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Sympathique

Chapter Text

You'd always wanted to leave the planet. You'd studied the stars, at least through your computer-- you loved to learn about the planets, the constellations, the stars that mankind could only dream of reaching, so far away, too far away even as far as we had advanced. The nebulae, the singularities, the galaxies beyond, all of it-- but you'd never seen them, not really, not clearly. The city lights were much too bright for you to be able to see anything more than the occasional faint glimmer, and over the years, as your eyesight grew worse, it was only that much more difficult through glass lenses. To leave, to go see them... it was a lot to ask. It was expensive to leave Mars. It would mean leaving things-- people-- behind. A girl could dream, though, couldn't she?

And dream, you certainly did-- the antiques shop you worked wasn't very busy, so there was plenty of time. Even though you carried nearly every old thing one could thing of, business was slow these days. Antiques weren't terribly popular anymore. So there was lots of time. You would dream, and whistle, and sing, and draw, and make little things, and dream, and dream, and dream. On the rare occasion that the door swung open, chimes twinkling softly, you would make conversation as the patrons browsed. Sometimes collectors, sometimes hipsters looking for ugly old shirts, sometimes just people who just wanted interesting gifts. You had one regular-- a very old woman-- who would come in weekly or bi-weekly to trade in her old things for the little pieces of art you made, the ones you displayed on the shelves behind the counter, mostly just for her. Her name was Thelma. She called you sugarpop.

===

Today was another slow day, of course. You were about to take a little break to have lunch, but as you rose from your stool to go lock the shop door, somebody opened it, chimes twinkling. It was a tall, slim young man-- and he didn't really look like a hipster, so you weren't sure what to expect. You sat back down again and smiled at the man.

"Welcome in," you singsonged. "Can I help you with anything, sir?"

"Dunno," the man replied, not looking at you. He started looking around at all of the strange odds and ends in the shop as soon as he'd passed through the door.

"Okay, well, just let me know if you need something," you said. The man hummed in affirmation and continued to browse silently. He didn't seem to be one for idle conversation. You pulled your pen-tablet from your bag and drew on it to pass the time.

The quiet quickly became stale between the man's footsteps and your own soft humming. For a couple of minutes, you kept an eye on the man to make sure he didn't steal, glancing up at him everg few moments. Naturally, you took a good look at him once or twice, hoping he wouldn't take it for you obviously checking him out.

He was tall and slim, you reestablished in your mind, but he walked hunched over, and seemed to move slowly. He had sharp facial features-- pretty, you thought-- and a mess of dark, curly hair on his head. Pretty, you thought again. His shoes looked worn, but they were nice shoes, nonetheless. They were on purpose, you thought. He was wearing a pair of trim-fit navy slacks and... a white t-shirt. Sad, you thought. Under his arm was a bundle of soft yellow and dark navy cloth. Maybe that was his real shirt, you thought. Hoped. He turned to walk towards the counter and you quickly redirected yourself back to the tiny stars you had drawn in the corner of your tablet screen. He leaned onto the counter, and you looked up again, setting down the tablet pen and nudging your glasses up to give him your full attention. He had brown eyes. Pretty.

"Yes?"

"Do you have any stuff for sewing?" That was a surprise. He sewed? Regardless, you hummed and nodded and rose from your stool to walk around the counter and walk him over to the old sewing kits.

"What exactly do you need?" You bent down to the pile of supplies, gathering your skirts to hold them off the ground, and looked back up at the man, who seemed even taller now. He squatted down next to you. You glanced from his face to the bundle under his arm, and then back.

"Whatever I'll need to fix these," the man replied, unraveling the bundle to reveal a torn up shirt and jacket. Maybe he didn't know how to sew after all . After reaching out to feel them and get a closer look, you nudged your glasses up and turned back to the pile to look for the right thread colors and good needles. It didn't take long to find the supplies, and soon you both rose to stand up, taking another look at the man's clothing to be sure that you had the closest color match. You looked up to his face and smiled.

"These should work fine," you said, ushering him back over to the counter and laying the collection of objects out on it for him to see. Two spools of thread, a couple of needles, and a small scrap of stray fabric to wrap them together in for safe keeping. "Is this everything for today?" The man nodded. You couldn't help your curiosity. With just the hint of a knowing smile behind your friendliness, you leaned on the counter and dared to ask: "I assume you know how to use them?"

