Fragile

by
Sapphire
January 2002










On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star - like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are




MacLeod's head lifted, as if scenting something unexpected. He felt the Presence before he heard the footsteps. An uninvited immortal was boarding the barge. Silently approaching the door, he held his sword at the ready in case the visitor turned out to be unfriendly.

At the hesitant knock, MacLeod, sword now held at ready behind his back, opened the door. Methos, looking cold and forlorn, stood there, duffle bag held loosely in one hand at his side. And MacLeod knew by the other man's demeanor that the inevitable had happened. Alexa. Gone. All too soon. MacLeod stepped aside, holding open the door in invitation.

Methos got as far as the bottom of the steps inside the barge before coming to a standstill. The duffle bag dropped to the floor with a soft thud. He made no attempt to remove his coat -- just stood there, frozen in place.

Leaving his sword leaning against the wall, Duncan circled around the other man until he could see his face. "Methos?" At the other man's stark expression, MacLeod gently said, "It's okay. You don't have to say a word. I know." He chivalrously tugged at Methos' coat until the other man half-heartedly shrugged it off into MacLeod's hands.

MacLeod silently watched Methos wander around the barge, a lost quality to his movements that caused an aching grief to erupt within MacLeod. He recognized the look of one who had lost a loved one all too well. And so he did what he thought Methos most needed. He provided silent companionship and support. And he, perhaps, hovered a bit too much but couldn't seem to help himself.
 
 

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star - like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are




Methos turned away from the Highlander's knowing eyes. MacLeod's hovering concern was simply too much to accept on top of everything else that had happened recently. He found himself unable to shield from it. From the caring. From the friendship. From his heartbreak. His breath caught in his throat when, unexpectedly, a pair of arms wrapped around him from behind and pulled him back to rest against a sturdy chest. Methos fought the embrace but the arms refused to release him.

"It's all right," soothed the baritone voice as if mastering a spooked horse. "It's all right."

Methos kept his voice low and harsh in order to keep his emotions from seeping through. "Let me go."

"Let me help," countered MacLeod softly.

Hands turned him within the embrace. Their touch was both soothing and painful for Methos. Part of him tensed and attempted to draw away from the touch while another part fought to accept the touch and lean into those arms so they could hold him and keep the painful memories at bay. In the end, his warring spirit, unable to decide upon a course of action, faded into the background, allowing the arms that offered comfort to pull him in against MacLeod's chest. The Scot's arms wrapped about him tightly, refusing to let go.

MacLeod's breath brushed softly against Methos' temple when he spoke. "It's okay to hurt, Methos. The healing will come sooner if you allow yourself to mourn. You know that."

Methos tried to catch his breath from this unexpected turn of events and was horrified to feel it catch in his throat and metamorphose into a sob. MacLeod's arms tightened in sympathy. Bands of steel seemed to be tightening around Methos' chest, making breathing more and more difficult by the second. Something terrible was fighting to escape him and the more he tried to suffocate it the harder it fought to get out.

As a broad hand rubbed his back soothingly and he awaited the next pearls of wisdom from this four-hundred-year-old Highland child, Methos contemplated what cutting comment he could throw at the Highlander to keep him at a distance. He was nearly undone when MacLeod said not a word, giving Methos no ammunition to toss back in his face, but only continued to hold him in a reassuring embrace, the gentle hands persevering in their labor of comfort.

Methos' eyes shut tightly. His hands balled into fists. The fists shoved at the chest he was cradled against until the comforting arms were forced to release him. He stood at arms' length, his balled hands still resting against MacLeod's chest. Methos opened his mouth to utter a cruel remark that would distance the Highlander from him and allow him to crawl back into his shell. Just as the retort was about to roll off his tongue, his eyes lifted to meet MacLeod's. He saw no pity there. He saw only a depth of understanding that surpassed words. The knot of resistance within Methos broke loose and his whole being collapsed. His body sagged. The retort turned into a sob. Tears filled his eyes. And before Methos could quite comprehend what was happening, the comforting arms were back and he was leaning into the solid wall of support known as Duncan MacLeod while tears fell silently and repressed sobs shook his body.

An anguished voice from within cried out, unheard by any except the world's oldest living immortal.

Alexa!
 
 

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star - like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are




Some time later Methos found himself in MacLeod's bathroom, staring blearily at his reflection. Haunted eyes gazed back at him. Too many of his recent memories were of the painful variety. A hospital room. Beeping monitors. And the beautiful woman he had fallen in love with in the all too short time they had together lay dying -- more and more of her taken from him every day.

Alexa.

Dying. Slowly. Ever so slowly she had slipped away from him until the last week, when every breath had been a struggle and the slowness of her death sped up with alarming rapidity. Methos thought he had prepared for it.

He hadn't.

He could still see that last lingering, aware gaze of hers upon him. It had shone with love for him and a need for him to tell her he would be all right. So he had done the only thing one can do in such a situation.

He had lied.

He had lied so she could cross over knowing that the loved one she left behind would survive and that she would be remembered.

But he was not all right. He was feeling hollow, the tears of sorrow so near one moment and then so dead and far away the next. A deep canyon of wailing sorrow waited to be released but Methos hadn't a clue what to do with it. It was too big to bury within. It overwhelmed him. And so he had found himself on Duncan MacLeod's doorstep seeking something he wasn't sure how to name or to ask for.

But MacLeod had understood immediately -- understood what Methos needed without a word being spoken. It had given Methos time he desperately needed to rebuild the broken pieces of himself and begin to deal with his loss.

Methos had never been certain, until that moment, that he could have this depth of catharsis with MacLeod. He had never known if Duncan MacLeod would, or could, be that sort of friend for him. There had been too few Duncan MacLeod's in Methos' long life. And when one of them happened into his life it still left him breathless with fear and with hope. Fear he would become too involved and hope he would become too involved. Five thousand years and life was still as confusing as ever at times.

He discovered his reflection giving him a sardonic smile. Sighing, he turned on the tap and splashed some cold water over his face. It didn't wash away the weariness or the sadness from his eyes but it did help his perspective somewhat.

He had a decision to make. Go out there, thank MacLeod for the hospitality -- thanks ever so much for letting me sob all over your shoulder, MacLeod -- and take his leave, or he could stay, soak up some of the Highlander's zest for life and start to feel alive again. The latter, much to his surprise, was the more appealing. The ghost of Alexa whispered approvingly to him. She didn't want him nursing his hurt in isolation.

Decision made, he opened the door, and found MacLeod was waiting for him. Methos knew then that, eventually, everything would be all right. Life would go on. His heartache would fade to be replaced by memories of the deep love he held for Alexa and the good times spent together. And Duncan MacLeod would stand with him through it, until life was a little less fragile once more.

The soft, indulgent Adam Pierson smile that was only for Alexa appeared as he silently promised her, You'll always be remembered, Alexa. Always.
 
 

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star - like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are
How fragile we are


Note of Interest:  Broken columns are classic symbols of life cut short.
Excerpts from the song Fragile as written and performed by Sting are used in this story.
 

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