This sort of has elements from other, not-yet-posted Jet Set fanfics I've done, so you may not understand them until I post the other fanfics, but the story works fine on its own, too. There are more implications when it's taken with the others, though. Hope you enjoy it.


A JSRF fanfiction by Bagatelle

Life used to be a party before the sun set.

…I can remember so much. Smells, and colors: warmth, and sound. Brilliance, all around me. My friends. Everyone. Beat, and Rhyth, and Corn, and Clutch…music, and paint, and races, and breathing. It's all like a movie, hot and bright inside of me. I see it again each time my eyes close. But when they open…things aren't like they used to be. They haven't been…forever. It feels like centuries ago.

Sure, everybody else is happy. Nothin' changed, nothin' went bad with them. I just made a new friend, that's all. Turned the wrong way, fell into the wrong hands. Corn says there's nothin' wrong with it. That there's nothin' wrong with him. But if there was nothin' wrong…the universe wouldn't be so damn dark, now. Corn smiles, though. I guess, maybe, he's used to it. I guess it might be a sad smile that I just can't recognize. I must not be that strong, yet.

He…Soda…never used to talk to me. He was Corn's brother. He was like a ninja: like a fuckin' mirage that followed the group. Never really a part of it. He would cloud off on the side, hidden in a shroud of cigarette smoke, watching us skate with his tiny eyes, and every once in a while, Corn would fade into that shroud and they would talk together: touch a shoulder, share a look. Soda would give Corn a cigarette, and they'd laugh on opposite sides of fire, and the second I would turn around, I'd feel eyes on my back, and more laughter. It didn't really hurt, though. It was just…weird. Like static on the radio, where a song should have been on a rainy day. Satellite interference, or some bullshit.

…I didn't even want to talk to him. But you can't tell somebody like him that you hate him. Not if you're as scared as I am. Besides…it'd be a lie. And I promised Corn I'd stop that.

We got Dorado Chicken together, once. Soda and I. We got recruited when Corn was sick, this one time, to get some grub for the rest of the gang. So we skated out in the dead of night to Chuo Street. In the streetlights, we were like bullets, and the black sky overhead shone with stars. Beat told me once that the stars were actually the ghosts of dead Rudies, ravin' up in that big City in the Sky, and I believed him for a while. Then Combo whapped him and told him that that was stupid: Rudies haven't been around long enough for that many of 'em to be up there. Beat laughed and said he was kiddin', anyway. I felt real stupid after that and read a few chapters of one of Corn's books on outer space, and then I knew for sure what it was I was lookin' at.

It's so much less exciting, now, though. Gas and light. Nothin' so romantic about that.

We stopped outside of Dorado Chicken, and Soda shoved all the money into my hand and snapped at me to get the shit. I did. When I came back out, he was sittin' on the neon sign in front of the store, swingin' his legs and starin' at the lights in the sky. It was kinda funny. I stared at him for a while, confused by how he looked. His eyes were big, his goggles around his neck, his dirty gloves clutching hard at the sign, sticky with dead moths. I'd never seen his eyes like that. The food was heavy, but I forgot after a few minutes, silenced and baffled by how serene and…human…he looked. Above us, the moon was golden-orange.

…He invited me into his room, a few weeks after that. He used to keep a snake in there. A huge one. But it died, and he had to get rid of it. The aquarium is still in there, though. Like he's keepin' a ghost. I sat on an uncomfortable wooden chair and he told me, for almost no reason at all, why he hated Rhyth. He didn't look at me while he spoke. He cleaned his skates and drank beer, while I smoked and listened. My ass fell asleep, and he stared at me for all of five seconds when he had finished talking. His eyes are startling. Bright gold, like a fuckin' ring in the sun. I never even really noticed, until then.

He didn't smile, though. He got up and went to get another beer.

…Corn told me that Soda used to be homeless. When he and Gum were in the orphanage, Soda lived on the streets, in an alley a block or so away. That was how Corn and Soda became friends. They met outside one day and just hit it off. Spent forever together. How sweet would that be? I've always wondered…to make a friend right off the bat. It took me months to get any of the GG's to really like me at all, even after I joined. I wonder if it was because I used to be so cocky and stupid. Since I got kidnapped by the Noise Tanks, everybody seems to like me a hell of a lot more. Maybe it's 'cause I'm getting older. Beat says it's 'cause everyone got scared shitless when they found out what had happened.

