Disclaimer: I don't own Cowboy Bebop.

I know it's been done to death, but I wanted to give my own quick version of what happened to Spike after his final showdown with Vicious. You may not like my account of things, but I hope you enjoy the story anyway. Thanks.

"I don't give a damn about him or what he does!" Jet shouted vehemently. "He can die for all I care! If he wants to just---"

"Well I do care!" Faye cut him off. Jet leaned back against the force of her shout, forgetting about his leg and how much it hurt for him to move it that way. Faye's eyes burned with anger and conviction, piercing and pleading at the same time.

"I do care," she continued with just as much passion, "and I'm not going to pretend that I don't just because I'm angry with him!" She let her hands ball into fists as she seethed. "I think that he's a damn bastard for doing what he's doing, and I think that he's being totally selfish, not even caring about getting himself killed. It makes me want to rip his fluffy little head off for thinking that it's alright for him to just go off and die like that'll solve all of his problems!"

She ground her teeth together to get a hold of all of her raging emotions, but her anger was so strong that it threatened to boil over as she continued to think about Spike, as she remembered him leaving and she just letting him go. She could feel the sting of tears in her eyes as she tried to hold them back, but it was of no use.

"Why does he always think he's got to face his past alone?" she ranted, her voice harsh, her breath coming out in shorter bursts. "Why does he always have to be so damn stupid!! That bastard!! He just can't let it go, can he? Can he?!" Faye suddenly fell silent, breathing in deep gulps of air, thinking about all that she's said. She looked down at her fists. She could feel her lap beginning to bruise because of how hard she was pressing her fists into them . . . but she didn't care. All she could think about was Spike.

"Alright," she tried to say more calmly, though her voice still strained against her emotions. "So he's got something to finish, something that's always going to come back to haunt him unless he finally ends it . . . but why does it he have to do it alone? Why, Jet? Why does he have to do it like this?" She lifted a hand to her eyes and covered them as she choked back a sob. Her shoulders shook with the effort, and Jet could feel his stomach tighten at the sight. He sighed inwardly, not really knowing what to do. He lifted one of his own hands to reach out for her, but stopped when Faye's head suddenly shot up again, an inferno burning in her eyes.

"He doesn't care about how I feel!" she cried desperately, her voice shaking, the tears now flooding over. "He doesn't care about how you feel! All he cares about is that damn death wish that he carries around in his right chest pocket!"

As Jet watched her, unable to say a word in response, he realized that she wasn't even talking to him anymore. Her eyes were too distant and far away, her mind focused only on Spike's face now. Jet could see her body struggle to remain calm as she talked, the heat of her pain and anger radiating from her like the exhaust from a space cruiser.

"He thinks that it's alright for him to cause the same pain that he feels just because he feels it," Faye continued vehemently, her eyes cast to the ground. "Just who does that bastard think he is?! . . . stupid . . ."

When Faye started choke on her own sobs, Jet thought that she had finally given up, but then she got up from her chair and began pacing around the room with renewed energy. "Can't he just learn to move on?" she asked to no one in particular, gesturing with her hands. "Can't he just take life as he can get it without thinking that 'what happens, happens?' I can't take this anymore because it rages the hell out of me! And why do you think it makes me so damn mad, huh?"

Faye suddenly swung around to face Jet again, jabbing a finger at her chest as she spoke. "It's because I do care, and I'm not going to act like that doesn't matter, 'cause it does! I care, and I don't give a damn if he doesn't care that I care because it sure as hell matters to me!" Faye straightened, her eyes burning. "And I realize that now." After a short pause, she brought her hands up again, palms facing up. As she gazed down at them, she slowing closed them until they were balled into fists, again. Despite her best efforts, they shook with her anger . . . with her fear.

"I want to beat the living hell out of him, Jet," she said quietly, her silent tears still spilling. "And I'm not staying around here anymore." Despite the forewarning, her sudden movement towards the back of the ship startled Jet. He blinked a few times, trying to comprehend what had just happened. Before she passed through the door that would take her to the hangar, she stopped for one more moment to glance back at him.

"I do care," Faye said quietly. "I'm not afraid to admit that anymore . . . and I'm going to make that count for everything that it's worth. I'll make Spike wake up, to see the life that's here right now . . . even if I have to beat it into him. But he has to live for me to do that."

Then without another word, she turned away, ducked her head under the entrance, and left. Jet listened as he heard the door open and then shut again. Silence followed for what seemed like an eternity.

Hell, what do I care? Jet thought angrily to himself.

