Disclaimer: I claim no rights to Wild ARMS Advanced 3rd.
A/N: I don't know what genre to put this in. I thank aya-yahiko for allowing me to do this.
Summary: AU-plot, mostly, playing with the possibilities given if Jet were really to leave.
Warnings: Possible spoiler alert, and some OOC-ness, because they're not teenagers anymore.
De Capo – From the Beginning
Simply put, it was beginning to get monotonous.
Long ago, he had realized that everything was not a stage, that the world was really more gray than black or white, that the heroes and the villains were hard to distinguish. Without lighting, background music, or scripts, it had hit him quite bluntly on his head once that heroes weren't so heroic and villains weren't quite so devious. After all, he had been a hero or something like that once, hadn't he? That was a long time ago.
"Hey honey," a lilting voice sounded to his left and an especially crass woman sidled up next to him, pushing her bosom up with unabashed pride. She flicked her hair absently over her shoulder and turned to pout at him again with large painted lips. "You lookin' for somethin' to pass your time 'ere?"
He brushed her away roughly. "Get off my arm," he snapped, and turned back to his drink as he attempted to balance it on two fingers alone. "I don't have any cash to give you, if that's what you're asking for. Go find some drunk and steal it off of him."
"Aww, don't play hard to get, honey! I don't bite."
"I said, get off, you old hag." He hissed.
She made a little noise of offense and scooted away from him, bustling her hips about in a shameless attempt to attract the attention of some man whom was so deep into drunken stupor that he wouldn't notice how absolutely repulsive she was. Honestly, he wondered where Claudia hired her girls from nowadays.
A fit of nostalgia overtook him. The first time he had met Claudia, it was on that mission, wasn't it? Of course, it had been one of the firsts. After those, he had left, after all.
"Thanks for clearing the seat. I was wondering when that hippo would move."
"I thought I told you to…" he began, but cut himself short once he noticed that it was a different person speaking. Suddenly uninterested, he shrugged and glowered at his drink. It wasn't quite so strong, this mix. He never quite liked the taste of alcohol, could never understand when men wolfed cup after cup down. He drank it because it drowned out the sounds of the crowds, allowed him to withdraw for a short period of time.
And, he was thirsty.
The newcomer adjusted herself – for he noticed it was a she from her high and singsong voice – on her seat, not quite enjoying the fact that it was rock hard and unpleasantly warm. She stopped fidgeting for a moment, and finally realized that he hadn't actually replied. "You told me to what? Is someone sitting here, because it looked empty enough?"
He rolled his eyes as she craned her neck to see if anybody was approaching. "No. I thought you were someone else. Don't work yourself up."
A little indignant, she shrugged and turned to the bartender to ask for her own drink. He was neither interested enough or alert enough to notice what she ordered, but he was conscious enough to raise an inquisitive brow when a dark chocolate drink covered with frothy white and a plump cherry was slid over the glossed tabletops to her.
He stared for a moment, and realized that it was a soda float. He blinked, and reminded himself that this was a bar and that soda floats were not quite commonly ordered in a rundown place like this.
"Something wrong?" the woman said.
He didn't even look at her face, mainly because he wasn't quite intrigued with how she looked, and turned back to his half-empty mug. With one consecutive string of gulps, he downed the rest of it down and idly rubbed the cup handle with his thumb.
She laughed, surprisingly. "You're not much of a conversationalist, I see."
He shrugged noncommittally and supported his head his palm. Let's see…after this, he would go to the inn and pay for a night– that last wild goose chase took a little more out of him than he suspected it would (good thing it paid him decently) – perhaps he would have a chance to sleep tonight. If he were lucky, he would get two hours of slumber before the dawn reared its head. The next morning, he would…
"So, are you a drifter?" she asked, suddenly.
His brows creased. "Do I look out of place in this town?" Funny, he had been in Little Twister numerous times before and no one had noticed him then.
"No," she answered and took a sip of her soda, "but you look familiar."
Therefore, for the first time that night, Jet Enduro turned his head and noticed someone. This girl, who had been so brash as to sit down beside him and so strange as to order a soda pop in a low-class bar, had long and braided chestnut hair, though a few renegade strands did tend to slip past the barricade of her headband. She faced them and their gazes met. Smiling, she turned back towards her drink.
"You're a drifter?" he asked.
