I don't believe in Once Upon a Time, so I'll begin this with something equally cliché: it was a dark and stormy night.

Actually that's a lie. It all started on a night that was clear and illuminated, as Martian nights tend to be with two moons in the sky. I didn't know it at the time, but that night hadn't really been the beginning- it had been everything the real beginning had been leading up to, like the horrible snapping of a link which causes the entire chain to break.

Before I tell you what happened I want to make one thing clear: I used to be a normal person, and I interacted best with other normal people. The problem was, I hardly ever got to do so for I was and still am directly associated with Marla Hearst, who is anything but normal.

But even with Marla I remained normal-it was Faye who turned me into someone different. It was Faye's fault, but I still blame Marla.

It was through Marla that I met Faye Valentine, and later on Spike Spiegel. And also it was because of my boss that the whole business around those two came about. It's a complicated story, but even now, a year afterward, I feel the need to write it down for I still turn over the events in my mind as if they happened yesterday.

It started this way: it was one-something in the morning and I was asleep when my phone started to ring. I had no intention of answering it, because I'd stayed up late the night before and I just knew it was Marla wanting something I was too tired to do. But of course, trying to ignore my very loud phone was difficult and trying to ignore Marla Hearst outright futile.

She is a very obsessive woman, you must understand that. If you remember anything I say about her, remember that she is an obsessive woman.

So I ended up answering my phone after all. I picked up the receiver and immediately the collective mumblings of drunks and the clinking of glasses and the humming of a television somewhere in the background met my ears like some window to the Friday night scene I never involve myself in.

And then there came the voice I expected. "Vivika? Wha took you sho long?" Marla Hearst was drunk, and as irresponsible as she is I must giver her credit for always using a designated driver-namely me.

"I was sleeping."

"Were you? Bu itsh Fri-ay 'ight. Shoulda been screwin a dude--I'd've forgivin ya then." There was a brief pause during which I could hear her burst into her usual fit of giggling partial to alcohol aftermath. She wasn't really laughing at me, just at things in general.

"Anyhows, I needa ride, m'kay Viv? I found a new bar-juz delightful, hear me? ~Delightful~. Ish called theeee.." I heard her voice from farther away as she took her head away from the receiver and asked some person what the name of the bar was. "The Big Shot-ain't tha great? Like tha show tha usedta be on for the buckaroosssssss."

"I know of it," I told her. I don't know why but I said it as if I'd actually been inside that place-I pass it on the way to a restaurant I'm a regular at. Honestly, before that night, I'd thought it was a gay bar.

"Ya do? Good for you!" she sounded more pleased with her supposed influence on me than with the actual though that I'd go into a bar of my own accord. "Anyhows, clean tha crap outa the back seat cuz I met a new frien' and she's gonna shtay wid me for a lil while."

As I drove to the bar I contemplated what Marla had said. It was a strange thought for me that Marla made friend. She didn't have friends, really. She considered me a friend, and that should give you an idea of how close she actually got to people.

When I pulled up to the curb in front of The Big Shot, Marla was already waiting for me outside the door, completely wasted with her arm slung around the shoulder of a tall woman for support.

"Here we are!" she cried out with a flourishing gesture of her free arm. "Quick gettin here, atta girl." The tall woman was helping her, with more shoving than support, to sit down in the back seat. Marla waved a limp- wristed hand at her and said, "This here's my new frien', Faye Valentine." Even drunk, my boss never forgets the introductions. She can't hold her head under liquor, no way, but at least she's the type who remembers things after a night of boozing.

"Faye this's my go-girl, Vivika Chen-hey Viv! You shoulda seen this one-" she gave Miss Valentine a slap on the shoulder, "drank as much as I did bu look how shtraight she sits!"

Faye and I exchanged glances of mutual understanding: we both found my boss crazy as hell, and I think at that point Valentine and I were sort of friends.

~ Marla blacked out somewhere on the ride to her apartment and Faye and I got to talking. Like any new acquaintances, we talked about things we had in common, and therefore talked about my boss.

Faye got to talking about how she and Marla met, and while she talked I remember the strong scent of beer on her breath combined with cigarettes and I could tell this was just the type of person my boss knew nothing about.