The man cleared his throat. "Can't be too difficult," he mumbled as he pulled out his billfold. "How much?"

"Five," you answered, writing clacking the purchase into the computer. He handed you his card. You hummed a little tune as you waited for the money to go through, drumming your fingers on the counter. The man surveyed the shelves behind the counter while he waited. The machine beeped, and you handed the card back. "Are you sure you don't need any help with fixing those? If you want, I could -"

"I can do it," he interrupted, shoving his billfold back into his pocket.

"Alright. You can come back and ask me if you need help, though." You wrapped the needles and thread up in the fabric scrap and pulled a thin ribbon out from behind the counter, tying the items closed in the scrap with a bow. You looked up to make eye contact and smile politely as you handed him the little bundle.

"Thanks," he said, smiling politely back as he turned to leave the antiques shop. Pretty, you thought, and waited a moment before going to lock up and have your lunch.

Chapter Text

A couple of days had passed since the tall man had come in to buy sewing supplies. It was morning. You'd just turned over the open sign in the front window when Thelma arrived, holding a little tote bag that probably contained her trade-ins for the day. You held the door open for her as she hobbled inside the shop.

"Well, if it isn't miss _____! Good morning, sugarpop," she greeted cheerfully. You grinned. God, what a perfect old woman.

"Good morning," you replied, very happy that the day was starting off this way. You returned to your place behind the shop's counter. "What can I help you with today?"

Thelma walked up to the counter and slowly pulled an old dress and a small pouch of what appeared to be jewelry out from her tote. "Oh, just a couple of pretty little things."

You took the items from her and gently laid them out on the counter, looking at the dress first. It was certainly older than you were, but it had been very well loved and cared for, and was still in wearable shape. Next, you took the jewelry pouch and emptied it. A couple of pairs of earrings and a necklace tumbled out.

"Thelma, these are lovely! They're all in such beautiful condition, as usual." You couldn't stop smiling when she was around. And then, although you already knew the answer: "How much did you-"

You were interrupted by the sound of the door chimes twinkling as it opened. "Welcome in, I'll be with you in just a moment," you called, still unable to turn your eyes away from Thelma's treasures. "Sorry about that. How much did you want for these, Thelma?"

Thelma smiled. "Oh, you sweet girl. I'll just take one of your little angels up from back there." She pointed at one of the small sculptures on the shelves behind you, and you turned to reach and get it down for her.

"You're sure?" You always felt a little guilty about it, but it felt good to know that somebody liked your artworks.

"Of course I'm sure, sugarpop, don't be silly. I love your little angels. They'll keep a good eye on me. You just take those and have yourself a wonderful day," she said, turning to leave with her little treasure placed safely in her tote bag. You watched her dutifully as she left the shop. "Bye-bye, now," she said, waving happily to both you and the second customer.

Oh, right! You had another customer waiting! You pushed your glasses up and finally looked over to the lanky figure leaning patiently against the wall near the door. "I'm so, so sorry about the wait, she's a regular, you see. How can I help-"

You paused briefly as the customer stood up and walked over to the counter. You recognized him: it was the guy from before, the tall one who had bought sewing supplies. You hadn't expected to see him again. "...You...?"

He was wearing his yellow shirt and blue jacket this time, instead of his t-shirt from before, but... he'd done a very poor job of repairing them. They didn't look very good at all, even with a tie added into the mix as a distraction. The shirt was particularly obvious. You pretended not to notice, and looked up to his face as he reached the counter. You smiled and pushed on your glasses, but quickly noticed that they hadn't fallen back down again yet.

"Oh, I remember you! Tall guy. It's nice to see you again-- what brings you back in?"

The man made a face. He obviously didn't want to have to do this. He sighed. "I... need some help," he admitted, breaking your eye contact to look down. Pretty eyelashes, you thought. He tugged lightly on the loose, uneven stitches that held his button-down together. "With this."

You smiled. "Do you want me to teach you, or would you rather I just fix it for you?"

"Depends," he answered. "Which is cheaper?"

"Depends," you said. "Are you a quick learner?"

The man mulled this over for a moment, disgruntled. "Do it for me," he decided.

"Sure, no problem. You can leave it here and come back in a couple hours or so, or you can just hang out while I fix it," you offered. "I've got a little couch and table in the break room back here."

