Notes & Disclaimers: the fact this story exists is really strange. It’s been years and years since I’ve written in another fandom, and the fact it was Grey’s Anatomy still surprises me. See, Grey’s is the show that got under my skin somehow. It’s not really my usual cup of tea, but it’s become one of my favourites over the last two seasons. I only watched the pilot to see what James Parriot was up to, the guy who created ‘Forever Knight’, one of the fandoms I do usually write in. Well, that was that. Then one morning a few weeks back, I woke up with the idea for this story in my head. After all, Methos has been a doctor more than once over the millennia, so why not a doctor at Seattle Grace?

This story is set at some indeterminate point in season two of Grey’s. Basically I’m going with how things are in the last new episode I saw week before last (April 2006 if you’re reading this months from now) so don’t yell at me because certain doctors aren’t paired up with other certain doctors. It’s not my fault!

If you haven’t ever seen GA, that probably won’t matter. At least, I don’t think it will. I’ve used it for the setting, but the actual story is much more to do with, shall we say, the price of immortality.

Oh, and there’s a special guest appearance by one of my favourite TV doctors, Gregory House. A little bonus for any House M.D. fans out there!

The usual disclaimers apply, all Grey’s anatomy, Highlander, and House M.D. characters belong to their owners and creators, and that’s not me. All original characters do belong to me however.

Thanks to Tammy and Ninjababe for beta reading duties and thanks to you for reading. This story is dedicated to
Phylis for being constantly encouraging in providing feedback and just general warm fuzzies over the last few months!

Please only archive with permission. However, you do have my permission to let me know if you liked the story! Please don’t make me beg :) [insert pathetic sniff] I’m really outside my comfort zone with this one, so I angst!

Irreconcilable Differences

by Ithildin
c. 2006

Emily Scott poured herself a cup of coffee from the carafe on the sideboard, taking a tentative sip; it was actually drinkable today. Taking a larger swallow this time, she walked towards her chair at the large boardroom table, wondering how long the staff meeting was going to take. Only half the doctors had actually arrived and the meeting was due to start in five minutes.

“Dr. Scott,” a male voice said, interrupting her musings.

“Dr. Webber,” she greeted her boss, the Chief of Surgery of Seattle Grace hospital, with a smile. He was a handsome man in his late fifties, dark skin, with a touch of silver hair at his temples and warm friendly eyes.

“Glad to see some of my staff are prompt,” he said, glancing up at the clock on the wall.

“Well, I am the new kid on the block, so I thought it wise to be on my best behavior for at least the first few months,” she replied, grinning.

“An excellent plan, Doctor,” he said, his eyes twinkling. “So, you’ve been here a month now. How are you settling in?”

“I’m doing well, thank you.” She had accepted a position here as part of the Craniofacial Surgery team a little more than a month ago. “I’m grateful that the Doctors Shepherd,” she smiled as the two in question joined them, “put in a good word for me.”

Addison and Derek Shepherd were friends of Emily’s from Manhattan. They’d been surgical residents together, and Emily and Derek had been part of the same practice for several years, in addition to being childhood friends. Emily had taken a leave of absence from her medical career a little more than a year ago, so when she’d contacted them, telling them she was ready to start her life again, they’d insisted she apply for the opening at Seattle Grace.

“All part of the service,” Derek replied, gesturing with his coffee cup. He had a smile that had made more than a few women’s hearts skip a beat over the years. His Irish good looks, dark eyes and dark hair, just added to the impact. There was a reason the female residents called him ‘Dr. McDreamy’.

“We’re just glad to have you with us again,” Addison told her warmly.

“Emmy and Addy, together again,” Derek said in a teasing voice. “The ‘Twins’!” Emily rolled her eyes and Addison smacked her husband on the arm. The two women had started their surgical residencies together, and had more often than not been mistaken for sisters. Their nickname as residents had been ‘The Twins’. They were of similar height and build, both blue-eyed redheads. But while Addison Forbes Shepherd carried herself with an unstudied grace and elegance, Emily had always felt unrefined and awkward in comparison.

“The good words weren’t necessary,” Dr. Webber told her. “You came highly recommended and Seattle Grace is lucky to have you. I’m glad you chose us.”

“Thank you. I’m very happy to be here.”

“Now, let me see if I can round up the rest of my staff,” Dr. Webber said as he headed back to the front of the room.

“How are you doing really?” Addison asked with a touch of concern.

“Addy, I’m fine,” she insisted. “I love it here. And having two of my best friends around again is icing on the cake.”

“And you’re seeking medical attention other than your own?” Derek asked sternly.

“Yes sir, Dr. Shepherd!” Emily threw up her hands. “I swear, I’m now in perfect health, and making sure I stay that way.” She knew why they were concerned. When Emily had quit her job in New York, it had been to deal with the diagnosis of a terminal illness. She’d pretty much dropped off the map for the duration.

Derek squeezed her shoulder. “We just spent a lot of time worrying about you.”

“I know you did,” she said softly. “And I’m sorry I disappeared. It was just the only way I could deal with things at the time.”

‘We know, Em.  Just don’t do it again, okay?” Derek smiled at his old friend fondly.

Addison looked sidelong at her husband before asking, “And have you dealt with all those ‘things’?”

Emily knew she didn’t mean her health. “Let’s just say that certain things are best dealt with by having a continent between you.”  She looked down into her coffee cup pushing back unwelcome memories, missing the look that passed between her friends. Sighing, she squared her shoulders. “Looks like the meeting is finally beginning.”

As they took their seats, Addison said, “Remember you’re coming to dinner tonight.”

“Wouldn’t miss it!”

Finally, the staff meeting seemed to be winding down. Emily had been ready to begin climbing the walls as it had ground interminably on. Just when it seemed that Dr. Webber was finally finished; his assistant came into the room and whispered something into his ear. He nodded, replying quietly to whatever she’d told him.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I was expecting to make this announcement next week.” He took off his glasses. “As many of you know Dr. Perry is leaving us to teach full time…”

Addison and Derek looked at each other in dismay. Derek, sitting next to Emily, put his hand over hers. “We were going to tell you tonight,” Derek began, whispering in Emily’s ear.

Emily’s brow creased in puzzlement. She couldn’t recall who Dr. Perry was offhand. In the month she’d been here, there had been so many names to connect to departments. She began searching her memory. Oh god. He was the head of the Trauma Department. She froze. Not him.  Not here. Only Derek’s hand on hers kept her from leaping out of the chair as she put it all together.

Dr. Webber’s voice continued on in the background like the buzz of a dragonfly. “…. and we’ve been fortunate enough to fill his soon to be vacant position with one of the best in the field, Dr. Adam Pierse.”

And then he was there, the awful assault to her senses in the presence of another Immortal. Immortal, she hated that word, hated what it meant, everything it stood for….

~ New York ~

“Nothing’s changed?” Emily stood in the middle of the loft she’d shared with Adam for nearly the last five years, covered in blood – his blood.

It was supposed to have been a celebration of Adam and Derek completing their surgical residency. Emily and Addison being good sports, three years behind their significant others, putting up with the two men’s crowing over their accomplishment. The two couples had split up after dinner, Addison and Derek heading home to celebrate and Emily and Adam heading home themselves, stopping first at a pub near their loft for one last celebratory drink.

They left the pub, Adam wrapping his arm around Emily’s waist. “It’s a good life.”

“Yeah, it is,” she replied, leaning up to kiss his cheek They turned the corner to the alley that cut across the street to their building. ”Damn!” she said as she felt around her pockets. “I left my gloves back at the pub.”

“Good god, woman, you’d forget you head if it wasn’t screwed on!” he said in fond exasperation.

“Yes, yes, I know!” Emily was forever leaving things behind. Cell phones, gloves, scarves, hats, jackets, iPods; the list was endless. Adam swore he spent half his time picking up after her, like Hansel collecting breadcrumbs. “I’ll run back and get them. I swear I’ll be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail!” She looked up at him winsomely.

He rolled his eyes, grabbing her by the shoulders and kissing her hard before releasing her with a little push. “Go!”

