A/N: Ok, I know I have two other stories going on right now, but events in my life recently give me special perspective on this one. You guys know the drill, so...
I don't suppose that things like this happen everyday.
How can they? How can somebody both admit to something and then loose everything that matters to them in the space of a few hours.
Damn him, damn her, damn all three of them.
Damn me for telling him what she said. Maybe if I'd just kept quiet he'd still be here.
No, he'd have found out somehow.
My pistol is sitting in my hand still, one round still in the chamber. It's tempting to just put it to my temple and pull the trigger, then it'd all be over. No more pain, no more suffering.
So easy, just put it here, give it a little squeeze.
Just a little more...
I'm done running. And I'm not just going to sit around either.
"What?" comes the gruff voice. I can hear the same hints of sorrow in his voice, hints that he won't admit to having.
I rush up to the bridge, snatching his pistol from the table he had left it. "How bad is the Redtail? Could it make a trip across the plains and back?"
He looked at me curiously. He knew what I was planning. He had to; he was smarter than he let on.
Just like Spike.
"No, it won't. That thruster is so bad it'd fail before you made it out of the hanger."
The world just paled, went grey. Then I heard a clinking sound and looked up at the table I had leaned against.
The key to Jet's Hammerhead was sitting on it, just inside my reach.
"Don't let him know I gave it to you," he said, turning back to finish the diagnostics on the Bebop.
I smiled, grabbing the key and rushing over to him. I gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, seeing him turn red before I ran pell-mell for the hanger.
The ship was old, and it didn't handle as smoothly as my Redtail, but it had speed to burn and room for two. It cut through the atmosphere like a knife, the sonic disturbance cracking and booming behind me as I pushed its engines into the redzones, using the rotation of the planet to add to my speed as well.
I landed next to the Swordfish and raced into the building, seeing the destruction and the bodies.
He'd been busy.
I came to a room with a staircase and a group of people milling about. I saw a figure coming down the steps, holding his gut. I recognized that mat of spiky hair.
He stopped near the bottom of the stairs and looked at the people surrounding him, who were looking at him like he was a ghost. I began pushing my way through the group, trying to get to him.
He spied me, and smiled. He raised his hand, pointing it at me like it was a gun.
"Bang," he rasped, just before he collapsed.
Blood started to spill across the steps, and I hauled Jet's pistol out and pointed it at the nearest person.
"Call an ambulance, now!"
Something in my face must have convinced him, because he sure wasn't running because of the nine millimeter I was holding.
I rolled his battered form over, my red sweater coming off and going over his wound. It was ragged, deep. He was in bad shape, as bad if not worse then when he rescued me from the church.
The day I first realized that there was something for him simmering in my heart.
"Don't you dare die on me, you bastard." I mumbled at him. "I'll bring you back just so I can kill you myself."
He had a smile on his face, one of peace, one that I had never seen on his face before. He was still conscious, if barely. He was mumbling words, words that I couldn't make out.
"Hold on just a bit longer, just a few more minutes." I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I wanted to force them back, to deny that they existed.
No more running from anything.
I heard the distant sound of a siren, the wailing of sorrow and sympathy. Spike was fading, and I didn't want the last thing he'd hear to be that sound, the sound of death.
I leaned close to him, and kissed him, and whispered in his ear the words I had tried to force out back on the Bebop.
"I love you,"
"Faye," he rasped. So weak, would he make it?
"Don't you dare die," I said again. "I'm not ready to be alone again."
It was a fight to remember, and I'm lucky I won.
I stumbled down the stairs, holding the wound on my stomach. It was bad, it had almost cut open my stomach and narrowly missed spilling out my intestines. As it was, I'd die from blood loss eventually.
I did it, Julia, you can rest easy now.
Funny, I couldn't picture her face. It had haunted me for years, but now I couldn't bring it up.
But hers did. Hair so black it approached indigo, eyes that held a carefully constructed façade of cynicism and pragmatism. Eyes that held back tears as I left the ship I had called home for so many years.
There were soldiers at the bottom of the stairs. I could see them, staring at me in awe. No one had stood up to Vicious before and lived.
"So, you're finally awake. I told you before, Spike, I'm the only one that can kill you and set you free."
His words to me as we faced off. Funny how they were so correct, so right. Now he was dead, and I was soon to join him.
Would I end up in Heaven?
With my track record, I'd probably not have to worry about needing a lighter again.
