Love, Honor and Immortality
Crossover: Magnificent 7 and Highlander
Summary: This is an alternate version of the Magnificent 7 episode 'Love and Honor'. I have used bits of dialog and action from that episode but things don't necessarily unfold as they did then.
A/N: One other difference to the original episode: Don Paolo does not employ the Pico Chavez gang and they will not be appearing in this AU.
Love, Honor and Immortality, Chapter 1
All Methos wanted to do was get to San Francisco and catch a boat away from the godforsaken wilderness of the new world. Unfortunately, too many of the small Texas towns he'd stopped in on his way out of the west had an Immortal in residence just itching for a fight. This country seemed to breed them like rabbits, another reason to be on his way.
Discretion being the better part of valor had found him sneaking out of one small town after another before any of the challenges could be brought to fruition. He'd lost his taste for the Game and the killing of novice swordsmen.
Avoiding any further population centers in this state, Methos pushed on to the border of the New Mexico territory. He'd had enough of Texas.
After too many days in the saddle and nights spent sleeping on the cold ground, Methos decided it was time to risk civilization. While his financial situation was secure, his supplies were running low. As he rode down the main street, he searched his awareness and was relieved at the lack of Immortal presence. It seemed that New Mexico might mean a few days respite from his journey. He was looking forward to a real bed and large quantities of alcohol.
Methos dismounted his horse in front of the hotel. As he flipped the reins over the hitching post, he felt the uncomfortable twitch of scrutiny. Turning to his left he saw three men arrayed in front of the jail. The big man with the mustache and his younger companion looked away quickly pretending that they hadn't noticed him. The third man dressed mostly in black smiled and tipped his hat as he leaned against one of the overhang's support posts. The smile was almost feral and Methos recognized the warning in the greeting.
He returned the gesture sending assurances that he meant no trouble as he met the other man's gaze. By their location in front of the jail and the glare of the blond man, he assumed that at least one of them represented the law in town.
Methos was well aware of the disreputable visage he presented. Long days in the saddle had dictated a change from his usual tailored suit into a simple checked shirt and brown pants under his duster. He couldn't even remember the last time he'd shaved.
Once he had procured a room, his next stop would be the bath house and a return to more respectable clothing. The last thing he needed was for anyone, especially the law in this tiny hamlet, to decide he represented the dangerous element. Immortals weren't the only idiot Americans itching for a fight.
Chris watched as the stranger disappeared into the hotel.
"You thinkin' he might be trouble?" Buck asked as he came to stand beside the gunslinger.
"Maybe," Chris replied and turned to JD. "Watch for him and see where he goes. We'll be in the saloon."
JD nodded and repositioned his chair to have a better vantage point on the hotel's entrance.
Instead of heading directly across the street, Chris detoured down the boardwalk to get a better look at the man's horse before heading to his original destination.
"Horse been rode hard," he said with disgust to Buck as they passed by the animal. A man should take care of his horse before himself – something they all learned quickly riding the trail.
"Yep," Buck agreed.
Vin was just exiting the saloon when he met Chris' worried frown with a quirk of his eyebrow.
"Stranger in town," Chris replied to the unspoken inquiry.
"Trouble?" Vin asked.
Buck snickered. "You know Chris. This town goes three days without trouble and he goes looking for it."
"Has been a might quiet lately." Vin smiled in agreement. "Chris don't really care for quiet."
The subtle teasing brought a small smile to their leader's lips. "When the shooting starts, I get to say I told you so." Stepping past Vin, he entered the saloon.
Methos exited the hotel intent on seeing to his horse. The Hotel manager had confirmed that the men he'd seen were indeed the law along with four others. It had not surprised him to learn that the blond man in black, Chris Larabee, was their leader.
As he led the animal down the main street toward the livery, he noticed the young man in the bowler hat from before, watching him. Methos realized that scrutiny was to be expected. He was, after all, a stranger in a small town.
Methos finished boarding his horse, collected his supplies and then headed to the bath house. If he was to convince the local lawman he had no nefarious intent, it was best to look the part of a gentleman.
