Summary: Leaving is the hardest part of happily ever after.
Notes: This is another story in my Highlander/Grey’s Anatomy series. As usual, it’s more Highlander than it is Grey’s. The other stories are Irreconcilable Differences, Seriously, The Tragedy That We Knew As The End, The Final Word You Ever Uttered To Me Was Love. As with Grey’s, I’m using a song title as the story title. In this case, it’s ‘So Close’ from Enchanted. That being said, I have a feeling people are going to yell at me for this one. But remember, it’s an anti-Valentine story! And it’s me [g] You know how I am.
Emily closed her eyes in the cool darkness, reminding herself she was a grown woman, a top rated surgeon, and not a teenaged lovesick girl.
It had seemed an innocent enough idea, a night at the movies with a group of people from the hospital, the last showing of Enchanted at the dollar theater on Valentine’s Day. How was she to know the wretched movie would leave her feeling like this?
Sighing softly, she glanced down the row at Derek and Rose, who were giggling quietly, sharing some secret joke, holding hands like they were teenagers. Emily liked Rose well enough, she was one of the best surgical nurses in the hospital, but she wasn’t Addison. Well, at least she wasn’t Meredith Grey, that was something, she supposed. The young resident was a promising surgeon, but she was bad for Emily’s childhood friend, and she was glad Derek had moved on.
Emily hadn’t gotten over the departure of her best friend, and Derek’s former wife, Addison Montgomery. Or, for that matter, over the final sundering of her best friends’ marriage. She hadn’t realized how much Derek and Addison’s divorce had affected her. Not until tonight, watching the movie. Maybe the fact that the male lead bore a striking resemblance to Derek had something to do with it. Derek and Addison had been a constant of her adult life, and now that was gone. Derek was dating and Addy had moved to Southern California to start a new life. Emily missed her so much. Missed what they had all had together.
A little farther down the row were Mark and some nurse from pediatrics who was the woman of the week. They weren’t paying any attention to the movie. Just like the old days. The three of them had grown up together, back in New York. Just how many movies had they gone to over those years? Derek, shyly holding the hand of a girl from the neighborhood, and Mark necking with one. And her? What about her? More often than not she’d just tagged along after the boys. Derek had been her best friend, and Mark she’d tolerated because he was Derek’s best friend. Those memories were comforting, and they grounded her. They were part of what made her Emily Scott when she wasn’t quite sure who Emily Scott was anymore.
Turning her attention back to the movie, she watched the hero take the princess into his arms and begin to waltz. And then the words of the song registered and everything else that was wrong with this night, that was wrong with her life, slammed into her.
You’re in my arms
And all the world is calm
The music playing on for only two
So close together
And when I’m with you
So close to feeling alive
He was too close. He was always too close. And yet, at the same time, she craved that closeness. Even when she thought his nearness would suffocate the life from her. But no matter what, she couldn’t seem to escape her ex-husband. Her love. Her life. That’s because you don’t really want to.
It had been a little more than a year since Methos had reentered her life. Their divorce had long been final, and the annulment was working its way to completion. But somewhere along the way, despite her very best intentions, they were a couple again. It wasn’t what she’d wanted, or so she tried to tell herself, but it had all seemed to have a crushing inevitability that she hadn’t been able to avoid.
Emily loved him. It was as simple as that. Oh, she’d hated him too, but that wasn’t enough to make for a clean break. She wasn’t sure what it would take for that to happen. She knew what Duncan thought, and he was probably right. No, he was right. But the thought of a life without Methos in it left her feeling barren and empty. The fourteen years they’d had together were filled with so many happy memories, most of those memories having nothing to do with immortality, either his or hers. Duncan didn’t think she’d truly accepted she wasn’t mortal any longer. That she was clinging to a life that no longer existed. And more importantly, so was Methos. Emily needed to let go, because Methos never would.
