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Two Glasses Of Red Wine And I Love You

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FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: new email addy
DATE: Tue, 30 Jan 2007 22:29:03 +0000 (GMT)

Hi Paul

It's me, Faye. Don't email me on the Dubai address, it's not working any more. I'd say 'and neither am I' but I've got a lightning reassignment. I was back on the wards before I'd got over my jet-lag. Looks like my skills are still in demand.

I've been saying for years that the Council should recruit more people with medical training. You and I can't be the only ones to get the tap on the shoulder after seeing something we shouldn't in the back of an ambulance, can we? Yeah, yeah, I know - it all comes down to politics. Art historians sponsor art historians up through the Academy, ex-cops go drinking with ex-cops, and we're still out in the field Watching as yet another ageless soul tries to make up for all the lives they've taken by actually saving some. Or maybe tries to expiate the sin of knowing that their hearts will carry on beating, without a hint of cardiac arrythmia, down through all the years whilst all the other hearts stop.

God, I sound bitter, don't I? Bitter and maudlin. I'm sorry, Paul. Maybe it's best for me to be back at work. At least the long days keep me from brooding about what happened in Dubai.

I know we're not supposed to get close to them. You know I never did. But I saw Abu Bakr every morning as he walked out to get his newspaper and coffee; the rolling walk, the wise, jaunty eyes, the jowly mouth. I see him still, in my dreams. I wake up and I'm surprised by the clammy cold of a Holby morning, and I feel something's terribly wrong, that I'm not supposed to be here at all. I'm still supposed to be there.

Seven hundred years, fighting for his Faith and losing it and finding it again, all gone in a moment at the hands of some rotten little chancer from the States who's barely touching his eighth decade. Abu Bakr had been a pearl-trader and a slave and a pirate and a foster-father and a religious leader and now he was being an actual voice of sense, quietly, behind the scenes, out in the Gulf; and his head gets taken by some smooth nobody in a trenchcoat. It really makes me sick.

Paul, if it feels like this for me after sixteen years, how does it feel for people who Watch the same Immortal all their lives? How do any of them bear it?

F xxx

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: Re: new email addy
DATE: Thurs, 1 Feb 2007 06:18:11 +0000 (GMT)

Hi Paul

OK, OK, so your theory about why so many Immortals pick up medicine once or twice in their lives made me laugh. Thanks. I remember those lectures Dr Zoll gave us, and how it seemed she thought *every* Immortal who ever picked up a scalpel was secretly Methos, all the way from Et-Maru down to Dr Benjamin Adams. All I can say is, he must have been one busy, busy sucker.

I'm still giggling at that animation of all those Immortals in lab coats standing up and shouting 'I'm Methos!' 'No, *I'm* Methos!' Thanks. How on earth did you find the time to put it together? You should put it up on YouTube. Then again, maybe you shouldn't, the Council would freak.

As for your suggestion about my charge, if she's Methos, all I can say is that he's a scarily good transvestite, and if so you'd think Dr Zoll would have mentioned it in one of those interminable lectures. It might have made them a bit more interesting. But no, I really doubt that Methos' latest identity is Dr Maddy Young.

(Actually, I don't think I believe in Methos at all. Don't tell Dr Zoll! ;)

Maddy Young. It's a good name for her; she *looks* young. If I'd been asked to pick out the Immortal amongst the staff here at Holby City, I'd never have thought of her. I'd probably have picked Dr Griffin from AAU, to be honest. I could absolutely believe she'd been taking no crap from anyone since before the walls of Great Zimbabwe were raised, and besides, there was some kind of odd business with her trying to foster a baby, and, well, you know how the really old female Immortals sometimes get, once they've been through the 'woman on a quest' stage and the 'kickass bodyguard' stage and the 'oh no, my mortal lover turned out to be, y'know, mortal' stage. But, no, she's only been walking the earth since 1959, whereas Maddalena Zoppini was left on the steps of a Venetian convent in 1802.

