Author's Notes: Well, this story was unexpected. Really, it was. I had
absolutely *no* intention of writing Cowboy Bebop fic. Then again, I never
really haven intentions to write *any* fic, they just sort of jump up and bite
my ankle until I write them or stomp them into the floor. This one really
didn't wanna be squashed.

Anyway, the original idea (and the entire setting) was inspired by another fic
posted to FF.Net. I've since lost its name, the author's name, and its
location, but thanks, all the same! Timeline-wise, this lands somewhere between
"My Funny Valentine" and "Hard Luck Woman". No spoilers other than general
Faye-backgroundy stuff. Sorry, no Ed, Ein, or Jet. And Spike? Well, he's in
here but only just.

Deds: To Mara and Nenah who made me watch, Timey who puts up with me, and Drea
who will be inflicted.

Dis: "Cowboy Bebop" and all the characters belong to Bandai. "Beyond the Sea"
belongs to whoever wrote it, and I own nothing but a rather large CD collection
and 13 whole DVD's. Just try and pry them away from my cold, dead hands.

Rating: R for potty mouths. Naughty! No sex, just alcohol and Bobby Darren.

Summary: Vodka, cigarettes, and water. Happy birthday, Faye.


She Ain't Heavy
by A.j.


Mars is never quiet. Even in the darkness of its long night, there's always
noise. Commotion. Movement.

People mill in the streets, shuffling from one neon-lit shop or bar or mega-
amusement to the next. In her more esoteric moods, Faye would ponder the meaning
behind that blind shifting. Were they lonely? Searching for somewhere or
something that might be just in the next shiny doorway? Could she find it?

Taking a long drag off a ciggarette, she considers the distant honking and din.
In one of her more esoteric moods, she'd probably think about that for a good
hour before going down stairs, picking a fight with whoever was handy and
screaming until she felt better. But that was then, and now she was drunk.

One tends not to have weighty thoughts when one has downed half a bottle of
strawberry vodka.

Absently kicking the heels of her boots against the brown hull beneath her, she
watches a couple meander from a dockside bench towards one of the small taverns
that line the waterfront. Jet likes to park here for some reason. Maybe it
reminds him of home, or something stupidly sentimental like that. The smell of
fuel and saltwater or something. Whatever. The ship is easy to find this way.

Routines are nice like that.

She reaches over, picking up the vodka. Her fingers fumble with the neck a bit
before finding purchase and gripping tightly. There's a reason it's always vodka
today. She takes a long swig, feeling the burn down the back of her throat and
into her stomach. Pain reminds her she's alive. And that's what this is all
about, right?

Yay, routines.

It had taken longer than usual to find this particular type of liquor.
Generally, if one knew where to look, one could find anything on Mars. Money,
booze, companionship. But this little bottle of alcohol had lead her on quite
the merry chase. It was a random chance of the universe; people from Mars didn't
like vodka. Who knew?

Faye sighed and took a final drag before flicking the filter away. The tiny bit
of red burned brightly as it arched through the air and into the water below.
Another nice thing about Jet's taste in docking bays was that they generally
tended to be in the run-down part of the marina. Dark was cheaper. That suited
Faye and her vodka fine.

Besides, it was quiet in the darker places. And sometimes even she needed that.

The wind was blowing in off the sea, gently batting her hair into her eyes. She
tucked a longer strand behind her ear and pondered dragging out another
cigarette. Probably wouldn't be worth it. Her lighter'd go out before anything
caught fire.

Story of her fucking life.

All four years.

Happy birthday.

She took another sip. Longer this time. The strawberry was bitter on her
tongue, although it was a testament to her drinking ability that she could taste
it at all. It also let her know that the cigarettes hadn't completely destroyed
her taste buds. Yet.

Generally, she tried not to think about the descending spiral of shit her life
had turned into. It was easier that way. Some days, she even surprised herself
by not thinking about it at all. Fighting helped. Scream at someone long
enough, or hit them hard enough, and nothing mattered at all but the adrenaline.
During the fight, nothing hurt, and not matter how scary or wrong the situation
was, everything always seemed so much cleaner. You were alive when you were
fighting not to die.

