"Karma, Part I" A/N: I know writing stories where Spike survives is considered dirty pool, but this is just an experiment. "Karma" is a series of vignettes exploring the relationships between Spike, Faye, and Jet now that they're alone on the Bebop. I'm writing this for my own joy and mean no disrespect to anyone else's interpretation of the series.

These vignettes are mostly written in present tense, for reasons which I hope will become clear as you work your way through them. A lot of people get annoyed by present tense, so if you're one of them, you might want to avoid reading this.

I'm basing Gren and Faye's sexual history on their behavior towards each other in "Jupiter Jazz," especially the bit at the end where Faye says she went to a "very good place."

Disclaimer For The Whole Damn Thing: One day, some men with horns in dark red suits knocked on my door and handed me a folder fat with legal documents. "If you sign here, miss, you'll own Cowboy Bebop and all of its characters," one said. He handed me a pen with a sinister, sharp nib. And I stabbed him in the eye with it, because I don't make deals with Satan. So I don't own Cowboy Bebop or any of its characters, and I never will.

KARMA: Part I

Spike has his back to her as he runs through his kata for the first time in two months, but he hears the angry clatter as Faye throws down the padd containing the information on her mining speculation on Io. Bad news. As always. She never receives any other kind.

She shrieks in frustration, something about the work ethic of chain gang labor. He grins, turns around, has to ask. "Why do you even try, Faye? You've lost enough gambling to pay off your debt five times over by now. Face it, your star's unlucky."

She lights a cigarette and leans back against the mustard-colored couch cushions, closing her eyes. "I do face it. My luck sucks. Anyway, it's not about winning enough to pay off my debt."

"Then what is it about?" He spin-kicks. Christ, that pulls the stitches. He controls his wince.

Eyes still closed, Faye says, "I'll see that question and raise you another. What's the quickest way to make sex pointless as hell?"

Still at full extension, he says with a grin, "You'd know better than I would."

"Well, excuse me!" Faye slams her feet on the floor, sits bolt upright. "That wasn't an invitation for you to make crude conjectures on my past. I'm just saying, you used to be in a crime syndicate, so for God's sakes—"

"Quit squalling. You walked right into that one, so you have no one to blame but yourself. What's your point?"

"My point is, the quickest way is prostitution. All kinds of sex with no meaning behind it. Okay? So what's the monetary equivalent?"

Spike gets it. Faye leans back, smiling again, and spreads her hands wide in a "See?" gesture.

She takes a deep drag off her cigarette. "Every time I thought about my debt, it just froze me up. It was too big to think about but also too big to get over, you know? So one day, I walk into a casino. All that money flowing around me. People winning fortunes and then blowing it all away. And I think, there's the answer. So you see, I don't gamble to win. I gamble to lose." She pauses. "Just like my life."

"So by your logic, I'm trying to devalue the pain of having my ass handed to me."

This gives Faye pause. For a moment she looks almost female as a deep-six sadness crosses her face. But then she smirks and quickly brings the conversation back to zero.

"There's a name for people like you. 'SAM'—Smart. Ass. Masochist. You've just never learned to channel it properly, that's all."

"Like you know all about it, Faye," he says.

Her smirk widens. She narrows her eyes knowingly.

"Do you?" He breaks his stance and turns to face her.

"Well, this is a change from your usual line of interrogation," she says. "Let's see, I made it with a pre-op transsexual once. That was interesting."

"You mean Gren? Yeah, I remember that. You mooned all over the ship for weeks. A real bore."

"Yeah, whatever. I don't exist for your pleasure, you know."

"Sure, then whose?"

"Mine."

"Like Gren was any good for that. That femme?" Spike snorts inelegantly and resumes his kata.

Faye waggles a hand in the air: comme ci, comme ca, leaving loops of blue smoke behind. "He had his good points and his bad points. They all do. It felt good at the time; it was what I needed, anyway."

Spike throws a couple of quick punches. "What you needed."

"Then," she says.

"He loved Julia," Spike says, almost to himself. "She was on Callisto. They knew each other."

"What is it about that woman?" Faye nearly screams. She jams the butt of her cigarette into the ash tray, sending sparks flying. "I'm always picking up her seconds!"

"Take it as a compliment," Spike says. He grins, shrugs. "If a man who was attracted to Julia could be attracted to you—"

This is a wrong thing to say. Spike realizes it just before Faye wings the ash tray at him and ducks in time. The ash tray sails over his head, trailing butts.

"Shit, Faye, what the hell you trying to do?" he says, rubbing his eyes. Some of those ashes hit their mark. But Faye isn't there. A door slams open and shut. In the distance, an engine chugs to life.

"Oh, come on," he calls after her.

The Redtail buzzes out of the hangar. She got into that habit before he left to face Vicious, and now, she scoots off whenever something doesn't go her way. Just like a cat. Or a real woman. Drives Jet nuts.