DISCLAIMER: I don't own Cowboy Bebop; Sunrise Inc. does. I do, however, own this original story.
AN: The flipside of "Something About Blue"…or something like that. Slightly AU, in that Ed and Ein are still around. Originally part of something else entirely (the key phrase that inspired it is no longer in the story, even), but it evolved into this angsty little piece. I know it's been done before…but hope you enjoy it anyway.
By The Lady Razorsharp
And I could be so sorry
For the way it had to go
But now I feel your presence
In a way I could not know
And I wonder
Do you ever feel the same
In whispering darkness
Do you ever hear my name?
She heard their voices distantly, as if from the bottom of a well.
"What's wrong with Faye-Faye?"
"I dunno, Ed. Guess she's just tired."
A moment of silence, broken only by the jingle of Ein's tags. Then Ed's voice, very small and serious.
"Is it because of--"
"Probably. Although who can tell with her?"
"Oh." Another long silence, then the patter of Ed's bare feet against the deck. "It's alright, Faye-Faye. Jet and Ed and Ein are still here," she whispered, close enough that Faye could feel her breath on her cheek. "It's okay to let Spike-person go." Ed crawled up onto the couch beside her, snuggling her head against Faye's back.
Somewhere deep inside, Faye was surprised at herself for letting the little goofball get so close, but it was too much effort to shove Ed off the couch. It had seemed too much effort to do anything lately; it was if the Bebop herself were draped in a funeral pall, for all the lassitude of her tenants. Faye huddled deeper into the cushions. A sweet lethargy was stealing over her, bolstered by the warm knot of Ed at her back.
Yes, just sleep.Sleep and forget…or remember.
Down Faye sank into the darkness, down into a bottomless well of pain and anguish and loss. A pinpoint of light dawned above her, and she thrashed her arms and legs, trying desperately to reach for the light. Everything was in slow motion, as if she was submerged in a vat of thick fluid. Her breath began to burn in her chest as her hands flailed before her.
Somebody. Anybody! Are you out there?
At the very last moment, a hand gripped her wrist, pulling on her with such force she was sure her arm would be torn from its socket.
Yes! Please, I'm down here! Don't let go!
The pinpoint of light was growing closer by the second; then it became a huge, round window, filled with little panes of colored glass. She was being pulled toward the window with blinding speed, and she ducked her head, covering her face with her arms. The solidity of the window jarred her with a force that took her breath away, but she didn't stop. The window burst into a million rainbow fragments, tinkling against a flagstone floor that rushed up to meet her.
"Always had to make an entrance, huh, Faye?"
The voice made her realize that she hadn't been sliced to ribbons by the glass; instead, she found herself standing on the worn stone floor, gazing up at the shattered stained-glass window.
It's a church,Faye thought dimly, as she noticed the crumbling statuary, the ruined furnishings. Moving forward, she touched the altar railing, her fingers moving over the pitted wood. The holes in the railing were nearly perfect circles, and something clinked musically as she brushed past. She stooped to pick up something that had fallen from one of the holes, and nearly dropped it when she realized it was a small chunk of metal.
Shocked, Faye turned to see the owner of the voice--a tall, lanky man with unruly emerald-green curls, his ever-present cigarette smoldering in one supple hand. "I'd offer you one," said the man, blowing smoke rings, "but it's not good for you."
She finally found her voice. "Yeah, those things will kill ya," she began.
Spike shifted slightly on the ruined altar, propping one arm against his knee, letting the cigarette waft its thin smoke into the dingy gray air. "Recognize this place?"
Glancing around, Faye searched her memory for a matching image. It came to her in a heart-stopping rush, and she gasped, stumbling backward. She sat down hard in the front pew, clutching her elbows to her. She said a single word, the syllables echoing like an unholy prayer in the shattered silence. "Vicious."
Spike held the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, but didn't drag from it. He studied the glowing tip intently, a half-smile on his face. "Mm-hm."
Faye looked up at him through tear-filled eyes. She hadn't thought about that day in a long time, but it all came back in the instant she spoke Vicious' name. She closed her eyes, letting the tears roll their way down her cheeks. She remembered how Spike lay askew on the pavement, blood seeping from the back of his skull, a twin stain spreading across the front of his jacket. She had fallen awkwardly to her knees in that ridiculous red velvet dress, her hands still cuffed behind her, to bend over him, yelling his name. She'd cussed at him, told him he was a stupid lunkhead, called him every name in the book just to keep him awake.
