No Time To Dance

Lisa Krakowka

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Disclaimer: Methos and Alexa belong to Rysher. Sarah is mine.

Note: This has some minor spoilers for "Til Death" in it, you might want to wait if you haven't seen it.

And it fits (sort of) in the MacGreggor arc smack in the middle of Long Lost. Lemme know what you all poured out in one sitting last night.

Methos clutched his head and tried to focus on the music as yet another buzz rang through his ears. The problem with so many immortals being in one place was that you were getting buzzes every time you breathed. At least the wedding was on Holy Ground.

He could see Duncan standing near the front of the church, resplendent in his tux jacket and kilt. Robert was no doubt somewhere near by, waiting to be ushered out to marry Gina again. He didn't really want to be here, with Alexa lying in a hospital bed two countries away, but Gina had insisted. And the ceremony could only take an hour at most, then he could hop a flight back to Geneva. Her time was short and he wanted to make sure he was there when she died. Methos didn't remember much about his mortal life, but dying had made an impression and he had been scared witless to face it alone. Alexa would not have to deal with that; the last face she would see would be his, the last touch she would feel would be his and all the while he would be praying to every god he had ever heard of to guide her soul well.

"Hey, you."

Methos looked up to see Sarah smiling down at him from the aisle.

"Sarie! What are you doing here?" He stood and engulfed her in a hug.

"I was invited," she smiled. "I was one of the bridesmaids at the last one."

Methos chuckled, picturing her in the bustled dresses and buttoned boots that would have been in style at the previous marriage of Robert and Gina de Valicourt. He let her into the pew and sank down next to her.

"I can't believe they are doing this again," he said.

Sarah shrugged and waved to Annie Devlin across the room. Why didn't it surprise him that they knew each other?

"Come on, Mr. I've Had Sixty Eight Wives," she teased. "Don't tell me you don't have the stomach for marriage."

He sighed and looked at her with a very weary expression that Sarah easily decoded. Marriage wasn't the issue. Commitment for life was. And someone whom he loved was about to die. She lay her hand on his arm and squeezed gently.

"Oh, Petey. Joe told me about Alexa...How is she?"

Methos shook his head. "Not good. A few more days. Maybe a week."

Sarah wrapped her arm around his shoulder and sighed as he slumped into her hug. "You need to let go for a while."

He shook his head again. "I can't."

"You have to. She's mortal, Petey. It was bound to happen. That doesn't make it right, and it certainly doesn't make it any easier, but it's the truth."

He sighed again and caught her left hand, squeezing. "Come back with me? I want you to meet her."

"I'll go with you if you promise to dance with me at the reception," she said.

"There isn't time to dance," he answered.

"There's always time to dance, Petey."

Methos looked up from studying the pattern on her dress and saw that her brow was creased, despite the fact that she was smiling. This wasn't about dancing. It was about Sarie keeping him from slipping into the oblivion of loss. There had to be some kind of higher power at work in his life and the universe. Otherwise the irony of finding Sarah again as he was losing Alexa would be utterly wasted.

"One dance, and I get to pick the music," he said with a smile.

Sarah shook her head. "Two, and one is going to have to be my choice."

Methos was about to answer her, but the church organ blasted through every fiber of their beings and the ceremony began. He beamed appropriately as Duncan escorted the very beautiful bride up the aisle and heaved the same small sigh Sarah did at the sight of the expression Robert was wearing. Pure joy. Utter love. It was both beautiful and gut wrenching.

Some time during the ceremony Methos realized that Sarah had been holding his hand supportively the entire time and some of his pain eased. It gave him great comfort to know that, despite the six hundred years they were thinking the other dead, their bond had somehow managed to survive. She was, absolutely and without a doubt, the best friend he had ever had.

As Robert and Gina started down the aisle, radiating happiness and love, Sarah leaned close and whispered in his ear.

"Can you Tango?"

He clapped loudly for the bride and groom and leaned back to answer her. "Only if you have a rose between your teeth."

Sarah laughed. "This I can do."

And she held him to it. Both Gina and Robert were shocked to see that their former bridesmaid knew the man that Gina had nearly killed and pressed for the details of the matter, but Adam Pierson wouldn't budge and Sarah was evasive, saying only that they were old friends. MacLeod was closed mouthed as well. But Gina was convinced that they were, or had been, lovers. She was, of course, quite wrong.

Methos got side tracked on the way to the bar and wound up spending about twenty minutes in a depressing conversation with Amanda about the Methuselah Stone and Alexa while watching Sarah dance with Duncan. He saw the Highlander's face work through a series of emotions and suspected that Sarah was telling him *she* would have forgone the whole Holy Spring episode in favor taking Duncan's head before he caused any more pain.

He didn't know who would win an all out fight between the two of them, but either way the outcome would have been scary. Sarah would have wound up either with a Dark Quickening, or minus her head and both were equally unpleasant as far as he was concerned.