"I was flirting with this man," Faye explained to me. She talked very clearly, and if it weren't for the breath I'd never have believed she was drunk. "Something happened recently-actually this is the one year anniversary of something bad and I really wanted to get wasted but I'm broke." She grinned kind of wickedly. "But you don't need money in a bar as long as there's a lonely man in the stool next to you, that's a universal truth but even more so here."

By here, she meant Trimalchio-a complete nothing in comparison to other Martian cities--but I didn't think at the time that the men were any less lonely Mars than anywhere else in the solar system. Now, I think that all the lonely men are on Mars, but I haven't gotten to that point in the story yet.

"Me and the guy were doing the usual flirty small talk, and somewhere along the line the bar's name becomes a topic, and the guy says 'Big Shot used to be a show for bounty hunters, but I found it pretty damn funny and watched it anyway' and then he asked me if I'd seen it before it went off the air."

"Have you?" I asked, pretending like I was interested. Honestly, I liked Faye. There were many moments afterward when I didn't and when I did, but at the time of our first conversation I liked her because I believed she was normal-and after working for Marla, normal was refreshing-but then the next thing she said really wrecked my image.

"Damn right I have!" she said that kind of loudly; the first and only indication of drunkenness aside from her rosy cheeks and the already established scent. "I used to be a bounty hunter! And I told that man so."

Secretly, I'd been feeling more on the shocked side of appalled at her unhindered confession, but I merely replied causally, "Were you? What did you change careers to?"

"I have no idea what I changed to, to be honest," Faye gave me a knowing smile and both our eyes strayed to the sleeping Marla. "That woman was at the stool on the other side of me and as soon as she hears what I used to do she goes and gets all excited and before I know it she's buying me drinks and making me tell her all about being a cowgirl."

I laughed a little. "It's just the type of thing she'd find fascinating."

"Yes! That's the word she used, '~fascinating~'." Valentine laughed as she placed emphasis on one of Marla's favorite words and doing an impersonation. "At any rate she took to me so much that she offered me a job but when I asked what it was she was probably too drunk to give me an answer. She just said I could work for 'the company' and it paid big."

I'll stop talking about the first day here, because in retrospect it's not all that important. I keep writing about Marla, but really the person I'm trying to show you is Faye. Spike and her affected me somehow, just by watching them, you see. I figure if I write about the whole thing then even I might understand why those two keep invading my thoughts.

But it's really important to understand Marla, because the whole event-I used to think of it as the whole mess, but now I realize that it was, in a way, an event-was her fault. Or maybe not her fault, but thanks to her. I'm still not sure which.

~ Marla's "company" did not and still does not exist. She doesn't have a job, but despite that she's loaded. And I mean that-completely loaded. It started with the one family friend of hers, a Mr. Heffner, who was a very important man. I don't know what his trade was, but the industry he owned was huge and stocks in it could make you rich, if you ever could get your hands on a share.

Like I said, Heffner was a family friend, but even with that kind of an acquaintance the Hearsts never got into stocks. But one day Marla met a man who owned a small newspaper company which serviced the northern continent on Venus and its local events. He wanted to go planet wide, but he needed the money. Coincidentally, he also dabbled in the market and he really took to Marla in the way that idiotic men do, and he offered her a chance at a share. She couldn't afford it, but as a trade she offered the man a foot in the door at Heffner's stocks and ways went to ways and she ended up a millionaire.

The newspaper man ended up even richer, but in her debut favor wise, so when a friend of hers got accused of some kind of crime and the newspapers began to cover his trial, she asked her newspaper man to work the propaganda angle and generate public sympathy for her criminal friend, who was rich, and eventually got off scott free and ~he~ ended up in her debut.

The cycle continued in that manner until Marla was a billionaire with her nose in practically every important man's business-except the Syndicates. With all her connections, she became about as powerful herself as a Syndicate: capable of ruining someone's life, financially and through reputation, but she never killed people like a Syndicate would.

She and practically every Syndicate out there had a mutual agreement to stay out of each other's way, and they had honored the agreement well.