She nodded curtly. "Well, obviously. I wouldn't have asked you otherwise."
He frowned and ordered another cup of blissful alcohol, deciding he was delusional.
"You shouldn't drink so much. That looked like a pretty big cup you had already. You might get too drunk to even get up, and then the thieves would come after you like vultures." She said, with her shining green eyes focused on the bright red cherry she fruitlessly attempted to impale with her straw. She added offhandedly, as if she had no fear, "Unless you're some petty thief yourself. I guess that might not apply then."
"Don't jump to conclusions so quickly." He said, and realized with amazing fascination that his voice was slurring. He had never been able to drink so much as to even touch the brink of drunkenness. "I think I have both the right to tell you that I'm not a thief – so stop acting so cocky – and I can drink as much as I want."
"Until you keel over." She said, completely unfazed and cocky. "And pass out."
He glared at her with all his half-conscious worth. "You're awfully nosy for a stranger."
"I think we've met before, actually. That's why you're so familiar." Finally, she poked the straw through the exact center of the cherry and popped it daintily in her mouth. With a smile, "So I guess that doesn't quite make us complete strangers anymore."
"You know," she began, turning her stool to look at him properly. He noticed that her eyes lingered a little bit too long over the top of his head. Sipping at her soda, her eyes never left their focus of interest once as she talked. "You have a very funny shade of hair, no offense. Are you really that old, to have such gray hair? You look pretty young with your face, but it's that mop on your head I'm worried about."
Feeling moody because of the lightheadedness the alcohol gave him, he drew his travelling cloak hood up and over his head. Then, he slumped sleepily into the cradle of his arms on the table. The second cup was empty again, pushed over to the bartender and the sink again. "Yeah, well don't bother worrying. It isn't any of your business to begin with." He paused, and added, "You're really, really nosy, even if I did know you."
She simply laughed again. "You sound familiar, the way you talk. I told you that I did know you. We've met before somewhere, perhaps it was a long time ago. I just don't remember it. But, come on, you know I look familiar too. I wasn't the only one staring for a while before."
Jet, having buried his face in the crook of his arms, was very glad he only blushed then. She had noticed him staring, then? Who the hell did she think she was? Probably some passing drifter they had bumped into at a commonplace town or something – back when 'he' and been a 'they'. "Whatever." He mumbled.
"What? I didn't hear you."
"Just leave me alone."
When he looked up, she was shaking her head. "No, I don't think I want to do that."
"Why not?" It was the alcohol, he reasoned, that was making his voice sound like a petulant whine. It had to be the alcohol. He was an adult now, and adults didn't whine! How utterly unbecoming he must have looked then. He reminded himself never to get drunk again. It wasn't worth it.
"Well, because I think you want to talk to me."
He scoffed loudly.
"And because I haven't finished my soda yet."
"Do what you want." He told her, shifting his position so that he laid his head on his arms facing the other way, meaning he didn't have to look at her familiar, annoying face. "It doesn't matter to me either way."
"Whatever you say." She chimed. Loudly, she slurped up the remnants of the soda clinging on to the bottom of the cup, along with licking the vanilla froth off of her straw before pushing the cup away. Then, when he would have suspected that she just leave, he heard a silence that meant two things – she wasn't going to leave, and this was going to be one hell of a long night.
"So, what are you in town for?" she chirped.
He glared at her empty cup. "You're finished with your drink now."
She shrugged. "So?"
What's worse was that he was beginning to feel drowsy. The edges of his vision were beginning to fade to black, and the sounds in his ears were gradually melding together into one soft and pleasant rumble somewhere in the distance. He didn't mind, actually, since it drew him away from the hustle and bustle about him. Perhaps he would get drunk again sometime; it was a rather pleasant feeling – that warmth spiraling up from his chest.
"Hey, hey, you alright?"
So why the hell was her voice still so cutting?
"Dammit, I told you to leave me alone. Can't you follow instructions?" He brushed off her hand on his upper arm slowly and deliberately before settling back onto the haven of his arms. Her gloved fingers still hovered near his shoulders as she scrutinized him. She seemed to know as if something weren't quite right.
"You don't look so good. Maybe you should get to you to bed to rest now." She stood up and moved towards him, obviously meaning to help him up or something. He scowled and shook his head, disappointed at the dizziness that flooded and blurred his senses. Clutching his head, he stumbled backwards and would have fallen had she not caught his arm in time. "You're definitely not so good. You have a room somewhere?"
