Glee. Chapter two, here we are. I know you all were just dying for it, so, yeah. Have at.
Jet had advised him that what he was doing probably wasn't the brightest idea ever. He'd heard that a lot in his lifetime; people telling him that what he was doing was flat out stupid. Not like he had ever let it faze him, but whatever.
"Oh yeah, she got over it—eventually," Jet argued, arms folded over his chest. "I just think you'd be better off leaving her alone. Or at least meeting her again in a different manner, for Christ's sake."
"For Christ's sake yerself, Jet!" Spike had laughed. "What're you, Faye's daddy? Is it okay if I take her out for the night, huh Mr. Black? Huh? I promise to have her back by midnight!" He had laughed about the image of Jet being Faye's dad for a few more seconds, and then shrugged. "Nah. I've gotta do it this way. I've got to have the element of surprise—otherwise, she won't come with me. I know the shrew woman. She's stubborn as hell. I have to catch her off guard."
Jet gave up, eventually, remembering how futile it was to try to talk Spike Spiegel out of something once he had set his mind to it. "Fine. Whatever. I'm not paying for her psychotherapy bills when the shock sends her to an institution."
So there Spike sat, in a diner in Tharsis City, in a booth, absorbed in reading a newspaper. Well, he was reading it, but it was partially because he wanted to look up from it and scare the shit out of Faye. I always did have a flair for the dramatic, he mused, reading an article about how the body of a murdered lawyer had turned up in several pieces about Tharsis last Tuesday. The writing wasn't all that great. I could be a MUCH better journalist, if I really applied myself to it. He knew he was sitting in Faye's section because he'd discreetly asked another waitress if he could sit in her section. He hadn't seen the shrew around anywhere yet; but then again, it was busy, and he figured she was probably busier with keeping her job than she was looking for vaguely familiar, tall, fluffy-haired men.
He reached out from behind his paper and grabbed his coffee mug, which had actually been brought to him by another waitress in a little pink waitress getup. Spike had snickered to himself at the thought of stubborn Faye giving up the bounty hunting life and trading her Glock in for a nametag and a cute, ass-hugging little pink number.
He always had thought that women in uniform were too damn cute for their own good. Put a woman in a uniform and he couldn't tell them apart anymore. All he saw was the cute little uniform.
His coffee tasted a little funky, but hey, whatever. It wasn't like he was in the nicest diner ever. It was just a regular old antique-designed diner, with malts and sundaes and club sandwiches and burgers. However, it was in a highly populated section of Tharsis, just a hop, skip and a jump away from the center of downtown, and it seemed like it generated enough business to make a decent living off of.
Hell, business didn't even seem to be hampered by the fact that it was pouring outside. April showers bring May flowers, Spike recited in his brain, his hand groping around for his coffee mug again. He couldn't set his paper down, for even just a second. He was relishing the pseudo-cloak and dagger routine too much. He just hoped that Faye didn't up and faint or anything typically female like that.
He'd given up on reading the paper for a while and instead held it in front of his face while he gazed out the window at the people skittling back and forth outside in the downpour. Some people had umbrellas, some people, like him, decided to just wear a trench coat and ignore the fact that they were getting soaked. Spike had never owned an umbrella. Maybe it was the reason why he got colds so often.
He was halfway through an article that he actually found somewhat palatable when the sounds of papers tearing in front of his newspaper shield caught his attention, and he heard a very heavy and audible sigh. Ah, so she's not the natural waitress type.
"How're you today, sir?" she started, obviously guessing from the legs under the table and the fingers around the edges of the giant newspaper that he was a he. "Do you know what I can get for you yet, or do you need some more time to look at the menu?"
It was finally there. The climactic reunion scene in the middle of the play that he was a willing actor in, and she an oblivious one. Lights, camera, action.
"Yo, Faye," he greeted at first without dropping the paper, waiting for her anticipated silence, and then slowly lowered it to reveal him sitting in the fire-engine red booth, grinning out at her from underneath a mop of unruly hair. "Wanna refill my coffee? This one's running a little low."
Faye Valentine froze. Her pen and order tablet twitched once, twice, in her hands. After that they just kind of stopped. Her formerly chin-length purple hair was pulled into a short, messy ponytail on the back of her head, and sure enough, there was a slightly crooked little nametag pinned on just above her left breast—Faye, it read. Her bright red lipstick clashed with the muted carnation of her uniform, and what appeared to be a splatter of mustard adorned one of her short, cuffed little sleeves.
