The Photo

Title: The Photo

Fandom: Angel/Highlander
Characters: the girls of the fang gang, and OFC– Grace, Jasa, and
Emily
Disclaimer: Don’t own anything about Angel or Highlander. Christina
owns Grace and Emily. Medie owns Jasa.
Archive: At Ink-and-Quill

Summary: eighth in the ‘Destiny’ series

*-*-*
The Photo
by Christina A and M. Edison

It was a real ‘girls’ evening in. The guys had been sent to Caritas to
celebrate the return to normalcy, and the girls had ordered pizza and
stayed in. They’d watched a movie and then wound their way to Grace and
Angel’s suite where they were going through boxes. Grace had brought
them back with her when she and Angel were in England. More of her
belongings were here now than anywhere.

The fun part of the evening was the stories that went along with the
items that were pulled out of the boxes. So far, the favorite was the
story of how Grace became wife number 23 of a Saudi King and a harem
girl. That had been fun.

“Hey Grace!” Cordelia looked up from the box in her lap and held up an
extremely old photograph. “Who’s the hottie?”

The word ‘hottie’ not only brought Grace over to where Cordy was
sitting, but Emily, Fred, and even Jasa. Grace sat down beside her friend
and looked at the photo. Her eyes glanced up and locked with her
mother’s. “That’s Vin. Vin Tanner. It was taken not too long before I
became Mrs. Tanner.”

“Vin Tanner,” Emily said softly. “I remember reading about him in your
chronicle.”

Fred managed to get a look at the photo. “He looks intense. Handsome,
but intense.”

Grace had to cover her tears with a smile. “He was. But he was more
than that. And he was one of seven men… I loved them all, but Vin
captured my heart like few mortals ever have. Remember this, Mom?” She
took the picture from Cordelia and handed it to her mother.

“How could I forget?” the ancient asked rhetorically with a fond grin.
“Those boys could scare a few centuries off *anyone’s* life…so, of
course, Grace fell head over heels in love with one. A wonderful man, one
of the best sons-in-law I’ve ever had.”

Grace smiled. “He was the quiet one of the group. Didn’t really speak
unless he had something pertinent to add. He wasn’t afraid to stand up
for people and was extremely loyal. When he considered you someone
worth his time and effort, you knew that you were special.” Her smile
grew soft. “And that duster he always wore. I actually still have that.
But it’s in England.”

Fred sighed. “He sounds dreamy.”

“Mmhmm..” Jasa made an approving noise as she relaxed back, eyeing her
pedicure. “She’s neglecting to mention all that man had to do was smile
and she was lost… but then, all thing’s considered…” She grinned
meaningfully. “My daughter has great taste in men.”

Grace ran her hand through her now long hair. “I won’t argue. It’s
definitely improved the older I’ve gotten.” She smiled. “But they were
all great men. Vin was just phenomenal. He and Angel have a lot in
common… other than me, that is.” She took back the picture and gazed at
him. “He was the first man I truly loved. When he died, it hurt more
than anything I’d ever experienced. And it took Angel to make me
realize that loving again was acceptable.”

“Awwww…” Cordy exhaled enviously. “Now *that* is a truly romantic
story. One of the best I think…” She slanted a glance at her teacher.
“So, what else do we get to find out about him?”

“Aside from the fact Grace always seemed to have a silly smile on her
face every morning?” Jasa asked innocently. “With Vin Tanner, there
always seemed to be one story after another.”

“It was the way life was in Four Corners. We didn’t have vampires and
demons. We had bad mortals… cowboys and rustlers. And *I* rarely
got to do any of the fighting. They made me wear dresses and try to be a
lady.”

“Notice she said *try*,” Jasa interjected wryly. “I think we
practically had to beat it into her head that she had to *blend in* and not stick
out like a sore thumb.” She shook her head. “It was practically
impossible. If Grace’d had her way she would have been chewing tobacco and
drinking with the boys every time she got the chance.”

“I did like to smoke cigarettes. And Buck didn’t mind rolling them for
me.” She laughed. “Oh Buck. He would have LOVED being here.”
Filling in the others, she explained, “Buck Wilmington… very much in love
with women as a whole. Vin used to tease him about trying to steal me
away. But that wasn’t going to happen. No way. And I really hated
being a lady. There were far too many layers of clothing.”

