-1Okay, here we go. I know this is seeming a little directionless, but I'm having a blast writing it. Again, again, again, thank you so much for the awesome comments I'm getting on this. The only reason I expanded it to begin with was because of some awesome feedback, so trust me, it really does help.

-Red Bullet

Passive Chapter One:

It wasn't her feet I heard, it was the blanket she was dragging with her that caught my ears. The thing was half rotten and she was bundled inside of it padding down the hall and out into the common room where I was camped.

In all honesty, Faye looked like shit.

Her hair was sticking up in ways I would have laughed at if there weren't exhaustion bruises under her eyes and a more than noticeable limp to her slow, sleepy gait. I haven't been around for a few days so whatever it was that happened had to have happened just recently and I wonder at the fact that Jet hadn't mentioned it when I got in. He's usually ready with a warning when he thinks I'm gonna act an ass towards the brat or when she's strung out over something or when he just doesn't want to hear us go at it.

If I didn't know better I'd say he liked having her around.

She finally comes to a stop in front of the coffee table mid grab for the remote when she stops and looks at me dumbly realizing I'm actually awake and an 'o' pulls into form her mouth.

She looks different without makeup smeared across her lips. In this very instant, clean faced and wide eyed with the surprise of finding me, Faye looks all the world like a teenager. A seen-a-lot-of-shit-had-a-bad-week-my-dog-just-died-and-my-woolongs-run-out kind of teenager, but still. She looks too damned young to be participating in this life.

It's always strange when I think of the dichotomy of Faye's age. She's a relic. A Pre-Luna fossil who traveled through time and over great distances with the singular aim of getting the hell under my skin. But for all intents and purposes she really is a 20-something girl with all the bluster and insecurity that comes with it. She was just put on pause for 54 years.

Few years back I was in the same place with the same bad attitude and the same overcompensating habits. And now look at me. I'm pushing 30 and I've learned the secret to life's Great Mystery. No, the answer is not '42', my friends, it's learn not to really give a damn, and if you're dumb enough, like me, that you actually do, pretend you don't.

You'd be surprised how well that works.

At least I think it does.

Either way, it's not the point, the point is Faye is still standing there, hunched over, mid grab and making a fair imitation of a fish face. So of course, there's only one thing to say.

"You look like shit, Valentine."

I expect her to roll her eyes, but she disappoints me and without missing a beat she snatches the remote and follows it with "Flattery only gets you halfway, Spiegel" I laugh but she doesn't, instead she just falls back into the armchair without further comment, taking the blanket with her and turning the TV on. We both flinch at the offensive volume of late night commercials and she pounds at the mute button before chucking the remote back to the table.

"Something on your mind, Romani?" She shakes her head and hides a yawn behind her hand. She's full of it. Faye's a fluent liar, but you can't shit a bullshitter, not one of my sterling caliber at least and that ain't just pride talking. But even knowing this, I decide to be the nice guy and not pry it out of her.

She's not even paying attention to the show and I'm not even sure what the show is supposed to be. Her eyes are unfocused and detached from anything resembling attention. Jet calls it a thousand yard stare and I just call it unsettling.

"Well, if you don't mind" I prompt and grab the remote flipping and settle when I find a semi hard core porn channel. Truth be told, I just wanna get a reaction out of her. That and I'm more than a little curious if I can get Faye to blush.

Watching porn with Spike. Now that's family fun.

She does snap out of it, but she's not scolding me and to my very slight disappointment she's not taking in the show. Instead her eyes are locked on the dog-eared and trashed book on the table.

"You read Pynchon, Spike?"

"Well, why wouldn't I?" I had no idea where this new vein of conversation might be heading.

"I don't know, just didn't expect it is all." There's no fight in her voice and I'll hedge my bets to say she's genuinely curious. Maybe she's a fan of the guy, I don't know.

Or maybe that crush that neither of us acknowledge is getting the better of her.

"Heh, you saying I'm not well read, Faye?" I meant it for a joke, but she's not perking up. Still just staring at the damned book. And I go back to pretending to stare at the tits and ass bouncing around in all their digitally projected glory between the twin prongs of the vid display.

"Have you read the other one? I liked it more than that one."

She's still staring at the book, the torn up blanket pulled almost over the back of her head and dangling little threads into her face. "We need to get you a new blanket."

"Huh?" her attention is finally directed at me, eyes questioning and suddenly I'm not sure what to do with my new found, hard fought audience.

But you know what? Insults always work.

"Blanket almost looks as bad as you do."

"I didn't come out here to fight, Spike."

"What did you come out here for? Doubt it was because you wanted to see if this chick here will take it in the stink" That was vulgar, even for me, but I'm getting frustrated with how benign this situation is. Faye's usually tossing barbs at me with ease and as fast as I can think of new ones to throw back. It's how we show we care, as it were. Otherwise, we wouldn't bother acknowledging the other's existence.

If I didn't know better, I'd say I liked having her around, too.

She cocks her head a bit before smoothing her brow again. "Guess I just wanted a little distraction, is all." And then she's slipping back into her directionless staring.

"Fair enough." I turn the channel to something a little less on the anatomy lesson side, the volume still muted, and make a point in my head to grab Jet tomorrow and find out what the hell exactly happened while I was away.

We stay like that for a while before I think of something else to say, but her eyes are already closed and she's out for the count. I swallow the snarky comment and everything else in mind and close my eyes, too.