In other words, she was what Spike had always remembered her as—a disaster disguised as a polished human being. Faye always seemed like she was trying to drag herself in fifteen different directions at once without even realizing she was doing it.
"You're dead," she hissed, wide-eyed. Of course, the obvious reaffirmation of the supposed truth. Spike had halfway expected that statement to come from her lips.
"Oh, tsk, Faye," he sighed, folding the newspaper and laying it down on the table with a soft thwap. "Surely you know that dead men cannot order coffee, let alone come into a diner for some breakfast. So, are you gonna take my breakfast order and get me some more coffee or are you just going to gape at me all day?"
Quite suddenly she threw her pen at him, and it bounced harmlessly off his shoulder, landing in his lap. He raised his eyebrows and sniffed. "Well, if that's the way you feel about it, I'll just be on my way, thank-you-very-much."
"You are dead! What in the holy fuck are you doing bothering me, let alone wandering around with a solid form that pens bounce off of?" she hissed again, obviously not too keen on letting people around them know what was going on.
"Just like you to be so ridiculously self-centered," he replied in chagrin. "What makes you think I would come back from the dead—if indeed I had actually been dead—just to haunt you? I'd up and kill myself again if that ever happened." He watched her mouth quirk downwards in quiet rage and confusion, and some colourful expletives work their way out of the same mouth a split second later. "Oh dear. Such language."
"So you're not dead," Faye spat, suddenly accepting. She obviously caught on a lot quicker than Jet. "No one who had actually died could possibly be this annoying. But I'll tell you what—I still don't give a flying rat's ass. I want you to get up out of this booth right now, and get the hell out." She screwed up her mouth in a tight little pucker that looked like a cherry. "Get out, don't come back, and I'll pretend like this never happened."
Spike feigned repulsion. "Now you're being just plain rude, Faye. Sheesh." He looked around him at the inside of the diner in mock wonder. "Well, beat me with a stick. Who woulda thunk that a Romany like you would have ended up settling for such a modest little establishment to become the diva of?"
Her face remained, on the whole, deceptively calm, but Spike swore he could hear enamel cracking on her teeth. "I'm going to say it one more time and then I'm going to start screaming. Get. Out."
Spike said nothing, only stared at her for a moment, and then quick as lightning reached out with one long arm and snagged a passing waitress, who turned in shock at the grip on her arm. She relented a bit when her gaze met a sincerely smiling Spike Spiegel.
"Oh, uh, 'scuse me," he said, doing his best to ignore Faye and hoping she wouldn't spout anything out. "I'm an old friend of Faye's here, whom she hasn't seen in many years, and I was wondering if maybe, just maybe she could take her break now and you could cover her tables?" He gave her the best puppy dog eyes he could muster and she grinned, showing off dimples, and then nodded.
"Okay. Sure thing!" she agreed, and then walked off, leaving Spike to gaze after her somewhat. Those damned uniforms. He turned back to Faye and slid out of the booth, grabbing her by the arm and silencing her sudden, loud protests with a mildly fierce jerk.
"Walk with me, beautiful," he said, in a voice that hovered between pleasant and unpleasant. He dragged her along briskly to the front door of the diner and then opened the door and unceremoniously tossed her out. "After you," he muttered, and then followed.
Faye yelped and jumped back from the rain, back under the small awning that hung over the door. "What do you think you're doing, you—lunkhead!" she screeched over the sound of water pounding on concrete. Spike narrowed his eyes and held up one hand, indicating that he wanted at least some measure of silence.
"I'm not dead. I never was dead. White Tigers found me, took me to a hospital, I got back on my feet. Now I'm staying with Jet on the Bebop. I came to—"
She stamped her foot, a most Valentine-esque thing to do: throw a hissy fit. "What do I care? You bastard! I'm shocked Jet even let you back on the Bebop after your little stunt. Going to find out if you were really alive. I've never heard a bigger crock of shit in my life," she said with a flourish, but then decided that she wasn't done after all. "Oh, but not like you care, just 'cause we were a ship full of people who for whatever reason decided to up and care about you, but we were nothing on sweet little Julia!"
Spike had expected her to throw that in his face. A year ago he might have snapped, lashed out at her, screamed at her to never say Julia's name again. Instead, he just closed his eyes and gave a patient little smile. "I might not be dead, but Julia is, Faye. Let's not talk about it, okay? That's not going to get us anywhere, anyway. If you're trying to piss me off to the point where I'll just go away, I have a reality check for you: I'm not going to do it."
