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: I know, I know, I promised answers this time around and failed to really deliver. Somehow the set up took me longer than I thought it would, though. Next time. Promise. :)
Also, I just saw the Bebop movie again and realized that I really love the character of Electra Ovilo. She's probably my favorite secondary character in the entire Bebop universe! She totally kicks ass! So I figured, why not bring her into the storyline, at least for a little bit? *g* Anyways, here's hoping everyone enjoys this new chapter!
So what if this party fears two?
The alcohol loves you while turning you blue
View it from here, from closer to near
(Party Fears Two - Sulk)
Chapter 7: Party Fears Two
It was two o'clock on an ordinary Monday afternoon when Electra Ovilo received a message from a dead man.
She was sitting at a bar, nursing a drink and planning out the rest of her day's schedule, trying to decide if she needed to do any more work or if her budget could handle a night off. Sadly, it looked as if it couldn't.
"Life of a bounty hunter, all trouble and not enough money to show for it," she muttered to herself with a sigh. Yes, that was something that no one had thought to mention to her before she signed on for this gig. If she'd known she'd be living on peanuts, she might've reconsidered her options. Not that she'd had very many options to speak of after the whole Vincent situation went sour and the military blamed it all on her. She'd been lucky to escape with just a dishonorable discharge, though she figured that she'd only gotten that because she'd been the one to fire the bullet that killed her former lover. Had Spike done the honors and been able to claim the bounty for himself, she'd probably have been in a very different boat.
Besides, at least she was moderately good at this particular career. She was smart, she could fight, she was proficient with a gun and she still had some military contacts who owed her favors. In a way, she was made for the life of a bounty hunter. So that's how she'd spent the last few months: chasing after bounty heads, living life on her own... though she'd often wished for a partner who could keep up with her. She'd tried out a few, but ditched them in a matter of days. Morons, the lot of them. Sadly, there was only one man she'd ever worked with in a bounty hunting capacity who she could even picture as her partner. Hell, she'd even secretly harbored a fantasy of one day convincing him to leave the Bebop and partner up with her. Not that it would have ever happened. He and those friends of his belonged together in a crazy sort of way. Anyone could see that. And it wasn't as if it really mattered anymore. He was dead now.
Electra sighed again, staring down into the amber depths of her drink. That had been a bad day... the day she'd gotten a call from Jet Black telling her to turn on the Channel 6 News. It had been a bloodbath, that much was clear, even in the few grainy pictures the media had managed to get. One man had managed to do what no one else would even dare to think of, let alone try. He'd taken down the largest syndicate on Mars single handedly.
Electra had at first thought that Jet was mistaken. As crazy as Spike had acted sometimes during the few weeks they'd known each other, he'd never struck her as the suicidal type. Because that's what it was. A suicide mission. When he'd left that night, he couldn't have thought that he'd make it out alive.
And he hadn't.
She hadn't really known how to react when his name had been listed among the casualties. It wasn't as if they were lovers or anything. Hell, they'd never even kissed. Aside from a little harmless flirting and one conversation in a jail cell, they hardly even rated as friends. Yes, she'd been attracted to him. He wasn't what you'd call good looking, at least in the conventional sense, but he had a sort of casual grace about him that one didn't find very often. There was just something in the way he held himself that spoke of a quiet self assurance, of a strength that went beyond the physical, a sense of being *free* in a way that few people were. Spike Spiegel was a man who couldn't be owned by anyone. Even when he was bruised and beaten, held at gunpoint and facing his death at the hands of a madman, there was something in his eyes - those crazy, mismatched brown eyes - that let the world know that he was in charge of his own destiny and that if he ever died, it would be because it was his choice to do so.
So, yeah, she'd been attracted to him.
Electra thought that a person would have to be blind to *not* be at least a little bit attracted to Spike Spiegel, should they ever have the opportunity to cross paths with him.
But that didn't mean that she loved him. She barely even knew him. She *respected* him, she supposed. Liked him, even. But none of that helped her to figure out how to deal with his death. Just a simple, "Oh, that's too bad" was simply not enough. Insulting, really. But she couldn't very well tear out her hair and wail to the heavens about the unfairness of it all, either. In the end, she'd gone to a bar and gotten fairly well sloshed, which didn't help much in the long run but damn well made her feel better right then.