Cordy rolled her eyes. “You hate being a lady *now*.” She grinned. “And
so much for your lectures about ‘blending into society’… you hated
doing it too.”

“She often times *didn’t* do it,” Jasa agreed impishly. “There were a
few times I was positively incensed with her over it.”

Grace smiled. “I was the eternal rebel. And the saying goes, ‘Do as I
say, not as I do.’ And I wore the stupid dresses. I did it for Vin.
Darn man could talk me into anything. He had that power. And you know
what was most annoying? He did it with his eyes. That’s all that had
to be done. He just looked at me.” She paused. “Say nothing to Angel
and this does NOT go in my chronicle.”

Emily smiled. “Of course not. Strictly off the record.”

Cordelia held up her hands. “We won’t breath a word.”

“Not a one,” Fred vowed fervently, eyes shining. “Cross m’heart!”

Jasa shrugged, grinning. “Who would I tell?”

Grace smiled at her mother. “No one. You’ll just keep it for
blackmail.” Grace paused for a long moment, her eyes growing a bit distant,
and her emotion for her dead husband was very evident. “I remember,
geez, we had to have been together for only a couple years. He wanted to
get married, but wanted a house for us first. So he’d saved up and
bought a homestead that we had to fix up. Only this wealthy landowner
claimed that the land was actually his, and didn’t belong to the person Vin
bought it from.” She smiled. “It was definitely a job that was right
up the Seven’s alley.”

“Indeed it was,” Her mother agreed. “Chris was fairly salivating with
glee.”

“Chris?” Cordelia prompted.

“Chris Larabee… Leader of the Seven.”

“And very handsome in his own right, huh, Mom?” Grace dug around in
the box and pulled out another picture. This one was of all seven men.
She showed it to the girls and smiled. “Should we tell them the entire
story?”

“I think they’d never forgive us if we didn’t,” the Egyptian pointed
out with a grin.

Emily smiled. “A truer word has never been spoken.” Emily settled in,
leaning against the couch. She’d been watching Grace for years, knew
her VERY well, but still loved hearing stories. And this one was going
to come from the ‘horse’s mouth’ so to speak.

“Please,” Fred smiled brightly.

Cordelia’s look spoke for her.

Grace sighed. Looking at the pictures, she let her mind float back.

**Flash**

Four Corners… Old West

Grace sat on the porch. Vin was going to have to get at least one
rocking chair. Of course, that was if they could figure out how to get rid
of this conniving land shark. “I still don’t understand why we just
don’t break his kneecaps. You’re taking all the fun out of it,” Grace
teased.

He grinned at her, tangling his fingers in her hair and pulling her
close. “Because this guy’s our problem,” he told her amusedly. “We made a
deal, ‘member? We take care of the mortals, you take care of the
Immortals.”

She laughed lightly, her eyes locking with his. “I wasn’t going to
‘take care’ of him. I was suggesting what you should do. Use your mare’s
leg… side of the knee. He’s not getting my house… our house,” she
corrected. “I want rocking chairs on this front porch. You’ll look
handsome sleeping in one of them.”

Vin’s eyes glinted with amusement at her swift change in topics.
“Knowin’ you, I wouldn’t be asleep long.” He glanced out at the skyline.
“He’s not gonna get the house and he knows it. S’just a matter of time
before we finish this.”

She moved to rest her head on his shoulder. “I can’t believe he’d even
have the audacity to stand against you guys. He’s more stubborn than a
mule… or Buck. However you want to look at it.”

“A man can put his mind to some fearsome things when his greed’s doin’
the thinkin’ for him.” He slipped an arm about her waist. “And this
man’s greed rules his life.”

“Ah! Greed is no way to live. No way at all. This is what’s most
important. This and family. Even if I do have to wear dresses and try to
act like a lady.” She inhaled deeply. How he managed to smell so
good, she didn’t know. “I just want him put in his place so we can get on
with it. You’ve… we’ve… wanted this for so long.” This was the
rest of his life they were talking about.

