Disclaimer: I do not own Men in Black 3. Or any of the movies or franchise.
Florida: Cape Canavral
In hindsight, he should have seen this coming. He really, really should have seen this coming. Sporadic accidents spawned by even unlikelier circumstances… that had practically been his M.O from the moment Agent J had dropped his name for a black suit and a world full of secrets. Act first, reminisce later; too many consequences come from overthinking and planning, despite the popular belief in the contrary. Imagine if he'd waited to chase down that man all those years ago. He never would have learned the truth about extraterrestrials, never would have heard of the Men in Black…never would have met K…
...he used to think the older man was a ball of too many excuses and not enough TLC; how else did one explain such a stoic, solemn persona? What kind of man never slid past "disturbingly-detached" on the emotional spectrum?
"Don't ask questions you don't want to know the answer to."
He laughs—an ironic smile stapled to his lips before a coughing fit swipes it away. He gets it now. It's a little late, but he finally understands.
The reason K refused to talk about his past. The reason he did his damndest to enforce the "look before you leap" policy.
"Slick, can you hear me?"
…why he'd go against that policy on occasion despite the dangers of flying solo…
"Hey, kid, are you alright?"
Hazy coal rolling up to meet chocolate concern as the much younger version of his partner drops to his knees at his side. "H-hey…" he groans, "what's with this 'k-kid' stuff? I'm older than you, man." Irony morphs into a weak grin: an attempt to ease the weight settling heavily on the other man's shoulders. Years from now, he'll see that weight again and wonder what on Earth had to happen to lodge such an immobile stone between his partner's shoulder blades. It's almost funny, really—in a sad, morbid kind of way. To think he'd be the source of his own future inquiry…time travel was a strange, strange thing.
His gaze readjusts, and again he looks up K; perturbed, a little, by his expression. That "007" demeanor has gone away; a morose emptiness filling his eyes. He knows now. J is sure of it. He knows this 'future man' won't be returning to his time.
"Dammit, kid, what were you thinking?"
J shakes his head—or tries to; his strength is depleting with the blood that oozes from his wounds. "K, man you- you gotta listen—"
"Tackling Boris like that…thought you senior officers were above stupid—"
"K…" Raising a shaky hand, the fallen agent clasps it over his young partner's forearm. The action startles K, and finally, he silences, allowing J a window. "…it's okay." He coughs, and even though spots dance before his eyes, he means it. Everything is okay now. Yeah, he's got barbs impaling him from all angles and okay, that makes him a gonner, but he came here with only one objective and this living, breathing, not-a-memorial-statue-bust stands as his 'mission accomplished.'
A biting chill crawls across his body, seizing his attention with a nasty shudder. His eyelids begin to droop, but an unsteady exhale lands in his ears and pulls him back. Once more, he meets the gaze of the man whose fate he swapped for his own. Once more, he musters up the strength to smile.
"In death…there will always be death." He says softly, giving his comrade's arm a little squeeze before his hand slips back against the sand on which he lay.
K doesn't smile back. Instead, his brow knits deeper into his forehead. It lasts but a moment; his insight is as sharp in youth as it is in his later years. "…you knew." He murmurs, with a heaviness J would rather not to be there. It's so...K…
So this is what happened to him…
Another shiver gnaws at his heart, but this time, he ignores it; he can't go just yet. "Yeah, I-I knew." The dying man reiterates, and though it hurts, he chuckles. "About ten seconds before we went into the tunnel, but I knew." The laughter fades, and with it goes some of the light from his eyes. "There ain't no freebee with time travel. Everything c-comes with a price." He stops, and grits his teeth; pain lancing up and down his chest. It won't be long now. "K…" He tries to keep the wheezing from his voice—this is important, after all, direly important—but each word is a losing battle. "I need…need you to do somethin' f-for me."
"Anything." K answers solemnly.
