Nota bene: This is an offshoot of a much larger but incredibly unfinished and disorganized Setzer/Shadow fic that I may or may not eventually post here. It's basically just an angst fest with sex (because that's always good for extra angst) and some rather silly fluff. Why Setzer/Shadow? That's a really good question. If I figure out the answer, I'll let you know.

Anyway. This takes place several months to a year after the end of the game. Implied Setzer/Shadow, angst, and terminal diseases. Also, Final Fantasy meets The Sixth Sense. (Shadow: I see dead people? That's seriously messed up.)

Dun own 'em, but I'll always wish I did. Squaresoft has 'em, the lucky bastards. Enjoy. -Nes


"It's like an itch you can't scratch." Setzer's hair fluttered aimlessly in the wind. The air was cold and he might have been shivering, but his bulky coat concealed it if he were. The hand that held the smoldering cigarette was steady, but then, he'd always had steady hands. "Dying, I mean."

If Shadow was at all surprised by the gambler's bluntness, he gave no indication. The one predictable thing on the Falcon was her master's unpredictability. He gave no reply; Setzer wasn't really talking to him. He was talking to the ghost who stood at the wheel, laughing in the face of the wind. When Setzer stood like this, staring out at the horizon like it was the only thing that ever mattered, the only thing to do was let him talk.

"Lady Luck has a coin with my face on it, and one of these days it's going to land heads down." The gambler chuckled and took a long drag off his cigarette. The wind whisked away the smoke. "Have you ever wondered..." He let the cigarette drop carelessly over the railing and coughed delicately into a lacy handkerchief. He wiped blood from his lips with a fastidious grimace and glanced at the assassin expectantly.

"Wondered what?" This was an unfamiliar game, and he did not know the rules.

Setzer leaned over the railing, eyes fixed on the horizon. "What it would be just...fall..." He tipped forward a little further, dangerously far, hair unfurling like a white flag. Surrender.

To hell with that. Shadow grabbed the other man by the collar of his greatcoat and hauled him back to his feet. "Idiot." He shook the gambler a little, trying to shake the unfocused look out of his eyes.

"Well..." Setzer grinned a little, self-deprecating and apologetic. "Can you blame me for wondering?"

Shadow dropped him with a noise of disgust and turned away. There was a snap and click beside him as Setzer lit another cigarette. This time the wind blew the acrid smoke directly into his face. Do you want to die? "Nothing happens," he said at last. Finding the right words was difficult. "You fall. You hit the ground. You die."

"She didn't."

But she did. Shadow wondered what would happen if he walked up to Daryl and put a shuriken through her eye. He wondered if Setzer even saw her, if the gambler also woke up in the middle of the night hearing her voice. He glanced at the spirit, and saw her wink. She wasn't that far away; he could put a shuriken through her eye from the railing. No need to move. His fingers twitched towards the weapons in his sash, wanting an end to this.

Setzer was waiting for him to say something, Shadow realized at last. He had nothing to say. Part of him wanted to tear the cigarette out of the other man's mouth and replace it with his tongue, but Setzer didn't see that sort of thing. He wanted to trace the scars that mapped out a lifetime of pain and failure and strange, unflagging optimism, but Setzer didn't see that sort of thing, either. He saw truth in the fall of cards, the rattle of dice, the flip of a coin- but anything else was beyond him. Incomprehensible. He remained silent.

Setzer laughed softly so as not to aggravate his lungs any further. "So serious! I wouldn't do it, you know. You worry too much- I'm not dead yet." He flicked the spent cigarette over the edge of the deck. It was a good thing they were flying over the ocean.

He did reach out, then, and caught a tendril of pale hair between his fingers. Setzer's hair was thin and rough, reminiscent of another time, another place, and a lot of razor wire. "But you are. You've been dead for so long you've forgotten what it's like to die." Despair was familiar in his line of work. You got used to it after a while.

"Then remind me what it's like to live." The palms of Setzer's gloves were made of silk, not leather, raw and warm against his face, tracing the scars there. 'I can match you scar for scar' the gambler's eyes seemed to say.

It wasn't a promise he would ever hold the other man to. Shadow pulled away and shook his head. "From one dead man to another," he said, voice rough with all the things he could not say. "It just isn't worth it."

Her ghost was still laughing.