Disclaimer: If it was mine, the movie would have ended rather differently.
A/N: I REGRET NOTHING! Seriously, don't ask me to explain this. Also, see my profile for an explanation of where the fsk I've been and why the fsk you're getting this instead of an update to Dialectics.
There's no real point in throwing the flowers after him; the portal to the other world has closed and they only bounce lightly, once, on the floor of the cellar, stirring up dust. Adam and Barbara and Delia and her father stare at each other across the gap and she's in the middle, staring down at the garish flowers pooling red on the grey dry floor.
She never wears the dress again but can never bring herself to throw it out; it lies dormant in the back of her closet, stripped of meaning. A promise never kept. A bargain waiting to be fulfilled.
The story of her life has more loose threads than that wretched striped suit and she likes it that way though she knows full well that someone will come along eventually and pull, but hoping – and never admitting – that the hand that pulls the whole fabric apart will be white and smeared with graveyard dirt…
They have unfinished business, she reminds herself quietly when the dress happens to catch her eye.
"We have unfinished business, he and I."
After a few years and unsuccessful attempts at unshrinking his head, he grows bored and steals some water off a passing shipwreck to make a scrying pool. She's standing staring at her closet, eyes of a deer before the hunter's shot, and he has no idea what she's talking about until he catches a glimpse of crimson lace and understands.
He doesn't have the power to do more than watch for years, sitting in the waiting room while the business of the afterlife swept around him. His number is called and he's too busy watching to hear; curling his lip at the adolescent fumbling of the boys she tries to date, head pounding with impotent rage at her struggles, grinning with sharp wolfish delight when she triumphs. For ten years he watches, until someone overturns the cracked mug he's been using and he looks up to see Juno standing over him, eyebrow raised.
She sends him away and he sits in the darkness, watching.
She feels herself being watched as she hurries down the street and pulls her coat around her, frail protection from the biting autumn winds. It'd taken hours longer than she'd thought to hang her pieces for the gallery, and now she curses the perfectionist streak that means she doesn't trust their lighting and leaves her walking through the freezing city blocks.
She fades into the shadows between the streetlights and fingers her mace nervously, quickening her pace. A figure detaches itself from the brick wall and approaches her; she freezes and begins to step back, poised to flee and it cries out, crumpling to the ground.
His new body can't quite handle the strain of the possession and crumpling even as he cries out in triumph. The man had been going to hurt her; rob her or rape her, it didn't matter. He'd had no choice, and now he's stuck.
He minds less than he should.
The last thing he sees before the body black out and leaves him blind his her face, pale and worried and thin (does she ever eat?) and bent over him.
The man's name is Sean, she learns riding in the ambulance with the EMTs. Sean Harper. Now she's sitting next to Sean Harper's hospital bed, in Sean Harper's room, waiting for him to come to for no reason except that he seemed to be as alone as she was – he has insurance, but no one's been able to locate family or friends. It's been a week, and she's beginning to give up.
He coughs and opens his eyes, squinting against the light.
"Sean Harper?" she says and he looks at her, confused.
I know who you are, he almost says and then chokes it back. Instead he tries to shake her hand, stiff and awkward because he hasn't had to control his own muscles for centuries, and can't quite make it.
She's buzzed for the nurses and they bustle in, hustling her out but he can see her watching through a window and keeps his eyes fixed on her. They ask him questions – he says he doesn't know to all of them, and they conclude a bunch of medical words that boil down to him losing his memory, which is the closest he can get to telling them the truth without really pissing off the Administration.
Days of tests and phone calls follow, hunting down Sean Harper's life and he tries to absorb it all. The thought of leaving the body has occurred to him, but it's been so long since he's felt the sun on his face; the impressions of the body come to him only dimly, as if through a layer of cotton, but they're better than the nothingness he had before.
And there's Lydia.
She's stayed with him throughout the whole process, helping him piece it all together and he wants her just as much as he always has, more now that she can recognize and return it, if only he can win her.
