vettac: (Default)

Chapter 12: The Space Between

The way I see it
This relationship ain't right
The space between us
Better close it up tonight
The space between us
Close it up tonight


Spike rubbed his fatigued eyes and laid the large folder of papers on the large ornate mahogany desk. Soo Ling had demanded that he read and sign the papers by noon, and he didn't want to deal with her wrath today.

"Business calls, and unless you want to be replaced, you'd better have these signed when I come by."

He stood up and walked over to the window. His office overlooked the river, which wound its snaky path through the span of the city of Tharsis. From up here, you would never imagine the poverty and neglect that existed below. Hell, even walking along the uptown boulevards, you'd be hard pressed to find any of the illegal dealings that went on. For that, you would have to wait until the sun set and the business people went home to their houses in the domed privileged areas. No one could have convinced him when he was a kid on the streets, that one day he would be one of them living the life of luxury. He would have laughed in their faces at that. Yet, here he was. It was a lonely existence, and the only thing that kept him going was his guilt and the desire to right the wrongs that he had done to the people that he ... cared about. A couple of times he had thought about calling Jet, but he wouldn't know what to say to him, and he didn't want to find out if Jet knew about him and Faye.

He leaned his head against the cold glass. Soo Ling would be showing up soon, and he was only halfway through signing the papers. What was the deal with her anyway? She'd been the one to arrange for his move to the Samora Crown, and his installment in the Hidden Dragons organization. The money that was deposited into his accounts was her doing as well, and he couldn't figure out what she got from it all. He supposed it was because she had been close to Mao, and had made him a promise to watch after his former protégé. It was the only thing that made any sense. Yet when he had asked her about it, she got a strange look on her face and changed the subject. She wasn't talking, and no one else was either.

He pushed himself away from the window and returned to his desk. He hurriedly scribbled his name on the rest of the papers and stuck them back in the folder. Not a moment too soon, because a minute later Soo Ling walked into his office.

"You have the papers for me?" she asked in her sing-song accent as she strode over to him. She had born in the Chinese district and had never completely lost the accent. He thought it was cute. She thought he was annoying.

Spike smiled triumphantly and slid the folder towards her. "All done."

She raised her eyebrow. "Oh? I thought I would have to chase you down again."

He snorted. "It's not that hard to sign my name to a bunch of papers," he said, getting up from the desk. "Am I done now?"

She snatched up the folder, thumbing through the sheets. "You sure you didn't miss any? You get sloppy when you're in a hurry to leave."

"It'd be a shame to waste such a beautiful day stuck inside, don't you think?" He flashed his charming smile and waited for her to soften. It wasn't working. She didn't even bat an eye.

"Looks like everything is here. You can go now." She closed the folder and walked to the door.

He grinned. He was being dismissed like he was a snot nosed kid. "Thanks, Mom."

She opened the door and slammed it behind her.

He walked back over the window and looked around again. It was a beautiful day. Too bad he didn't have anywhere to go. He turned back to his desk and picked up his communicator. After a moment of hesitation, he called Jet. After a few rings, Jet picked up, and his face lit up in surprise.

"Yo."

"Spike! You slug! Where the hell have you been?"

Spike smiled. He really missed the old man. "Here and there," he said cryptically. "How've you been?"

Jet sighed. "Been better, but I can't complain." He raised an eyebrow at Spike. "No one would listen anyway."

Spike grinned. "Well, you could get the shrew to listen to you."

Jet looked up with a raised eyebrow. "Huh? Oh yeah, you don't know."

Spike's heart pounded. "Know what?"

"Faye's not here. Hasn't been for a couple of months."

"She left?"

"Yeah, met some slick guy at a casino in Alba City. They must have hit it off pretty well, because the next thing I know, she says she's moving in with the guy."

Spike had heard about the Rileys. After the Gate accident, none of the syndicates had been able to get close to them – they were on the straight and narrow and had enough woolongs to resist them all. After a while, no one tried anymore. They had a wide reach of in real estate and properties that spanned across several planets. It figured that Faye would get herself hooked up with a guy with money. It was ironic that he now fit into that same category. It wasn't like he and Faye had ever been together. Not that he even entertained the thought of him and Faye. He shook his head. Best not to go there.

He didn't realize he was holding his breath until his lungs started hurting and he had to take in a gulp of air. Time to cut back on the smokes. He was glad for her, he supposed. She deserved someone who could be there for her.

Jet was still talking. "Yeah, she and this Riley guy are a hot item on the casino circuit, so I hear. He's from one of the old families from Earth. The Rileys of Texas, old Earth. Made their money in oil. Somehow managed to stay legit, no connection with the syndicates or ISSP. I'm surprised you haven't heard about them."

"So, she's happy?"

"She breezes in every now and then. Brings souvenirs for Ed and me. Designer dog biscuits for Ein. Even kisses me on the cheek. Then she takes off again." Jet chuckled. "Yeah, I'd say she's happy."

Spike was silent.

"You okay there, buddy?"

He looked up at Jet's face on the screen. He'd almost forgotten he was there. He rubbed at the warmth on his cheeks. "Why wouldn't I be?" he asked, clenching his jaw.

"No reason. Just thought you looked-"

"Yeah, alright," Spike interrupted him. He reached over to disconnect.

"Spike wait."

He paused midair and glared at Jet.

"Me and Ed are docked at Tharsis. Are you on Mars?"

"Yeah."

"Why don't you come by? For old time's sake?"

Spike thought for a moment.

"I'll fix your favorite - bell peppers and beef."

Spike smiled. "Yeah, okay." He cut the connection.
vettac: (Default)

Chapter 12: The Space Between

The way I see it
This relationship ain't right
The space between us
Better close it up tonight
The space between us
Close it up tonight


Spike rubbed his fatigued eyes and laid the large folder of papers on the large ornate mahogany desk. Soo Ling had demanded that he read and sign the papers by noon, and he didn't want to deal with her wrath today.

"Business calls, and unless you want to be replaced, you'd better have these signed when I come by."

He stood up and walked over to the window. His office overlooked the river, which wound its snaky path through the span of the city of Tharsis. From up here, you would never imagine the poverty and neglect that existed below. Hell, even walking along the uptown boulevards, you'd be hard pressed to find any of the illegal dealings that went on. For that, you would have to wait until the sun set and the business people went home to their houses in the domed privileged areas. No one could have convinced him when he was a kid on the streets, that one day he would be one of them living the life of luxury. He would have laughed in their faces at that. Yet, here he was. It was a lonely existence, and the only thing that kept him going was his guilt and the desire to right the wrongs that he had done to the people that he ... cared about. A couple of times he had thought about calling Jet, but he wouldn't know what to say to him, and he didn't want to find out if Jet knew about him and Faye.

He leaned his head against the cold glass. Soo Ling would be showing up soon, and he was only halfway through signing the papers. What was the deal with her anyway? She'd been the one to arrange for his move to the Samora Crown, and his installment in the Hidden Dragons organization. The money that was deposited into his accounts was her doing as well, and he couldn't figure out what she got from it all. He supposed it was because she had been close to Mao, and had made him a promise to watch after his former protégé. It was the only thing that made any sense. Yet when he had asked her about it, she got a strange look on her face and changed the subject. She wasn't talking, and no one else was either.

He pushed himself away from the window and returned to his desk. He hurriedly scribbled his name on the rest of the papers and stuck them back in the folder. Not a moment too soon, because a minute later Soo Ling walked into his office.

"You have the papers for me?" she asked in her sing-song accent as she strode over to him. She had born in the Chinese district and had never completely lost the accent. He thought it was cute. She thought he was annoying.

Spike smiled triumphantly and slid the folder towards her. "All done."

She raised her eyebrow. "Oh? I thought I would have to chase you down again."

He snorted. "It's not that hard to sign my name to a bunch of papers," he said, getting up from the desk. "Am I done now?"

She snatched up the folder, thumbing through the sheets. "You sure you didn't miss any? You get sloppy when you're in a hurry to leave."

"It'd be a shame to waste such a beautiful day stuck inside, don't you think?" He flashed his charming smile and waited for her to soften. It wasn't working. She didn't even bat an eye.

"Looks like everything is here. You can go now." She closed the folder and walked to the door.

He grinned. He was being dismissed like he was a snot nosed kid. "Thanks, Mom."

She opened the door and slammed it behind her.

He walked back over the window and looked around again. It was a beautiful day. Too bad he didn't have anywhere to go. He turned back to his desk and picked up his communicator. After a moment of hesitation, he called Jet. After a few rings, Jet picked up, and his face lit up in surprise.

"Yo."

"Spike! You slug! Where the hell have you been?"

Spike smiled. He really missed the old man. "Here and there," he said cryptically. "How've you been?"

Jet sighed. "Been better, but I can't complain." He raised an eyebrow at Spike. "No one would listen anyway."

Spike grinned. "Well, you could get the shrew to listen to you."

Jet looked up with a raised eyebrow. "Huh? Oh yeah, you don't know."

Spike's heart pounded. "Know what?"

"Faye's not here. Hasn't been for a couple of months."

"She left?"

"Yeah, met some slick guy at a casino in Alba City. They must have hit it off pretty well, because the next thing I know, she says she's moving in with the guy."

Spike had heard about the Rileys. After the Gate accident, none of the syndicates had been able to get close to them – they were on the straight and narrow and had enough woolongs to resist them all. After a while, no one tried anymore. They had a wide reach of in real estate and properties that spanned across several planets. It figured that Faye would get herself hooked up with a guy with money. It was ironic that he now fit into that same category. It wasn't like he and Faye had ever been together. Not that he even entertained the thought of him and Faye. He shook his head. Best not to go there.

He didn't realize he was holding his breath until his lungs started hurting and he had to take in a gulp of air. Time to cut back on the smokes. He was glad for her, he supposed. She deserved someone who could be there for her.

Jet was still talking. "Yeah, she and this Riley guy are a hot item on the casino circuit, so I hear. He's from one of the old families from Earth. The Rileys of Texas, old Earth. Made their money in oil. Somehow managed to stay legit, no connection with the syndicates or ISSP. I'm surprised you haven't heard about them."

"So, she's happy?"

"She breezes in every now and then. Brings souvenirs for Ed and me. Designer dog biscuits for Ein. Even kisses me on the cheek. Then she takes off again." Jet chuckled. "Yeah, I'd say she's happy."

Spike was silent.

"You okay there, buddy?"

He looked up at Jet's face on the screen. He'd almost forgotten he was there. He rubbed at the warmth on his cheeks. "Why wouldn't I be?" he asked, clenching his jaw.

"No reason. Just thought you looked-"

"Yeah, alright," Spike interrupted him. He reached over to disconnect.

"Spike wait."

He paused midair and glared at Jet.

"Me and Ed are docked at Tharsis. Are you on Mars?"

"Yeah."

"Why don't you come by? For old time's sake?"

Spike thought for a moment.

"I'll fix your favorite - bell peppers and beef."

Spike smiled. "Yeah, okay." He cut the connection.
vettac: (Default)
Got a touch of inspiration (feels incomplete, but here it is)

M - Malibu

Crash and burn
All the stars explode tonight
How'd you get so desperate?
How'd you stay alive?
Help me, please, burn the sorrow from your eyes
Oh come on be alive again
Don't lay down and die


He was a creature of habit, chasing down death like a hobby, his return another near miss as he waited for the final blow with something like disappointment.

Yet there was something in his eyes that looked like relief to her.

He stared coldly into her face, daring her to speak, to confront him. She refused to look away.

"You're back," she said reproachfully as she broke the silence .

"Yeah, it looks like it."

If he wasn't afraid of dying, then what was he afraid of? Because he did feel fear, that she could see behind the stony façade.

She dropped her eyes and stared through the port window. He didn't care that every time he left she wondered if it would be the last time she saw his face. He saw only what he wanted to see and closed his eyes to the rest. His past had cost him his soul, his future, his dreams, left him with empty gestures as he waited for the game to be over.
vettac: (Default)
Got a touch of inspiration (feels incomplete, but here it is)

M - Malibu

Crash and burn
All the stars explode tonight
How'd you get so desperate?
How'd you stay alive?
Help me, please, burn the sorrow from your eyes
Oh come on be alive again
Don't lay down and die


He was a creature of habit, chasing down death like a hobby, his return another near miss as he waited for the final blow with something like disappointment.

Yet there was something in his eyes that looked like relief to her.

He stared coldly into her face, daring her to speak, to confront him. She refused to look away.

"You're back," she said reproachfully as she broke the silence .

"Yeah, it looks like it."

If he wasn't afraid of dying, then what was he afraid of? Because he did feel fear, that she could see behind the stony façade.

She dropped her eyes and stared through the port window. He didn't care that every time he left she wondered if it would be the last time she saw his face. He saw only what he wanted to see and closed his eyes to the rest. His past had cost him his soul, his future, his dreams, left him with empty gestures as he waited for the game to be over.
vettac: (chillin')
Chapter 11: So Far Away