A life goes by
Romantic dreams will stop
So I bid mine goodbye and never knew
So close was waiting, waiting here with you
And now forever I know
All that I wanted to hold you
Methos’ hand slipped into hers, pulling it gently down to the warm place between his thighs. She leaned her head against his shoulder, wishing there could really be a happily ever after. When she’d been that girl, all those years ago, at the movies with Derek and Mark, Emily had actually believed there could be such a thing. That somewhere, there was her very own Prince Charming waiting out there for her. And then, one afternoon, in the middle of the Shepherd’s living room, Derek had introduced her to Adam, and she knew she’d been right.
But fairy tales always have a dark side, and happily ever after comes with a price. Hers hadn’t been an evil stepmother, but immortality. And Emily’s death had come, not at the hand of a wicked queen, but at the hand of her Prince. That act had irrevocably tainted her trust and had poisoned their love as surely as Snow White’s apple.
Emily had fled, thinking that she couldn’t bear to look at her husband ever again, never mind ever be with him again. But Methos had had other ideas. It hadn’t happened overnight, but here they were, sitting in a movie theater, slipping back into the life she had been sure was forever gone.
So close to reaching that famous happy end
Almost believing this was not pretend
And now you’re beside me and look how far we’ve come
So far we are so close
Methos leaned in, kissing her cheek, and she thought she might cry. It would be so easy to give in, to do what he wanted. He’d almost convinced her that they should move back in together. Could remarriage be far behind? Deep down, Emily knew it would be a horrible mistake. But she seemed to lack the strength to tell him so. To make it stick. Every time she tried to reassert her independence, he’d look at her with those eyes, and that velvet voice would convince her that all would be well, if only she’d trust him.
She wanted to; more than anything. But she knew it wasn’t fair to let him go on believing there was hope, that she could go back to how it had been. She didn’t want to hurt him either, and that made her a coward. She was terrified; knowing the only way open to her was to disappear. Emily had to leave her life behind. Abandon her love, her friends, and her career, to be totally alone in the world. She didn’t know if she had the courage to do that. But if she truly loved Methos and what they had been, then, in the end, it was her only option.
A sensation of cold panic coalesced in the pit of her stomach as she realized that she’d finally made a choice. She clutched unconsciously at Methos’ hand, and he looked over at her. “Sorry,” she whispered. “My pager. I’ll be right back,” she lied, getting up and scooting past him.
Feeling like she couldn’t breath, she pushed open the door of the theater exiting into the empty lobby, half running towards the entrance. Then she froze, covering her face with her hands; shoulders shaking with barely controlled grief. There was no happy ending. There would never be, no matter where she ran, or how far away she traveled. There would only ever be regret and soul numbing sadness.
How could I face the faceless days
If I should lose you now?
We’re so close
To reaching that famous happy end
And almost believing this was not pretend
Let’s go on dreaming for we know we are
And still so far
The sound from the movie filled the lobby around her as someone exited the theater. No, not someone, it was Methos. His hands came to rest on her shoulders. “Are you going to tell me what’s wrong, Emmy?”
Was she? As much as she wanted to, she couldn’t. He might figure it out, realize she was going to leave. And he couldn’t know that, not if there was any chance of her escaping.
Sighing, she leaned back against his chest. “It’s nothing,” she said softly.
He turned her in his arms, searching her eyes. “It’s something,” he contradicted.
Shrugging, she dissembled. “I guess I’m not ready for double dates with Derek and his new girlfriend. I was thinking of Addy, and how much I miss her.”
Nodding, he smoothed back her curly red hair. “I know you’ve been missing her. Maybe you should take a few days off and go visit her. I know she’d love to see you.”
“Maybe.” Emily wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight. “Methos, can we spend the weekend together? Just the two of us? We could go to Duncan’s cabin.”
“Of course we can, love!” He returned her embrace. “Whatever you like.”
A pang of guilt enveloped her at the note of hope in his reply. But she needed one last memory of love to hold close when he was gone. When her life was gone. He would never forgive her, after. But that was still to come. For now, she still had time, not much of it, but some. Enough at least for one last moment of joy before the curtain fell on happily ever after.
So close, and still so far