Title: Through the Glass, Darkly
Rating: R for language, violence and adult situations
Timeline: Directly following Session 26
Spoilers: The entire series (including the movie) and general Matrix info
Summary: Matrix x-over. Spike didn’t die; he was just unplugged. How will everyone’s favorite Bruce Lee-loving Space Cowboy deal when he is thrown into the “real world” without a net?
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. Neither is The Matrix. As if you hadn't already figured that out.)
Feedback: Look! It's secret mail-mail from Mars-Mars! (i.e. I want any and all feedback. Good, bad, indifferent? Doesn't matter. Still want it. *g*)
I hate to talk like this
I hate to act as if
There's something wrong that I can't say
I have this dream at night
Almost every night
I've been dreaming it forever
It's easy to remember it
It's always cold
It's always day
You're always here
You always say
I'm all right
I'll be OK
If I can keep myself awake
("Keep Myself Awake" -- Black Lab)
Chapter 1: Keep Myself Awake
The next few days were just a haze of memories for Spike. Nothing really seemed to coalesce into anything solid. Everything seemed intangible and unreal. Like he was trapped in a nightmare that he couldn't escape from.
Of course, that might have been the fever talking.
It was almost a week since his arrival here, or so he was told, on the day when he finally managed to speak to someone coherently for more than mere seconds at a time. She was young. Her name was Virginia, but she insisted that he call her Ginny.
"My friends all call me Ginny," she'd told him in her soft, little girl's voice. She couldn't be more than 14 or 15 years old. Just a child.
In fact, almost everyone he met seemed young. He didn't think he'd met one person over twenty in his time here. Granted, he had yet to leave his tiny room, so he couldn't know anything for sure.
Of course, knowing his propensity for bad luck, the one person he actually wanted to speak to never bothered to appear.
Spike could remember the calm and compassionate voice from his first night here as clearly as if it had just spoken. It was about the one thing he *could* remember from that time. And that voice had promised him answers.
Sighing, Spike's fingers found themselves drawn irresistibly to the round, metallic disk in the back of his neck. And then they traveled upwards, touching his head where he could feel the stubble of newly growing hair just starting to appear.
What the hell had happened to him?
He felt weak, though after the fight with Vicious, when he'd felt that last slice of the katana slicing through skin and muscle, a warm wetness seeping out over his hands as he tried to hold his own intestines inside his body... Well, needless to say, feeling a little weak was nothing compared to what could have happened. Hell, by all rights he should be dead. But he wasn't. Instead he was trapped in this strange purgatory of metal rooms and strange implants, not knowing why he was here or even where here was.
It was damn frustrating.
He slumped down on the bed, kicking at the wall across from him with long legs. The rhythmic pattern of his boot impacting the metal was oddly comforting.
God, he would kill for a cigarette.
There was a light rapping on his door and he rolled his eyes. Why they bothered to knock when they just kept him locked up in here like some kind of prisoner was beyond him. If they were going to throw him in this room that was little better than a jail cell without any chance for escape, then casual pleasantries seemed pointless in his mind.
"Come in," he called, sarcasm slipping into his voice almost automatically. He knew they would stand out there forever if he didn't give them permission. Insane, really. The whole lot of them.
The door opened and he squinted against the light that poured in from the outside hallway. A woman stood there. She stepped inside the room, the door closing behind her, and he was able to make out her face.
She looked to be in her mid-forties, if the light sprinkling of gray in her dark hair and the lines around her mouth and at the corners of her eyes were any indication. Her eyes were blue and seemed to be much older than they by all rights should have been, like she'd lived with the weight of the world on her shoulders for far too long. Spike knew the feeling.
"Well, finally an adult comes calling," he remarked, smirking up at her from his position sprawled out on the bed. He didn't bother to stand up.
She raised one eyebrow, crossing her arms over her chest, the faded and well-worn fabric of her shirt shifting with the movement. "It's nice to see you, too, Spike." she remarked, the corners of her mouth quirking upwards in a small smile.