I've had orders from above to fudge the details about where I was last employed in Dubai, which is going to make things tricky. I suppose the Powers That Be have to be careful about security, but I do think it's a bit much that they're *so* paranoid when it's been over ten years since all those leaks and splinter groups in the early 90s. Good thing they haven't cracked down on email yet!

Talk soon

F xxx

 

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: Re: new email addy
DATE: Tue, 6 Feb 2007 21:59:04 +0000 (GMT)

What a day! I take it all back about wanting to recruit more people with medical training. I wouldn't trust anyone here to Watch a kettle boil. The student nurse I was working with today is a nice enough little thing, but when brains were being given out she was off tidying her hair, and as for that Donna flibbertigibbet, I'm surprised she hasn't been hauled in front of an ethics committee and told to seriously consider Miss Selfridge as a future career path. As for the doctors, they're either obsessing over their own sex lives or obsessing over other peoples', apart from the Great Man himself who's off playing golf or having lunch with Maddy. Wonder if he knows she's the older woman? Maybe he likes it that way.

I'm still getting the hang of the routines and now everything changes about because there's a new initiative to cut down on dead theatre time. *So* glad I'm not a theatre nurse. How's everything in Paris? Any news of your new assignment?

F xxx

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: Re: new email addy
DATE: Fri, 9 Feb 2007 12:45:04 +0000 (GMT)

Hi P

I'm not supposed to be using this computer on my lunchbreak! But no one's looking. Honestly, I've never seen anything like this place. I shouldn't think anyone would care if I unplugged the computer and strolled out with it. Apparently there was some big hushed-up scandal about a general manager making dodgy deals with drug reps last year and another one about a surgeon walking off with AIDS meds, and I'm not surprised. There was a *rabbit* loose in Keller at the beginning of the week. Health and Safety would have a field day.

What I really wanted to say, though, was CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!! Must be a bit intimidating, though, especially considering some of the things that have happened to other people taking over the Paris half of that particular jobshare. Still, at least you know life will never be dull. Give me a call if he ever visits England again, and I'll get a train to London - I really doubt he's going to want to visit Holby. Unless he's got history with Maddy, I suppose, and the file on her never mentioned it.

Got to go! Emergency on Keller - again!

F xxx

P.S I still dream about Abu Bakr. Last night we were playing chess together.

I wonder what that's all about?

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: need your help
DATE: Mon 12 Feb 2007 04:34:59 +0000 (GMT)

Paul,

Something a bit odd happened today, and I need you to do a favour for me. I'm probably just overreacting, but it really shook me up.

I was washing my hands in the kitchen down the corridor from Darwin yesterday when someone else came into the room behind me. I thought it was probably that flighty piece Donna - she's constantly in and out of there and she never washes up her mug - but when I looked round it was the Great Surgeon himself. Really don't know what Maddy sees in him. He's not my type at all. Beaky nose and his hair needs cutting. Anyway, he leaned one hip up against the counter in that irritating 'I'm a tall man and I'm going to make sure you know about it' way, and looked at me as if I'd been put there for his amusement. I've seldom felt more like performing an emergency catheterisation without anaesthesia.

"A shame you didn't get a better tan when you were out in the Gulf," he said in that bedroom-eyed voice of his that Donna is forever giggling about, and passed me a paper towel. I'm surprised he didn't call for a minion to do it for him.

Anyway, when I reached up to take the paper towel he took my hand as if I were some child down in Paediatric trying to make a break for it out of my cot (they should redesign those - anyone over six months with a modicum of nous can get out). Strong hands. Suppose it must be all the golf.

He looked at my hand and said "No rings. Clever girl." and his face went from lazy hooded-eyed amusement to *watchful* and back again, all in the space of one breath. It gave me the shivers all the way down the back of my spine and spreading out over my back.

"Not right now," I said. "And not looking."

"Careful, you might convince yourself," he said and *winked* at me and left me standing there feeling all kinds of a fool. I'm not surprised there's rumours he got thrown out of the Middlesex for sexual harrassment. But - and you know this isn't false modesty or anything, Paul, we've always been honest with each other, haven't we? - I don't think he was interested in me in that way at all, and not just because he and Maddy are exclusive. Which they aren't, as far as I can tell, anyway. I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't some kind of 'father she never had' thing after all.