He watched as Sarah's expression dropped and softened and guessed that Alexa was the current topic of conversation. In fact, it was Methos himself. And Sarah was telling Duncan that she would go to meet the woman before she died, but would leave soon after so that Petey could grieve properly. Duncan insisted that she should stay and help Methos through it. But Sarah knew that mourning was very private and best done alone.

When her eyes dropped to Duncan's chest and stayed there for more than a few seconds, Methos decided it was time to go rescue her. Alexa's impending death was not something that Sarie should be depressed over. He tapped Duncan on the shoulder and cut in, just in time for the band to strike up a moderately fast Big Band tune that kept their feet too busy for their mouths to do anything but smile. It was precisely what both of them needed.

"Just let me say good-bye to Rob and Gina," Sarah said, heading off the floor as the song ended.

Methos caught her by the hand and pulled her back. "One more? Please? Reality is too sad right now."

"Sure, Petey," she smiled.

And they waltzed.

Six hours later, Sarah had changed into jeans and borrowed a sweater from him and stood in the doorway of the ICU unit on the seventh floor of St. Ignatia Hospital in Geneva, holding two cups of vending machine coffee and watching Methos force himself to watch as two nurses changed the IV bags on Alexa's arms. When the women in white had left the room, he motioned for her to join him at the bedside.

She crossed the room quietly and looked down at the frail woman who was almost as pale as the white silk pajamas she was wearing. Alexa was awake and offered a hand, gesturing to the tube in her chest that made it hard to speak.

"Lexa, this is one of my oldest friends," Methos said. "Sarah MacGreggor."

Sarah smiled and shook her hand gently. "Call me Sarie."

Methos smiled up at her, then turned back to the bed. "The wedding was lovely," he said. "You would have loved the cake, chocolate with butter cream frosting."

Alexa waved a hand, shushing him. She looked to Sarah and pointed at the man she only knew as Adam Pierson.

"We met in school when we were kids," Sarah lied. "You should have seen him...he was petrified of spiders and had a *fit* every time the cafeteria had cucumbers in the salads."

Alexa smiled. "More," she said in what was barely a whisper.

"Adam, I think these got cold, could you go get me another cup please?" Sarah asked, handing him the coffee.

When he was gone, Sarah sat down on the edge of the bed. "Want to hear about the time we were canoeing and he got seasick about thirty feet from shore?"

It was only a half lie, really. It had been a raft on the Nile, and in Methos' defense, he *had* eaten some bad dates the previous night.

Alexa smiled, but shook her head. "He's...he's talked about you," she said. "You have to take care of him for me, okay?"

Sarah found herself on the verge of tears. Mortals were easy to underestimate. She sometimes forgot that they didn't have the luxury of time on their hands and consquently felt emotions so much sooner and stronger.

She nodded and Alexa squeezed her hand in what would have been a grateful gesture, if the woman had half the strength she used to; when it was nothing to carry a tray of full beer mugs across the bar without spilling a drop in the crowd.

"You're incredibly brave," she said. "I couldn't do what you are doing."

"Dying is easy," Alexa said. "Leaving is the hard part."

Methos came back into the room smiling, and holding two cups of steaming liquid. "Tea, Sarie, from a real pot and everything."

He had always been able to find luxury in the least likely of places.

Sarah smiled down at Alexa and leaned over to whisper in her ear, leaving a smile on the dying woman's face. She paused to take the cup from Methos and give him a hug, then left the room to take up a vigil in the hallway.

Nearly an hour later, he joined her, looking very tired and pale.

"She's beautiful," Sarah said, holding out an arm and folding it around his neck as he leaned against her.

"She's a shell of what she was," he responded.

"I know, Petey," Sarah wrapped her other arm around him as his shoulders began to shake. "Go ahead."

The weight of five thousand years slumped forward into her chest and Sarah sagged under it, finally sinking to the floor and pulling him with her. He looked up at her briefly and sniffled before burying his head in her neck and beginning to sob. When it was all gone, all the pain and anger and frustration, all the heartbreak, all the sorrow and agony that went to his soul, he rested his forehead on her shoulder and felt her hands rubbing his back. He took in the curious mixture of scents that were the cologne on his sweater mixing with her perfume. And he wondered what had transpired between Sarah and Alexa while he was getting tea.

"I'll be in Seacouver," she said quietly.

Methos looked up suddenly. "You're not going to stay?"

Sarah shook her head.

"Please, Sarie?"

"Go sit with her, Petey, make sure she doesn't die alone...she deserves more than that. And tell her you'll be okay. Lie if you have to. She's worried about you."

He looked at her in a silent appeal. What about being left behind alone? Surely that was worse than the dying part.

"I'll be in Seacouver," Sarah repeated. "You be strong, for Alexa. Then get yourself home and we'll worry about you."

A week later, while Sarah was sound asleep in her new apartment in Seacouver, Methos held Alexa's hand while she slipped into the only death she would ever know.


To Part 4: Cardinal Rules

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