Author's Note: Versatility is always good to have, right? I'm trying something a little new!
Cowboy Bebop is a great series, easily a classic with all the great characters and cool stories from each episode. I haven't finished the series though, so if I'm wrong with plot or characterization, sorry about that!
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plotline.
Scotch on the Rocks
Summary: He prefers his misery served cold with ice and rum. [subtle SpikeFaye]
Clink of glass, swish of gin. A gulp and a bitter sigh. Some idle chatter on boring topics, nothing worth eavesdropping. Not that he cared much what anyone else was saying. Not that he could hear what anyone else was saying. The voices in his head are talking too loud.
Maybe if he took another sip, they'd quiet down and leave him alone.
A rueful sigh escaped him. He should stop that, sighing so much. It's probably drawing attention to him, and if people notice him then he won't be invisible anymore. Oh, who was he kidding—his bounty hunting skills were renown. There was no way Spike Spiegel could be invisible, no matter how hard he tried.
Too bad. He'd really like to be invisible right now. If he wasn't visible, then he wasn't human. And if he wasn't human, he wouldn't have to deal with these damn emotions.
He reached for his drink, a scotch on the rocks, tilted his head back and downed the bitter liquid in a single take. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and sighed again—damn it, he's really gotta stop doing that. It just makes it obvious how miserable he is.
Reaching inside his pocket, he pulled out a photograph. Blonde hair framing a beautiful pale face, with seductive eyes and an alluring smile. The cause of his pathetic misery, the reason for his great downfall… a woman.
Not just any woman.
He chuckled dryly. Julia.
Fate and love work in twisted ways. He should have known better. She was a taken woman, by his best friend no less. Really, he should have known better. But desire tempted him, her persona seduced him, and honestly he'd be lying if he said he felt guilty for succumbing to her.
No, betraying his old friend wasn't why he was here, alone, drowning his sorrows in a practically vacant bar in the dead of night.
BANG—gunshot ringing in ears—splatter of blood—a body falling lifelessly to the ground—THUD.
He grit his teeth and clutched his hair. Damn it. The images won't stop playing in his head. The photograph crinkled in the grasp of his clenched fingers.
Like floodgates bursting open, small fragments were splicing together to recreate painful memories—
Quickly, he reached for his drink again. The bartender must have refilled it without him noticing because it was full again, but he didn't mind as he drank the whole thing in desperate need. The burn down his throat felt good and his mind was becoming hazy again, but he liked this haze and welcomed this haze because it sure as hell felt nicer than guilt and regret and grief and all those other annoying feelings that left him a ghost of his former self.
Ah, yes, if the others saw him now… good thing it's the dead of night and Jet's knocked out on sleeping pills.
Empty glasses lay scattered around him. He fished inside his pocket and pulled out a cigarette carton. Retrieving a cigarette, he lit one up and inhaled deeply, feeling his muscles relax and the tension leave his body. He stared idly at the ice cubes floating aimlessly in the glass, puffing out small billows of smoke. Soon he put out the cigarette in the ashtray nearby, adding to the litter of cigarette butts.
"Someone's been getting busy."
A voice as smooth as silk, he didn't need to look to know who his visitor was.
"Just something to pass the time," he answered nonchalantly with an indolent shrug, tucking the photograph of Julia back in his inside pocket.
She clicked her tongue—of course she could tell he was lying—and took a seat beside him. She counted the empty glasses in front of him aloud: "One, two, three…"
He brushed off the meaning behind her words with a roll of his shoulder. "What do you want, Faye?" There was a slur in his voice but he didn't notice.
She wrinkled her nose—the stench of alcohol was incredibly pungent on him—and crossed one long leg over the other. "You think you're so clever, sneaking off in the middle of night so no one will notice."
"But you did," he said. Of course, he should have known better. He should have known better about a lot of things.
"The last bounty could buy you all you want to drink on the ship," she continued. "So I doubt you're here for the party." She spared a glance around the room, finding three men playing pool and the bartender. All eyes were on her, but hers were on Spike. "There's nothing here, but you still come every night."
Jazz played softly from the radio in the corner.
Spike shrugged, his voice cool. "I like it here."
Faye remained silent, waiting for an explanation.
He gave her a short one: "It's quiet."
She stared at him. "It's quiet because it's lonely."
His eyes slid to the left, giving her a side-glance. Her green eyes were trained on his face, unrelenting. He shifted his gaze to the glass of scotch in his hand.