He continued to try to concentrate on his work, but his mind kept wandering off, refusing to focus. Instead of the circuits and wires that were right in front of his face, all he could see was Spike and all of the good times that they had shared together . . . and some of the worst times, too. Jet could still see him smile, even that irritating smirk that he found so annoying whenever Spike had gotten the better over him.

And with every refreshed memory, Jet knew that Faye was right. No matter how angry Spike made him, he would always care. Nothing would ever change that.

Another burst of anger erupted from within him, and he cursed repeatedly. He tossed down the parts that he'd been working on and stood up, careful to mind his leg. "Spike," he growled softly to himself. "I'm going to hold this over you until the universe finally boils over, and I'm going to make sure you're here to pay me back every last cent."

He hadn't thought that he could do anything in his current condition and with the Bebop in the shape that it was. And Faye's Red Tail was pretty much out of commission, right now . . . but by damn, they were going to find a way.

It didn't take him long to catch up to Faye.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Spike stared up at the ceiling in silence, drawing a complete blank. At first he couldn't tell where he was, but after looking around for a while, he realized that he was back in his room on the Bebop.

How did I get here? he wondered. He couldn't think clearly, his head felt so groggy and plugged.

Letting out a long deep breath while pulling the covers away from his body, Spike couldn't see the point in staying in bed if he wasn't going to get any sleep. He might as well do something constructive with his time rather than wasting away worrying about things he couldn't change.

He straightened himself out and leaned off the side of his bed. After a few seconds of contemplation, he pushed himself off and searched around for a clean shirt to put on over his exposed torso. For some reason, he felt an incredible need to leave his room. It didn't take him long to find himself walking idly down the bunker corridor of the Bebop, unrealistically drawn towards the navigator's bay as though there was a reason for him to be there.

As he made his way through the ship, he couldn't seem to shake the feeling of loneliness that he felt, as though he was all alone in the world. The Bebop itself was unusually dark and quiet. Nothing seemed right here, but Spike couldn't figure out what was out of place. Everything was just so hazy.

Soon, he was standing in front of the doors that would open up into the bay. The doors opened on their own as he stepped forward to enter the room beyond them, but he hesitated when he saw the lone figure standing by the observation windows. Catching his reflection in the glass that she gazed through, she didn't even bother to turn around to meet him. Instead, she seemed lost in a world all her own, staring out into the darkness of space. Spike found himself hesitating for a moment more, but then he joined the young woman inside.

"Couldn't sleep either, huh?" he asked casually as he stepped up beside her.

"Mm-hmm," she answered quietly without looking at him. Her voice sounded so familiar. Spike felt a little uncomfortable for a moment, but he forced himself to stay calm and relaxed.

"I guess I came here to think about something," he said, unsure. "But I don't remember what it was about. Do you mind if I join you here?" She shook her head, still focusing most of her attention passed the window.

"Go right on ahead," she replied distantly. "I don't mind at all."

Spike stared at her for a moment, trying to read her face. It was hard to make out any of her features in the dark, so he couldn't read any of her expressions. But he could still feel that she was troubled about something. Spike decided to brush it off. It wasn't really any of his business anyway.

He just couldn't seem to think.

"Spike," the woman suddenly said beside him. "Did you know that your friends are really worried about you right now?"

Spike felt the muscles in his shoulders tense. He turned to get a better look at her face, again, but the shadows continued to hide it as though they were playing a cruel joke on him. After a few minutes of no success, he gave up and sighed to himself. Her question still echoed around his head, though, and he ended up casting his eyes to the floor as he thought about an answer to it. He tried to analyze what he was feeling, but he found that he didn't really know how he felt about it.

"I see that as more their problem than mine," he finally answered after a while. "I have my own problems to deal with. I don't need to worry about other people's concerns." The woman shook her head sadly.

"That's really too bad," she responded. "You mean so much to them. And I think you care more about them than you let on, too."

"Well," Spike said with half a smile. "That's really none of your business, now is it?"

"It's my business if I make it my business," she said distantly. "And right now, I make you my business." Spike could feel his anger suddenly rouse.

"Just what right do you have to----"

The woman's sudden movement toward him made him stop. In careful and deliberate motion, she stepped out from beyond the shadows, revealing golden hair that fell in waves a little passed her shoulders. The shock that suddenly went coursing through Spike's body as he recognized her face made him take a step back. He stared into her piercing blue eyes, his earlier anger subsiding to be replaced by bewilderment and doubt.