“We have, but it’ll never really end, Grace. Y’know that,” Vin reminded
logically. “There’s always goin’ to be someone wantin’ something,
whether it’s from us or someone around us. We’re not goin’ stop fightin’
back ’til we’re cold in our graves.”

She swallowed hard. She did her best not to think about that. It was
the most difficult part about being Immortal. He would grow old and
die… but not her. She smiled. “Stop trying to talk older and wiser on
me. I’m practically 800 years your senior. I know about the struggle
of living. Believe me. But you can move beyond a challenge and still
get on with life. It’s when you dwell on the fact that the next one’s
coming that you get bogged down.” She hugged him tightly. “I know
what life here, with you, entails. If I haven’t been chased away in these
couple of years, it’s not going to happen. And we can look to our
future, Vin. There’s no harm in that. None.”

“I’m lookin’,” he reassured with a chuckle. “But the picture ain’t
always so rosy.” He pointed at her. “As for you knowin’… doesn’t matter.
Every lesson can get relearned a hundred times with somethin’ new each
time.”

“All I’m saying is, there’s a time for wishing and a time for
lecturing. I want to wish right now. You can lecture later.” She pinched at
his side. “Now, as for the wishing part. I wish you’d tell me what you
guys have planned. Breaking kneecaps aside and all.”

“Pay a visit.” Vin grinned. “As Chris would say, we’re gonna offer a
little show of force. Man might not entirely understand what he’s messin’
with… we feel like enlightening him.”

Grace smiled. “Well, I’m sure he’ll understand completely after you
guys finish with him.” She knew better than to ask if she could ride
along. They preferred to do the manly stuff without a ‘lady’ around. She
also learned that Vin’s tracking skills were better than her sneaking
skills, which was a rarity. So, she couldn’t follow. All she could do
was say, “You will give me a detailed report when you’re done with him,
right? Even down to Buck’s colorful euphemisms?”

“Right down to whatever damn fool thing comes out of Buck’s mouth,” he
agreed with a smirk.

She laughed. “He can’t help it. He thinks it; he says it. Actually,
it sounds familiar. We can’t all think through our responses like you
do,” she joked, pinching at him again.

He chuckled. “You’d think in eight centuries, you’d’ve learned a few
tricks about thinkin’ ‘fore you talk.” He pulled her close for a kiss.
“Not that I mind all that much.”

She enjoyed the kiss and took another before she responded. “In eight
centuries, I’ve learned how to take care of myself because I can’t
control my mouth. It’s one of the perks about being me.”

Vin smirked. “Wouldn’t it save you the trouble of havin’ to?” He shook
his head. “Crazy woman… good thing I love y’anyway.”

“Probably not,” she chuckled. “You know my kind… gotta kill each
other anyway. Someone’s silly idea of entertainment or something.” Her
head rested on his shoulder again. “You think we could have a bath tub
that stays in the bedroom? Wouldn’t it be great?”

“It would.” He grinned. “Just might be a bit hard on us luggin’ water
back and forth from the fire.”

She put her mouth on his ear and articulately said, “I’ll make it worth
your while.” She punctuated the statement with a kiss to that ear that
left little to the imagination.

A groan escaped him. “You’d better…my back’ll be a might bit
annoyed.” Sliding a hand to her hair, he turned his face to hers. “And you,
lady, are trouble.”

“And you, sir, love every minute of it.” She brought his face to hers
and this time, the kiss was much more than just a peck. “So, how about
we go inside and I’ll give you a preview of how you’ll be repaid?”

**End flash**

Grace placed the picture of the Seven lovingly back in the box. The
picture of Vin, she held for a few more moments. Softly, she said, “They
put that man in his place too… in true Seven fashion.”

“Big’n flamboyant?” Fred questioned cheerily. “Guns blazin’, hats
flyin’, men shoutin’ and swearin’?”

“I think those last two are synonymous,” Jasa teased lightly.

Grace laughed. “Where Buck Wilmington was concerned… yes.” She
finally put the picture down. “Vin’s idea of big and flamboyant was
quietly putting the baddies in their place. And really, he was the one you
had to watch closest. He and Larabee. I’ll tell you what, when Chris
Larabee gave you ‘that’ look, not even *I* argued.”

“Don’t believe that, Grace,” Emily laughed.

