Title: Blind Lead the Blind

Series: Falling Star, Part 8.

Author: Sonya

Email: sonyajeb@swbell.net

Timeline: After Waltz for Venus but before Jamming with Edward

Spoilers: Waltz for Venus

Summary: Her hospital room is full of ghosts, both living and dead. Can a woman without sight help one of those ghosts find peace?

POV: Stella (i.e. Rocco's blind sister from Waltz for Venus)

Archive: Regulars are welcome to it. Newbies must ask first. But no worries, because I almost always say yes.

Disclaimer: There was once a girl who wrote a story about some characters and places that weren't hers. But she added this little disclaimer to make it a tad less illegal. (i.e. Cowboy Bebop isn't mine and never will be. As if you hadn't already figured that out.)

Author's Note: This is the eighth in a series of missing scenes and tags for the entire series. Every episode (I hope) will get the special "Sonya treatment" before I'm done. The goal? To add to the richness that is Cowboy Bebop without destroying the cannon. Therefore, all of these stories will fit in with the already established storyline. They could be filmed and added to the episodes and everything would still make sense... I hope. (You'd tell me if it doesn't, right? *g*)

And randomly, what was supposed to be a somewhat angsty but also uplifting Spike POV piece turned into an all-around depressing Stella vignette. Go figure. Anyways, let me know if this is completely OOC or not, for both Stella and Spike. It's a bit odd and almost doesn't seem to fit with the other parts of this series. But, then again, there was something a bit odd and different about Waltz for Venus, too, wasn't there? Maybe that's where this came from... *hopeful look* I dunno. Please tell me if this completely sucks or not, gang. Maybe I should just ditch it and start part 8 over...???

Feedback: An author's best friend. So please give me some or I shall be friendless. And we don't want that, do we?


He came to visit me again today. When he left the last time, I'd been certain that he'd never come back, but he proved me wrong. I would soon discover that Spike Spiegel had a knack for doing that.

He didn't say a word when he entered my room, but I knew it was him. I might be blind, but my other senses had learned to compensate over the years for my lack of sight. He entered almost soundlessly. I found myself imagining that he moved somewhat like a cat, full of an almost feline grace and exceptionally light on his feet. I could smell fresh flowers - the same kind he'd brought me last week - mixed in with the scent of tobacco and musk.

"Good morning, Spike," I said, not bothering to turn my head in his direction. After all, what would be the point?

I could almost hear the smile in his voice as he replied, "Damn, you're good at that."

I inclined my head in a gracious nod. "Years of practice."

I heard a bit of rustling as he presumably sat down in the chair next to the bed and made himself comfortable. Turning my face toward him at last, I smiled and asked, "Aren't you going to give me those flowers?"

There was a light, masculine chuckle and I felt his hand touch mine gently. He placed the flowers in my lap and then I heard the vinyl cushions in the chair squeak as he leaned back again. "Can't fool you for a second, can I?" he asked.

I felt my smile grow wider as I raised the flowers to my face and inhaled deeply, enjoying their sweet scent. "Nope, so don't bother trying."

There was a long moment of silence while we both tried to think of what to say next, having reached something of an impasse now that the customary pleasantries were over. I had no clue why he'd come back or what was on his mind. For a brief moment, I found myself wishing that I'd already had the operation so I could see his face. Even when you were used to being blind, there were just some things that the other senses couldn't ever completely compensate for. Reading expressions was one of them. But even though I couldn't tell for sure what he was thinking right then, I could come up with an educated guess. "I don't blame you," I told him, my voice soft but firm.

"Blame me? For what?"

The innocent act was fooling nobody. He knew exactly what I was referring to. But if he wanted me to spell it out for him, then I would. Sometimes people just needed to hear these things said out loud before they could really begin to believe them. "I don't blame you for Rocco's death, Spike."

He laughed, though it sounded rather forced. "Of course you don't. Why would you? I'm not the one who shot him."

Last week, that would have made me start crying. Just the thought of how my brother died, in pain, surrounded by violence and darkness... it had been enough to make my insides clench up and my eyes begin to water. But that was last week. I'd had some time to deal with it, to learn to cope.

