Oh, and this isn't the crossover I was being poked for earlier today, but a bit of a meander off the path. The actual crossover needs a plot and stuff first!
Rating: PG15 for adult situations.
Notes: 3:10 To Yuma/Magnificent Seven/Highlander, a story in the 'Echoes the Sea' AU series. This exists entirely due to the repetitive poking efforts of ninjababe and her posse. This story is set a few weeks after the events in strangevisitor7's story Child Of My Heart.
Characters: Ben Wade, Chris Larabee, Vin Tanner, Ezra Standish, Oren Travis, Charlotte Sparrow.
Summary:Ben Wade's arrival in New Mexico brings him full circle with his past.
Doña Ana, New Mexico Territory, March 1866
“Your home is always an oasis of civilization, Mrs. Black,” Judge Oren Travis said, sighing as he sank deeper into the leather upholstered armchair in Charlotte's cozy, wood paneled study. “I only wish my visit could be longer.”
“And your company is always my great pleasure, sir,” she replied with a warm smile, pouring more tea into his cup.
Charlotte and the Circuit Court judge had been acquainted for some years, before he had been posted to his current assignment, and he always tried to make time for a visit when his rounds brought him near. This had been the first visit since he had discovered that his unwilling deputy in neighbouring Four Corners, Ezra Standish, was her cousin; a fact that had initially caused the good judge some anxiety. But it hadn’t taken long for her to put his mind at ease, assuring him she bore no ill will in his treatment of her former ward.
“I had thought you to be here for the next week,” she commented. Indeed, Oren had only arrived two days prior. Barely enough time to visit with his grandson and daughter-in-law.
“So did I. But duty calls.” At her look of enquiry, he explained, “I’m off to Contention on the morning stage. Ben Wade’s gang killed the Marshall and his deputies trying to stop Wade from being put on the train to Yuma prison.” He tapped his finger against the arm of the chair. “It was the damndest thing – pardon my language – Wade was free, but he shot down his own gang and got on the train. Man walked straight to his own hanging.”
She stilled, gripping her teacup. “So he’s incarcerated at Yuma then?”
“What?” Travis shook his head. “No, he’s a wily one; escaped the train long before it reached Yuma. Probably in Mexico by now.” He looked over at his hostess. “Are you well, Mrs. Black? You look pale.”
Forcing a laugh, she said, “I am quite well, Judge Travis, merely tired. Foaling and calving season, you know - never enough sleep.”
Travis gave her a sharp look. “Perhaps young Standish should spend more time helping you than sitting at the card tables.”
“Now, Oren, don’t be so hard on my young cousin. He is not the ranching sort, well you know.”
“Hmph. Truer words were never spoken, I’m sure.” He sounded gruff, but there was a twinkle in his eye. He stood regretfully. “I must be going. Hopefully, my next visit won’t be cut short.”
“I look forward to it.”
Charlotte watched from her verandah as Judge Travis rode away, her thoughts slipping back to someone she’d known once upon a time….
Galveston, Texas, 1850
“Tell me, young man, do you make a habit of stalking women during their morning turn through the park?” The tip of her parasol pressed against his chest.
Charlotte had come to Galveston on shipping business, letting a lovely seaside home for her sojourn. It was her habit to walk in the morning, before the heat and humidity of the day descended. The last three mornings, she had noted a young man who seemed always to be sitting on the same bench, paying her more attention than was proper. Finally, this morning, she had had enough.
“Well?” she snapped, when no reply seemed to be forthcoming. “Have you nothing to say for yourself?”
“So your eyes are blue; the colour of ice,” he said in a soft but deep voice. “I had wondered.” He closed the journal he’d been writing in. “Ice can burn like fire.” This last was said as if to himself.
Stepping back, she felt oddly disconcerted at the way he was looking up at her so shamelessly “You have yet to answer my question,” she pointed out, now stabbing her parasol into the ground at her feet for emphasis.
He gave her a slow, lazy smile, before finally replying, “Only when her hair is like a raven’s wing.”
She swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. This was ridiculous! He was a child. No, he wasn’t that. Look at his eyes, she told herself. Those eyes were far too old for someone who couldn’t have more than a score of years behind him.
Taking a steadying breath, she said, “I must insist you cease following me, young man.”
“But I cannot. How would I finish this otherwise?” He opened the book on his lap, turning it so she could see what was quite obviously a sketch of her on the page. “And my name is Ben, ma’am. Ben Wade.”