She quickly found her gloves. The bartender, having more than a little experience with Emily’s habit of forgetting her belongings, had put them behind the bar for safekeeping. She waved her thanks, hurrying out of the pub to rejoin her partner. The night was young, she was off tomorrow, and she wasn’t on call. Emily had some very definite plans with what she was going to do with the free time -- and she was quite sure Adam wouldn’t object to any of them.

She rounded the corner to the alley just as the shots were fired, screaming as she saw Adam fall. The gunman whirled at the sound, waving his gun in Emily’s direction before turning and running back down the alley away from her.

Rushing to her lover’s side, she threw herself next to him, pressing her hands against the chest wounds, the blood gushing up between her fingers. Pulling off her coat and scarf she pressed them into the wounds, trying to staunch the flow of blood. “Adam! Listen to me, you’ve got to hold on! You can’t die!” She felt at his throat for a pulse, not finding one. “No!” she screamed. “Don’t leave me alone, Adam, please,” she pleaded. But she knew it was too late; he was gone. Emily collapsed across his still body, sobbing inconsolably. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

After some seemingly endless span of time, she pushed herself up from the ground, with no tears left, only a vast aching emptiness in her heart. Turning away from his body, she walked a little space away, leaning against a wall as she fumbled in the purse that was still slung across her shoulder for her cell phone. Finally finding it, she began to dial 911, but before she could press the last key, a hand enveloped hers. “Don’t,” a voice said. Emily felt her heart skip a beat. Immobilized by shock, all she could do was faint at Adam’s feet as he came to stand in front of her.

She’d come to on her own sofa, Adam looking down at her with concern. He helped her sit up, pressing a glass into her hand. “Drink this, it’ll make you feel better.” She did as he said, taking a swallow of the brandy. Adam had removed his blood soaked shirt and sweater, and Emily’s eyes were fixated on his chest, unmarked but for the blood that covered it; no sign at all of the three bullets that had struck him. She took another drink, and then her hands began to shake uncontrollably. Adam took the glass, setting it down. “Emmy,” he began quietly.

Pushing him away, she practically fell off the sofa, scrambling away from him, holding out a restraining hand. “What are you?” Briefly she wondered if she’d suffered some sort of mental collapse at Adam’s death and this was some sort of hallucination.

“You’re not crazy,” he said, as if reading her thoughts.

Shaking her head, she forced her voice to work. “You died.” She held out her bloodstained hands, looking down at her blood soaked clothing. “This is your blood.” 

He stood up, but didn’t move any closer. “I’ll tell you everything, but you need to sit down before you fall down,” he told her as she swayed unsteadily.

Emily backed up a little farther, sinking into a nearby chair. Adam came only close enough to hand her the glass of brandy, then sat back down on the sofa to begin his story.

When he’d finally finished, Emily swallowed the last of the liquor, staring into the depths of the empty glass, not saying a word. Finally standing, she turned away from him, trying to absorb what he’d told her. Immortals, quickenings, duels to the death – absolutely insane, but there he was, the living proof.

“Emmy,” he finally said into the silence, “nothing’s changed.”

Whirling, she looked at him in disbelief. “Nothing’s changed?” Suddenly furious, she threw the glass she still held. It flew past him, smashing into the wall behind. “Nothing’s changed?” This time she screamed it.

“No! I’m still the same man you’ve known for the last five years, the same man you’ve shared your bed with for most of that time, the same man who loves you.”

Burying her face in her bloodstained hands, Emily began to cry. Adam put a tentative hand on her shoulder. When she didn’t pull away, he drew her to him, wrapping his arms around her shuddering body, pulling her close. “Everything’s going to be okay,” he whispered. “I promise.”

~ Present Day ~

In the distance she heard her name mentioned, and forced herself to pay attention. Still Derek gripped her hand.

“Yes, the Doctors Shepherd, Dr. Scott, and I were surgical residents together in New York,” she heard him reply.

She swallowed hard, forcing herself to calm. Derek removed his hand and she shot him and Addison an accusing look before finally looking down the table to where Adam stood next to Dr. Webber. She just looked at him for a moment transfixed. He was exactly as she remembered every night in her dreams, and every morning that she woke. The lean grace, the arresting profile, the dark unkempt hair, the voice that could make her knees weak. Others of the staff had risen to greet their new colleague, and she watched as he responded to their greetings and shook hands. Then he looked straight at her, pinning her with his dark gaze. Addison was saying something to her, but she didn’t know what. “I need to go,” she said, pushing away from the table and bolting out of her chair. With the crowd of staff members between her and Adam, she made her escape.

A few minutes later, having practically run out of the building, Emily sank down onto a bench under a tree on the hospital grounds. This could not be happening. How could he be here in Seattle just as she was putting the pieces of her life back together? She drew her legs up, wrapping her arms around her knees. Seeing him again, after more than a year, had been a shock she wasn’t at all prepared for. Too many memories, too many emotions, so much love and passion that had turned into distrust and pain….

~ New York ~

More than two years had passed since Emily had discovered Adam’s secret. With both their careers – the last part of her surgical residency and his Fellowship – she’d been so busy that it was almost too easy to compartmentalize his revelations. And he’d been right, nothing really had changed, at least outwardly. Or so Emily chose to believe.  It was just easier to rationalize everything that had happened, putting her love for Adam and their life together first and everything else second. But finally, as it was wont to do, reality made an appearance.

They’d had a rare day and night off together and had decided to take in a play. Something by Shakespeare -- Emily didn’t really care -- it was just a night that wasn’t being spent at the hospital. Adam was telling her some ridiculous story about the Bard himself, one she wasn’t sure she quite believed; whether Adam had been there or not. He’d gone to get her a glass of champagne at the bar before the play started when a blonde, green-eyed man approached her. They were in a public place, but something about him scared her. She looked around for Adam, but she couldn’t see him in the press of people that filled the theater lobby.

“All alone? Such a shame,” the man said with mock sincerity in a voice that held a hint of a Slavic accent. “It really isn’t safe for a woman such as yourself to be out all alone in the big city.”

Before she could form a reply, Adam said from behind her, “She isn’t a part of this,” as he pulled her behind him.

“So she does have a protector. All the better.”

Adam turned to her, gripping her shoulder. His eyes held a look she’d never seen before, and it terrified her. “Go home, Emily,” he commanded softly. When she started to protest, he dug his fingers into her flesh, making her wince. “We’ve talked about this, now you need to do as I say. Do you understand?”

She found herself nodding. The man that looked down at her wasn’t her Adam. This was a stranger. The voice she’d always found mesmerizing now sent a shiver of fear down her spine. He released her, brushing his thumb across her lips before abruptly turning away, following the stranger out the front doors of the theater.

Emily poured more bourbon into her glass; her hand shaking so badly that most of it spilled across the sideboard. Why hadn’t she done as Adam had asked and gone home instead of following him? She would never be able to wipe the images from her mind. She didn’t know what had possessed her, but she had to follow. It was a compulsion she barely understood, but one she’d obeyed. She watched them fight, metal clashing on metal, and the realization struck her that Adam wasn’t even trying; he so overmatched his opponent. She saw that same realization cross the face of the man from the theater just before Adam’s blade removed his opponent’s head from his body. The same hands she’d witnessed dozens of times in surgery, using the same deft control to decapitate his opponent, had been a dichotomy that she’d been unable to reconcile. Adam had seen her standing there, his eyes capturing hers accusingly just before the quickening had overtaken him. Unable to bear anymore, Emily had fled into the night.

Now, hours later, the predawn light tingeing the sky, she heard his key in the lock. She didn’t move from her spot on the sofa, legs drawn up, holding a pillow across her chest like a shield. Silently, she watched him enter the large room, his eyes unerringly seeking her out, as if he knew exactly where she was.

“You never make things easy, do you, Emily? Was it so impossible for you to do as I asked?” He sounded tired and angry.

Instead of responding to his accusation, she replied with one of her own. “I thought you weren’t coming back. It’s been hours.”

Scrubbing at his hair, he went to the sideboard, pouring himself a glass of scotch. Taking a swallow of it, he shook his head. “It was better for me and for you if I didn’t come home right away.”