“Bye-bye Faye-Faye!” Ed's chipper voice screamed from the screen.
“Goodbye, Edward.”
Why can't she just say it once, Faye mumbled as she ended the connection. I swear, she does it just to annoy me. She switched over to TV mode, surfing through the channels to find something to watch. She paused at a station showing an old martial arts film and immediately thought of Spike and his obsession with training and katas. She stared down at the screen as she thought back to three months before, when she'd last seen him.
“Faye!”
Startled, Faye looked up into Jet's frowning face.
“What?”
“I asked if you were done with that.”
Confused, Faye looked down at the table at her uneaten bowl of noodles. “Oh. Yeah.”
“You'll remember the food you wasted when we're starving again,” he told her.
Faye rolled her eyes. “I know, Jet.”
Jet sighed. He came around the couch and sat down beside her. “When you first came home after meeting with Spike, I didn't say anything.” He looked at her. “I figured it was just the shock of seeing him alive after so many months. But now…”
He stopped abruptly and looked into her face. “…Now I think there's something else. You've been so quiet. That's not like you, Faye. What aren't you telling me?”
“I-I don't know what you're talking about, Jet.”
She looked up, startled when Jet slammed his fist down on the table.
“See? You never used to be jumpy like that, Faye. Something happened when you were in Tharsis that you aren't telling me. What the hell happened between you and Spike?”
Faye stuck her hands inside her sweater, clenching them as chewed on her lower lip. Jet was bearing down on her like a big, protective mother, and in another minute, she was going to break down and tell him everything.
She inhaled a shaky breath. “Jet, don't-”
Jet sighed. “Alright. If you don't want to tell me, it's alright.” He patted her shoulder like she was a little girl. “But if I find out he did something to you, Faye ...” He stood up and stretched, her eyes following his every move.
She didn't know how to begin, but she knew that she couldn't go on much longer like this. It had been months since she had been able to sleep through the night without waking up shaking, as the memory of that night six months ago came crashing through her brain in muddled images. Sometimes, instead of Rives in that alleyway, it would be Spike's face, grinning at her maniacally and maliciously and she would be no good for days. It was affecting her ability to follow through on bounties, and Jet definitely noticed.
“Jet,” she began.
He slowly turned around to face her. “I knew something happened. Ed noticed too.”
She looked up into his face hesitantly. “Do you remember a bounty named Rives?”
Jet raised an eyebrow. “Dirtbag with a twenty million woolong bounty wanted for assault and rape on five women?”
She nodded.
Jet furrowed his eyebrows. “Yeah, he turned up dead in an alley a couple of months back. What about him?”
Faye looked away before she answered. “He was murdered the night I was in Tharsis. Spike killed him.”
Jet studied her face for a long moment, searching her pleading green eyes. “You were there?”
She nodded again. Jet sighed and rubbed his head, then came to sit next to her. “Tell me what happened.”
She curled up and wrapped her arms around her knees, closing her eyes as she told Jet about that night. His expression was stony as she related the story, but he remained quiet as she talked. She didn't tell him about what had happened after she returned to Spike's place. His sense of justice and duty would have compelled him to confront Spike, and she was sure they'd both end up dead. She couldn't bear to have their deaths on her conscience. When she finished, Jet was silent. She watched the fan rotating overhead and the calming hum of the ship's engines. She stole a glance at Jet's stony-faced expression as he absorbed it all. Her eyebrows momentarily stitched, then smoothed as she let out a puff of air and laid her head on her knees, eyes focused on the whirring fan.
* * *
Misty Shores was only three heads behind, having come from nearly last place. If he won, she'd be cashing in a big win. Faye watched in anticipation as her horse drew closer to the front of the pack. Faye's eyebrows momentarily furrowed, and she let out a puff of air, her eyes focused on the track. She furrowed her brows as the number two lead jumped into first place, squashing her winning hopes. She bunched the wad of tickets and threw them in the air, watching them scatter to the ground like fallen flower petals. Well, her luck at the horses wasn't holding up today. She sighed and pushed her way through the crowd towards the exit. As much as she wanted to try her hand at another race, losing that last race had depleted most of her woolongs.
Outside the racetrack building, she wrapped her old red sweater closer and debated whether to try wheedling her way into a card game to recoup some cash. The soft ringing of the communicator drew her attention. She adjusted her shirt and shrugged further into her sweater before she picked it up to look at the display.
It was Jet. She opened communication.
Faye quirked an eyebrow. “What?” She said flatly.
“Where are you?” he asked, his voice calm and smooth.
She frowned. She hadn't even been gone for two hours, and he was already checking up on her. “What the hell are you talking about?” she demanded. “I told you I was going to do a little shopping.”
“By way of the horse races?”
She rolled her eyes and looked down at her bags. Shopping was her second favorite way of relieving tension, now that Spike wasn't around to annoy. “Get off my back, Jet. I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself.”
“Why didn't you take Ed with you?” he demanded, an indecipherable expression on his face.
“What do you mean?”
“Ed misses him too, you know. I just thought that it might be good to spend some time with her.”
Faye sighed. “Okay, Jet, what's going on?”
“What?”
“You've never pushed Ed on me before.”
It was Jet's turned to sigh. “She thinks you're sad,” he said quietly.
Faye deflated, a little stunned by his words. Ed was usually flighty, she sometimes forgot how perceptive she could be. She considered going back to the Bebop. “Look, I'm just going to go to one more place. But if you really want me to, I'll head home now,” she said, only a little sarcastic.
“Whatever, Faye,” he said, moving his hand to his head to rub the bald spot. “Do what you want.”
Faye furrowed her brow as she considered, then nodded. “Alright, I'm heading back.”
Jet mumbled something unintelligible and cut the connection. Shaking her head, Faye tucked the communicator back in her pocket. She didn't believe that it was Ed who was worried, and Jet meant too much to her to make him worry. She sighed and headed back to the Redtail.
* * *
He opened his eyes and under the bright lights of the room, the blurry image finally came into focus. He found himself looking up into the face of a woman with hair the color of deep, dark violet.
It wasn't Faye.
“Faye,” he whispered, closing his eyes again.
“Oh, you're awake. Did you say something?” The voice, gentle and soft, was nothing like Faye's.
“Where am I?” he asked hoarsely.
“You're in Syrtis Hospital. You've been here for almost a week.” She tucked in the covers at the foot of the bed, where his feet had come loose from under the sheet. “You had some pretty severe damage to your shoulder. Shattered part of the bone and did some damage to the muscles. But the doctor will come in later to explain it all to you. I'm Jenny, your nurse, by the way.” She looked closer at the expression on his face. “Are you in pain?”
He shook his head, his eyes closed tightly as tears prickled at the corners. He couldn't believe that actually missed the shrew's grating voice. The nurse leaned in closer, and his eyebrow twitched. He sucked in a breath before shaking his head vigorously this time.
“Mr. Spiegel?”
“Yes,” he answered through clenched teeth. He just wanted her to go away and leave him alone. As he clenched his hands into fists under the sheet, the pulse monitor began beeping incessantly and the pain in his head increased to unbearable proportions. Dimly he heard the nurse say something to him and after that, blessed silence.
* * *
When he awoke again, the blinding headache was gone. The room was dark except for the soft amber lights on the monitor next to his bed. He lifted his head and looked down at the leather straps at his wrists. He must have gotten violent before blacking out. Where was Nurse Jenny, he wondered. As if on cue, the door opened and the violet-haired nurse entered the room.
“Ah, Mr. Spiegel,” she chirped, “You're awake again.”
“It's Spike,” he said wearily. “How long was I out?”
“Two days,” she said. “We had to sedate you to keep you from hurting yourself.”
“I see.”
She leaned over to unfasten the wrist straps and straighten the bedsheet. “How's the head?”
“Still here.”
She laughed. “Good. Then you are feeling better.”
He didn't know what she found so funny, but he didn't see any point in mentioning it. “What happened?”
“You had an allergic reaction to one of the medications. We had to sedate you to keep you from hurting yourself.”
He nodded. Whatever the reason, he was glad that the pain was gone. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't enjoy pain. With the number of injuries and broken bones that he'd experienced in his life, pain was something that came with the territory, and he'd learned to live with it. “So, when do I get out of here?”
The nurse eyed him closely. “You can't be released until someone signs you out. Is there someone we can call?”
He stifled his first thought to call Faye. No use going there, he'd slammed the door on her months ago. He gave her an irritated look before turning to stare out the window. The sky was bright and clear under the environmental dome that encased the city. He really hated climate control. He wanted the day to be dark and rainy to match his mood.
After a few moments of silence, Jenny started talking again. “By the way, the young lady who came to see you had the same color hair as mine.”
Spike whipped his head around to look at her.
“We both got quite a kick out of it.” She laughed. “It was the only thing we had in common. She was quite pretty. I would kill for a figure like hers.” She looked down at her plump figure. “And her eyes were the most beautiful shade of green, though they seemed a little sad to me.” She peered at Spike. “She said her name was Faye. She called you a funny name, like lunkit or something like that.”
His heart pounded, threatening to break out of his chest. He had thought that it was a dream. “She was here? When?”
Nurse Jenny raised a brow as she surveyed her patient and smiled knowingly. “It was during the week you were unconscious. She said that she had gone to the bar where you work, and they told her where to find you. She was pretty upset when she saw you. She sat with you for a while, then she left. She came back the next day, and we talked about what had happened. She told me some things about you, too. 'Watch out for him,' she said. 'He can be a real asshole when he's mad.' I said that I didn't believe it, you looked so innocent when you're sleeping.”
His cheeks burned and he stared down at his feet sticking up from the bed. “Thanks, I guess,” he mumbled. If he could sink under the bed right about now, it would be a really good thing.
“Anyway,” Jenny said, turning serious, “She said that she didn't want to be called when you were released ... but she left her contact information just in case you – “ She pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket and held it out to him.
The heaviness in his chest eased. So like Faye to pretend she didn't care. He'd always been able to see through her façade, and he suspected that she could read him just as well, though neither of them ever dared to venture into that forbidden territory of feelings. Bad things happened when you cared, and he had an irrational fear that if he showed how much he did care, something would happen to her. So he'd pushed her away in the worst way imaginable. He never would have guessed that she would come to see him.
“I already know how to reach her,” he said irritably.
Nurse Jenny's eyebrows raised just a little. “Would you like me to call her?”
He shook his head. “Call … Soo Ling Yumako at the Glowing Sun Lounge in Tharsis.”
* * *
Dr. Mordecai Barnes closed the holographic chart and looked thoughtfully at his patient.
“You're healing quite nicely, Mr. Spiegel. It's quite rare that we have a patient who heals as quickly as you have.” He looked down at Spike, examining the arm. “And how is the pain?”
“Better than a week ago,” he mumbled.
Dr. Barnes agreed. “Yes, it should be. The muscles in the forearm tend to compensate for the weakness in your shoulder, resulting in more strain. Probably at night is worse?”
Was this guy a doctor or just stupid? Even Ein would know that pain got worse at night, just when you wanted to sleep. He grunted in response.
Dr. Barnes pulled out the medical transmitter from his lab coat and spoke in a short, clipped tone. “Evening dose administer 4mg fentanyl for Room 304-A.” He replaced the chart at the foot of the bed. “Get some rest, Mr. Spiegel.” He turned on his heels abruptly and marched out of the room.
Spike scowled at the doctor's back. Well, that was a waste of a visit, and he still didn't know when he was getting out.
The door opened and Jenny came in. She picked up his medical chart and peered down at the doctor's notes. “Hmmm, everything seems to be good.” She looked up at Spike. “Did Dr. Barnes say when you could go home?”
“He didn't say anything. All he did was order more drugs.” He gave her a dark look. “I don't need more drugs. I just need to get out of here.”
“Your shoulder isn't completely healed, Spike. Maybe in a few more days…” Her voice faded when he growled. “But I'll see what I can do.”
“Yeah,” he grumbled. “You do that.” He sat up with a grimace as pain flowed through his joints. Jenny dashed forward to assist him but he shot her a warning look, and she backed away, hovering from a safe distance. He swung his legs to the floor, leaning too heavily on his injured side when he tried to stand, and grunted from the pain.
“Careful, Spike.” Jenny moved closer.
He waved her away. “I'm fine,” he said irritably. He took a deep breath and tried again. His legs threatened to give way, and Jenny moved in. He leaned against her, hating feeling helpless. “Who would have thought,” he mumbled, “the infamous Spike Spiegel, former bounty hunter and … reduced to leaning on the arms of a nurse. Just shoot me now.”
Jenny laughed. “So your girlfriend is a bounty hunter?”
He scowled. “She's not my girlfriend.”
Jenny raised her brow. “Oh, I thought …”
“Well, you thought wrong,” he said brusquely.
“Okay.” She put her hands up in surrender.
He walked forward gingerly, wincing at the pain as he shuffled into the small bathroom.
“I'll be right outside the door,” Jenny said. “Just yell if you need me.”
“Right,” he scoffed. He managed to pull his boxers down with one hand, not wanting to chance pulling the stitches in his shoulder. He finished up and put down the toilet seat, then leaned into the mirror to examine his face. The hair on his chin was too thick to be called stubble. He scratched at the overgrowth and looked around the tiny space for a razor.
“Jenny?” he called out. The door handled turned and he pressed his palm against the door to keep her from coming in. Just because he was in a hospital didn't mean that he wasn't entitled to a little privacy.
“Everything okay in there?”
“Yeah, I need a razor.”
“Come back to bed and I'll take care of that for you,” Jenny said from the other side of the door.
He leaned his head against his hand. “You're kidding, right?”
She didn't answer.
He let out a long, dramatic sigh and opened the door to let her in. Jenny stood in the doorway chuckling.
“You're not used to this, are you?”
He scowled at her and pushed himself past her to the bed. He refused to grace her with an answer.
* * *
Spike waited for Ronald to bring the car around to the hospital entrance, drumming his fingers against the circular reception desk in the hospital lobby. He hated waiting. He looked behind him, expecting to see Nurse Jenny chasing after him. She had called Soo Ling, who convinced Dr. Barnes to release him a few days early, with the understanding that he return to the hospital in a week's time for an evaluation. For some strange reason, she had assigned herself his 'savior' whose first mission was to “get Spike and Faye back together,” even though he'd told her that she was not his girlfriend. Not even close. He sighed. He really needed a cigarette. He hadn't even been able to sneak a puff – Nurse Jenny had made sure that the pack he kept in his jacket were 'put safely away.' He was already out of breath from being laid up for two weeks and probably couldn't even finish half. But he was perfectly willing to try. He adjusted the sling and clenched his fingers. His left shoulder ached like hell and his fingers were numb. It was going to be a while before he would be able to use the arm. Good thing he was ambidextrous.
 From the corner of his eye he spotted a figure coming from the elevator. He didn't have to look to know who it was. Damn, she sure didn't give up easily.
 “Spike!” Jenny greeted as she walked over to the desk. “I was on the floor making my rounds, and when I got to your room, you were already gone! You weren't planning on skipping out without saying goodbye to me, were you?”
 He suppressed a smile. “Of course not. How could I leave without saying goodbye to my favorite nurse?” He batted his eyelashes at her.
 Jenny laughed. “I'm sure you wouldn't.” She reached out to clasp his hand. “Take it easy, Spike. We'll see you back here in a few weeks.”
 He shook her hand. “Thanks for everything, Nurse Jenny.”
 Ronald came through the revolving doors pushing a wheelchair towards them. Spike gave him a sour look. “I'm not an invalid, you know.”
 “Yeah, I know.” Ronald looked at Jenny, who nodded in agreement.
“Hospital rules.”
He scowled but dropped into the seat, relief flooding into his unused joints.
 “Please give my regards to your lady friend, okay?” Jenny called out as Ronald wheeled the chair around and out the hospital doors.
 
