Jake will be a bit out of character in this chapter. It was so weird to write, but I had to, so that at least one of the two are a bit clearer when it comes to their emotions. I mean, let's be honest. Roxy and Jake's relationship is like a rollercoaster and don't let Jake's thoughts later on deter you. I love their hate/love relationship too much to really get rid of it. But it's just so difficult to get them together -.-

So just sorry that this will all sound a bit suckish.

Golden Sunset

Chapter 16 – When are we leaving?

With a naughty grin, I watched Brooke storm around her half-finished hair saloon, rearranging random things with barely restrained anger, her face slowly turning a bright shade of red due to her fury. I had never ever seen her this mad and the circumstances that led up to her rather uncharacteristically emotional outburst, made it even funnier. At least to me.

"What nerve! I mean who does he think he is? I should of punched that slimy look right off his puke ugly face!" Brooke practically screeched, while bunching her beloved black skirt in her paws.

"Woah. Brooky! I've never seen you this pissed off! So a guy thought you are attractive and tried to tell you that, but failed. You really should have socked him in the face, at least that's what I would have done, but don't you at least feel a lil' good about yourself?" I had my head rested on my curled up body, not wanting to get in the way of the furious badger.

"Good about myself? GOOD ABOUT MYSELF!? He said I had a great fat ass and you say I should feel good about myself! If a guy gives me a flower or writes me a letter, or tells me that I have nice eyes, then I feel good about myself! That… that was no complement to me!" Brooke was still shaking a little bit.

Rolling my eyes a little bit, I heaved a sigh. "Brooke. I know how you feel. When I was still a little girl, I too believed that there was still this perfect man out there, who loves you for who you are, but I learnt very quickly, that there are no such men! Sorry to bust your bubble, but I know what I'm talking about."

My eyes were hard and cold as I looked at my friend. I know I was being unfair and even mean, but if she went on believing that there could be good men out there, then she would be leading a very unhappy life. "Just don't be so naïve, okay?"

I sighed and wanted to turn away already and start with the work again, but a strained whisper coming from next to me, made me stop. "Naïve? So believing in the good in people makes me naïve, yes? Pfft, why do I even listen to you!"

"Maybe because I actually know what I am talking about! I have seen it. Believe me, Brooke, I know better!" My tone was bitter as I glared at my friend, and for a second I asked myself, how we had landed up from having a good time to having our first serious fight about something like that!

I had now been on the go for a few days again, spending practically all my time at Brooke's, even though the sheriff had lifted my "No Saloon" verdict. As for Jake, well, all I knew was that he had been hired to go end some poor critter somewhere in the burning desert.

Today had started out like every other day. I had made myself a breakfast in the morning and then after an hour of sunbathing, I had come over to Brooke's, only to find her stark raving mad, because some drunken ass had told her that she had a nice rack and that her butt was big. My first instinct would have been to kill the pitiful guy, but watching Brooke rave had been way more entertaining.

"Well, how do you know it better?" Brooke brought me out of my deep thoughts and I was somewhat relieved that she had taken on a calmer approach and had realised that it would be rather stupid to start a fight with me. For obvious, size and venom related reasons.

Once more I turned my head away a bit. Not wanting her to see the pain deep down in my eyes. The pain and hellish anger. "I've seen enough shit in my relatively short life, to know what I am talking about. I will only tell you this: men are swines. They will use you and once they don't need you anymore, they will throw you away. You can never expect something from a man, without him wanting something from you in return. We are objects to them. No more, no less. … Now, where do you want this desk to go? I think it would look good over there."

Brooke shot me a worried look and even opened her mouth, wanting to say something, but quickly closed it again and nodded instead, walking over to where she would like the desk, while I started the pushing.

Once that piece of furniture was in place, she looked up at me with her big green and brown eyes. "I'm sorry Roxy. I don't want to fight with you. I have no idea what happened to you, before we met, but if you don't want to tell me, that's okay. You will have your reasons. You have your beliefs, and I have mine. We should just accept that. Okay? I really am sorry."

I looked away a bit, but gave her a curt nod. More she would not be receiving from me, even though it was really me that started the fight. "Yeah yeah. Come. I'm thirsty. Let's go wreck the saloon and grab a drink while we're there."

With that I turned away, but I still heard the breathy laugh of Brooke behind me and saw her shake her head slightly. At least she had a ghost of a smile on her face again. We really couldn't stay mad at each-other for a long time. 'Bless Brooky and her good nature.'