I call Marla my boss but I'm not and was never technically on any payroll. That's the way her personality is. She never technically hired me, but we met and she saw that I was useful. She calls me up and when she does I must drop everything I don't happen to be doing and get cracking on whatever she assigns me-so really I'm like a personal assistant. Not a secretary though; you don't call your secretary to drag your drunken ass out of a bar or pick you up at a random man's house after you've given him a one night stand.

Marla was rich, but also extremely bored. And this is where Faye comes in. Like I said, I am a normal person, but normal isn't half as entertaining to a woman like my boss as Faye Valentine would be.

And so Faye became Marla Hearst's new best friend (paid nicely, of course). Marla would drag her out practically everywhere, and she couldn't have been happier about finding a drinking buddy.

Oh, I don't believe I almost forgot to write this-I'm going to have to skip back to that first night one more time. Back to the point after Faye, the doorman, and I hauled a completely wasted Mara into her bed.

Faye would be staying with Marla for the time being. The invitation had always been open to me as well, but I didn't want to move out of my apartment. Like I said, Marla and I aren't friends and I have no desire to live with her despite all the luxuries of her penthouse which make me visit her often.

I'd shown Faye to the guestroom and had been about to leave when she stuck her head out of the door and asked, "I forget, did we lay her on her back or her stomach?"

I stared at her for a second, confused. "I don't remember."

She stepped out of her new room and crossed the long hall. Wondering what she was up to, for I hadn't learned yet that Faye wasn't the type to explain the things she did, I followed her though the living area and over to Marla's wing.

When we entered we found Marla on her back, sprawled across the bed, limp limbed and just how we'd left her: snoring like a bitch. Faye exhaled with an annoyed sound and told me to help her roll the woman over.

"Why?" I asked, moving my boss's arms to her sides.

"She's drunk; if she throws up she'll choke if she stays on her back," Faye explained. Looking back on that, despite all that I've learned about Faye since, I still can't be sure if she flipped Marla over out of consideration or just because she really needed the money. I'm positive it wasn't for both reasons.

It was then that my boss woke up, grumbling and groaning and giggling from a night of overdoing it. She turned her glazed, color-contact-blue eyes on Faye and gave her a friendly slap on the arm, saying, "I'm gonna turn you into somethin' big, Val-en-tine. You work for me now, I'm gonna make you into something ~fascinating~." she broke off into more giggles before continuing.

"You're the right type-I predict you'll be helpin' me out big time, Cowgirl, you're just the right type."

I knew that Marla didn't think of me as that type, whatever she'd meant by that, but I really didn't care. Her standards are not mine; that's why, at that moment, I really thought myself ten times better than Faye.

"I'm gonna turn you into somethin' ~great~," Marla went on, caught up in the sparkles of her own vision.

Faye stared at her with a sarcastic contortion of the eyebrows over her narrowed green eyes. Her face just screamed: this is stupid, but those eyes were green as the money she wanted and they burned with ambition. I think that's why she didn't walk out then, even after the obvious display of Marla's lacking of sanity.

"Soz remember dat! Val-en-tine." my boss commanded with another slap on Faye's arm. "You work fer me now, Val-en-tine--I'm gonna build a whole person up from scratch!" she began to laugh at the concept. "So from now on," Marla, limp wrested, pointed a finger at Valentine. "You're name's Gatsby."

I wish I'd understood it at the time, how significant a name is. I see now that there was a definite difference between Faye Valentine and Faye Gatsby. Those times when I witnessed her struggle, especially after Spike showed up, were the times when a woman named Valentine clawed at the walls of her own spirit and begged and ordered to be let loose, only for Gatsby to choke down harder. Gatsby couldn't win though, thank Spiegel for that. It was what Spike had put her though-details everyone else seems to know more about than I do- that brought back Valentine in the end. ~

Under Marla's business of favor exchange, Faye Valentine was momentarily forgotten, replaced by her new persona of Faye Gatsby.

She was especially pleased with the money coming in. I did some back checking on her, the Valentine, and found out she had some major debts, but with her new income she'd started to pay them off. I asked her about them once and she said something which confused me:

"I never tried to pay off my debts before because I didn't have a lot of money coming in and I figured it would be a waste if I used what little I had at the bank." I remember she looked kind of sad-in the eyes and in the slouch of the shoulders, but that was the only indication. "You see, if I spent all my money paying people what good would it really do me? I'd just be selling my soul to the debt collectors and never doing a thing for myself."