* * *
Spike watched the scenery as they drove down the Tharsis freeway, Ronald darting in and out of traffic with the ease of a racecar driver. “Kid, you're in the wrong profession,” he said as the car careened through a sharp curve.
“So, I'm told,” Ronald said lightly. “But I like a little more stability in my life. Tending bar suits me just fine.”
Spike tried to imagine being forever banned from flying; not the self-imposed grounding that he had placed upon himself. When he decided to pilot the Swordfish again, which he knew would happen sooner or later, all he to do was go to Doohan to reclaim his baby. Even though it had been over a year, he would not give in to the urge; the temptation to rendezvous with the Bebop was too strong.
The car sped along towards the high-rise buildings in the center of the city, passing high-end shops and hotels. His eyebrow twitched in annoyance. “You're going the wrong way,” he said to Ronald. “I don't live on this side of town.”
Ronald chuckled and continued driving. “You do now.”
“What are you talking about?” Spike growled as he gripped the back of the front seat. “Whose bright idea was this?”
“Soo Ling's.”
He took a deep breath. When he was a young upstart with the Dragons, Mao had warned him to tone down his defiant streak around Soo Ling, to do what she asked and he had begrudgingly complied. Mao trusted her, and that had been enough for him. Now, years later, she was still trying to meddle into his affairs, and here he was, still allowing it, as if Mao was still alive. He sighed and looked out the window as the car sped past the patch of high rise buildings. As they neared a tall building of smoked glass windows lined in gilded gold, Ronald slowed the car and pulled in front of the guarded building. The Samora Crown Hotel was surrounded by boutique shops and over-priced cafes frequented by executives and capos alike conducting their wheeling and dealing in the corporate boardrooms of Tharsis while the ISSP turned an organizational blind eye.
Spike looked up at the size of the building and heaved a big sigh.
“Shit, this is where she picked?” He slumped back against the seat. “Let me guess, penthouse, right?”
“Yep.”
Spike closed his eyes. The Samora Crown Hotel was simply not his style. But he bet Faye would like it.
vettac: (chillin')
Chapter 11: So Far Away

“Bye-bye Faye-Faye!” Ed's chipper voice screamed from the screen.
“Goodbye, Edward.”
Why can't she just say it once, Faye mumbled as she ended the connection. I swear, she does it just to annoy me. She switched over to TV mode, surfing through the channels to find something to watch. She paused at a station showing an old martial arts film and immediately thought of Spike and his obsession with training and katas. She stared down at the screen as she thought back to three months before, when she'd last seen him.
“Faye!”
Startled, Faye looked up into Jet's frowning face.
“What?”
“I asked if you were done with that.”
Confused, Faye looked down at the table at her uneaten bowl of noodles. “Oh. Yeah.”
“You'll remember the food you wasted when we're starving again,” he told her.
Faye rolled her eyes. “I know, Jet.”
Jet sighed. He came around the couch and sat down beside her. “When you first came home after meeting with Spike, I didn't say anything.” He looked at her. “I figured it was just the shock of seeing him alive after so many months. But now…”
He stopped abruptly and looked into her face. “…Now I think there's something else. You've been so quiet. That's not like you, Faye. What aren't you telling me?”
“I-I don't know what you're talking about, Jet.”
She looked up, startled when Jet slammed his fist down on the table.
“See? You never used to be jumpy like that, Faye. Something happened when you were in Tharsis that you aren't telling me. What the hell happened between you and Spike?”
Faye stuck her hands inside her sweater, clenching them as chewed on her lower lip. Jet was bearing down on her like a big, protective mother, and in another minute, she was going to break down and tell him everything.
She inhaled a shaky breath. “Jet, don't-”
Jet sighed. “Alright. If you don't want to tell me, it's alright.” He patted her shoulder like she was a little girl. “But if I find out he did something to you, Faye ...” He stood up and stretched, her eyes following his every move.
She didn't know how to begin, but she knew that she couldn't go on much longer like this. It had been months since she had been able to sleep through the night without waking up shaking, as the memory of that night six months ago came crashing through her brain in muddled images. Sometimes, instead of Rives in that alleyway, it would be Spike's face, grinning at her maniacally and maliciously and she would be no good for days. It was affecting her ability to follow through on bounties, and Jet definitely noticed.
“Jet,” she began.
He slowly turned around to face her. “I knew something happened. Ed noticed too.”
She looked up into his face hesitantly. “Do you remember a bounty named Rives?”
Jet raised an eyebrow. “Dirtbag with a twenty million woolong bounty wanted for assault and rape on five women?”
She nodded.
Jet furrowed his eyebrows. “Yeah, he turned up dead in an alley a couple of months back. What about him?”
Faye looked away before she answered. “He was murdered the night I was in Tharsis. Spike killed him.”
Jet studied her face for a long moment, searching her pleading green eyes. “You were there?”
She nodded again. Jet sighed and rubbed his head, then came to sit next to her. “Tell me what happened.”
She curled up and wrapped her arms around her knees, closing her eyes as she told Jet about that night. His expression was stony as she related the story, but he remained quiet as she talked. She didn't tell him about what had happened after she returned to Spike's place. His sense of justice and duty would have compelled him to confront Spike, and she was sure they'd both end up dead. She couldn't bear to have their deaths on her conscience. When she finished, Jet was silent. She watched the fan rotating overhead and the calming hum of the ship's engines. She stole a glance at Jet's stony-faced expression as he absorbed it all. Her eyebrows momentarily stitched, then smoothed as she let out a puff of air and laid her head on her knees, eyes focused on the whirring fan.
* * *
Misty Shores was only three heads behind, having come from nearly last place. If he won, she'd be cashing in a big win. Faye watched in anticipation as her horse drew closer to the front of the pack. Faye's eyebrows momentarily furrowed, and she let out a puff of air, her eyes focused on the track. She furrowed her brows as the number two lead jumped into first place, squashing her winning hopes. She bunched the wad of tickets and threw them in the air, watching them scatter to the ground like fallen flower petals. Well, her luck at the horses wasn't holding up today. She sighed and pushed her way through the crowd towards the exit. As much as she wanted to try her hand at another race, losing that last race had depleted most of her woolongs.
Outside the racetrack building, she wrapped her old red sweater closer and debated whether to try wheedling her way into a card game to recoup some cash. The soft ringing of the communicator drew her attention. She adjusted her shirt and shrugged further into her sweater before she picked it up to look at the display.
It was Jet. She opened communication.
Faye quirked an eyebrow. “What?” She said flatly.
“Where are you?” he asked, his voice calm and smooth.
She frowned. She hadn't even been gone for two hours, and he was already checking up on her. “What the hell are you talking about?” she demanded. “I told you I was going to do a little shopping.”
“By way of the horse races?”
She rolled her eyes and looked down at her bags. Shopping was her second favorite way of relieving tension, now that Spike wasn't around to annoy. “Get off my back, Jet. I'm a big girl and I can take care of myself.”
“Why didn't you take Ed with you?” he demanded, an indecipherable expression on his face.
“What do you mean?”
“Ed misses him too, you know. I just thought that it might be good to spend some time with her.”
Faye sighed. “Okay, Jet, what's going on?”
“What?”
“You've never pushed Ed on me before.”
It was Jet's turned to sigh. “She thinks you're sad,” he said quietly.
Faye deflated, a little stunned by his words. Ed was usually flighty, she sometimes forgot how perceptive she could be. She considered going back to the Bebop. “Look, I'm just going to go to one more place. But if you really want me to, I'll head home now,” she said, only a little sarcastic.
“Whatever, Faye,” he said, moving his hand to his head to rub the bald spot. “Do what you want.”
Faye furrowed her brow as she considered, then nodded. “Alright, I'm heading back.”
Jet mumbled something unintelligible and cut the connection. Shaking her head, Faye tucked the communicator back in her pocket. She didn't believe that it was Ed who was worried, and Jet meant too much to her to make him worry. She sighed and headed back to the Redtail.
* * *
He opened his eyes and under the bright lights of the room, the blurry image finally came into focus. He found himself looking up into the face of a woman with hair the color of deep, dark violet.
It wasn't Faye.
“Faye,” he whispered, closing his eyes again.
“Oh, you're awake. Did you say something?” The voice, gentle and soft, was nothing like Faye's.
“Where am I?” he asked hoarsely.
“You're in Syrtis Hospital. You've been here for almost a week.” She tucked in the covers at the foot of the bed, where his feet had come loose from under the sheet. “You had some pretty severe damage to your shoulder. Shattered part of the bone and did some damage to the muscles. But the doctor will come in later to explain it all to you. I'm Jenny, your nurse, by the way.” She looked closer at the expression on his face. “Are you in pain?”
He shook his head, his eyes closed tightly as tears prickled at the corners. He couldn't believe that actually missed the shrew's grating voice. The nurse leaned in closer, and his eyebrow twitched. He sucked in a breath before shaking his head vigorously this time.
“Mr. Spiegel?”
“Yes,” he answered through clenched teeth. He just wanted her to go away and leave him alone. As he clenched his hands into fists under the sheet, the pulse monitor began beeping incessantly and the pain in his head increased to unbearable proportions. Dimly he heard the nurse say something to him and after that, blessed silence.
* * *
When he awoke again, the blinding headache was gone. The room was dark except for the soft amber lights on the monitor next to his bed. He lifted his head and looked down at the leather straps at his wrists. He must have gotten violent before blacking out. Where was Nurse Jenny, he wondered. As if on cue, the door opened and the violet-haired nurse entered the room.
“Ah, Mr. Spiegel,” she chirped, “You're awake again.”
“It's Spike,” he said wearily. “How long was I out?”
“Two days,” she said. “We had to sedate you to keep you from hurting yourself.”
“I see.”
She leaned over to unfasten the wrist straps and straighten the bedsheet. “How's the head?”
“Still here.”
She laughed. “Good. Then you are feeling better.”
He didn't know what she found so funny, but he didn't see any point in mentioning it. “What happened?”
“You had an allergic reaction to one of the medications. We had to sedate you to keep you from hurting yourself.”
He nodded. Whatever the reason, he was glad that the pain was gone. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't enjoy pain. With the number of injuries and broken bones that he'd experienced in his life, pain was something that came with the territory, and he'd learned to live with it. “So, when do I get out of here?”
The nurse eyed him closely. “You can't be released until someone signs you out. Is there someone we can call?”
He stifled his first thought to call Faye. No use going there, he'd slammed the door on her months ago. He gave her an irritated look before turning to stare out the window. The sky was bright and clear under the environmental dome that encased the city. He really hated climate control. He wanted the day to be dark and rainy to match his mood.
After a few moments of silence, Jenny started talking again. “By the way, the young lady who came to see you had the same color hair as mine.”
Spike whipped his head around to look at her.
“We both got quite a kick out of it.” She laughed. “It was the only thing we had in common. She was quite pretty. I would kill for a figure like hers.” She looked down at her plump figure. “And her eyes were the most beautiful shade of green, though they seemed a little sad to me.” She peered at Spike. “She said her name was Faye. She called you a funny name, like lunkit or something like that.”
His heart pounded, threatening to break out of his chest. He had thought that it was a dream. “She was here? When?”
Nurse Jenny raised a brow as she surveyed her patient and smiled knowingly. “It was during the week you were unconscious. She said that she had gone to the bar where you work, and they told her where to find you. She was pretty upset when she saw you. She sat with you for a while, then she left. She came back the next day, and we talked about what had happened. She told me some things about you, too. 'Watch out for him,' she said. 'He can be a real asshole when he's mad.' I said that I didn't believe it, you looked so innocent when you're sleeping.”
His cheeks burned and he stared down at his feet sticking up from the bed. “Thanks, I guess,” he mumbled. If he could sink under the bed right about now, it would be a really good thing.
“Anyway,” Jenny said, turning serious, “She said that she didn't want to be called when you were released ... but she left her contact information just in case you – “ She pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket and held it out to him.
The heaviness in his chest eased. So like Faye to pretend she didn't care. He'd always been able to see through her façade, and he suspected that she could read him just as well, though neither of them ever dared to venture into that forbidden territory of feelings. Bad things happened when you cared, and he had an irrational fear that if he showed how much he did care, something would happen to her. So he'd pushed her away in the worst way imaginable. He never would have guessed that she would come to see him.
“I already know how to reach her,” he said irritably.
Nurse Jenny's eyebrows raised just a little. “Would you like me to call her?”
He shook his head. “Call … Soo Ling Yumako at the Glowing Sun Lounge in Tharsis.”
* * *
Dr. Mordecai Barnes closed the holographic chart and looked thoughtfully at his patient.
“You're healing quite nicely, Mr. Spiegel. It's quite rare that we have a patient who heals as quickly as you have.” He looked down at Spike, examining the arm. “And how is the pain?”
“Better than a week ago,” he mumbled.
Dr. Barnes agreed. “Yes, it should be. The muscles in the forearm tend to compensate for the weakness in your shoulder, resulting in more strain. Probably at night is worse?”
Was this guy a doctor or just stupid? Even Ein would know that pain got worse at night, just when you wanted to sleep. He grunted in response.
Dr. Barnes pulled out the medical transmitter from his lab coat and spoke in a short, clipped tone. “Evening dose administer 4mg fentanyl for Room 304-A.” He replaced the chart at the foot of the bed. “Get some rest, Mr. Spiegel.” He turned on his heels abruptly and marched out of the room.
Spike scowled at the doctor's back. Well, that was a waste of a visit, and he still didn't know when he was getting out.
The door opened and Jenny came in. She picked up his medical chart and peered down at the doctor's notes. “Hmmm, everything seems to be good.” She looked up at Spike. “Did Dr. Barnes say when you could go home?”
“He didn't say anything. All he did was order more drugs.” He gave her a dark look. “I don't need more drugs. I just need to get out of here.”
“Your shoulder isn't completely healed, Spike. Maybe in a few more days…” Her voice faded when he growled. “But I'll see what I can do.”
“Yeah,” he grumbled. “You do that.” He sat up with a grimace as pain flowed through his joints. Jenny dashed forward to assist him but he shot her a warning look, and she backed away, hovering from a safe distance. He swung his legs to the floor, leaning too heavily on his injured side when he tried to stand, and grunted from the pain.
“Careful, Spike.” Jenny moved closer.
He waved her away. “I'm fine,” he said irritably. He took a deep breath and tried again. His legs threatened to give way, and Jenny moved in. He leaned against her, hating feeling helpless. “Who would have thought,” he mumbled, “the infamous Spike Spiegel, former bounty hunter and … reduced to leaning on the arms of a nurse. Just shoot me now.”
Jenny laughed. “So your girlfriend is a bounty hunter?”
He scowled. “She's not my girlfriend.”
Jenny raised her brow. “Oh, I thought …”
“Well, you thought wrong,” he said brusquely.
“Okay.” She put her hands up in surrender.
He walked forward gingerly, wincing at the pain as he shuffled into the small bathroom.
“I'll be right outside the door,” Jenny said. “Just yell if you need me.”
“Right,” he scoffed. He managed to pull his boxers down with one hand, not wanting to chance pulling the stitches in his shoulder. He finished up and put down the toilet seat, then leaned into the mirror to examine his face. The hair on his chin was too thick to be called stubble. He scratched at the overgrowth and looked around the tiny space for a razor.
“Jenny?” he called out. The door handled turned and he pressed his palm against the door to keep her from coming in. Just because he was in a hospital didn't mean that he wasn't entitled to a little privacy.
“Everything okay in there?”
“Yeah, I need a razor.”
“Come back to bed and I'll take care of that for you,” Jenny said from the other side of the door.
He leaned his head against his hand. “You're kidding, right?”
She didn't answer.
He let out a long, dramatic sigh and opened the door to let her in. Jenny stood in the doorway chuckling.
“You're not used to this, are you?”
He scowled at her and pushed himself past her to the bed. He refused to grace her with an answer.
* * *
Spike waited for Ronald to bring the car around to the hospital entrance, drumming his fingers against the circular reception desk in the hospital lobby. He hated waiting. He looked behind him, expecting to see Nurse Jenny chasing after him. She had called Soo Ling, who convinced Dr. Barnes to release him a few days early, with the understanding that he return to the hospital in a week's time for an evaluation. For some strange reason, she had assigned herself his 'savior' whose first mission was to “get Spike and Faye back together,” even though he'd told her that she was not his girlfriend. Not even close. He sighed. He really needed a cigarette. He hadn't even been able to sneak a puff – Nurse Jenny had made sure that the pack he kept in his jacket were 'put safely away.' He was already out of breath from being laid up for two weeks and probably couldn't even finish half. But he was perfectly willing to try. He adjusted the sling and clenched his fingers. His left shoulder ached like hell and his fingers were numb. It was going to be a while before he would be able to use the arm. Good thing he was ambidextrous.
 From the corner of his eye he spotted a figure coming from the elevator. He didn't have to look to know who it was. Damn, she sure didn't give up easily.
 “Spike!” Jenny greeted as she walked over to the desk. “I was on the floor making my rounds, and when I got to your room, you were already gone! You weren't planning on skipping out without saying goodbye to me, were you?”
 He suppressed a smile. “Of course not. How could I leave without saying goodbye to my favorite nurse?” He batted his eyelashes at her.
 Jenny laughed. “I'm sure you wouldn't.” She reached out to clasp his hand. “Take it easy, Spike. We'll see you back here in a few weeks.”
 He shook her hand. “Thanks for everything, Nurse Jenny.”
 Ronald came through the revolving doors pushing a wheelchair towards them. Spike gave him a sour look. “I'm not an invalid, you know.”
 “Yeah, I know.” Ronald looked at Jenny, who nodded in agreement.
“Hospital rules.”
He scowled but dropped into the seat, relief flooding into his unused joints.
 “Please give my regards to your lady friend, okay?” Jenny called out as Ronald wheeled the chair around and out the hospital doors.
 
