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P.O.J.A: I'm back!!

Watanabe: (yawns) it took yah long enough. You've had me and your new readers out there waiting on this update.

P.O.J.A: Wait a min…OMIGOSH! I'M UP TO 2255 PLUS HITS!! What rock was I hiding under? Is this for real?

Watanabe: As real as you make it. I must say you're doing fine thus far right readers?

P.O.J.A: (blushes mildly) I try my best, I really do. But if you guys didn't support me like this I wouldn't have the inspiration to do any of it. So thanks A BILLION times over for all those that helped contribute to the aforementioned statistic. You're helping me make a personal fanfic history…I'm so happy!!

Watanabe: Glad that you are. Now tell me more about this pretty boy you've added to my story. What does he really want with Faye?

P.O.J.A: (snickers sinisterly) you'll just have to read on to see dear Watanabe…read on…

Chapter 4

I remember when my heart broke

I remember when I gave up loving you

My heart couldn't take no more of you

I was sad and lonely.

I remember when I walked out

I remember when I screamed I hated you

But somehow deep inside still loving you

Sad and lonely…

- Keyshia Cole

The week after Faye left passed peacefully; quite a bore if you ask the remaining occupants of the Bebop. Things were…normal, if you'll like to call it that. There was a decent amount of food left in the fridge for a change, Jet was no longer 'mysteriously' missing bottles upon bottles of McCormick, the bathroom had lost its floral fragrant scent, and a certain cowboy reclaimed his title as being the most wretched bastard aboard the ship. His habits had worsened beyond Jet's comprehension, and his solitary notions became a daily mantra now. He'd lock himself in his room for hours training till he surpassed his limits, eat and critique the meal of the day, then train some more. Quite frankly his attitude pissed the hell out of Jet, and he for one wasn't about to stand for Spike's BS anymore.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

"Before I break this door in half open it now you ungrateful son of a—"

"What do you want now Black Dog?" Spike stood at the door entrance leaving space for Jet to see inside the room murky with cigarette smoke, but not enough to enter it. His eyes were bloodshot; a startling oddity from the most indolent man alive, and his body reeked of a long day's workout.

"You look like shit," was all Jet could muster at that point.

"Tell me something I don't know." A brief moment of silence passed before Spike proceeded to close the door on his mate, when a robotic hand stopped it short.

"Cut the crap now Spiegel. Why don't you just get off your god damn high horse and tell the ole gal how you feel? You're making everyone onboard as shitty as you." He glared intently at the Bebop captain, but those mismatched eyes held neither anger nor hurt, only emptiness at his statement.

"There's nothing to be said. She made the choice for both of us, so piss off." With nothing more to be exchanged between the men Spike returned to his hole of darkness, and Jet to the hanger to prep the Swordfish II for another bounty hunt.

Bounties. They were never really the same again. He grew accustomed to using her feminine wiles as bait for the sex-hungry, which made for an easy catch if you ask Jet, but she was also a useful asset; anyone who's ever seen her use that Glock of hers will testify to that. She drank, swore, and gave him as much hell as the moss-haired bastard he called friend, but she was always good…good to them at least. And the eccentric genius that travelled with them had become fond of her, too fond for Jet's liking. But hey, the kid needed some type of female companionship, one which Faye gave relentlessly.

He missed her, as did Ed and Ein. Sadly, they were the only ones who had enough balls to admit it out loud.

--

Faye awoke utterly refreshed from probably the best sleep she had in years. This was undoubtedly a mattress, unlike that cardboard substitute Jet used back on the Bebop. Oh no, she was in heaven lying on her feather soft Queen-sized bed, slightly ruffled from the night's activities. She was grateful she hadn't lied to Spike when she said she'd be getting just as good sex from Henri as from him. Not just good, great. But to compare both experiences was one Faye couldn't find the words to do. They both brought her to a mind shattering climax, they were both as exciting as the other, but neither was forthcoming with their feelings towards her. Would they ever be? Faye loathed herself every time she subconsciously found herself trying to compare the two men, for she knew one of the reasons she left was to start afresh with a man that seemingly cared about her, not to dwell upon another too caught up in his past to see the present before him.