I'm *certain* he was looking at my tattoo. The next time you're anywhere near the records office, can you sneak in and see whether there's a file on him? Or get someone else at the Paris end to do it? I know you'll think I'm paranoid, but I'm worried he's some kind of renegade Watcher. His name's Clifford. Daniel Clifford.

Talk soon,

Faye

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: need your help
DATE: Tue 13 Feb 2007 04:34:59 +0000 (GMT)

Hi P

Well, thanks for looking through the stacks for me. I hope at least you got a good laugh out of it. So Daniel Clifford really did Watch Marcus Constantine... from 1557 to 1620, when he handed the job over to his great-grandson, the bizarrely named Fear-God-Writhing Clifford. I guess that's not our guy.

Anyway, even if our man Dan was one of the rebels from the 90s, I don't suppose he'd be operating under his own name, would he? I don't know how hard it is to get a medical degree without a valid birth certificate, though Maddy certainly seems to have managed it. You know, the more I watch them together, the more I think it *isn't* a sexual thing. It doesn't seem to involve feeding him, either; he's far too thin. Maybe the drug reps should send chocolates to him instead of to the new Cardio-Thoracic Consultant.

Sorry for the late reply; my shifts are all over the place lately. I know it's always the bank nurse who draws the short straw when these things happen. We're going to be even more short-handed when Donna leaves to spend her windfall - she's not much use, but at least it's another pair of hands.

F xxx

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: my interesting life
DATE: Wed 21 Feb 2007 07:10:31 +0000 (GMT)
ATTACHED: general-surgery2007.jpg

Dear Paul

Thanks for your long email. It was great to read it, it made me feel like I was back in the swim of things in Paris. I wonder what it is about that most contradictory of cities that attracts so many of Them? Book-stalls along the Left Bank, great beautiful art deco skies, lots of Holy Ground (including that one little chapel in the Metro where Sandrine and I found a really lovely Celtic shortsword lying on the altar - do you remember? I wonder if the sword geeks at the Academy ever worked out whose it was?), yes, but also dog crap on the boulevards and crazy drivers and snotty service. You'd think even fifty years of extra lifetime would be enough to get tired of being looked down on by waiters.

You must have had a few sleepless nights whilst all the excitement was going on. Your Immortal certainly leads a busy life, and I don't mean the bit about the canal boat rocking, though that did make me laugh. I joined a CDs by mail club a while back and they wouldn't stop sending me stuff even when I kept ringing them up trying to cancel - do you think he signed up to the 'Opponent of the Month Club' in about 1960 and can't find the return address? ;) The guy with the nail bat sounds like especially bad news. I don't even want to know how you behead someone with one of those. You keep yourself safe, you hear me?

I had another weird conversation with the Great Man today. That hapless lad Matt Parker had somehow managed to worry some woman into hypertension whilst trying to reassure her on her way into theatre, but a few minutes with Mr Clifford sitting onto her bed looking into her eyes and her b.p dropped to 115/78. Amazing.

I was making up the bed after she'd gone and he came and gave me a hand, which is not at all his usual way of doing business. Expecting people with jobs of their own to do to drop everything and carry his golf clubs is more his style. Someone's house-trained him, though, he didn't haul away at one side of the sheet so that the bed ends up lopsided like Donna does or make timid little dabs at it so that it ends up lopsided the other way like Maria. The gossip is he's left three women at the altar, but I'd swear he's been married at least once, or at least lived in the kind of sin that involves making the bed afterwards.

"Tell me, Nurse, is that slack-jawed expression of yours congenital, or did you put it on for my benefit?" he asked me briskly.

"Shouldn't you be in surgery?" was the best I could manage. When they do those little profiles for the Academy yearbook, mine will say 'BSc in Nursing, target shooting champion, speaks French, Greek and Standard and Classical Arabic' but it won't say 'Award for Witty Repartee'.

"Oh, let Olive do it. Good for her to have practice." He shook the sheet up into the air like a high canopy. "I expect she'll be grateful not to have me breathing down her neck."