On our way to the saloon we passed the sheriff's office and a very worried looking sheriff. I couldn't help but become curious, when seeing his slightly paler face. So raising my voice and stopping, practically in the middle of the road, I shouted out to him, making Brooke flinch by my side. "HEY! WONDER SHRIFF! Death knocking at your door or what?

Rango looked up startled and with wide eyes, but when seeing me, he already seemed to calm down and he even raised his hand to wave, but something made him stop that action and instead look down at his boots.

Only seconds later did the reason for his nervous behaviour come slithering past me and Brooke, with a very … well … grim look on his face.

"Sheriff! I hope ya've got a very good reason to call me, 'cause I just got back and I'm bloody tired!" Ignoring Brooke, who clearly was trying to push me on, as not to get involved with anything that could cause problems, I slowly slithered after Jake, up to the sheriff, who was trying to get the colour of his face back to its normal green and blue.

"Ah Jake, thanks that ya could come so fast. Just got this 'ere letter, from a place called Gem Mountain." Then, as not to be impolite, Rango tipped his hat towards me. "Miss Roxy, can I help ya?"

But all I did was shake my head, before answering. "Naww. You looked pretty worried, so I thought something interesting must be going on. And- … LET GO OF MY BLOODY TAIL! I'M TALKING HERE YOU MUTATED SKUNK!" The last part was directed towards poor old Brooke, who, in her desperation, had taken to grabbing the tip of my tail and trying to drag me away.

"Mutated skunk!? That's it! I'm going! You can go and wreck something on your own!" And with that she turned away in a very insulted manner and stalked off.

"Roxy! Shut it! Yer giving me a headache and I've only been back for 'bout five minutes! Now sheriff, what did ya say about Gem Mountain?" Jake quickly got me to shut up, before turning back to the green chameleon.

"So do ya know that place?" Rango looked up at the large viper with hope, but Jake just glared down at him.


At that I had to quirk a scaly eyebrow. What was that supposed to mean? Either you knew a place or you didn't! But then again, if Rango's request was something stupid, he could just say that he didn't know the place and couldn't help him. I was so going to keep that one in mind!

"They've been under constant attacks from some unknown bandit group and a week or two ago, those mangy people set the town on fire, killed the sheriff, the deputy, countless inhabitants and made off with them metals and gems, which they seemingly dig for up there. Nobody wants te help them get back on their feet and everybody's scared that them bandits gonna come back te kill the rest. So I wanted te ask ya if yer could come with, jus' in case those unknown problem makers decided te come back fer a visit." Rango by now was wringing the letter in his hands and both of us were seemingly staring at Jake, waiting for a reaction. Rango, for obvious reasons and me, well, I had the feeling that I needed to get out of there for a while, and I surely wouldn't say no to a little adventure like that. Not like they would ask me to come with, but since when did I need an invitation?

"When are we leaving?" The relief and surprise was clearly to be seen in the sheriff's face and even I was surprised. Since when did Jake help out when others were in trouble?

"Yeah, when do we leave? I haven't kicked ass in waaaayyy to long!" That however just earned me a worried look from Rango and an annoyed hiss from Jake.

Jake's head whipped round, now facing me full on. "Like hell yer comin' with us!"

"Well why not!" As if he really could stop me from doing whatever the hell I wanted! This was a free country and if I wanted to tag along, then I bloody well would!

He paused for a moment – most probably looking for some excuse - before taking a deep breath. "'Cause yer still recovering from yer wounds."

"Well, actually Jake, the Doc said that she is pretty much as healed up as she will ever be." Rango piped up, lifting his right index finger to the side of his head and tapping it twice, as if having to activate the memory or something.

"Shut yer trap sheriff! She still ain't gonna come with us." It was clear to the eye, that Jake was now becoming slightly agitated with the whole thing. Secretly I had to smirk.

"But that's unfair! Just because I am not a gun swinging badass western outlaw? Pfft!" If I really wanted to, I could kill all of these losers in this town, but of course I wouldn't do that, well, most probably not.

Jake curled his upper lip, even flexing his fangs in annoyance. "That ain't the reason woman."

"Well what is the reason then, moron?!" Surely he couldn't have suddenly come to dislike me so much, that he was making a scene due to me wanting to come with!