"Julia?" he whispered harshly, stunned. "Is that really you? It . . . it can't be." He reached out for her with his hands, desperately wanting to touch her, to feel if she was real, but she held her hand up to stop him.

"No," she said softly, shaking her head ruefully. "This is only a dream. Only a dream. I'm here to get you to wake up, Spike."

"What?" Spike said, confused. "What're you talking about? What do you mean this is only a dream? You're standing right here in front of me, Julia, and I . . ." His voice trailed away as she turned away from him again, her eyes finding the black abyss of space outside the observation window.

"I'm not really here with you now, Spike," she said calmly.

"But how? I don't understand." Spike put his hand up against his head, trying to clear his mind. "This is all too real to be just a dream."

Julia shook her head. "But this is a dream, Spike," she said placidly, her body still. "A dream in every sense of the word. The real world is out there somewhere." She gestured toward the window, out into the empty space beyond it. "You're hurt very badly, right now, and this is where you came to retreat from it."

Spike stood silently for a moment, absorbing that in. Without really wanting to, he forced his eyes to look out passed the glass and into the space beyond. Slowly, the uneasiness of the truth crept back into his conscience. As he stared out into that endless space, he knew that Julia was right.

A dark cloud suddenly lifted from his head---but another, darker cloud set itself into his heart. Spike shook his head if only to create a reason to move, but he kept his eyes locked on the glass, never losing sight of the nothingness passed it.

"So this is a dream," he murmured to himself. He found himself smiling at the irony. "Couldn't really tell the difference."

He almost lost himself in the depth of the darkness outside as he stared into it for a time that didn't seem to exist. In this world made of dreams, he realized that everything stood so still, seemed so quiet. There was nothing there to intrude on him anymore, nothing to remind him of the past. Julia stood patiently beside him without saying a word, watching him closely.

"Julia," Spike said, suddenly taking his eyes away from the glass. "You're the only real thing in my life, the only thing that matters to me." He tried not to think about the darkness passed the glass, tried not to remember what layed beyond it. Julia's eyes shimmered with an unreadable emotion, a soft but sad smile lifting her lips.

"Spike, I'm dead."

The words echoed around in his mind, beating down on his nerves with their fists with the ferocity of an animal mauling its prey. He could feel his chest collapse as the words seemed to crush him beneath their weight, stinging his heart and waking up another memory that showed blood spilling out onto concrete. He tried to force the memory away, tried make himself forget it, but the more he fought against it, the more vivid it became. Julia watched as he struggled against the unwanted visions, letting the words sink in further so that he had no choice but to face them

"I don't care if you're dead," Spike said quietly---stubbornly---after he managed to collect himself again. He shook his head. "It doesn't matter anymore. We're here together now and nothing can take us apart again. I'll stay here with you---"

"No!" Julia shook her head violently. "That's the one thing you can't do. Don't you see, Spike? My time is up. What I'm trying to tell you is that your time isn't. You still have your whole life ahead of you."

"I don't want to live a life without you, Julia!" Spike suddenly shouted, making Julia pause in shock. "I can't! When I lost you the first time, I lost a part of myself. Seeing you here with me again, I can't lose you for a second time. Julia, I can't---"

"I understand, Spike," Julia said with another gentle smile tugging at her lips. "More than you know. We're so much alike, you and me. Why do you think I'm even here now?"

Spike turned away, momentarily unable to look at her. Julia suddenly closed the gap between them until she stood no more than a few inches from his own body, forcing him to look back down at her. He fought to take her into his arms, to hold her close to him so that he could smell the scent of her hair once more---but something was holding him back.

Julia reached up with her right hand and took his cheek into her palm.

"You can't feel my touch, Spike," she whispered softly to him. "Do you see?"

Julia was right. He couldn't feel the warmth he remembered in her skin, of the gentle caress of her fingers as she moved them over his cheek. It was more like a breeze passing over his face, nothing more.

"That doesn't matter," he whispered. "I don't care if this is only a dream. It's real enough that you're here with me, Julia. We're together, now, and I won't lose you again."

Julia's eyes suddenly became sad and distant. "Spike, we can't be together. Not in the way you want to. I wasn't sent here for that."

"Sent?" Spike was confused again. He stared blankly at her until Julia tried to explain.

"I wanted to tell you to wake up, Spike. Remember when you told me about your left eye, Spike? About your right? Your life . . . is like a dream. Isn't that what you told me once, something that I once shared with you? Everything always seems so hazy and unreal, like it isn't really happening. It's like you're not even awake . . . like you're not even alive."