An hour later, he emerged from the hotel dressed in a tailored grey suit, matching black hat and gun belt at his waist. During his travels around the town, he'd confirmed that there were no Immortals and decided to risk leaving his sword in his hotel room. The shift away from the days of swordplay as the major form of defense was making carrying the Ivanhoe more awkward. Someday he knew he would have to determine a way to conceal it on his person but for now his gun would be enough to protect him if necessary.
He nodded to the young lawman as he crossed the street and pushed his way through the batwing doors of the saloon.
Pausing to allow his eyes to adjust to the dim interior, he noticed Chris Larabee seated with three others at a table on a raised platform to his left. All had paused to look at him as he'd entered. He'd confirmed that Buck Wilmington was the mustachioed man he'd seen earlier. Methos wondered if the other two at the table were lawmen as well. The long haired man in buckskin certainly looked dangerous but the gentleman in an emerald green coat seemed more interested in the poker game than in the new stranger in town.
He acknowledged Larabee's gaze with a nod of his head as he strode to the bar and ordered a whiskey. He was not surprised to find himself flanked by Larabee and Wilmington moments after the delivery of his drink. But he was surprised to sense the faint hum of a pre-Immortal buzz. He turned to look at the big man and confirmed that it was coming from Wilmington.
Methos hid his surprise. He rarely ran into his kind before their turn to Immortality. Given that Buck was a lawman in the uncivilized west, he figured it was only a matter of time before the inevitable.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" Methos asked.
"We like to get to know the new people in town," Chris said an edge of warning in his voice. "You planning on staying long?"
"Now Chris," Buck chided. "Don't go scaring the new folk off. Maybe he has legitimate business in our town." Buck looked at Methos and smiled. "That right, Mr. – "
Methos had run through his list of aliases in his mind. He opted for one of his favorite personas and one he hadn't used recently, "Adams. Dr. Benjamin Adams," he said and held out his hand.
"Well, it's nice to meet you Doctor Adams," Buck replied as he emphasized the title and directed a smirk at Chris. "I'm Buck Wilmington and the suspicious one is Chris Larabee."
He turned and acknowledged the gunslinger, "Mr. Larabee." Methos knew he had chosen wisely. There were very few people who were less threatening than those in the medical profession.
"You thinking of setting up shop here?" Buck asked. "'Cause we already got Nathan. He ain't a real doctor but he's patched me up good a few times."
Methos found himself warming to the big man. Buck definitely had a way about him that naturally put others at ease. "No, I plan on continuing my travels west after a few days rest; just wanted a drink, or two, and perhaps a game of cards. " He downed his drink in one swallow to emphasize his point and indicated to the barkeep to pour another.
"Well then, you've come to the right place," Buck said as he clapped Methos' shoulder and spun him around. "Ezra there is always looking for fresh players." Buck pointed to the table and the man in the green jacket he'd noted moments ago.
"Then I will oblige him," Methos said. "Will you be joining me, Mr. Wilmington? Mr. Larabee?"
"No thanks, Dr. Adams, I'll be on my way." Chris finished his drink and with a glance at Buck to "watch him", he exited the Saloon.
"Guess I can afford to play a few more hands," Buck said cheerfully. "And call me Buck."
"Your Mr. Larabee doesn't seem to like me," Methos grinned. He respected that kind of wariness. You didn't get to be his age without a natural sense of self-preservation
"Don't mind Chris. Sometimes he gets these ideas about people. Never can tell where they come from," Buck explained.
Methos nodded and followed Buck to the gaming table.
Methos' attention was drawn to the entrance of the Saloon as JD entered and headed towards his friends at the table.
"My shadow," Methos greeted him. "Has your Mr. Larabee absolved you of your observational duties or are you planning to watch me from the confines of the saloon?"
JD stared at Methos. "He talks crazier than you, Ezra."
"The good doctor is simply a man of distinguished education and a gentleman," Ezra replied, sounding not a little bit pleased at that.
Buck laughed. "Sit down, JD, before you realize that you've been insulted."
The young lawman shrugged and took the chair between Methos and Vin. "Just don't understand why people gotta use such big words."
"Because the look on your face as you try to decipher them is so delightful," Ezra replied. "Now, Dr. Adams, I believe it was your deal."
Methos collected the deck and began to shuffle. "I am fascinated that seven such diverse men have come together to protect this simple town."
"I have no explanation for my association with these ruffians," Ezra said. "It seems that I continue to get drawn into these exciting exploits through no decision of my own."