"Yer infuriating!" Okay, now he was just being stupid and childish.

"That's not a valid reason! I could help you guys, you know! Like – I don't know – lifting things for those dead dumb valley dwellers or something!" I cringed inwardly, when voicing that I would be willing to actually do something in order to help, but right now, I would even babysit, if that meant I could get out of this town. Even if just shortly.

"I don't care if ya lift the entire god damn mountain, yer still-"

Jake's half shouted exclamation was cut short when Rango quickly butted in. "We could need some extra hands, well, coils, ya know Jake."

"Don't interrupt me when I'm talking, brother!" By now, a slight rattling had filled the air and even though it should have been a warning for both Rango and me to back down, it just made me even more pissed off.

"I was just saying…"

I had to roll my golden eyes. "Oh my, you two bicker like an old married couple."

"Shut it! Yer ain't comin' with an' that's that!" And seemingly that was really it, for Jake turned around and started to slither away, only to call over his shoulder to the sheriff. "We're leaving tomorrow before sunrise. If ya and yer posse are late, I'm gonna go without ya'll!"

Rango just nodded, shrugging his shoulders at me and walking back into the jail house, but I was not yet finished with this subject. Without even thinking it through, I turned and headed after the angry rattlesnake, which was currently heading for his makeshift home in the old mayor's house.

I caught up to him, just as he was about to slam shut his door and just managed to slip in behind him, causing the rattler to let out a few hissed curses. "What do ya want! Discussion's over!"

Now that we were out of sight of curious eyes and gossiping mouths, I noticed that the large snake in front of me actually looked a little tired. I allowed myself to dampen down on the snotty tone. "Why don't you want me to come with you guys? What happened with the two of us being friends, huh?"

Growling he turned away again and slowly made his way up the large and – once – fancy looking staircase. "There are plenty of reasons!"

"Name one."

We had reached the top and Jake slowly came to a halt. Looking back he let out a frustrated hiss. "We don't know what the situation really is like out there. It could be very dangerous, especially with ya still being hurt." I wanted to protest, but he silenced me with a glare. "Yer still hurt, no matter what the doctor said and Rango also mentioned something."

I rolled my eyes and leaned against one of the beams, supporting the ceiling. "And what all mighty wisdom did the green fingered idiot sprout out this time?"

Jake didn't laugh. "He said yer as much healed up as ya'll ever be."

"Your point being!?" I rolled my eyes in exasperation.

"'Cause of me ya'll never really heal. Yer never gonna be hundred percent, 'cause of that bloody bullet next to yer heart! It's too dangerous. Ya would only get hurt. And I can't let that happen again." His hellish gaze locked with mine for a second.

"Well, that's a shitty excuse if I've ever heard one."

"NO IT AIN'T YA STUPID WOMAN! I ain't prepared to watch ya struggle all the way, hurting yerself more as ya go! So, as yer … as yer friend, I ask ya to stay here." By now he had averted his gaze, looking anywhere at me.

I heaved a sigh and after a second of trying to fight down my nervousness, I slithered up to him and pressed my red and golden head against the side of his neck, causing the rattler to stiffen up. "I don't need your constant protection Jake and I don't blame you for what happened. So just leave it. And in any case. I'm not a child you know. I can look after myself just fine."

I looked up at him, however kept on leaning against him. His touch calming me down and yet riling me up at the same time.

With our gazes locked, I didn't see him shifting around, holding up his gun, yet not in a threatening way. But I sure did feel it, when the cold metal touched the one side of my neck.

I didn't wait long enough, to register, that it was meant in a soothing maybe even loving way, for as soon as I felt it trail down my neck, I jolted and even scowled for a second, shaking my head.

"I'm coming with, if you like it or not. So, see you tomorrow morning. Bye!" Quickly I made my way down the stairs and out of the large house, trying to get my scrambled thoughts back in order, no idea of what had just happened. But also not seeing the longing yet angry look on the left behind rattlesnake.

'Brooke. I gotta get to Brooke and calm down, like now! Maybe I just haven't drunk enough water today… Yeah, that must be the reason…'

I couldn't stop the angry hiss to leave my throat, once I heard the door downstairs shut with a loud BANG. 'Stupid. Stupid stupid stupid! How could you be so stupid?! Why did you do that, idiot!'

Another hiss lingering on my lips, I slithered around, sorting through my things and beginning to pack a bag for the trip, all while thinking up a storm in my head.