"Why don't you quit the foreplay and say what you came to say," he deadpanned. He didn't plan on listening, though. What would she know, what would she know about anything? Whatever it took to get her out of here faster.
She sighed, frustrated at him and he didn't blame her. He knew he was being an ass, but at the moment, he didn't give a damn.
"Why do you do this to yourself?" she asked quietly. She propped her elbow against the counter and leaned her cheek into her palm. "No matter how much you drink, you're never going to forget. Believe me, I've tried."
"I'll bet you have," he mumbled.
Her eyes narrowed. "The hell is that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing," he muttered. Maybe he should have warned her he was a bitter drunk. At least, lately he had become a bitter drunk.
She scowled at him, angry and he could tell that whatever was holding her back had snapped.
"You want to cut the chitchat? Fine." She reached over and opened his jacket. He looked at her, startled, uttering a "hey" that lacked conviction. She shoved her hand in his pocket and retrieved what she was looking for—the photograph of Julia. Holding it between her pointer and middle fingers, she shoved it in his face. "I know she's the reason why you come here every night. Something happened to her and some twisted, misplaced sense of guilt makes you blame yourself. I don't know what you're searching for at the bottom of every glass, but I guarantee you you'll never find it."
His eyelids hovered low, giving a hooded gaze. Her words echoed in his head, slowly sinking in. But he couldn't let her know that, so he replied slowly, "Are you done?"
Her jaw clenched as she tried to keep her temper in check. "No, I'm not done," she ground out through gritted teeth. "You're living in the past and I'm trying to bring you back to the present. You lost her once before, what makes now any different?"
"I won't be able to find her," he muttered desolately.
"So you're trying to join her?"
He closed his eyes, remaining silent. Why dignify her with a response? What did she know about his relationship to Julia? In fact— "Why do you care?"
He lifted up the scotch to take another swig, only to have it snatched out of his hands and drank by Faye. She wiped her mouth unladylike with the back of her hand.
"Hey," Spike grumbled, glancing at her.
"Shut up and buy me a drink."
~*~ You're gonna carry that weight ~*~
Time was no longer a unit of measurement. Maybe it had been an hour, maybe it had been ten minutes, all Spike knew was that the haze was stronger than ever and had ensnared Faye too.
His senses were heightened and suddenly anything she said felt very interesting. Maybe it was because watching her talk gave him an excuse to look at her, to really look at her and see her pretty violet hair and sultry green eyes and tempting red lips. His gaze was starting to wander from her face and he wondered if she noticed or cared, but what if she did, she sure wasn't stopping him. Spike Siegel was a connoisseur of the fine things in life, and one of those fine things was in front of him, keeping him company and maybe making him seem not as pathetic as he truly was.
As he looked at her, she looked right back at him, resting her cheek daintily against the knuckles of her slim fingers. She regarded him under low lashes, blinking slowly out of drowsiness or to bring attention to how thick her eyelashes were. Either way, her eyes were entrancing.
He was attracted to Faye, he couldn't deny that. She was a beautiful woman. She was conniving as she was beautiful, and she was annoying sometimes too, with her attitude and all, but overall he didn't hate her company.
Maybe if she took some singing classes—
Ah, shit. His mind was sinking low again. Julia never needed singing classes. Her voice was angelic, soothing any pain he felt. What he would do to hear it one last time…
His eyes were growing foggy and distant. Faye could tell she was losing him.
She knew the rut he was in would heal over time. Everyone had to grieve, the only difference was he was killing himself with his smoking and drinking binges. So she came to maybe talk some sense into him, but when that didn't work, she joined him. Who was she to lecture about too much smoking and drinking? Besides, they say misery loves company.
But she wasn't planning on staying for long.
Her voice sounded like Julia's.
"Look at me."
A slurred voice of Julia.
He felt her cool palms on his cheeks, rattling his head a bit. "You're not looking at me."
Oh, but he was.
That soft violet hair, enchanting green eyes, enticing red lips…
Could she hear what he was thinking? Because her face was getting a lot closer. A lot closer. He could feel the warmth of her body, the coolness of her breath.
He stared back at her as her gaze bored into his.
"Your eyes… do you remember what you told me about them?" she asked quietly. "How one is fake and always looking in the past, while the other stays in the present?"
He just watched her speak.
"Don't lose your other eye, Spike. You can't catch bounties if you're blind." Her hands fell from his face and she turned back to face the bar.
He laughed humorlessly, murmuring, "Nice to know you care." His eyes closed with a cool smile on his lips. Hey, he was smiling. For the first time in days. That was a pleasant surprise.
