Faye liked to think that she used to have her life under control.
The keywords being used to.
Before Spike, before the Bebop- things were a lot simpler. She was alone, and that meant minimal unexpected events stemming from other people’s actions. All she had were herself and her ship to worry about (and her debt: huge, ever-present, and breathing down her neck). She didn’t involve herself in unnecessary trouble, and when trouble found her anyway, she used her feminine charm (and sometimes her gun) to turn the situation from deadly to profitable. She never stayed anywhere too long, never let anyone too close (except maybe for information and/or blackmail), and never did anything for anyone else’s sake.
If Faye was still lying to herself, she would say that it was the perfect life. She’d stick to her philosophy that feeling lonely in a group is worse than being truly alone. But she isn’t, and yeah, it sucked. It was heart-achingly, mind-numbingly lonely to have no one and nowhere to go to. But she buried that misery, because she told herself that it's what she had to do to survive in this world- a world she was suddenly thrown into without memory of a life before.
She had to make it on her own. As few personal attachments as possible, no emotional bias to slip past her defenses. She had made that mistake only once before, with dreamy eyebrow guy, and she continues to pay for it. She would not be used again.
But really, in that instance, how could she have known he was a scam artist? After waking up from her 54 year long nap, she was so lost- she needed someone to guide her. She was naive, ready to trust anyone who showed her even the slightest amount of attention and affection. She opened her heart.
And then came the scam.
She liked to think that she had learned from her mistake of trusting Whitney Haggis Matsumoto, that she became completely independent after his betrayal. She convinced herself to guard her heart, close that shit up with chains and industrial-grade padlocks and encase it in concrete.
She liked to think that as long as she was in control, her heart wouldn’t get the chance to be broken again.
Faye realized after Spike… Left, that she couldn’t have been more wrong. She was never in control at all.
Not before, and certainly not now.
Now, after Spike, she admitted that she was lying to herself. After he left her standing in that hallway- tears flowing freely, heart broken into so many pieces it feels like she’ll never put it back together -she was able to see the lies more clearly than ever before- and she hated him for it.
With the amount of anger in her heart directed towards Spike, she felt as though hate wasn’t a strong enough word. He interested her, made her care, gave her something she had been searching for ever since she woke up in that damn hospital- and then he left. Tore it all away in a second. Like she was nothing to him. He ruined her.
Spike looked deep into her eyes as she begged for him to stay and he had the audacity to tell her something personal about himself- not even pretending like he was going to make it out alive.
Not even wanting to make it out alive.
Selfish. Hypocritical. Prick!
And now she was stuck on the ratty, faintly bloodstained, cigarette smelling, dog-hair-covered couch in the main room of the Bebop, curled in on herself as if to make herself smaller -just like she used to do when she was a child- and trying to make herself feel nothing.
With the way time always seems to be against her, Faye’s pretty certain she’ll die of old age before that happens.
She thought back to when she and Jet got the official call from the syndicate just under 12 hours ago.
Jet and Faye were both sitting in the control room after the former had found the latter crying in the hallway where Spike had left her. The only words shared between them had been Jet’s turse question: “He tell you why he did it?” With Faye’s answer being yes, but she still doesn’t understand. Jet had replied, “Neither do I.”
They had sat in miserable silence for hours since then, waiting for the call they both know is coming.
The comm kicked to life. “Jet Black and Faye Valentine of the Bebop? I’m calling on behalf of the Red Dragon Syndicate. Spike Spiegel is dead. At approximately 4:32 this morning-”
Faye ran from the room. Jet put his head in his hands and listened to the remainder of the report staring blankly at the tabletop.
They had both expected this. They had braced themselves for those words. Why did it still feel like such an unexpected weight?
Even now, hours later, the finality of it remains as a heavy feeling of mourning in her gut. The feeling is only overshadowed by the rage directed at Spike. She was certain that if he walked through the door right now, miraculously alive, she would punch him right in his stupid sly smirk. Repeatedly. With the handle of her gun.
After that, she would probably do something horribly sappy and embarrassing like start crying or maybe hold him and never let go. Or maybe both.
No. Stop. Dangerous train of thought.