"You love us," Buck joked.
"Not a word I would associate with any of you," Ezra replied with a small smile which revealed his unspoken affection for the profession he'd chosen. "You, on the other hand, seem to take great pleasure in our regular show of force."
"Someone has to watch JD's back," Buck replied. "Figured I'd stick around and make sure he don't get himself killed."
"I ain't a kid, Buck," JD protested. "I can handle myself."
Methos laughed. "I bet you can."
JD smiled. "Thank you." The others just chuckled. "I can!"
"What about you, Mr. Tanner?"
"Got tired of watching my own back; figured it'd be easier to stay alive with six others to help me do it."
Methos was sure Vin had voiced the true reason that the seven had banded together. Immortality had meant spending most of his life on his own, but there were times he missed the camaraderie of men he could trust at his back. He found himself enjoying the company of the lawmen, something he found quite unusual. It had been a long time since he'd met any mortals worth knowing.
The card game continued well into the night. Nathan had stopped by briefly, hoping to discuss his medical knowledge and he had promised the healer that tomorrow he would share all he knew.
"Well gentlemen," Methos said as he gathered his meager winnings. "I shall stop while I am ahead. I thank you for this small contribution to my travels."
"Seems you're the only one who came out ahead," Vin said.
"That is untrue, Vin," Ezra said. "I find myself the recipient of your hard earned cash as well."
Buck looked between the two men. "Hell. Shoulda' known better than to play with the two of them."
"Yep," JD agreed. "Talks like Ezra and dresses like Ezra. Should of known he'd play poker like him too."
"I assure you, JD, that while Doctor Adam's garments are quite tasteful, I myself would never wear such a dreary color. No offense, sir," he added quickly.
Buck laughed. "Ezra likes colors you can see in the dark."
"So I noticed," Methos said eyeing the emerald green coat the southerner wore. "Until tomorrow." He nodded his farewells and exited the saloon.
Methos had slept late luxuriating in a real bed for the first time in weeks. Even before his travels across the Texas wilderness, he'd found himself camping out too often for his liking. It was on those mornings that he wondered why he'd ever left Europe in the fist place.
He dressed and headed over to the saloon. Methos was looking forward to finding Nathan and fulfilling his promise of a comprehensive medical discussion. As he approached his destination, he overheard Ezra and Nathan teasing a befuddled Buck.
"That girl's 'never' is gonna turn into a 'yes' faster than a jackrabbit with its tail on fire," Buck declared before storming off.
"I'd say your rabbit's already been cooked, Buck. Nunca!" Nathan yelled after the retreating figure.
"What was that all about?' Methos asked as he joined the two.
"It seems Buck has set his sights on our lovely bartender Senorita Inez," Ezra explained.
"And been shot down for his efforts," Nathan said, still chuckling.
"Really? I was under the impression from him last night that there was no woman alive who could resist his charm."
This brought a fresh round of laughter from the two men. "So he would like us to believe," Ezra said. "But the reality is much different."
"Should be fun to watch him get shot down again," Nathan said. ""Cause that woman ain't fallin' for any of Buck's lines."
Methos laughed along with them. "Nathan, I have yet to eat. If you would care to join me, we can discuss some of those medical questions you have. You're welcome too, Ezra."
"As much as I rely on Nathan's expertise, I have no desire to be present as he acquires it. Enjoy your repast." Ezra tipped his hat. "Gentlemen." He headed down the street.
"Nathan, you may not have formal medical training, but I am quite impressed with your breadth of knowledge," Methos said as they exited the restaurant after their meal. He hadn't been a practicing doctor in many years, but his fascination with the profession had kept him abreast of many of the latest discoveries in the field which he had been pleased to share with the town's healer.
"Been a real education, bein' able to talk with you, Ben," Nathan said. "I still have more questions but I promised Josiah I'd help him over at the church."
"I've yet to meet your seventh member. If it's agreeable, I'd like to accompany you and we can continue our discussion."
As they approached the church, JD came running up to them. "D'you hear about Buck?"
When both men shook their heads, JD continued. "He challenged some Mexican fella that wants to take Inez away. They're meeting at one o'clock to discuss the terms of engagement. What d'ya think that means? 'Cause what's to discuss. It's just a gunfight, right?"