“Why? Because you were angry that I followed you?” God knew she and Adam had had some spectacular fights over the years, but never once had he walked out on her. Thinking he was so angry with her that he didn’t come home was not something she wanted to really contemplate.

He took another drink, not answering, not looking at her.

“Damn it, Adam! Answer me!”

Putting down the glass, he turned abruptly, crossing the distance between them in a few steps, ripping the pillow she still held from her hands. Pulling her roughly to her feet, he snaked a hand into her hair, pulling her head back, his other hand pinioning her wrists behind her back, holding her immobile. “This is why,” he said, before his lips took hers in a fierce kiss, pressing her against the lean tautness of his body. Before she even had a chance to react, he pulled away, his hands coming to rest around her throat. “Do I frighten you, Emmy?” His hands tightened. “I should. I am everything that should terrify you,” he told in her a low voice that made her shiver.

“Stop it,” she pleaded in a strained whisper. “You would never hurt me.”

“Are you sure of that?” This time, his voice wasn’t angry, but mocking.

“Yes!” She closed her eyes, taking a deep breath, feeling his hands around her neck, knowing what those hands were capable of.

“Then you’re a fool!” he snarled, suddenly releasing her, pushing her away from him.

Emily stumbled, falling back onto the sofa he’d pulled her off of. She pounded the cushion with a fist. “Don’t you dare!” She exploded off the sofa, grabbing his arm. “I stood here two years ago, covered in your blood, and you told me nothing had changed. You were the one with the secret, the one who chose to make a life with me. Did you honestly think you could keep me from seeing all of it? Did you?” Emily was so angry she could barely breath. “So you tell me who the fool is!”

“Fine! Maybe I was a fool for thinking I could trust you to do as I asked! Something that important, something you knew was life or death. It was something you didn’t need to see -- that I didn’t want you to see. So yes, I guess I was a fool, wasn’t I, Emily?” he asked the last bitterly.

“You didn’t want me to see you kill a man, or to see just how good you were at it?” The words fell from her lips, and a part of her regretted them, but she was too angry to care.

Adam’s eyes were shuttered. “Are you done?” he asked coolly, as if she were a stranger.

“Not even close!”

“Well that’s too bad, because I am.” He pulled his arm from her grasp, stalking away from her.

Emily had let him go. He’d gone to his office-cum-gym, slamming the door behind him. She didn’t need to see him to know he was doing one of his katas -- probably one of the really long and complicated ones, considering his mood. He’d be at that for the better part of two hours, so she took a shower, and did her best to calm down, so that when Adam finally came out, she wouldn’t fly into full attack mode.  That’s how they usually resolved their differences: she’d scream, he’d be scathing, and one of them would storm off to another room to cool down. Part of her was counting on that same familiarity to get them through this latest strife.

Making coffee, she took leftover Danish from the morning before and stuck it in the microwave to freshen up. Despite everything, she was starving. Taking a few bites, she decided that day old pastries weren’t going to cut it. Real food was in order.

A short while later, Emily piled juice, coffee, fresh fruit, sausages, and Belgian waffles on a tray. Taking a deep breath, she decided to beard the lion in his den. It might have been one of the most serious fights they’d had, but she wanted to make an attempt at peace. With her hands full, she kicked at the door with her foot in lieu of knocking. Sooner than she’d expected, Adam pulled the door open. She’d thought he’d be more stubborn. Maybe he was tired of fighting too. “I figured you’d be hungry,” was all she said as she moved past him, placing the tray on the edge of his desk.

She glanced over her shoulder. He stood with hands on his hips, looking at the floor. Sighing softly, she said, “I’ll let you eat.” Moving past him, she paused briefly, wanting to touch him, but uncertain if she should. After all these years, she still feared rejection. Before she could decide what to do, Adam’s long fingers grasped her wrist gently.

“Don’t go.”

She looked up at him, but he still avoided her gaze. At least it was a start. Nodding, she entwined her fingers in his as they walked over to the tray of food on the desk.

“Were you expecting a troupe of dwarves to join us?” he asked facetiously, looking down at the mound of food.

Instead of answering, she picked up a waffle and pushed it into his mouth. “Shut up and eat,” she said with a small smile. Adam, with the waffle still in his mouth, picked up the tray, placing it on the floor, both of them sitting down to either side. Despite Adam’s twitting about dwarves, she noted that he ate the majority of the food she’d brought.

Emily leaned against the desk, sipping her coffee, watching him sidelong. She had so many questions, but was afraid to even start. How could someone so familiar be a stranger at the same time? She remembered the first time she’d seen him. Even in a house full of people, he’d commanded her attention as if he were the only man there. And still, all these years later, he remained the only man for her.

“Stop burning holes into my skull and say what you need to, Emily,” he said acerbically, turning his head to catch her staring at him, no matter how surreptitious she’d thought she’d been.

Dropping her eyes guiltily, she took another sip of her coffee, not saying a word. 

Sighing, he took her chin in a firm grasp, forcing her to meet his gaze. “Emily.” It was more of a command than anything else, and her eyes sparked in annoyance. Before she could object to his tone, he kissed her, just as commandingly as he’d said her name. She gave in to the feel of his mouth insistent against hers, her lips parting, inviting deeper exploration. For a moment, their problems were forgotten, the only reality the sensation of his body against hers. Then his lips gentled, one hand removing her coffee cup from her fingers before she spilled all over both of them. He pulled her into his lap, his hands slipping up under her top, caressing the soft skin beneath. Pulling slightly away, he whispered, “You are the most difficult woman.”

“Like you’re any picnic,” she objected, a smile brushing her lips.

“You may have a valid point at that,” he agreed good-naturedly, kissing the tip of her nose. Then more seriously, he continued, “What is it you want to know, Emmy?” At her look of uncertainty, he added, “You can ask me whatever you like. I promise I won’t be angry.”

She nodded, pulling gently out of his hold. He didn’t stop her as she moved farther away, sitting cross-legged across from him. Suddenly, she didn’t know what to say. She twisted the delicate silk fabric of her pajama top nervously. Glancing up at him briefly, she looked away before saying in a babbled rush, “The man… you were so lethal… you surprised him, I could see that on his face just before…” she faltered. Finally, she looked at him. “You’re a doctor, a brilliant and gifted surgeon, you save lives everyday with your skill. I don’t understand how both of those can be!”

Not meeting her questioning eyes, his jaw tightened. “I was very good at killing. Perhaps the irony of saving lives appealed to me.” His voice held that slightly mocking tone that she hated.

“That is a load of crap!” she said angrily. He only quirked an eyebrow at her outburst. “Damn it, Adam! You tell me to ask you whatever I want, and then you can’t even do me the courtesy of giving me a real answer! If you’re going to mock me, then screw you!” Emily jumped to her feet, fighting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her.  Sometimes she absolutely hated him. He expected her to trust him, but it was obvious he didn’t trust her and probably never would. Throwing open the door, she ran from the room. She hadn’t gotten far before Adam grabbed her arm, stopping her flight.

“Emmy, I’m sorry!” 

“Let go of me!” Instead of releasing her, he grabbed her other arm, pulling her around to face him. She struggled futilely against his seemingly unbreakable hold. Suddenly tired beyond bearing, she practically collapsed against him. Scooping her into his arms, he made soothing sounds as he carried her to their bedroom.

He set her gently on the bed, holding her as she began to cry. “Gods, Emmy, please don’t cry. I’m a bastard, you know that, and I’m sorrier than you could possibly know.”

Emily covered her face with her hands, trying to control her emotions. “I can accept almost anything, Adam. But I can no longer accept that you don’t trust me.” Before he could object, she continued, “No, it’s true, you know it is. If you can’t let me into your life after seven years, then what’s the point? I know, that for you, it’s an eye blink, it’s nothing, but for me… but for me…” She shook her head, finding it almost impossible to continue. “I can’t do this anymore. I’ll always love you, but I can’t be with you anymore. It hurts too much.” Taking a deep breath, she stiffened. “I’ll stay with Derek and Addison until my residency is done, and I’ll take the Fellowship in California. We don’t need to see each other again.” Her heart was breaking; that had to be the pain she felt. Angling her body away from him, she shut him out, refusing to look at him. “I hope that one day, there will be someone you can love and trust. You deserve that, even if you don’t believe it.”