* * *
Spike watched the scenery as they drove down the Tharsis freeway, Ronald darting in and out of traffic with the ease of a racecar driver. “Kid, you're in the wrong profession,” he said as the car careened through a sharp curve.
“So, I'm told,” Ronald said lightly. “But I like a little more stability in my life. Tending bar suits me just fine.”
Spike tried to imagine being forever banned from flying; not the self-imposed grounding that he had placed upon himself. When he decided to pilot the Swordfish again, which he knew would happen sooner or later, all he to do was go to Doohan to reclaim his baby. Even though it had been over a year, he would not give in to the urge; the temptation to rendezvous with the Bebop was too strong.
The car sped along towards the high-rise buildings in the center of the city, passing high-end shops and hotels. His eyebrow twitched in annoyance. “You're going the wrong way,” he said to Ronald. “I don't live on this side of town.”
Ronald chuckled and continued driving. “You do now.”
“What are you talking about?” Spike growled as he gripped the back of the front seat. “Whose bright idea was this?”
“Soo Ling's.”
He took a deep breath. When he was a young upstart with the Dragons, Mao had warned him to tone down his defiant streak around Soo Ling, to do what she asked and he had begrudgingly complied. Mao trusted her, and that had been enough for him. Now, years later, she was still trying to meddle into his affairs, and here he was, still allowing it, as if Mao was still alive. He sighed and looked out the window as the car sped past the patch of high rise buildings. As they neared a tall building of smoked glass windows lined in gilded gold, Ronald slowed the car and pulled in front of the guarded building. The Samora Crown Hotel was surrounded by boutique shops and over-priced cafes frequented by executives and capos alike conducting their wheeling and dealing in the corporate boardrooms of Tharsis while the ISSP turned an organizational blind eye.
Spike looked up at the size of the building and heaved a big sigh.
“Shit, this is where she picked?” He slumped back against the seat. “Let me guess, penthouse, right?”
“Yep.”
Spike closed his eyes. The Samora Crown Hotel was simply not his style. But he bet Faye would like it.
vettac: (Default)
Silent Blues

Been far away for far too long
So far away, so far away


The bullet slammed into his shoulder, and he struggled to hold onto his Jericho as the pain blindsided him. He fired off rounds with the gun in his left hand, until all three gunmen lay dead on the pavement.

He slumped against the building, sliding down until his bottom hit the ground, breathing heavily as he waited for the pain to subside. He had not planned on coming so close to dying today. But, at least he could say that he had achieved his goal.

As he gazed over at the three bodies, an overwhelming exhaustion washing over him. He was coming to the realization that the chains he had built around his heart was not as strong as he had thought; a certain purple-haired femme fatale held the key.

The first time it occurred to him was when he had walked into the Glowing Sun to see her sitting on that bar stool, legs crossed as the hem of her dress rode up suggestively, showing a smooth pale thigh. It wasn't the first time it occurred to him that she was beautiful.

And he just could not erase the memory of the pain he had so callously caused her. He was seriously fucked up, he knew.

His eyes were starting to glaze over from the loss of blood leaking from his shoulder and the thin stream of liquid that trickled down his face. He blinked rapidly against the burning in his eyes and he looked up, seeing not the electric wires traversing across the city, but the lush green of trees on a windy day, someplace in the time of his past.

For a fleeting moment, he thought about how easy it would be to just let it all end here and now.

Is this all that's left? He laughed mirthlessly at what the authorities would think when they found the infamous Spike Spiegel, dead in an alleyway by his own hand. What a fitting end to an otherwise stellar life of crime.

Her image had come to his mind many times in the past six months; the sheen of dark hair brushing across a soft, pale cheek, her face displaying a wistful innocence that she kept hidden unless she was alone, smoking or staring out the porthole into space.

That was the image that appeared before he blacked out; it was that image that prompted him to call Ronald at the Glowing Sun before everything went dark.

***

"Spike!"

Faye shoots up in bed as she is jolted awake. She looks around blindly for Spike until she realizes that it had been just a dream, more like a nightmare. She tries to recall exactly what had happened before she woke up but all she can remember is a hazy dark scene, with dead bodies strewn across the ground, and one of the bodies was Spike's.

But the most disturbing part, the part that bothers her the most, was that the bullet through his brain had been put there by the gun in his hand.

She doesn't know how she knows, but she does. It's as though she can see inside of him, hear his thoughts, feel his guilt.

She swings her feet to the floor, standing in place for several minutes as she tries to shake off the feeling of unease.

"Spike," she whispers. "Where are you?"

She lays down again and presses her cheek against the pillow, and she closes her eyes against the tears, wondering if she can find some way for it not to hurt so much.

***

As consciousness returned, the muffled sound of voices drifted to his ears and he opened his eyes. Then he became aware of two things: the light hurt like hell, and he had a blinding headache that made him want to puke. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to identity of the voices speaking softly in the room.

"… lost a lot of blood … blood type … O negative … two ccs …"

"Where - find … ambushed …"

The smell of ether and the beep of machinery told him that he was probably in hospital.

Here we go again.

The flicker of a smile flashed across his mind, but his heart sank as he realized that he had cheated death yet again. He was finding it hard to remember what had been his last thought before he blacked out.

I - I can't - goddamn it – why can't I remember?

He struggled to open his eyes again, focused on the blurry figures near the bed instead of the pain that was nearly splitting his skull apart. He lifted an arm to rub his head, but was stopped short by the device pinning his arm to the bed.

At the rustling of the sheet, the voices stopped, realizing that he was awake. He could see one of the figures moving towards the bed, accompanied by the smell of flowers.

Faye.
vettac: (Default)
Silent Blues

Been far away for far too long
So far away, so far away


The bullet slammed into his shoulder, and he struggled to hold onto his Jericho as the pain blindsided him. He fired off rounds with the gun in his left hand, until all three gunmen lay dead on the pavement.

He slumped against the building, sliding down until his bottom hit the ground, breathing heavily as he waited for the pain to subside. He had not planned on coming so close to dying today. But, at least he could say that he had achieved his goal.

As he gazed over at the three bodies, an overwhelming exhaustion washing over him. He was coming to the realization that the chains he had built around his heart was not as strong as he had thought; a certain purple-haired femme fatale held the key.

The first time it occurred to him was when he had walked into the Glowing Sun to see her sitting on that bar stool, legs crossed as the hem of her dress rode up suggestively, showing a smooth pale thigh. It wasn't the first time it occurred to him that she was beautiful.

And he just could not erase the memory of the pain he had so callously caused her. He was seriously fucked up, he knew.

His eyes were starting to glaze over from the loss of blood leaking from his shoulder and the thin stream of liquid that trickled down his face. He blinked rapidly against the burning in his eyes and he looked up, seeing not the electric wires traversing across the city, but the lush green of trees on a windy day, someplace in the time of his past.

For a fleeting moment, he thought about how easy it would be to just let it all end here and now.

Is this all that's left? He laughed mirthlessly at what the authorities would think when they found the infamous Spike Spiegel, dead in an alleyway by his own hand. What a fitting end to an otherwise stellar life of crime.

Her image had come to his mind many times in the past six months; the sheen of dark hair brushing across a soft, pale cheek, her face displaying a wistful innocence that she kept hidden unless she was alone, smoking or staring out the porthole into space.

That was the image that appeared before he blacked out; it was that image that prompted him to call Ronald at the Glowing Sun before everything went dark.

***

"Spike!"

Faye shoots up in bed as she is jolted awake. She looks around blindly for Spike until she realizes that it had been just a dream, more like a nightmare. She tries to recall exactly what had happened before she woke up but all she can remember is a hazy dark scene, with dead bodies strewn across the ground, and one of the bodies was Spike's.

But the most disturbing part, the part that bothers her the most, was that the bullet through his brain had been put there by the gun in his hand.

She doesn't know how she knows, but she does. It's as though she can see inside of him, hear his thoughts, feel his guilt.

She swings her feet to the floor, standing in place for several minutes as she tries to shake off the feeling of unease.

"Spike," she whispers. "Where are you?"

She lays down again and presses her cheek against the pillow, and she closes her eyes against the tears, wondering if she can find some way for it not to hurt so much.

***

As consciousness returned, the muffled sound of voices drifted to his ears and he opened his eyes. Then he became aware of two things: the light hurt like hell, and he had a blinding headache that made him want to puke. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to identity of the voices speaking softly in the room.

"… lost a lot of blood … blood type … O negative … two ccs …"

"Where - find … ambushed …"

The smell of ether and the beep of machinery told him that he was probably in hospital.

Here we go again.

The flicker of a smile flashed across his mind, but his heart sank as he realized that he had cheated death yet again. He was finding it hard to remember what had been his last thought before he blacked out.

I - I can't - goddamn it – why can't I remember?

He struggled to open his eyes again, focused on the blurry figures near the bed instead of the pain that was nearly splitting his skull apart. He lifted an arm to rub his head, but was stopped short by the device pinning his arm to the bed.

At the rustling of the sheet, the voices stopped, realizing that he was awake. He could see one of the figures moving towards the bed, accompanied by the smell of flowers.

Faye.
vettac: (Default)

Another Time, Another Place

Show me what it's like
To be the last one standing
And teach me wrong from right
And I'll show you what I can be
Say it for me
Say it to me
And I'll leave this life behind me
Say it if it's worth saving me

 

The drone of the vidscreen alerted him to the fact that he had fallen asleep in front of it. It had been a few days since his last job, and he was tired of waiting. Normally, the jobs came in fast and furious, leaving him little time to dwell on anything except for the basics of living: eat, shower, sleep, play pool, sleep. Having too much idle time was driving him a little insane, and for a fleeting moment, he regretted that the Swordfish was housed on Earth instead of with him here on Mars. Even his familiar prostrate position on the couch was beginning to annoy him.

 

From the window came the sound of rain pelting heavily against the glass. He hated rain. He could hear the murmur of voices, the squeak of mattress springs from the apartment next to his through the paper-thin walls. He knew what was coming next; he turned up the volume on the vidscreen to muffle the sound, and reached down beside the couch to pick up the paperback book that lay on the floor.

 

Spike opened his book and looked at the yellowed cover wearily. On the cover was a picture of a tall, long-legged kid with a lopsided grin and the clear eyes of a dreamer. The picture reminded him of a younger version of himself, long ago. He closed the book and picked up the pack of cigarettes lying on the coffee table.

 

He picked up the cigarette pack lying on the coffee table, groaning when he opened the box to find it empty. He stood up slowly, stretching his long limbs into action and walked into the kitchen. He picked up his shirt from the chair and shrugged into it, leaving the buttons undone. His eyes scanned the room, lighting on the faded Bruce Lee poster taped on the wall.

 

He trudged down the hallway to the bathroom. He clicked on the light, relieved himself, aiming a line across the rim of the bowl in a moment of childish play. He walked slowly back into the living room to finish getting dressed, lost in thought.

 

There is one thing I will never understand … ...and that one thing....is women. I love them like I love meat in my bell peppers. They smell good. They look nice, they sound nice. They feel nice … but I don't understand them.

 

His thoughts were interrupted by the ring of the communicator. He picked it up from the coffee table and looked at the screen as Ronald's face came into view.

 

“Yo.”

 

“Got something for you.”

 

Spike listened impassively as Ronald gave him the rundown.

 

“How much?”

 

“Two hundred million.”

 

Spike pondered for a moment the high figure. The job would be more difficult than the usual ones. Not that he really cared, it wasn't as if he really needed the money, he had more than enough money already that he didn't use. And he was starting to believe that nothing could kill him.

 

“So, you in?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

He disconnected the call. He trudged into the kitchen to grab his jacket hanging over the kitchen chair. He donned the jacket, checking his pockets for his keys before letting himself out of the apartment. He needed to replenish his nicotine.

 

As he headed down the darkened hallway towards the stairwell, Wanda, the young girl who lived in the apartment a couple of doors down from his, was coming in the opposite direction. She almost bumped into him, but she stopped short.

 

“Hey, Spike.” She leaned up against the wall, eyeing him. Her dark brown hair was freshly spiked and adorned with purple streaks.

 

“Yo.” Spike glanced down at her. She was wearing a tank top and short leather skirt that were so tight he couldn't figure out how she could even breathe. Kind of reminded him of someone else.

 

You're prowlin' around kinda late, aren't you?” She gave him a sultry smile.

 

“Guess so,” he mumbled. “Needed smokes.”

 

Wanda extended her arm, offering him her pack.

 

“Thanks.” He took one from her pack and handed them back to her.

 

He reached into his pocket for a light. He had long since misplaced his lighter, and he suspected that it was now in the possession of one Faye Valentine. A match flared along the side of a red matchbook as he lit the cigarette, the yellow light flashing metallic silver through his cybernetic eye, making him look dark and menacing.

 

“Want some company?” she asked seductively, ignoring the look. She had been trying in a variety of ways, to get into his pants. A few times he had been tempted to take her up on her offer, to erase the memory of the last time he'd been with a woman.

