Hey you guys. Yeah, I know I have a million other fics I have yet to update, but I've been wanting to get this started since this time last year. I finally did. It's something I thought up one Friday in English IV, when I had to write a good paragraph using no less than five of my vocabulary words. And somehow, I got this out of it. Anyhoo, I think it's a rather good idea, and I hope you like it.
Disclaimer: I no own Cowboy Bebop. If I did, I wouldn't be broke and carless.
"For Better or Worse"
by Boomerang Butterfly
Chapter 1: Hard Knock Life
She had heard somewhere that everything happens for a reason.
Faye Valentine, however, honestly didn't know if she believed that or not. Working two deadbeat jobs just to scrap by and still not quite making ends meet-if there was a reason behind that, she didn't know what it was. All she knew was she was tired. Not just physically, as she was that night, but mentally and emotionally too. Stressed, tired, and drained-that was Faye Valentine on a typical night, and tonight was no exception. Only, she didn't think she would have that second job come tomorrow. The second job pulled in most of the money, even if it wasn't enough. The second job was the main reason she ate at least once a day. And that second job was the reason she was so tired, so sick and tired, of her life.
The weekdays weren't so bad. Most of the customers were old rich businessmen with a little free time and lots of cash. She was one of the best, she'd been told, which was Spanky's way of saying she could shake and wiggle and wobble better than most of the other girls at the club, and for that 'talent' had the main stage all to herself. Most anyone would think she could live it high off the hog with prestige like that, but the senile gentlemen who tossed uncounted woolongs her way were rare and few. Though the week was definitely longer than the weekend, she only worked at the Diamond Club two weekdays, so the pay wasn't enough for rent most nights. If she could've afforded to settle for just those two days at the strip club, and the rest of her nights at the diner, all would've been fine. However, apartments on Mars didn't cost what they used to, or in other words, even the slummy ones were ridiculously expensive. Therefore, her usual schedule was:
Work at Papa Joe's on Monday-Wednesday from 1:30 pm to 11:30 pm, then the Diamond Club Tuesday and Wednesday from midnight to five. Thursday and Friday at the diner from 5:00 pm-midnight, then the Diamond Club on Friday and Saturday from nine to five. And with the little time she had in between jobs, it was fashion school from 7 am to noon, Monday through Friday.
In other words, Faye didn't have much time for sleeping.
But she couldn't worry about that now. Her only concern at the moment (which just so happened to be 11:17 on Friday night) was getting to her shabby little apartment (if it could be called an apartment) and into bed. Usually, she'd still be working the stage at Spanky's, but a confrontation with the salacious and disgusting owner of the club had her thrown out and on the cold Martian streets just a block away from the strip joint. It was the same old same old. Spanky pulled in some good money from his headliner (Faye) and wanted to celebrate, in the form of going back to his place and getting too drunk to stand. Faye, as usual, had refused, knowing full well where the evening would head after that, and had been rewarded with a hard slap to the cheek, for which she retaliated and slapped back. Spanky had been furious, threatening and cursing and all around giving her a death threat if she didn't change her mind, but Faye merely rolled her eyes and attempted to change into her next costume-when she was stopped abruptly by Big Dave, patron bouncer at the club and every stripper's nightmare. He was ugly, uglier than Spanky who looked the equivalent of a toad sick with cancer, and near seven feet tall. Faye could hold her own when it came to most of Spanky's goons, but she made it her business to steer clear of Big Dave. And it had been Big Dave who had glowered down at her, flashing all four of his rotten teeth, arms crossed, growling as if he were a Doberman with rabies.
"You're gonna regret this, Valentine," Spanky had slurred as the bouncer literally picked her up and tossed her and her belongings on the hard pavement. Faye had learned in this business never to take a threat lightly, but with Spanky this drunk and she out the way, she figured he would forget all about it (like he usually did) and she'd be okay for at least another week, until next Friday that was, when he'd start propositioning again and she'd get more bruises from Big Dave.
