Ith (ithildyn) wrote,
Ith
ithildyn

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Irreconcilable Differences (01/02)

Behind the curtain, you'll find "that story", the one I've been blathering about for weeks! I hope it was worth the wait.



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!

Rated R for general content and one four letter word.

If you prefer, the larger font versions of nearly all my fic can be found on my archive.

@_______________________________@


Irreconcilable Differences
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 it.”

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.”

On to Part Two

Tags: fic, fic: grey's anatomy, fic: highlander, grey's anatomy, methos, series: 'the emily stories'
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