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*)
Author's Note: More insanity from me. *g* If anybody's even reading this car wreck of a fic... LOL!
Welcome to the real world, shake hands with the real world
Stare all it's dizzy imperfection in the face
If you don't know the real world, it's time to get to know the real world
The good news and the bad news is:
There isn't any other place to be...
("Welcome to the Real World" - Brad Yoder)
Chapter Two: Welcome to the Real World
Spike sat in his bunk, his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms wrapped around his legs. He rested his chin on his knees and looked straight ahead at the wall across from him, though his eyes weren't really seeing the gray, metal plating.
Spike was lost in memories from a life that had never really occurred. Everything that he'd believed in, everything that had ever mattered, was a lie. Mao. Jet. Vicious. Faye. Elektra. Doohan. All the people he'd known, all the people who'd mattered to him... he'd never actually *met* any of them. Not really.
And then, of course, there was the person he'd been trying not to think about. Julia. Spike sighed, tilting his head down and resting his forehead on his knees, his eyes slipping closed. He could remember everything about her. The sound of her voice, the touch of her hand, the sunlight glinting off of her golden hair. But she was dead, and he had never really known her. He'd been in love with a woman that he'd never even touched, except in his mind.
'It's all... a dream.'
Julia's final words had new meaning now. A dark, ominous meaning.
It had all been in his mind. Nothing had been real.
And here he'd always thought that his notions of living in a dream world were insane. Apparently, he'd been right all along, just not for the reasons that he'd originally thought.
Annie had shown him everything. She'd stripped away the lies that he'd been living under for 27 years and allowed him to finally see the truth. Spike *had* been trapped in a dream world. But it was not of his own making. It was created by beings over a century ago and had been enslaving the human race ever since. The dream that he couldn't find his way out of had a name. The Matrix.
Somehow the realization that he wasn't insane after all didn't make him feel any better.
There was a soft rap on his door and his head shot up. "Who is it?" he asked, not really feeling up for company right now.
"Edward thought that Spike-person might be hungry. So Ed brought him yum-yum food!"
Spike couldn't stop a small smile from ghosting across his features. Ed was probably the only part of this entire insane situation that made any sense. Which, in and of itself, was a scary thought, he mused. Apparently, when Ed had wandered off in search of her father, she'd found something a lot bigger. She'd discovered the real world, such that it was.
"C'mon in, Ed."
The door slid open and the blur of motion that was Edward skipped inside, placing a tray beside Spike on the bed and then plopping down in front of him with her own tray and immediately shoveling spoonfuls of what looked like they might have once been runny eggs into her mouth enthusiastically. "Mmmm, mmmmm," she mumbled from between mouthfuls.
Spike stared at her, one eyebrow raised in mild disgust. "Ed, how can you eat that stuff?"
She looked up at him, her spoon hanging from her mouth and a small dribble of the white stuff that they claimed was food running down her chin, large amber eyes blinking in surprise. "Mmmphwha?"
Spike shook his head, amused in spite of himself. "Never mind. Forget I asked."
Taking his words literally, Ed turned back to her bowl and began eating again, treating the lumpy mixture like a starving man would treat a four-course meal at a fancy restaurant. In other words, devouring it in huge gulps. When she'd finished, she looked up at Spike, the small line that creased the skin of her forehead displaying her puzzlement. "Is something wrong? Why is Spike-person not eating?"
Spike looked at his own bowl of slop and made a face. "I suddenly lost my appetite." He handed Ed the tray. "Here, you can have mine."
Ed frowned. "Spike-person needs to eat. He hasn't eaten anything in days. He's just been locked away, all gloomy and saaaaad." She drew out the last word and sniffled melo-dramatically.
Spike looked at his tray again and sighed. There was no way he was eating that. "I'll eat later, Ed. I'm just not hungry yet." He made himself ignore the empty feeling in the pit of his stomach, which was telling him that he was a liar.
Ed gave him a stern look, at least as stern of a look as she could manage with her child-like eyes and little pixie face. "Promise-promise?"
The corner of Spike's mouth quirked up into a grin and he ruffled the kid's hair, what there was of it. He was careful not to let his fingers stray lest they touch the circular disk embedded in the back of the young hacker's head. "I promise."
Ed nodded once and sat back on her heels, studying Spike for a long moment. Her serious expression made him nervous. He wasn't used to seeing Ed acting... well, almost normal. "Spike-person is sad." It was a statement, not a question.
He sighed. "Yeah. I am."
She frowned. "Why?"
He blinked. Well, that was definitely a loaded question. Leave it to a kid to ask about the hard stuff and not even really realize what they were doing. "Well, Ed... um..."
She cocked her head to the side and answered for him. "You miss her."
"I... what?" Had she seen through him so easily? God, could he not even fool a child?
Ed's face broke into a sunny grin. "Well, that's okie-dokie, then. Edward can fix it!" She rolled backwards, standing on her head with the odd sort of clumsy grace that only Ed could perfect. Giggling, she clapped her feet together happily.
Spike's mind was a whirl. "What... do you mean? How can you fix this, Ed?" Julia was dead. Not even Ed's legendary computer skills could change that.
"Simple, silly. Edward will take Spike-person back. Then he can see her and he'll be happy again." Ed grinned, looking for all the world like she'd just performed a miracle.
"Take me... back?"
she rolled forward again, landing in a sitting position and rocketing to her feet. She latched onto Spike's arm and tugged him to his feet as well. "Back, tack, mack, wack... Edward will take you back, back, back!" She giggled and began pulling Spike towards the door.
He ground his heels in, stopping their forward momentum suddenly, which sent Ed sprawling back against him. The girl looked up, confusion written all across her young face. "Doesn't Spike-person want to go back to Bebop-Bebop?"
Comprehension dawned. "Ed... what 'her' are you talking about?" he asked, keeping his voice carefully neutral.
She laughed and exclaimed, "Faye-Faye!" Her tone of voice sounded as if that was the most obvious thing in the world and he was being silly for even bothering to ask.
Spike sighed. "Right. Faye." It wasn't the answer he'd wanted to hear, but it did make infinitely more sense. And really, the thought of seeing the Bebop's resident shrew woman was not as repulsive as he liked to make out. He actually wished he could go back. Argue with Faye. Choke down some of Jet's god awful cooking. Listen to Ed's sing-song voice as she called out bounty information from her computer. Trip over Ein's bowl. Fly the Swordfish. Actually have a cigarette again. It all sounded so... normal. And after the insanity that had become his life, normal sounded damn good.
Not that it would happen. As well meaning as Ed was, he knew he could never go back. It just wouldn't be the same. As much as he wanted it to be, he'd always know that it wasn't real. That it was all in his mind.
"Ed, no," he admonished her gently, pulling his hand free from the girl's grasp. "I don't want to go back."
Ed frowned. "Then what *does* Spike-person want, huh? What?" She placed her hands on her hips and looked up at him impatiently.
Spike sighed. "That's just the trouble, Ed. I haven't got a fucking clue."
Coming Soon: Chapter 3. Now that Spike knows where he is and why, what will he decide to do about it?