The man took a moment to think this over, as well. "I'll just stick around," he said, finally.

"Sounds good." Your smile grew a little larger. It would be nice to have some company that seemed to be within your age group, even if he seemed quiet. "Let me lock the door real fast. You can head on back in you like, it's just this room here," you said, nodding towards the doorway through the left wall behind the counter as you moved past the man to go temporarily close up.

"Thanks," the man mumbled as you passed him. You followed him into the break room after you had locked the door and found that he had already sat down on the couch, and was now looking around the room at the various things you had hanging from the walls.

You hesitated to sit down next to him. "Do you want some water, or anything?" You offered, fiddling with your dress. The ever-so-slightly more casual setting in this room made the mood feel more different than you thought it was going to. The man shook his head no. After an uncomfortable beat, you realized that you hadn't introduced yourself yet.

"My name's _____, by the way." You smiled politely.

"Spike," said Spike.

"Spike is a cool name. It's nice to meet you."

"Mm."

Another uncomfortable beat.

"Did you want any water, or something?" You asked, deciding it might be a good idea to get your sewing kit from your bag before you sat down to sew.

"No thanks," said Spike. "You just asked me that," he added under his breath as you came back over with your sewing kit. You sat down next to him on the couch, conscious to keep a foot or so between the two of you.

Then his comment registered. Shit. "Oh, I'm so sorry. I have some memory problems," you explain quickly, fumbling to open the sewing kit. "I tend to repeat myself sometimes. I'll need your shirt and jacket, if you don't mind."

You turned towards him expectantly, and after a moment, the reality of what you just said sinks in. You felt your head heat up. You prayed that he had a shirt on underneath the yellow one.
Spike quietly slipped his jacket off and handed it to you, and then stood to remove his button down, which he handed to you as well. He had a white t-shirt on underneath, thank goodness. He sat back down on the couch, and leaned back into the worn-out cushions. You let go of a breath you didn't know you were holding and turned your attention to his clothes in your hands, carefully pulling out his clumsy stitches.

The jacket's dark color would be more forgiving, so you hunched over it and started on repairing that first.

The sound of a shuffling and a lighter flicking next to you broke your train of thought. You looked over at Spike, who had just lit a cigarette. You frowned. You... really, really liked the aesthetics of smoking, but hated absolutely everything else about it.

"I'm sure you know, but those are horrible for you," you mumbled, turning back to your work to try and ignore the smoke's pungent odor. "Not to mention they stink."

"Yeah," said Spike. You heard him take a long drag and exhale.

"They'll kill you," You said.

"Yeah," said Spike.

More silence, save for Spike's breaths. You tried to ignore it and continue sewing. You took slow breaths, and attempted to avoid inhaling smoke, but to no avail. You let out a couple of coughs. Spike kept smoking. You didn't want to kick him outside, but you also felt too nervous to ask him to put it out. You had dropped hints, so you knew that he was still doing it because he didn't care-- he had no reason to care, you didn't blame him.

About halfway through fixing the jacket, you set it down on the table in front of you to take a break. You stretched your back, cracked your knuckles, and got up for some water. You noted that you shouldn't have sat hunched over for so long. You looked at Spike in the mirror as you filled a glass with water at the bathroom sink, on the other side of the room. If he hadn't occasionally moved his hand to his mouth for a drag of his cigarette, you would have thought him sleeping. He looks pretty, you thought.

You sat back down and pulled out your phone from your dress pocket. You took a sip of water and turned to look at Spike. "Mind if I put on some music?"

Spike shrugged.

"Anything you can't stand listening to?"

He shrugged again.

You turned to your phone again, looking through your music for a couple of minutes. Something easy. Jazz worked, it came to mind first. You started a radio station to play and set the phone down on the table before you picked up your work again, leaning back into the couch cushions this time, humming along with the slow tune in the background.

===

The time passed slowly, peacefully. At some point, you had to get up to get a small tray for Spike's cigarette butts. By now, he had two sitting in the tray, and you were about finished with his shirt.

"Try this," you said, tying off the end of you stitches on the jacket and handing it to Spike. He took it from you and stood up, smushing the end of his third cigarette onto the tray before he put tried his jacket on.