Spike, you have to stay awake! You have to stay with…with me…
"You asked me not to leave you," came Spike's words into her thoughts. He glanced at her, the old sass back in his voice. "You even said please."
"I remember," Faye murmured, her violet hair covering her face as she hung her head. Suddenly, she snapped her head up, emerald eyes blazing. "Damnit, Spike, I wasn't ready to lose you!" She shook her head, fists balled as she leapt to her feet. "You're so damned stubborn!" Running to the altar, she stopped at the railing and clamped her hands around the pitted wood. "I wasted ammo that should have gone straight into your back."
His smile was still as maddening as it ever was. "I never figured you for a cold-blooded killer, Faye."
"You never bothered to figure me for anything, you moron!" Now she was really going to let him have it. "All you could think about was your precious Julia. Nothing mattered to you except getting your ass killed." Faye was shaking. The hurt and anger she'd kept inside since she and Jet buried Spike was finally coming out. "Well, lemme ask you this, you big dork! Have you seen her? Have you finally met up with her? Where is she?" Faye cupped her hands around her mouth. "Yoohoo," she yelled, "Julia! Come out, come out, wherever you are!"
The echoes died away unanswered. Spike was silent, his garnet eyes closed. The cigarette was still burning, but it hadn't gotten any smaller.
"She's not here, is she?" Faye spat. "You threw away your life for nothing."
Spike opened his eyes, but didn't raise his head. "Not for nothing, Faye." He dropped the cigarette on the floor, then slid off the altar and crushed the cigarette beneath the toe of his shoe. "There's a lot you don't understand."
"Then fill me in, cowboy. We've got time." Faye crossed her arms.
"This isn't heaven."
Faye smirked. "I gathered that."
"I don't think it's hell, either."
Frowning, Faye stepped closer. "Then what is it?"
"I don't know!" he snapped. "It's not like I was handed an instruction manual!"
She wanted to be petulant; it felt better, like things were back to normal. "What about the Bible or something like that? Isn't that supposed to tell you what happens after you die?"
He gave her a look from under his eyebrows. "Faye. Did you ever see me reading the Bible?"
She shrugged. "I didn't keep track of your reading preferences."
They were silent for a while, standing on either side of the railing, their backs to each other. Faye was watching Spike from the corner of her left eye--his left eye was the good one, if she remembered correctly. Hey, there was a question. "I wanna know something," she began.
"What?" he asked, grinding out the word from deep in his throat.
"Can you see out of both eyes now?"
Irritated, Faye turned to face him. "Whaddya mean, no? I thought everything was supposed to be as good as new in Heaven."
"I told you, this isn't Heaven."
"Well, that's pretty cheap, if you ask me," Faye said dryly, turning back around and crossing her arms. "You can't even get a break if you're dead." She sighed. "I guess this is what I have to look forward to--spending an eternity listening to you whine."
Spike said nothing, standing like one of the mutilated statues. Faye clenched her fists, the old urge to slug him across his smooth face coming back in full force. She knew she wouldn't be fast enough to beat his trained reflexes, so she simply turned around, her boots shuffling on the gritty floor.
Spike opened his eyes and turned his head toward her. "What, I'm here."
She shook her head. "No. I mean…" Faye pushed Spike's right shoulder away and brought his left shoulder closer, effectively turning him around to face her, the railing between them. "I mean, come here," she murmured, gripping the faded yellow lapels of his shirt. She pulled Spike toward her, stopping only when she could feel his breath on her cheek.
His garnet eyes blinked once. "What are you doing?" he murmured.
Last chance, Faye. Don't waste it."We've got nothing to lose, gaucho, if you're dead." She plied her lips to his before he could retort.
Faye had to admit that for being a dead man, Spike had the softest, warmest lips she'd ever felt. With the kiss came a pang of regret that she'd never had the guts to do this while he was alive. The thought of all the missed chances, of all that had gone unsaid between them brought tears to her eyes, and she tore herself away from him with a muffled cry.
"What? What'd I do?" Spike reached to hold Faye by the shoulders, but she slipped from his grasp to stand just out the reach of his long arms, her face in her hands.
"Nothing," Faye choked out. "Although that's really the point, isn't it?"
The cowboy frowned. "You're talking in riddles, Faye. If you've got a beef with me, now's the time to get it out in the open."
Her whispered words echoed against the vaulted roof. "Is this what happens after it's over?"
"Do we stand here and relive what we should have done or could have done, but didn't?"
