Author`s Note: As said in the summary, this is about Spike and Julia`s past, only with some things changed about the general story. It`s a love story. That simple. With this fic I wanted to show the story of Spike from a new kind of perspective (after all I have seen very few fanfics written in his point of view that take place in the past) and just show a different side of his character in general without making it seem like a completely different person. I also wanted this story to work kind of like a tragedy, because everybody knows how the it ends anyway, but I hoped to make the reader still not want it to have a sad ending. Whether I succeeded in doing this, I`ll only know if you kindly R&R. As this is my first fanfic for anything in a long time, I apoligize for the things it`s lacking. The hardest parts for me to write were the interactions between Spike and Vicious, and I think one those scenes turned out a little fuzzy.

Disclaimer: The beginning of this story uses a made-up concept of Mars having artificial sunsets. This is not my idea; a fanfiction called "Wind and Sea in A Minor" by Melissa that is hosted at asteroidblues.com explains Mars as having an artificial sun. Just thought I should add some kind of disclaimer, because I just had to use that idea for some reason. Everything else is original, though.

The way I recall the events now, everything was gray. In my memory of it all in my mind, it was all gray. Gray but for the flushing red of soft roses burning my hard heart and the glowing ends of cigarettes that I shared with her in the dark, smoky nights with soft jazz music in the distance.

Julia. The times that I knew her were the best times and the worst times of my life. And the shortest, it seems to me now. She came from nowhere, from some unreachable heaven into this hell we live in and left as quickly as she`d come, leaving footprints that were like painful glass to walk on afterwards.

She was beautiful to me. Which is saying a lot. You see, I grew up on Mars, the planet of rugged desert and beautiful sunsets. But the sunsets, no matter how genuine they looked, were artificial. Created by man and not by nature, defining the worthlessness of the future we`ve come to, breathtaking in the most disturbing way. So the only beauty I ever knew was unnatural, created, decieving.

But Julia. She was beautiful in all ways one can be beautiful, like a fragile white flower with petals so thin that light shines right through it, until you can`t tell the difference between beautiful inside and beautiful outside.

I remember her eyes were the color of a sea, a pure and undisturbed blue you can see only when looking at an ocean from space. Except for when she was sad and distant, or when her eyes welled up with tears and she was trying not to cry. Then her eyes became a strange shade of gray.

When I met Julia she was involved with my friend and partner in crime, Vicious. An urban flower with goddess-like eyes and secrets hidden in her black boots, she was one of us. And yet in a way, she wasn`t. Beneath the tangible exterior, I always somehow knew that she was good. That she didn`t quite belong here with us. This simple understanding became the thread of unspoken friendship between us. Whenever we saw eachother in other places than with Vicious, we would always smile or say hello.

But I never actually talked to Julia for real until one night that we met by coincidence in a retreated part of the city.

There was a stone bridge over water that was one of the oldest things in town, and also the most quiet place to be there. I would go there a lot at night and listen to the music of the city that sounded so quiet and calm from there, as if it was a place too sacred and hidden to be consumed with loud noises.

One night I was standing out there with my arms crossed on one side of the bridge, staring down into the water that looked murky and dark and carried no reflection. Light was another thing besides sound that didn`t seem to quite make it to this area from the surroundings; the only illuminating light, it seemed, was that from the end of my cigarette.

I heard soft footsteps from my left. When I looked up I saw Julia by herself coming up onto the bridge. We met glances - or at least I thought so, but it was hard to tell in the dark - and then she turned to the same side of the bridge I was at and leaned against it, digging through her trench coat pocket for a cigarette. She put it in her mouth and then struck a match over and over, unable to get a flame. I watched as she kept trying, obviously frustrated, and then she looked up in surprise when I flicked my lighter, walked over to her, and held it out to her offeringly. She stared at the lighter for a second and then leaned over until the tip of her cigarette was lit. Then we each went back to the bridge side, standing in the same position as before but just closer to eachother now, and went on to speak without making eye contact.