Faye was unusually quiet, and after a moment, ugly streaks of wet mascara began to make their way down her pale cheeks. Spike only stood there silently, not really having anything to say to her about it, because he wasn't really sorry for what he had done, and he knew she probably didn't want to hear it anyway.
"Oh, hell," she muttered irritably, although it sounded more warbly than irritable.
"I did what I had to do, Faye," he said evenly, watching as she began to wipe fiercely at her newly raccooned eyes. "You know that. Maybe it was childish or whatever, but I don't really care. It had to be done. Shit happens."
Still, she said nothing, wiping at her eyes, attempting to get all of the black make-up smudges off her face. She was wiping them on her white apron with no regard as to what it looked like. Faye's only response to him was to sniffle, loudly.
He smirked, somewhat, watching the much smaller woman in front of him attempt to collect herself after her small outburst. "You know, you really should wear waterproof mascara if you're planning on bawling during the course of a day," he admonished, still smirking lightly.
"Fuck you," she said without much fire, and a half-hearted little laugh. She was still busy wiping her eyes. Faye ignored Spike's chuckles, and, satisfied that her face was clean enough, looked up at him with as searching a gaze as she would allow herself to fix him with.
She really wanted to just drink up the sight of the man in front of her. After all, she never thought that she'd see him again in this world. But that would have been awkward, strange; the fact that she just cried in front of him—because of him was awkward enough.
"So why did you come to bother me, anyway?" she asked, resigning herself to whatever he was trying to lead her into. His face lit up and Faye could tell that she had pushed the right button. She watched him through one splayed hand over her eyes, holding her head as if she had a headache. In a way, she kind of did.
"I thought you'd never ask," he declared pleasantly, and wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Wanna take a trip down Memory Lane after you get off work?"
Later that day found Faye Valentine inside the Bebop for the first time in at least several months. Sighing, she climbed through the hatch that led to the living room area, and stood up straight once more, snapping her umbrella closed with a spray of water. She ran her hand through her shoulder-length hair and grumbled, looking about and seeing no one in sight.
She sauntered down to the couch and peeled off her overcoat, tossing it down, along with the key to the Redtail. Despite the fact that she could probably make a decent sum of money off of the craft, she kept it in storage for any occasions where she might need it. It wasn't her day-to-day vehicle anymore, though. She'd found a little four-banger for relatively cheap to get her to and from work in the city. A small zipcraft would have seemed just tad excessive for merely going to work.
"The hell are you guys?" she called, and received no answer. Scowling, she plopped down on the couch and turned on the telescreen with the tip of her strappy little black shoe. Out of sheer lack of anything to do, she became offhandedly engrossed in a talk show whose daily topic was 'Interventions for Pet Owners Who LOVE Their Pets!'. It was kind of gross, actually. I didn't even think that they could talk about beastiality on public programming…
Why was she there? She'd tried to be completely angry with him, she really had. But as usual, Spike had just snubbed her anger like it was a candlewick and went right ahead with whatever he wanted to do. It didn't matter to him that she was angry, betrayed, upset, confused, or anything. And as usual, she had let him win, let him have his way, and instead of continuing on her enraged rant in front of the diner, she had simply stopped and given in. She'd let herself be sucked back in with a pathetic excuse for a fight.
Fuck him, anyway. What makes him think that I even care that he's back from the dead? Well, I do care, but what gives him the right to use that against me?
And furthermore, he'd told her to come to the Bebop after she'd gotten off work and he was nowhere to be had! What a…a…cad. Yes, a damned dirty fucking CAD, she screamed in her head, and mirrored the action in deed, as well.
"Hey!" she hollered, slapping her hand down on the couch and throwing her head back. "I don't want to play hide and seek! Where are you guys?"
As if on cue, Spike and Jet materialized in the doorway above the couch. She blinked up at them, quickly turning it into a scowl, and Jet merely smiled down at her.
"Hello, Faye," he said, genially enough. "Long time no see. Still working at the diner?"
She snorted and turned her attention back to the telescreen. "Funny you should ask, Jet—considering I'm pretty sure that you were the one who told fuckface up there where to find me!" In response, Jet only sighed and made his way down the metal stairs, sitting in the couch's matching yellow chair at the other end of the coffee table. Spike stayed upstairs and leaned against the railing, tapping the ash from his cigarette down onto Faye. It scattered all over her hair and her mid-thigh length black skirt like a small snowstorm.
"Fuckface?" Spike asked, in mock hurt. "Jeez, Faye, what'd I ever do to you?"
Faye didn't even look at him, but instead looked over to Jet with eyes that looked like they probably could have burned holes through him, if she stared long enough. He stared back at her, evenly.