"No," he managed to croak. "The inn…"
She nodded and slung his arm around her shoulders, adding her support on to his flimsy knees. He tried to draw away, but when he almost fell, he acceded to her help, though he kept as far away from her as possible at all times. Such a reserved and solitary boy, she noticed. He must have still had enough sense to suspect that she might be a thief herself – quite clever. All thoughts were brushed aside when Jet gave a moan.
"Alright." She said, and he thought, somewhere in his drunken state, that she sounded genuinely concerned for such a stranger. "Just stay awake, will you? I can't hold you up if you're going to go completely slack. I'll get you to the inn and to a room, alright? Bear with me a little until then, and at least try to stand right."
He nodded, feeling a wave of pounding pain in his head began to emerge. "Just walk, will you?" He groaned and leaned a little bit more heavily on her, although he seemed reluctant at making more contact with another person than necessary. When they were out in the open, crisp air, he felt a little better breathing in when the atmosphere wasn't noisy and crowded, muggy and smelled of stupor.
Slowly, they began to hobble up the street.
Jet passed out after the first few steps, somewhere in his mind cursing himself for such clumsiness, for the need of such dependence, for the desire of alcohol in the first place because he had been so terribly desperate to run away.
Then the world ceased to exist.
If this was some sort of retribution, he was certain that it had been enough to nullify the sin of cowardice. Not only did he have to pass out – he had never done that before, no matter how much he drank – but he had to rely on a stranger, and not very dependable one at that. She was a girl, after all, what could you possibly expect? He had to give her some credit, however, since she had managed to get him to the inn. He let out a moan when he turned his pounding head.
Unfortunately, the girl had been too worn out to get her own room.
"Damn." He cursed under his breath.
She woke readily, blinking at him through half-lidded eyes. For a moment, she stared at him with an expression in her face he couldn't quite fathom. She looked suddenly angry and relieved and sad at the same time, before she shook her head and cleared her thoughts. Lazily, she smiled at him from where she had slept on the fancy dresser chair. "Hey."
He frowned at her as she rose to open the curtains. A blast of foreign sunlight came shooting at his eyes and he rolled over, burying his face in the pillow. "Shut them. It's too bright."
"You like the dark?" she asked softly.
"Better than the light." He mumbled into the pillow.
He heard her laugh before the room was driven into shadows again, making it seem like the darkest of night. A few footsteps, and she stood at the foot of his bed, looking down at him with a smug little grin that for some reason infuriated him to no end. "I told you so," she said, with her I-told-you-so tone of voice. "It's worse that you're not even a morning person. Now you've got to deal with a pretty bad hangover too, from the looks of it."
He sat up, noticed with dismay that his hair was awfully astray. Scowling at her, he asked, "Why the hell are you in my room?"
She rolled her eyes. "It's my room, actually. I couldn't find your wallet to pay for a room. You certainly wear a lot for just a common drifter." She pointed at a bundle of cloth on the dresser table, and as his eyes focused he noticed that the pile was a stack of neatly folded clothes. Strangely enough, they looked really familiar…
He flushed madly and looked under his blanket. To his great relief, his pants were still on. Letting out a sigh, he heard her only laugh. "What are you laughing at?"
Her face was bright when it laughed, like the sun although it was dark. "You looked like some nervous teenage boy back there. You practically jumped. What made you such a nervous wreck anyway?"
He flushed again. "I thought…you…"
Her eyes widened when she blushed, and she blushed when his voice trailed off. "L…like I would do that to you. I'm a lady, after all, not some barmaid interested in getting laid." Her eyes flashed anger. "You thought what?"
He shook his head tiredly. "I didn't think that far."
"You don't seem to think much at all, so I guess not."
He almost growled. "What is that supposed to mean?" He paused. "Nevermind, I know what that means, but if you're trying to get me angry, I won't even bother." He nodded at the dresser. "Could you get me those clothes?"
She looked at him strangely. "Why? Can't you get them yourself."
Embarrassed, he ducked his head. "My head hurts like hell."
She smiled. "Oh."
"Thanks for…the room, I guess. But you should have taken the bed. It's your room and not mine, after all." He shrugged carelessly. It had been a while since he had thanked anyone.