“There were times she did argue with him and she shouldn’t have,”
Grace’s mother agreed. “But there were times where she listened too. With
Chris, it was rather hard not to. He was a dangerous individual when he
wished to be.”

She nodded. “He was. But he had a kind heart too; it had just taken
far more abuse than any mortal’s heart should.” She sighed. “Each of
those guys had something about them… something that you just couldn’t
help but love. Of course, it also made you want to strangle them…
but that’s par for the course, I think.”

“Yeah, that’s guys in general,” Cordy said wisely. “I can’t count the
times I’ve wanted to strangle Mac.”

“We all want to strangle MacLeod. It’s an endearing quality. But with
him, he’s had over 400 years to perfect stubborn. That and he’s
Scottish and the son of a chieftain. That’s three strikes right there. So,
yeah, I can understand you wanting to strangle him.” Grace smiled.
“But then there’s the good stuff too. The Seven… they put their lives
on the line for the people of Four Corners. Mac does that too. In
fact, he actually knew Vin. Duncan was Vin’s first Immortal
acquaintance.”

“I remember reading that in his chronicle,” Emily said. “Your watcher
was also very meticulous about that bit of information.”

“No doubt.” Jasa chuckled. “Grace tends to require great detail. Move
too fast you’ll miss something.”

“Mother, what are you saying?” Grace laughed. “I think I’ve settled
down in my old age.” She had really slowed down since returning from
England. “My wild days are over. History.”

The Egyptian snorted. “Not likely. I’ve heard that before.”

“Always tryin’ to fool her Mom, huh?” Fred questioned impishly.

“Boy, do I remember that,” Cordy agreed with a grin.

Grace shrugged. “You may have heard it before. But things are
different now. I’m different.” She reached inside the box and grew silent.
She was still recovering, and at times, she still had difficulty
looking ahead to the future because the present was hard to deal with. She
wiped at her eyes. “Look at this picture.”

The young woman accepted the picture, looking at the men, while Jasa
eyed her daughter. “Everyone changes, Grace,” she murmured softly in
Egyptian. “Change and bend with life or life will break you.”

“You know, I know that. Believe me, I know.” She ran her hand through
her hair, which was becoming a habit, and cleared her throat. “That
picture must have been taken after we were married. JD’s with Casey, and
she looks pregnant.”

“She was,” her mother affirmed, pushing herself to her feet and
wandering over to get herself a new drink. “Lovely girl. If not a
bit…boyish.” She chuckled lightly.

Emily looked from one woman to the other. It had to be Grace’s
relationship to Jasa that made her bold enough to talk like that. No way
would anyone else dare.

Grace nodded. “She was. Took to dresses about as well as I did.” She
waited until her mother turned around and in her mother’s language, she
said, “I’m sorry. I guess I’m still not myself.” She hated losing her
temper like she did. And she was still doing it a lot with people.
She was a lot better than what she was, but she still went through mood
shifts like Cordelia went through clothing. It was starting to worry
her.

Briefly, Jasa’s hand skimmed across her daughter’s
hair as she passed. “Forgotten.”

“So what?” Cordy put in with a shrug. “You’re supposed to be a hundred
percent overnight? Like your Mom says, forgotten.”

“Bygones!” Fred piped in with a smile. At everyone’s look she admitted.
“Been watchin’ Ally McBeal.”

“Ok, no more TV watching without supervision,” Cordy ordered sternly.
“You’re corrupting that brain of yours and we so need that brain.”

Grace looked at the young Immortal for a long moment. Obviously she was
observant enough to get the jest of what Grace had said. Taking
Cordy’s hand, she smiled. “Immortals are slow to change. If I was better
overnight, I know Mom would be worried.” To everyone, she said, “Memory
lane helps. It’s why Angel insisted we bring these boxes home.”

“He wants more clutter?” the younger woman teased. “As if we don’t have
enough.” Leaning over, she snagged a new picture, squeezing her
friend’s hand. “So, about this deliciously handsome husband… more to the
story yes?”

