend and mentor had reentered her life, and Ella had reentered his. But that was then, and now…. Well, things were different now. He’d do well to remember that.
Finally, she relented. “It was 1767, Macau, I was twenty-eight.”
“A century ago,” Chris said half to himself.
She looked surprised, “Why, I suppose it was at that.” Her eyes took on that faraway look he was beginning to recognize. “And it was about this time of year, now that I think about it.” She gave herself a shake, continuing, “We – Jack, Matthew, and I – had been in China for several months. It had been an uneventful voyage, and our business nearly concluded when we were ambushed by a pirate captain who held a grudge against my husband. Though we were outnumbered by him and his band of thugs, we had been victorious, with only the mopping up left. That was when I spied a flash from the corner of my eye. I do not even remember consciously thinking about it, only throwing myself between the pistol and Jack’s back.”
She wasn’t looking at him, staring off at some point past his shoulder, and she was very still. Then she shrugged her shoulders. “Dying wasn’t as I had expected it to be. The pain was less than other injuries I had suffered, and I felt so calm. I remember the look in Jack’s eyes as he held me, my life’s blood draining away into the sand beneath us. It was if he were dying instead of me. There were so many things I wanted to tell him…,” her voice drifted away and she brushed at her eyes with a hand.
“And after?” he asked softly, not wanting to startle her from that place she was remembering.
“After? Well, Jack didn’t take it well. Not that he wasn’t grateful that my death was not permanent, but that I had died in his place, you see.” She looked as if she weren’t sure Chris would understand. But he did, more than she realized.
“That’s understandable,” he told her. “No man wants the woman he loves to die for him.” His throat tightened, remembering Sarah, and how she had been murdered because of him.
Charlotte looked stricken, realizing where these revelations of hers had led his memories. “Chris, I’m sorry. This is not something we should be speaking of now.”
“No, Charlotte, I asked. You shared your deepest secret with me n’ the others, but I don’t really know you – and I want to.” It was the truth. Charlotte had revealed the secret of her Immortality out of love for Ezra, but he knew she’d never truly been at peace with that decision. She was as much an enigma to him today as she had been the night she’d plunged Josiah’s dagger into her chest last year as a demonstration of her and Ezra’s Immortal nature.
She took a shaky breath, finally nodding. “Jack was furious; at Matthew, for never telling him what my future held, but most of all at me. He spent three days blinding drunk in a dockside tavern before I went to fetch him back.”
“And how did he take that?”
This time there was a genuine smile on her lips. “About as well as you did a few days ago.”
“That good, huh?” he asked wryly.
“Just so,” she agreed. “He knew about Immortals, had known what Matthew was, as we both did. He just hadn’t expected his wife to be one – the vagaries of fate.”
“And after? Did he come around?”
“Oh, yes. Not that he wasn’t more than a little relieved the first time he saw me in moonlight,” she said lightly.
Chris was bursting with questions, especially about the moonlight comment, but anything he might have asked was preempted by the familiar voice of Buck Wilmington ringing out across the garden.
][ PART EIGHT ][