Her laugh was crystalline. "You were the one who was drunk. So you got the bed." She said simply. "But you're welcome, I guess."
"The wallet is in my pocket, though." He said blandly and sarcastically. "Did you even think of checking there, by any chance?"
She blinked and shrugged, retrieving his scarf, jacket and shirt for him. As she leaned over the edge of the bed to hand it to him, the door burst open without warning or grace. "Hey, 'Gin! The old geezer told me to…" The new, fresh and male voice halted in mid-sentence. Jet looked between the crook of the girl's arm and her waist, saw that the intruder was a strangely haughty and stocky man.
"What?" She turned around and realized who it was. Her gaze dropped down to the floor and she began to turn scarlet.
"Wow, 'Gin…I didn't know you were that aggressive."
He was decked in tribal clothing and grinned from under his yellow striped headband. When he began to laugh, the feathered necklace on his bare chest began to shake with mirth.
"What are you doing here?" The girl straightened, and turned around. Her face and neck had burned up in an admirable display of crimson-red skin. She stepped away from the bed as rapidly as she could, dropping Jet's clothes on his lap in the process. "Y…you were supposed to be in the other room!"
The man laughed a deep and bellowing laugh. "Yeah, well I was, but decided to check up on how the little lady was doin'. Didn't think I was…interrupting something." He coughed and laughed and resorted to snickering. "But if you were so preoccupied, I'll just leave you alone to do whatever you were…up to before I so rudely barged in."
"It wasn't like that!" she defended, almost hysterically. "You pervert, get your mind out of the gutter!" She looked like she was going to burst in a moment and splatter red and green all over the room. Jet readied his grasp on the edge of the covers, just in case that really happened. It wasn't very likely, but this was Filgaia, and for all he knew pigs really could fly, or wear guerilla warfare gear, at least. 
"Aww, c'mon, you don't have to lie to lil' ol' me! I know a good time when I see one."
"It wasn't!" she shrieked, turning more scarlet by the minute.
"So, how did you like it, your first time?" came the sly retort.
He was going to pass out. It was really so quiet before.
The man laughed loudly again. "He's a good lookin' one at least. The last guy who tried his moves on you was sort of a no-brainer. He was uglier than the bottom of my shoe. I swear I was so glad when you turned him down. I thought he was gonna rap at our door until dawn until you agreed to go out to the bar with him. Really, the nerve of some people, asking such a pretty lady out when..."
"Pervert!" she yelled.
The man shrugged, and truly noticed him for the first time. That bright and wide smile dropped off his face, into the floor, and then down, down to the depths of the underworld. The color drained from his face with startling quickness. Self-consciously, Jet turned around to see if some huge three-headed demon had suddenly materialized behind him and was about to pounce.
There was nothing in the corner but darkness.
The girl noticed where he was looking too. Her face drained, and her look faded back into that sorrowful one she had on when she had first awoken. Her eyes suddenly flared with alarm, and she turned back to where her friend stood in the doorway, seething with rage. He looked like a wild bull and Jet lay right in its horned path. "Stop, don't…don't! Calm down!"
Jet watched her as she rushed to the once-laughing man and held him back by his arm. He charged anyway, except he covered no distance. The girl was stronger than she looked. A little afraid of such intense anger, Jet drew back to the edge of the bed and stared. His stomach knotted and his breath caught.
"Why you little punk! You're going to show yourself now and…"
"Stop, Gallows!" The girl tugged a little harder. "Calm down!"
We've met before.
The world began to spin. Jet cried out in anguish when his head seemed to collapse in on his brain. Burying his face in his bare hands, he shook his head vigorously. "You…you…"
Both Gallows and the girl stopped and froze, staring at him in bewilderment. He paid no attention them, as the world spiraled and spun before his very eyes. It flashed black and color, black and color. The lights seemed to be dimmer, dimmer than even the shadows. His forehead was on fire, and his ears rushed with befuddled sounds. What was happening to him? Was this part of having a hangover?
Seeing old phantoms, was this part of having a hangover?
Jet looked up at them with pained lavender eyes. "You weren't supposed to find me," he choked out. "How…how did you find me?"
The room flashed color, and then black.
 – You know, those little pig monsters? I can't recall their exact name, but they're the ones with the "Pork Chop" attacks? Usually, when you spot them, they're with these tree monsters.