She felt him get off the bed, and it was as if her world was ending. This is for the best, she told herself sternly. Emily clenched her fists into her chest, hunching over as if to ward off the pain. Nothing in her life had prepared her for this moment. Then his hands were covering hers as he crouched at her feet. “My name is Methos, and I’ve walked this Earth for more than five thousand years….” 

~ Present Day ~

Emily worked through the rest of her day, practically on autopilot. Addison, and then Derek, had approached her, convincing her to come to their place for dinner as planned. As much as she wanted to be angry with them, she knew it wasn’t fair. They had no real idea of the depth of Adam’s betrayal. Nor would they ever. There was a part of her that wished she could confide in her best friends -- in anybody. But that was something that could never be.

All these thoughts pounded at her as she drove up the road to the property that Derek and Addison’s trailer was on. She pulled her Land Rover in behind Derek’s car, turning off the engine and leaning back into the seat tiredly. Maybe she should have stayed home tonight. She wasn’t sure if she was up to the Shepherds’ well-meaning interference. Too late though, as she saw Derek heading purposefully towards her.

He opened her door, extending a hand. “Don’t think I don’t know you were planning to turn right around again,” he accused with a grin.

“Guilty as charged.” She took the proffered hand. “But then I thought of the salmon you promised me, and decided to tough it out!” Giggling at the look of mock offense on his face, she let him help her from the SUV.

Kissing her on the forehead, Derek, keeping hold of her hand, let her towards the trailer. “I like the whole smiling and happy thing. Think you could make more of a habit of it?”

“It’s a possibility,” she allowed.

“Emmy!” Addison greeted her as she crossed the deck. “See? I told you she’d come!” the stunning redhead said to her husband as she wrapped Emily in a hug. “Was it the company or the salmon?” she asked wryly.

“I plead the fifth!”

“Hah!” Addison stroked Emily’s hair affectionately. “It’s nice to see you smile.”

“What is it with you two and me smiling?” Emily asked in mock indignation. “Isn’t anyone going to offer me a beer?”

A few hours, and a few beers, later, Emily was feeling much more relaxed and very glad she had decided to come. They sat around the fireplace on the deck, and Derek had just finished telling Addison about the time Emily and his sister Elizabeth had tried to build a tree house when they were twelve. Emily was laughing so hard she was almost in tears. “I swear, Derek Shepherd, I’ll tell Addison all your childhood secrets if you don’t stop right now!”

“I bet I have more embarrassing stories abut you than you do about me!” Derek countered with a wicked grin.

“So, you’re a betting man, are you Doctor Shepherd?” Emily peered at him through slit eyes.

Derek pondered for a moment, before replying. “Well, maybe that’s enough stories about the good old days!”

“Chicken!” Emily hooted with laughter.

“Hey, no fair!” Addison protested. “I want to hear all the dirt she has on you!”

Their friendly banter was interrupted by the sound of a car engine. “Maybe it’s Meredith to visit the dog?” Derek said. Addison shrugged.

They all turned towards the vehicle as it approached, and Emily stiffened just as her two friends recognized the truck. “Em, I swear we didn’t ask him here tonight,” Addison said softly.

Emily shook her head. “I know. It’s not your fault.”

Derek got up to meet their newest guest, and Emily hunched over in her chair, not looking at him. Addison put a comforting hand on Emily’s arm, looking back and forth between her and Adam.

“Adam, we weren’t expecting you tonight.” Derek said into the strained silence.

“No. I’m sorry. I suppose I should have called first.”

Emily stood up, saying to Addison, “I should go.”

‘No, Em, please. Come inside for a bit?” Addison bit at her lip, looking at her husband for support.

Before Derek could reply, Adam took a step towards the two women. “Come now, Addy. You know that running away is what Emily does best,” he said acidly.

Emily looked at him briefly; his face all harsh outlines and planes in the flickering firelight, looking at her accusingly -- an all too familiar expression….

~ New Jersey/New York ~

Emily sat straight in her chair, the words of the petite brunette woman sitting across from her passing by unheard.

“Dr. Scott? Emily,” she said for what Emily realized was the second time.

Bringing herself back to the world around her with some effort, Emily smiled reassuringly at the younger woman. “It’s okay, Alison. You’re only confirming what I already suspected.”

“We could run more tests…” she offered.

“You and I both know that would be pointless.”

“I’m so sorry. Is there someone I could call for you? You shouldn’t be alone.”

Before Emily could reply, a tall, thin man, using a cane entered the office. He appeared to have forgotten to shave for several days and looked like he’d slept in his clothes. But none of that could mask the intelligence behind his blue eyes. “Okay, Cameron, let the grownups take it from here. Ah!” he said with a quelling look, as she began to protest, pulling the file from her hand.

Emily smiled despite herself. “It’s alright, Dr. Cameron. I’ll see you before I leave.”

“Are you sure, Dr. Scott?” Alison didn’t look at all sure about leaving her alone with the man.

“I’m sure,” she said, as the other woman stood up. Emily took Alison’s hand, looking up at her fondly.  “Please don’t worry about me.”

“Go!” The man pointed to the door with his cane, before taking the chair Alison had just vacated. She glared at him one last time before doing as he ordered.

“That’s all very touching,” he said acerbically, “but you’re the patient and she’s the doctor and it isn’t your job to make her feel better.”

“Mmm, yes, ‘coddling the children’, I believe I’ve been told before.” She smiled slightly. “It isn’t part of the usual routine that a doctor has to tell a teacher and a friend that she’s dying. I think you can cut Cameron a little slack just this once.” He grunted noncommittally. “So, Dr. House, I must have even less time to live than I thought if you’re taking an interest. I’m flattered!”

His intensely blue eyes searched hers before he replied, “I’m sorry, but gallows humour is my shtick, Dr. Scott. You’ll have to get your own.”

Emily laughed. “I’ll take that under advisement.”

A ghost of what might have been a smile touched his lips. “I have to wonder why one of the top surgeons in her field, with access to the very best diagnostic facilities would come all the way to Princeton Plainsboro.”

“If you were dying, Dr. House, would you want to everyone you work with to know within an hour of your diagnosis?”

Shaking his head, he leaned back in the chair. “No. But you have more to lose than I would. You’re a surgeon. If it were to become common knowledge…” he trailed off, twirling his cane like a baton.

Snorting, Emily refused to take the bait. “I have no intention of picking up a scalpel ever again, if that’s what you’re worried about.” She crossed her arms, daring him to contradict her. But he seemed satisfied. “I simply value my privacy.”

Nodding, he looked at her appraisingly. “So you don’t want your colleagues to know. I can understand that. But what about those close to you? Dr. Pierse, for example.”

“Aren’t you remarkably well informed?”

“Cameron’s a big old gossip,” he said brightly. “I can see why you’d want to keep it from him. Trauma surgeons are all about control and power – they’re probably the worst of the breed. Finding out you’re dying, something he can’t fix, or control, well, that’s not going to be easy for him to accept.” He was looking at her intently once more, as if weighing her response.

He really was insufferable. But at the same time, she found the verbal sparring bracing in her present state of mind. It wasn’t as if she hadn’t suspected for weeks that something was seriously wrong, but hearing the words from Alison had been a blow despite trying to prepare herself for the inevitable news. “I’m not keeping it from him! Not that it’s any of your business.”

House looked around the office. “Oh? I don’t see him here. I can’t imagine a man letting the woman he loves come to another state, alone, for a potentially terminal diagnosis.”

Emily practically growled in irritation. “I’ll tell him when I go home. I will!” she insisted, not sure why she cared what the cantankerous diagnostician believed or not. “I was just trying to protect him for as long as I could. There was a woman he was with before we met – she died of cancer. Now I have to tell him that he gets to do it all over again.”

“He and Cameron should compare notes,” he said under his breath, looking slightly abashed when Emily glared at him.

“I just have to find the words,” she said mostly to herself.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Dr. Scott.” His voice softened. “Cameron was right about one thing, you shouldn’t be alone and more than that, you don’t have to tell him alone. Bring him here, and I’ll tell him with you, or let me call one of your colleagues in Manhattan.”