With that in mind Faye rose from the bed and turned to find her lover missing from his side. She felt a small pang in her chest; the scenario of waking up alone after such a night was too reminiscent of her times with Spike, but her worries were set aside as she found a red rose with a note attached to its stem on his pillow.

'Bonjour mon cherie. I see you've overslept, but then again I can't blame you for after last night I almost fell prey to the wonders of your warmth myself this morning, had a phone call not disrupted my blissful moment. An emergency has arisen concerning one of our intergalactic clientele, one which I am obliged to attend to ASAP. But fear not for I should be finished in time for dinner tonight. When you're hungry simply ring the bell on your stand and Vincent would be up to serve you your breakfast. Feel free to explore the town if you wish. See you soon my Valentine. Henri.'

Faye could hardly contain her elation after reading the letter. He was considerate enough to let her know of his whereabouts for the day and have breakfast in bed ready for her.

"A true romantic aren't we Henri?" she sighed dreamily to herself, holding the paper close to her heart as it began thumping harder the more she envisioned how her night with Henri would go again. Excitedly she rang for her breakfast, eager to start the day quickly so that night will fall even faster.

After a hearty meal of authentic waffles with strawberry topping, real eggs, harsh browns and sausages Faye changed into one of the many dresses Henri bought for her as she mentally planned her day's agenda. But before she could leave the room, her communicator bleeped. Thinking it was her new lover, Faye scurried over to her nightstand to see that the number calling her belonged to the one and only Bebop.

How could this be? I…I specifically asked Henri to have all transmissions except those from him blocked, especially that of the Bebop! Why would they be trying to contact me? Who would be trying to contact me?

But her question was soon answered as a ball of orange made its way onto the screen as Faye's voicemail came on.

"Faye-Faye! I leave a message after beep, just like you said. Beeeep! Ein says he miss you, and Jet clean your room everyday for you to come back, and Ed miss painting Faye-Faye toes all the colours of the rainbow! Red, and blue, and green, and purple…and YELLOW!" the girl sang loudly before the answering machine beeped again signalling the end of the message. Faye silently shook her head as she thought 'at least somebody misses me'. Yet again before she could leave Ed came back into broadcast, but this time she was able to see Faye.

"Pretty dress Faye-Faye wear. I want a pretty dress too," the poor girl innocently sulked. Faye turned slowly, easing her way over as her mind tried to fathom how Ed was able to see her without her allowing the transmission to follow through.

"Ed?" she asked cautiously as she gingerly held her communicator for a closer view.

"Faye-Faye!" the girl bellowed, jumping up and down and cart wheeling upon hearing a response from her favourite gal pal.

"Shhh Ed, please! Now, who sent you to call me?"

"No one Faye-Faye. Tomato find you all by himself. Good Tomato," Ed replied, hugging her laptop like a teddy bear.

She was about to ask how on earth she broke through the firewall Henri created, but recoiled her foolish question remembering this was a child prodigy she was dealing with.

"Ed, is Jet or Spike around anywhere?"

"Spikey-person and Jet-man went hunting again. Pow, pow, pow!" she shouted emphasizing the sounds associated with a pistol as she made one using her hands. Satisfied that they won't hear her talking to Ed, she allowed the conversation to pursue.

"Faye-Faye leave yellow outfit in ship. Is Faye-Faye coming back to get it?"

"I'm sorry Ed, but I don't think I'll be coming back anytime soon. You can keep the outfit if you like."

"Yippee! My room not hot like Faye-Faye old one, so Ed needs to get new blanket to feel warm…" the girl rambled on by herself. Faye couldn't help but smile at the tomboy; so full of energy and pure childhood simplicity. She was missing her company, no matter how much of an annoyance the girl was at times. But she'd never trade in her hyperactive friend for any amount of woolongs, a truth she'd for once stand by.

"Uh, Ed, I need you to do me a favour."

"ANYTHING!" was the screeching reply. Okay, maybe for a couple million woolongs, and it'd only be a day-long trade.

"I need you to not tell Jet and especially Spike that you were able to make contact with me, okay? This is our little secret, and you're only to call me when they've left for a bounty, understood?"

"Aye, aye captain," Ed saluted before there was a break in transmission and at long last, the girl was gone for good.

"I thought I'd never get to leave," Faye sighed as she dashed off and out to do a little shopping and sight-seeing before Henri returned.

