2030, Malibu, California
“Byron?” Charlotte asked as Tony finished the piece he was playing on the piano.
It was 4 AM, and all the party guests were finally gone. Tony had recently rebuilt his Point Dume home, and had held a house warming party. Of course ‘house warming party’ took on a whole new meaning when it was Tony Stark doing the holding. They’d come full circle, she and her old friend; just the two of them after one of Tony’s parties, the sound of the surf reaching up the cliffs to the house. The memories were like living things, here in the hours before the dawn.
Nodding, Tony stood. “I was thinking about the old days. That was playing the night we first met, in Monte Carlo, at the Contessa’s party.”
“Was it?” She laughed. “Of course you’d remember.” She walked over to the open door, Tony following her onto the deck. “Did I ever tell you Byron was an Immortal?”
“Seriously? No, that bit of information you never passed on.”
Turning to him, she leaned against the railing. “Not only Immortal, but the Lord Byron himself.”
“Poet to rock star, huh? He came to a few of my parties in Dubai, back in the day.”
Raising an eyebrow, she said, “Oh, I’m quite sure he did.”
“You ever meet him?”
“I take it you weren’t a fan?”
“You could say that.” She smiled a little. “Back when Methos and I found one another again, and fought over my friendship with you, Byron played a part. You see, after Jack died, and Methos let me go, he met Byron, who was newly Immortal, and became his teacher. There were a few too many similarities between you and Byron for his taste.”
“I guess I can see how he’d think that. Party like there’s no tomorrow and be damned the consequences.”
“Something like that.” She fell silent, her eyes a little sad.
Tony stepped closer. “Do you miss him?”
“Sometimes, but some century, we’ll meet again.”
Two years ago….
“I wish you’d change your mind, Charlotte,” Methos said quietly, coming to stand behind her.
Sitting on the old redwood bench swing that overlooked the Pacific, she nodded. “I wish I could too. But I’m not ready to leave Earth behind just yet.” She took his hand as he sat down next to her. “But the time is right for you, we both know that.”
After Joe died, Methos had changed. Oh, it had been subtle, Charlotte not really noticing at first. But after more than five thousand years, the death of another dear friend had dimmed the enthusiasm Methos had for his life here on the planet of his birth. An invitation had come for him to go to Asgard, and explore all the Nine Realms had to offer. It seemed there were benefits to being a very old drinking buddy of the All Father.
“Dearest Benjamin, after Jack died, you let me go. And now, I do this for you. I’m letting you go. But we both know that for our kind, there are always possibilities. You taught me that.”
He kissed her cheek. “We will meet again.”
“One day.” She squeezed his hand. “Remember to send an occasional raven.”
Their laughter greeted the sunrise.
“Full circle,” Tony said, mirroring her thoughts of earlier.
“Yeah, full circle; just you and me.”
Tony had had several serious relationships over the last ten years. Not the wild playboy days of his past, but more of a serial monogamy. He’d recently come off an intense six month relationship with an astronaut—six months that Charlotte had seen very little of her best friend. But now, Tony’s space pilot was on her way to Mars, and he was once more the world’s most eligible bachelor.
“I’m glad you’re still here, Birdie.”
“Well you did invite me to stay.”
He waved his hand. “No, not here as my houseguest, here in my life. In the old days, you’d have had to move on by now.”
One of the benefits of the Enhanced appearing on the scene was that Immortals no longer had to leave their lives behind when people would start to notice they hadn’t aged. Now they could explain it away as being Enhanced, that their aging had slowed.
“I’m glad I am too, Tony love.”
Reaching up, she kissed him lightly, like she had so many times over the years. A rush of memories left her nearly breathless as she looked into his deep brown eyes. Still the same windows they had been thirty years ago.
He looked at her intently, his hands coming to rest on her hips. “If I asked you again to come back to my yacht, would the answer still be no?”
It came as something of a shock as she realized what her answer would be this time, thirty years later. Her breath caught in her throat as she slipped her hands around Tony’s neck. She shook her head. “No, it wouldn’t be,” she whispered.
She didn’t even have time to take a breath before Tony’s lips had taken hers. She returned his kiss with a passion, that somewhere in the back of her mind, surprised her. Everything had a time and a place, and this, now, was right.
Tony broke the kiss, taking her wrists and pushing her back to arm’s length. “Did you mean that, Birdie? You’re not going to have second thoughts, or come to your senses?”
Charlotte laughed gaily, feeling a lightness of heart that filled her with joy. “When have I ever come to my senses where you’re concerned, Tony Stark?”
“Good point.” He let go of her, crossing his arms. “How about we get married? An insurance policy in case you do come to your senses.”
“You’re not serious?” She really wasn’t sure he meant it or not, nor was she sure if she wanted him to.
“We’ll go to Vegas, right now. That serious enough for you?”
She wrinkled her nose. “Vegas is so tawdry.”
“So it’s the place you’re objecting to, not the getting married part?” he asked hopefully.
Not immediately replying, she tapped her fingers on the railing. “Really, Tony, I would have thought a marriage proposal from you would have, I don’t know, more panache.”
Eyes sparkling with mirth, she said, “I would have expected something like a dancing polar bear and a penguin with a diamond ring hanging round its neck—that sort of thing.”
He gave her a look. “Okay, now maybe I’m coming to my senses. Dancing polar bear? Really, Birdie?”
She shrugged, flashing him a smile. “Well, I’m sure you’ll come up with something worthy.”
“I’ll do my best to live up to your expectations,” he said dryly.
Laughing, he took her hands in his. “Charlotte Sparrow, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
Pulling him closer, she kissed his cheek. “I believe I shall.”