She looked off into space, reality finally setting in. Finally she spoke. “Maybe that would be best. I’ll think about.”

He glanced down at her open file. “There are some experimental treatments being tried at a clinic in Argentina,” he began.

Laughing humourlessly, she shook her head. “Experimental treatments? You’re the last person I expected to condone tossing aside traditional medicine for some South American clinic!”

“You’re facing a death sentence and traditional medicine isn’t going to offer you any sort of reprieve.”

“You don’t think I know that?” she snapped.

“No, I think you do know. But your well-meaning colleagues and loved ones won’t accept it, not really. And then they’ll wear you down, convince you to try accepted treatments that might buy you a few weeks, maybe a few months; you’ll go along with it to make them happy, because that’s what you do. But none of it will matter because the outcome is inevitable! Why not throw the dice? You don’t have anything to lose.”

“When you put it like that…” she tried to make it a joke. “It might go into remission.” She sounded ridiculous, even to her own ears. Grasping at invisible straws.

“The million to one shot? I didn’t know you were a betting woman, Doctor.”

“Neither did I.”

Emily unlocked the door to the loft, relieved to know that Adam would be at work, and that she had a few more hours before she had to face him. She’d taken Dr. House’s advice, and he’d called Derek, informing him of her diagnosis. He was going to come over before Adam came home, and they would tell him together. She dropped her suitcase and purse in the entry, before walking tiredly into the living room.

“Did you have a nice visit with Alison?”

Emily jumped, startled. “Adam! You scared me half to death!” Her heart sank, seeing him sitting there. How long would it take for him to figure out something was wrong? “I thought you were working today?”

“I took the afternoon off.”

Nodding, she answered his question, “Yes, we did have a nice visit.” She’d told him she was going on a retreat at a convent near Alison’s home, and that she was going to visit her before coming back to New York. Emily went on retreats often enough that it was as plausible a reason for her trip as anything was. Kissing him lightly, she perched on the edge of the coffee table, across from the chair he sat in. “Miss me?” She fought to keep her voice level. “You look tired,” she added. He did look tired… and something else. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of the expression on his face actually. “You work too hard. Did you even eat a decent meal while I was away?” He really hated it when she fussed, she knew that, but couldn’t help herself from asking. Who would ask when she was gone?

The silence stretched uncomfortably. “Adam? Is something wrong?” She unconsciously twisted at the sleeve of her blouse in nervous tension. This time, she had no problem figuring out his expression. He was furious.

Then the words dropped coldly into the silence. “Is there? Why don’t you tell me, Emily.”

Swallowing, she tried to remember how to breathe. He knew. She didn’t know how he knew, but he did. “How?” she croaked.

“Because I made it my business to find out.” His words were clipped and icy. He didn’t raise his voice, and that made it all the worse. Yelling she could deal with, but when he was like this…. “You left a trail a blind man could follow. Did you really think you could deceive me? You’re a babe in the woods.”

Wrapping her arms around herself, Emily took a deep breath, feeling sick. This was an absolute nightmare.

“Do you know that at first, I thought you might be having an affair?” She looked up in shock at that. “For weeks you’ve been distracted, distant, not where you were supposed to be too many times. But I pushed my suspicions aside.” He laughed harshly. “And then you told me about your trip. I knew you were lying, it was written all over your face. So I decided to find out what was going on once and for all. Do you know how it made me feel to find out you didn’t trust me enough to tell me what was happening? What you were going through? But you trusted Derek, didn’t you?”

“Derek told you?” she asked disbelievingly.

“He didn’t have to! He’s almost as bad a liar as you are,” he said in disgust. “It only confirmed everything I’d already found out on my own. And if you hadn’t forgotten your cell phone at home, ---“ he tossed the cell to her “--- you’d have gotten one of the dozens of messages from him forewarning you.”

She stared blankly at the phone in her hand. How could he have so thoroughly misjudged her? “It isn’t like that at all! You have it all wrong! I trust you, you know I do.”

“No more lies, Emily,” he bit out, abruptly getting out of the chair and turning away from her.

He started to walk away. “Methos, please, you have to let me explain.” That stopped him. She rarely used his real name – he’d been Adam to her for too many years – so when she did, it never failed to get his attention.

“It wasn’t about not trusting you, it was about protecting you.” She placed her hand against his back, feeling how tensely he was holding himself. “Derek knew as a doctor, nothing more. Dr. House convinced me that I shouldn’t tell you alone, so he called Derek. He was going to come here before you got home tonight and I was going to tell you everything.”

“None of this was necessary,” he said quietly. “You should have told me weeks ago. You should have never gone through this alone.”

Emily took a deep breath. At least he was listening to her now. “But don’t you see, I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t bear to.” She took his hand, drawing him back to sit next to her on the sofa. “You told me about Alexa once. How could I tell you I thought I was terminally ill? At least until I knew for certain. I was trying to protect you from the truth for as long as I could.”

“Emmy,” he began.

“No, Methos please let me finish. There’s so much I need to say to you. Please.” He nodded, and she sighed in relief. This was so hard and not at all as she had planned. “You know I believe in an afterlife, that death is not the end. And I know you don’t share my belief, but you’ve always accepted that about me. I’m at peace with what’s to come, but it grieves me more than you will ever know that I’ll be leaving you alone in a life surrounded by death.” Her voice broke, and she fought back the wave of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her. “I hate everything about the life you are forced to live: the killing, the Game, the loneliness. I can’t really comprehend the thousands of years behind you, or the thousands before you. Immortality isn’t a gift; it’s a cruelty!” she said the last angrily. “I can’t protect you from that life, but I can try and protect you from my death.”

Taking his hands in hers, she looked up at him. “Dr. House told me about a clinic in Argentina. There are some experimental treatments they’re trying there. I’m going to go, and I don’t want you to come with me. No, you promised you’d let me finish,” she interjected as he began to protest. “I can’t make you stay away, but I’m hoping you’ll agree to abide by my wishes. I don’t want you to watch me die. I don’t want your last memories of me to be like your last of Alexa. I need you to let me go now, not six months from now when I’m a shell of what I am.”

Methos pulled her to him, enveloping her in his embrace. Then he pulled slightly away, keeping his hands on her shoulders. “Emmy, now you need to listen to me. There’s something I have to tell you. The reason I wish you’d told me what was going on, besides the obvious, is because you’ve put yourself through so much unnecessary suffering.”

He dropped his eyes and Emily thought that ironically enough, he looked like he had to tell someone they were dying. Dr. House would appreciate the ‘gallows humour’ in that thought.

Then he said something that ripped the foundations from her world. “You don’t need to die, Emmy, at least not permanently. You’re like me, or you will be, Immortal.”

The colour drained from her face as she sat there in shock, frozen in the moment. She closed her eyes in silent prayer. Dear God, give me strength. Somewhere Methos’ voice went on, but she couldn’t focus on his words. Emily didn’t think anything could be worse than being told she was dying, but she’d been so wrong.  Her brain registered the words ‘violent death’ and she snapped back, trying to catch up with what he’d been saying.

“… a violent death. I know how it sounds, Emmy, but you have to trust me that it will be quick and relatively painless compared to what the alternative awaiting you is.”

Shaking her head, she looked at him in horror. Hadn’t he heard a word she’d said? Pulling away from him, she leapt to her feet. “No! Absolutely not!”

~ Present Day ~

Clenching her fists, she shook her head sharply. She wanted to run, but she refused to give him the satisfaction.

“That is enough, Adam!” Derek said harshly. “We need to talk.” He took the other man’s arm, pulling him away. Adam looked at her one last time before following Derek into the dark.

“Come inside, Em, please.”

Emily nodded, beginning to shake as Addison put an arm around her shoulders leading her into the trailer.

Emily cried until she had no tears left, Addison handing her handfuls of tissue and plying her with scotch. Drained, she buried her head in her arms on the table. She heard the door open, and Derek say, “He’s gone, Em.”

She looked up at him. “You’re always coming to my rescue.”

“What’s a big brother for after all?” he asked, attempting to hide his concern behind a smile.