--

"This way Mr. Hemmingway," the young intern said as she escorted the businessman to the meeting hall.

"Thank you Clarice," was his courteous reply as he entered the board room and commenced the meeting.

"Mr. Hemmingway, I was most displeased this morning to hear that yet again the shipment of our product has been delayed. We've been waiting for almost six months Mr. Hemmingway, six months!" shouted a perturbed podgy man who looked to be in his late fifties.

"I don't understand how you expect us to further endorse a product that has seemingly been non-existent for this period of time. Our patience is wearing thin, and unless you want your bank account to share the same fate—" started another investor. Unlike his former partner, he had contrasting sharp features and a pencil-thin frame, making him seem at least 5 years younger than his business counterparts.

"Gentlemen, please, if I may have a word," Henri intervened gently raising his hand to silence them all. "I understand your impatience at the product placement, and I thank you thus far for not extracting yourselves from this business venture, for I can assure you it will be most fruitful for us all in the end. And I'm not just talking about the economic benefits, for with this advancement in technology think of all the possibilities that lie ahead for us in the medical industry. We've accomplished more than we were able to fathom 30 years ago; imagine what we can accomplish with this new product generations to come."

"And how can these so-called 'accomplishments' be made if we have no product to sell?" the eldest of the shareholders inquired.

"You act as if it hasn't been made yet," Henri replied deferentially, not once losing his cool with the intolerant men. With that statement whispers were heard all around the room, many still holding their qualms from before despite the news.

"So let me pretend for a minute here that your bullshit story is true. Let's all pretend that product manufacture has begun, and shipping is underway. I'm sure most of you old geezers are so wrapped up in that issue to raise the most important question of them all: product success. So please answer my question young Hemmingway, what is the success rate of this new product?" asked the most suspicious of them all, a buff rugged brunette in his mid forties.

Henri smiled his sweetest smile at the intense man, earning a scowl from his behalf, as he replied "99.7 percent success." The room went agape at the statistics, with some applauding the young blonde at his ingenious breakthrough whilst mentally scolding themselves for ever doubting him. The brunette by the name of Claude von Buch however refused to settle for what he considered faulty data.

"You've forgotten the other 0.3 percent. What happens then young Hemmingway? You've left room for much error to—"

"Oh bugger off you miserable old man. Pardon his stubbornness Henri, he's going through a bitter divorce with the mistress," whispered the eldest, a fond friend of Henri's grandfather James.

"It doesn't matter what he's going through Mr. Winchester, Claude's forever going to be stubborn where I'm concerned."

"What did that old scrooge expect? Ever since James saw your interest in the medical field he cultivated you to take after him, not his arrogant assistant." Henri sighed gently at the memory, and hoped that with his latest discovery he was doing his grandfather proud.

"Alright gentlemen, if that is all I must bid you adieu. I have a meeting scheduled with our manufacturers in an hour's time. Thank you," and the chivalrous blonde made his exit.

-

"You're late Mr. Hemmingway," an ominous voice shadowed behind a red screen glass was heard say. Henri glanced at his watch; 30 seconds past the hour. He'd been told his new corporate partners were a bit exacting, but this was just being ridiculous.

"Ah yes, my apologies."

"Have a seat if you may" and a light shone from above indicating his seat centred in the darkened room.

"Thank you. I assume engineering is doing swell. Your subordinates have yet to—"

"Our subordinates as you say are rightfully that. They know nothing of what they speak," another menacing voice said.

"Pardon me, but I seem to be misunderstanding something here. Are you trying to tell me that development on the product hasn't begun?" Henri asked with much bafflement and anger.

"I'd advise you to watch your tone Mr. Hemmingway where it concerns your superiors." Henri straightened immediately upon recognition of his status in this place, but the seething umbrage at their incompetence of their end of the bargain was clearly seen blazing in those cerulean pools. "To answer your question, no development has been made, and will continue to progress as such until your part to play in our endeavour has been completed."

"I can affirm to you that my end is being fulfilled, much sooner than anticipated. With no course to complain in that respect I humbly ask that you commence at least some part in the manufacturing process so that things can run more smoothly. Our investors have been effortlessly placing their trust and money into my hands—"

"Our concern is not what your investors think of you Mr. Hemmingway. All we need to know is that your job be completed and this product is a success. You already know the benefits of this 'discovery', as you so nicely put it, for the both of us." Henri continued to listen on in cold silence, trying his hardest not to lose his composure with the panel.