A beeping from inside her jacket pocket distracted her from her wandering thoughts. Setting her drink down, she pulled her communicator out and flipped it on...
...and stared at it for a long moment, frozen in shock. She was looking at a message from a dead man.
"Well, I'll be damned," she murmured as her communicator continued to beep at her.
Looking up at the bartender, she waved him over and indicated her almost empty glass. "Again please, and make it a double." Her gaze wandered back to the message that awaited her. "I think I'll need it..."
Spike Spiegel was never happier than when he was breaking the rules somehow. It was just one of his quirks, he supposed. An unhealthy desire to cause trouble of almost any kind. There was nothing like the thrill of the chase, the rush of doing something wrong or the excitement of a tough fight. Many different people had told him that one day he'd come to regret his rash behavior, but he never paid any attention to them. He couldn't, really. Because the danger called to him, lighting a fire in his blood that simply couldn't be put out. He had to answer its call. Some would say he even lived for it.
So that was why he found himself crouched over a computer monitor with Ginny, sending an illegal message into the Matrix and constantly checking over his shoulder to make sure they weren't caught red handed, so to speak.
"Okay, it's done," the young brunette announced finally, pushing her chair back and sighing in relief. "Message has been received."
"Great job, Gin. You know, you should reconsider this whole 'nice girl' routine you have going." Spike grinned wolfishly as he added, "Because you'd make one hell of an outlaw."
Ginny smirked. "Nah, I don't think so, Spike. While I may occasionally dally in rebellious activities, I'm a good girl at heart and you know it."
Spike shrugged. "Yeah, I know. Besides, you're too young to be a good rebel. You've at least gotta be in your twenties to pull off the whole 'bad girl' thing."
Ginny made a face. "I may only be 15, but I could hack my way into almost any computer that exists, Spike. Let's see you top that."
Spike chuckled and couldn't resist ruffling her hair, something that he knew annoyed her to no end. "I wouldn't dream of it, Gin. Now, Ed on the other hand..."
Ginny scowled. "Humph, so this is the thanks I get. I help your sorry ass out and you repay me by teasing me?"
Spike stood up, stretching the kinks out of his body after being stuck in one position for so long. "Hey, you know me," he replied in an offhanded tone of voice. "I'm a laugh a minute."
Ginny rolled her eyes, unable to keep from grinning up at him in spite of herself. "Riiiight, because I'm just so amused right now."
Spike shrugged. "You said it, not me."
Ginny made a noise that was somewhere between a squeal and a growl of frustration, which made Spike grin. It was nice to have someone he could be like this with. Just friendly banter and no mind games or intrigues to worry about. Ginny and Ed were really the only two people on the entire ship that he trusted enough to let his guard down around. And Ed... well, she was a sweet kid, but she just wasn't much for linear conversation.
Spike sighed and leaned back against the doorway. It was times like these when he missed his days spent on the Bebop the most. He would never have admitted it at the time, but Jet, Faye and the rest were almost like some kind of twisted version of a family to him. And he found himself wishing he could figure out some way to get it all back... get *them* back.
Hell, he even missed the damn dog!
Giving Ginny a brief smile, he said, "Thanks for your help. Really. It means a lot to me."
"You're welcome, Spike."
She returned his smile easily, which was something he envied. He'd always found it hard to smile a *real* smile at someone that easily. He could laugh at people, smirking was a no brainer, and he could always play the part of a joker if needed... but a *real* smile was something altogether different, and altogether much harder.
"Well, rule one of breaking the law is never get caught at the scene of the crime," Spike announced. "So, I'm gonna make trails. See if anybody wants to spar with me or something."
Ginny nodded. "Okay, I'll see you later."
As Spike slipped out into the hallway, he pondered the message he'd just sent and wondered if it was the wisest move. He couldn't very well send any messages to Jet or Faye. They were under observation; he was sure of it. Annie wasn't one to take any chances. And that, in turn, greatly limited his options.