"Is that what you do, breathe down her neck?" I said, as I folded the sheet neatly at one corner and he at the other.

"Now *you* don't strike me as the breath-down-the-neck type. Is that why you went into bank nursing, so that you didn't have to answer to anyone? No rules, no paperwork?"

"I don't think you've ever been a bank nurse, Mr Clifford."

The sun flared out through the clouds and came raking through the window - which reminds me, the windows on Keller really need cleaning, we'll have the Holby Gazette firing off headlines about filthy hospitals again if nothing's done about it - and caught his face, all the small lines under his eyes. They're hazel, I never noticed. "Not in a while," he said, and I could swear he was laughing at me. "So you're not the footloose and fancy-free type after all?"

"I can't think what you're talking about. Pass me that pillowcase."

"So," he said, leaning both elbows on the newly pristine bed and looking at me, "if I told you I was thinking of taking three months to sail around the Greek Islands and asked you to come with me, you wouldn't even be tempted? Sunsets over the water, warm sand between your toes, the ever-present possibility of being mown down by the drug police chasing down some shipping heir in imperfect control of a motorboat?"

I wouldn't have believed he could do cute. But there he was, and cute was definitely the word for it. "I can speak Greek," he added as an incentive.

"So can I," I said dryly.

And then and there, the wall slammed down again behind his eyes. I will swear he wasn't actually looking for a companion to wander round Greek ruins with. If he was, he could do better than one slightly travel-worn bank nurse, anyway. He could have young Donna for the asking, though he'd probably end up drowning her a week out of Piraeus harbour.

"A woman of many talents," he said. "How many other languages?"

"That depends on whether you expect me to read classic literature or just know the words for 'where does it hurt'?" I said. And now he was looking at me ****pityingly**** down that nose of his as if I were some poor little drab mouse with no life outside a succession of hospitals, so I added, defiantly, "and 'two glasses of red wine please' and 'I love you'."

"Two glasses of red wine? I'll remember that."

And then he was strolling off, and I was... well, doing anything but strolling. It's always the way, if you ever do get two minutes of peace together it means that all the buzzers are going to go off at once, and visitors will show up wanting directions, and Kyla's kid will get under everyone's feet. I pity her and her ex-husband, I really do, I know they're both working all the hours God sends, but honestly, hasn't the lad got a grandmother or something?

Wow, this email has turned into a monster! I should really get off to work! But I can't help thinking about that conversation with Mr Clifford. He was trying to find something out, I'm sure. Trying to find out whether I was under orders from the Watchers Council? Even if I was inclined to go sailing round the Mediterranean with a man whose taste in music took a wrong turn in 1982, I couldn't, not unless he invited Maddy too. Did he know that?

I got a look at his wrist, though, and there wasn't any tattoo. Nor any of the signs you'd expect if it had been removed - no reddish, stretched, slightly sunken skin.

And that gives me chills, Paul. If he isn't even a renegade one of Us, then you'd think the only other thing he could be would be one of Them - but if he was, wouldn't Maddy know? After all, it's not like Immortals generally meet, shake hands, say *there can be only two* and go for coffee, is it?

Unless maybe one of them was the other one's teacher. But I've looked and looked and looked at her file and I can't see anyone it could be. She mentored Mekhi Shandling, but he's African American and died at twenty-four *and* he's nearly seven feet tall *and* the last anyone saw of him was on Holy Ground in Tibet. As for her own mentor, heaven knows. There's a recorded liaison with Lord Byron, but all he seems to have taught her is how to hold her drink.

The first Immortal she met was Zuan Foscarini, back before her First Death, and you know what bad news *that* bastard is. All I can say is, she was lucky he isn't one of the ones who can tell when someone's going to get back up again. If he was, I'd be Watching some other Immortal in Bratislava or Benidorm or... anywhere but here. And I've seen pictures, and I'm absolutely certain Mr Clifford isn't him. So unless our Mr Clifford managed to teach her how to use a sword without it ever going down in the records - and how likely is that? - I'm inclined to think he's not One of Them.