"If you so boldly claim to be on top of things, the least we can do for now is have a shipload ready for distribution within the next two weeks. Your research team remains here to ensure things flow as they should. Tell your investors they can rejoice, their stocks are in good hands. And Mr. Hemmingway, don't mess up. That will be all" and with that the lights were cut off and a figure from nowhere was present to escort Henri out of the building.

Damn it if this thing doesn't go through! I've gotten too far now to let those tight-assed fuckers mess it up for me. Sigh. At least some good's happening; what would I have done without you Faye Valentine? You came into my life right on time…

--

Despite the short conclusions of both meetings more things continued to arise where current pharmaceuticals and interlinked businesses were concerned, and thus Henri had to sadly miss dinner with Faye. It hadn't bothered her much though, for after her day of shopping and exploring Faye was much too tired to do anything later on. It seemed though that as the days progressed Henri became more work oriented, but this only made room for Faye and Ed to continue their 'secret conversations'.

"Look at Ed Faye-Faye!" Ed beamed as she placed down her laptop and modelled her new outfit, a familiar number to Faye. The woman couldn't help but laugh seeing the tomboy try to pose Vogue in her yellow jumpsuit and white boots. It was as sweet as it was ridiculous to watch, and neither girl could help but laugh outlandishly at the scenario.

"I think yellow just may be your colour Ed," Faye managed to say in between snorts. So caught up in her reverie Ed didn't hear the pair of old loafers dragging its way along the corridor, drawn to the variety of noises coming from her room.

"Yo Ed, what's with all the…" Spike began, but stopped short of a full sentence with one glance at Edward's apparel. The masculine voice amongst the squeaks silenced Faye almost immediately as she feverously tried to break transmission before he saw her. Luckily, Ed was quick on her toes…literally. Without skipping a beat she used the point of the boot to conjure up a game on the Tomato, consequently breaking her connection with Faye. Unfortunately, Spike had heard the woman's snort a mile away, so no amount of visual hiding could've stopped him from knowing who it was Edward was speaking with.

"Do I dare ask why you're dressed like that?"

"Does Ed look pretty like Faye-Faye?" she asked cutely, batting her eyes for emphasis.

That girl needs to find a new idol.

"If you consider looking like an old hag pretty, by all means you're the belle of the ball," was his curt reply. Par routine he fiddled in his pocket for a stick and his Zippo, and par routine one was missing in action.

Damn it if I have to sew these things onto my clothes!

"Here!" Ed jumped up and produced a lighter for Spike to use on his limping cigarette.

"Where did you get this?" the cowboy curiously asked. What on earth was a child like this doing with an object like that? Well, she was wearing Faye's stuff after all, and surely taking off her boots she showed Spike where Faye had hidden her smoking articles.

"That woman. Speaking of…care to tell me why you were speaking to her just now?" he finally asked as he puffed out a long awaited smoke.

Edward shrugged her shoulders, clearly pretending to be oblivious to what Spike was talking about. Spike on the other hand, wasn't buying it for one second.

"If you tell me where Faye-Faye is I'll take you to her," he sang as he released yet another puff of smoke.

"Spikey-person!" Ed screamed before lunging herself into his arms. Spike let out an 'oof' as he allowed the girl a five second cling before prying her off like a crowbar.

"Now Ed, is she still at that fancy place with the yellow-haired man?"

"Uh…Ed dunno. But Ed see Faye-Faye wear pretty dresses, and smile plenty!" He figured she'd be glad to rid herself from their poverty, most of which she contributed to, but he'd never expect that someone other than himself would make her smile the way Ed said she was glowing. She'd allowed him to see her feeble points, to explore every crevice of her being, not pretty boy. But he knew better; Faye didn't want just the physical, not anymore, and at long last he'd found it in his heart to do the same. So what if she's happy now, Spike knew the only way Faye could find true happiness is with him, for no one can ever love that Honkey Tonk woman like he could!