Getting up gingerly, and ignoring the ache that settled in her butt when she walked, Faye made her way down the street slowly, fighting the cold December night by wrapping her thin red jacket around her shoulders. She was tired of this job more than anything-the catcalls, the offers, the dirty looks she got from whatever weekend bum walked into Spanky's on a Friday or Saturday-but there wasn't much she could do about it. Without an education, Faye hadn't much of a chance in getting another job. It had been a miracle that she'd been hired at Papa Joe's, and another miracle (and some good connections) she'd been accepted into the Martian Academy of Fashion and Design, one of the most prestigious fashions schools in the solar system considering she didn't have a high school diploma. She had found out the hard way that you couldn't even get a job flipping burgers without a diploma unless you were a high school student, and that she was not. It wasn't that she hadn't gone to high school, or college for that matter. It was the simple and devastating matter that she no longer had any documentation stating that she'd been.
Hoorah for the gate accident…
Faye snorted at the thought and shivered, the worn jacket doing nothing for her body temperature. And since her beloved Redtail had been repo-ed a few weeks back, the buses stopped running at ten, and she couldn't afford cab or train fare, she was stuck walking the fifteen blocks from the club to her apartment like a common prostitute, which was what she knew she looked like.
Somewhere along the third block and Faye could sense a car humming steadily behind her, the headlights illuminating the sidewalk in front. She sighed, and ignoring it, kept walking as if she didn't even notice it was there. Stuff like that happened to her a lot. Potential customers for the local hookers often thought she was one herself and would pull along side her as she trekked back home from either the diner two blocks up ahead or the club. She found that if she kept walking, they usually got the message, but there had been times when she had to be rude and somewhat physical if some guy couldn't take no for an answer. Most of the regulars for this particular avenue knew who she was and generally left her alone, some of the nicer guys even offering to drop her off at home, but the ever cautious Faye simply refused (nicely, since they were being kind to her) and kept on walking. A little exercise never hurt.
Another block and the car was still following her, and Faye started to get a funny feeling in her stomach, one she knew wasn't hunger. She was so well acquainted with hunger she could easily tell it apart from nervousness, anxiety, or the weird foreboding she had now. She was tempted to turn around to see who exactly it was but instead broke into a swift and sudden run. The car followed. She darted around the corner and another, attempting to loose whoever it was, but it was to no avail. The car was still in hot pursuit, and Faye was quickly running out of options. She'd been on Mars for a little over three years now, but Alba City was still pretty big and was expanding everyday, so she really didn't know all the streets enough to safely maneuver her way out of the creepy situation.
She had found her way into an empty alley before she realized it. Ahead was a barbed wire fence, about ten feet tall. Behind her was the car and whoever was after her. She could A. confront her potential assailants with a little sweet talk and if that didn't work, her Glock or B. try her luck at climbing a ten foot fence before whoever was in that car had a chance to get out. The car door opened as she hurriedly mulled over her options and the moment she saw Big Dave and a few other guys get out it was decided for her: B. With speed she didn't even know she possessed, she scrambled up the fence as quickly as she could, nicking her knees and thighs as she went. Big Dave was as fast as she was, however, and somewhere near the middle, she felt those huge hands grasping one of her ankles in a bruising grip, attempting to pull her down. Faye did the only thing she could at the moment and clung desperately to the fence as she viciously kicked at him, finally landing a resounding hit to his skull with the heel of her old white boots.
He let out a whelp in pain and let go, giving Faye just enough time to finish her desperate climb to the other side, and possibly, safety. "Get back here!" she heard him growl, but didn't bother looking down, instead focused on how exactly she was going to get down without breaking something. There were two boxes near the edge of the fence, but she didn't have enough time to shimmy over to that side, and instead, opted to risk it and jump. She took a breath and just as Big Dave made it to the top, she jumped, the barbed wire scraping her back and legs as she let go, her feet hitting the concrete so hard, she felt it in her teeth. With a curse and a limp, she jotted off down the other side of the alley in pain and into the next street, panicking as she realized that Dave would be right behind her and the rest of the goons where fast approaching from around the corner. She ran as fast as her legs would carry her in the direction from which she reasoned the car would come and barely missed colliding with it on her way up the street.
