Title: Gateway Gamble [1/1]

Series: Falling Star, Part 4.

Author: Sonya

Email: sonyajeb@swbell.net

Timeline: Halfway through Session 4

Spoilers: Honky Tonk Woman, Gateway Shuffle

Summary: Having just found Faye Valentine stranded out in space, Spike must go get her and bring her over to the Bebop so they can find out what she did with their thirty million woolongs. Sounds relatively simple in theory... Too bad things never seem to go smoothly for the Bebop crew!

POV: Spike Spiegel

Archive: Regulars are welcome to it. Newbies must ask first. But no worries, because I almost always say yes.

Disclaimer: There was once a girl who wrote a story about some characters and places that weren't hers. But she added this little disclaimer to make it a tad less illegal. (i.e. Cowboy Bebop isn't mine and never will be. As if you hadn't already figured that out.)

Author's Note: This is the fourth in a series of missing scenes and tags for the entire series. Every episode (I hope) will get the special "Sonya treatment" before I'm done. The goal? To add to the richness that is Cowboy Bebop without destroying the cannon. Therefore, all of these stories will fit in with the already established storyline. They could be filmed and added to the episodes and everything would still make sense... I hope. (You'd tell me if it doesn't, right? *g*)

Feedback: An author's best friend. So please give me some or I shall be friendless. And we don't want that, do we?


"But why do *I* have to do it?"

I was whining. At best I sounded annoyed, at worst I sounded like a petulant child. But at this point I didn't care. Hell, I would've tried stomping my foot and pouting if I'd thought it would make a difference.

"Because I said so. This is my ship and I make the rules. You knew that going in, Spike." Great, Jet had his determined face on. There was no getting out of this now. "Go get suited up. The faster you do this, the sooner we can find out where that minx took our thirty million woolongs."

I rolled my eyes and stalked off down the corridor toward the cargo bay where we stored the enviro-suits, grumbling the entire way there. "We, we, we. I love how you conviently forget that 'we' always seems to turn into 'me' whenever things get fucked up."

Jet's voice floated down the hallway after me, reminding me not to speak quite so loudly next time I felt like being insulting. "You're the muscle of this operation, Spike. And I'm the brains. That's just the way it is." And damn the man, but he sounded far too smug after being hit between the eyes with the whole Twinkle Murdock situation.

Scowling, I flipped him off over my shoulder, gaining a little satisfaction from the small mutiny even though he couldn't see me do it.


Standing on the hull of the Bebop always made me feel just a little bit insignificant. When faced with the vastness of space in every direction, it was hard not to feel unimportant. After all, in the grand scheme of things, I was barely even a blip on the radar compared to the planets and stars and everything else out there.

Ugh. Now I sounded all maudlin. Not good.

I clicked the magnetic release on my suit and slowly floated away from the comforting mass of the ship, my arms and legs extended straight back like I was skydiving. Supposedly it increased aero-dynamics. Not that it really mattered out here in the zero-g of open space, but it made me feel a bit more in control so I did it anyway. Physics can kiss my ass.

I could see my target rapidly approaching and rotated, my feet facing toward it and my finger hovering over the bright yellow button on my suit that controlled the magnetic locks. There was a soft popping sound as I activated it and my feet stuck to the grey plating on the little zip craft's hull with a muted thump.

Adjusting my grip on the small case I held in one hand, I rapped lightly on the clear pod that housed my quarry. She rolled her eyes and pulled the helmet of her own enviro-suit down over her head and snapped it closed. Then she hit a few buttons on the console in front of her and the pod opened up enough so I could clamber inside. It was a tight fit, to say the least. These little zip crafts weren't built to hold two grown people. She punched some more buttons and the pod sealed itself back up, leaving us squished together as we waited for the life support to pump in fresh oxygen before removing our helmets. (In a brilliant flash of insight, I had turned off the radio in my helmet, which was probably the only reason she hadn't already started bitching me out.)

The quiet was nice. But I doubted it would last long.

"Why couldn't you just tow my ship back in, anyway?" she demanded as soon as her helmet was off. "Did you even think of that option? Or were you too busy figuring out ways to get in close quarters with me?" She smiled a sugary sweet smile that was probably enough to give me cavities just by looking at it. "Did you miss me that much, Spike?"

Nope. It sure as hell didn't last long.

"Can it, Faye," I snapped, pulling my own helmet off and setting it to the side. I rolled my eyes at her. "Like I would ever try and dream up excuses to spend time with you."

She raised one eyebrow questioningly, still waiting for me to answer her other question. I sighed. "I can't haul anything with the Swordfish right now. I need a new towing cable. And unless you wanted Jet's Hammerhead harpooning this baby..." I patted the Redtail's console lightly to emphasize my point. "...it was either space walk a fuel cell to you or leave you drifting aimlessly through space until some other unsuspecting soul wandered by that you could swindle." I smirked at her. "And trust me, hauling my ass through that cold vacuum to rescue you was not the plan that I voted for. You're just lucky Jet wants his money back so badly."

Faye scowled. "I'm sorry I asked."

I grinned, enjoying pissing her off inspite of myself. Setting the small carrying case I'd been lugging around onto my lap, I opened it and pulled out a fresh fuel cell. She snatched it out of my hand and set about plugging it into the Redtail's main drive and beginning the power-up sequence.