 

He realized that he had been staring. He shook his head and pulled his eyes away, looking down at the cigarette in his hand.

 

“Nah,” he said. “Got things to do.”

 

“Too bad.” Wanda smiled. “I could show you a real good time.”

 

“Some other time maybe,” he said as he dropped the spent cigarette to the ground, crushing it beneath his boot. As he turned to walk away, he felt her hand on his arm. He whirled around and snatched her wrist roughly as he slammed her against the wall.

 

“Don't ever touch me,” he said furiously, his eyes blazing.

 

Wanda's eyes widened in fear at his sudden violence. He let go of her abruptly and turned around, heading back towards the entrance to the stairwell. He pulled open the door and started quickly down the stairs and outside into the rain, another cigarette clenched between his teeth and the smell of Wanda's fear up his nostrils.

 

* * *

By the time Spike reached the Glowing Sun, his jacket was soaked, and his fresh pack of cigarettes were sodden, putting him in a foul mood. He headed to the bar and sat down, waiting for the bartender, who was down at the other end of the bar chatting with a couple of regulars. Finally Ronald came down to him.

 

“The usual?”

 

“Yeah. Any messages?”

 

Ronald shook his head and went to shake up the martini.

 

Spike swallowed his disappointment and glanced around the room. In addition to the regulars, there were a number of unfamiliar faces, which usually indicated that some syndicate activity was in progress. Now he knew that the reason behind the quiet of the past few days – the calm before a brewing storm.

 

Ronald returned and set down his drink on the bar. Spike furtively slid the white sheet of paper from under the glass, palming it in his first. He took a long sip from the glass while reading the contents of the note, then looked at Ronald and nodded. Ronald acknowledged his assent and disappeared momentarily to the storeroom. When he returned he looked at Spike, who drained his glass and asked for a refill.

 

* * *


After his third drink, Spike stood up.

 

“You heading out?” Ronald called.

 

“Yeah,” Spike responded, sliding his arms into his jacket. “Later.” He waved a greeting as he headed out the door.

 

He stopped under the archway to light his cigarette. The rain fell in pelting sheets, casting a dreary gloom over the city. He leaned against the overhang as he watched the people rushing past, protected by umbrellas threatening to spear whoever got too close, others with their jackets over the heads as an ineffective shield against the soaking rain.

 

He took a deep drag and exhaled, trying to shake off his melancholy. In the back of his mind he had hoped that maybe, just maybe, she would be sitting at the bar with her legs crossed, sipping her drink and pretending not to know that every set of eyes was on her.

 

He was angry with himself for believing that this time there would be a message from her. But it had already been six months, and it was becoming pretty obvious that she had meant every word she'd said to him. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jacket and headed towards home.

 

The past is the past, and nothing that has already happened can be changed.

 

The only thing left for him to do was to forget the past and move on. But he could not imagine what the rest of his life would be without the things with which he was familiar

 

A world without the Red Dragons family.

 

A world without the woman of his dreams, before the dream turned to ashes.

 

A world without the second chance at life that he had thrown away in a moment of weakness.

 

In the distance the roar of a heavy engine broke through his thoughts. He looked up to see a heavy armored ship pierce through the clouds of the heavy atmosphere. He squinted, trying to make out the lettering on the hull.

 

He didn't want to remember what had happened between them.

 

He wondered if she would have come looking for him if she had known the type of person that he turned into. That he had always been.

 

He had seen it in her eyes. She saw him for what he was, a cold and unfeeling, cruel monster, and with every accusation he found himself shutting down by degrees; it had taken every ounce of concentration to keep his uncaring mask in place.

 

And then out of frustration, probably from his seeming lack of caring, she had cried, silent tears that never fell. For the second time since he'd known her, he'd driven her to tears. The first time was when he'd walked away from the Bebop, sure never to see the ship or his comrades ever again in this life. This time, though … Spike shifted his position against the doorway as a familiar feeling welled up inside of him, a vague itch just out of reach, and he struggled to keep it buried.

 

Goddamn that woman, he thought, brutally crushing out his cigarette with the tip of his boot.

 

He immediately pulled out another and with shaking fingers lit up and smoked furiously, using the smoke to keep his throat from closing up. From deep within, the familiar feeling reached the surface, and he was assaulted with the feeling of being alone in the world, when he was too young to even reach the top of the counter at Annie's shop. It was Annie who had rescued him then when he had no one else in the universe to turn to.

 

He wondered who could save him now.

 

another gun for hire and just another day
when you are done, you just abuse it, whatever you say
if you were offered some, would you wanna bite the hand?
would you betray a friend to prove you're cold then walk away?

 

* * *


A few days later, preparations complete, he was back on the streets of Tharsis, following up on a tip that would lead him to his target.

 

Dr. Nathan Swami, head surgeon of one the largest biotech firms on Mars, headquartered in Tharsis City. Dr. Swami was a purveyor of human organs, sold to the highest bidder, and his price included acquisition and installation of the organs to the winner of the bid war. Unfortunately for him, his last surgery, replacement of kidneys in the body of the twelve year old daughter of a well known socialite, were taken from the son of one of the Yellow Tail syndicate's highest ranking officers. And the word on the street was that the boy had been killed expressly for his kidneys, which were a perfect match for little Christina.

 

He reached the Destitute Fish Tavern, jammed between a porno theater and an electronics shop. There was a meanness about the place, even in the buzz of the blinking neon sign, bright red in the shape of a carnivorous fish. Spike paused for a moment, his eyes scanning over the motorcycles parked in front of the place. No one in Tharsis could afford bikes, especially ones as big as these were, unless they were independently rich or employed by the syndicates. He grinned to himself. He was in the right place.

 

The bike owners were big, husky men, and they were wearing black jackets that identified them as members of the White Triad gang. They looked up from their beers as he walked inside.

 

The music was blaringly loud, pounding heavily from the ceiling mounted speakers, and on a small stage a thin blonde girl in a G-string gyrated mechanically to the beat. A few other patrons watched the girl as the topless waitresses wandered around with trays of beers. Spike went to the bar, where the bartender, an emaciated man with scarred skin was pouring a new pitcher of brews. He stared at him warily as Spike slid onto a stool.

 

“Give me a draft beer.”

 

The bartender silently lifted a mug from the shelf and set it under the tap, waiting as it filled to the top.

 

“I'm looking for someone,” Spike said.

 

“You're in the wrong joint,” the bartender answered. “Nobody knows nothing here. Try the Rusty Nail, over on Selma.”

 

Spike scowled impatiently. “I'm looking for a man who might have come in here earlier.”

 

“I serve beer and liquor, not lonely-hearts-club news. Take a hike, buddy.”

 

Spike looked down at the bar counter where a bowl full of Destitute Fish matchbooks sat, and he reached in to pocket a few. He reached into his pocket to pull out a digitized picture of a pale skinned, dark haired man who looked to be in his late forties. “Have you seen anybody who---”

 

A hand grasped his shoulder and swung him around. Two of the bikers had crowded in behind him as the others watched from their table. The dancer on the stage had paused in her dancing to watch. A brown-bearded face with cruel blue eyes and wearing a necklace of rusty razor blades, peered into Spike's face. Spike eyed him impassively.

 

Great, another wiseass, he thought to himself. This was supposed to be a quick trip out, to get a cold beer and a little info so that he could get back to his pointless life. He had no patience for idiots who tried to push their weight around ... it was time to let him know who was in control here.

 

“Go play in someone else's sandbox,” he said in a bored tone, but he kept his eyes on the biker's friends.

 

The biker took a menacing step towards him. “And if I don't?”

 

Spike looked around, his eyes stopping at a table where a drunk was sitting surrounded by empty beer mugs. “Excuse me,” he said and lifted an empty mug off the table. Then he cocked his arm back, took aim, and called out, “Hey, Bikerman!”

 

The biker's head swiveled toward him, eyes flashing with anger.

 

Spike threw the beer mug, and it sailed through the air. The biker lifted his hand to ward it off, but he was too late. The mug hit him between the eyes, didn't shatter but made a satisfying clunking sound against his skull. He took two steps forward and one step back, his eyes rolled to show the bloodshot whites, and he fell like a tree trunk.

 

“Sonofabitch!” one of the bikers friends said as he watched his friend fall. Then his face darkened like a storm cloud and he started toward Spike with two other bikers right behind him.

Spike stood firm and relaxed, his hands at his sides. He was itching to kick some ass and flow like water through the goons in front of him. He let them get within ten feet, and then he said in a calm voice, “Are you ready to join your friend?”

 

The one with the brown beard stopped as if he'd run into an invisible wall. One of the others ran into him and bounced off. “Huh?

 

The other man stared at it and blinked uncertainly. “Who...who the hell are you?”

 

“Spike Spiegel.”

 

“I've heard of you before, haven't I?”

 

“Yes,” Spike answered, a look of quiet menace on his face. “You probably have.”

 

One of the bikers whispered something in his ear, and the man frowned slightly before stepping back and following his friends out the front door.

 

As the sounds of their roaring motorcycles faded away, Spike glanced at the bartender who was wiping down the counter, his face blank. Spike smirked and walked over to the bar and picked up his mug of beer. He took a long sip, wiping the froth from his lip with his tongue before setting the mug back down.

 

“I've seen him. The guy you're after.”

 

Spike abruptly stopped and turned to face the bartender.

 

“He was in here maybe two, three hours ago.”

 

“Do you know where he works?”

 

“Gabba Rocks Corporation, over on the other side of the freeway. He comes in here a couple of times a week.” He stopped wiping and lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “What do you want with him?”

 

Spike picked up the mug of beer and finished it up. He knew about men like Swami,

 

“Thanks for the scoop.” He started toward the door with a wave of his hand.

 

Spike left the tavern and started walking east along the boulevard. The cabstand was just ahead, and a cab was there, engine running. A kid in jeans and a black leather jacket leaned against the hood; he was rail-thin, his head shaved bald displaying a tattoo in the shape of an ankh on his scalp.

 

“You've got a fare, kid,” he said, sliding his long legs in. “Move it!”

 

The kid said, “I'm waiting for---”

 

“Your wait's over,” Spike interrupted. “Come on, I don't have all night.”

 

The kid shrugged, his eyes vacant and disinterested, and got behind the wheel. As soon as Spike was in, the kid shot away from the curb with a shriek of burning rubber and entered the flow of the westbound traffic.

 

“I want to go to the Gabba Rocks Corporation,” Spike told him. “You know where that is?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Well, you're going the wrong way. And start your meter, unless I'm going to ride for free.”

 

“Oh, yeah.” He pressed the start button and the mechanism started ticking. “You want to go east, huh?” he asked. And without warning he spun the wheel violently, throwing Spike up against the cab's side, and the vehicle careened in a tight U-turn that narrowly missed a collision with another taxi. Horns blared and tires screeched, but the kid swerved into the eastbound lane without a care. Spike heard the whine of a siren and glanced back.

 

“Real smart move kid,” he sighed. “You just got an escort.”

 

The kid looked in the rearview mirror and shrugged.

 

“Lose him,” Spike told him impatiently.

 

The kid laughed. “You got it.” The cab surged ahead as the cabbie floored the gas, and Spike was pressed to the seat from the velocity, holding onto the door handle for leverage.

 

“Excellent.” He grinned to himself.

 

* * *

 

Spike could see the sign for the Gabba Rocks Corporation up ahead.

 

“Stop here,” he commanded.

 

The car skidded to a halt a block away from the building. Spike handed his money card over, and the cabbie's eyes widened when he saw the amount that he was being paid.

“Hey man, thanks,” he said, handing Spike the card.

 

Spike got out, slamming the door shut. The cab sped off, burning rubber.

 

He headed towards the building, every fiber in his body on alert as he surveyed the area. He estimated that he would make it to the building in about four minutes. He glanced over at the other side of the street, looking for tell tale signs of the bodyguards that would be fanned out across the area, a wide scan of protection for his target. He laughed to himself, knowing that all the body guards in the world would not be able to protect the target from him.

 

Spike's ears perked up as he surveyed the odd number of black-suited men in dark glasses. His face expressionless, he slowed his pace and casually pulled out his pack of cigarettes, lighting the end as his cybernetic eye recorded the positions of each one of them. He played out the moves in his mind as he smoked. The suit covering flank was a huge brute, but, judging by the way he stood, seemed to be slightly favoring his left side, which Spike surmised from a previous injury.

 

As he got closer, the first of the bodyguards walked towards him, something shining silver in his hand. Spike braced himself as the knife flashed up in his face, and he blocked, stumbling slightly as a fist swung into his face, landing hard on his jaw. His head snapped back and he saw stars, tasting blood in his mouth. His fury aroused, he lunged for the man's throat, his knee snapping up into his groin.

 

Fifteen minutes later, he had taken down all five of them, and as he stepped over their bodies, he couldn't help but feel contempt for these goons and those like them who blindly followed the orders of their organization without question.

 

He walked through the lobby of the building towards the receptionist, rubbing his sore jaw ruefully.

 

“How may I assist you?” the girl asked, a crimson blush on her cheeks as Spike smiled at her.

 

“I have an appointment at two with Dr Swami,” he told her, leaning against the desk as he waited for her to respond.

“Your name?”

 

“Joseph Spiegel.”

 

She frowned as she looked down at her appointment book entries.

 

“I'm sorry, Mr. Spiegel, but I don't see your name in the book.

 

Spike cocked his head to the side and leaned forward to rest his arms on the desk. “That's odd, Nathan said that he would fit me in at two. I'm sure he's expecting me.” He gave the girl a puzzled smile.

 

The receptionist looked up at him doubtfully. “Well, if you're sure … “ She reached below the desk to buzz him in.

 

Spike smiled at her. “Thanks, love.” He strode purposefully to the double doors that led to Dr. Swami's office.

 

A few short minutes, he was leaving the office. He calmly removed the silencer from the gun and replaced them both in his jacket. He walked out to the receptionist, waving a goodbye as he left the building.

 

* * *

 

Spike pulled his jacket closer as he walked down the crowded street through the throngs of people revving up for an evening of partying. Spike recalled once being part of such a crowd, when he and other young and fearless associates would spend the night drinking and partying after a troublesome or bloody mission. It was during that time that he'd discovered the magic curing properties of the Prairie Oyster.

 

The noise and lights of Alba Boulevard burned in his ears, reminding him of walking these same streets as a kid. He was well acquainted with the shadows that lay at the fringes of these streets, and of the danger lurking in the shadows. His senses were on full alert as he continued his journey, cars and taxis zipping past honking obscenely at the brave souls who dared to cross the street in front of them. As he reached the street corner, a prostitute jiggled her wares as she beckoned to him. He kept his eyes straight ahead.

 

Out of the corner of his eye a flash of yellow and he turned quickly to look. A woman dressed in a yellow sundress and holding the hand of a little girl passed him. For a split second he had expected someone else, a woman in a tiny yellow outfit with a brazen attitude. It surprised him to realize that he was disappointed that it wasn't her.