…I prefer my own idea.

I think it'd be scary as hell to be homeless. I've never been in a situation like that. Even before I joined the GG's, I found places to stay after I ran away from home. There was always somewhere. I can't even imagine livin' in an alley. Eatin' trash. The thought of that makes my stomach turn. I think Soda must have pretty huge balls to have been able to live with that for years, like he did. I told Corn that, though, and Gum overheard and laughed. She said that Soda can be a huge pussy, under the right circumstances. But she doesn't really like Soda, and the way that Corn looked at her kinda made me doubt her. I dunno. Gum kinda has a huge mouth, anyway. She talks shit a lot behind people's backs. Soda says he's heard her talkin' about me, before. I'm not surprised. Everyone still likes to make fun of me, sometimes.

I've been in Soda's room a lot more since that first time. Each time I go in there, he tells me why he hates somebody else. And each time I go in there, I see another little piece of him. It's like fittin' together some fucked up puzzle, where none of the pieces go quite perfectly. He's always so fuckin' pissed, too. Somethin's always buggin' him. Someone. Each word he says adds to the puzzle, and it's like it's forming some sort of a cloud, over me: blockin' out the sun, makin' my world some dark, dark room. I feel so small when he talks to me. Like I should hate more, but I don't. I just get sad.

…I get really fuckin' sad.

We talk at like two in the morning. He feels safer, then, for some reason. And if it gets too late, I'll fall asleep on the wooden chair, and wake up the next morning in some random place. My bed, the sofa, the hallway, the kitchen. Like he picked me up and carried me. The other week, I woke up in his bed. And he was pressed all close to me, shivering, like he was tryin' to hold on to something. It scared me a little, so I went back to sleep. When I woke up again, I was on the floor of my room, and Pots was lickin' my face. His doggy breath smelled like ass and old pizza crusts.

…Soda likes lyin' in the satellite dishes in the Skyscraper District. I never knew that about him, before. He tells me he and Corn used to go there and do that all the time. But for some reason, they just stopped. Soda seems kinda sad, when he says that. Sad in a soft way, too. Not in that angry, cold way he used to say everything. I tell him I'd do it with him, sometime, if he wanted. He looks at me for a long time, his eyes glowing like some demon cat's in the dark. And then, I swear to god that he smiles at me. It's the weirdest thing. But that's his way of agreeing with me.

We go that minute. Not a word from him. Just a rough hand, dragging me, and winter wind and frozen fingers. We go and we find one that he likes the angle of, facing against the wind, and we lay in it, leaving our body prints in the frost, and it's so bizarre to hear the wind howling around the back of it, making tornadoes all around us, but nowhere near us at the same time. Trembling, we stretch out and look at the sky, at that giant rave in the atmosphere, and for some reason I think it would be a good idea to ask him why he likes doing this so much.

…He says, after a long time, that it's because…it makes him feel alone.

And you know…he's right. I do feel alone. Alone with him, in this huge fuckin' satellite dish. Freezing my ass off. Just for him.

I don't know if we're friends, or what. But he looks at me, and he seems so far away, until his hand touches my red, numb face, and he reminds me just how cold I really am. His eyes, though…his eyes are dark, molten gold, pouring over me like the sun. God. I hadn't thought I could ever care about somebody who was so horrible to all of his friends. But I understand, in that instant, why Corn has so much respect for him. Soda traces his knuckles over my chubby face and his gaze stays paralyzed in mine, and I wonder if his mouth is moving behind his jacket. He looks so oddly scared. Like he doesn't know who I am, or why I'm here. Hell, I don't even know the answer to the last one. He reaches up, slowly, suddenly, and pulls the collar of his jacket down. I see his mouth for the first time in my life.

"…Yoyo," he says to me, his voice hard and familiar, "…You're fuckin' freezing."

…It takes me forever. But for the first time since he's started talkin' to me, I laugh. I laugh so hard that tears come to my eyes, as my breath billows in warm clouds up to the sky above us. It's like the cloud is finally complete, and now it's raining all over me. Drops of thought, of passion, of life, soaking back into me. Restoring me. Because we've become friends.

Soda. God, what a weird person you are.

He stares at me, confused, and I, laughing, feel rich in all that gold.