Two more blocks and a few corners and she would be at the diner, and safe. But with Big Dave thundering behind her in the car and her legs giving out on her, Faye was quickly loosing hope of getting there in time. "Come on, baby!" one of the guys, who she guessed was an idiot named Slim, called after from out the window. "Let's just have a little talk!" Faye fumbled with the pockets of her jacket before digging out her Glock, and praying she had enough bullets to hold them off, looked over her shoulder and fired. She heard the sound of a tire deflating and did a little mental leap of joy as the car loss equilibrium and skidded in the narrow back street, hitting the side of one of the buildings with a hard crash.
With the car no longer in behind her, Faye slowed down long enough to catch her breath, but not for long as the guys climbed out the bent car and began chasing her on foot. One more block, she thought, her legs on fire, her lungs burning with exhaustion, and popped a cap into the knee of one of the goons behind her, setting off a spray of gunfire which she barely missed as she skidded around the corner. Nearly falling, Faye picked herself up and attempted her dash towards the diner, but was caught by the back of her neck by thick hands that belonged to none other than a very angry Big Dave. He spun her around and slammed her brutally into the wall, causing her to cry out in pain as the torn flesh of her scraped back collided with the brick.
"Spanky told me to knock a little sense into ya," he breathed into her face, tightening the grip he had on her throat so she could scarcely breathe. "But you just had to run, now didn't ya?" Faye's eyes widened, her lips moving but no words would come out. She kicked her legs in an attempt to hit him, but couldn't quite get them where she wanted. Then, the rest of the goons caught up with them, including the one she'd shot in the knee, and all crowded around her, sneering and laughing, and Faye's heart sank down to her feet. "Knife, Buster," Dave ordered, and slashed at her hands, causing Faye to loose grip of her Glock and tears to spring from her eyes. "You see this, missy?" he whispered, shoving the knife in her view, the blood from her hand dripping down the blade. "This is what you get for kicking Big Dave in the face." One of the goons let out a maniacal laugh as Faye whimpered and thrashed in one last attempt to get away. "Let her have it, Dave!" he screamed, and Faye closed her eyes tightly, preparing for the worse.
Instead, she heard a gunshot and a yell and was dropped roughly on the ground. Faye opened her eyes to the sight of Big Dave shaking and clutching his hand, the one that had been holding the knife, with the one that had been holding her against the wall. Taking the confusion as her opportunity to scat, she snatched up her gun, darted from between the goons and the wall, and scrambled over to an empty and dejected old phone booth beside a dumpster, getting inside and sealing the sliding door shut by propping her legs against the glass. From the darkness of the street she couldn't tell exactly what was happening, but if the yells and grunts coming from Spanky's guys were any indication, whoever had saved her was having the upper hand. At least, she sincerely hoped so.
Faye was a little uncomfortable all jammed up in the tiny booth but too terrified to move from her spot. From what she could see, which wasn't much, two of her assailants had flown through the air and landed roughly on the ground, not really doing too much moving except for the occasional shudder. Mr. Got shot in the knee, who she realized had been a wormy little creature named Ace, was getting worked over, but the lighting was bad and all she could make out was the snap of his head every time a fist made contact. A few seconds later and he joined his colleagues on the ground, nose bleeding and eye busted. As to where Big Dave had scampered off to, Faye only hoped her 'rescuer' was bigger, stronger, or at the very least smarter than he was. Dave was a hulking piece of human being, but he wasn't too bright. He had sent in the flunkies first, and then flexing his grotesquely huge muscles, walked right up to…up to…Who was that?
Faye, in pain and still trembling from her fresh encounter with the third kind (there was no way in all that was righteous and sacred that Big Dave was really human), had every intention, at first, of staying right were she was until the ruckus was over, then reloading her Glock with some stray bullets she realized were buried in her the pockets of her jacket and threatening all the fury of Hades itself to whomever decided to assault her next. However, her curiosity, her darn curiosity, got the best of her, and she slowly moved her aching legs from the glass, intent on finding out who was battling Big Dave at the moment. The booth was sitting on one side of the dumpster, and Dave and his opponent were the other, so Faye would have to actually get out the safety of the booth and creep around the shadow of the dumpster to see what was going down. But just as she was cracking the sliding door open, that monster that was the Diamond Club's star bouncer came stumbling back in her direction, screaming like no one who was near seven feet tall and 300 pounds ever should, about his eyes.