"Looks fine," he mumbled. When he tested the repairs by pulling on them, they held. It was a nice jacket, and it looked good on him, especially now that it wasn't about to fall apart. The stitches were noticeable of course, due to the rather serious nature of the tears, but it wasn't going to come apart, and from far away, it would seem fine, thanks to the dark fabric. After a couple more testing stretches and pulls, he took the jacket off again and sat back down. "Thanks."

"No problem," you said. You unfolded his dress shirt from your lap and held it out in front of you to look at the damage. You had already removed Spike's sad handiwork earlier, so the huge horizontal tear through the front of the shirt gaped open. The cut was... clean, strangely. You laid the shirt in your lap and started sewing it. "How did this get such a large cut in it, anyway?" You asked, trying to fill the air with something besides Spike's smoke and the music you hoped he didn't hate.

Spike didn't comply. He was quiet for what felt like a full minute before he answered you. "I was... in a fight," he said, obviously not wanting to explain any further. You paused your sewing for a moment to consider his words before you continued your work.

"...Oh. Well, I'm glad you made it out in better shape than your shirt."

Spike exhaled quickly and muttered something that you couldn't quite hear. You decided to try to change the subject.

"So, uh, are you from Mars?"

"Yeah, I grew up here, but I left," he answered, still a little stiff. He breathed in a little smoke and let it out again. "I travel, now."

"Must be nice," you said. No reply. "Is it fun?"

"Mm, not really," he answered. "It's kind of shitty. Not as bad as being here, though." You glanced over at him-- he looked a little lost in thought, and he was almost smiling. He took a drag. Pretty. You pushed up your glasses and turned back to your work.

===

After another hour, you had finished with Spike's shirt, and he was all set to go. The two of you walked out to the shop's counter again. Spike pulled out his wallet and started pulling out his card again.

"So, how much do I owe you?"

"I feel kind of bad charging you to sit next to me and make awkward conversation for three hours," you said. "Let's just say this one's on me."

Spike put his card and billfold away without hesitation, but he still looked a little surprised. "I won't argue with that," he said, "but it's not like I made things particularly pleasant for you." He blew some smoke off to the side. You laughed and raised a hand to wave it further away from you before you walked around the counter towards the front door, motioning for Spike to follow you.

"Well, I guess that's true. I really hate smoke. But I haven't gotten to sit down with any company in a long time. It was nice, despite the smell." You pulled out your keys and unlocked the door for him.

Spike had a weak smile on his face. "Maybe I'll just owe you one, then," he said as he turned away from you to exit. "Thanks for your help. Seeya."

"No problem. Have a good day." The doorchimes sounded his exit, and the store was quiet again. Your stomach grumbled. Time for lunch.

Chapter Text

It was around 8pm, and you'd just closed up shop for the evening. After turning back twice to check that yes, you had locked the door, you were finally on your way down the street, headed towards the nearest bar to get a drink before you went home for the night. The walk was short, thankfully, and you arrived without trouble.

As you walked inside, the warm, busy air of the bar welcomed you. You took a seat at the bar, keeping a relative distance from the other patrons-- you could never be too careful while out on your own-- and ordered yourself a gin & tonic. The bartender made your drink quickly and set it on the table, then moved on to his next customer.

You'd barely taken your second sip of your drink before some big, wealthily-dressed drunk guy who was obviously entirely too old for you came up and put his big, sweaty hand on your shoulder. You felt your heart leap out of your chest as you tried desperately to ignore him.

"Hey there, sweetheart. How're you doin' this fine evenin'?" His voice was slurred. You set your drink down and didn't reply. "You got a real fine body, missy. Real beautiful." He moved his face into your field of view and grinned. He had perfect teeth but absolutely repulsive breath. You avoided eye contact. "Cute face, too! Come on, honey, wanna spend some time together?"

"Sorry, I'm-- I'm not interested. No, thank you." Damn it, you couldn't keep your voice from shaking. You should have stayed quiet, maybe he would've just left on his own. Instead, he gripped your shoulder even tighter and turned you to face him with his other hand.

"Listen, lady. It wasn't a question. You'll come with me, right? I'll pay you anything you want. I'm rich, you know." A feeling of dread set in. You racked your brain, looking for a way out of the situation that wouldn't let this man hurt you. Oh, god, you couldn't reach for your pocketknife without him noticing. What would you do, what would you do, shit, shit, shit--

"Sorry I took so long, darling, there was a line at the bathroom," a familiar voice came from behind you. "Oh? Who's your new friend?" You looked over your shoulder. It was the man whose shirt you'd fixed-- Spike? He was looking at you with an easy smile on his face. But why did he call you-- realization washed over you. Oh. "Is he bothering you?"