Which leaves us - where? I mean, if it's not Us and it's not Them, it could be *anything* - Knights Templar, neo-Egyptian religionists, cults of homicidal albino cargo-cultists...

Don't you laugh at me about the albinos, I've seen the file.

Look, I'll send you his photo from the hospital website. Can you see what you can turn over? I wouldn't ask if I wasn't really concerned, Paul.

Love

Faye xxxx

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: my interesting life
DATE: Sat 24 Feb 2007 14:32:09 +0000 (GMT)
ATTACHED: general-surgery2007-letstryagain.jpg

Hi Paul

That's a bit weird about the photo. I don't know why that should have happened at all. I certainly didn't *mean* to send you a picture of Mr. Hope judging a Beautiful Baby competition! I saved the right picture and renamed it and I'm trying again. It's a good thing no one cares what we do with the computers around here.

Actually, no one seems to care what goes on, period. Mr Strachan is carrying on with a fourteen-year-old girl and now it turns out he's the father of Mrs Beecham's baby as well! It all goes to show you can't trust a man who wears a pink tie.

F xxx

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: but_never_interfere@teleconnect.fr
SUBJECT: Re: NEED INFORMACION
DATE: Sat 24 Feb 2007 22:56.45 +0000 (GMT)

I've sent you the information you wanted. Next time, say please! And get your shift key fixed!

Love F x0x0x

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: butnvr1ntrfre@freesurf.fr
SUBJECT: Re: this is paul, my account has been hacked
DATE: Sun 25 Feb 2007 06:43:12 +0000 (GMT)

Hi P

I can't believe your apartment was broken into and your laptop was stolen!!!! Honestly, the Council should pay anyone who's willing to Watch that bagpipe-bothering lunatic time and a half AND danger money!!!! I thought I told you to keep yourself safe!!!!!!

Is there anything I can do? I can get over there on the Eurostar and be with you by tomorrow. Mark will moan, but he'll just have to suffer, it's not like he can talk when it comes to bringing his private life into work.

I'm a bit worried, because someone emailed me from your account and I answered their questions - it was mostly about shift patterns, but I'm worried it might put Maddy in danger. I wonder whether we should tell the Powers that Be, but you know as well as I do they'll just parrot the Watcher's Oath back at us and most likely we'll both get shipped off to somewhere they don't have wireless Internet yet, and that'll be if we get off *lightly*. You know how paranoid they are.

Besides, I feel... I don't know why, but I feel that if I do anything to save Maddy, I'll be letting down Abu Bakr. I know it's crazy. I know he's dead and he never knew I existed. But I saw something that reminded me of him in Daniel Clifford's face, that complicated, knowledgeable wariness - and it made me hurt all over again, sharp as ripping off a scab.

I'll just have to keep my eye out, that's all. And you, look after yourself! Your life is more important than getting all the details right!!!!!!!!

Faye xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and one more for luck x

FROM: fmorton@gmail.com
TO: butnvr1ntrfre@freesurf.fr
SUBJECT: quickening at holby
DATE: Fri 9 Mar 2007 16:38:22 +0000 (GMT)

Hi Paul

The Holby Gazette has a headline today that reads 'Freak Electrical Storm Cripples Hospital'.

You know as well as I do it wasn't a freak electrical storm. Honestly, you'd think people who have been determinedly hiding from humanity for *this long* wouldn't be so *stupid* about where they choose to fight. That waste of skin who killed Abu Bakr nearly took out all the computers in the Dubai Stock Exchange, and now this. We only lost one person from ICU, but that's one too many. It's selfish enough when people use mobile phones around sensitive equipment, but I suppose they're not thinking straight, they're worried their loved ones are going to die. This was worse than selfish. Much worse.

I still wonder whether it was that email I sent that did it. There were a whole lot of drug company reps in today, I suppose it must have been one of them. Or a visitor. Or the contractor servicing the lifts. No way to tell, not from what I saw. But I still feel guilty.