"Okay Ed, here's what I want you to do. Next time you speak to Faye, ask her if she's living with the yellow-haired man. Next ask her if you can speak with him. If he's not there, then I want you to tell her you have to go 'cause you think you hear me coming, and then we'll get ready to leave and meet her. Whatever you do by Christ don't tell her we're coming to visit, do you hear me?" he said sternly, and his warning was met with several nods of apprehension after.

Their next conversation was surprisingly the next day. Spike asked Jet to prep the Swordfish for an immediate launch if anything, and when confronted as to his whereabouts the cowboy simply replied 'I'm gonna get what's rightfully mine for a change'. As arrogant as it sounded, Jet was for the most content that the miserable lunkhead was admitting some part of his feelings for Faye.

Spike listened on by the doorway of Ed's room, waiting for his cue.

"Is the yellow-haired man here today Faye-Faye?"

"Actually he just left Ed. I know you wanted to speak with him, but he's been really busy with a new project so maybe a next time okay?" At the sound of that golden sentence Spike hurried to the hanger and administered the launch sequence, hoping Ed would close off things in time. Yes he made a promise, and he wasn't holding back on his word, but it wouldn't hurt much if the girl wasn't present to witness his confession.

"Wait Spikey-person!" In no time Ed found herself buckled in and just as ready as the pilot to set off to see their Faye-Faye.

The vixen sighed dreamily on her lounge chair by the pool, body at complete ease as the sun continued to shower it with golden kisses. The days without her beau increased as the week was progressing, but the peace and welcome warmth felt from her new family was ever present. She had begun to truly appreciate the place; the authenticity of its nature was almost surreal. Nonetheless there were moments when she'd wonder how her old family was functioning in her absence. From her conversations with Ed she knew Jet kept cleaning her room ever so often like a shrine, probably in hopes that she'll return one day expecting to see her things spick and span, and the dog missed eating after her, but she never mentioned how 'Spikey-person', as she fondly calls him, was coping without her. Faye thought just as well, maybe better now that she wasn't there to humbug him daily, but her heart couldn't allow her to escape the fact that she still cared about him deeply regardless how he felt towards her.

I need to get over myself. He doesn't care about anyone but his angel…his darling Julia. That eye of his will forever rot in the past with her, and there's nothing I can do to change that.

After taking her spoonful of reality Faye decided she roasted enough and was about to jump into the cool blue waters when she heard an outcry coming from the main gates. The servants were in a frenzy, calling for immediate security personnel and ordering Faye to stay where she was whilst they dealt with the intrusion. Ms. Valentine of course was too hard of hearing to care what they thought she should do, and as such investigated the matter herself.

"God I must be dreaming." As she came out front a gush of wind whipped at her violently, settling slowly as the aircraft came into full landing. By then several guards were armed and ready for the invader, and before commands could be given Faye's worst fears came rushing forth to slap her in the face.

"Faye-Faye!"

"It's just a kid, should we take him out with the taser?" an officer exclaimed.

"I don't know if to take him out or lock him in a cage for the zoo!" cried another officer as he distressingly watched Ed bounce all over as she approached Faye.

"No, leave her alone. It's okay…I know them," Faye said motioning the guards to leave as their aid was not needed.

"Edward miss Faye," the girl beamed with eyes almost as bright as the midday sun as she embraced her prodigal friend. Faye continued to look ahead gravely, waiting to curse the daylights out of the man that brought them here.

"Ed, would you like to go for a swim? There's a pool in the back I was just about to take a dip in. Ask very nicely one of the ladies wearing a white headdress and apron to give you a bathing suit, and tell them Ms. Valentine sent you okay?" With a brief nod Ed was by the pool faster than a jackrabbit.

"Didn't know slut came in size small," the voice that she'd been awaiting finally said as the owner stood serenely at his ship, easing his way into a well deserved smoke.

"Fuck you Spiegel." The venom in which she spoke with startled Spike a bit; he knew she'd be upset to see him, but this was too much.

"I think I should save that for your rich boyfriend, won't you agree?" he challenged as he now stood nose to nose with her. Not a second after that sentence was uttered Faye retorted with the mother of all slaps to the face, shocking both Spike and her in the process, but she didn't regret the action for his comment was more than inappropriate.

