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There are mild/barely hinted at spoilers for the series in this story. You have been warned.

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Conversations at Two in the Morning
By, Nicole Silverwolf

Quiet.

Spike couldn't remember the last time it had been this quiet on the Bebop.

Certainly it had been months ago when it had just been him and Jet and nothing but the silence of vacuum.

But then it was two in the morning.

Jet and Faye were both asleep; Ein was curled on the seat behind him, out like a light.

Edward.

Well who knew where Ed was. She preferred to sleep in the strangest places and the most outlandish positions that Spike was pretty sure weren't even possible.

And he had been hiding up here in the helm for the better part of the hour staring out at the endless star fields and the warm reds of planets that seemed to pass them by with lazy ease. Insomnia strikes again.

Eyes focused on nothing and mind for the most part blank he enjoyed the silence that filled the air around him.

Red.

White.

Black.

A grin larger than the face it should have occupied.

"Shit!" Spike swore and backed up, his whole body a tense wire ready to snap and hands up to block a possible future attack.

Edward deposited herself calmly on her head in front of him, arms akimbo to keep herself balanced.

She giggled insanely before declaring, "Ed scares Spike-person good, bad better!"

She then proceeded to flop to one side and go through a complicated pretzel looking set of moves to right herself and get into an Indian styled position on the deck before him.

Spike for his part was berating himself ten times over while wondering how the little imp of a girl had managed to sneak up on him. He could hear assassins half a mile away. He had rarely been taken by surprise and knew for a fact that Ed was decidedly low on stealth tactics. The girl was a bouncing noisemaker.

Yet he hadn't known she was there until she had chosen to show herself. That bothered him. A bit more than he wanted to admit. That meant something that sounded very much like attachment and familiarity, two words he DID NOT want anything to do with anymore.

"Geez Ed! What the hell do you want!" Spike bit out, raking his hand through unkempt hair that had never stayed where it was ordered.

"Spike-person is staring at the stars, suns very far away go boom one day! Why Spike-person not sleeping like the Bebop, Ein and Jet-person and Faye-Faye?"

"I could ask the same of you," he muttered sourly and went back to his contemplation of the window.

Surprisingly Ed quieted down after that and seemed content to watch Spike and the window outside, though he was unsure as to how she had managed to turn around considering her legs were still tightly crossed underneath her.

Without the solitude to drown out his wandering mind and give him its silence he found himself thinking about the thirteen year old, most definitely insane child sitting next to him.

Gawky and all angles. That was Ed for you. Her legs and arms at time seemed to have no bones in them, waving around like flags or tentacles; yet she could be all pointy elbows and bony knees when she wanted to be. Spike sometimes wondered if he ever was so gangly as a teenager.

Probably.

He wasn't all that graceful at times now. A particular instance with a certain annoying Welsh Corgi and a probably carcinogen loaded canal came vividly to mind. He was still all legs and arms, though he could wield them with considerably more control and strength than he had when he was younger.

Nobody had seemed to mind at the time all those years ago.

His brows drew down sharply at that and shadows grew in his eyes where moments ago there had been none. That life was over...period.

And he was going to be damned if he voluntarily walked back into it.

"Edward could not sleep, too many thoughts running, ringing through Edward's head..."

Sharp reddish-brown eyes jerked to her, surprised out of whatever he had been trying to forget a moment ago by the seeming off comment.

She answered your question dumbass, his brain noted.

Edward, oblivious to her rather startling comment looked up with wide golden eyes at him.

"Did Spike-person have too many thoughts running as well?"

She wasn't perceptive. She had hit the nail on the head.

Letting out an almost defeated huff of air, Spike cradled his chin in two upturned palms.

"Yeah Ed. Too many thoughts...too many thoughts..." Too many memories his unspoken response.

"What about?"

The tone was off. Not silly as she was often prone to ask stuff she didn't seem to care about the answer to. It was genuinely curious and maybe a little sad.

"Probably nothing you'd understand Ed. About a cat and a million lives. Bout family. Bout nothin..."

"OOOOOooooooh family! Ed doesn't have a family...father person gone, mother person gone, no one else but Edward person. Did Spike person have mother person or father person?"

"Yeah, once a long time ago." You're an orphan Ed? That was almost sad.

"Where?"

"I was born and raised on Mars." Why was he telling her this? Like she even cared? "Just me and my mom."

"Oooooh so you're father person went away too?" She smiled at the connection and the grin was less frightening and gentler.

"What was your mother person like?"

It was an off hand question and Spike eyed her critically. There was almost a desperate wistfulness there. That wistfulness was all it took to relent.

"She was..." he searched for the right words. They were hard to come and harder to articulate. He settled on the unfettered and unadorned truth. It seemed to fit her.

"She was a good mom. She always tried hard to make sure me and her had food. Worked hard to make sure I grew up without getting shot and killed. Didn't help much in the end but...I knew she cared bout me."

A wry smile lit his face as he looked down into hyper-intelligent golden eyes. "She's probably the antithesis of you Ed."

"Anti-thesis of Ed-thesis? Edward does not like what that implies Spike person!" There was a gleam of a joke in her eye as she pulled herself, Indian style and all, up so that she was sitting calmly next to him.

"Well it's true," Spike teased simply.

"Maybe the Swordfish planey needs a new color...Edward likes the color YELLOW!"

Feeling the lightest of sweats breaking out on his skin, Spike turned his most placating smile and two upturned palms out to the girl sitting next to him.

"Okay...okay...you win Ed."

She sent him another one of those face-splitting grins.

They both turned back to the windows and the stars abounding by, silent and laughing inside.

Spike glanced down at his hands laced between his knees and back out the window.

"Do you miss not having a family Ed?" He hated how compassionate his voice seemed to himself. Not twenty minutes ago he had been well on his way to convincing himself he had and needed no one in this universe. Then a psychotic, thirteen year old comes around, asks about family and he actually worries whether she was lonely here.

"Nope," Ed replied, leaning her head against Spike's shoulder. He didn't shrug it off, knowing that struggling would only make her latch on harder and longer like how struggling in quicksand would only kill you quicker. Maybe if he were lucky she would just swing the other way. Not so.

Her voice was quieter, almost like she was nodding off. "Edward has new family now."

"Really? Who?" he humored her only half-heartedly, knowing what her answer might very well be.

"Jet person, and Ein-woof and Faye-faye...and you."

A moment later Spike could feel an even rise and fall of Ed's head, a sure sign she had fallen asleep leaning on him.

Troubled red-brown eyes, one that could see the future and the other the past, contemplated the responsibility behind that statement before deciding that it wasn't the time to be contemplating it at all. If she wanted to believe that she could. Wouldn't harm the kid.

He would never dare to admit that it wouldn't harm him either.

Leaning back against the bulkhead of the cockpit and managing to worm his arm out from under Ed's head he flexed it to get the blood flowing again. And with a thought, as if deciding on the pros and cons of the action, he draped it back over the girl's head and let it hold her loosely.

Spike didn't even realize when he drifted off to sleep.

Owari

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