"Thanks," she said. "It took me a second to realize that it was you."

"I`ve never seen you out here before."

"You come here often?" she asked.

"Well, you know...It`s one of the better parts of the city."

"You mean one of the less urban," she said.

I laughed and then we were both quiet for a while, smoking in silence. Because of her almost unnoticeable edginess I assumed she was troubled by something, and because she wasn`t with Vicious now I guessed it had something to do with him. But I decided it was better not to say anything, even if it would look like I didn`t care. Did I care? Something told me I shouldn`t, but...

I threw my cigarette over the bridge into the water and turned around. "Can I ask you something?"

"What?" she asked, smiling like she had no idea what I could possibly want to know.

"What are you doing here?"

"Same thing you are. Getting some fresh air."

"No, I meant..." I nearly hesitated. "Well, what`s somebody like you doing hanging around here? With people like me and Vicious?"

"Maybe I`m not as good as you take me for," she said with a shrug.

"I find that unlikely," I assured. "I`ve seen all the kinds of bad. Believe me, you are none of them."

"Well, then maybe you`re just not as bad-ass as you think you are."

We both laughed, and then looking at her I actually thought she felt a little better now than before. Her pale blond hair fluttered back in the gentle breeze like the wings of a trembling white moth. She hummed along to some soft piano music sounding from a club far away.

"You go there much?" I asked.

"What?"

"The clubs."

"Oh," she said, looking to her left. "No, not if Vicious doesn`t go. You know, unless I`m really worried about being alone for too long. Usually people won`t leave me alone in places like that. Sometimes I just want to not talk. Be by myself, you know." She caught herself. "Oh, but I don`t mean you, Spike Spiegel. I`m glad you found me here." She threw her cigarette into the water to join mine in the watery grave, making everything dark again. Then she said to me, "Until next time," and walked away. It was so dark then that I even lit another cigarette, but one couldn`t give off the light of two.

After that I saw her almost every time I went to the bridge. Every time I could sense that she was there to get away from Vicious and that something was wrong. She started to smell less like his dark, contained quarters and started to smile and laugh more like a person than just someone else`s person. In public she didn`t let Vicious touch her, if he had ever touched her in public before. I knew that things were coming to an end for her, as much as I didn`t dare to say anything of it, and even feared what other thing could soon begin.

I thought, if Vicious knew that she dissapeared at the late hours of the night just to come and talk to me, that would be the end of it. But I got a feeling that she found some kind of comfort in talking to me, even if we never mentioned Vicious, so I contently kept her company without a second thought.

One night she seemed almost perfectly happy, and I wondered if things had actually reversed and gotten better for her.

"So this is pretty much your home?" I asked her.

"Well, yeah," she said. "At the moment, at least. I haven`t really belonged anywhere since I was a little girl, and now it seems kind of sacrilegious to make anywhere my real home."

"Yes, I can definitely identify with that."

We both had our arms crossed on the stone bridge side, and after a moment of calm silence she looked down at mine. "Got any brothers on Earth, Spike?"

"Earth?" I asked. "No one with half my blood would be caught dead living there."

"Hm. You have beautiful hands. I`ve seen a pair like yours only once before. A piano player from New York."

"And I presume this piano player was some lover of yours?"

"Lover? Oh no. He played at this bar on week nights. He would hum along to his music and had this really low, smoky voice. I never heard him speak a word, though."

"You must have worried about being alone a lot to go to bars that much on Earth," I assumed.

She smiled. "Do have to figure out everything about me?"

"Do you always notice people`s hands first or something?"

"Well. My mother used to say something, I remember. 'A man with good hands does no harm'."

"Nothing against your mother, but these hands have done plenty of damage," I said, only to feel like I`d offended even more after what she said next.

She laughed. "I never really believed the whole thing myself. I guess it`s funny what we do to remember people who die." She stopped talking for a moment, contemplating. Then she asked me, "So have you ever had a lover yourself, Spike?"