 

I need you to forgive me.

 

He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat and fumbled in his jacket for his pack, his hands shaking slightly as he lifted one out with his lips. He gripped the Zippo tightly as he held the flame to the cigarette. He inhaled fiercely and held his breath for a few seconds longer than necessary before letting out the smoke. He refused to believe that the burning in his eyes had to do with anything other than the smoke from his cigarette.

 

I miss you.

 

Journey's end.

 

Well, almost.

 

vettac: (Default)

Another Time, Another Place

Show me what it's like
To be the last one standing
And teach me wrong from right
And I'll show you what I can be
Say it for me
Say it to me
And I'll leave this life behind me
Say it if it's worth saving me

 

The drone of the vidscreen alerted him to the fact that he had fallen asleep in front of it. It had been a few days since his last job, and he was tired of waiting. Normally, the jobs came in fast and furious, leaving him little time to dwell on anything except for the basics of living: eat, shower, sleep, play pool, sleep. Having too much idle time was driving him a little insane, and for a fleeting moment, he regretted that the Swordfish was housed on Earth instead of with him here on Mars. Even his familiar prostrate position on the couch was beginning to annoy him.

 

From the window came the sound of rain pelting heavily against the glass. He hated rain. He could hear the murmur of voices, the squeak of mattress springs from the apartment next to his through the paper-thin walls. He knew what was coming next; he turned up the volume on the vidscreen to muffle the sound, and reached down beside the couch to pick up the paperback book that lay on the floor.

 

Spike opened his book and looked at the yellowed cover wearily. On the cover was a picture of a tall, long-legged kid with a lopsided grin and the clear eyes of a dreamer. The picture reminded him of a younger version of himself, long ago. He closed the book and picked up the pack of cigarettes lying on the coffee table.

 

He picked up the cigarette pack lying on the coffee table, groaning when he opened the box to find it empty. He stood up slowly, stretching his long limbs into action and walked into the kitchen. He picked up his shirt from the chair and shrugged into it, leaving the buttons undone. His eyes scanned the room, lighting on the faded Bruce Lee poster taped on the wall.

 

He trudged down the hallway to the bathroom. He clicked on the light, relieved himself, aiming a line across the rim of the bowl in a moment of childish play. He walked slowly back into the living room to finish getting dressed, lost in thought.

 

There is one thing I will never understand … ...and that one thing....is women. I love them like I love meat in my bell peppers. They smell good. They look nice, they sound nice. They feel nice … but I don't understand them.

 

His thoughts were interrupted by the ring of the communicator. He picked it up from the coffee table and looked at the screen as Ronald's face came into view.

 

“Yo.”

 

“Got something for you.”

 

Spike listened impassively as Ronald gave him the rundown.

 

“How much?”

 

“Two hundred million.”

 

Spike pondered for a moment the high figure. The job would be more difficult than the usual ones. Not that he really cared, it wasn't as if he really needed the money, he had more than enough money already that he didn't use. And he was starting to believe that nothing could kill him.

 

“So, you in?”

 

“Yeah.”

 

He disconnected the call. He trudged into the kitchen to grab his jacket hanging over the kitchen chair. He donned the jacket, checking his pockets for his keys before letting himself out of the apartment. He needed to replenish his nicotine.

 

As he headed down the darkened hallway towards the stairwell, Wanda, the young girl who lived in the apartment a couple of doors down from his, was coming in the opposite direction. She almost bumped into him, but she stopped short.

 

“Hey, Spike.” She leaned up against the wall, eyeing him. Her dark brown hair was freshly spiked and adorned with purple streaks.

 

“Yo.” Spike glanced down at her. She was wearing a tank top and short leather skirt that were so tight he couldn't figure out how she could even breathe. Kind of reminded him of someone else.

 

You're prowlin' around kinda late, aren't you?” She gave him a sultry smile.

 

“Guess so,” he mumbled. “Needed smokes.”

 

Wanda extended her arm, offering him her pack.

 

“Thanks.” He took one from her pack and handed them back to her.

 

He reached into his pocket for a light. He had long since misplaced his lighter, and he suspected that it was now in the possession of one Faye Valentine. A match flared along the side of a red matchbook as he lit the cigarette, the yellow light flashing metallic silver through his cybernetic eye, making him look dark and menacing.

 

“Want some company?” she asked seductively, ignoring the look. She had been trying in a variety of ways, to get into his pants. A few times he had been tempted to take her up on her offer, to erase the memory of the last time he'd been with a woman.

 

He realized that he had been staring. He shook his head and pulled his eyes away, looking down at the cigarette in his hand.

 

“Nah,” he said. “Got things to do.”

 

“Too bad.” Wanda smiled. “I could show you a real good time.”

 

“Some other time maybe,” he said as he dropped the spent cigarette to the ground, crushing it beneath his boot. As he turned to walk away, he felt her hand on his arm. He whirled around and snatched her wrist roughly as he slammed her against the wall.

 

“Don't ever touch me,” he said furiously, his eyes blazing.

 

Wanda's eyes widened in fear at his sudden violence. He let go of her abruptly and turned around, heading back towards the entrance to the stairwell. He pulled open the door and started quickly down the stairs and outside into the rain, another cigarette clenched between his teeth and the smell of Wanda's fear up his nostrils.

 

* * *

By the time Spike reached the Glowing Sun, his jacket was soaked, and his fresh pack of cigarettes were sodden, putting him in a foul mood. He headed to the bar and sat down, waiting for the bartender, who was down at the other end of the bar chatting with a couple of regulars. Finally Ronald came down to him.

 

“The usual?”

 

“Yeah. Any messages?”

 

Ronald shook his head and went to shake up the martini.

 

Spike swallowed his disappointment and glanced around the room. In addition to the regulars, there were a number of unfamiliar faces, which usually indicated that some syndicate activity was in progress. Now he knew that the reason behind the quiet of the past few days – the calm before a brewing storm.

 

Ronald returned and set down his drink on the bar. Spike furtively slid the white sheet of paper from under the glass, palming it in his first. He took a long sip from the glass while reading the contents of the note, then looked at Ronald and nodded. Ronald acknowledged his assent and disappeared momentarily to the storeroom. When he returned he looked at Spike, who drained his glass and asked for a refill.

 

* * *


After his third drink, Spike stood up.

 

“You heading out?” Ronald called.

 

“Yeah,” Spike responded, sliding his arms into his jacket. “Later.” He waved a greeting as he headed out the door.

 

He stopped under the archway to light his cigarette. The rain fell in pelting sheets, casting a dreary gloom over the city. He leaned against the overhang as he watched the people rushing past, protected by umbrellas threatening to spear whoever got too close, others with their jackets over the heads as an ineffective shield against the soaking rain.

 

He took a deep drag and exhaled, trying to shake off his melancholy. In the back of his mind he had hoped that maybe, just maybe, she would be sitting at the bar with her legs crossed, sipping her drink and pretending not to know that every set of eyes was on her.

 

He was angry with himself for believing that this time there would be a message from her. But it had already been six months, and it was becoming pretty obvious that she had meant every word she'd said to him. He stuffed his hands in the pockets of his jacket and headed towards home.

 

The past is the past, and nothing that has already happened can be changed.

 

The only thing left for him to do was to forget the past and move on. But he could not imagine what the rest of his life would be without the things with which he was familiar

 

A world without the Red Dragons family.

 

A world without the woman of his dreams, before the dream turned to ashes.

 

A world without the second chance at life that he had thrown away in a moment of weakness.

 

In the distance the roar of a heavy engine broke through his thoughts. He looked up to see a heavy armored ship pierce through the clouds of the heavy atmosphere. He squinted, trying to make out the lettering on the hull.

 

He didn't want to remember what had happened between them.

 

He wondered if she would have come looking for him if she had known the type of person that he turned into. That he had always been.

 

He had seen it in her eyes. She saw him for what he was, a cold and unfeeling, cruel monster, and with every accusation he found himself shutting down by degrees; it had taken every ounce of concentration to keep his uncaring mask in place.

 

And then out of frustration, probably from his seeming lack of caring, she had cried, silent tears that never fell. For the second time since he'd known her, he'd driven her to tears. The first time was when he'd walked away from the Bebop, sure never to see the ship or his comrades ever again in this life. This time, though … Spike shifted his position against the doorway as a familiar feeling welled up inside of him, a vague itch just out of reach, and he struggled to keep it buried.

 

Goddamn that woman, he thought, brutally crushing out his cigarette with the tip of his boot.

 

He immediately pulled out another and with shaking fingers lit up and smoked furiously, using the smoke to keep his throat from closing up. From deep within, the familiar feeling reached the surface, and he was assaulted with the feeling of being alone in the world, when he was too young to even reach the top of the counter at Annie's shop. It was Annie who had rescued him then when he had no one else in the universe to turn to.

 

He wondered who could save him now.

 

another gun for hire and just another day
when you are done, you just abuse it, whatever you say
if you were offered some, would you wanna bite the hand?
would you betray a friend to prove you're cold then walk away?

 

* * *


A few days later, preparations complete, he was back on the streets of Tharsis, following up on a tip that would lead him to his target.

 

Dr. Nathan Swami, head surgeon of one the largest biotech firms on Mars, headquartered in Tharsis City. Dr. Swami was a purveyor of human organs, sold to the highest bidder, and his price included acquisition and installation of the organs to the winner of the bid war. Unfortunately for him, his last surgery, replacement of kidneys in the body of the twelve year old daughter of a well known socialite, were taken from the son of one of the Yellow Tail syndicate's highest ranking officers. And the word on the street was that the boy had been killed expressly for his kidneys, which were a perfect match for little Christina.

 

He reached the Destitute Fish Tavern, jammed between a porno theater and an electronics shop. There was a meanness about the place, even in the buzz of the blinking neon sign, bright red in the shape of a carnivorous fish. Spike paused for a moment, his eyes scanning over the motorcycles parked in front of the place. No one in Tharsis could afford bikes, especially ones as big as these were, unless they were independently rich or employed by the syndicates. He grinned to himself. He was in the right place.

 

The bike owners were big, husky men, and they were wearing black jackets that identified them as members of the White Triad gang. They looked up from their beers as he walked inside.

 

The music was blaringly loud, pounding heavily from the ceiling mounted speakers, and on a small stage a thin blonde girl in a G-string gyrated mechanically to the beat. A few other patrons watched the girl as the topless waitresses wandered around with trays of beers. Spike went to the bar, where the bartender, an emaciated man with scarred skin was pouring a new pitcher of brews. He stared at him warily as Spike slid onto a stool.

 

“Give me a draft beer.”

 

The bartender silently lifted a mug from the shelf and set it under the tap, waiting as it filled to the top.

 

“I'm looking for someone,” Spike said.

 

“You're in the wrong joint,” the bartender answered. “Nobody knows nothing here. Try the Rusty Nail, over on Selma.”

 

Spike scowled impatiently. “I'm looking for a man who might have come in here earlier.”

 

“I serve beer and liquor, not lonely-hearts-club news. Take a hike, buddy.”

 

Spike looked down at the bar counter where a bowl full of Destitute Fish matchbooks sat, and he reached in to pocket a few. He reached into his pocket to pull out a digitized picture of a pale skinned, dark haired man who looked to be in his late forties. “Have you seen anybody who---”

 

A hand grasped his shoulder and swung him around. Two of the bikers had crowded in behind him as the others watched from their table. The dancer on the stage had paused in her dancing to watch. A brown-bearded face with cruel blue eyes and wearing a necklace of rusty razor blades, peered into Spike's face. Spike eyed him impassively.

 

Great, another wiseass, he thought to himself. This was supposed to be a quick trip out, to get a cold beer and a little info so that he could get back to his pointless life. He had no patience for idiots who tried to push their weight around ... it was time to let him know who was in control here.

 

“Go play in someone else's sandbox,” he said in a bored tone, but he kept his eyes on the biker's friends.

 

The biker took a menacing step towards him. “And if I don't?”

 

Spike looked around, his eyes stopping at a table where a drunk was sitting surrounded by empty beer mugs. “Excuse me,” he said and lifted an empty mug off the table. Then he cocked his arm back, took aim, and called out, “Hey, Bikerman!”

 

The biker's head swiveled toward him, eyes flashing with anger.

 

Spike threw the beer mug, and it sailed through the air. The biker lifted his hand to ward it off, but he was too late. The mug hit him between the eyes, didn't shatter but made a satisfying clunking sound against his skull. He took two steps forward and one step back, his eyes rolled to show the bloodshot whites, and he fell like a tree trunk.

 

“Sonofabitch!” one of the bikers friends said as he watched his friend fall. Then his face darkened like a storm cloud and he started toward Spike with two other bikers right behind him.

Spike stood firm and relaxed, his hands at his sides. He was itching to kick some ass and flow like water through the goons in front of him. He let them get within ten feet, and then he said in a calm voice, “Are you ready to join your friend?”

 

The one with the brown beard stopped as if he'd run into an invisible wall. One of the others ran into him and bounced off. “Huh?

 

The other man stared at it and blinked uncertainly. “Who...who the hell are you?”

 

“Spike Spiegel.”

 

“I've heard of you before, haven't I?”

 

“Yes,” Spike answered, a look of quiet menace on his face. “You probably have.”

 

One of the bikers whispered something in his ear, and the man frowned slightly before stepping back and following his friends out the front door.

 

As the sounds of their roaring motorcycles faded away, Spike glanced at the bartender who was wiping down the counter, his face blank. Spike smirked and walked over to the bar and picked up his mug of beer. He took a long sip, wiping the froth from his lip with his tongue before setting the mug back down.

 

“I've seen him. The guy you're after.”

 

Spike abruptly stopped and turned to face the bartender.

 

“He was in here maybe two, three hours ago.”

 

“Do you know where he works?”

 

“Gabba Rocks Corporation, over on the other side of the freeway. He comes in here a couple of times a week.” He stopped wiping and lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “What do you want with him?”

 

Spike picked up the mug of beer and finished it up. He knew about men like Swami,

 

“Thanks for the scoop.” He started toward the door with a wave of his hand.

 

Spike left the tavern and started walking east along the boulevard. The cabstand was just ahead, and a cab was there, engine running. A kid in jeans and a black leather jacket leaned against the hood; he was rail-thin, his head shaved bald displaying a tattoo in the shape of an ankh on his scalp.

 

“You've got a fare, kid,” he said, sliding his long legs in. “Move it!”

 

The kid said, “I'm waiting for---”

 

“Your wait's over,” Spike interrupted. “Come on, I don't have all night.”

 

The kid shrugged, his eyes vacant and disinterested, and got behind the wheel. As soon as Spike was in, the kid shot away from the curb with a shriek of burning rubber and entered the flow of the westbound traffic.