He expected a feisty reply, but instead silence was his answer. He opened one eye and lifted a brow, confused. The pleasant haze in his head was beginning to clear.
Her gaze was fixed on her drink as he stared at her. "What's with you?"
After a few moments, she replied, "Nothing." She pushed her glass away, tossing some Woolong onto the counter and standing up. "Come on, time to go."
He glanced at the money before returning his gaze to her face. "That's unlike you. Who's wallet did you steal?"
She rolled her eyes, walking towards the entrance. With her up and moving, he was suddenly seeing double.
He turned back towards the bar. Now that she was leaving, he could continue drinking alone, in peace and quiet.
"Spike," she called.
He glanced out the corner of his eye, slightly turning his head.
She waved his wallet in the air, between her pretty little fingers.
Mentally, his shoulders slouched. Of course. Figures she wouldn't be so generous. He shrugged it off, turning his back to her with a dismissive wave of his hand. The bartender owed him a few favors, nothing a few drinks on the house couldn't repay.
"Guess you won't mind if I keep this too."
What else could she have? He lazily looked over his shoulder, glancing at her out of curiosity.
His eyes widened slightly. This time, between those dainty slim fingers, was the photograph of Julia. Damn, how did he not notice her take it? He really wasn't himself.
"Faye—" he called, standing up abruptly. Not the smartest move—the sudden movement combined with the alcohol made a horrible mix as a wave of vertigo washed over him. His body swayed before he felt something warm and soft press into his side. An arm wrapped around his waist as the other draped his arm over a slender shoulder.
"You're hopeless," she muttered, though there was a hint of teasing in her voice. He scanned her over, searching for the photo. Reading his intentions, she said, "You'll get your precious photo when we're back on the Bebop."
He said nothing, looking to the floor ahead of him as they made their way out of the bar.
~*~ 3, 2, 1, let's jam ~*~
The sun peeked over the horizon.
Spike sat against the couch, staring down at the photograph in his hand. Small bags lay under his eyes as the final bits of drunken haze washed out of his system. At his side, Faye slept soundly against him, her body slightly tilted as her head pressed against his upper arm.
He slowly blinked.
One eye in the past and one in the present. A past with Julia… or a present with Faye. Except…
When she said it last night, he was silent. At first, he thought he misheard her. Surely, she wasn't serious. Where did she have to go?
Before he could muster a reply, she was sound asleep.
He could have said something, but honestly, he was at a loss of words. Even now, he wasn't exactly sure what to say, but there was still time.
She stirred subtly against him.
Leaning off of him, she rubbed her eye, muttering groggily, "Damn… what time is it?"
A quick glance at the clock revealed it was 6:30.
Looking to the man beside her, she noted the bags under his eyes. "Why didn't you sleep?" she asked. Surely the alcohol made him drowsy.
"Couldn't," he replied simply. But the truth was, he was tired as hell. He just couldn't sleep. Not when he had so much thinking to do.
Her gaze traveled down his arm to the photo in his hand. "You stay up staring at that all night?" she snapped, not bothering to mask the disdain in her voice. She huffed, standing up and brushing herself off. "She won't come back no matter how long you stare." She stepped over his legs, walking around the couch.
"So you're leaving."
She paused her next step, stopping just as she reached the stairs in the living room. Her body stilled for a moment, her feet coming back together as her gaze slowly lowered to the ground.
"…Yes," she answered quietly.
Genuinely curious, he asked: "Why?"
Silence answered him for several moments, giving her time to piece together her answer carefully. Whatever it was, it didn't matter to him. He could handle whatever she had to say—he was a grown man. Even though he didn't want to hear it, he had to.
She drew a short breath. "I don't… deal with this."
He closed his eyes.
Spike, a former great bounty hunter, was a ghost of his former self. He was weak, vulnerable—all because he opened his heart to a woman. Healing him would take someone patient and compassionate, traits that would make her just as weak and vulnerable, a state Faye wasn't ready to return to.
So she couldn't stay. She'd leave, and let him heal on his own. He could take care of himself, and he had Jet, Ed and the mutt with him. Her absence wouldn't make much of a difference.
"So you abandon your friends when there's a bump in the road." His tone held traces of anger.
Her eyes stared at the ground. "I don't know. I've never had friends this long."
He snorted. "You're just a coward running away."
She scoffed. "Says the man who drinks himself to oblivion because of a woman."
His fist clenched. With a heavy scowl, he stood up and turned around, planting an arm against the couch as he swung in his legs over it and landed smoothly on the opposite side.