"I'm sorry, Faye. I told him that he should have left you alone."
She closed her eyes, flopping against the armrest of the couch, propping her head up on her fist. "Ugh, well. Whatever. I guess it's not your fault that someone never listens to anything anyone ever tells him." She brushed her skirt off with a flick of her wrist. "So? Did you tell me to come here just to be your personal ashtray, Spike? Not much different from old times, eh? Grinding everything out on me…"
A cloud of smoke descended down on her, and it prompted her to stick her free hand up into the air, palm splayed. "If you're going to ash on me and blow smoke at me, you might as well just give me one of my own, alright, Gorgio?"
A second later a cigarette and a lighter were pressed into her hand with a slight linger that made her heart beat quicker. He hadn't meant to pause, of course. It was just her brain making mountains out of molehills. Faye lit up as Spike descended the stairs, retrieving his lighter and sitting down on the opposite side of the couch.
"Well, number one," Spike began, raising an eyebrow at the telescreen in puzzlement, "I haven't seen you in about two years, so I thought that just maybe I'd pay you a visit, if that's okay with you," he said in a tone that managed to make Faye feel slightly bad, "but sorry for giving a fraction of a shit, anyway. Number two, I have a proposition for you."
Silence befell the room and Faye ashed her cigarette habitually, until a small cluster of ashes lay on the couch cushion. The ceiling fan did little to circulate the smoke that hung heavy in the air. "What kind of proposition?" she asked finally, warily, refusing to look at the gaze that she knew was trained on her, waiting for a response.
"One that I can't reveal all of right now," the opposite end of the couch said. "Only that you stand to profit immensely from it, as do all of us, if we can pull it off right."
Faye looked to Jet, who shrugged with a 'don't ask me' look. "He said just about the same thing to me. I have no idea. Apparently Mr. Big Planner here isn't going to tell us anything much about it until the 'right time' comes."
"Oh, super," Faye gushed theatrically, exhaling a stream of smoke. Her head was killing her—maybe because half of her brain was operating normally, and the other half was insistently concentrated on the entity and presence on the opposite end of the couch. Every little noise he made, every little shift, even his distinct scent was not evading her brain. Faintly, she felt like crying again, although it wouldn't do anything. Spike would treat her like the distant comrade she was, and probably turn his head or something to leave her a little dignity, and Jet would probably get up and offer her a tissue, awkwardly comforting.
God, she didn't want anything to do with this life anymore. But then at the same time, it was all she could think about. She wanted to be near him again, damn her.
"Bounties?" she asked, in monotone. Spike made a little hrrm noise in his throat.
"Yeah, mildly," he murmured, and then threw another cigarette at her, prompting her to look at the one she held. It had almost burned to the filter, and she threw it down on the ground, placing the new one in her mouth. Spike slid the lighter over to her and she lit the second one, sliding the lighter back. "Surely you don't like your little waitressing job that much, do ya, Faye?"
She sighed. "It keeps me in the eats. And my cat, too."
"Whoa, whoa. Cat? You turned into one of those crazy cat ladies already, Faye?" Spike snickered about that to himself for a moment, although Faye did notice that Jet wore a small smile as well. She almost snarled something, but bit her tongue and denied Spike the satisfaction of getting a rise out of her. "What kind of money are we talking about here, oh man with the plan? Knowing anything that your head could concoct, I might as well just keep my day job."
"Millions. Hundreds of millions," Spike replied, and Jet's head snapped over to look at the other man, intently. Spike cast his gaze lazily to Jet's and shrugged. "What?"
"You neglected to mention the amount of money last night," Jet said. "How the hell are we going to get that much from bounties?" he asked, suspiciously.
"Don't worry your pretty little head about it," Spike said in amusement, and then looked back to the telescreen. "Good Lord, Faye, what on God's-no-longer-green Earth are you watching?" At the moment, a man on the screen was forcibly being separated from a large, shaggy looking mutt. The crowd was cheering and hooting.
Faye shook her head and ran her hand through her hair again. "I don't know. I just turned it on when I came in and had to wait for you two to finish your little gay tryst, or whatever the hell you were doing."
Jet twitched. "Hey now, I resent the gay tryst remark."
Spike cast a particularly catty smirk at Jet and winked. "You weren't complaining twenty minutes ago," he teased, and Faye giggled. Jet looked between the two of them and growled, drumming his fingers on his knee.
"I swear," he muttered darkly. "You two are just as bad as one another. Acting your shoes sizes instead of your ages…"