But there was always an after, wasn't there?

When the echoes or blood were gone and everything was quiet again, what was

Just alcohol and cigarettes and dreams that won't let go.

Faye closed her eyes against the breeze, blocking out the distant waterfront and
its marginally happier people. They were background characters tonight. A
setting for whatever little drama she wanted to orchestrate. Because even empty
girls get center-stage once in awhile. Even if they don't want it.

But tonight isn't about lying, is it?

She can still see the outlines of the buildings behind her eyes. It's too
bright, even here in the dark places. And the smells and sounds don't go away,
they just get stronger. Faye can smell fish in the wind now. A little, if
pungent, reminder that, even though it is today, life goes on.

The giggle is something of a surprise.

The water below her is quiet tonight. Far below, she can hear it lapping
against the side of the Bebop. It's strange, she thinks, that considering her
track record with the stuff that she'd be here. But there really isn't much
choice of locale, is there? No. There's just this ship. Because it's safe,
isn't it?

But that's another place she just doesn't want to go.

Right. Back to the water. Faye blinks twice, her vision slightly fuzzy. Yeah,
the vodka's working. That's the point, right? Right.

It's probably cold. The water. Not like the air. That's warm. It's summer on
Mars, after all. Being slightly drunk, she finds this rather funny. Giggles
bounce off of metal and water and drift out into the distance.

When it's quiet again, and she's managed to stop the laughter tears, there's
just her and the vodka and the sea.

She wonders just how deep and how dark that water could be. Would it wrap her up
and swallow her whole? Cushioning as it crushed the breath out of her? She'd
spent fifty years suspended in a tank of clear water. Wouldn't it be fate to let
the oily darkness below take away what that purity had nurtured? Because in all
honesty, that water'd done nothing but break whatever had gone before.

She took another sip of the vodka. It didn't burn anymore. That was rather

Not that she was exactly on a mental upswing. No, staring the reality of your
shit-ass life in the face was not a way to Make Friends and Influence People.
And some days, misery didn't really want company. It wanted a nice quiet, dark
place, a pack of cigs and a bottle of vodka. Even shitty strawberry vodka.

It was easier to look yourself in the face when there wasn't anyone around to
make comments. Because shame was something that didn't need an audience.

"Beyond the sea... someone's waiting for me..."

And neither did show tunes.

Faye doesn't know where she learned the words, but they come easily and clear.
They bounce like giggles into the sky. She doesn't remember how she knows a lot
of things. They're just there in her head. She can walk and talk and eat and
sing. And fuck. That too.

But she doesn't remember where she learned these things, or how. She doesn't
remember giggling over makeup and boys. Being a cheerleader or watching the sun
set on Earth. She doesn't remember school or water that doesn't hurt. Or making
home movies.

There's just this. And empty places. So many empty places.

She takes another sip from her vodka and leans back to look up. The lights from
the city dim the stars until only the brightest can peek through. They're
twinkling, almost winking at her. We know something you don't know.

Get in line.

The soft squeak of something against metal lets her know she isn't alone
anymore. She knows it's him even before he speaks. There's no metaphysical
connection between them or anything, she just knows because no one else makes
that little noise when they walk.

Her suspicions are confirmed as a shadow coalesces into a poof of hair and a
long, straight nose.

"You gonna share what's left of that bottle?"

She sits up and tightens her fingers around the glass. She's too drunk to deal
with Spike lying down.


"Fine," he lit a cigarette, cupping his hand around the tip. The wind was calm,
and she could see the flare of red as the tobacco caught fire. "Be a bitch."

"Fuck off, Spike." And she meant it. For the first time in a very long while,
she actually wanted him gone. Him and his smirk and his death wish and all the
little bundled knot of feelings that were only associated with those thin skinny
hands. And lips. This was about her and her baggage.

She hadn't asked him to be here, and yet he was.

"No where does it say that this deck is Faye Valentine's, and Faye Valentine's
alone." And she felt it. Even from behind, she could sense the sarcasm and
mocking crushing what was left of her peace. Because it was always about him,
somehow. Always.

But it didn't have to.

"No. It doesn't."