The thought of seeing him again made her realize just how lonely she feels in this moment, in the dark, on the couch, surrounded in shroud-like silence. Some of the anger trickled out against her will, and it left her feeling exhausted. When she blinked, her eyes burned. She realized with a distant kind of fascination that she hadn’t slept in two days.
Her second to last thought before slipping into deep sleep was of Spike’s mismatched, soul-piercing, unwavering eyes.
Her last thought was of how incredibly fucked she was if she was thinking of his eyes as she fell asleep.
Faye dreamed of Spike.
They were back in the hallway, his back to her as she pointed a gun at him. Her last, desperate attempt to make him stay. But it was wrong, he was too tall. She was too small, a little girl again. Short skirt, clean white blouse. Her hands were shaking from the weight of the gun. When had it ever been so heavy? Suddenly she couldn’t lift it- she dropped it. It splashed into the pool of blood at her too-small feet. Who’s blood? Oh God. Spike’s blood. He turned, a hole in his stomach, clothes soaked in red that matched his eyes- no, eye. He had one eye, where his other should be there was only void. Black. Empty. Gone.
Faye tried to scream but her voice came out as nothing but a rasp. He looked at her, looked into her, tore her mind apart. She was frozen. She was paralyzed. He said in her mind, “I was never alive and neither are you.”
Faye’s eyes flew open and she sat up with a start. She was disorientated, confused- too bright, too much- and through her terror she recognized Jet standing beside the couch. Her terror faded and she let out the breath she had been holding.
“Hell, kid. You alright?” Jet asked, brow pinched in concern. Faye noticed the dark bags under his bloodshot eyes, his grimace.
He misses him too.
“...I could ask you the same thing. You look like shit.” Both of them ignored the way her voice cracked.
Jet chuckled, but it was a hollow, empty sound that made her hair stand on end. They both fell silent, each waiting for the other to address the elephant missing from the room. Faye felt the return of the heavy weight in her gut.
Jet broke the standstill by beginning to move away. The weight in her gut jumped suddenly and without thinking, she reached out and grabbed his arm. His metal arm.
They both froze. Jet stared at her hand where it clutched him, his expression indiscernible to her. A few moments that felt like eternities passed before Faye blurted out, “Do you ever wonder what we meant to him?”
Jet met her eyes, and all she saw in them was sadness.
She rambled on, desperately, “He left us. He left us to go throw his life away for- for- his past or for Julia or whatever, he chose her over us even after she had died. Or maybe it was because she had died- I don’t know. I don’t know- and I want to know, I need to know what I meant to him, if I meant anything at all, because he just left.”
It was like a floodgate had opened, and now she couldn’t stop.
“I know- I’m aware I’m not an easy person to like- I run away, I steal, I fight, I complain-”
“I end up pushing people away, and I’m more trouble than I’m worth- I get it, but I thought-”
“-that I had finally found somewhere where I belong, because things were okay, we’d save each other’s asses, we’d go hungry, but we’d go hungry together, but he left me there-”
“-in that hallway. One mention of Julia and he was gone, I begged him but he walked away like I meant nothing-”
She snapped her mouth shut suddenly when she realized what she was saying out loud. She felt her face heat up in frustration and embarrassment under Jet’s stare. She quickly let go of his arm and looked away.
How humiliating. I’m never going to recover from that one.
“Faye.” Jet said her name more softly this time, and she looked up. His brow was pinched in concern again.
I don’t want your pity. Lapse of sanity. Forget I ever said anything.
She opened her mouth to tell him as much, but Jet interrupted her, “Don’t take it that personally, Faye. You know how Spike is- was- about his past; He was never going to escape from that, and he knew it too.” Jet sighed. “It wasn’t that we- you- meant nothing to him, it was that Spike was not the type who could just leave a loose end, he wasn’t the type who could stand living if it meant living a ‘lie’ from his perspective. He had to know, that was just who he was; it’s part of why he was so… Spike.”
Faye looked down at the coffee table, considering Jet’s words. Another moment of silence passed.
“Of course, that doesn’t make it rational, but neither is love,” Jet said softly. Faye gasped and looked up at him, tears already escaping.
Was it love?
“When it comes to emotions, I'd say none of us are any good at them. Least of all Spike. I’m sorry, kid,” he mumbled.
Faye choked back a sob. “Me too.”