Notes: A crossover with Magnificent Seven and a story in the Echos the Sea/Aces Immortal series. Thanks to strangevisitor7 and ninjababe 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.
Savour Every Moment
Ezra surveyed the early evening crowd at Standish & Black from his seat at the table on the small raised platform at the back of the saloon. He was pleased at how many people seemed to be taking advantage of the Early Bird prix fixe menu they had instituted last month. All in all, business was very good; perhaps too good considering they were without a manager for the third week running. Sighing, he straightened the pile of applications on the table that were awaiting his perusal. It was time to fill the position; it wasn’t fair to Charlotte, leaving her to take care of the day to day operations while he was traveling the world earning his livelihood. Charlotte had the winery, plus her duties overseeing her charitable trust, The Black Foundation. Managing the saloon was not what she’d signed up for as his business partner.
The Standish & Black Saloon was a fixture in downtown San Luis Obispo, popular with both locals and tourists alike. Besides having a lively atmosphere with a well stocked bar, it featured a wine list that was one of the best in California, along with a menu that pleased everyone from the jaded gourmet to those looking for a pizza and beer on a Saturday night. And the outdoor patio area on Morro Creek was a popular hangout for Cal Poly students, with live music most weekends.
Ezra and Charlotte had purchased the rundown Spanish Colonial era building shortly after Charlotte had returned to the area to start Black Pearl Vineyards some eight years prior, and they had painstakingly restored it. Not only did it house the saloon, but a tasting room and shop for the winery and a gallery of ‘Edward Sanbourne’s’ work. The two often held combined private events in the space for Charlotte’s wine club members and enthusiasts of Ezra’s photography.
He gazed around the saloon affectionately. The antique mahogany bar, with its gleaming brass fixtures dominated the room, and behind it, a shining mirror etched with the saloon’s name and logo, lit by Tiffany shaded lamps. The adjoining dining room, with its heavy oak beamed ceiling, riverstone fireplace, Spanish ceramic tiled floor, and warm plastered walls, hummed with the conversation of the patrons seated there. In the corner, by the hearth, a musician played Spanish guitar, the sound of the music floating into the bar area. Ezra would miss this place when it was time to move on once more; but that time, God willing, was some years in the future. Until then, he intended to savour every moment.
His attention was drawn to the entrance by the ringing presence of another Immortal. While he was expecting Charlotte and Methos to arrive shortly for dinner, it would appear that the Immortal in question was the tall, broad shouldered man who had just walked in. He carried himself like a warrior, and his bearing alone marked him out as different from those around him. He was wearing light gray linen slacks and a cream coloured raw silk shirt, his brunette hair caught back in a neat neck-length ponytail. Ezra caught the man’s eye, signaling for him to join him. As he crossed the room to climb the few stairs to the table, Ezra assessed the new arrival. It was almost too good to be true, but this had to be Amanda’s mysterious longtime lover, he thought delightedly. Ezra and Amanda had something of a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement over the last few decades, the other Immortal dropping in on Ezra in Manhattan when she was bored or at a loose end; or needed help stealing something. Charlotte had told him something about her new neighbour, Duncan MacLeod, including that he had moved here from Seacouver. And certainly Amanda had referred to him as ‘the pigheaded Scotsman’ often enough. How many Scots Immortals from Seacouver could there possibly be, after all?
Standing, Ezra held out his hand. “You must be Duncan MacLeod.”
Duncan took the proffered hand, shaking it firmly. “And you must be Ezra Standish; I’ve heard a lot about you,” he said with a friendly smile.
Ezra flashed a grin. “Oh, of that, I have no doubt. And it’s Edward Sanbourne currently, but my friends call me Ez.” He motioned Duncan to take a seat.
“Mac,” he reciprocated. “Edward Zachary Sanbourne,” Duncan queried, “the photographer?”
“One and the same.” Ezra picked up the bottle of Highland Park at his elbow. “Drink?”
“Please.” Waiting while Ezra poured, he said, “I’m a great admirer of your work. I own one of your originals in fact.”
“Do you indeed?” He raised his glass to Duncan, who did the same, before taking a sip. “I’m flattered.”
“Sunset in Bali,” he said, naming the piece. “It was a gift from an old friend of mine.”
Ezra gave a mental cheer, his suspicions now confirmed. “A pretty friend, I hope.” He’d given that particular print to Amanda three years ago after she’d admired it hanging on the bedroom wall of his Manhattan penthouse.
Duncan chuckled. “A very pretty friend.”
“I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to meet this very discerning friend of yours in future.” He grinned, eyes dancing with suppressed glee. Amanda would not be pleased the two men had met, or that Ezra had figured out the identity of her lover. He relished the idea of being one up on Amanda; a little friendly payback for accumulated aggravation over the years.
“I’m sure you will. I’m having a party to celebrate the opening of my new winery in a few weeks and she’ll be there.”
“I look forward to it.” He tossed back his scotch. “Are you joining us for dinner?”
“I am, if you don’t mind. I was at Charlotte’s this afternoon and she invited me.”
“Moral support,” Ezra chuckled, “hoping that company will ensure that Methos and I behave like gentlemen in public.”
“I think it might have been something like that,” Duncan agreed with a smile. “So you’ve known Charlotte since you were a child?”
Ezra refilled their glasses. “I have, since I was five. And I've been a trial to her ever since,” he said wryly. His face took on a gentle visage. “She opened her heart and her home to me, and that is a debt I will never be able to repay.”
Both men fell silent, each lost in their own memories of a time before Immortality, when they had possessed the innocence of childhood. Ezra’s thoughts went back to that first night after his mother had abandoned him at Charlotte’s. She had come into his bedroom to find him crying in the corner behind his bed. But she hadn’t become angry with him, or told him that boys weren’t supposed to cry. Instead, she’d sat down on the floor with him, gathering him into her arms, holding him till he cried himself to sleep. She had fallen asleep there with him and when he had woken in the darkness of the predawn, he had found himself still in her arms. It was the first time Ezra could remember feeling totally safe. He smiled to himself at the memory.
A waiter arrived at the table, jolting him back to the present. “Excuse me, Mr. Sanbourne, but your table is ready.”
“Thank you, Randall, but I’ll wait till Ms. Sparrow arrives with her guest. Please add an extra place if you will, and decant a bottle of her 2004 Pinot Noir.”
“Will do, sir,” Randall assured him as he left.
“Charlotte is very proud of that particular vintage; it has won numerous awards,” he explained to his guest. Then he smiled broadly. “And serving it will assure she starts our meal in a congenial mood. But I don’t think we need share that particular bit of information.”
“My lips are sealed,” Duncan assured him with a laugh. He then returned to the previous topic of conversation. “Charlotte became your teacher after your First Death?”
Nodding, he leaned back in his chair. “As did Methos after he appeared on the scene.”
He looked surprised. “I didn’t know that.”
“It took some doing, as 'Matthew' had absolutely no interest whatsoever in the undertaking, but my cousin is quite unassailable when it comes to getting what she desires….”