Of Dreams and Nightmares

Notes: An interesting way I found to merge the two story ideas I'd been debating about writing. This kind of idea probably been done before, but oh well. I don't own Cowboy Bebop, but I do own this fic.

Please leave a polite review when you've finished reading, and enjoy!


Dreams

The black velvet sky looming above looks down on the face of each planet, the stars twinkling brilliantly. The night sky can be a beautiful place, like something from a dream. Each star is like a diamond glittering in the sunlight, their multitude causing one to feel like he's not alone, even if he really is.

However, the night sky can also be a place of nightmares, where harsh realities are constantly reminded, and the darkness all around choking out any feeling of hope left in a man. The stars become like eyes, watching, criticizing, and ridiculing.

But for a person who lies on the cold cement ground and stares up at the sky once more before slipping away into a deep slumber, the line between dreams and nightmares becomes vague and undistinguishable.

Is not the sweetest dream that comes to a bitter end a nightmare as well? But then is a nightmare that suddenly opens up to the vague light of hope in the distance really a dream?

Memories become like that of dreams and nightmares: vague and distant, but at times the pain and joy become so real it is as if one is living them all over again...


It was a dark and cloudy night, rain beating down on the tops of the buildings. A sea of umbrellas could be seen shuffling from building to building outside in the streets of the city. A thin line of lightning flickered by an open window, the howling wind blowing into a darkened room.

"But why?" A young woman asked abruptly as she snapped the window closed, blocking out the howl of the storm, her voice smooth but confused. "The government wouldn't send you out there to defend them."

She turned around to face a man standing in the shadows of the room, brushing a strand of her blonde hair out of her eyes. The man made an impatient sound, his narrow blue eyes opening as he spoke.

"Of course not," he replied coldly, his arms folded across his chest. "It's not the government that's sending us out; it's the syndicate."

The woman's eyes widened slightly as the window blew open again. Growing a bit frustrated, she shut the window and locked it once again, and then turned back to face the man.

"The syndicate?" she repeated, baffled. "Why?"

The man shook his head, a small smirk forming on his face.

"You should have figured that out, Julia," he replied simply, the woman raising an eyebrow. "Too many of the syndicate's members are eligible, and if they didn't send some of them out to Titan, it would increase the risk of the whole operation being found out by the ISSP."

Julia sighed, her gaze returning to the window as she watched the storm going on outside. There were a few minutes of silence in which neither of them said anything. Then, she spoke up again.

"And...how long will you be away?" Julia asked calmly, her eyes disappointed as they reflected the neon lights from the building across the street.

The man shrugged, running his hand through his white hair, picking up a black handgun that had been lying on the table and sliding it into its place on his belt.

"However long it takes to end this damn war," he replied darkly, Julia gently clenching a fist as her side.

"I see," she replied as the man walked toward her, placing a hand on her shoulder.

"It won't be long," he assured her, Julia looking into his cold, blue eyes. "I'll be back here with you sooner than you think."

"I hope so," she replied, pulling the man closer as she wrapped her arms tightly around him.

The two stood there for a moment, locked in the embrace, and then the man pulled away. He turned and walked over toward the door, his eyes narrowed in determination. Julia could feel tears come to her eyes as she watched the man open the door, as if she were watching a blurry, slow motion movie.

"Be careful, Vicious," she called after him as the door shut. "Be careful..."

Julia trailed off, sighing as she walked over to the window and stared out at the rain once again, pressing her hand against the chilly windowpane. Despite his words, deep in her heart she knew that it would be a long time before she would see Vicious again.

A very long time.


The war on Titan was long and grueling, and many men fell on both sides to the cruelty of the war, whether in combat, through strange experimentations on the soldiers, or by their own comrades. But eventually, the bloody war finally ended and the survivors of the massacre were allowed to once again return to their former lives.

The sky was hazy as the various ships began to land on Mars, reuniting families and friends. The atmosphere was a mix of sorrow for those lost and joy at those who had returned all throughout the city as the man called Vicious stepped off the ship, his cold eyes appearing even colder than they had been before he'd gone off to Titan.

There were people, men, women, and children alike, all milling about on the streets, laughing and embracing one another. Out of the corner of his eye, Vicious spotted a younger man in his early twenties looking around for someone, a smile on his boyish face.

"Grencia Eckner?" Came a sharp voice that startled the younger man as he looked up, his long, purple-tinged hair falling behind him.

Standing near the man were several men in dark blue uniforms, one holding up a badge and a piece of paper with the young man's photo on it.

"Yes, is there something you need, officer?" The young man replied, looking warily at the three officers.

"We have a warrant for your arrest," The officer replied sternly, the young man's eyes widening as he backed up.

"What?!" he exclaimed, looking baffled. "On what charges?!" he demanded as the men surrounded him.

Vicious, however, looked away from the scene unfolding to his left and browsed the crowd in front of him. Behind several rows of people anxiously waiting for their loved ones to exit the aircrafts. It was there that he locked eyes with a woman in her mid-twenties.

