iCowboy Bebop./i Sunrise. Trans. Bandai Entertainment, 1999.
I make no money from the creation or distribution of this story, and frankly, I'd be surprised if I did.

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She's pointing that damn gun at my back and all I want to do is get off this ship and die. But she's crying, and Faye never cries. In the harsh rasps of her breathing, I hear what I didn't want to hear.

You can't leave me; I love you.

I shut my eyes and take a deep breath of my own. I don't want to deal with this now. But I have to. One of the conditions of hanging around like this was tying everything up: no loose ends. Ed's gone to find her dad, and Jet will be okay. But I haven't dealt with Faye. A small cowardly part of me thinks it would be easier to just keep walking, because she can't possibly understand. The greater part knows I'm wrong. Faye knows quite a lot about being the walking dead.

So I turn around and look at her. Of course, she knows better than to stop pointing a gun at me just because I've apparently come to my senses. I walk back to her and try to find the words. How do you tell someone that even if they damn near killed you, right now, you'd just recover and this would all still happen? That despite human effort and the human heart, all roads wind up in this loading dock?

"This can't be helped, Faye. I have to do this."

"Why?" she chokes out. "Just walk away from it, Spike. Just let it go. Julia's gone; what's the point?"

I shift my weight from one foot to another and find myself wishing for a cigarette. Shouldn't have thrown them out. "Do you know what a coda in music is?"

Now she's looking at me like I'm crazy, which is familiar territory.

"A coda in music is when the piece, right before the end, starts over from the beginning, and then jumps to a different, final ending. That's what this whole thing has been, Faye. From before you came on board, it was all heading toward this ending. And it has to be ended, because I'm already dead. I don't have a future. It's why I can't see anything but the past and the present."

She's *still* crying. How in the name of God did this woman ever make a living at poker?

And then it hits me, and I nearly groan. Because the damnable truth is that in some crazy way I don't even want to understand and don't have time to try, I love her too. It's completely separate and distinguished from my love for Julia. Julia calms me, settles me; with her, I know nothing but peace. But Faye reminds me of what it's like to be alive. Every exasperating, irritating, edgy minute with her reminds me of what it was like to have a tomorrow. I spent all this time waiting for my life to circle back around to a confrontation with Vicious, but only Faye made the trip interesting. And now we're out of time.

I'm sorry, Faye. I didn't know. About either of us. And even if you had known I was a ghost, what would that have changed? Well, maybe you wouldn't have eaten my orange.

No. You would have.

"I'll miss you," I tell her.

She closes her eyes, and nods. Her hands fall to her sides.

I should turn around to go, but there's one more thing I can give her, and it'll have to carry her, because it's all I've got left. I step up to her and cradle her head in my hands. Her hair is cool, coarse, and soft, all at the same time. Her mouth is warm and tastes like salt, cigarettes, and tequila.

"Goodbye, Faye," I whisper against her lips.

I'm halfway down the gangway when I hear the gun go off, once, twice, three times. I knew she couldn't bring herself to shoot me.