"I-I, uh-- he's--" Your mouth wasn't working right. Hopefully Spike would get the idea, if he really was here to help.

"Get lost, ya twinky bastard. Me an' this sexy thing were just on our way out," the drunk man growled, letting go of you and stepping towards Spike.

"Hey, didn't you hear me, asshole?" Spike grinned. "This is my woman. I'd get my ass out of here, if I were you."

The drunk man didn't answer. He decided to throw a punch right into Spike's gut, instead-- Spike's grin faltered for a moment, but he didn't move a muscle, otherwise-- and the drunk man stood dumbfounded: that is, until Spike kicked him off of his feet with almost comical ease, knocking him across the floor. You were shocked by his apparent strength, but remembered that he had mentioned being in at least one fight previously. You stared at the drunk man, now unconscious on the floor, and Spike walked around to sit on the barstool next to you, turning it to face you.

"He's not gonna be out for very long, unless he's had more to drink than I thought," Spike said. He was holding his gut with one arm, but past that appeared to be fine. "That guy is a big corporate boss bastard. I recognize him. Rich and mean and very used to getting what he wants. You should probably go before he gets up. I'll walk you out."

You were too shaken to answer, so you just nodded and rose from your seat as Spike got up from his, and the two of you walked out of the bar. He stayed next to you as you walked down the street towards where your apartment building was located.
"Thanks," you finally managed.

"It's nothing. I owed you one, remember?"

You smiled. "I guess it's a good thing I didn't make you pay me, after all."

Spike chuckled, but something didn't sound quite...

Suddenly, he stumbled, barely catching himself on the wall of the building you had been walking past. Your brain started panicking right away, and you rushed over to him.

"Are you okay? It didn't look like he punched you that--" You babbled as you glanced over him under the dim streetlights for any serious injuries. He moved his arm away from his gut for a moment, revealing a blood-soaked sleeve and shirt. "Shit! Shit, you're bleeding!"

"Yeah," Spike coughed.

"Come on, I live on the next block, I have some medical supplies," you said, putting your arm around him to help him off of the wall to walk. "Let's go, I can--"

He looked like he wanted to retort, but his expression changed quickly when he felt another pang of pain from his gut. As soon as he put his weight on you, you almost fell over, but you managed to balance yourself after a moment or two and began walking. It seemed to take ages to make it down to your building, and you almost fell multiple times when Spike lost his footing. By some miracle, you were able to get upstairs with him with relative safety.
Unlocking your front door was a challenge, but you managed it, and finally you were able to walk Spike over to the couch. The moment he was sitting down you immediately rushed to the bathroom to get your medical box, only stopping to quickly close the front door on your way back to the living room.

"Okay, let me see," you said. Spike made a face at you, but took off his jacket, his shirt, and t-shirt anyway, revealing a large amount of bandages wrapped around his middle. They were now bloodsoaked, of course. You looked up at him. "I need to take these off."

"Do it," Spike nodded, and you pulled a pair of scissors out from your supply box to cut the bandages with. You realized after starting to cut through them that you could have just unwrapped him, but it was a little late for that now. Underneath the bandages you found a large, deep, barely-starting-to-heal cut across Spike's middle. It seemed like somebody had stitched it closed before, but the stitches were ripped open now.

"Jesus Christ," you muttered under your breath, checking it out. It really was a gnarly wound. "This is nasty. It looks like it must have been trying to heal, but that guy opened it back up when he punched you." You pulled out some gauze pads and soaked them in saline. "This is probably really going to hurt," was the only warning you gave before you started cleaning the blood from the wound. Spike hissed, his body contracting as he did his best to stay still despite the sharp sting of the saline. You continued to wipe and clean as much as you could with one hand, using the other to grab more gauze.

After laying the fresh gauze over a clean-ish part of the wound, you looked up at Spike again. "Can you hold these? Press down really hard on them." He complied, and you gathered from the box some butterfly bandages, a few more pieces of clean gauze, and a long roll of bandages that you could use to wrap with. "Okay, you can let go."