I wanted to smash something, but knew at the same time, how ignorant and childish that would be.

Why did that woman have to be so complicated? Constantly sending me these mixed signals! She was always the one to initiate any sort of contact between the two of us. However when I did something to deepen it slightly, she would suddenly pull away! Act all funny and in this case even leave as fast as possible. I really thought it was going well, that we were getting closer, but seemingly I was mistaken.

'What was going well? Less insults? Less hateful looks? Less death-threats? Building up a friendship? Wooing her?! Don't be foolish! Since when do you even want something like that? And don't pretend that you were actually trying for anything! Face it Jake, you've got no clue whatsoever, what you want with that woman!'

I closed my eyes, halting for a second and trying to ignore the hateful voice that was my own rationality. Or what was left of it.

I held no desire to answer any of those questions, even trying to think about them caused me to show my fangs and growl deep down in my throat.

'Let's be honest. You had your eyes on her right from the beginning; decorous thoughts then still being in the minority. But during the past few weeks something changed. She isn't the typical woman and you enjoy her feistiness, don't you! You like the banter, the insults, the threats.'

It was true. I enjoyed and respected the fact, that she had no problem to voice her thoughts and didn't cower in fear every time I came close, so unlike many other women I had encountered in the past. Sure, she could annoy the hell out of me, but when I was around her, everything just felt different, better. Was that love?

'You? In love? Don't make me laugh! Just because you like someone – you can't deny it any longer, you like her, a lot – it doesn't mean it is love! But- that doesn't mean that it will never be love. You'd just have to get out from under your rock of cowardice. The only problem, does she feel the same?' I halted in midst off stuffing some of my special tools into the bag.

Did Roxette feel anything for me? All that I ever got from her were those hot and cold reactions, but maybe it was also my fault. I hadn't been clear enough about my intentions. I hadn't even known my intentions myself. 'Oh, and now you do? Just like that, out of the blue? So, you'll try to woo her. Great. And then what? Roxy doesn't seem to be the woman who you'd want to leave after a one night stand. Death caused by her venom for one thing. Shame and humiliation in front of a large crowd being another.'

No. That wasn't what I was hoping for. Something like that would ruin everything. However, something permanent and binding, that actually sounded scary. That coming from the Grimm Reaper. 'You're a lost cause. Just plain pathetic.'

And I was. Fretting about something like that, when I should be catching some shut eye for the 'glorious rescue mission' as Rango would surely label it at some point.

Shaking my head, trying to clear everything from my mind, I placed my bag on the ground and the curled up next to it. It may have only been early on in the afternoon, yet I was tired from my job down in a wealthy town two days from here. A counsellor had needed his stupid mayor to 'vanish' so that he could take over. The life as a hit man was anything but boring.

Shifting my old black hat over my eyes, one last thought crossed my mind. 'No more cowardice. If Roxette is really coming with us, then I will use that time. Even if it kills me. Which, with that woman, is quite possible.'

I couldn't help but smile.

"Brookey? You there? Listen, I am not sorry at all for calling you a mutated skunk. Honestly, I have called you worse! So hiding from me is just childish, okay! Brooke?" I had been looking for Brooke for the past half an hour and this was the second time already that I was peering through the windows of her home, which more or less was an attachment behind the hair-saloon, but pretty much everything was dark.

Disheartened and more than just a little pissy, I already wanted to turn away, when I heard something from inside and I immediately went back to the door and started knocking up a storm. "Okay, I know that someone is in there! Come on Brooke! You're not really gonna keep me standing outside here, right!?"

Finally footsteps could be heard, something however was off, yet I couldn't put my tail on what it was.

Suddenly the door flew open and my relief was immediately gone. "PARIS! How nice to finally see you again, dear!"

A loud groan escaped my lips and I threw back my head slightly, cursing all my bad luck. Mister Greystone was having one of his crazy moods and I was now stuck with him. Fantastic. 'Just try and get him to tell you where his daughter is and then get the hell outta here! Yes, that's what I'll do. Easy Peasy.'

"Yeeaah… it's me…. Paris…. Hey mister Greystone. Uhm. You wouldn't know where Brooke is? I have … uh … famous people stuff to discuss with her." I cringed at my own stupidity and biting down hard on my tongue, nearly drawing blood, I waited for the old badger's answer.