Julia broke into a smile as she dashed toward the white-haired man, her heart soaring. As she approached, she threw her arms around him and pulled him into a one-sided hug. Vicious put his hand slowly on her shoulder.

"Finally," Julia murmured, blinking to keep her tears from falling. "You were gone so long I..."

The woman trailed off, pulling herself away from Vicious and studying him with narrowed eyes. Something about him seemed...different.

"It has been a while," Vicious murmured, looking around at the city and up toward the cloudy sky.

Julia nodded, trying to place her finger on what was different about the man she'd watched walk out the door and off to the war nearly two years before. She couldn't find it, though.


Nightmares

A tall, dark building stood in the middle of the city. Its outer-appearances were deceiving, since it was built just like all the other corporations on Mars, but inside resided the headquarters of a major crime syndicate.

Vicious walked through the doors and over to the elevator in the lobby, pushing the button with his black-gloved hand and waiting for it to come to the bottom floor. He raised an eyebrow at two young boys who looked to be around thirteen years old, running through the lobby, laughing.

"What has become of this organization?" he murmured darkly as he rode the elevator up to a middle-level floor and stepped off into the dimly lit hallway.

Silently, the dark man walked through the hallway and down a narrow corridor into a meeting room. Several men whom had also served in the Titan War were gathered in the room, as well as a few younger people Vicious had never seen before.

"So you have returned as well, Vicious," An elderly voice spoke from the back of the room, and the white-haired man nodded toward several of the high-ranking members of the syndicate, who were seated in the back of the room, half-hidden by shadows.

A young man with greenish-tinged hair looked up at Vicious and raised an eyebrow.

"So I have," Vicious replied coldly, his blue eyes narrowed, as usual. "Why did you call me here today?"

One of the elders eyed the group of newer additions to the syndicate.

"While you were away, the syndicate acquired some new followers," Another elder replied, grinning. "Young people, full of zeal and enthusiasm for the job, not that you veterans haven't lost your enthusiasm."

One of the other war veterans eyed the crowd.

"And so?" he asked, speaking Vicious's thoughts out loud.

"And so you will become partners," A third elder explained, Vicious's gaze trailing over to the lot of newcomers. "Each one of you will choose one of them to be your temporary partner, in order to ensure that they learn the code here, and so that they aren't captured and executed on their first assignment."

The third elder laughed cruelly. The green-haired newcomer sighed, scratching his neck in boredom.

"Do we have to wait to be picked, or are there assigned partners?" he muttered, Vicious raising an eyebrow as he overheard the man. "I want to get to some action."

"You," he snapped suddenly, everyone turning to look at Vicious, who was glaring at the man who had just spoken. "The loudmouth. Come with me."

One of the elders raised an eyebrow as Vicious turned and walked back through the open doors, the tail of his black coat trailing behind him. The man who had spoken up narrowed his eyes and followed after Vicious, who was already halfway down the hallway.

"This will certainly be an interesting combination," The first elder mused, the others nodding in agreement as the remaining the veterans began to choose their new partners.

"Indeed," Another replied.


The green-haired man caught up to Vicious, striding quickly to keep up with him.

"So, I'm taking it I've been "picked," The man stated, Vicious narrowing his eyes.

"If you want to think of it that way," The white-haired man replied coolly, pushing a button on the elevator once again. "I don't tolerate cowardice, so a reckless hothead would be the best I could get out of that situation."

The man grinned, walking into the elevator as the doors opened and leaning back against the wall as the doors shut once more.

"So, you're Vicious?" The man asked after a moment, chuckling as he pulled a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it.

Vicious nodded, curious about this person who had just become his partner.

"And you are?" The white-haired man asked in return as a cloud of smoke rose from the tip of the lit cigarette.

"Spike," The man replied, tucking his lighter back into his brown trench coat pocket and exhaling. "Spike Speigal."

Vicious raised an eyebrow as the elevator came to a stop and the doors opened.

"Spike Speigal, hm?" he mused as the two stepped out of the elevator and back into the main lobby.

Spike grinned and nodded.

"Yeah," he replied, looking up at the tall ceilings of the lobby in admiration. "And you won't have to worry about cowardice; I'm not afraid to die," he added, looking over at Vicious, who raised an eyebrow in amusement.

"Oh? And why is that?" he inquired, folding his arms across his chest.

Spike shrugged, still grinning as he looked around.

"Just because," he replied simply. "What's life if you can't take a risk? Besides, it doesn't matter. I'm just another person out there."

A small grin formed on Vicious's face.

"Interesting philosophy," he replied, walking toward the large entrance doors.

Spike tossed his cigarette behind him into the trash bin before following after the white-haired man, his eyes full of anticipation. The sun started to peek out from behind the clouds as the two men walked out onto the streets of the Martian city.


Please review, and next chapter up as soon as I can write it!