He leapt to his feet, pushing back the slight case of dizziness that his rapid movement brought on, and stared at her in shock. He recognized that voice. "It's you."
Her smile grew wider. "You remember me."
Spike nodded. "The hell I do. You promised me answers. So, was that all just a crock of shit or did you really mean what you said?"
Her look could only be classified as indulgent, as if she was only tolerating his antics right now out of the goodness of her heart. Her next words proved him right. "I don't allow my crew to speak to me in such a fashion, Spike Spiegel. I'll allow your transgression to pass this time, but you'd do well to remember that in the future."
Spike glared at her, not at all impressed. "Look, lady, I ain't a part of your crew, so I'll talk however I damn well wanna talk. If you've got a problem with that, then you shouldn't have brought me here."
She frowned but didn't respond to his baiting. Instead she took a step backwards, the door sliding open behind her to allow her to pass. Spike ground his teeth together in frustration. Just great, the one person who claimed to have answers and he'd gone and pissed her off before she'd told him anything. Now she was leaving and he would be stuck in his "cell" again.
Her voice broke into his dark thoughts. "Are you coming?"
He looked up, scarcely able to believe what he was hearing. "You're... letting me out?"
She raised one eyebrow in amusement. "You're not a prisoner here, Spike."
He scowled and muttered under his breath. "You could've fooled me."
She shrugged and gestured down the hallway just outside his room. "Well, are you coming or do you require a written invitation?"
Spike grinned and followed her outside. "You don't need to tell me twice, lady."
Spike's head shot up sharply and he met her calm blue gaze with a pair of startled, brown eyes. "What?"
"My name is Annie." She smiled. "Works much better than 'Lady,' I'd say."
Spike found himself remembering another woman with dark hair and kind eyes who went by that same name, though it seemed like someone he'd known in another life.
'No, don't call me that. Only two people can use that name.'
Spike blinked and shook his head, bringing his focus back to the woman in front of him. "All right. Annie it is."
She led him down the corridor at a slow pace, something that seemed out of place with what he'd seen of her so far. Annie seemed like the kind of no nonsense woman who usually walked at a brisk pace. He suspected that she was just waking slow for his benefit.
"So... you promised me answers," he pointed out as they walked.
She nodded. "That I did. But for what I'm going to tell you, it's better if you see it for yourself. That's the only way for it to truly make any sense in your mind."
Spike gave her an odd look. "Okay," he said slowly, one eyebrow arching in amused bewilderment. "That was overly cryptic of you."
Annie smiled but didn't offer any more information.
As they walked, he began to spot people lurking in corners and down hallways. People who dropped what they were doing as soon as they caught sight of the two of them walking by and proceeded to follow them at a distance.
"We seem to be attracting an audience," Spike noted, recognizing Ginny among the faces.
"My apologies. But your case is rather... unique. They're all curious about you."
Spike smirked. "Good to know that I'm still famous even in the afterlife."
Annie chuckled. "Oh, you're not dead, Spike. Far from it. In fact, in a way, you have never been more alive."
Spike shrugged, not sure what to make of that comment. They reached a large, open area which housed all kinds of computer equipment, most of which Spike didn't recognize. In the center of the room was a circle of six, black chairs that reminded him of something out of a dentist's office. Everything was colored in shades of gray, brown and black. Spike smirked at Annie. "Whoever your decorator is, you should have them fired."
Annie smiled. "I'll take that under consideration."
Turning in a small circle, she clapped her hands together briskly, gaining everyone's attention with the motion. "All right, I know all of you are curious about our newest..." She glanced over at Spike for a beat before continuing. "...guest. But I can assure you all that he is just as curious about us. So please, everyone, allow him time to adjust to-"
Spike yawned loudly, drawing attention away from Annie's little speech and earning himself a displeased look from the lady in question, not to mention disbelieving stares from everyone else. "I'm sure this is all fascinating," he said dryly, "But could we skip ahead to the part where you tell me what the hell is going on?"
