Author's Notes: SPOILERS FOR SESSION 26! I just want to say for the record that in actuality, I believe Spike died at the end of the series. I also believe it was a sad but fitting ending for the show. But I wasn't quite done with these guys yet and dammit, that's what fanfiction is for. We're not aiming for artistic integrity here. So, yeah. In my fic, Spike lives. But I will readily admit that the real thing got it right. Here's my crack. First fic everyone so please feel free to tell me what you think, either way.

Rain King

When I think of heaven

I think of flying down into a sea of pens and feathers

And all other instruments of faith and sex and god

In the belly of a black-winged bird

Don't try to feed me

I've been here before and I deserve a little more

The comm buzzed and the remaining residents of the Bebop stared at it as if it was serving a death sentence. In a way, it most likely was.

"Don't get it," Faye said weakly from her spot camped out on the floor. She hadn't removed herself from that place since Spike had left.

Jet stared back at the ringing device and considered it. Finally, however, as if moved by some unseen force, Jet slowly made his way over to the comm. He stared at it for a moment, almost daring the thing to give him bad news. Then he took a deep breath, and with his last remaining shred of hope, answered, "Spike?"

The screen flicked on to reveal a haggard man from ISSP, smoking a cigarette and decidedly having one of those days. One of those crazy, fucked up days where you feel like you've seen enough shit to last you several lifetimes, and the only thing you can think about was giving up and renting a condo on a beach somewhere. Jet knew those days too well. When you had the partners he had, those days were called Tuesdays.

The man did not say anything. He just shook his head.

Jet nodded in understanding. "Do you want me to, um, identify the body or uh…anything?" he said quietly, though he wasn't sure why.

"Well technically, he's not officially dead. Right now, they've just tagged him up as John Doe and dumped him at the hospital. I'm sure not making any corrections. It's the friggen' 9th circle of Hell down here, man. I've never seen such a fucking blood bath. Building's burning up, debris falling, people hacked up every which way but loose. What, was this kid a psycho or what?"

"Wait, so how bad is he?"

"Bad, Jet. And if I may humbly suggest so, stay away from this thing. You never knew him; you've never seen his face. With the shit this kid pulled tonight he's better off dead."

"I think he always kinda knew that," Jet mused. "You will tell me if and when he um…you know."

The officer nodded. "You'll know. God damn media up my ass," he grumbled as he tapped the long cylinder of ash forming at his mouth to the ground. "Oh, and Jet," he added quickly as an after thought. "I'm sorry, man. I know you two were partners for awhile."

"Yeah, well," Jet said with a melancholy sort of smile. "I've been ready for this day since the moment I've met him. Can't exactly say he was the shy, quiet type."

"Obviously not," the officer snorted, despite actively noting it was in poor taste. "See ya, Space Cowboy," he said in mild salute before clicking off his receiver.

"See ya," Jet said to the blank screen, though it wasn't really directed to the screen at all. It would only be two hours before the news would come drifting over the television. Spike Spiegel was dead.

But somewhere in the scope of those two hours, a grand chess game was underway. With the mounting corpses piling into the hospital as the royal order, someone manipulated them with unseen pawns. A force that was greater than truth itself snaked it's way through the hospital, taking full advantage of the chaos it had helped to create. And it was in those two hours that Spike, the blackest knight of them all, was being slowly shifted around the board.

I belong in the service of the Queen

I belong everywhere but in between

She's been dying

I've been drinking

And I am the Rain King

Spike was disappointed to learn he wasn't dead.

It isn't so much that Spike wanted to die, as much as that he wanted to die well. The way he had just tried to go about killing himself was pretty close to perfect. He had come so close to going out in an orgy of passion and violence against his mortal enemy. He was a fucking cowboy, and that was simply how it was done.

Cowboys don't wake up in hospitals hooked up to about a million bleeping contraptions wearing a paper gown that showed his ass to all of humanity.

And cowboys certainly never lost the girl.

He winced at the thought. He winced…and then he felt nothing. He wanted to feel. He wanted to scream her name out like a mad man through the halls. He wanted to break down in a pathetic heap of sobs and whimpers. He wanted to leap from the hospital bed and vow revenge, though on whom, he didn't really know. He wanted to do something dramatic. He wanted to do something that was an appropriate tribute to the one woman he loved. He felt his throat choke up briefly, and then relax. And it was back to feeling nothing.

He was all feeling-ed out. Because as disappointed that he was that he was alive, he was even more depressed to discover only a month and half had passed since. That meant that everything he had just tried to leave in a blaze of glory was still around. All the loose ends he had so masterfully left hanging were still dangling there, waiting to strangle him. It was all still here, and in six weeks, probably pretty much as he had left it.

There was only one difference. One painful, staggering, suffocating differences. Julia wasn't there.

And for that matter, neither was Vicious.

And so what did he have left? Did he have Jet and the Bebop? He supposed he would. He figured Jet would take him back. He always did, no matter how much he pissed him off. But did he want it?

He had pretty much only taken the job, cause, well, honestly, he did like Jet. He respected him. But he certainly could care less for the work. It just seemed like a reasonable life choice. A guy on the fringe of society, selling justice to the highest bidder while secretly on a personal quest to find his lost love and vanquish those who…

Fuck. It sounded so good on paper.