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: Well, the Matrix sequel comes out this weekend. So this is just my chance to say that if any of the main Matrix cannon is altered in the new movie, I will probably be ignoring it. It all depends on what it is, of course, and if at all possible I'll try to keep the Matrix side of things as close to cannon as possible, but if something they cook up contradicts things I've used here, I'm just gonna call this one an AU (*snorts* As if it's NOT already, LOL!) and move on with life. Hope that's cool with everyone. ;)
Also, just so you guys know, I'd planned to have more Jet and Spike in this chapter, but Faye sort of took over the damn thing and wouldn't let me move on to the boys just yet. So we'll just save them for Chapter 7, okay? *g*
To divide and to conquer is your goal
I swear that hatred is your home
You just won't leave bad enough alone
I won't let you near me
You shall learn to fear me
(Oppression - Ben Harper)
Chapter 6: Learn to Fear
When Faye arrived at the meeting place, she felt more than a little nervous about the whole thing. After all, one didn't just fly on over to the hollowed out remains of the Red Dragon Syndicate's headquarters and take a peek inside. Not without a hell of a good reason, anyway. Whether or not this was such a reason, she had yet to decide.
She parked the Redtail a few blocks away from her destination, killing the lights and hopping lightly down to the sidewalk below. After locking the ship up behind her, she began to make her way towards what was left of the building. She was grateful now for her black jacket and dark colored jeans, which allowed her to blend in with the shadows that came with the onset of twilight. Her bright yellow halter-top and hot pants ensemble would have made her stand out like a sore thumb.
As she got closer to the building, she pulled out her gun and gripped it tightly in both hands. Just being here, after everything that had happened, was giving her a bad case of nerves. Her hands wouldn't stop trembling. "Damn it, Valentine," she scolded herself. "It's just a building. Nothing more. And whatever happens in there, you can handle it."
Pep talk over, she ducked underneath the yellow police tape that still surrounded the remains of the building and made her way to the large, open space where the front doors used to be... before what looked to be a grenade explosion had knocked them out, that is.
Faye smirked. "One guess who was responsible for that," she muttered to herself. "Damn lunkhead never did know how to be subtle."
Upon entering what had been the main lobby, once upon a time, Faye stared up at the escalators and sighed. They were also the victim of a large explosion, if the fire damage was anything to judge by. There was definitely no way she was going up that way. "Well, shit," she said to herself, frowning. "Now what am I supposed to do?"
As if in answer to her question, she noticed a small door off to the back that had a cartoonish picture of a stairway on it. Grinning, she walked over to it and peeked inside. Yep. Back stairs. Perfect.
By the time she'd made it to the roof, Faye was about ready to collapse from exhaustion. Even for somebody in good shape, like she was, it was a really long climb. She leaned against the wall by the door that led out onto the roof, clutching her side as she tried to catch her breath. "Damn bastard," she muttered between gasps for air. "Had to pick the roof. Couldn't stick to ground levels like any rational human being."
Once she had her breathing under control, Faye adjusted her grip on her gun and placed one hand to the doorknob. Counting to three silently, she threw the door open and sprung out onto the roof, gun at the ready. Which would have been very impressive looking had anyone been there to see her, she supposed. Too bad the place looked deserted, at least as far as she could tell.
Faye lowered her gun, though she didn't put it away yet, and took a step forward, squinting into the near darkness. Devastation surrounded her everywhere, testimony to the desperate battle that had occurred on this very roof. She could still make out the pale ghosts of the chalk outlines that the police had made around various dead bodies if she looked closely, though time had wiped them away to almost nothing.
Even the roof hadn't escaped the fire damage that seemed to proliferate the entire building. Scorch marks and crumpled segments of wall were everywhere she looked. She took great care with where she walked, afraid she might take a wrong step and wind up falling through the roof to the floors below.
She approached the stairs in the middle of the roof slowly, her eyes riveted to one old chalk outline in particular that lay at an odd angle right in the middle, facing back towards the destroyed elevator. According to the articles she'd read just after the fact, that was where Spike had been found.
Faye took the stairs slowly, carefully picking her way through debris until she reached the place where his body had lain. Unable to help herself, she knelt next to the faded white outline and reached out her left hand until her palm rested against one cool, metallic step. The knuckles of her right hand were wrapped around her gun so tightly that they'd turned white. This was it. The place where he'd died. Until now, she'd never been able to gather up enough courage to come and see it for herself. Her gun hand began to tremble as she stared down at the stairs, entranced, unable to keep her mind from taking her back in time to that night, when everything had gone to hell.
A noise off to the side caught her attention and she jerked her hand away from the stairs, bringing her gun up to point in the direction she thought the sound had come from. She squinted into the distance, trying to locate the source of the noise, but was unable to make much of anything out amidst the shadows. "Who's there?" she called out, keeping her voice calm and steady through sheer force of will. "Come out, or I'll shoot."