I was coming back from lunch in town when it happened. I was on the stairwell with the big windows, and I saw the lightning arcing down. Not from the sky. From the roof. I should have gone back to the ward. I should have gone anywhere I could have been useful.

But my feet carried me upwards to the roof, and he was standing there. Paul, it was like one of those trick drawings where you can see the girl and the old woman both in one. The lightning flashed, and one minute it was the man I'd seen breezing out to an early lunch with Maddy, and getting the better of Mrs Beecham over the surgery rotas; and the next it was this tall colossus who belonged on an Assyrian frieze or an Egyptian pylon. I'd seen him angry, I'd seen him amused, but he'd always been guarded in both, never quite losing his temper even when he was flaying some junior's skin off inch by inch, never quite losing his control even when Maddy teased him. I'd never seen this. This pure weariness and pure exaltation. It wasn't a human emotion.

But then, it's not like he's human.

He spun round to face me. Faster than human, more graceful. "Don't you hit me with that thing!" I squealed. I've had my share of patients getting physical - show me a nurse who hasn't - but no one's ever threatened me with a damn great sword before. I think I might have cowered. I probably did. To do him justice, he didn't actually laugh at me, though I bet he hid a smirk.

He lowered the sword and wiped the rain off his face. He looked younger than he had that morning. "Nurse Morton," he said, quite calmly. "Would you be so good as to get me a bodybag?"

"And help you find a way to get this corpse out of the hospital without ever entering the records?" I said.

"Don't tell me. You don't interfere."

God, he looked vulnerable, with the rain running down his face, but I still don't know why I did it. Why I helped him. "This isn't mine to report," I said steadily.

He actually laughed. "My God. *Maddy*. It was Maddy you were Watching all along."

"Is she..." I began, and found I really wanted to know. It was a man's body, lying there, olive-skinned in a nondescript suit, but that didn't mean anything. Anything could have happened in the time I'd just spent buying a sandwich in Boots and waiting a long ten minutes for the so-called five-minute bus back out to the hospital.

I found I wanted her to be alive, as much as I'd wanted Abu Bakr to be; and as I cringed at having accidentally thought of Abu Bakr and put myself in pain as surely as if I'd bitten down on a bad tooth, I found that the thought of him didn't hurt after all. Abu Bakr had a life as rich and full as the coffee I watched him go and drink every morning. And now it was over, and *I* had a life to carry on with. It was past time I got on with it. "Is she all right?"

"She's down in General Surgery," he said steadily. "And probably furious with me. I should stop doing this before it becomes a habit. Once a decade is too often. At least this time I didn't have to shoot anybody."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," I said. "Where's the head? It's one thing Donna showering money on people from above, but I think there might have to be an enquiry if it started raining severed heads."

"Yes, ma'am," he said and obediently fetched it. He was doing cute again. I could see it in the upward quirk of his mouth, the vulnerability in his eyes; they were definitely hazel.

I recognised Zuan Foscarini from the photographs. It couldn't have happened to a nastier piece of work. His smooth narrow face looked surprised. I wonder whether that's what they all look like, at the end.

The rest of yesterday was about as busy as you'd imagine. I didn't even take a shower before I fell into bed. I found some of Foscarini's blood on the collar of my uniform this morning.

The moment I got in I went to his office. I pushed past Maria and Kyla who were gossiping about something. I slid past Ms Naylor, who looked as if she'd been given a present and wasn't sure whether it was a bunch of flowers or an overflowing bedpan.

By the time I got there, he had gone. Maddy was busy putting his stuff in a box. "Oh - um - nurse," she said, and smiled at me, in that friendly pug-faced way of hers. She couldn't remember my name. I was glad of that, it meant that the training had paid off. "Did you want something?"

"Spare power block for Dr West's wheelchair," I lied on my feet. "Not here? I didn't think it would be, to be honest, but I said I'd look everywhere."

"Try Paediatrics," she advised. "I think I saw it there."

I smiled and got out of her way. With luck, she'd forget all about me before she'd finished packing up the golf clubs.

He'd gone. Of course he'd gone.

I wonder whether he went to the Greek Islands after all, and what he was looking for there.

I hope he found it.