Jillian carefully set Spike down on the couch and went to the kitchen to fetch some bandages and a bowl of water. She was worried about him, though he had assured her he would be fine. She didn't know much about first aid or head wounds, but he had gotten hurt trying to protect her, and she was going to do the best she could to take care of him.
"Sit up for me, Spike," she asked tenderly, helping him along. He sat there slouching like usual, watching her every move. "You've got a lot of blood in your hair, but I think it's stopped bleeding for the most part. I'm gonna try to get as much out as I can before I bandage it." He nodded slowly, his eyes still locked intently on hers, as she sat beside him. She revelled in the chance to touch him, even if it was only to lick his wounds, so to speak. First removing his jacket, she then gently dabbed the back of his head with a wet towel until she had soaked up as much blood as she could. Carefully, she began to wrap bandages around his head, tufts of his thick wavy hair sticking out in spots.
"You were great tonight, Jill," he said soft and low. Her chest fluttered at the sound of his voice, making her grin at him.
"Thanks." She felt her face getting warm and tried to breathe more regularly.
"Don't know if I'd call it Jeet Kune Do, but it was definitely scrappy. And fierce as a hellcat."
She chuckled, then shyly studied the bandages in her lap. "I can get like that when… when someone I care about is in trouble."
"I was more worried about you." She raised her head, surprised by his words. Spike was watching her wide eyes looking back at him, and something about his gaze struck her as different, a certain sparkle she hadn't seen before. She put her hand on his sleeve without thinking, compelled to touch him. His eyes broke free from hers and flicked to her lips, and that was the last bit of encouragement she needed. Slowly, guardedly, she began to lean in close to him. Her heart and mind began to race, the pounding in her ears unable to deafen the screaming will to kiss him. He followed suit willingly, naught but a breath away, until they both heard heavy footsteps just outside in the corridor. They pulled back, flustered, with Jet entering the common room.
"Oh you're back. Faye was looking for you earlier, Jill," he said cheerfully, oblivious to the moment he'd unintentionally interrupted.
She swallowed, taking a deep breath, and looked self-consciously to Jet after exchanging a quick but knowing glance with Spike. "Okay, I'll find her in the morning. It's pretty late now."
"Spike, what did you do this time?" he asked sardonically when he noticed his partner's bandaged head.
Jill spoke for him, a smirk on her face. "We were just quietly playing pool, minding our own business, when these three drunken hooligans come in and start hitting on me and being typical jackasses, like they'd never seen a woman before. They were like, 'I'll play ya for your girl', but Spike was having none of it," she told him, imitating their voices. "They grabbed me and Spike started high-kicking and being his generally awesome self, but then they smashed a chair on his head and he was bleeding everywhere."
"Sounds like you two had one hell of a night," Jet said, chuckling.
"It was fun, except for the Spike getting hurt part." She looked to him again, the concern filling her mind once more when she saw his face. Reaching out her hand, she freed a little lock of his dark hair from the confines of the bandage.
"Heh. Here Spike, I'll give you a hand to bed. I don't want you getting blood on my sofa."
"Oh, um, it's okay, I can do that," she suggested, looking at Spike.
"Nah, I've got it. He's a lot bigger than you." She didn't want to leave him yet, but she could see Jet was trying to be helpful and thoughtful, and she just couldn't let him down. She watched him help Spike up from the couch, and then followed them longingly to the doorway.
"Good night Spike," she said despondently at the threshold. He glanced back over his shoulder, the look in his eyes mirroring hers.
Wearing only his loose drawstring lounge pants and bandages on his head, Spike laid awake in his quarters the next morning, smoking and looking at the stars. They had always been there when he needed to think, twinkling indifferently. Thumbing a rose he'd debated taking from the bouquet Jet had abandoned in the motel room yesterday, his thoughts drifted to the previous evening's events. He had slipped up last night, in more ways than one. Not only had he been bested by three hapless drunks, but he had fallen for another woman, something he had sworn to himself would never happen again. But it had, and he couldn't get the kiss that never was out of his mind. The way she had looked at him when she touched his arm, like she could see everything inside him, all the darkness and sorrow of his past, and yet was unafraid. His conscience plagued him, the thought of bringing her into all that grief and misery making him sick. And yet, he selfishly wanted her, wanted to tell her everything and then let her make him forget.
He was startled by a soft knock at his door, followed by Jill's voice. "Spike?"
"Yeah," he said, his thoughts drifting away like the smoke from his cigarette.
She poked her head in. "Can I come in? I wanted to check on your bandages and see how you're doing."
She opened the door, examining his room until she saw the stars at which he stared. "How did you end up with the best room? It's smaller, but you can't argue with that view," she marvelled, sitting down beside him on the bed. "Whatcha doing?"
"Thinking." He waited for her next question, still looking out his window.
His mouth curled into a smirk, and he turned to her, meeting her gaze. "You."
"Me?" she replied coyly, blushing and smiling back at him.