Wiping her eyes with a tissue, she smiled tremulously. “You have no idea how many times I wished you really were my brother when we were children.”

“Hey,” he sat next to her, putting an arm around her, “we may not be related by blood, but you’ve been a Shepherd since that day I found you looking through the fence at us playing in our yard, out in the falling snow without a winter coat.” She nodded, remembering. “You were a little bitty thing, all bones, with eyes the size of saucers.”

“When you came over to talk to me, I was terrified. I remember you lured me to your house with the promise of hot chocolate and cookies.”

“I may have only been twelve, but I knew you needed more than just a square meal. You needed someone to love you.”

Emily thought she was going to start crying again at the tenderness in Derek’s voice as they both remembered that scared little girl. Addison dabbed at one eye with a tissue and Emily squeezed her hand. “And then your mom gave me an old winter coat of Elizabeth’s before I went home. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever owned. I was scared my mom would be angry with me for taking it. But of course, she was never sober enough to notice.” Emily said the last without bitterness. The late Candace Scott hadn’t been a bad woman, just a weak one. She’d never physically abused Emily, just neglected her in a nearly permanent vodka induced haze.

Things hadn’t gotten really bad till Emily’s father had been killed when she was eight. After that, her mother’s tendency to drink a little too much and turned into much more. Two years later, they’d moved into the house that Emily’s grandmother had left her daughter. It was the turning point in Emily’s young life, because next door lived the Shepherd family. And from the day Derek had discovered his new neighbour staring longingly through the fence at him and his sisters playing in the snow, Emily had never been alone again.

“He loves you, Em,” Derek said simply.

She shook her head. “Do we have to talk about this now?”

“Yeah, I think we do. He’s here now, you’re going to have to deal with everything you’ve been trying to avoid this last year.”

“Don’t you think I know that? He couldn’t leave me in peace, he had to come here and screw with my life!”

“Hey, I was the one that introduced you two, remember? Despite the fact that putting you together was like mixing fire and gasoline, it was obvious to anyone with eyes that you were meant for each other. Adam isn’t going to let go of you so easily, Em.”

“He regrets how he handled things, he’s told us that,” Addison told her friend. “I know you feel like he betrayed you, when he refused to accept how you decided to deal with your illness, but sometimes we make stupid decisions when we’re hurting. But you have another chance now, Em. You went into remission. Not many people get a miracle like that.”

If only they knew what had really happened.  For the thousandth time, she wished she could tell her friends the real truth. Emily felt so alone, and completely isolated, and she knew Methos was counting on that as he tried to insinuate himself back into her life. He was a manipulative bastard and she wouldn’t let him twist her life into knots again.

“None of that matters anymore. Whether he regrets what he did or not is immaterial. I stopped loving him a long time ago.”

“Liar.” Derek took her hand. “If you didn’t still love him, you wouldn’t feel like your heart was being ripped from your chest.” He reached across the table and took Addison’s hand as well. “I have personal experience in that area.” He and his wife shared a tender smile.

“Fine, maybe part of me still loves him, but I’m working on that, believe me! Look, I never wanted to put the two of you in the middle. I know Adam is your friend, Derek, one of your best. If I’d ever imagined he’d follow me, I would have never come to Seattle.” You were a fool not to realize this is exactly what he’d to, she berated herself. Methos was possessive and implacable when it came to getting what he wanted. She shivered a little at the realization that what he still wanted was her.

“Don’t you dare say that!” Addison scolded. “You’re family, and we love both of you. If we’re in the middle it’s because we’re busybodies.” She grinned.

“Okay, that, I can agree with!” Emily drew both her friends in for a heartfelt hug.

The next morning, only an hour into the start of her shift, Emily had been paged into surgery. Now, she and Derek paused a moment before entering the OR.

“Are you going to be okay?” he asked. They’d both been called into Trauma One by Adam, whose patient was a ten-year-old girl who’d been in the front seat of a car with no seatbelt on when it hit a tree.

“Yeah, of course. I’m a professional, so is he.”

“I’m not questioning your professionalism, Em. But you know what he’s like in surgery, and you’re already less than kindly disposed towards him.” He said the last quietly as two nurses passed by.

She glanced through the window into the operating room, noting the presence of two of the first year residents. “He has children to terrorize, it’ll keep him from paying all that much attention to me. Besides, I’m not a junior resident anymore.” She quirked a brow at Derek, her blue eyes huge above the surgical mask.

“After you, Dr. Scott,” was all he said, and she knew that under the mask, he was grinning.

Taking a deep breath, she nodded and they were on.

Emily and Derek were much more than best friends – they were a team. And now, they were doing what they did best. Emily was carefully trying to reconstruct the shattered bits of the girl’s skull, while Derek worked on the brain underneath. So intent was she on the task at hand, working almost as one with Derek, she barely remembered Adam was there at all. She couldn’t even really say how much time had passed when she finally registered his voice speaking to someone. It was more the tone than the actual words that drew her attention.

“Dr. Stevens, are we keeping you from something?” Adam asked derisively. “Because if we are, I’m sure we can find someone to replace you.”

“No, I’m sorry, Dr. Pierse, it won’t happen again,” the young resident stammered.

Emily wondered just what the young woman had done to incur Adam’s ire. Not that it would take much. It never had. He was an exacting taskmaster.

“You have something to add, Dr. Grey?” His tone implied she’d better not if she knew what was good for her.

“Nothing, Doctor,” came the measured reply. But Emily could see her eyes were snapping.

Emily looked sidelong at Derek and rolled her eyes. His eyes laughed in response. Some things never changed.

Adam hadn’t missed their silent exchange. “It seems everyone has an opinion today.” He looked at Emily. ‘I don’t suppose you’d care to share with the rest of the class, Dr. Scott?”

She didn’t immediately reply, finishing a very delicate repositioning of a piece of cartilage first. Glancing up at him, she said, “Oh, only that Dr. Stevens and Dr. Grey will find that the best way to deal with a certain kind of surgeon is to perfect an attitude of hanging adoringly on their every word. It’s very calming to their egos,” she added, looking kindly at Izzie Stevens. She heard Meredith Grey choke back a giggle – so did Adam, who looked at the resident balefully.

Looking over at her, Emily added, “Some of us have more of a god complex than others.”

‘Yes, ma’am.”

“Still coddling the children, Dr. Scott?”  Adam sounded almost amused.

She didn’t respond, just shook her head slightly, once more intent on the patient before her as she visualized the child’s skull, layer upon layer, till she saw the final outcome in her mind’s eye.

Adam and his team had finished their work. Now only she and Derek continued on.

“Observe well, children,” she heard Adam say. “Dr. Scott isn’t just an extraordinary surgeon, she’s an artist. You would do well to learn what she has to teach.” There was no mockery in his voice, and when Emily looked up, she only saw sincerity in his eyes.

Many hours later, Emily sagged against her front door, dropping an assortment of bags, books, and outerwear in a heap at her feet. The surgery with Adam had only been the beginning of a very long day; one she was glad was finally over. Sighing, she leaned down to pick up her purse. Everything else could wait till later – much later. Now, all she wanted was a hot bath and something to eat. Kicking off her shoes, she shuffled down the hall, trying to decide what she should have for dinner. Maybe she’d order a pizza. Then her senses were assaulted by the presence of another Immortal. Without thought, she reached into her purse, placing her hand on the comforting cool metal of the gun she always carried now.  Cautiously, she moved down the hall, edging into her living room, her eyes scanning for an intruder, but there was no one there. She repeated the same process, through every room in her house, till she reached the last one upstairs. Emily pushed open the door to her bedroom, knowing it had been wide open when she’d left for work that morning.

“Get out!” she shouted at Methos, who was reclining on her bed, propped up with throw pillows against the headboard.

“And how do you propose to make me?” he asked, insufferably smug.

“I’ll call the police,” she threatened.

“No you won’t.” It was if he were daring her.

“Damn it, Methos, I want you out of my house!” For a moment, she was tempted to shoot him, but instead, she placed her purse on the table next to the door.

“I got that bit. But I have no intention of leaving just yet.”

“Fine, then I’ll leave!” she shouted, whirling away from him.