I'd always been the strong one, after all. I had learned to cope with things that most people couldn't even imagine after becoming blind. It had always been Rocco who couldn't handle it, couldn't handle the thought of his sister being a cripple. At least I think that's what I was in his eyes, though he never actually said so. In my eyes I was always just me. And my blindness didn't make me less of a person, it was just one more challenge for me to overcome in my life.

So now, today, Spike's careless words didn't sting like they might once have. I could look beyond them and focus on what he was really feeling underneath his overly calm attitude. His words said he wasn't the least bit bothered by what had happened, but his actions said otherwise. If he didn't care, then why was he here? He'd done his duty, paid his respects and settled the bill last week. No, Spike couldn't bring himself to admit it, but he was here for something much more elusive and intangible than a hospital bill and a promise he'd made to my brother. He was here for absolution. Forgiveness. And I was the only one who could give it to him.

Of course, the problem was that it wasn't as simple as just saying 'I forgive you for not being able to save my brother's life, Spike.' Because he wouldn't be able to accept it like that. Spike was the kind of man who had never been given anything free of charge before in his entire life. He didn't understand how the term 'unconditional' worked. In his world, everything had a price, including forgiveness.

"No, you're not," I replied, a touch of hesitancy in my voice. I had to tread carefully here. One wrong move and he'd simply get up and leave and I'd probably never see him again. And somehow I knew deep down that if I screwed this up, I'd regret it for a long time. Spike had something good inside him; I'd witnessed it on several occasions. But it was buried so deep under years and years worth of scars and pain, anger and betrayal, that I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to reach it at all, no matter what I said or did. He and my brother had had that in common, only Rocco hadn't been through as much as Spike clearly had. I could hear in Spike's voice what might have been my brother's future, had he lived long enough to see it. And I think Spike realized the similarity as well, which was why he came back and why he'd helped Rocco to begin with. He looked at my brother and instead found himself gazing through a mirror to his own past. Maybe that was why I felt this intense desire to try and help him. By somehow saving Spike, I could make amends for allowing my brother to continue down the dark path he'd been on, and perhaps then Spike wouldn't be the only one to find absolution in this hospital room today.

I searched for something else to say, something that would make everything all right, but I came up blank. I didn't have a clue how to proceed here. I'd never been very good at getting Rocco to open up, either.

But for some reason that I'd probably never know, Spike chose that moment to take things out of my hands. He sighed and then he began to speak, so softly that I had to strain to hear him clearly.

"I think I blame myself, though," he told me, like he was sharing a secret that nobody else knew. Which they probably didn't, come to think of it. "I thought I could save him. I don't know why. Maybe because I saw myself in him, when I was a kid and was still naive enough to trust in strangers. I remembered what it felt like to lose that trust and..." He broke off suddenly, and I waited silently for him to continue, my lower lip caught between my teeth as anxiety overwhelmed me. I felt like we were both on the verge of something, but I didn't know what it was. I only knew that I needed it, and so did he.

When Spike began to speak again, I felt my heart resume beating. I hadn't even realized that it'd stopped.

"I didn't want him to have to go through what I did. I don't want anybody to have to go through that." His voice had a fierce sort of intensity in it that I had never heard from him before.

I swallowed, my mouth suddenly feeling dry. I had to say something now. But I didn't even really know where to begin. "It's not for you to decide what happens to other people, Spike. All you can be sure of is your own actions. All you can do is make sure that you're not the kind of person who hurts others."

He chuckled bitterly and I felt my gut clench up. I had said something wrong.

"What if I am the kind of person who hurts others?" he asked, his voice taking on a cynical tone that I hated. "What if I can't help but be that kind of person?"

"But you *can* help it. You have goodness inside of you, Spike. Just like Rocco did. I've seen it."

I reached out blindly, trying to find his hand, but I only touched empty space. There was a creak as he stood up, the vinyl cushions of the cheap hospital chair protesting the sudden shift of weight.

When he spoke next, his voice came from a dark place that I knew I would never be able to reach.

"You can't see anything about me, Stella. You're blind, remember?"

I heard his footsteps move away from me and then the hospital room door clicked closed, leaving me alone in a darkness deeper than any I'd ever been in before. I had failed. I'd failed Rocco. I'd failed Spike. And I'd failed myself.

Ever elusive, absolution remained just out of my grasp.


See You Space cowboy....