"I'm not a coward."
"You're such a hypocrite."
"I don't run away."
"You do every night and you know it."
He glared. A world without Julia… and now a world without Faye.
Except— "Julia wouldn't leave."
Something flashed in her green eyes. "Don't you dare compare me to her."
He averted his gaze, glancing away. "You're right. You don't compare diamonds to coal."
Such different women. Like night and day.
Her hand balled into a fist. "Why you…"
"Julia's quieter. Julia doesn't have an attitude."
Faye is loud, very vocal with her opinions.
"I bet you wish I was the one who was shot, don't you?" Faye seethed through gritted teeth, taking a step closer.
"Julia is easy to live with. Julia has a perfect voice."
Faye is a freeloader with their ship and their food. And she could use some singing classes.
Faye twitched, fuming.
Spike droned on, ignorant. "Julia carries her weight. Julia—"
Her voice echoed throughout the spaceship.
Spike stared at her, his body tense. She stared right back with a hardened gaze, her body trembling slightly in anger.
His eyes turned ice cold.
Finally, Faye whisked her head away with a small huff. "This is why I shouldn't stay. I don't have the sensitivity for these kind of things."
He stared at a corner before slowly turning away, taking a seat back on the couch.
Her hand held the opposite arm, leaning her weight on one leg. "Sorry," she murmured.
"No you're not."
She turned her back to him. "I'll be gone by tomorrow."
He wasn't going to stop her.
The click of her heels reverberated in the room. Turning his head slightly, Spike called, "Faye."
The clicking silenced.
Looking down, he murmured, "Don't be a stranger."
Her eyes widened slightly. She glanced at him, finding him reclined against the armrest of the couch with his hands behind his head. Quietly, she continued walking down the hallway.
~*~ Knockin' on Heaven's Door ~*~
The next time he awoke, it was dark outside and a blanket lay on top of him. He sat forward, looking around the spaceship. No one was around, surprising him. Usually somebody was there digging for food.
Giving a final glance around the area, he made his way towards Faye's room. He placed his ear on the door, hearing no movement from the other end. His eyes looked around him once more before he stealthily stepped inside.
The room was empty aside from the lingering scent of Jasmine.
So she had done it. She left.
The figurative weight on his shoulders amplified as he slouched even further. His feet dragged to the stairs of the living room as he descended them and slumped against the couch once more.
His elbow rested against his knee as he pressed a hand against his face, exhaling a deep sigh.
He was alone. Jet and Ed were nowhere in sight, and Faye left. Ah, it was only fitting. He started out alone and would die that way too.
Suddenly, there was a whiff of Jasmine, making his nose wrinkle. The sound of the door sliding open quickly caught his attention.
"We're back!" Ed's voice rang.
His eyes widened, staring at the door as Ed, Jet and Faye stepped inside.
"You hungry?" Faye asked, a smile toying on her lips.
Ed bounced down the stairs, swinging the bags of groceries back and forth as Jet trailed behind, sighing and rubbing the back of his head.
"Let me tell you something, Spike. When there is women and shopping, always high tail it the other direction," said the man, his face exhausted. "Oi, Ed! The kitchen is this way!"
"Food, food, food!" the girl sang, tossing the grocery bags in the air before cartwheeling down the hallway.
Spike watched the two leave before settling his gaze on Faye. "You're still here."
The woman met his gaze, closing her eyes as she shrugged. "Thought I'd stick around for a change and see what happens."
He turned away, staring at his feet. She was still here. Her, Jet and Ed. He closed his eyes, his fingers lacing together in front of his mouth as he breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Thank goodness.
Arms slowly wrapped around his neck from behind. Her soft scent invaded his nose, the warmth of her body seeping into him.
Quietly, she asked, "Are you okay?"
A small chuckle escaped him. "What do you think?"
Her chin rested atop his head. "I was being polite."
He said nothing, merely reached up and clutched her thin wrist, squeezing gently as though to reassure that she was really there.
Stillness complimented the silence.
Then, Faye started to hum. A simple, soft tune, one that reminded Spike of when he was younger and the burdens of life weren't so heavy.
His eyes closed, listening to her voice. What a lovely voice it was. Maybe she didn't need singing classes.
A familiar calm washed over him as he leaned back against her, edging closer to the softness of her voice.
He was broken, but he would heal. Her, Jet, and Ed—they would help pick the pieces up. Eventually, he'd be back to his old self again. It was only a matter of time.