"Me? Oh, I`ve had my share of women, you know. The kind from clubs and city streets."

"They have no souls, you know."

"I know." I looked into the water thoughtfully. "But I`ve never been in love. You know, not the real thing."

She put her cigarette to her mouth deviously and turned her head towards me. "Me neither."

And then one day, she wasn`t at the bridge. For the first time in so long that it felt hauntingly unnatural when I waited for what seemed like eternity and remained the only one there.

That was when it started to come to me. Her absence was like a swallowing darkness, as strange as that was. And I realized it then. I cared for her. Somehow. Maybe I even wanted her. I was too confused to know anything for sure. But whatever I felt for her, I felt it in such a way that suddenly Vicious meant nothing to me. I didn`t care that we`d been partners for years. She deserved better than him.

The dangerous idea that I had denounced my attachment to Vicious for a woman - some woman who should mean nothing to me - was so disturbing that it couldn`t be exorcised by staying put. So I found myself walking into a loud bar, just to find a crowd, something. I had to go somewhere where I wouldn`t be forced to think. Somewhere away from the bridge.

When I went inside I didn`t spot anyone that I knew so I sat by myself at the bar. The bartender was a little occupied at the moment trying to convince some guy that he`d had enough to drink already. I sat waiting, careless and silent, and traced my finger along a scratch in the tabletop, when I saw a flame of blond out of the corner of my eye.

I turned to my right and there was Julia, trying to bore some drunken buffoon into leaving her alone.

"Come on, baby, how about it?"

"Go away," she said calmly.

"Oh, but we just-"

"Listen, I told you. I`m not going anywhere with you. Please leave me alone."

"Maybe I will if you do something for me, huh?"

"Hey, you want to listen to the woman?" I said, approaching both of them from behind. I opened up my jacket just enough to him to be able to see my gun. "You don`t want to piss me off."

He looked me up and down in surprise. "Hey, gimme some slack. I didn`t know she was taken."

"Just beat it."

"Hey, I`m goin."

He walked off, mumbling to himself. Julia said, "Thanks," as I looked around to make sure no one else had spotted my gun. "Funny running into you here."

"You shouldn`t be here by yourself, you know," I said, sitting down next to her at the bar. "Do you know how late it is?"

I didn`t mean to treat her like some helpless damsel in distress, but I was probably trying to hide that it was the fact that she was here at all that worried me, not that she was here alone. She didn`t seem to mind, though. "Yeah, I know," she said. "But there was no one to come with, so arrest me."

"What about Vicious?" I asked.

"Oh, me and him are over. He was too proud to say anything, was he?"

"Well, that`s Vicious for you." I was quiet for a moment, taking in what I`d just heard. "I`m...sorry things didn`t work out."

She scoffed. "You should be happy for me, you know. I got out. Got out of it with him and..." She stopped, leaning her forehead into her hand. The way she looked so worn and exhausted worried me more than before. "God, I`m sorry. He`s your friend. I`ve been incredily stupid..."

"No, don`t be sorry," I said. "I got mixed up with him too, and I`m not sorry."

"Well, it`s kind of easier for you," she said. "You don`t have to sleep with him."

I couldn`t help but laugh at that, and then she did too once she realized exactly what she had just said. It brought a less doleful mood and then we suddenly forgot the seriousness of anything that had happened that night.

"So I guess I shouldn`t buy you a drink," I thought out loud.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Well, unless you want me to. I guess it couldn`t hurt. I mean, it`s not like I`m some horny drunken case trying to pick you up."

She smiled, almost laughing again. "Well, allright."