I tried to picture Julia again, but failed again, seeing Faye in the crowd.
I must be dying, I'm hallucinating. Then it hits me, she's really there, trying to save me like I had her months ago.
Silly girl, didn't she realize I was dead?
I raised my hand, pointing it at her like she had pointed her gun at me as I walked away.
"Bang," I say just before my legs give out on me.
Images began to roll across my vision. Faye coldly telling someone to get an ambulance. Julia holding a gun on me in the cemetery.
Funny, her face was clouded. She embodied the one thing that I actually cared about, the one thing that I actually showed emotion over and I couldn't picture her face now.
Julia was an interesting person. She was both, the most heart wrenching and the happiest memory I had. With her I had experienced both the highest highs and the lowest lows. No one else had managed to make me feel that way in all the years I had lived.
But Faye, she was different.
She had taken me back to the Bebop after I blew the church to hell that day. I was in horrible shape, aching all over.
Had I thanked her?
No, I had just told her she was humming off key.
What a moron I was.
And now she was trying to patch me up again.
"Thank you," I mumbled, but I wondered if she heard me, I was so tired. I just wanted to go to sleep, to rest.
I had to tell her. I didn't want to leave without letting her know.
"Faye, I don't know if I had ever told you before, but you are the most annoying person I've ever met. All you are is attitude, greed, and self-preservation.
"But I know that's just a show, a shell you put up to protect yourself. I know because I did it too, did it for years. I even did it with Julia. It was supposed to help keep me from getting hurt, like I had when my parents were gunned down. I don't even remember my mother's face, what she looked like anymore, how she sounded.
"But it doesn't work, does it? Somehow, someone always manages to get in under that armor, past whatever defenses you erect and bury themselves in your side until you can't be without them. The thought of being without them makes you sick.
"That's why I came after you in the church. I kept telling myself it was to avenge Mao and Annie, and it was to a degree, but would I have come so strongly if you hadn't been foolish enough to get caught?"
I smiled as a thought crossed my mind. "I'm dying, in more ways than one. Spike won't live past this day. But maybe I will. Spike was a name I took on when I joined the Red Dragons, something that would work with my image. Vicious was right, he set me free, and killed me."
I felt a pair of lips on mine, and I recognized the scent of the perfume as it drifted into my nose. A voice whispered in my ear, drowning out the sounds of the siren. "I love you," it said.
No, I wasn't going to lie down and fade out. I wasn't ready yet.
I must have passed out for a moment, because the next thing I knew I was being hoisted onto a gurney, an IV in my arm and the voices of paramedics chattering around me.
"Faye," I rasped. I had to tell her.
The medics began to cluster around me, working fast. I tried to sit up, only to have them try to push me back down again. I struggled, calling out again.
I saw her face next to me, her hand grabbing mine. She had tears in her eyes.
I felt a sting, and the world tipped, turning black.
The last thing I saw was her face, mouth forming words I couldn't make out.
The last thing I felt was her hand gripping mine like it was a lifeline.
"He's a tough bastard," the doctor said as he studied the chart.
I looked at him, feeling my hair brush against the nape of my neck. It needed to be washed. I could use a good shower. I hadn't left this room, this chair in three days.
I brushed a hand across his face. It was still pale, his flesh translucent. He'd been hurt badly.
"He'll be alright in another day or two, and then we'll take the sedative out of the drip. Otherwise he'd have climbed out of that bed and reopened his stitches. I've never seen anyone so determined."
I smiled. That was him alright.
"Are you family, Miss?"
"No, I'm..." What was I to him?
We certainly weren't lovers, or anything else. I realize that we were family, after a sort. We looked out for each other, all of us.
Jet had become the father I had lost, the big brother that I never had.
Ed was, well, Ed was Ed. She always kept me from taking things too seriously. I wondered what happened to her and Ein.
And Spike was...
I dreamed for the longest time. Most of them were dull, uninteresting things.
But some had her. Some were memories, others hopes.
A voice came to me, dimly, like through a wall of cotton.
"I'm a close friend. We've known each other for a long time, and I worry about him a lot."
Faye, talking to a doctor.
The doctor told her something that I couldn't make out. He was too far away.
"Faye," I said, forcing my eyes open.
She was leaning over me instantly, her eyes worried. The doctor was there too, a jolly looking man with a bald head.
"Yeah, Spike, what is it?"
"You need a shower,"