Spike sighed as he walked. He just hoped that he'd made the right choice...
The living area of the Bebop was unusually silent, given that its entire crew was situated in that precise location. Jet sat in his usual chair, Faye was lying on the couch - still recovering from her wounds at the hands of Agent Jones and his cronies - and Ein was curled up on the floor beside her. But nobody was talking.
Of course, given that they'd each just received some rather shocking news, that was almost to be expected. It had taken them over three months to finally start to get back to a semi-normal existence after Spike's death. And now it had all been shot to hell by 4 short - and, they now knew, forged - messages, a trap sprung by three shady agents, two heavy hearts and one empty grave. Hell, Faye mused, all they needed now was a fucking partridge in a pear tree and they'd be all set for a rather morbid and insane Christmas.
A shrill beeping sound brought Faye out of her thoughts and she glared at Jet, who was already reaching out to answer the call. "Leave it," she advised. "It's either gonna be a bounty tip that we can't follow up on with both me and the Redtail currently out of commission, or it's another fake message from Spike that will just lead to one of us getting shot at and almost killed. Either way, we're better off just not answering."
Jet gave her one of his 'looks' that said, "Shut up already, woman!"
Faye, in return, rolled her eyes at him and slumped back down on the couch, preparing to deliver a big, fat "I told you so" to him after she was proven right.
Jet hit a button and a face appeared on the small monitor in front of them. A familiar face.
Faye sat up quickly in surprise, which she regretted a moment later when her wounded shoulder throbbed painfully.
"Electra?" Jet asked incredulously, clearly as surprised as Faye was.
The dark haired woman nodded once. "Yes, it's me." She gave Jet a small smile. "It's good to see you still in one piece, old man."
Jet made a face. "Old man?!?! Damn it, I'm only 36!!!"
Electra chuckled. Faye did, too, though she knew well enough to hide it with one hand lest Jet spot her.
Jet sighed. "Okay, now that the pleasantries are over, care to tell us why you called?"
Electra's smile vanished. "Of course, you're right, Jet." She took a deep breath before continuing. "What I'm about to say is going to sound... a little crazy."
Faye rolled her eyes. "No worries, we have the market cornered on crazy over here, so you'll fit right in."
Electra nodded, a small smirk curving at the corners of her lips. The expression reminded Faye so much of Spike that it actually hurt to look at her. She blinked and glanced down at her hands for a moment, looking back at the other woman's face on the monitor once she'd regained her composure.
"Right," Electra replied. "Well, then. Here goes..." A beat before she continued. "I got a very strange message today from someone who, well, shouldn't be in any position to be sending me messages."
Faye made a face. "Been there, done that, got the gunshot wounds to prove it," she replied.
Jet made a shushing motion at her with one hand, while indicating that Electra go on with the other.
Faye subsided into silence uneasily, not really looking forward to hearing what the other woman was going to say next. She had a bad feeling that she already knew.
"You need to see this message. It's important."
"And why, pray tell, would we want to see a message that was sent to you?" Faye's voice was annoyed, but underneath that she was just plain tired. Both Jet and Electra could see it on her face.
"Because," Electra replied, "It's from Spike."
"Surprise, surprise," Faye muttered under her breath.
Electra continued undaunted. "And I have reason to believe that it, unlike the ones you received, is real."
Okay, so *that* was unexpected. Faye pinned Electra with a hard gaze. "How the hell do you know that I got faked messages from Spike?"
Electra smiled, like the answer was the most obvious thing in the world. "Because he told me you did. And he told me that they weren't from him."
Jet frowned, silencing any further remarks from Faye's corner with one raised hand. "Okay, so assuming for the moment that this message you got was the real thing, how did *Spike* know that Faye got any messages if he didn't send them?"
Electra sighed. "Now that, Jet, is the tricky part..."
Coming Soon: Chapter 8. Electra and the Bebop gang compare notes. Spike continues to search for answers. And trouble brews in the background, courtesy of Agent Jones.
Random Addendum: I'm going to see the Matrix sequel on Sunday! Wheeeeeee! :)