"Well," I had replied, "once you were out of debt you could get your life back. That's what debt does, it steals your life."

"Life!" she burst out laughing then, and even the recollection of that laugh makes me squirm a little. "I never had one-well that's wrong, I did. In fact, I had two!" she held up two fingers as if it helped her point. Come to think of it, she may have been drunk again. "I was killed in a pretty stupid way the first time, just an accident that could've happened to anyone but happened to me, and then the second time a man did it. Men really can kill you in all these new and inventive ways, and I don't even think he was trying."

She finally stopped laughing and I hastily changed the subject to something else, I don't remember what. ~

It was two days after that conversation when everything got its start. Faye and I were sitting at the art-deco table in Marla's penthouse playing poker-Faye thought it would help my personality if I learned the game-when my boss came running in looking incredibly pleased with herself.

She flung her bags on the floor without a second thought-the bags were suitcases, for she'd spent the last two days visiting people all over Mars and had just returned-and forced our attention on a long package she carried, wrapped in brown paper.

"You'll never guess what I just bought!" she cried, looking like she'd discovered the true meaning of Christmas really was toys.

She slammed it down on top of our cards with an affirmative clang and gave us one of her proud smiles. "This is just about the coolest thing I've ever added to my collection," she told us, and by the tone in her voice she really believed it.

And that's the way it started, with that package. Remember when I explained that Marla was obsessive? Well it was her obsession that started everything. Actually, it was one of her many obsessions: antiquing, as ridiculous as it sounds.

Marla is obsessed with any kind of knickknack and bits of useless junk she can get her hands on; some might even call her a tomb raider. And she's not even the type to put her expensive artifacts in a glass case to look at- no--she's the type to ~use~ them.

She untied the string around the paper with hands that shook more in personal excitement than anticipation of our opinion, and then tore the paper away with one sweep that ruined her manicure. Faye and I looked down and saw, lying in the fragments of wrapping, a sheathed sword.

"Isn't it ~great~?" Marla pressed, lifting it up.

Faye was staring at it oddly, one eye squinting as if the sword were far away and she required a telescope to see it. She stood up, and her chair clanged to the ground but she didn't seem to notice. She just kept staring at that weapon in Marla's hands with an odd kind of look.

"It's nice," I told my boss. I didn't really know the proper way to compliment a sword.

And then, all of a sudden, Faye's eyes widened and she jumped backwards quite a few feet. She looked indescribable-face a bit red, fists clenched, but with a glazed combination of fear, anger, sadness, and a whole miasma of other emotions in her bulging green eyes.

"Marla!" she shouted as if my boss were her child who'd just gotten a tattoo. "Where the hell did you get ~that~ thing?!"

Marla, not quite seeing that Faye was disturbed, continued to eye her new toy with immense satisfaction and interest. "It's not a thing, it's a katana," she snapped back indignantly, as if the sword might get insulted. "You know, like the samurai's used."

Faye caught my eye and her expression seemed to ask me what the hell was wrong with the woman I worked for. I couldn't figure out why she reacted the way she did, since this wasn't even close to the strangest thing Marla had done, but she looked ready to flip nonetheless.

Even now I don't understand the panic that had been in her eyes. Even when everything in her past came back to jump at her, even when Spike returned, I never saw that look again. I suppose it had something to do with the sword's former owner. I've head horror stories, and somehow I think Faye would have been more composed staring down the barrel of Hitler's handgun. I still don't understand the sword's former owner, the man she was so terrified of-it was the one person she was terrified of, I came to learn. All I know and can tell you now is that he is dead-supposedly the one good outcome of "that Lunkhead's stupidity" as Faye put it.

Sorry, this is probably confusing you; I'll get back to where I was.

All I could do was shrug at Faye and go back to staring at my boss.

"I got it at a police auction," Marla continued to explain. "You know, where they ISSP unloads all the evidence after the trail." She'd been holding up the sheath to the light, inspecting the intricate carvings along its ridges, but then she snapped it back down by her chest and sent us that naughty grin of hers. "And guess where it's from-it's absolutely ~fascinating~ -you know, it's from a crime scene, guess which one."