Ah, the old 'poke their eyes out' trick. That was one way of getting somebody that big down. Why hadn't she thought of that? Oh, yeah. Her hands hadn't been free to do so.
Anyways, our wide eyed heroine sat perched at the entrance of that old phone booth, watching with a mix of relief and fear as Big Dave was now out of commission as well. Who in the world had the brute strength to not only take down four guys by themselves (okay, scratch that, she could do that by herself, considering who those four goons were) but also something as monstrous as Big Dave? Whoever had done such a thing had to be…had to be amazing! A fierce fighter! A sheer tower of strength and agility!
And so she was no longer curious and once again terrified as she heard footsteps of that fearsome soul approaching her, slowly and deliberately it seemed. She immediately backed up and bolted that sliding door shut once again, using her trusty long legs as a lock and stumbled with the bullets in her pockets and the gun on the ground. Big Dave's attacker was bigger than she, no doubt, but her Glock was rather intimidating if she aimed right. Trouble was, she was shaking too badly to aim right. And then, with his or her body blocking the dim street light in the narrow passage, the unknown warrior bent over and hulked right in front of her, reaching their hand out to…to…
To knock on the glass. "Hey, you okay in there?"
From the deepness of the voice, Faye guessed it was guy, which gave her all the more reason to tighten her grip on her gun, and wave it menacingly. It didn't help that she couldn't see. Or that his voice was muffled to an unnatural and creepy degree by the shield that was the glass of the booth. But noooooo, Ms. Valentine was by no means going to open that door. He would have to force it open. And the moment he did, she was going to pop a cap in his-
"Hey, it's okay! I'm not gonna hurt you. Promise!"
She was skeptical. Guys said that all the time on those Lifetime movies, but never meant it. The instant the poor girl opened the door, or window, or whatever, she was dead meat. It seemed as though this guy wasn't giving up though. He knocked on the glass again, and called out, his voice still unrecognizable through the glass but sounding somewhat friendly. "C'mon, it's all right. I promise I won't hurt you."
Faye frowned and bit her lip. Well, she did have her Glock. If he tried anything her finger would pull that trigger so fast he wouldn't know he'd been shot until it was too late. Of course, that didn't mean he couldn't grab her before she had to chance to pull the trigger, either. Overtly cautious, she slowly moved her legs and clutched the Glock for all it was worth, holding in her breath as he opened the creaking door of the booth and reached out his hand for hers.
She took it.
It was a big hand, cloaked in leather gloves, expensive ones too. It gripped her small one gently, but firmly enough so that she had a good enough grasp to hoist her self up off the cold ground. Faye was prepared at any moment for the worst, for him to snap and turn into some deadly predator, and therefore kept her finger on the trigger. As she stepped out of the booth, she winced and he must have notice because he asked, "Are you hurt?"
She was almost about to nod when she realized she had heard that voice somewhere before. Not only had she heard it, but it was so familiar, so deeply ingrained in her memory she could've picked it out of a million voices in a crowd. Still scared, and now anxious to see who this man was, she walked towards him and in doing so, forced him to back up and into to the street light.
And when she saw who it was, she gasped. As dim as the light was, there was no mistaking that voice, or the way those blue eyes shined as he stared down at her. And as she came to grips with who her rescuer had been, he smiled a little and scratched the back of his head the way she always remembered he had, setting off a barrage of memories and old emotions she thought she could smother.
"It's been a while, Faye," he said, still holding her hand, his breath making puffs of steam in the frigid air.
And all poor Faye could do was nod before launching herself into his arms and sobbing in relief, murmuring his name over and over.
HAH! I bet you thought it'd be Spike, didn't ya? I mean, this is a Jet/Faye fic, you guys! Don't worry, Spike will show up, my friends. And though I believe he really died at the end, I just had to write one fic where our favorite fluffy haired cowboy is alive and well...sort of. Okay, updates will be soon, much sooner than my others, cause I'm moving in two weeks to a place where there's no computer or internet, so it may be a while before I get back to updating. I should at least have explained Faye and Jet's situation by then, though. Okay, You know the drill. Read, Review, and Recommend (if you like this).