Annie frowned at him. "Fine, we'll skip the preliminaries," she conceded with a small nod of her head. "Spike Spiegel, this is my ship, the ABSALOM. And this is my crew." She gestured at the people who formed a small semi-circle around the two of them.
The first to step forward was a familiar face. "You already know Virginia, our operator," Annie informed him, gesturing at the petite, young brunette. Ginny smiled kindly at him and nodded.
"Standing there beside her is Elijah, my second in command." The young man couldn't be more than 16 or 17 years old. It surprised Spike that someone as young as he was could be second in command of an entire crew, no matter how ragtag they were. But he schooled his features into an expression of casual disinterest, acting as if it was no big deal.
The boy in question pushed his mop of sandy colored hair out of his eyes and gave Spike a lopsided grin. "Name's Eli," he informed the lanky ex-bounty hunter. "We don't all stand on formalities here." His gaze moved over to Annie before returning to Spike, his comment obviously a barely-veiled remark at her expense.
Spike grinned. He liked the kid already.
Annie shook her head, the corner of her mouth curling up in a small smile, before continuing. "Then we have Dominick, our engineer."
"It's just Dom," the man in question replied, grinning at Spike in a friendly fashion. His red hair and freckles made him stand out from the others rather easily.
"Next to him is Ezechia-"
"Zeke," she interrupted quickly, making a face at the use of her full name.
"-who is one of my best field agents."
"And we also have Mackenzie," she gestured at the young girl who sat off to the side on top of one of the many computer consoles, her long, blonde hair pulled back in a messy braid. "She is one of my programmers."
"Call me Mac," she told Spike, "Everybody else does."
He nodded, mentally amazed at the number of weird names this group had. No wonder they all wanted to go by nicknames of some sort.
"And behind you is Julian," Annie said. "One of the first crewmembers to be brought onboard. He's our pilot and a brilliant field agent in his own right."
Spike turned around quickly and was met with a pair of cool and almost detached green eyes, crowned by a carefully maintained head of black hair. For just a moment he found himself thinking of Faye. But then the man spoke and his softly cultured voice wiped away any thoughts of the Bebop's resident shrew woman still on Spike's mind.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Spiegel," Julian said politely.
"Let me guess," Spike replied with a smirk. "It's Jules to your friends."
Julian made a face. "Oh, definitely not. I don't go by any absurd nicknames."
Spike raised an eyebrow but didn't comment further. Julian's stuffiness didn't appeal to him in the slightest.
Just then there was a crash from further down the hallway, followed by the sound of running feet. Annie smiled at him. "And, of course, I can't forget our newest crewmember. Our computer technician and other resident programmer... Edward."
Spike fought down the memories associated with that particular name, resigning himself to yet another familiar name placed on an unfamiliar face. But then a high-pitched voice began making airplane sounds and two skinny arms appeared, almost magically, from behind Julian's back, waving merrily back and forth. Then a head popped up over the prim and proper young man's shoulder. A head topped with a mop of unruly red hair. A pair of enormous amber-colored eyes blinked at Spike.
For a long moment, neither of them moved. And then the girl leapt over Julian's shoulder, almost like she was playing a game of leap frog, and landed on the ground in front of Spike. She threw her arms about his waist, hugging him so tightly that he thought he might fall over. "Spike-person!" she exclaimed happily. "Edward is so glad that you're okay! Edward was very worried that she had been unable to get to you in time!"
And you could have knocked Spike over with a feather at that exact moment, he was just that shocked. After a moment, the shock wore off and was replaced by a look of resignation. Taking Ed by the shoulders, he hoisted her up until they were at the same eye level.
"Ed... what the hell did you do?"
Coming Soon: Chapter 2. More answers just lead to more questions...