I slipped my trusty gun - an Israeli Jericho 941 - out of the case as well and nonchalantly placed its muzzle against Faye's temple. "No funny business, Faye. It's straight into the Bebop's hangar and then you kill the engines. Got it?"

Faye made a face. "Or what? You'll just shoot me in the head?"

I shrugged. "Hey, I'm the one who voted to leave you stranded out here, remember? I got no problems with pulling the trigger. So if I were you, I wouldn't push it." Yeah, it was a bluff for the most part. While I would and could kill her if I had to, it would take more than just an ill-advised joyride through space to make me do so. As much as I enjoyed the more violent aspects of life as a bounty hunter, killing wasn't something I loved. It was a necessary evil that I'd accepted long ago, true, and I didn't get all tied up in knots over it or anything. But, unlike Vicious, I didn't get off on it. Of course, *she* didn't know that, which worked to my advantage in this scenario.

Faye didn't comment, though her mouth curved downward into a small frown. "Fine, whatever," she muttered as she began to steer the little zip craft toward the Bebop, trying to act like I hadn't just scared the shit out of her with that last comment. If nothing else, the girl had spirit. I had to give her that.

It was slow going on only one fuel cell, but I wasn't about to spare another one. Not for somebody who'd stolen thirty million woolongs right out from under my nose. The craft jolted to one side slightly, which sent Faye sprawling half into my lap, my gun still lodged between us. After the coldness of space, she was like a small supernova of heat against me.

She stiffened as the hand not holding my gun automatically wrapped around her waist to steady her. "Let go," she hissed, trying to wriggle her way off of me. Which did not in any way improve my state of mind. If anything, it made it worse.

I leaned forward, my mouth next to her ear, and said in a quiet but firm voice, "You're not helping matters, Faye."

Her eyes grew wide in dawning comprehension and she shivered against me, turning her face away from mine so quickly that I thought she might get wiplash. Her hair was soft as silk when it brushed against my cheek. Her hands held the controls to the Redtail in a white knuckled grip.

I chuckled softly, loving the way her mouth curled up into an angry little sneer when I did so. When did pushing this little spitfire's buttons become such an enjoyable hobby, anyway? That was definitely something to ponder at a later date. Hopefully when I wasn't trapped in such close quarters with the minx.

There was another small jolt and she gasped softly and let go of the controls with one hand, latching onto the closest available surface for support. Unluckily for us both, it just happened to be my thigh that she latched onto. And had I mentioned something about it being cold in space before? Well, I was wrong. It was definitely on the warm side of things at the moment.

The Bebop loomed up ahead, though we seemed to be moving toward it at a snail's pace. Damn it. The wench was just trying to trip me up so she could get her hands on another one of our fuel cells. Well, fat chance of that happening. Two could play at this game.

"You okay?" I asked softly, my breath ruffling the hair against the nape of her neck. My arm tightened slightly around her waist, pulling her more snugly against me.

She nodded jerkily, her little, pink tongue darting out to moisten her lips as she studiously ignored me, which caused my gaze to become rivetted on her mouth. Shit. I'd have bet money that she planned that little trick. Well, it wasn't going to work on *this* bounty hunter.

"Um... good," I replied, trying to remain focused on the conversation and not how good her soft curves felt pressed up against me, our skin tight space suits leaving nothing to the imagination. "Wouldn't want you flying into the side of the ship or anything. Jet'd kill me if we... uh... if we scratched the hull." Her leg brushed against mine as I spoke, which caused me to almost lose my train of thought.

It was another agonizing few minutes of this little game before we finally touched down on the hangar floor. I reached around her to slap the communications relay and waited for Jet's gruff, "Yeah?" before speaking. "We're in. You can seal off the hangar now."

"Right-o, Spike."

There was a click and some static and then it was just the shrew and I, alone again. As the hangar doors slowly closed, I akwardly tried to put my gun back into the case beside me.

"So, decided not to kill me after all?" she asked, her tone cutting like acid, which belied her pale face and wide eyes.

"Not yet, anyway," I replied. "So count yourself lucky." My voice trembled just a bit, but neither of us mentioned it. It was like some kind of unspoken rule between us. Speak of what just transpired and die a horrible, bloody, *painful* death. And that was fine by me.

Once the hanger doors were sealed, I reached around her to hit the button that popped open the pod. Then I picked her up easily, the fingers of my hands almost reaching all the way around her tiny waist, and lifted her off of me and down to the ground. I snatched up my case and dropped lightly to my feet behind her. We both quickly stripped out of our enviro-suits, leaving me in my customary blue suit and she in a yellow, vinal halter top and hot pants ensemble that left very little to the imagination. Somehow I thought she'd looked better in the pink and black uniform she'd sported last time I saw her. Less like a slut, at the very least. Though when she bent over to pick up her helmet and then stretched on her toes to deposit it and the suit inside the Redtail, I felt my blood rush to various body parts that it really shouldn't be rushing to.

Damn it.

"Let's go," I said, my voice clipped and just a bit angry. "Jet's waiting."

She didn't question me, which was surprizing. Not that I wasn't grateful. I really didn't feel like pulling a gun on her again.

As we headed down the passageway that led to where Jet and Twinkle Murdock waited, she in front and me following behind, I sighed. Just what was I getting myself into with this woman? All I knew was that it couldn't be good.


Why does my life have to be so damn complicated?


See You Space cowboy....