The now soaked-through gauze dropped onto the floor when Spike loosened his grip on it. "This might hurt, too," you said, and then went in with your hands to pull out the old ripped stitches from the wound. Once you had gotten out all that you could see, you prepared your butterfly bandages and carefully held the two sides of the cut together, and, bit by bit, closed it up as well as you could with what you had at hand. After you were pretty sure it would hold, you placed some guaze over it and began wrapping the long bandage around Spike, making sure it was tight enough to keep all of the gauze and makeshift repairs in place.

"Does it feel okay?" You asked, looking up at Spike when you'd finished wrapping and securing the bandages. He looked horrible.

"Are you kidding? It hurts like hell, lady!" Spike practically yelled, but he touched and felt at his new bandages to check them anyway. He sighed. "It feels secure, though."

"Thank god," you breathed, finally letting your body relax a little as you move to look at the various pill bottles in the box. "Here," you pulled out one of the bottles and opened it, shaking a few pills into your hand and handing them to Spike. He took them right away and swallowed them without water. "Those should help with the pain, at least a little bit. You should probably lay down-- oh, shit, do you travel with other people? You should call them, they're probably worried about you-- ah, there's blood all over the place, I should--"

"Relax, you're not the one with a gaping whole in his gut, " Spike said, a hint of humor in his tone. You paused and took a couple of deep breaths.

"You're right, yeah, that's true," you babbled. "Okay, okay. One thing at a time here. You lay down, I'll, uh-- yeah, lay down, just one sec." You ran off to the linen closet to get some extra blankets, and when you came back, spread them over the now-laying-down Spike as gently as you could. Then you crouched down next to him. "Can I- Do you need anything?"

No answer. Upon closer inspection, you realized that Spike was asleep. Lucky him, able to pass out so quickly. You stayed by his side to look at him a little longer-- what a strange guy, you thought. You were thankful that he'd knocked that man at the bar out earlier, but he should've been more careful. He couldn't afford to be getting hurt with this kind of injury.

What the hell had happened to him, anyway?

You'd have to ask him later. Maybe he would answer. You decided you'd clean up the mess tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Spike awoke to the smell of blood and lavender. He moved to sit up, but groaned when he felt a sharp pain in his stomach, and decided it would be better to lay back down again. Realizing that he probably wasn't going anywhere quickly, he took a look at his surroundings, the events of the night before returning to him-- the short barfight, almost collapsing in the street, being dragged onto your couch...

He was in a small studio apartment. He was laying on a worn-in but comfortable couch, covered by two worn-in but comfortable duvets. There was a small rocking chair in one corner of the room, and a desk with a computer and a really old-looking digital clock at the other. Next to the desk there was a funny-looking nightlight plugged into the wall-- probably the source of the lavender scent, he guessed. There was bloody gauze and wrappings all over the floor in front of him, as well as a plastic bin full of first aid supplies. There was an end table next to the arm of the couch he was closest to, and on top of it sat a pill bottle. Behind the couch was a small kitchen, as well as two doors. The walls were decorated with various pictures, and the single window, which was next to the rocking chair, had too many plants packed onto its sill. He thought briefly of Jet's bonsai collection on the Bebop.

He wondered if Jet thought he was dead by now, whether he'd left Mars already or not. It had been nearly two weeks since Spike had left, two weeks since he and... since everything had happened. After Vicious went and sliced his guts open, he was pretty sure he was going to die, but he'd eventually woken up to Laughing Bull having saved his life yet again. He spent his first week laying on the crazy old bastard's floor, licking his wounds and contemplating what the hell he was supposed to do now, having survived the situation he had felt certain that he was supposed to die in. He eventually had come to the conclusion that he needed to get his clothes fixed before anything else, because he sure as hell couldn't afford new ones right now. And so, he looked for cheap sewing supplies in an old junk shop. And so, here he was now.

He didn't dare think about what this situation reminded him of. He looked at the clock sitting on the desk, which read 8:48am.

He was just beginning to wonder where the chick who'd dragged him up here was when he heard you dragging your feet as you walked into the room from one of the doors near the kitchen, which he now assumed must lead to your bedroom. You walked over to the desk first, got close enough to the clock to read it without your glasses, and then turned around. Your hair was pulled back in a loose, half-assed bun, your body was bundled up in thick pajamas and at least two robes, and you seemed to still be too tired to notice Spike.