 

“I want to go to the Gabba Rocks Corporation,” Spike told him. “You know where that is?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Well, you're going the wrong way. And start your meter, unless I'm going to ride for free.”

 

“Oh, yeah.” He pressed the start button and the mechanism started ticking. “You want to go east, huh?” he asked. And without warning he spun the wheel violently, throwing Spike up against the cab's side, and the vehicle careened in a tight U-turn that narrowly missed a collision with another taxi. Horns blared and tires screeched, but the kid swerved into the eastbound lane without a care. Spike heard the whine of a siren and glanced back.

 

“Real smart move kid,” he sighed. “You just got an escort.”

 

The kid looked in the rearview mirror and shrugged.

 

“Lose him,” Spike told him impatiently.

 

The kid laughed. “You got it.” The cab surged ahead as the cabbie floored the gas, and Spike was pressed to the seat from the velocity, holding onto the door handle for leverage.

 

“Excellent.” He grinned to himself.

 

* * *

 

Spike could see the sign for the Gabba Rocks Corporation up ahead.

 

“Stop here,” he commanded.

 

The car skidded to a halt a block away from the building. Spike handed his money card over, and the cabbie's eyes widened when he saw the amount that he was being paid.

“Hey man, thanks,” he said, handing Spike the card.

 

Spike got out, slamming the door shut. The cab sped off, burning rubber.

 

He headed towards the building, every fiber in his body on alert as he surveyed the area. He estimated that he would make it to the building in about four minutes. He glanced over at the other side of the street, looking for tell tale signs of the bodyguards that would be fanned out across the area, a wide scan of protection for his target. He laughed to himself, knowing that all the body guards in the world would not be able to protect the target from him.

 

Spike's ears perked up as he surveyed the odd number of black-suited men in dark glasses. His face expressionless, he slowed his pace and casually pulled out his pack of cigarettes, lighting the end as his cybernetic eye recorded the positions of each one of them. He played out the moves in his mind as he smoked. The suit covering flank was a huge brute, but, judging by the way he stood, seemed to be slightly favoring his left side, which Spike surmised from a previous injury.

 

As he got closer, the first of the bodyguards walked towards him, something shining silver in his hand. Spike braced himself as the knife flashed up in his face, and he blocked, stumbling slightly as a fist swung into his face, landing hard on his jaw. His head snapped back and he saw stars, tasting blood in his mouth. His fury aroused, he lunged for the man's throat, his knee snapping up into his groin.

 

Fifteen minutes later, he had taken down all five of them, and as he stepped over their bodies, he couldn't help but feel contempt for these goons and those like them who blindly followed the orders of their organization without question.

 

He walked through the lobby of the building towards the receptionist, rubbing his sore jaw ruefully.

 

“How may I assist you?” the girl asked, a crimson blush on her cheeks as Spike smiled at her.

 

“I have an appointment at two with Dr Swami,” he told her, leaning against the desk as he waited for her to respond.

“Your name?”

 

“Joseph Spiegel.”

 

She frowned as she looked down at her appointment book entries.

 

“I'm sorry, Mr. Spiegel, but I don't see your name in the book.

 

Spike cocked his head to the side and leaned forward to rest his arms on the desk. “That's odd, Nathan said that he would fit me in at two. I'm sure he's expecting me.” He gave the girl a puzzled smile.

 

The receptionist looked up at him doubtfully. “Well, if you're sure … “ She reached below the desk to buzz him in.

 

Spike smiled at her. “Thanks, love.” He strode purposefully to the double doors that led to Dr. Swami's office.

 

A few short minutes, he was leaving the office. He calmly removed the silencer from the gun and replaced them both in his jacket. He walked out to the receptionist, waving a goodbye as he left the building.

 

* * *

 

Spike pulled his jacket closer as he walked down the crowded street through the throngs of people revving up for an evening of partying. Spike recalled once being part of such a crowd, when he and other young and fearless associates would spend the night drinking and partying after a troublesome or bloody mission. It was during that time that he'd discovered the magic curing properties of the Prairie Oyster.

 

The noise and lights of Alba Boulevard burned in his ears, reminding him of walking these same streets as a kid. He was well acquainted with the shadows that lay at the fringes of these streets, and of the danger lurking in the shadows. His senses were on full alert as he continued his journey, cars and taxis zipping past honking obscenely at the brave souls who dared to cross the street in front of them. As he reached the street corner, a prostitute jiggled her wares as she beckoned to him. He kept his eyes straight ahead.

 

Out of the corner of his eye a flash of yellow and he turned quickly to look. A woman dressed in a yellow sundress and holding the hand of a little girl passed him. For a split second he had expected someone else, a woman in a tiny yellow outfit with a brazen attitude. It surprised him to realize that he was disappointed that it wasn't her.

 

I need you to forgive me.

 

He swallowed the sudden lump in his throat and fumbled in his jacket for his pack, his hands shaking slightly as he lifted one out with his lips. He gripped the Zippo tightly as he held the flame to the cigarette. He inhaled fiercely and held his breath for a few seconds longer than necessary before letting out the smoke. He refused to believe that the burning in his eyes had to do with anything other than the smoke from his cigarette.

 

I miss you.

 

Journey's end.

 

Well, almost.

 

vettac: (Default)
Disclaimer: I own neither Cowboy Bebop or any of the lyrics quoted herein.

Why I Have My Grandma's Sad Eyes by Kill Hannah

It started like this,
I was here right, standing leaning back,
My deer in the headlights look never fails
but hearing all the things that you said,
Cut me to the core, blew me away,
Like I got hit with a gunshot, like a bomb dropped,
Stabbed with a white hot knife in the heart,
While all these people still ask me
why I have my grandma's sad eyes.


Spike leaned against the side of the Swordfish, under the wing, hands in his pockets and a cigarette hanging from his mouth. He had needed some air, and even though there was a slight breeze, the oppressive heat of the Martian sun was impossible to escape. A strong gust swirled up, blowing smoke into his face. He welcomed the burning in his eyes as the image of Faye washed away along with the tear that rolled down his cheek. He took a hand from his pocket to discard the butt and swiped his face on his jacket sleeve as he pushed himself off from the ship.

After dinner earlier that evening, he had been simply minding his own damned business, watching Big Shots and debating whether a two hundred thousand woolong bounty was going to be worth his time and energy.

For some reason still unknown to him, he had looked up to find Faye's eyes upon him, and for a few minutes neither of them had said a word, simply staring each other down.

Then she had turned and walked away, leaving him to watch her small figure disappear down the hallway to her room.

The crushing pain that hit him was unlike anything he had felt in a long time; it started from deep down in his gut and traveled all the way up his torso, sitting like a ball of lead in his chest. He found it hard to swallow that thick knot in his throat, and for a moment he wondered if Jet had put something in tonight's dinner that had not sat well in his stomach.

He reached in his pocket and pulled out another cigarette to light.

Who was he kidding?

He knew exactly what the problem was, had known for some time now.

It was that woman with the green eyes.


Mind Over Money by Turin Breaks

Mind over money, bent over backwards
Light up my life like a very last cigarette
Time after time dear we will just lie here
Staring at ceilings it doesn't really matter where we are

Wearing a smile like it's going out of style
Look at your self, there's nothing in there
Just put points on a grave stone, can you see yourself sinking
Staring at ceilings it doesn't really matter where you are

That's alright I warned myself
Keep blood on the inside and nowhere else
Up on a shelf that's where I need to be


His eyes were closed as Faye watched him, his hands clasped across his stomach, a self-absorbed smirk across his face. He looked the picture of peace and contentment. She could have no idea of what was going on inside his head.

In his mind he was recounting all of the near-misses in his life, trying to figure out how many lives he had used up or given away, and how many he had left.

The first one, he figured, was the day he walked into the Red Dragons headquarters, signing away his autonomy and independence.

The second was when he had had allowed himself to be talked into swapping out the eye he was born with for one owned by Mao and the Dragons, pulling him deeper into the dungeon and away from himself.

The third life was wrested away from him during crossfire between the Dragons and a rival syndicate, and that was the first one from which he almost did not make it back. He and Vicious became fast friends from that point on, and enjoyed a long run of camaraderie while moving up the ranks together.

Then a stone dropped like lead to the bottom of a cesspool, when Julia entered the scene. Despite warnings from Vicious and Mao, he gave away another life by falling in love with her.

When finally he had to rid himself from the oppressive life that the Dragons had become, he faked his death to escape, nearly losing his life in the process. The rest were easy to figure out: mad Pierrot, Vincent, the destruction of Vicious and the Red Dragons.

Now another woman, whose existence in his time and space threatened to sluice out another life.

He cracked open an eye and made himself look at Faye’s still figure, fast asleep, mouth ajar as soft snores emanated from her pretty little mouth.

He closed his eyes. Yeah, he guessed he could hold on to this last life for awhile.


Seeds of Night by The Cave Singers

Oh my love
This is our town
Where gray cloud wander
Over heaven and ground

Oh, thinking of heaven
Oh, thinking it's night
Oh, thinking of heaven
Oh, maybe next time
Next life down the road



Faye had grown tired of waiting for Spike and decided to venture off on her own. She wandered along the avenue, stopping to glance up at a high-rise building displaying the weather report. She wondered briefly whether an umbrella could offer protection against meteor showers the way that her pink umbrella with the Dalmatians used to when she was a child …

“Today’s forecast: 80% chance of clouds today.”

Faye skipped merrily along the sidewalk, her pink umbrella over her head as she jumped into every puddle that she came upon. Daddy had bought it for her as a present when he returned from his last business trip. When she opened the big box, she had pulled out the pink umbrella that had oodles of her favorite kind of dog, along with her favorite movie, 101 Dalmatians. She had begged Daddy to buy her a Dalmatian of her own, but he had told her no, because when she had grown tired of the dog and the responsibility that came with caring for it, the task would fall to the servants. Faye had sulked for weeks until a new obsession had taken her interest away from a Dalmatian.

“Today’s forecast: 80% chance of meteor showers today.”

Faye heard the patter of small stones hitting the ground behind her, and she ducked under the awning of a building, waiting until the wave had passed. Once the showers had passed, she ventured out to continue her walk.

She saw Spike heading towards her from the opposite direction. Judging by the sour look on his face, she must have been gone longer than she thought. She put her hand up to her ear and realized that she had also forgotten to turn on her earpiece.

She stopped and waited for him to reach her.

“Where were you?” He towered over her imposingly.

Faye gave him an arrogant look of her own.

“You took too long.”
vettac: (Default)
Vetta's third and final entry into the Cowboy Bebop triangle series:

Seeds of Night by The Cave Singers

Oh my love
This is our town
Where gray cloud wander
Over heaven and ground

Oh, thinking of heaven
Oh, thinking it's night
Oh, thinking of heaven
Oh, maybe next time
Next life down the road



Faye had grown tired of waiting for Spike and decided to venture off on her own. She wandered along the avenue, stopping to glance up at a high-rise building displaying the weather report. She wondered briefly whether an umbrella could offer protection against meteor showers the way that her pink umbrella with the Dalmatians used to when she was a child …

“Today’s forecast: 80% chance of clouds today.”

Faye skipped merrily along the sidewalk, her pink umbrella over her head as she jumped into every puddle that she came upon. Daddy had bought it for her as a present when he returned from his last business trip. When she opened the big box, she had pulled out the pink umbrella that had oodles of her favorite kind of dog, along with her favorite movie, 101 Dalmatians. She had begged Daddy to buy her a Dalmatian of her own, but he had told her no, because when she had grown tired of the dog and the responsibility that came with caring for it, the task would fall to the servants. Faye had sulked for weeks until a new obsession had taken her interest away from a Dalmatian.

“Today’s forecast: 80% chance of meteor showers today.”

Faye heard the patter of small stones hitting the ground behind her, and she ducked under the awning of a building, waiting until the wave had passed. Once the showers had passed, she ventured out to continue her walk.

She saw Spike heading towards her from the opposite direction. Judging by the sour look on his face, she must have been gone longer than she thought. She put her hand up to her ear and realized that she had also forgotten to turn on her earpiece.

She stopped and waited for him to reach her.

“Where were you?” He towered over her imposingly.

Faye gave him an arrogant look of her own.

“You took too long.”
vettac: (Default)
Vetta's third and final entry into the Cowboy Bebop triangle series:

Seeds of Night by The Cave Singers

Oh my love
This is our town
Where gray cloud wander
Over heaven and ground

Oh, thinking of heaven
Oh, thinking it's night
Oh, thinking of heaven
Oh, maybe next time
Next life down the road



Faye had grown tired of waiting for Spike and decided to venture off on her own. She wandered along the avenue, stopping to glance up at a high-rise building displaying the weather report. She wondered briefly whether an umbrella could offer protection against meteor showers the way that her pink umbrella with the Dalmatians used to when she was a child …

“Today’s forecast: 80% chance of clouds today.”

Faye skipped merrily along the sidewalk, her pink umbrella over her head as she jumped into every puddle that she came upon. Daddy had bought it for her as a present when he returned from his last business trip. When she opened the big box, she had pulled out the pink umbrella that had oodles of her favorite kind of dog, along with her favorite movie, 101 Dalmatians. She had begged Daddy to buy her a Dalmatian of her own, but he had told her no, because when she had grown tired of the dog and the responsibility that came with caring for it, the task would fall to the servants. Faye had sulked for weeks until a new obsession had taken her interest away from a Dalmatian.

“Today’s forecast: 80% chance of meteor showers today.”

Faye heard the patter of small stones hitting the ground behind her, and she ducked under the awning of a building, waiting until the wave had passed. Once the showers had passed, she ventured out to continue her walk.

She saw Spike heading towards her from the opposite direction. Judging by the sour look on his face, she must have been gone longer than she thought. She put her hand up to her ear and realized that she had also forgotten to turn on her earpiece.

She stopped and waited for him to reach her.

“Where were you?” He towered over her imposingly.

Faye gave him an arrogant look of her own.

“You took too long.”
vettac: (Default)
Vetta's second entry into the Cowboy Bebop triangle series:

Mind Over Money by Turin Breaks  (bob5fic's song entry)

Mind over money, bent over backwards
Light up my life like a very last cigarette
Time after time dear we will just lie here
Staring at ceilings it doesn't really matter where we are

Wearing a smile like it's going out of style
Look at your self, there's nothing in there
Just put points on a grave stone, can you see yourself sinking
Staring at ceilings it doesn't really matter where you are

That's alright I warned myself
Keep blood on the inside and nowhere else
Up on a shelf that's where I need to be


His eyes were closed as Faye watched him, his hands clasped across his stomach, a self-absorbed smirk across his face. He looked the picture of peace and contentment. She could have no idea of what was going on inside his head.

In his mind he was recounting all of the near-misses in his life, trying to figure out how many lives he had used up or given away, and how many he had left.

The first one, he figured, was the day he walked into the Red Dragons headquarters, signing away his autonomy and independence.