Spike stood speechless as he watched 'his woman' stand defiant with her clenched fists and teeth, boiling over tenfold with anger, emeralds glazed with insult and betrayal. He'd hurt her worse than he ever did, clearly contradicting the purpose of his visit. He had to make it up to her before she was gone for good, and in one sweeping motion Spike crushed Faye's mouth with his own, holding her closer to him than any normal kiss ever allowed. For the briefest of seconds Faye had forgotten why she was upset, but as her hands made contact with untamed mossy locks instead of the golden tresses she grew accustomed to, she shoved him away from her and wiped her mouth clean.

"What do you want from me?" she said choking on the words as tears began to well.

"I want you to realise this is not where you belong and to get your ass back on the Bebop," Spike replied sounding more exasperated than he intended.

"What makes you think I don't belong here? How dare you firstly trick Ed into bringing you here uninvited, then you have the audacity to insult me in my new home? Who the hell do you think you are Spike?"

"The man that gives more of a damn about you than that blonde prick!" His words, a cocktail of passion and rage, sent Faye spiralling into a sea of emotions herself. Was he serious, or was he just on some jealous binge with the notion that she belonged to him and no one else?

"I'm tired of your games Spike, truly I am. You don't even know him, or how he feels about me, so to be frank you have no right to cast judgement on our relationship like that. I never asked you to care about me, and I'd rather you do the same." Faye wearily walked away from him, but as he spoke she slowed her movements to at least hear him out this final time.

"You're right, you never asked me to lay out whatever feelings I had for you. And being the asshole I was I complied with that unspoken request, knowing all the while it wouldn't do any good. Faye…we're too alike and different at the same time. We relate to each other's suffering, heck we thrive on it sometimes. But as miserable as we may seem there's something about us that just clicks and you know it. If I didn't care about you I would've stopped you the minute you packed to leave 'cause I felt maybe this guy would do you more just than I ever could. I figured I was letting you go to a better life with a better man. But I was wrong Faye, 'cause no one on this fucking solar system knows you like I do, and no one can make you happier than I can."

Faye turned around eager to see his expression, and instead of finding the usual slouched aloof lunkhead she found a man standing proud and true to his word, those bi-coloured orbs holding a vulnerability Faye never thought Spike capable of showing. He also looked dishevelled; when she ran her fingers through his head earlier she noticed many tangles in them, he had visibly lost some colour to his face, and he had kept his five o'clock shadow for the first time since she met him. So he was more miserable since she left.

"Are you just gonna stand there or—" but Faye didn't give him chance to finish his complaint as she ran into his arms for a kiss unlike any they've shared before, the vigour and zest of the action almost volcanic. She hadn't known when she began crying, but one thing she did know, Spike was right. If he was serious about what he said then yes, he is the only one that can make her happier than she could ever fathom.

"Come back to the Bebop Faye, come back to me," he whispered amiably into her ears as he held her close in his arms, and close to his heart.

"I will Spike, but I have to talk to Henri about this first. I hope he doesn't take this the wrong way."

"Shhh, don't worry about it. If he cared about you, he'll understand," Spike replied cradling her into his arms for a final time.

"You should go; he'll be back any minute now."

"Yeah. Call when you're ready and I'll come get yah," Spike said as he tilted her chin for a kiss goodbye. "Edward, let's go!"

"La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!" the bubble of orange sang as she cartwheeled her way to Spike carrying what appeared to be a box of treats.

"Nice Sophie lady say Ed get something to go home with. Says Ed can share with Ein too!"

"What about Spikey-person, don't I get a lil something?" but his question was met with a tongue sticking out as the bundle of all things hyper made her way into the Swordfish. Soon the pilot himself was settled in, giving his gal a quick salute as he made his departure. Faye watched on starry-eyed, with dreams of a brighter future with the man she loved dancing melodiously in her head, oblivious to the fact that she wasn't the only one watching Spike take off.

--

Better watch your back cowgirl!

--

Author's note: my chps are just getting longer as the story progresses, no? But I hope with the length the quality hasn't changed. My deepest apologies for the long update but alas it will be a while again till I write something as I'm going into final exams next Tuesday (until June 10th) After that though, expect much more S&F love and wait to see what's really the deal with this Henri man and his business venture. See u in chp 5 and plz R&R. Thanks for your support again ;)