Notes: A sequel to ‘He’s a Pirate’, set a few months before the events in 'Practical Applications'. A crossover with Magnificent Seven and a story in the Echos the Sea/Aces Immortal series. Thanks to strangevisitor7 for the beta.
Characters: Methos, Duncan MacLeod, Ezra Standish, Original Characters.
Summary: It’s been a century and a half since Methos last saw Charlotte and Ezra. His reappearance in their lives brings back many memories; not all of them happy ones.
I Never Kiss and Tell
It was a beautiful spring morning; the birds were singing, the fog had almost burned off, and the coffee was hot and plentiful. But Methos was one big storm cloud hanging over it all. The two men were sitting on the deck outside the kitchen with its view of the vines and the green hills beyond. Duncan had made omelets, serving them with fresh cantaloupe and strawberries. But Methos had mostly moved the food around on his plate.
Duncan watched his friend over the top of his mug as he drank his coffee, wondering what had Methos in such a mood. When he’d arrived earlier, they’d gone on their run, not spending much time talking. But once they were back at Duncan’s place, he’d noticed that something had gotten under Methos’ skin; the grunts in response to his questions had been the first clue.
He decided to try again. “It’s been nearly a week, how are you and Charlotte doing?”
Well at least he was using words now; that was an improvement.
“Hadn’t seen you in a few days, so I was hoping you hadn’t ticked her off enough for her to kill you,” he said, a smirk on his lips.
Methos rolled his eyes. “You wish.”
“So you two are doing fine; then what’s the problem?”
“Problem? Who says there’s a problem?”
Duncan just gave Methos a look.
“Damn it, Mac, you know how it can be when you haven’t seen someone in more than a century. The feelings are still there, but you have to make adjustments to being in the here and now and not the past.” He slumped further down into his chair.
“Anything I can help with?” he offered.
Methos stared at him balefully. “You aren’t going to offer relationship advice, are you?”
“Do you need some?” Duncan shot back.
Snorting, he shook his head. “As if.” Then he seemed to come to a decision. “I ran into Ezra this morning.”
Duncan was confused. “He lives nearby, right?”
Sighing, Methos took a swallow of coffee. “He does, but he’s been in London the last ten days and arrived home unexpectedly.”
“And he didn’t know about you and—“ he began.
“No, he didn’t; Charlotte hadn’t told him. She was working herself up to it.”
“I take it he wasn’t that happy to see you?”
“Now there’s an understatement.” He scrubbed a hand through his hair. “When I left her house, he and Charlotte…. Let’s just say you could have cut the tension with a knife. I knew he wasn’t going to be pleased I was back in her life, but I didn’t realize just how much he’d hate the idea.”
Duncan shook his head. “Is this going to be a problem?” Concern laced his words – challenges had been fought over much less.
“What?” He looked surprised at the question. “Absolutely not! We both love Charlotte and neither of us would ever…. No, that isn’t going to happen.”
“Glad to hear it.” He poured more coffee into their mugs. “But it doesn’t change the fact that you and Ezra need to work things out if you’re planning on sticking around.” He paused. “Are you?”
“If she’ll have me.” Methos smiled ruefully. “I want it to work this time, Mac.”
Duncan grinned. “Glad to hear it, old man. So what’s the plan? I got the feeling Charlotte thinks of Ezra as a son, and that sort of love is hard to come between.”
“Honestly, Mac, I don’t want to come between them. I know damned well how she feels about Ezra, and he feels the same way about her; they’re family. This time, I’m the interloper; they have more history together now than Charlotte and I did back in New Mexico.”
“But she loves you,” Duncan pointed out quietly.
“And he despises me.” He sighed explosively. “And you know what? He’s perfectly justified. I mean, how would you feel about the man that practically left the woman you thought of as a mother at the altar?” Methos asked bitterly.
“You did what?” He sat up straight in his chair. That was something he hadn’t been expecting.
“Don’t start!” he warned. “It was about a week before the wedding; we were just waiting for the circuit judge to arrive. Charlotte understood why it had to be that way, but Ezra…. Well, he thought she was making excuses for me; in denial. Hell, maybe she was at that.”
“Why did you leave?” he asked.
Methos looked at him sharply. “I had my reasons.”
Nodding, Duncan had a thoughtful look on his face. “Eighteen sixty-seven,” he said half to himself, suddenly having a pretty good idea of just what had compelled Methos to leave. But the closed look on his friend’s face told him quite clearly that Methos was not open to discussing it further. So instead, he decided to change the subject. “Just how did you and Charlotte meet anyway?”
Methos laughed softly, his mood lightening. “She was my patient.”
“Seventeen sixty-one. She’d been injured at sea during a storm, and her ship seized by an old friend of mine, Jack, a pirate captain sailing under Letters of Marque from the Crown. I saved her life. And yes, I am well aware of the irony.”
“Then what happened?” he asked curiously.
“She fell in love with Jack.” He shrugged. “They were very happy for many years and she stayed with him till the day he died.”
“What exactly is it you want to know, Mac?”
Duncan exhaled in frustration. Why did the man have to always make everything so difficult? “You and Charlotte; you were more than just friends, weren’t you?”
Chuckling, Methos said, “Come on now, Mac, I never kiss and tell.” Finally, he relented. “I was her friend, her teacher, and then, as the years passed, it became something more. But we never acted on it. She loved her husband and he was one of my best friends, and it wasn’t as if we didn’t have time,” he finished with a note of sadness.
“How long were they married?”
“That had to have been hard for her; but at least she had you,” Duncan offered sympathetically.
“Actually, she didn’t.” He laughed, but it was filled with regret. “Charlotte was grieving, and she asked me to let her go.” He fell silent, looking out over the vineyard.
“And you did.” It wasn’t really a question.
“Does it surprise you that I could do something selfless?” There was an edge to his voice.
Duncan said gently, “Honestly? No, it doesn’t.” Methos flashed him a half smile. “And then you met again in New Mexico?”
“Nearly sixty years later, yeah.” Methos stood up, walking over to the deck railing and leaning against it. “And do you know what surprised me most after I found her again?” He sounded irritated.
“No,” Duncan replied, not sure where this was going.
“How she’d managed to keep her bloody head!” He threw his hands up. “You’d think she’d had you as a teacher,” he grumbled. “It certainly isn’t my influence that’s responsible for her charitable impulses!”
Smothering a grin, he said, “That bad?” He fought to keep a totally innocent look on his face as Methos looked at him suspiciously. “What?”
He made a sound low in his throat, still looking suspicious. “Would you like to know the circumstances of just how she took her first head?” Duncan just nodded. “She wasn’t the one who was challenged, oh no, not Charlotte. She went looking for a fight.”
Now that did surprise him. Granted, Duncan had only a brief acquaintance to judge, but the woman he’d met a few days ago didn’t strike him as the sort of Immortal who would casually challenge another. “So what happened?”
“She was in China and there was a boy being kept as a slave by one of us. The man had no quarrel with Charlotte, and from all accounts would have let her walk away without a fight. But when he refused to sell the boy to her, she challenged him.” Methos sounded thoroughly disgusted.
“Imagine that,” he said dryly.
“I know!” Methos took Duncan’s statement at face value, so caught up in his story he didn’t catch the note of facetiousness in his friend’s response. “She took the boy in, schooled him, arranged for an apprenticeship and then a good marriage. By the time I met Charles in New Mexico, he was elderly and frail, but he told me the entire story of how he had ended up with Charlotte as a child.” His eyes became unfocused, remembering. “It was then that I realized how close I came to never holding her in my arms again.”