Disclaimers: Cowboy Bebop does not belong to me. All this Bebop goodness belongs to Watanabe-san and those lovely people I will never be able to meet. But this one-shot does belong to me.
Rating: G to PG/T.
Spoilers: The end of RFB II. Takes place right after the end of the series.
Author/Notes: Cassandra/TasogareBan. The song Fin is by Anberlin and it is a sorrowfully majestic song. It's like eight minutes of dark, angsty goodness. I love it to my very core.
Take what you will, what you will,
Could you kill, could you kill me?
If the world was on fire
and nothing was left but hope or desire.
And take all that I could bring forth.
Is this hell?
Or am I on the floor over desperate?
Hold hands streaming of blood again.
And then take full weight of me.
Guard my dreams, figure this out,
It's me on my own.
Helpless, hurting, hell.
Will you stay strong as you promised?
Cause I'm stranded and bare.
Meanness is washed up in all that I am is God.
Take this and all.
Then grace takes me to a place
Of the father you never had.
Ripping and breaking and tearing apart.
This is not heaven
Fin - Anberlin
She would have given much then. She would have given all of herself for just one more second. Running at his side, chasing bounty after bounty. Lungs pounding, heart racing, and laughter singing in her veins. When she ran, when she piloted her Redtail at his side, his Swordfish II sleek in the light, she had never felt more alive. Time had slowed for them. The air had buzzed with music, the scent on the breeze almost magical.
She tossed clothes into the duffel bag, folding a shirt. Such small items. She had stayed for so long. Years almost. All of it in the blink of an eye. Who knew time could fly like that? She didn't know, didn't understand, the concept of time. Time was what it was. The space, the expanse, between moments. Moments that could rock a person to their very core. And moments that passed silently, almost whimpering. She slowed, staring at her duffel bag. Yellow vinyl. A dark headband. High-heeled boots. All she could do was stare at her duffel bag, at everything she had put into it so far.
Running. As if nothing would ever catch up. Hair flying around her face, arms pumping as she had run with all her might. Just trying to stay ahead of something she had never been able to see and something she would never have been able to stop. His figure ahead of her, always so far ahead. She would never have been able to catch up. And she had tried so many times.
Everything about him had been carefree, as wild and free as the wind that carried his scent at times. Even now she caught that scent of him. Standing in the cold room, hands frozen around her red shirt. That faint smell of stale cigarettes. His brand. She didn't smoke those anymore. She couldn't even bring herself to look at them. But the air around her wouldn't let her forget.
Someone said her name. She imagined for a moment it had been him. Drawling her name, bored once more. Cigarette clutched between two long slender fingers, lean legs crossed at the ankles. Such a lazy casual air to him. Here for a moment, on the planet. In this universe. Gone the next, a fading star. Looking up at the window, into the night sky and seeing herself reflected in the glass as she looked past herself. Out into that silent world. Mars. An empty spot where his star had been for so long. Time. The space between moments. The space between the existence of a star and its demise.
Heart racing, lungs reaching for a single sacred breath. One bounty. Two. Any. Always the fun in the chase, in the thrill of knowing that everything they had ever done had put their lives in danger time and again. She wouldn't have had it any other way. He wouldn't have either. And she couldn't fault the way they had thought because if not for the chase, she would never have met him and she would never had known exactly what impression he would have left on her. On her world.
She lowered the red shirt into her duffel bag, aware that the image of packing up would stay with her forever. This was the end. A closing chapter. She pressed the shirt down to leave more room on top of it and her long fingers seemed fragile, pushing down on something that could easily resist her. Just as he had. He had resisted her to the very end. And when he had gone he had succeeded. Slender fingers. A cigarette, smoking silently. She didn't know his world anymore. She couldn't be a part of it anymore.
Someone said her name. She still couldn't look. She couldn't bear to look behind her because she couldn't bear to see him there still, in her past. She swallowed silently, pulling her hand away from the duffel bag to merely stare blankly. She didn't know how long she could fight the urge to look over her shoulder to search for him. She didn't think she would ever be able to stop doing that. All she knew was the pounding of her heart in her chest, her breath strangling in her throat. If she could run always and never look back, could she be happy in the end?
She didn't want to live life the way he had. She couldn't do that anymore.
And yet for a small moment, one of those brilliant instances in that wide expanse, she had been home. Home had been a gruff former cop. A girl with wild red hair and a laptop affectionately named after a food. A yapping corgi. And a handsome man with thick hair and a beautiful broken heart.
Home was no longer where she could stay. The girl had gone one day, her red hair shining in the evening sunlight, her laptop perched on top of her head as if it had always belonged there. The dog had gone with her, torn between two homes but in the end going where his heart had whispered. And the handsome man…
He had gone on as well. His star had faded from the night sky. And her home had been torn apart.
Someone called her name. She didn't bother to look now. She couldn't bring herself to care anymore. She was scared that if she allowed herself a moment to care she would let in all those other moments that she was trying to hide from. And she needed to hide then. She couldn't face any of it then. Maybe one day she would look back. And not in anger or in sorrow. Maybe one day she would be able to look back and remember this moment fondly.
And then, as she thought of it, of looking back one day, she looked back.
The cop stood at the door to the room she was leaving. He met her eyes as she looked at him. And in that silence, in that defining moment lost in time, she didn't need him to say anything. She continued to gaze at him as she zipped up her duffel bag, as she lifted it into her hand and then over her shoulder. And when she turned, refusing still to look away, all she could do was blink slowly, wearily. He matched her, gesture for gesture, pain for pain.
And she realized all that time she had spent, all those years. It hadn't been years. It had been seconds. Minutes. Not even an hour. All that time that had flown past her. She had spent that time in numb sorrow packing up the duffel bag. And now it was done and there was nothing to say. Only a book to close and put down to pick up at a later date. Another chapter to begin. She found herself moving, drawing close to the man leaning against the doorway. His face was tired. Lonely.
Her heart hadn't been the only one to break.
Meeting him at the doorway, she came to a slow stop. He gazed at her and she returned the look. There was nothing left to say. All that was left was the run. From then on. Wordlessly, she lifted a hand to him and placed it gently to his shoulder, pressing it as close to his heart as she dared. If she reached just a bit more, slid over another inch, she would feel the jagged edges of the man's heart. Sharp enough to poke through his skin into her palm. That was what she felt when she placed her hand to her own breast. That healing would take time. That expanse between moments. Perhaps the next moment would involve a mended heart. Perhaps not.
The cop gazed at her still, his head bowing slightly.
And then, finally turning her head from him, she allowed her hand to fall away. Slipping past him into the silent corridor, she closed her eyes, pushing away the scent. His scent of cigarettes. Then one step. And another. And one more to take her away from this place that she would look back on one day, hopefully with a tender smile.
This was the end, after all.