We ordered drinks but didn`t stay in the bar much longer anyway. Outside on the bridge we talked more quietly than usual, because it was now so late at night that everything was almost completely silent, so neither of us felt right breaking the serenity of it all. She was out of cigarettes so we shared my last one. It rained and we walked together, laughing and holding our trenchcoats over our heads. And then we found ourselves upstairs in my enclosed and unkept excuse for living quarters, now made pleasant just from her presence there. In my room there were stains on the wood floor, and ashtrays in four different places, and on the small table by the bed my gun lay tossed randomly next to an open pack of cigarettes. But with the window open and the intoxicatingly calm breeze coming in, it was our quiet retreat, our safe place.

She practically fell into my arms. I don`t know if I could have stopped it from happening, had I been in my right mind, and thinking about those kinds of things is pointless, anyway. We cannot change the past, and even if we learn from it that doesn`t take away the pain. My fate was there waiting to claim me in the color of the night sky outside, and it doesn`t matter if it could have happened another way.

I was sitting in a chair near the window and Julia was in the bathroom getting herself dry. I marveled at how it had stopped raining just as soon as we`d made it here. After a while she came out, standing in the doorway and looking at me. "What are you thinking about?" she asked.

"I`m thinking I shouldn`t have bought you that drink," I said.

"I`m not drunk."

But she knew that wasn`t what I meant.

Slowly she came over to me and reached for my cigarette. She took it from my mouth and put it in an ashtray on the table behind her. I sat perfectly still as she leaned over and kissed my temple right by my right eye. I hardly felt it because she just barely touched me, but at the same time it felt like a million things were happening to me on the inside. I closed my eyes and then it was my forehead, my cheek, under my jaw. She came closer, easing onto the chair so that her legs were on either side of me, and my arms moved slowly around her. She loosened my tie, leaning in to put her mouth to the hollow of my neck, and then I rubbed her back as she raked her fingers through my messy, untamed hair with her face buried into my shoulder. Then she lifted her head and drew it close to mine, and I held my breath. Then she pulled back at the last moment. "Hey." She stared thoughtfully. "...Your eyes are different colors."

I couldn`t say anything in response. It was like I`d been injected with something to make me go to sleep. I could feel myself slipping away. I wanted her, needed her. There was nothing else anymore. I was not even myself anymore without her.

We kissed, but it wasn`t like that. Not like a physical action. Just as I`ve smoked a thousand cigarettes and lit a thousand matches in my life, I`ve seen a thousand flames burst into firey life, illuminating all dark surroundings in an instant. That was what I felt in that moment, in that sacred embrace I held no right to. I felt my heart on fire after a lifetime of feeling nothing, and suddenly it was all I felt, all I knew, all I was.

I was lost.

I kissed her in the dark, held her until I thought the only air I could breathe any longer was that that she exhaled. Then after a while she became tense in my arms, and then she got up and said she had to go. I didn`t know how much time had gone by. If it was almost morning, or if it had only been an hour since we got here. But I knew why she was leaving. She was just as shocked to find herself here with me as I was surprised that she`d stayed here at all. Of course, these feelings of guilt weren`t going to last long.

She picked up her jacket that was still damp from walking in the rain, and before leaving down the stairs she said to me, "Don`t let him find out."

There was no question who "him" was. From then on Vicious was like that damn bird of prey always perched on his shoulder, watching us all the time. At least it seemed that way. Whenever his eyes were on me it was like he could see right through me, like he could see her in there. What was she doing inside of me? He would have drawn his sword and stabbed me in that place where she safely lay.

But Julia always knew where she could find me, and it was too easy to find places we could be alone. Out of constant fear of him discovering us we both developed a habit of avoiding Vicious, and it came to the point where we saw almost no one but eachother every day.

The first time we made love I thought I was going to die from it. Or something close to dying. She grinded me into a million pieces until I was helpless and nothing, felt like nothing. Each night we were together she killed me and I loved her more than I ever thought I could love anything, and that was how it was.

On nights that we weren`t together I would sit on my windowsill smoking and listening to the music echoing into the streets from the lonely saxophones and longing singers in night clubs nearby. I would watch the blinking lights in the sky of ships taking off and the drunk wanderers that would walk by. I could only sit and wonder how it is that loneliness always takes form in the dead of night, that all solitary figures become visible only in silver moonlight.