I shrugged again, and Faye gave no response save for her fingers trying to twitch themselves into a fist.

"It's from the Dragon massacre," Marla announced proudly, holding it up. "Isn't that just fascinating? You know, Viv, the one I'm talking about? When some vigilante somehow killed half the Syndicate men in an office building that turned out to be their headquarters."

"The Red Dragon Massacre," I stated matter-of-factly, knowing the story she was referring to.

"Yes, that's right, the Dragon massacre." She continued to smile at the katana as if she'd found a holy grail made just for her. "Can you imagine the stories that must be behind this sword?"

I didn't catch Faye's reaction to that, but looking back on it, I wish I had

"Oh!" Marla suddenly cried as she remembered something. "And here's the best part-just look what's on the blade!" She unsheathed the sword, and most of it glimmered in the afternoon light with an amazing flash, as if the thing glowed with a light of its own. It was eerie. The one part that didn't shine was the tip of the katana, which was covered in red, dried blood.

"Isn't it wonderful? Nobody's even messed with it!" Marla began swinging the weapon around, playing with it, trying it out for size. "I wonder who's it was-ISSP jackasses wouldn't tell me shit." she stopped swinging the sword and eyed the blood stain like she'd just noticed it. "And I wonder who's this is."

For the first time Marla seemed to notice Faye's silence, and she looked up from her examination and rushed to the purple-haired woman. Faye took a step back, retreating more from the sword than from my boss I believe, and that shocked look she'd had had been replaced by an awful glare aimed at the katana and the one who held it.

"Isn't neat?"

Faye had regained her composure now, as I found she had an amazing ability to do. It was, I'd noticed after our game of cards, not unlike her poker face. But instead of some sly smile that foretold of an excellent hand, Faye merely stared with narrowed eyes and a cynical expression as if everything displeased her.

"It's disgusting," she said.

Marla wasn't thrown off in the slightest. "Oh come on, it's just a little blood," she chided, "Any leftover germs would be dead by now." Then she swung the weapon again and struck the one kendo pose she knew. "Besides, I think it adds character!"

Faye rolled her eyes and made a noise that summed up her complete disgust with Marla and her toy, and with that, she stalked out.

My boss pouted at the woman's opinion for maybe half a second before turning to me, leaning over the table and sticking her pointy nose in my face with a smirk. "Know what I'm gonna do?" she asked me, and even then I knew I wouldn't like it.

I narrowed my eyes and humored her with my usual flatness. "What?"

The smile widened and she held out the katana once more for my inspection, with emphasis on the bloody end. "I'm gonna run this through the DNA database-I wanna know who's this is."

I raised an eyebrow, and made a quick glance over Marla's shoulder where I could see Faye standing in the hall. Her arms were crossed, and she frowned as if frowning gave her pain.

"I think it'll be ~fascinating~."

And that was how it started.


Author's note-spiffy things! What is up with this? I know this fic is from the pov of an original character, but don't worry the story is about Faye and Spike and the other characters'll show up soon too! Well I thought it would be neat if I did this story from the point of view of a person who met the Bebop crew after all the Real Folk Blues events, so she doesn't start off knowing anything about them. I felt it would give the characters a fresh prospective if I wrote from the point of view of an objective third party. If you've read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, you'll already be familiar with the storytelling method I'm using (thus the name of this fic and the usage of the name Gatsby) but THIS IS NOT A BEBOP VERSION OF THE NOVEL, this is a completely different story so just because you've read TGG that doesn't mean you know what happens in this fic :)

Mkay, just in case this was confusing I'll just go over the finer points. In terms of timeline and storyline, Vivika Chen is telling a story about Faye and Spike (don't worry, Spike'll show up soon ^^) and the events she's talking about happened a year ago, and thus two years after ep. 26

Lastly, if you're following my other CB fanfic: For Every Action don't worry, I'm still hard at work on it and another chapter will be posted story. I began this fic when I had writers block on my first one so I'll try to update both as often as possible.

Please review! I know it's a weird kind of fic, but I was going for different and I'd like to know your opinions!