Julia's face became even sadder. "It's because you've allowed your soul to slowly wither away inside of you, Spike," she said quietly. "And then I came along and managed to stir you from your sleep, even if it was just a little. I knew and understood your world, and we managed to share a common bond because of that." She looked up at him, a smile playing in the corner of her eyes. "You managed to fill the void that I felt in my own life, Spike. I felt so empty before you came, but then you gave my life new meaning and completely turned my upside down world straight up. You made everything make sense to me where nothing else did. You gave my life the meaning that it lacked."

For a moment, Julia lost herself in her own memories, and Spike could see the Julia that he had known in life, again. Her face glowed with contentment and happiness as he watched her---but then she suddenly seemed to snap out of it, and slowly pulled her hand away from Spike's face. "But now I've moved on, Spike, and I need you to move on, too."

"I don't understand," Spike said, shaking his head. "What are you trying to tell me? That I need to just get up and forget about everything that I've been through? To forget about everything that we've been through?"

"No, Spike, I need you to let me go," she answered quietly. "You and I . . . we shared something special between us. And you have to take what you got from that and learn to live as God meant you to live." Spike suddenly snorted, using his pain to fuel his bitterness.

"God," he said almost in contempt. "What does God know---"

"More than you," Julia whispered solemnly, earnestly. "More than you." She took a few steps back away from him. "Your reality is like a dream because you're living as though you're dead. Nothing is real if your soul is dead, Spike. Nothing matters if you revolve your life around death because there is no real meaning in death. It's time to wake up, Spike. I was sent to show you your way back to the real world, back to the people who really care about you. But it's your decision to make."

She held out her hands to him, her eyes pleading with him. "What's it going to be, Spike? Will you choose to die a second death, or will you choose to be resurrected and live? It's up to you."

Spike stared down at her hands as his mind seemed to swirl with thoughts going a million light years a second. He felt torn, undecided, like everything that he had believed in before had all been a lie.

No, not a lie, but only a small part of a much bigger truth. Somehow, he'd missed out on something bigger than he could ever imagine, and now he felt robbed and cheated. He wanted to take it all back somehow, to fight for his chance to try again.

He wanted that second chance.

Spike looked up to stare into Julia's eyes again, and he realized that this was what she really wanted, too. She wanted him to live, and he suddenly understood that there was only one way he could ever make her death mean something more than it had become. If he just gave up now, then her sacrifice would have been in vain.

"Is it," he started slowly, "really as easy as all that, Julia? Is it that easy?" Julia said nothing, watching him.

Spike made his decision.

Julia read what was in his eyes, and the most beautiful smile that Spike had ever seen her smile suddenly shone on her face. Her eyes gleamed as she held out her hands even further so that he could take them into his own.

"Thank you, Julia," Spike whispered as he felt himself suddenly drifting away. "And, see you later."

"I'll always be with you, Spike," he could hear her voice say as she faded away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"C'mon, Spike!" Faye shouted over him. "Breathe, damn it! I said breathe!"

Jet was too preoccupied with putting pressure on Spike's bleeding wound to notice Faye's growing hysteria. She'd managed to get Spike out of the Syndicate compound without too much trouble, Jet keeping her covered using the ship that he'd managed to "borrow".

They hadn't even needed to search, spotting Spike's body lying along a staircase at the top of the building almost immediately. The ceiling had been blown away, exposing the "fortress" to the sky so that they were able to find him without having to actually siege the place. Whatever Spike had managed to do, the whole building was in total chaos, and everyone had been too dazed and confused to stop Faye from fetching Spike.

They both managed to take him back to the Bebop which was harbored somewhere out of sight, but then Spike had suddenly stopped breathing just as Jet helped Faye carry him into the living room. They needed to get him to a hospital . . . but there wasn't one close enough.

Faye pumped his chest and performed CPR, working desperately to get his heart to beat and his lungs to breathe, but Jet was quickly losing hope. The blood was just coming out too fast. He didn't want to say anything to Faye as she fought to revive Spike. She wouldn't have listened to him anyway, wouldn't have wanted to believe him, and he didn't want to believe himself either. As much as it killed him to admit it, they were going to lose Spike. There wasn't anything that either of them could do but watch him slip away.

"And all the trouble we went through to salvage your worthless carcass," Jet said through clenched teeth, squeezing his eyes shut to fight back the tears. "Don't give up on us now, Spike."

