Author's Notes: For Miaka Mouse, who prompted me for some Spike/Julia. It's nice to write for them again.

This is a story in ten movements.

Warning: Spoilers for Spike's past.

Disclaimer: I do not own Cowboy Bebop and am making no profit from this fan fiction.

Stars and the Moon

By Nessie

1. She meets a man who knows what he wants in life and how he wants to make it his. She stays with him not because she particularly likes him but because she has never known what she wants, least of all how to get it. And Julia is able to latch on to someone and stay there for months, even years.

Vicious, however, is the very first person who has ever latched back.

And when she meets Vicious's best friend, Julia wishes she has never touched him even with just her eyes.

2. If she has ever believed in wishes, it was when she was ten years old, when she decided she wouldn't be like her mother. She would not condemn herself to a dark place without a single beam of light, where no one could reach her and where she was alone. And she would never ever put a child through what she had faced so young.

She, Julia, would secure for herself an entire world of light, brilliant and pure. She would surround herself with stars and the moon, vanquishing any shadow that would seek to diminish her. There would be things for her to care about, people that would care about her.

3. Joining the Red Dragon clan is a logical step, if a potentially lethal one. But she has grown with a willingness to die for what she believes in, and she most certainly believes in personal happiness even if she has never experienced it for herself.

But even in an organization that prides itself on being close-knit, much like a family, Julia feels lonely. Meeting Vicious is the lighthouse beam in a treacherous ocean. She goes to shore.

He treats her well in the beginning; probably as well as he knows how. But he goes downhill, his love for her lessening by the day. She is never sure of the exact moment when she stops being a woman to him and starts instead to be a convenience…as though she is a weapon, just another device for furthering his plans.

4. What Vicious has not counted on is making a mistake. Julia herself does not recognize Spike Spiegel as the mistake until the night she finds herself in bed with him, reveling in the taste of his kiss and the warmth of his arms…so different from Vicious's icy touch.

Spike never seems to understand. He speaks of stars with energy but no adoration. He is content to stay on a planet where his family holds others at gunpoint, where his life is about as constant as the phases of the moon. He can handle the darkness in a way Julia both admires and resents.

5. She falls in love with him because there is no way but down. He gives off more light than she has ever known another person to do, and Julia holds to him. She is terrified every moment of every day, and belatedly he shares in her fright.

Tears season their nights together. Chills set the mood.

6. He wants to stay with her. He tells her so, right before going out on a mission and getting so shot up he loses his eye.

Darkness encroaches on her life again, and she worries that soon both she and Spike will be overpowered by it. But he smiles at her from a hospital bed and asks her to sing. Jokes fall on deaf ears because being in the dark is like being underwater. Julia cannot hear.

7. Vicious returns from Titan with hate newly-infecting his heart. Somehow he has discovered them, and Julia wonders if he had not known from the very start. This would not have surprised her.

He shares her bed with wild vengeance in every bruising grip. Julia takes it without a word; if she has learned nothing else from her lover, she has learned courage. She turns off the light of her own volition, carrying on because Spike still shines for both of them.

8. Spike draws out a fantasy world, much like the one she had envisioned as a girl. Light everywhere, no Red Dragons who would one way or another devour them, no Vicious. He presses a note into her hand but she does not look.

Vicious comes and sets down the solution; one death or two. It is her decision.

She chooses not to choose. Torn pieces of paper flutter in a rainy wind, and she, like them, takes off.

9. The only illumination she can ever hope for is the burning end of a cigarette or the fiery glow of exploding buildings. The devilish glints in Vicious's eyes are two more spots of light, but those she manages to run away from.

She learns to use her imagination, to make those lights her stars. And they light her up, revealing every single flaw.

10. Julia has to watch his eyes on the day they meet again, and within them she can see herself walking forward. She is older, drawn from years of gazing at stars that were never really stars. But they are hers.

Most importantly, they offer a light she has been so long deprived – even if their glow is temporary. Spike though – even now, in the needle-like rain with her gun aimed at his heart, is like a moon. He casts such warm brightness.

And Julia faces the truth in the same way she faces all of the lies her life has told.

She has stars; some given, some fabricated.

She will never have the moon.

The End