The sudden feeling of weightlessness was jarring. For a split second, she was
floating. Falling, floating. It was all the same in the end. But this thing,
this feeling, it was different than space. Up there, it was cradling, and
distant. This was heavy. Gravity was pulling her in a direction, down towards
the dark water. It was waiting to catch her, cradle her, take her home.

But this moment... It was separate from that. She could feel the friction of air
passing her cheeks. This was a choice she'd made. Finally. It was something that
was hers and hers alone. And for the first time since she'd opened her eyes to
that blank white ceiling, exactly four years ago, she felt... free.

And as dark, cold arms reached up to greet her, she let the burning clear bottle
go and took a deep breath. Salt and fuel and fish. Not smoke though. No, this
was clear.

The splash was bone-wrenching. Pain exploded from her head down to the soles of
her feet. She'd forgotten that. Swimming was never high on her list of Things
Faye Likes To Do, and diving was even lower. Even with vodka-dulled senses,
every cell snapped alive, screaming for relief.

Sinking lower and lower, she turned her head in the direction she thought was up
and smiled. She could still see the hull of the Bebop, so far above her now.
So distant and big. Spike. Jet. Ed. Ein. Far, far away. And the place in
her head that was filled up with them screamed. But it was so, so small.

Alive. She fucking well felt alive. Yeah, there was the adrenaline.

She didn't want to die.


She felt an arm, hard and almost desperate, clamp around her waist. And even
under tens of feet of cold water, she could feel tears prickle up behind her
eyes. Because even now, it was always about him. Always.

Warm air rushed into her lungs as they broke the surface, and even before she'd
coughed out her first mouthful of foulness, he was at her. In her ear, in her
face. Everywhere.

"What are you fucking pulling!? Don't you know that's dangerous!"

His voice was deafening this close, his arms clamped around her waist, legs
kicking them both towards the dock. His strokes were rhythmic and strong, his
breath hot and smelling of cigarettes and fried bell peppers. She let him pull
her, hanging limp, head back watching the dim, twinkling stars as she coughed
weakly before drawing in a deep breath.

"It's called cliff diving, asshole. Did it all the time as a kid."

"You don't remember doing anything as a kid, Faye. What the fuck's wrong with

She didn't. Remember a damn thing. Just water and pain, and the image of a
little girl cheering her on. And suddenly, the prickling in her eyes was back
along with the roaring in her head. Sound and violence screamed inside her,
pushing... pushing to get out.

She leaned her head back further, pushing her hairline back into the water and
opened her mouth again... and laughed. Long and hard, it pushed out and out
until the coughing started again. When it finally stopped, she was curled weakly
on the dock, watching Spike wring water out of his socks.

It was all rather ridiculous if you thought about it logically.

"Done, then?" His voice was icy. There was enough vodka still swimming around
her brain to draw parallels between it and the slowly growing puddle underneath
her. She stifled another giggle and shifted. Absently, she noted that vinyl and
water weren't the best combination for Faye-skin. Not that it mattered. From the
tight and dull sensations from the direction of her chest and face, she'd be
covered in bruises by tomorrow morning anyway.

Sometimes you forgot things. Like the fact that water's hard when you hit it. Or
your own name. Stuff like that. But life had a way of reminding you. Yeah, it

"No, I'm not." Her voice was quiet and serious. A tone the man across from her
didn't recognize. It was so jarring after the hysterical laughter, that he
stopped re-tying his shoe and looked down at her.

Their eyes caught, or they would have, had there been more light, and she
watched as whatever had kept him tense, or pushed him to realize that she hadn't
just slipped off the deck, drain away. He nodded once, water dripping from his
nose and hair, before turning back to his sodden laces.


It hurt to realize she was speaking the truth. It hurt to move. It hurt to
breath. It hurt to think. But life works like that, she decided. It hurts, and
then it stops. But she knew she had a lot more hurt to look forward to. Maybe
some of it might even be good. Whatever.

She watched as Spike dumped the soggy contents of what had been a nearly-full
pack of cigarettes into his hand before tossing it back into the dark water and
cursing. Behind him in the distance, she could make out the Bebop, resplendent
in its grungy glory. And sound. Always sound.

Yeah. It did.