But he was faster, grabbing her wrist and pulling her around. “That is not a part of this evening’s plan,” he said mockingly, picking her up without any effort and tossing her on to the bed. He stalked back to the door, slamming it shut, leaning against it with his arms crossed. He looked at her consideringly. “I have to give you points for creativity – working and living on Holy Ground. Very clever of you.”

Seattle Grace had been a Roman Catholic hospital in its beginning and had been built on consecrated ground. Emily’s house had been a church, built in the 1800s, and converted into a dwelling ten years ago. While the hospital was a happy accident, Emily had been very deliberate in her choice of a home.

“You have no right to break into my home! I didn’t invite you here!” She backed up against the headboard, wrapping her arms around her knees.

“And this should matter to me why?” He shook his head as he pushed himself away from the door, walking towards her. ”We’re Immortals, not vampires,” he added dryly.

“That is not what I meant, and you know it, you fucking bastard!” Emily was enraged now, cursing at him at the top of her lungs.

“Such language, Dr. Scott!” he tsked disapprovingly, looking down at her. He sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out with one hand.

She violently smacked his hand away. “Don’t touch me!”

“Oh, but I want to touch you, Emily,” he said softly, his eyes running across her body possessively. She tried to shove him away, but he grabbed her wrists in one hand, holding them over her head and pushing her down onto the bed. His free hand rested at the rapidly beating pulse at her throat. “Don’t fight me, Emmy, you know you won’t win.”

“I thought rape was something you gave up a long time ago, Methos,” she spat out.

His eyes glinted dangerously. Then he smiled, and it scared her to death. Lowering his head to hers, he whispered into her ear, “You and I both know that I won’t have to force you to do a single thing. You can lie to yourself, but your body can’t lie to me – it never could.”

He kissed her hungrily and she felt her resistance melting away at his familiar touch. She loved him and she hated him, and more than that she hated herself for being weak. His lips moved down her throat, to the hollow between her breasts, and she was almost lost. “Why can’t you leave me alone?” she asked pleadingly, making one last attempt to let sanity reassert itself.

“I left you alone for more than a year, Emmy. And that’s as long as I’m willing to allow. You’re my wife – or had you forgotten that?”

His wife! As if anything of their marriage was left. He’d proposed not long after he’d revealed his true name, his age, and so much else. One more thing, she realized now, to bind her to him. But at the time, she’d accepted his proposal of marriage with an open heart, having no idea what the implications of the vows she made that day truly were.

He released her wrists, and she clasped her hands between her breasts. “Not anymore.”

A hand rested at her throat and she felt his fingers tighten imperceptibly at her statement. “And how did you reach that conclusion?” he asked in a deceptively calm voice.

She swallowed nervously, trying to ignore the feeling of his body against hers and every memory it engendered.  “The vow was till death us do part. I died – and our marriage with it…”

~ New York ~

“I’m dead either way! And I would rather die a natural death than be brutally murdered! With or without you, I’m leaving for Argentina in the morning.” It had been a week since Methos had told her she was a pre-Immortal. And in that week, all they’d done was fight. He seemed unable to accept her decision to live out her mortal life however short it might be. “I can’t be what you are, Methos! I can’t live that life; a life that would kill my soul as surely as it would kill my body.” Shaking her head in exasperation, she clasped her hands together as if in supplication. “You know I how I feel about immortality! This isn’t something new.  Did you really think I was that much of a hypocrite, that I’d change my mind when I found out I had only six months to live?”

“What I thought was that you’d come to your senses!” he snapped. She recoiled as if he’d slapped her. “Sorry! I’m sorry, damn it, Emily! But why can’t you even consider you might be wrong? There is so much more to being an Immortal than fighting and killing.” He made a chopping motion with his hand. “So much more, so many wonders for you to see and experience, if you’ll just have a little faith in me. Why is that so hard for you to do?”

“Of course I have faith in you! I wish you could understand the choice I’ve made, even if you can’t accept it. If I could be what you want me to be, I would, but I can’t.” She reached out a hand, brushing her fingertips across his chest before laying her palm against his heart. “I’m so scared, and I don’t want to fight anymore,” she whispered. She was exhausted, mentally, physically, and she didn’t know how much more she could take.

Nodding, he took her hand, kissing the back of her wrist, and then her palm, before drawing her into his arms. “I don’t want you to be scared anymore, love,” he said softly as he rubbed her neck soothingly.

“I’m not scared when you hold me.” Leaning into him, she inhaled his familiar scent, pressing her cheek against his chest. “I love you, Adam.”

“I love you too, Emmy.” He sounded very old.

She only had a split second of awareness as his arm tightened around her and then a searing pain as he drove his dagger between her ribs and into her heart. Emily’s last conscious sensation was Methos’ heartbeat against her cheek as she died.


~ Present Day ~

“And you were the one who killed me. Or had you forgotten?” It was like reliving his betrayal all over again. Emily rolled away from him and off the other side of the bed. This time, he didn’t stop her.

He lay back on the bed, looking over at her. “What do you think?”

“What do I think? Believe me, Methos, you don’t want to know what I think!” Suddenly, she remembered something he’d said earlier. “What do you mean you left me alone for a year?”

“Oh please! I think it’s been well established that you don’t lie well, nor is subterfuge something you’re particularly gifted at.”

“You’re telling me you knew where I was the entire time?” She was simultaneously outraged and baffled. How had he found her?

“Of course I did, you silly woman! Casa Santa Sofia in Chile. I knew you’d go to a convent, because that’s what you always do, and it wasn’t all that hard to figure out which one. And since you were on Holy Ground, and safe, I let you be. I knew you’d come out eventually, and it wasn’t like we didn’t have time.” At her look of complete outrage, he added, “Did you think I’d let you wander around unarmed and unprotected?”

Actually, at the time, she’d mostly been relieved that she hadn’t returned to life locked in some remote location to protect her from herself. So she’d taken the opportunity to disappear, and she thought, exorcise Methos from her life entirely.

Mirroring her thoughts, he asked, “You expected me to keep you a prisoner somewhere if I knew where you were, didn’t you?” He smirked. “Bend you to my will?”

She didn’t answer, just knowing she wanted out of her bedroom, and Methos out of her house. As she put a hand on the doorknob, he said, “But that’s still an option. Don’t think that it isn’t.” Emily yanked the door open, flinging it against the wall with a crash, storming out of the room.

Standing in the hall below, she pointed to the front door. “Get out of my house, Methos!”

“What part of ‘no’ is it that you don’t quite understand?”

With effort, she resisted the urge to pummel him with her fists. While it would be momentarily satisfying, it would only end one way, and that was what she was trying to avoid. Whatever it took, she could not allow him to get her back in his bed; or her bed, for that matter. Sex would only complicate the situation even more. Sighing, she said, “Damn it, I’m exhausted, and I’m hungry. Just tell me whatever it is you need to and leave!”

“There’s a pizza in the oven.”

He had to be kidding. “My, you are the considerate stalker, aren’t you?” she asked waspishly.

“Just eat it, Emily. Besides, it’s not like you ever let anything get between you and food, so I’m sure you can overlook the fact it came from me.”

Her eyes narrowed. Sarcastic bastard! As tempting as the pizza was, she just could not bring herself to do anything he wanted. Instead of going into the kitchen, she turned and went into the living room, ignoring him. He wanted to stay, then fine, but she was not going to play his game anymore.

“Fine,” she heard him say from behind her along with some sort of muttering in an unknown language.

See how you like it, she thought smugly, having finally gained the upper hand. For the moment at least. Obviously ignoring him worked better than raging at him. Sitting in a wing chair next to the fireplace, she crossed her arms and waited silently.

Methos went over to the buffet, picking up bottles and putting them back down again. “Sherry? All you have is sherry ---“ he picked up another bottle “--- and gin. You spent too much time in that convent.” Looking over at her, he waved the gin bottle. “Saturday night canasta with little old ladies and nuns now your idea of a wild weekend?”

“If it is, it’s certainly none of your concern,” she said coolly.

Putting down the bottle, he glanced over at her. “So that’s the new strategy, is it? Freezing me out?”