Spike dropped his hands, his long fingers fidgeting through his hair before coming to rest on his slim hips. "You tell me. And while you're at it, you might tell me how you managed to get here." His garnet gaze snapped back to her, eyeing her with stunned horror. "Don't tell me you're--"
She shook her head. "I don't think so. I…" She hugged her arms to her chest, her fingernails digging in above the red sweater swaddling her elbows. "I fell asleep. I guess I just…wandered here." She chuckled ruefully. "That doesn't make any sense, now does it?"
Spike sighed. "Believe me, it makes perfect sense." He remembered now: pain, darkness, light, confusion, a deep yearning to reconnect with the familiar things of his old life. Something inside him had sent out an SOS, and Faye, afloat on a tide of receptive sleep, had answered. There was one more thing, though…
"Faye." Spike reached out and touched Faye's shoulders, bringing her closer to stand with her back against his chest. "I have to tell you something."
She smiled, feeling the oblong buttons on his jacket press into her back. She could feel every inch of him--the roughened caress of his suit fabric contrasted against the smoother lining, his breath a hot flutter against the back of her neck. "Hmm?" she answered dreamily.
"Don't get too attached to me," he said gently. "As long as you stay on your side and I stay on mine, we're fine." He laid his hand against her warm belly, knowing he would have taken back a bloody stump had he done that while he was alive. "That barrier's there for a reason," he continued, all traces of humor gone. "If you try and go beyond that…"
Faye felt as if he'd slid an ice cube down the back of her neck. "Then I can't ever go back," she finished for him.
"Right." He nodded, feeling the railing bump against his hipbone. "You cross it, you can't ever go back. That's the deal."
"Heh. Jet would have a fit if I died right there on that couch." Faye grinned for a moment, then turned sober. "Ed's laying next to me, though. It'd probably scar her for life if she found herself sleeping next to a dead person."
"Well, there you go." Spike patted her shoulders. "You wouldn't want to do that to the poor kid."
Faye sighed, leaning her head back against Spike's shoulder. "On the other hand," she sighed, "what do I have to go back for, really? I'll probably starve to death, anyway." She wondered what it would be like to sit on the railing and let herself fall back into Spike's arms. That would be a good way to go, she mused. "Besides, what good is living when everything and everyone who ever loved me is dead?"
"Stop it, Faye," Spike murmured. "I thought that way, and look where it got me."
She pulled away to look him straight in his mismatched eyes. "At least you'd have someone to talk to."
The mismatched eyes in question widened as Faye backed up a few steps. "This isn't the way to do it, Faye. Not like this."
"You'll just have to find a way to stop me," she breathed. "See you, space cowboy." Backing up halfway down the nave, Faye came at the run, as if planning to hurdle the altar railing.
She's crazy!"Faye!" he yelled. His Jericho was in his hand all of a sudden, and he leveled it at her.
A blur of yellow and red, Faye raced toward him. He could see her thigh muscles bunch for the jump.
"No," he murmured, squeezing the trigger twice as Faye took flight.
She saw him aim for her, heard the hard, metallic sound of the gun's mechanism echo in the ruined church. Her eyes wide, Faye glided over the railing. Her body, now transparent, moved through Spike as he stood with head bowed and the still-smoking Jericho at his side.
There was movement in the shadows; a tall figure stepped into the light, the stained glass crowning a blonde head with rainbow brilliance. Spike shaded his eyes--when had things gotten so bright?--as Julia walked toward him. He dropped the gun on the floor and held out his empty hand to help her over the railing.
"Hey," she smiled, slipping her hand into his.
"Hey," he smiled back.
Faye jerked in her sleep, and Ed flopped to the floor with a startled cry.
"Oww," Ed moaned, rubbing her carrot-top head where she'd knocked it against the coffee table. "Ed thinks Ed will always sleep by herself from now on."
Sitting up, Faye took in the familiar scenery of the Bebop's living room. Everything was just the same as when he'd left. The walls were closing in, and she nearly knocked Jet off his feet as she barreled through the door.
"Faye? What the--?" Jet ventured, frowning after the violet-haired woman. He glanced at Ed, who was still sitting on the floor near the couch. "What's with her?"
Bursting into her room, Faye flung herself down on the mattress. She grabbed her pillow and held it tight, but there was no solace, no familiarity in the bland scent of the fabric. Jumping up again, Faye flung the pillow to the mattress with all her might, then stormed down the hall to Spike's room.
It was here that Faye finally came to rest, surrounded by the things that reminded her of him. His scent still clung to the sheets, and she buried her face in his pillow. A stray emerald hair tickled her nose, and the hot tears poured into the worn pillowcase.