"Yeah. I… I wanted to apologize for last night." His conscience had gotten the better of him.
"There's nothing to apologize for. I know it wasn't what you had planned, but it was fun anyway. Except for when you got a chair smashed over your head. How are you feeling, by the way?"
"Alright, but… that's not what I meant," he answered, sitting up. Her brow furrowed when she realized what he was referring to.
"Don't apologize for that either. I wanted to kiss you."
He watched her face cloud over, and felt horrible for what he was about to say. He sighed joylessly. "I did too. But… for your sake, I don't think we should do this." She looked in his eyes, reading him like a book. He recognized the same determination dawning on her face as whenever she was about to mount an attack.
"Spike," she began confidently, "whatever it is in your past that haunts you, whatever you did, whoever hurt you… none of it matters now. It's all made you who you are right this very minute, and you're all that I want." She put her hand in his, so small in comparison, and the walls began to crumble inside him.
He looked deep in her resolute green eyes, trying to get himself to say the words he didn't want to say. But her stubbornness had outclassed his one more time. All he wanted was to see her smile. Was that really all that selfish?
He took a deep breath, and quietly said to her, "I'd wandered through worlds like a ghost, looking for answers that were never there. You're the only thing in my life that truly makes me feel alive." Her countenance became awash with emotion of all kinds, and she responded by holding his face in her hands, her lips smiling but her brow knitted.
"Oh Spike… I hope you really meant that, because you're stuck with me now. I'm yours," she said smiling, any hint of melancholy having cleared from her expression. He grinned in response, giving up on any foolish reluctance he'd felt when he saw how genuinely happy she was. Spike pulled her in close to his chest, and finally pressed her lips to his. She eagerly returned the sentiment, her hands on either side of his neck and slowly drifting to his bare shoulders. He wanted to never let her go, for there to never come a time when he couldn't feel her soft skin against him, no matter how small.
"The Edward has found the Jennifer!" Ed announced triumphantly from the floor of the living room.
"What have you got on her?" Jet asked, lifting his nose from his magazine.
"It would seem the Dameon Kent made off with the syndicate leader's girlfriend, a-one Jennifer Tristain, along with a rather large sum of cash money from him as well."
"He stole the boss's girlfriend, huh?" Jet said, impressed.
"He must've been quite the charmer to convince a girl to give up all that money and power," Faye presumed while filing her nails.
"I'll go find Jill to break her the news," Jet sighed.
"I'd try Spike's room. She wasn't in hers when I was trying to find her earlier," Faye called snarkily as Jet crossed the floor.
He headed to Spike's door and knocked. "Spike? Is Jill with you?"
After a moment filled with some giggling and rustling sounds, he heard Spike say, "Yeah. Why?"
"Ed found some information on Dameon she might want to hear."
There was another pause before he answered, "We'll be right there."
A few minutes later, they joined the rest of the group in the common room, looking like they knew some juicy secret and never more than half a step apart. Jet smiled knowingly to himself, able to recognize a flowering relationship when he saw one. Jill, a rose tucked in her hair, took the last seat on the couch next to Faye, who still filed her nails disinterestedly, while Spike sat beside her on the armrest. "So you found something?" she wondered.
"Yes. Apparently the leader of the syndicate that took you put out a hit on Dameon, or Scott White as he's known now, for running off with his fiancée and stealing 4 million woolongs in the process."
"Oh my god, is he… dead?" Jill asked, concerned.
"No, but–" Jet began.
"Did you say Scott White?" Faye interrupted the conversation, her face drained of all color.
"Yeah, why?" Jet said, slightly aggravated at the disruption.
"Did he have deep blue eyes, perfect blonde hair, and a voice like butter?" Faye asked Jill nervously.
"Yeah, I guess you could describe him that way… how do you know that?" she wondered.
"I… might have run into him yesterday at the casino."
"What?!" they all exclaimed together.
"I was looking to spend someone else's money, but he managed to charm me with free martinis and chips. He was so suave and handsome, and… I may have let it slip that I was a bounty hunter who was friends with Jillian Arainai," she said cringing, anticipating the backlash.
"Faye!" Spike scolded her, his voice loud and deep.
"I didn't know!" she gave as her excuse.
"This is why it's critical you attend AND pay attention in all team briefings!" Jet said, pulling rank. "You tipped him off and both of them were able to get out before we got there. We have no idea now where they could be headed!"
"It's okay, Jet," Jill added softly in Faye's defense, "It's not her fault." Everyone looked at her, confused and surprised at what they were hearing. "And honestly, it doesn't really matter that much anymore." Jet wondered how she could so easily let go of all the anger and insecurity that comes with trauma from situations like hers. He watched her rest her head against Spike's shoulder with a faint smile, and immediately understood.
Getting up from his chair, he chuckled once, shaking his head. "Why can't we ever stumble across a girlfriend for ol' Jet, hm? Is that really too much to ask?" he grumbled half-heartedly.