"Miss Faye Valentine," a cold, emotionless voice announced. For some reason, just the sound of the voice made Faye's skin crawl. She gripped her gun even more tightly, her finger hovering just over the trigger.
From out of the shadows, a figure appeared. He was dressed in a black suit and black sunglasses adorned his eyes, even though the sun had already set a while back and light was at a minimum. His head was mostly bald, though what hair he had was brown and nondescript, and in one hand he held a gun which was currently down at his side, not actually pointed at her but, she was sure, ready to be used at a moment's notice.
"Who wants to know?" she demanded, with as much bravado as she could muster. Her gun was aimed at his forehead, right between the eyes, and despite her trepidation about this whole situation, it didn't waver once.
From each side of the mystery man, another man appeared, flanking him. These two newcomers were dressed similarly in black suits and sunglasses and they also held guns at their sides. The first man looked to each of them and they nodded once, coming to some kind of silent agreement.
"I am Agent Jones," Suit #1 said in his monotone voice. "These are my compatriots. We would like you to come with us, Miss Valentine."
Faye frowned. "What the hell is this about? Am I under arrest or something?"
Jones shook his head. "No, of course not, we just want to ask you a few questions. Now if you would please lower your weapon..."
Faye raised one eyebrow at them. "If this is legit, then why did you have to impersonate a dead man to get me to show up at this little party of yours?" She adjusted her grip on her gun, keeping it aimed at Jones. "Oh, and by the way boys, if you think I'm lowering my gun just on your say-so, then you're seriously deluding yourselves."
A muscle in Jones' jaw twitched, the only thing betraying the frustration that he must have been feeling at Faye's refusal to cooperate. "Miss Valentine, please don't make this harder than it has to be."
Faye smirked, slowly rising to her feet, her gun still pointed at him. "Hey, what can I say? I've always been a pain in the ass. Too much attitude for my own good, or so they tell me." As she spoke, Faye began to slowly back her way down the stairs, feeling her way carefully with each step, her eyes never leaving the three agents.
"Please don't attempt to escape. I can assure you, it is quite pointless." Jones took a step forward, his lackeys flanking him on either side.
Faye continued to make her way down the stairs undaunted. "You might be right," she replied with a reckless grin. "But I always take the big gamble. It's just in my nature."
The three agents watched her impassively as she moved away from them, but made no move to chase her. Faye had reached the bottom of the stairs and taken a couple of steps back toward the exit before they spoke again.
"We need your help, Miss Valentine. We have reason to believe that you have information on the whereabouts of your ex-partner, Mr. Spiegel."
Faye froze, her heart leaping into her chest. "What...?" she whispered, her eyes growing wide. Her gun wavered slightly and she felt her vision blur. Swiping at her eyes with the back of the hand not holding her gun, she glared at them hotly, her anger wiping away any surprise she'd felt. "What the fuck are you talking about? Spike is DEAD."
Jones smiled, but it lacked any real mirth. Just like everything else about him, his smile was cold and emotionless. "If you're so sure of that, then why did you come here tonight?"
Faye took a deep breath before replying in a voice so soft that they would have missed it if they weren't listening for her answer. "Because I didn't want to believe it," she whispered brokenly, talking more to herself than she was to them. "I didn't want him to be gone."
"We don't believe he really is gone, Miss Valentine. And if you help us, perhaps together we can find him."
Jones' voice was deceptively gentle and kind. Faye didn't believe the Mr. Nice Guy routine for a second. "Yeah, right," she snorted, tightening her grip on her gun and willing her hands to be steady. "Even if he WAS alive, I'd never turn him over to you."
"Touché, Miss Valentine," Jones replied, his mouth twisting into a cruel smirk. "But do you really think you'll be able to find him without our help? And even if you did manage it, do you think for one second that we wouldn't track you both down eventually?" He took another step forward, his sunglasses glinting in the headlights of a passing ship, making him look almost demonic. "We always get our man, Miss Valentine. You'd do well to remember that."
Faye glared at him. "You bastard," she spat, "I've dealt with assholes like you before and I sent them packing. So why don't you do yourselves a big, fat, fucking favor and leave while you have the chance?"
Not waiting for a reply, Faye squeezed the trigger on her gun, sending a bullet heading straight for Jones. And in a feat that she would have said was impossible had she not seen it with her own two eyes, he dodged the bullet easily, his body contorting as he bent sideways and calmly let the bullet pass him by. She'd seen more emotion from a block of ice than she had from this guy as he avoided death like it was nothing.
The four people on the roof stared at each other in silence for a long moment, no one saying a word. Then the three agents raised their guns and pointed them at Faye.
"Shit!" she cursed under her breath, diving to the side behind a pile of debris, narrowly avoiding the hail of bullets they sent after her. She covered her head with both hands, gun still clutched tightly, as the bullets rained down around her hiding spot.