"JD, it ain't never just a gunfight. Someone's gonna get shot, maybe die," Nathan chastised him.
Methos stilled as he listened to JD's words. In his experience 'Terms of Engagement' did not always mean pistols. Pistols hadn't even been the weapon of choice until the last few decades. "Is Buck good?' he asked. Though he knew he must be to have been a successful lawman for so long. Methos just hoped that his luck had not run out.
"Hell yeah," JD confirmed.
A grey haired man wandered down the steps of the church. "What's all the excitement?"
"Hey, Josiah," JD said and repeated his recitation of Buck's challenge for the preacher.
Josiah just shook his head.
"I just can't believe that Buck would go this far over a woman," Nathan said
"A woman can get a powerful hold on a man that's for sure," Josiah intoned sagely.
"Cities have been laid siege to, all for the want of a beautiful woman," Methos said. Holding out his hand to the preacher, he added, "Dr. Benjamin Adams. You must be Josiah Sanchez. I've met your other six compatriots already."
"Good to meet ya," Josiah said. "You've read the Iliad?"
Methos smiled. He'd been thinking of a more personal adventure from his past but Troy fit. "Yes. It seems Buck is following the ancient tradition in defending a lady's honor with battle."
"Gentlemen, can I interest you in the opportunity to place a small wager on Buck's upcoming contest. I'm giving even odds so you best act expeditiously." Ezra said as he approached their gathering to stand next to Methos.
"You're taking bets on Buck's fight," Nathan said, the disapproval clear in his tone.
"I am merely providing a service for interested parties," Ezra explained. "How about you, Doctor Adams? Our Mr. Wilmington is quite adept and I have no doubt he will prevail."
"No thank you Ezra. I'm not much for wagering on a man's life," Methos replied. Though there were times in the past that such contests had held enormous interest for him. Sighing to himself he wondered if he was simply getting old.
"I share your dismay at today's public demand for entertainment. Why it calls to mind the decline and fall of Rome -"
"Ezra," Josiah interrupted. "Shut up." He headed into the church.
Ezra sputtered into silence. Laughing Methos clapped him on the back. "Still, if you don't, someone else will."
"You, Doctor Adams, are a man of intelligence; unlike some." Ezra glared at Nathan before departing with a smile for Methos.
At one o'clock, Methos stood on the boardwalk watching as the seven approached Don Paolo. Methos felt unease in the pit of his stomach as he eyed the box carried by his bodyguard, Raphael.
His worst fear was confirmed as the box was opened to reveal a set of swords. He listened as Buck argued about the terms of engagement.
"Stand down, Buck," Ezra said. "We'll figure another way out of this."
Methos nodded his agreement and silently pleaded for the big man to listen. He was sure the southerner was clever enough to come up with a solution.
"Well, Senor?" Don Paolo asked.
"Well hell, they're just long butter knives," Buck said accepting the challenge.
Don Paolo tossed the sword at Buck. "We meet tomorrow morning," he said before striding away.
The irony of the situation was almost too much for Methos. The man would most likely die because of his ineptitude with a blade only to revive and have to spend the rest of his Immortal life using one to defend himself.
He watched as Buck's friends shook their heads but wished him luck.
Buck took a few crude swings with the blade. Methos suspected it might actually be the first time the man had ever held one.
"This ain't so bad," he said, sounding less confident then he was trying to portray.
"Buck, let us retire to the church," Ezra said. "I think I might be able to offer some assistance."
Methos stood rooted to his spot on the boardwalk as he watched Ezra lead Buck down the street. He'd done everything he could to try and remove himself from the Game and yet circumstances continued to conspire to bring him back to it.
Torn between watching the inevitable occur in the morning and the strange desire to do something to ward it off, Methos tried to convince himself that his best option was to just leave town now.
Damn! he thought. Reluctantly, Methos headed up to his hotel room to retrieve his Ivanhoe. Nothing he could teach the man in the next sixteen hours would save him and yet he was going to help.
He hadn't had a student in decades, nor did he want one now. Still, after five thousands years of existence, Methos had come to believe those like him should reap some benefit of Immortality and he liked Buck enough that he felt a certain obligation to at least give him the basic tools of survival. No sense waiting until after he died.