Another Woman
by Sandrine Shaw

"You don't even know me," she muttered silently, the barely audible sound swallowed by the beating of the rain. From the distance, she watched as he laid down a bouquet of white lilies on the grave. Even when she couldn't see it, she knew he was crying. Crying over the death of a woman who was nothing but a stranger to him, for himself and his miserable excuse for a life.

The rain purred down heavily and she shivered.

All the other attendants of the funeral had long since left, her brother the last one to remain at the grave, crouched down on the damp ground - a picture of misery and loss. She felt the urge to walk up to him and comfort him, a sympathy she usually felt when she watched strangers crying. And to her, he wasn't anything else. Was he?

Briefly, she saw the image of a boy with stubborn brown hair, a pale face and a mischievous smile on his lips appearing before her inner eye. Memories of a past that seemed so long ago as if it had been in another lifetime, flicking up and dying as quick as the came.

She wasn't that girl anymore. Neither was he that boy.

And it was time he started understanding that, too. The woman he had desperately sought for years, she wasn't real, was merely a product of his fantasy. The dark-haired, angelic faced woman who needed her big brother to protect her didn't exist. Not in this reality.

A casual observer, she watched as he threw his hands over his face and heavy sobs shook his body. He would get over it eventually. Better believing that his beloved, long-lost sister had finally found her peace than realizing that he'd chased bubbles for decades. Truth is, that the woman - the girl - he remembered to be his sister was long since dead, died on one of the countless operation tables she'd been lying.

The sooner he realized that, the better. It had nothing to do with her own fear to face the demons of the past. It was not about her being selfish, but only about his well-being, she assured herself grimly.

Not tearing her eyes away from the form of her brother, crouched down beside her own grave, she backed away, parting the branches of the trees behind her. Even more water rained down on her from the leaves, making her hair stick to her face and her clothes cling to her body, raindrops running down her cheeks, over her lips.

Still, when her tongue darted out and touched them, they tasted oddly salty. She didn't dare to dwell on that realization.

When the trees finally blocked her vision, she hesitantly turned and slowly stepped away, through the rows of graves and tombstones, the old willows and birches, towards the black car that waited on the street before the cemetery. The wet asphalt reflected the dim light of the street lamps, and although it was mid-afternoon, the sky was dark with huge grey clouds.

The man leaned against the driver side of the car looked up when he saw her coming. Despite the rain, he hadn't bothered to pull out an umbrella, even though she knew that there was one in the car.

"You're finished there?" he asked in a slightly husky voice, getting into car.

She just nodded.

"Must be weird to watch your own funeral." A statement, not a question. She didn't bother answering, circling the car and opening the passenger's door.

"Let's get away from here, Krycek," she said, stunned by how choked her voice sounded. She sat down and closed the door behind herself. He nodded and without a further word between them, started the motor and drove off.

It's better this way, she thought as she watched the cemetery getting smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.