So he starts taking her to dinner, buying her trinkets. To thank her, he claims, for helping him. It goes on for about a week before she catches on and confronts him; he pleads guilty on all counts, smiling the charmer's smile he sees in the mirror each morning, the smile he knows from Sean Harper's memories had been used to woo and wound hundred of women from one coast to the other and catches her hand as she waves it in agitation, kissing the back and the palm and the wrist…
Months go by and she can't imagine life without Sean, if she hadn't stayed late that night in the gallery, if she had run away; he's as perfect as if he had been made especially for her and when she tells him so he laughs and says he was, babes. All for you.
It's their one-year anniversary and they do all the things couples in love do, laughing and making love and missing half the day because they can't stop pulling each other into dark corners. Night comes and she's curled up against him, tired, his arm around her, fingers light on her waist and stroking her skin.
"You know," she murmurs, half-asleep. "You scared me the night we met. I thought you were going to hurt me…" her voice trails off in a yawn and she nuzzles closer. His fingers still for a moment, in shock or thought, and then rolls over so he's pinning her, looking into her eyes.
"Lyds. You know I'd never hurt you."
"I know," she says, grinning and kissing him on the tip of his nose. "I didn't then."
He knows it's a lie even as he says it, because Sean Harper would hurt her, many times, and leave her lying the dust and it's Sean Harper she loves; the Sean Harper he's made for her. Sean Harper had meant to hurt her that night.
He's insatiable that night and she goes to work yawning and grinning, radiating peace and contentment. Then he packs up everything that's his – have to make it look real – and sits down to write.
It's been a great year, but I'm getting a little tired of this homebody routine. Time I moved on; don't bother trying to find me.
It takes him an hour to write two sentences, cursing himself for a fool and a liar as he does it and also knowing that for once in his misbegotten existence he was doing the right thing. He looks from the note to the clock to the expensive, elegant object d'art on the mantle – he'd brought it for her after seeing her eyeing it in the shop window downtown – then grits his teeth and adds:
P.S. I took that ugly statue on the mantle to pay off some gambling debts. I figure we're square now.
He take the suitcase and the statue and leaves, taking one last look behind him and trying to convince himself to go back, unpack everything, tear up the note. He has time. He can undo this.
He doesn't. He walks to the other end of the city and throws the suitcase in a dumpster, then clutches the statue and marches to body as far from the city as he can get, hitching and sneaking and breaking all kinds of rules. Eventually he finds a deep forest and slits the body's throat with its own knife, stepping out in time to watch it's death throes and feeling no pity. Sean Harper had deserved that fate; he'd taken a looksee through the body's memories and knew exactly what he'd intended to do to Lydia, had already done to other women.
Betelgeuse only has the time to grab the statue before he's pulled into the afterlife. There's a punishment; he had expected that. He hadn't expected them to be so cruel.
Since his transgression was the result of his obsession with the human, Lydia Deetz, the Administration rules, his punishment will be to bind her from him. He can't watch her now; can't even ask someone else to watch her for him and report.
An old woman sits on the front porch, the sun glowing red on the horizon. She's wrapped in a shawl, rocking gently while a light breeze ruffles her air. She's so very old, and feeling older every day; heartbreak and pain she's known, joy and success also. Her children are all grown, her husband and parents dead, her relatives scattered to the winds.
She blinks and there's a man standing on the porch, leaning against a post with his hands in his pockets. His hair is blonde and wild, his suit loud and poorly fit, and she smiles.
"I know you."
"Yeah. Babes, there's something I wanted to tell you – "
"I know very well what you wanted to tell me, Sean Harper." Her voice creaks like an old door as she laughs at his shock. "I'm old, but my wits haven't left me yet. It took some years before I put the pieces together; you did a very good job."
"I, uh – "
"Don't," she says, quiet and commanding and for a moment her voice is that of young woman she used to be. "I know why you left. Idiot. Did you really think I would leave if you told me the truth?"
He has the grace to look chagrined and as though he's about to apologize, offer to try and make some restitution. She shakes her head and shifts; the chair is harder than she remembers, and these days there's a kind of ache that goes right down her bones.
"Never you mind. It's in the past now. Get going."
"There's another reason I'm here."
He only looks at her, grave and silent, and she understands.
"Oh. Well, then, you'd best get on with things."
He takes her hand and draws her away, glimmering in the low sunlight as the red orb rises and dawn becomes day; the old woman breathes deeply once and then no more.