Then, suddenly, there was silence. Taking a deep breath, Faye spun around and twisted her body around the side of the fallen piece of rock and twisted metal she was crouched behind, firing off three quick shots towards where she last remembered the agents being and then ducking away again when they began returning fire.
Ignoring the gunfire, Faye pulled a tiny device out of her pocket and hit the single red button that adorned it, activating the Redtail's autopilot and calling it to the homing beacon she clutched in her hands. Only parked a few blocks away as it was, the little zipcraft made excellent time and soon zoomed overhead, cannons firing, causing the agents to scatter.
"Yes!," Faye crowed, a vindictive grin appearing on her pretty face as the Redtail came around for a second pass.
Explosions rocked the already unstable building from the ship's weapons, making the ground beneath Faye's feet tremble dangerously. Cursing again, Faye changed tactics and called the zipcraft to her. It flew over her head and hovered just beyond the side of the building, waiting. Taking a deep breath, Faye scrambled over the debris she was currently hiding behind and made a run for it. She felt bullets from the agents' guns whizzing past her as she ran, one clipping her cheek and more impacting at her heels.
Once at the edge of the roof, she climbed up onto the ledge and spun around, firing off the remainder of her bullets at Jones, who had begun to chase after her. He dodged them all with inhuman ease, raising his own gun to return fire.
Faye turned and jumped for it, landing on the clear pod of the Redtail's cockpit with a grunt of pain as her ankle twisted under her. Slapping the release button, she began to crawl inside the cockpit when there was a loud bang and a sudden flash of agony in her shoulder as one of Jones' bullets hit its mark. The pod finished opening just then and Faye fell inside clumsily, her mind a whirl of pain.
As the cockpit sealed itself closed around her, she slapped the autopilot off and turned the ship around in a wide circle, ignoring the hail of bullets against its metal hull. And then, in a blast of engines, she was gone, speeding in a tight arch around the building. Grinning mercilessly, she fired off two missiles, both impacting the building at its base. Then she watched as the building began to crumble in on itself, slowly collapsing in a huge explosion of fire and smoke.
Sighing, Faye finally allowed herself to relax. Whoever those men were, they were dead now. Nobody could have survived that. Turning the Redtail around, she began the slow trek back to the Bebop. Jet would be there. He had to be. All she needed to do was to get to him and Jet would take care of her like he always did.
'Please,' she thought to herself, 'please let him be there...'
Jet was out on the deck with Ein when he saw the Redtail approaching from the distance. "Finally," he muttered to himself. "I swear, that woman has the worst knack for disappearing whenever something important happens."
As Faye's ship got closer, however, Jet noticed that it was swaying in the sky drunkenly, smoke coming from one of its engines. "Shit," he cursed, his anger forgotten only to be replaced by concern for his partner. "What's she gotten herself into this time?"
Muttering about the troubles of being saddled with a reckless, hotheaded partner, Jet herded Ein back inside the ship and slapped the release for the hangar doors. As they rumbled open, he watched anxiously as the Redtail attempted to land on the Bebop's deck. Crash was more like it. Faye went down hard, the little zipcraft spinning at the last minute and crashing into the deck at an odd angle. The engines were killed and the cockpit began to open as Jet ran towards her, Ein ignoring his instructions to stay inside and following at Jet's heals, yapping loudly.
"Faye!" Jet called, as he climbed up to the now open pod. What he saw made him grit his teeth in anger and frustration. Faye was a mess. She'd been shot in the shoulder, leaving blood all over the cockpit, and she was lying slumped in a heap, barely moving.
"Faye, can you hear me?" Jet asked, shaking her gently.
She groaned and her eyelids fluttered. Her mouth moved and he leaned forward to make out her words. "Spike... Matrix... life's... a dream..." Then her head lolled to the side as she slipped into unconsciousness.
Shaking his head, Jet gathered her into his arms and lifted her gently out of the cockpit. As he made his way back inside the Bebop so he could take care of her wounds, her strange words replayed themselves endlessly through his thoughts. Sighing, he laid her down on the couch, staring at her battered and bruised form for a moment. "Spike again," he murmured, scratching at his bald head in confusion. "Damn it. What the hell is going on?"
He glanced down at Ein, who sat at Faye's side, licking her hand. The little dog looked up at Jet and gave a forlorn little whimper.
"Don't worry, buddy," Jet reassured the Welsh Corgi, even though he knew the dog couldn't understand a word he said. "I'll fix her up, good as new. And then I think it's time she and I sat down and had a talk. This Spike thing gives me a bad feeling, like something's coming that I don't know about. And I don't like that, Ein, not one little bit."
Coming Soon: Chapter 7. What do the Agents want with Spike? What does it have to do with Faye and Jet? And are the crewmembers of the Absalom involved? Those are the questions that Spike wants the answers to and he'll stop at nothing to get them.