A quick one-shot for Roseofbetrayal. I hope you all enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Cowboy Bebop."
Over And Over
By Gundam Girl
Callisto was always so cold. Snow only fell about once a week due to the barely-there weather regulator, but the temperature was never about twenty degrees. Julia kept her hands gloved and buried in the depths of her baggy jeans pockets.
Despite the effort she had put into in selecting a non-attractive, almost ugly wardrobe for herself before coming to this moon, she could still feel the eyes of dozens of men on the streets around her. And she had been here for three weeks now. At first, such undivided attention had unsettled, possibly even alarmed her. Here, her sapphire-blue eyes and sun-colored hair was stood out against the grays and blacks of an undercover world. It was so different from Mars, where you could walk in the middle of the street and go virtually undetected. But here, with such a small population, and 99.9 percent of it male, Julia felt like every tiny move she made was being watched.
She could only hope that none of those eyes belonged to any syndicate agent. She'd be done if that were the case.
Shivering, Julia told herself to stop thinking of eyes. The only pair of eyes she wanted to see weren't even the same color. So she continued on her way, ambling through cold winds on a cold sidewalk.
As she walked into the same bar she went to every evening, she stood there shivering for just a moment to let the heat soak in, and glanced around. There was, as usual, no black trench coats or robes. With some relief, she made her way over to her usual seat, the stool on the left corner of the bar. The other regulars had become used to seeing her there, and it was somehow always open by the time she got there for her nine o' clock drink.
"Hello, Miss Julia," the bartender said, leaning over the wood as he smiled at her. Julia could nearly read his thoughts: Still quite a looker – just like yesterday. "Will you be wanting your usual?"
"If you would, please," she said quietly. Her fingers were tapping on the age-scarred wood, and her eyes were turned toward the lightly lit stage a few yards away from the bar. "What's the entertainment tonight, Bill?"
Bill smiled, wrinkles just beginning to form at the corners of his mouth as he wiped the inside of a glass with a clean towel. His missing right ring finger, Julia had been told, had been lost in a shooting accident that wasn't really accidental at all. "Well, it isn't Georgette."
Julia grimaced, recalling the squawky-voiced cross-dresser who wanted to "become a star as soon as his bounty was taken down." She smiled back at him. "I suppose that's…advantageous to my ears." When Bill slid a short glass of brandy into her waiting palm, she sipped down the first finger at a fairly quick place. Warmth slowly worked its way down to her toes.
"Yeah, Gren'll be playing tonight. You'll like him, I think. Saxphone. Started this morning."
"Jazz, hon. Guy loves it."
Julia bit her lip. Spike had loved listening to jazz as well. "We'll have to see how I like him," she said. "There's a bunch of jazz kids in Tharsus. Some of them have talent like—" She stopped. She couldn't give any information on herself, not even to Bill, a harmless, nine-fingered bartender who'd probably continue his days just like he was now.
"No tomorrow?" Bill supplied, not at all suspicious. "I appreciate good musicians. They bring in customers, and if the song's sad, people start thinkin' they'd like a drink or two."
"Hm." Lifting her glass to her lips again, Julia's eyes once more traveled to the stage just as a tall man with almost violet hair stepped onto the stage. There were a few crude catcalls, but the man didn't seem to notice them, instead choosing to devote his whole attention to the gleaming saxophone in his hands. Julia watched, interested, as he sat on a small stool much like the one she sat on now. He positioned the sax over her knee, and whipped out a few notes.
Julia turned away. He wasn't that interesting. But, she had to admit as she tossed another glance back, he did have some pretty amazing eyes. They were bluer than hers, a little wider than hers, but they were just as intense. He too, it seemed, knew far much more than people as young as they usually knew. She tightened her jaw. Did he regret knowing it, like her?
"Will you be wanting another one?" Bill asked.
Julia passed her empty glass back, only to receive it again with more brandy shimmering in it under the dim bar lights. Then the musician began to play. And the blood froze in her veins.
The melody was lilting, soothing, but it didn't comfort her by any stretch of the imagination. Her heart sped up and her fingers tightened on her glass. Why was he… How could…
Julia's hand grew numb from the cold of the glass, but she didn't feel it. She couldn't even see the ice that shifted in it. The only sense that was working were her ears, listening to that haunting tune that was chilling every particle of her body.
As it ended, tears welled up, and she lowered her face and let her hair fall into it to hide them. Spike!
Once the tears were dry and the song was over, she lifted her head again and looked toward the stage. The man with the saxophone was looking right back at her, his eyes piercing into hers like a sword into a heart.