Mornings came like the arms of a mother, enveloping me and even convincing me with their beautiful faces that everything was allright. If Julia and I met in the afternoon we would walk places together, laughing and sometimes even holding hands in the bad parts of town where no one laughed and parents kept their children close, afraid of getting mugged. One time we both got tired of walking so we rode the bus around town, and Julia winked at a little boy who was staring at us. We went all the places where there would be no one who knew us, and it was strange, but a pleasant change from who we were.

Sometimes when I woke before she did I would look at her sleeping peacefully, and it was in these moments that I really wondered what she was doing here. Lying perfectly still with her shining hair and smooth features, she looked like she`d been carved from ivory, fashioned to perfection. Sometimes I`d touch her and think that I saw a smile come onto her face. It was too perfect. She was an angel in this dirty, godforsaken world. My world. Why did she come to me at night? Here? Why did she even care about me? Was she a guardian? Some beautiful materialization of the forgiving eyes if God?

Every moment with her was like ice cold fire. It was happiness with thorns on the edges. We knew our time together was stolen. And somehow, we knew we would pay for it. She was going to be the end of me. I felt it.

One time I ran into Vicious and it surprised the hell out of me because I realized how long it had been since I last saw him. I was sitting at a cafe table outside reading a paper when I heard his dark, uncaring voice beside me. "Spike. My man. Haven`t seen much of you around lately."

"Well, I haven`t been much of anywhere, to be honest," I answered casually, trying to act completely unsurprised by his sudden presence.

"What`s the matter? Feeling a little under the weather?" he asked jokingly. "I`d say a game of pool is an order."

"No, that`s allright," I said. "I was just going to stay in tonight."

"That`s a rain check." He nudged my shoulder. "What have you done with Spike Spiegel, dammit?"

I laughed and he just walked off, saying, "I`ll find you later, you moron."

"Yeah, see you," I said.

The encounter left me kind of disturbed for the rest of the day, and Julia noticed. When we were up in my room and she was staring out the window, she said after a long stretch of silence between us, "You`re starting to worry."

I kicked the bed under me with my heel. "I ran into Vicious today."

That made her head turn. I just stared down at the floor. "Where does he think you`ve been?" she asked.

"Sitting on my ass around here all day."

She kept looking at me and I kept avoiding eye contact. "Do you think he suspects anything?"

I stood up and dug my hands in my pockets. I didn`t answer her question. I didn`t know how to answer. On one hand, there was no way the idea could have possibly gotten into Vicious`s head. But on the other, he was no kind of idiot. Vicious was known for being cunning and tricky, to an obnoxious extent if you`re not on his side.

Julia wouldn`t let me be silent. "Don`t lie to me to make me feel better. He could do things to hurt us if he knew. He has power, and anger. And pride." I heard something thin and weak in her voice. Fear, I realized. "...Did he say something?"

"No," I answered right away. "There`s nothing to be worried about."

She shook her head and looked back out the window. "There always is."

I had never really thought about it before. I guess I hadn`t wanted to. What could happen if Vicious really did find out. Julia would know even better than I the kind of man he was. That he was not a person to mess with, defy, or betray. One might as well throw himself into a pit of hungry lions. And now in so short a time, I had become a traitor to him. And in a way, to the Red Dragon itself.

I guess I had always known that Vicious was evil. It had just never been a concern until now. Sure, me and him had had our share of memorable nights spent cracking up laughing and loving it when we got the best of eachother at a game of pool or poker. But in the long run, I didn`t depend on him for anything, and his affairs were none of my business. But now it made all the difference because I was no longer standing beside him. Now he was my enemy. He just didn`t know it yet.

I don`t know how much time went by. Maybe a week passed, or maybe it was the very next morning, but some time after that I woke to a day that wasn`t going to be like any other.