“There’s about 40 years worth of stories. We were together for about
two before we married, and I was with him until the day he died. He was
70-something. Died of old age, right in my arms. Some immortals think
of that as a curse… outliving their mortal loved ones. But to be
there for him through that… I was blessed.” She felt a tear slip down
her cheek and smiled. “What would you like to hear about? Something
funny? Maybe about the time Buck made a pass at my mom, and then about
fell off the boardwalk when he found out we were related?”

Jasa snickered and the other women nodded. *That* sounded like a
hilarious story to say the least.

“Did he fall in mud?” Fred questioned impishly, handing Grace a tissue
and a hug.

“Actually,” Grace laughed, “it was more like the horses’ water trough.”

**Flash**

Grace had gotten into town after the stagecoach carrying her mother
arrived. She and Vin had been delayed. Jasa would appreciate why.

Arriving at the salon, Grace saw two of the Seven sitting outside, huge
smiles on their faces. “Ok, guys, what’s happened now?”

“An angel’s descended from on high,” Josiah informed her with a twinkle
in his eye.

“Indeed,” Ezra drawled. “A more elegant and fairer a creature I’ve yet
to behold.” Realizing who he was speaking to, he added, “Excluding, of
course, present company.”

Grace laughed. “Ezra Standish, you have ‘sweet talker’ down to an art
form.” She dismounted from her horse and walked up the steps. “So who
is this fair maiden that has graced us all with her beauty and light?
Do you even know her name?” She looked back at Vin and smiled. “I’ll
bet they don’t even know.”

“Do they ever?” he asked with a laugh. “All they care is she’s a pretty
lady.”

She smiled and looked back to the guys. “So, you ignoring my
question?” She eyed Ezra and smiled. “Do you know her name?”

“I am afraid, I do not.” He shook his head. “We have yet to speak to
the lovely lady. She entered the hotel.”

“She did.” Grace smiled. “You would think you guys would learn not to
trust ladies just because they are beautiful.” She winked.

“Indeed, but since our encounter with you turned out nicely, we’re
encouraged to hope.” Ezra inclined his head. “And I do believe the fair
lady returns.”

Grace tried desperately not to bust a gut laughing. She exchanged looks
with the woman, made a quick comment in Ancient Egyptian… along the
lines of ‘play along’. Buck, of course, was escorting her out. Grace
backed down the steps and looked at Ezra. “Standish, I should be
offended… but I’ll let it slide this time. You gentlemen have been ogling my
mother. Hello, Jasa.” She smiled sweetly.

“Darling!” Moving away from her escort, Jasa hurried across the street
to hug her daughter. “You’re wearing a dress?!” She stared at her
daughter in astonishment. “This gentleman of yours must be a miracle
worker!”

Grace closed her eyes, though she dearly wanted to see Buck’s reaction,
she had really missed her mother. When they pulled slightly apart, she
smiled. “He is. Only for him would I wear one of these things. And
I’m not swearing… nearly as much. I suppose being a girl isn’t so
bad.”

“It has its moments.” Jasa glanced over her shoulder at the man who’d
accompanied her out of the hotel. “There are a few, most certainly.” She
suppressed her amusement as she watched Buck brush dirt from his legs
after having fallen on his knees in an attempt to avoid falling into the
water trough. He had also been staring at her while he walked, which
didn’t help any.

“You could say that, Mom. Definitely!”

The petite Egyptian nodded elegantly at him then slipped an arm through
her daughter’s. “Shall we go somewhere and talk?”

“Absolutely.” She kissed Vin’s cheek. “Better have
Nathan check Buck out. I think he’s tongue-tied.”

“That happens.” Jasa sighed out impishly.

After pulling Grace close for a longer kiss, Vin grinned at her. “I’ll
bet that’s exactly the way you like it.”

“Me?” The ancient smiled sweetly. “Now would I like something like
that?”

“You’d love it and we know it. Oh and Buck, how about taking her bags
to her hotel room for us?” She winked and wrapped her arm in her
mother’s. “See you guys later.”

As the two women walked away, Jasa waved a goodbye at the others and
hid a grin when they waved back.

**end flash**

“You, Jase, are an evil, evil woman.”

“Mmhmm…” The ancient studied her manicure. “I knew that already.”

Cordelia laughed and tossed a throw cushion at her. “Sometimes I think
you’re a 4500 year old teenager.”