Ignoring him, she said, “While this little visit has been delightful, I have surgical cases notes to work on, so if we could just move this along?”

“Okay, we’ll play this your way – for now.” Walking over to where she sat, he leaned over, a hand on each arm of her chair. He kissed the corner of her mouth and she made a little noise in her throat despite herself. She could feel him smile against her lips. Then he whispered, “But you know I always get what I want, Emmy, and this game is only just beginning.” He pushed back from the chair and continued on as if nothing had happened while she tried to calm her pounding heart.  “It’s time you learned how to fight,” he pronounced.

“We’ve been over this before…”

“Shut up, Emmy,” he interrupted. “Yes, we’ve been over this before, but this time, you’re going to do as I say.”

She fought back an angry response. “Is that right?”

He picked up a case that had been leaning unnoticed against the wall. “Yes.” Setting it on the coffee table, he snapped it open. Emily already knew what was inside. Pulling out the sword, he turned his attention back to her. ‘It’s not even as if you’re starting from scratch. You know how to use a sword already. You just need to apply yourself.”

Emily had been on the fencing team in college. When Derek’s mom had thrown a party to celebrate Emily graduating from medical school, she’d met Adam for the first time. In amongst the family photos displayed on every surface of the Shepherd home were no few of Emily. One of them was a photo of her after a tournament. Adam had been the one to bring it up, asking her if she were any good. Derek had joined them shortly after and had told Emily that his friend was some sort of martial arts aficionado. After she and Adam had started dating, Adam had offered to teach her other methods of sword fighting, and had continued to teach her until the night she found out he was an Immortal. After that, she’d refused to touch a sword. What had been an enjoyable form of exercise and something she and Adam shared an interest in as a couple had become tainted by the reality of just why he was so adept at it. ‘Martial Arts aficionado’ indeed.

“What part of ‘no’ don’t *you* quite understand?” She flung his words back at him.

He sighed deeply, shaking his head. “Why do you persist in being so stubborn?”

“Me?” she protested. “In the dictionary, there’s a picture of you next to the word!”

“Is it because you think I’m going to gloat when you finally accept the inevitable? He went right on as if she hadn’t spoken. “Because I’m not, if that’s what you think. This is far too important.” He’d been swinging the sword idly as he spoke, but now he pointed it at her. The mood in the room changed almost as if a switch had been thrown. His almost bantering tone of before was completely gone. “You can deny it all you want, Emmy, but I know you aren’t eager to die.” Now the tip of the sword was almost touching her throat and she clenched her hands at her sides, steeling herself.  “I know, that when the time comes, you’re going to want to fight for your life, not just lay down and die.”

“I’ve never been eager to die! I’m just not willing to pay the price to continue living that you are.” Now the tip of the sword was under her chin, forcing her head up. His eyes held that cold, calculating look she hated.

“No?” Methos pulled the sword back, letting it fall to his side. “Then what about your friends, your coworkers, what about Derek and Addison?”

“Don’t drag Derek and Addy into the middle of this!”

“I didn’t – you did!” he rapped out sharply.

Forgetting her vow to not let him make her angry, Emily started to stand up, only to be stopped by the sword once again at her throat.

“Sit down, Emily,” he commanded,  “and be quiet.” When she hesitated, he pressed the blade against her throat with just enough pressure to break the skin. “We can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way, it’s your choice.”

Clenching her jaw, she sat, her hands gripping the armrests so hard her knuckles were white. The sword now hovered a few inches in front of her.

“What if it hadn’t been me last night? What if I’d been a headhunter? And you unarmed and defenseless in the company of two mortals, practically in the middle of nowhere. Just what do you think would have happened?” he jeered. “Well?”

Shaking her head, she glared at him. “Now I can speak? Make up your mind!”

Methos laughed, and it wasn’t a reassuring sound. “You do like pushing, don’t you?” In a movement faster than she could track, he cut through the top button of her blouse. “Maybe he would have just taken your head ---“ the razor sharp blade cut through the next button “--- or maybe he would taken something else first.” He continued cutting at each button till there were none left. “But then, you don’t care what happens to you, do you? Let’s move on then; Addison is a beautiful woman, after all. So our headhunter kills you; sword through the heart, I should think —“ the sword was now pressing against her chest, just over her pounding heart  “--- leaving you for later. Derek’s dead by now of course, leaving Addison all alone, both of you dead as she soon will be.”

“Stop it, Methos, just stop it!” She wanted to cry, she wanted her husband back, the man who would have held her and reassured her that everything was going to be okay. But he was gone, and she was alone. “Stop trying to terrorize me into doing what you want!”

The sword fell to the floor with a clatter as he pulled her from the chair, his fingers digging into her shoulders. “This is not a game!” He shook her once. “You are a willful, stubborn, selfish child! You want to throw your life away, then I can’t stop you, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you take anyone else with you!”

“You could have done as I asked! You could have let me go the day I told you I was dying!” she cried. “I’m only standing here now because of your choice, because you decided to play god. You told me you loved me and then you ran a dagger into my heart. I was your wife and I trusted you with my body and my soul! You betrayed that trust utterly and yet you dare to stand here and judge me?” He let go of her like he’d been burned. 

There’s a moment that comes when you know it’s finally over. There’s nothing left but the shattered pieces of what once had been a life and a love. Emily knew in the depths of her soul that this was that moment. She realized she just hadn’t been grieving over the mortality she’d lost, but grieving over the loss of Adam, losing the man she loved as surely as if he’d died. In the end, he’d been nothing but a façade. But Methos had been the man that had loved her, not Adam. She just hadn’t seen the reality of that till this moment. Irreconcilable differences.

He’d turned away from her, his hands shoved into his pockets. The anger was gone. Now all that was left was grief for what they’d both lost. “You win,” she said quietly. “I’ll do what you want.”

“This was never about winning,” he replied in an equally quiet voice.

“It doesn’t matter anymore.” And it didn’t. “I assume you’ve already found someone to teach me?” After the emotional tumult of the evening, this conversation was more like two people discussing the weather. 

Nodding, he turned partway, looking at her. “Duncan.”

“That’s agreeable.” She knew Duncan. He’d been a frequent visitor when they’d lived in New York, had been Best Man at their wedding.

Their wedding. She remembered Derek putting her hand in Adam’s as he gave her away. The coolness of her wedding ring as it was slipped onto her finger. Emily pushed those memories firmly away. Walking over to her desk and opening a small box, she asked, “He’ll come here?” as she removed the contents.

“Tomorrow morning.”

“Fine.” Emily turned, taking a deep breath. Now for the final break. “There are conditions.” He looked at her sharply, but waited for her to continue. Standing in from of him, she took his hand, pressing her wedding ring into his palm. Methos had made it for her in a time that now seemed very long ago. “I want our marriage annulled. Not a divorce – that’s just a meaningless piece of paper.” She pulled her hand away, the sapphires on the ring catching the light as it lay in his palm. “When your contract at the hospital is up, I want you to leave Seattle. Other than work, I don’t want to see you again.”

“Emmy, you can’t…”

The pain in his voice was almost more than she could bear. But it had to be this way. “No! It’s your turn to listen now. If you can’t abide by my terms, then I’ll give up my life here, my career, and take Holy Orders. You’ve made me realize that I only have two options, to stay here and learn to fight, or to spend the rest of my days on Holy Ground. It’s your choice as to which of those two options I take. You said this was never about winning. Well, you were right. We both lost a long time ago.”

Methos stared at the ring before closing his hand into a fist. He stood completely still, his face a mask of pain. Then he gathered himself, finally saying, “I’ll give you what you want, the annulment, everything.” His eyes searched hers. “Despite what you might think, I never wanted you to hate me.”

“I don’t hate you, Methos, not anymore.” A tear fell down her cheek and she let him brush it away. He made no other move to touch her. “Neither of us are the people we married. In your heart, you know that’s true.”

Hands once again in his pockets, shoulders slumped, he nodded. “Goodbye, Emmy.”

“Goodbye, Methos.”

He left the room, and she heard the front door open. She couldn’t see him, but she knew he was standing in the doorway, looking back. Finally came the sound of the door closing and only then did she cry.


On to the Sequel

Return to the archive