"Don't talk like that," Faye said angrily. "He's going to be alright." Her voice tightened as the tears flowed freely now. "He's going to be alright because I say he's going to be alright! Do you hear that, Spike?" she yelled as she turned back to him. "I said you're going to be alright because if you're not going to be alright, then I'll find you wherever you go and beat the living hell out of you! So breathe! Spike, please, just breathe!"

She pushed down on his chest over and over, every now and then stopping to put her ear down against his chest to see if his heart had started to beat again. If only they had Ed around. She'd probably have something they could use to shock Spike's heart into beating again without burning it out.

Jet watched her as she became completely consumed by her emotions, how the fear on her face became more desperate. It wasn't long before she was pounding her fists down onto Spike's chest, telling him to live over and over again. She was crying openly now, but Spike only became paler and paler until there was no color left in his face.

He's gone, Jet thought silently to himself, feeling himself go completely numb.

He couldn't really get himself to believe it, but Spike was gone.

Closing his eyes for a moment, Jet released his hold on Spike's wound and drew himself away to take hold of Faye's arm. She struggled to free herself from his grip, not wanting to realize that Spike was already dead. She screamed and fought with him, but Jet only pulled her further away from Spike's lifeless body until she finally collapsed into his arms and began sobbing violently into his chest.

Jet always knew that Faye had strong feelings that she kept locked up inside of herself, and he found it all too tragic that it took something like this to finally drag them out of her. He could feel his own heart breaking at the loss that he was only now coming to realize. It was all just too much for the both of them, just too much.

Jet suddenly stopped.

He thought he caught sight of something. Had it only been his imagination? No, he could have sworn. . .

There it was again.

This time he was sure of it.

Jet pushed Faye away from him and rushed over to Spike's body lying on the couch. Faye stopped sobbing long enough to see what Jet was doing, but her tears still continued to flow forcefully down her cheeks. He put his head down against Spike's chest, and Faye couldn't understand why he was suddenly so concerned when only a moment before he'd been so resigned.

And then she saw it, too.

It was a sudden pulse in Spike's neck, a definite pulse. His heart was beginning to beat again.

"Spike!" she cried. She rushed back over to Spike's side to join Jet as he worked to revive him again. Her eyes watched Spike's face attentively, the tears almost blinding her as she tried to get a closer look at what was going on. "Spike, wake up! C'mon, Spike. Come back to us!"

And those last words, Spike's chest suddenly flailed up as he took in a giant lungful of air. He gasped and choked as he struggled to breathe. Jet put his hand under Spike's neck and gently pushed it up to help open Spike's breathing passage. Faye only continued to urge him on. She was too afraid to touch him now, too afraid that she might do something wrong to make him fall away again, but she had to muffle a tearful cry of joy as she watched the color returning to his face. Soon, Spike's breathing eased until he was breathing evenly again, and his body's spasms subsided.

Faye could feel the relief suddenly washing over her---but at the same time, she couldn't help but feel all of the resentment and anger pent up inside of her coming to life as well. She could feel herself seething inside, and she pushed Jet aside as she waited for Spike to come to.

It took a few seconds, but Spike's eyelids fluttered, then opened slowly. The first thing he saw was Faye staring angrily down at him, but there was something else there that he hadn't really noticed before.

And then he realized that she'd been crying.

"Spike," she whispered, her throat throbbing softly. "If you ever do something like this again I'll---" She choked on her emotion and fought to get better control over it before continuing. "I'll haunt you for the rest of your miserable life and afterlife! Do you got me? I'll never let you live it down---"

"Why does my chest hurt so much?" Spike whispered hoarsely, cutting her off. His voice was weak and broken. Jet had barely managed to hear it as he studied Spike's wound. He'd lost so much blood---all of the couch's cushions were soaked crimson---by all rights, Spike should be dead.

"It hurts to breathe," he heard Spike comment. Damn it, Jet thought, he shouldn't even be able to talk. Faye sniffed and used her hands to awkwardly wipe the tears from her face.

"Good," she said shakily. "You deserve to suffer as much as possible."

"I feel like having some bell peppers and beef," Spike said again, ignoring Faye's comment. He was smiling---weakly---but he was smiling.

Jet finished inspecting Spike's wound. It stopped bleeding on its own, something that Jet couldn't understand. But Spike would still need some heavy medical attention, at least. Jet didn't know what happened, but he was glad that it had.

"I think it'll be a while before you can eat anything like that," he chuckled, amazed and relieved at the same time. "But I'll be sure to remember that when you're better."