“In essence,” Jasa agreed with a chuckle. “I wasn’t far out of them
when I died the first time.”

Grace smiled. “I was 21… I can’t tell you how many times people have
assumed I was older. If they only knew…”

Emily looked between the two women. “I think that’s something that’s
assumed until they know you. Personally, I don’t know of anyone who can
get control of Grace with a look. That HAS to be a parent thing. My
father was the same way. Never had to yell or spank… just look.”

Grace nodded. “It’s a parent thing.”

“And as a teen she was as irrepressible as any other.” Jasa shook her
head. “There were more times I very nearly threw her into the nearest
pond…”

“Even after I was married. It’s true, ladies. No matter how old you
are… or whether or not you’re married… your mother will never fail
to put you on your butt if you need it. And I’ve needed it. Far more
times than any one parent should have to endure.”

Emily snickered. “Having been privy to your chronicles, I believe it.”

Jasa snickered. “Well, she has her good points obviously. Otherwise, I
simply wouldn’t have put up with the rest of it. Fortunately, there
were far more good points than bad to my child. Always it’s that way.”

Grace looked up at her mother and smiled. She wasn’t one who thrived
on comments. But she was rather needy still. “But you have to admit…
I’ve not been the easiest of children. God knows I’ve put you through
enough.” She half-smiled. “And please don’t slap me. Ok?”

“No, I’ll just beat you when we spar later,” her mother replied
distractedly. “Easiest? Gods no, but you’ve certainly kept the last few
centuries lively.”

Grace had to agree. “It’s my nature. And spar? I’d rather not. I’m
on sabbatical from that right now.” She shrugged. “You may have to
pick another way of getting your licks in.”

“Grace?” Fred asked, her voice sounding concerned.

Looking at the girl, she smiled. “It’s ok. I’m going to be fine.
What we’re doing is giving me time. And time for an Immortal stretches a
bit farther than time for a mortal. Look at Mac. We’re still trying
to get him to change from stubborn to mildly agreeable. Hasn’t worked
yet.”

“He’s Scottish, I’m afraid there’s little hope of reforming him.” Jasa
sighed out.

“Don’t I know it.” Cordelia rolled her eyes. “Though, withholding sex
for a few decades might do it.”

The Egyptian nearby laughed, her curls bouncing with the vigor of it.
“Grace, I do like that one.”

Grace had to agree. “Though I like sex too much to hold out. I’d have
to maybe just not use the more erotic positions or something like
that.” She smiled. “I spent too long learning about sex and the glories of
it to withhold it.”

Fred… a bright shade of red… said, “Positions? Like?”

Grace smiled. “Oh darling… there are some… Gunn would die from
sheer bliss.”

Jasa chuckled. “Repeatedly.” She leaned over to grab a potato chip out
of the nearest bowl and smiled impishly. “We’ll explain a few things to
you, I’m sure between Grace and myself, there are a few things we can
teach you.”

Fred picked up her water and drained the glass. Pouring more, she said,
“Charles would be pleasantly surprised.”

Grace winked. “Angel has been at times too. It’s amazing how the body
can bend when you work on it.” She pulled a small piece of silk out of
another box. It was remarkably well preserved. The bells sewn on the
end jingled when she picked it up. “This is from the era where I
learned the most about sex… and positions. I was one wife of 30 or so for
an Saudi king. We were princesses, of course. Only wife number one
got to be queen.” Her brows waggled. “I have other outfits such as
this. First time I wore one for Vin, he about had a heart attack.”

“And by the time she was done,” Jasa snickered. “He probably came very,
very close.”

Cordelia grinned wickedly. “I don’t doubt that one!”

“Well, he was very appreciative. I really enjoyed that era. I could
get by with wearing hardly any clothing. I actually lived a very
sheltered life. The king was very protective of all of us.”

“Especially his favorites huh?” Cordelia teased with a wink. “The one
with the shining hair?”

“I was his golden beauty.” She smiled. “He was very experienced…
obviously. And loved trying new things… being inventive.” She looked
at her mother and the pair shared a raised eyebrow look. In that
instant, Grace and her mother both agreed to share some of those more erotic
stories…

With a gesture, all the women gathered close. Let the lessons begin.

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