The second was when he had had allowed himself to be talked into swapping out the eye he was born with for one owned by Mao and the Dragons, pulling him deeper into the dungeon and away from himself.

The third life was wrested away from him during crossfire between the Dragons and a rival syndicate, and that was the first one from which he almost did not make it back. He and Vicious became fast friends from that point on, and enjoyed a long run of camaraderie while moving up the ranks together.

Then a stone dropped like lead to the bottom of a cesspool, when Julia entered the scene. Despite warnings from Vicious and Mao, he gave away another life by falling in love with her.

When finally he had to rid himself from the oppressive life that the Dragons had become, he faked his death to escape, nearly losing his life in the process. The rest were easy to figure out: mad Pierrot, Vincent, the destruction of Vicious and the Red Dragons.

Now another woman, whose existence in his time and space threatened to sluice out another life.

He cracked open an eye and made himself look at Faye’s still figure, fast asleep, mouth ajar as soft snores emanated from her pretty little mouth.

He closed his eyes. Yeah, he guessed he could hold on to this last life for awhile.
vettac: (Default)
Vetta's second entry into the Cowboy Bebop triangle series:

Mind Over Money by Turin Breaks  (bob5fic's song entry)

Mind over money, bent over backwards
Light up my life like a very last cigarette
Time after time dear we will just lie here
Staring at ceilings it doesn't really matter where we are

Wearing a smile like it's going out of style
Look at your self, there's nothing in there
Just put points on a grave stone, can you see yourself sinking
Staring at ceilings it doesn't really matter where you are

That's alright I warned myself
Keep blood on the inside and nowhere else
Up on a shelf that's where I need to be


His eyes were closed as Faye watched him, his hands clasped across his stomach, a self-absorbed smirk across his face. He looked the picture of peace and contentment. She could have no idea of what was going on inside his head.

In his mind he was recounting all of the near-misses in his life, trying to figure out how many lives he had used up or given away, and how many he had left.

The first one, he figured, was the day he walked into the Red Dragons headquarters, signing away his autonomy and independence.

The second was when he had had allowed himself to be talked into swapping out the eye he was born with for one owned by Mao and the Dragons, pulling him deeper into the dungeon and away from himself.

The third life was wrested away from him during crossfire between the Dragons and a rival syndicate, and that was the first one from which he almost did not make it back. He and Vicious became fast friends from that point on, and enjoyed a long run of camaraderie while moving up the ranks together.

Then a stone dropped like lead to the bottom of a cesspool, when Julia entered the scene. Despite warnings from Vicious and Mao, he gave away another life by falling in love with her.

When finally he had to rid himself from the oppressive life that the Dragons had become, he faked his death to escape, nearly losing his life in the process. The rest were easy to figure out: mad Pierrot, Vincent, the destruction of Vicious and the Red Dragons.

Now another woman, whose existence in his time and space threatened to sluice out another life.

He cracked open an eye and made himself look at Faye’s still figure, fast asleep, mouth ajar as soft snores emanated from her pretty little mouth.

He closed his eyes. Yeah, he guessed he could hold on to this last life for awhile.
vettac: (contrite)

Chapter 8. Intermezzo

He sits absolutely still, looking across the Tharsis, squinting as he tries to make out the vehicles speeding around the circles of the freeway. He wonders where they could be going in such a hurry. But that was the atmosphere of Tharsis, rushing, bustling, making deals, rushing headlong to nowhere. Just like him.


I hate you.


All the things she said keep running through his head. He closes his eyes but he cannot block out her image, her face, the hurt in her eyes.


I hate you.


He raises a cigarette to his mouth and lights it, inhaling the acidic smoke deep into his lungs. He welcomes the burning pain. He smiles as he blows the smoke out letting the wind carry it away, just like he wishes it would carry away the image of those green eyes that haunt him…


I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

vettac: (contrite)

Chapter 8. Intermezzo

He sits absolutely still, looking across the Tharsis, squinting as he tries to make out the vehicles speeding around the circles of the freeway. He wonders where they could be going in such a hurry. But that was the atmosphere of Tharsis, rushing, bustling, making deals, rushing headlong to nowhere. Just like him.


I hate you.


All the things she said keep running through his head. He closes his eyes but he cannot block out her image, her face, the hurt in her eyes.


I hate you.


He raises a cigarette to his mouth and lights it, inhaling the acidic smoke deep into his lungs. He welcomes the burning pain. He smiles as he blows the smoke out letting the wind carry it away, just like he wishes it would carry away the image of those green eyes that haunt him…


I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.

vettac: (chillin')

Chapter 6. Onward

Two entrees and one empty whiskey bottle later, they both ended up crashing on the sofa, Faye on one end, her hands across her eyes to block out the light, and Spike at the other with his arm hanging off the sofa onto the floor.

The space was pretty tight for two, and Faye tried shifting into a more comfortable position, shoving her legs into Spike's torso. He grunted in pain and grabbed hold of her foot, pushing it back towards her.

"Stop, Spike, my legs are cramped," she grumbled, trying unsuccessfully to wriggle out of his grasp. He refused to let go, smirking as he wagged his index finger dramatically towards her foot.

"Don't you dare," she warned.

He laughed at her before letting go.

This camaraderie, without disagreement or arguments between them was rare, but Faye had not spent all of those months searching for him, just to cuddle on the sofa. After all, her visit did have a purpose; she wanted an explanation for why he had been incognito for so long.

Jet had told her once that both she and Spike were the types who used sheer force or violence to try to get what they wanted, when sometimes a gentler approach garnered better results. Jet must have been right about her, because this cautious approach was not working with the lunkhead, who was either too dense or too drunk to grasp what she wanted. But more than likely, he knew only too well, and was trying to steer her away deliberately.

She shifted again.

"Spike, when you left …"

He cringed when he saw that she was preparing to grill him.

"I really don't want to talk about this, Faye."

"You never want to talk about anything serious," she snapped. "Well, guess what? You owe us some answers. Why the hell couldn't you let us know you were alive?"

"First off, "he said icily, "I don't owe you or Jet a damned thing."

Faye felt her temperature rise and she unsuccessfully attempted to control herself before she lost it and slammed her foot into his chest. Spike's body stiffened and his jaw tightened. He sat up abruptly, bringing his feet to the floor, eyeing her with barely controlled rage. Faye eyed him warily, aware that he could kill her where she sat. She sat up and scooted further away.

"Second," he continued, "It was better if I didn't come back."

"Better for whom? You, so that you wouldn't have to fill us in on your 'secret' life?"

Spike's eyebrow twitched. "No." he answered in the same tone. "Better, to keep you and Jet from being gunned down because of me."

As she searched his face, she knew that he was being truthful.

"I guess it doesn't really matter," she said wearily. She leaned back against the sofa, and from the corner of her eye she caught him staring. She pressed her fingers against her eyelids to quiet an impending headache. The alcohol was starting to wear off, affecting her patience, and for once she thought it best not to say anything else that would ignite his anger.

Faye turned her attention to the sounds of street traffic filtering in through the open window, and she wondered how anyone could live in such a noisy place. She figured that it didn't matter much to Spike; he could fall sleep anywhere and anytime regardless of what was going on.

"When I woke up, I was in a hospital."

Faye opened her eyes and turned to look at him. He was staring straight ahead, his hands clenched into fists on his lap. She remained silent, waiting for him to continue.

"They told me that I had been unconscious for almost three months. My … injuries were so severe that they didn't know if I was going to make it."

He finally looked over to meet her eyes. "After I was released, I wandered back to my old haunting grounds, trying to find out what had happened with the Dragons."

He leaned forward and picked up the cigarettes from the coffee table. He lit one up and blew the smoke in Faye's direction. When the aroma reached her, she breathed in deeply, too proud to snatch up the pack as she would have done in the past. He was in a mood to talk, and she didn't want to be the one to spoil the mood. She was surprised when Spike held out the pack to her, but she nodded her thanks and took one. He flicked the lighter and lit her cigarette, then sat back and clasped his hands behind his head, stretching his long legs across the coffee table.

They smoked in silence for a while. Faye watched him surreptitiously; his eyes were half-closed and he looked completely relaxed, as if he was about to nod off. She breathed in sharply, and then exhaled in a silent huff as she struggled to tone down her impatience. Instead, she watched the cigarette he held between his slender fingers as it burned, the ember moving closer to his fingers. If he really was asleep, he'd wake up as soon as he felt the burn of the ash.

Without cracking an eyelid, Spike leaned a long arm towards the coffee table to flick the ash. Faye narrowed her eyes. He was trying to get out of telling the story, but she was determined to make him continue.

"So, what happened?" she asked, her patience dwindling.

He cracked open one eye to look at her. "Just hold on, Faye. Whose story is this, anyway?"

She bit back a response until she noticed the quirk at the corner of his mouth.

"Don't make fun of me," she growled. "I really do want to know."

He raised an eyebrow as he regarded her, the smirk morphing into a full blown smile.

She glared at him. "Come on, spit it out."

His smile faltered and he looked away from her to stare up at the ceiling.

"I found out that I had succeeded in wiping out the Dragons," he said as he stared up at the ceiling. "So there I was, finally free after all those years, and what do I do? Find another syndicate to work for. But this time, it was on my terms."

"If you were free, why did you go back?" Faye asked curiously. "You had the chance to do anything, go anywhere you wanted, and you went back? Why?"

"It's the only thing I know," he said simply.

"You could have come back, picked up where you left off with me … and Jet."

"Yeah, I could have. But I didn't want to go back to that life."

He leaned forward to crush the cigarette in the ashtray, then picked up the pack and lit another, looking at her intently. With a mouth full of smoke, he continued, "Besides, I got tired of not having meat in my diet. Or cigarettes in my pocket." He exhaled and leaned back against the sofa.

Faye scowled at him and looked away. She wanted to ask him if he missed the companionship that they'd had as shipmates and bounty hunters. And he still hadn't told her what it was that he did for a living. But she was starting to get a pretty good idea.

"So, I guess your new occupation is quite lucrative," she mumbled.

"Yeah, you could say that."

Her green eyes glittered in annoyance as she poked him. "Spike, just tell me what it is you do."

Spike cocked his head to the side as he shot her a wide-eyed, innocent look. "Let's just say that the world is a little safer with my help."

It occurred to her that he had told her more than he'd ever willingly shared in the past. She knew that she wouldn't get any more out of him.

"Will you ever come back?"

Spike was silent.

"Spike?"

"No."

"Not even …"

"What?"

She turned to stare out of the window.

He sighed and watched her. "Faye."

She didn't answer. He reached over and grasped her chin, turning her face towards him. Her stomach fluttered at the touch of his fingers. She couldn't remember him ever touching her before, at least not this gentle, like he cared. She forced herself to breathe calmly as she reluctantly looked up at him.

"Would you -" he began, then seemed to think better of it and released her.

She gazed at him questioningly, her hand absently tracing the spot where his fingers had been.

He shook his head. "Nothing."

She hated when he did that – clamming up again, his eyes hooded with hidden secrets, like shutters closing on a window. It was like watching a walking dead man, turning to ghost ashes before her eyes.

"Don't do that," she said, jabbing her finger into his chest so hard that he cringed. "You always used to do that on the ship, Spike," she pointed upwards towards space, "and every time I let you get away with it, but not this time. So, tell me what it is that you want to know?"

He studied her for a moment. "I don't know," he said finally.

She stared at him, her small mouth turned down in disapproval. She got up and paced around the room, then stopped at the coffee table and grabbed his pack of cigarettes, jamming one in her mouth. "You're just nothing but trouble," she mumbled and the cigarette moved up and down with her words.

"Those are mine," he said calmly, watching her.

Faye huffed in frustration. She took a long drag before turning back to him.

"I guess you're waiting for me to speak first, huh? What, do you want to know why I spent so much time looking for you when it was obvious that you were either six feet under or avoiding us?"

She started pacing the room again, smoking furiously.

"I didn't say-"

"We were comrades, you know," she interrupted him. "Even if you didn't feel it, I did. I finally found a place where I belonged, with you and Jet and Edward. Even the damned dog." She stopped pacing and looked back at him. "Don't tell me you never felt it."

Spike sighed. "Okay, so I did, you satisfied?"

Faye threw her hands in the air. "There! Was that so fucking hard to say?" She returned to the sofa and flopped down next to him. "Spike, you're a real piece of work."

"So I've been told."

She turned towards him, ready to give him another lecture about friends, but stopped when she looked at him. Who cares what an idiot he still is, she thought. At least he's alive.

"I'm tired of arguing," she told him. "Let's just watch a movie or something."

She leaned across the table to flick on the vidscreen, switching the channels until she found an old crime movie that she remembered watching with Jet. "Hey, this one's pretty good." She settled back against the couch, curling her legs under her and not caring whether or not Spike was comfortable. She was done with him for now.

* * *

Spike was amazed at how easily Faye could switch from slightly pissed to raving mad to nonchalance in the blink of an eye. He thought he was the only one that could pull that off. But then she started going on about how comrades were supposed to work together and check in with each other, watch each other's back, yadda yadda. She talks too damned much. He started tuning her out although his eyes followed her around the room as she ranted. He didn't know what had come over him when he had held her face in his hands. He had never been that close long enough to notice the porcelain smoothness of her skin, or to notice that there were flecks of hazel in her green eyes.

He turned his attention back to the present and the movie playing on the screen. He remembered seeing this back on the Bebop. Faye and Jet loved this movie, but he didn't understand what was so fascinating. The life depicted was a picnic compared to the reality of life with the Dragons. He sat back, trying to maintain interest, but after a while his eyes glazed over, and not too long afterwards, he was dead to the world.

* * *

Faye watched Spike's eyes close as he nodded off, just as she had predicted he would. He'd never been able to stay awake on a full stomach, especially when combined with liquor.

She turned back to the fight scene playing over the vid screen. This used to be one of her favorite films, but ever since he had encountered the real deal at the opera house with Vicious, scenes like the one on the screen looked stage and stale. She switched off the power and looked over at Spike, whose legs were now splayed across the coffee table, his head flung back against the back of the sofa and his mouth slightly ajar. At any moment now the snoring would begin; she grinned when sure enough, the first gurgle emitted from his throat. She studied his face, noticing things that hadn't been there a year ago -- the lines around his mouth, a small scar that cut across his right brow. She tapped her foot impatiently; she would not allow herself to get sucked into feeling for him again.

Enough of this, Faye, she admonished herself. She was restless; maybe she could find a card game to push her way into. She had spied a numbers joint on the walk over the apartment earlier. She looked around for her red sweater, spotting it crushed between Spike and the sofa cushion. Holding her breath, she gently pulled it free, being careful not to wake the baby. As she draped it over her shoulders, she contemplated borrowing Spike's keys. Nah, He'll just have to let me back in, she thought. She spied Spike's money card next to his keys. Grinning, she picked it up and slipped it into her pocket as she tiptoed to the door. She let herself out, quietly closing the door behind her.

* * *

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