They asked each other the same question: Who are you?
But at least Julia had the ability to get answers. "Bill." At once, Bill was in front of her, keen to do whatever she asked of him. "The guy on the stage. What's his name? Who is he to be around here?"
"Oh, him." Bill's shoulders sagged. It figured that the only woman on Callisto would ask about the pretty boy. "Well, his name's Gren. Got a long last name, so I won't tell you that. Don't remember. As for what he's doing here, that's anyone's guess. Same as the rest of us, I would think."
Julia nodded. She reached into her pocket and set some woolongs down on the bar, standing as she did so. "Thanks again for the drink, Bill."
"Anytime, Miss Julia."
She walked outside, but the blast of freezing wind didn't keep the song Gren had played from rolling over her memories. She had heard that song for the last time before Vicious had gone to war – in the music box she had given him as a going-away present. And he had said he'd lost it on Titan.
She stopped in her tracks when she saw Gren leaning against the wall of a thrift shop in front of her. He had one leg propped up, his indigo hair falling well down to his waist. In his mouth was a cigarette.
As tall as he was, he resembled Spike. Not enough to be mistaken for him, of course, but his posture was unbearably familiar. Julia's nose burned, but she held back the tears this time. She was not a weak person. She was not weak without Spike.
"Hey," he said before she could pass by. He took out the cigarette and let his arm hang down so he could smile at her. His smile was sweet, not wild and captivating like Spike's. "Did you like the music?"
Julia's eyes sharpened. "Where did you hear that song?"
His eyes turned inquisitive, and he straightened from the wall. He opened his mouth, but she whipped out her .44 in a single beat of her thundering heart, and aimed it toward his.
"Where the hell did you hear that song?" she demanded again, golden hair lashing at her stern eyes as her ruby red lips curled disdainfully. "Tell me, and I might let you live to play another tune."
Gren didn't seem at all frightened; the grip on his cigarette was still casually light. "A guy I used to know – he gave it to me. It was in this little music box, and he gave it to me when I asked him about the song."
Julia's face had lost any trace of color, and the white of it against the upturned collar of her ebony trench coat was like a pure soul standing with death. "That isn't true." Her finger tightened on the trigger as her voice took on a desperate tone. "What you're saying isn't true!"
"I swear to God, it is. If God means anything to you." Gren tilted his head at her, as though considering why she was looking so distraught. "I was in the Titan War, and a soldier did something for another soldier. It was a rare show of camaraderie, nothing more." There was a lie behind his eyes, but Julia couldn't notice it in her current state.
The only person, Julia knew, who could have given him that music box was the same person she was trying so hard to keep away from. If there was a connection… But there might not have been, of course. Those music boxes had been mass-produced when she had bought one for Vicious, and they'd sold like mad. Probably several girls had given their lovers one before they went to war. So the actual possibility wasn't that likely.
All of this she told herself in hopes of calming her racing blood.
"Do you like it?"
"What?" Her eyes focused again and she saw him standing there, the smile returned to his attractive mouth.
"Do you like the song? I do, a lot." Gren stepped forward then, and held out his hand. "I'm Grencia Mars Elijah Duo Eckner." He winced a little bit, probably because the name was so ridiculous. "But I prefer to be called Gren."
Julia realized with a bit of a start that the hand carrying her gun had drooped to her side. "I…" She stared at him, at the line of his jaw, at the way his mouth was curved in a friendly way, and how his eyes seemed to glow with the same sheen of sadness she saw when she looked in the mirror. And she knew they were just the same – kindred spirits, or some other such bond. Surprisingly, she gave the first genuine smile she had in the months she had left Spike on Mars.
Her slim hand slipped into his. "Julia."
He raised an eyebrow, but he nodded when she gave no last night. "That's a lovely name."
"It's…common," she admitted.
"Still. It's a good name." They released hands and he walked back and lifted his saxophone case. "Are you going to be here for awhile?"
Worry crept back into her like a hunter out for prey. "I think so."
"Good. If you're around Bill's, I'll see you there." Gren pushed his unused hand into his jacket pocket.
"All right. Do me a favor," she heard herself calling before she knew what she was doing.
His smile was patient and continuously curious.
"Play that song for me." She exhaled nervously. "It makes me think of someone I should try to forget, but I need that one indulgence, Gren."
Gren looked at her with a puzzled expression for a moment, but then he slowly nodded. "I'll do that." He turned, glancing back. "Julia."
Julia watched him walk away, heart aching for something she might never have again.