He almost expects remorse, regret—something—from his fellow agent, yet that subtle sadness building behind his eyes somehow seems right. Staring both the past and the present in the face; bidding farewell to two men, not one. "My right c-coat pocket." J continues, trying to no avail to raise his arm again. "In there's the device that a-allowed me to…to come back here. Belongs to a guy named Obediah Price. You're gonna…gonna wanna pay him a visit…make sure he d-don't make another of these th-things. We can't have people travelin' to the past like it's a-a cab ride." Now he, too, assumes a serious air—more serious than before, anyway, and mustering his remaining strength, concludes with words meant more this pair of ears than those of the rest of the world. "Can we."
There is no verbal reply when K moves his arm. Only a slow, sliding motion; he pulls the now bloodied device from J's stained jacket—it glistens red in the midday sun, but otherwise appears to function. Good. It doesn't take an Arcadian to know what kind of paradoxes could occur should it have been broken.
"This it?" K asks, holding it up before J's fading gaze. The fallen agent tries to muster a nod, then thinks better of it, and instead replies with a shaky "y-yeahhh…" his breathing comes in shallow bursts, body beginning to convulse. The world starts to blur around him, darkness creeping into the crevices of his vision. This is it….this is…
…no….not yet…there's still one more thing…
A sputter, gurgle, then a raspy breath; eyes rolling up to find K's one last time. "D-do me…one more thing…" J chokes, and while he can't see his expression, he knows K is listening. "Don't…hang on to your…your regrets. You're…you're worth d-dyin' for, K…y-you hear me? The world…the world n-needssss agents like—" The statement ends abruptly with a sudden, crushing pain to his heart, as though his chest cavity were collapsing in on itself. A sound no man should ever make erupts from the depths of his throat, while his eyes bulge to their fullest, staring into a world of flashing blacks and whites. Somewhere in the furthest reaches of his mind he registers someone's grip over his clenched hand, but it's only in passing thought as his eyelids finally roll down, his body stills and he is no more.
New York: MIB headquarters
Two days earlier
"Hey, K. C'mere a second."
"Mmh?" K mutters in reply, offering only vague attention as his thoughts and eyes are elsewhere. "What is it, Slick?"
A frustrated sigh. "Just come here, will you?"
He finds it ironic that J is the one expressing irritation when it's K who's the busy one here, but fourteen years train a man to expect such a thing and the older agent steps away from Zed's memorial bust and fulfills his partner's request. Not seven heads down, J is staring at another marble face, his own drawn up in deep concentration. K stands behind him, folding his hands behind his back. As usual, he waits for the younger agent to speak first.
"You notice anything weird about this statue right here?"
J doesn't realize he's asking a rhetorical question, so K doesn't treat it like one, instead wrinkling his brow to give off the illusion of a man deep in thought. "Nothing seems out of place." He states blankly, to which his partner frowns and moves to stand beside the white stone bust.
"Seriously, nothing?" He bends down so that his face is level with the statue's, donning its same blank stare.
He isn't the only one. "Just like looking in a mirror." K says finally, words dripping in sarcasm because J's usual misinterpreted speculation is right on the money this time around.
The other man stands, obvious incredulity tacked to his face. "Aw come on!" He says with a gesture towards the stone double. "You can't tell me that ain't a little spooky."
"It ain't a little spooky." Comes the deadpanned reply, turning on his partner and heading back the opposite way. Forty years ago, yes, it had definitely been spooky, building a memorial for an agent who would not join their ranks for another twenty-five years. Now?
Now, it stands as a constant reminder of a man's sacrifice to save the world.
"K, I wasn't—don't walk away from me!"
A man's sacrifice to save him.
In death, there will always be death.
This is not my best work. At all. But I had this idea in my head and I had to get it out and while it's nowhere near what I hoped it'd be, I'm done with it and glad. Sorry if anything was too vague...again, this just wasn't working the way I wanted it to. Oh well...
By the way: Two quotes used are from the film itself, both of which I do not own. Just saying.