The badger just smiled brightly up at me and chuckled. "Of course, of course! Come, I'll show you! And I told you to call me Francis, miss Hilton!" And with that he wiggled past me, out of the door, still in what seemed to be his old white pjs and slippers and started trudging down the road with a funny sleeping hat in his one hand. All I could do was quickly shut the door and rush after him, praying that Brooke wouldn't kill me for letting him out of the house… 'Oh boy. This will be fun.'

Finally catching up with the surprisingly fast old badger, I noticed that he was going on about something. "- and that's when I knew that our neighbours had been abducted by aliens and replaced with something far more sinister. The same must have also happened to the police, for they just wouldn't listen to me. That only left me one option, the get rid of the ghastly aliens on my own! Oh lookey, here we are already!"

Completely crept out by what 'Francis' had been telling me, I hadn't noticed that we had arrived at what seemed to be the town's small Cantina.

Before I could stop him, mister Greystone marched up to the door, threw it open and exclaimed loudly, well, actually screamed "BROOKEY! PARIS HILTON IS LOOKING FOR YOU!"

In one fluent movement I slapped my tail against my forehead in my own version of a facepalm. I was soooo very very dead.

"Ach, ya shouldn't take the snake so seriously, Brooke! Ya said it yerself, she ain't mean no harm when saying stuff like that! Just being a snake. 'nother muffin?" Mandy sat down once again in front of me, offering me another muffin which I gladly accepted and took a big bite from.

"I know, I know and she has a name Mandy. Roxy. I know you people really can't stand her, but you could at least call her by her name." Without really wanting to, I started defending Roxy, even though I was still a little miffed about being called a mutated skunk. But no. That wasn't really the reason why I was angry with her. We had called each-other much worse things in the past. The reason why I was angry was that I was actually hurt. As soon as Jake had appeared, her complete concentration had been on the larger snake and she had ignored me, without even realizing it.

Normally I really wasn't the jealous type! Okay, I totally was the jealous type and hated being replaced or ignored due to someone else. But that wasn't anything bad, was it?

"First yer mad at her, then yer defending her. Make up yer mind. And it ain't my fault. Snakes are evil. All they do is kill and drag them souls down te hell!" I raised my eyebrow, believing Mandy to be kidding around, but when looking straight at her, I realized that she actually meant what she was saying.

Sceptical look still in place, I ceased nibbling on my muffin. "You don't really mean that, do you Mandy? You were joking, right." But the young weasel just shot me a funny look and shook her head.

It seemed like she was about to reply something, but never got to voice it, for suddenly she froze up, seemingly looking through me.

I didn't even have time to turn around.

"BROOKEY! PARIS HILTON IS LOOKING FOR YOU!" I didn't know if I wanted to scream or cry, run away and hide or jump up and just punch someone in the face – clearly Roxette's bad influence – but all I could do was sit there bug eyed, watching my dad stand there in his pyjamas, with a very – very – guilty looking Roxy waiting outside, doing everything in her might, not to look at me and seem busy with fiddling with her tail.

"D-dad? What – what are you doing here?!" I managed to stammer out, before quickly standing up and rushing towards him, grabbing his shoulders and gently pushing him out of the cantina.

I'm sure you all must think of me as a heartless and evil woman, who constantly locks her senile father up in his room and doesn't want him to leave the house, but I was just so sick of having to move towns, due to people's prejudices towards crazy people! I liked this town. It wasn't the best place in the world, but it had become my home over last few weeks and if people started complaining again about my father and his strange ways, I just couldn't handle another move!

"Now now. No reason to get all huffy and puffy there cupcake. Paris was at our home calling for you, so I just quickly showed her the way. Now come. We need to get back home! We are all unprotected and alien satellites could be watching us right now! Come with! You too miss Hilton!" With that he started shuffling back towards where our home lay.

Slowly. Oh so slowly I turned my head towards Roxette, who seemed to shrink beneath my glare, before puffing out her spikey scales, widening her eyes and making a motion with her tail, that clearly said 'don't look at me, I had nothing to do with it!' but I didn't buy. Not for a second.

Okay. Finally a bit of a longer chapter again. Also things are going to get much more interesting from next chapter on, with them actually leaving for Gem Mountain and all.

And just sorry again for Jake's strange-ness in this chapter.

Oh and because so many said I shouldn't delete MD etc, I will leave them up until I have written something better, which, as you can guess, might take some time… -.-