You glanced at the mess on the floor, yawned, and then looked at Spike, who was looking at you back. You jumped slightly, taking in a sharp breath as you seemed to remember all at once why there was a man on your couch and blood all over the floor.

"Good- Uh, morning," you said, voice still low from sleep. You rubbed your eyes. "You, uh... you passed out really quickly last night. Y'sleep okay?"

"Slept fine," Spike said, propping himself up on one elbow.

"Probably the pain meds. How you feel?" You plodded over to gather up some of the bloody wrappings and clothes on the floor, but stopped to take a moment to look Spike over for abnormalities.

"Like shit," he answered, reaching for the bottle of pills on the end table. "You got anything to eat?"

"Take two- wait, you're pretty tall. Take three of those. I'll get something to eat for you."

With that, you stepped behind the couch again, bare feet patting as you walked over to the kitchen.

===

Spike woke up at the sound of a plate being set down on the end table next to him. Something smelled good. He looked over at the plate-- which held a stack of pancakes-- and grabbed it, starting to eat them immediately.

"Wish I was that good at sleeping," you mumbled, sitting down on the floor in front of him with your own plate of pancakes. "Sorry if they're not perfect, I'm a shitty cook."

Spike didn't answer you, he just ate. It was impressive how quickly he managed to eat everything on his plate, really.

"Your clothes are in the wash," you continued between bites. "Hopefully the blood will come out. I'm almost amazed at how abused those things are. You must really like them."

Spike set the empty plate back on top of the end table while he finished chewing his last bites. "Yeah," he said, "but I also can't afford new ones right now."

"I assume I shouldn't take you to the hospital today, then."

"Probably not. You have coffee?"

"No, sorry. I have tea, hot chocolate, milk, or water. Coffee makes me too jittery, I don't like it." You stood up to stack Spike's plate on top of yours before you went over to the kitchen and put them in the sink.

"Hot chocolate's fine," Spike called across the room. You returned to the couch after a couple of minutes with two mugs in hand, and passed one of them to him. He sipped at the chocolate much slower than he had eaten his breakfast.

You really wanted to ask about his injuries, but anxiety told you that you would be prying-- despite having brought him onto your couch and treating him, you didn't really know him at all. It felt wrong to dig too far into his business, since he wasn't exactly here by choice.

"Thanks again," was what you settled for. "For last night, I mean. I like to think that I can take care of myself, but I tend to freeze up when they're so pushy like that. I really appreciate you speaking up, but I wish you hadn't gotten hurt."

"Like I said, I owed you one. I should 've been more careful. I'm used to being able to take punches like that easily, but I forgot about... this," he said, gesturing to his wrapped waist. "I guess I should be the one thanking you, here."

"I guess so," you said, taking a sip of your chocolate. The warmth felt good as you swallowed. It was nice to have company this morning, you mused, even if he was immobile anyway. Usually the apartment was empty-- your little shop made just enough money for you to get by on top of the occasional art commission, so you didn't have much time for socializing. Shit, you couldn't leave a stranger in your home while you worked today, you realized, and Spike wasn't well enough to get off the couch. A day off... well, just one would be fine, wouldn't it?

Chapter Text

"Do you want to try and move to the bed?"

Spike groaned. He'd drifted off again. The clock read 3:23pm-- all day, he'd been floating in and out of sleep thanks to the pain medications-- usually, you seemed content to let him sleep as you went about your business doing whatever it was you did around the apartment, though. He lifted his head up off of the couch a little to face you: you were sitting on the rocking chair by the window, playing with some little tablet or something.

"Huh?"

"I asked if you wanted to try and move from the couch onto the bed," you repeated. You were dressed now, having put on your glasses and some clothes that looked a little bit too nice for just staying home in. "I think you'll be a lot more comfortable there, if you think you have the energy to get up for a couple of minutes."

"Oh," Spike said. It took him a moment to fully process everything you'd just said to him. "Yeah, that sounds nice."

"Okay. Are you ready right now? We can just get it done," you suggested. When Spike nodded, you stood and walked over to him, then carefully pulled the heavy duvets off of him. Jesus, it was like an oven under there-- though, you supposed, that's just what happens when you don't move all day and have two duvets on top of you. You looked his wrappings over, and you were pleased to see that there didn't seem to be any excessive bleeding. "Okay, try to sit up."

Spike made a strained sound as he propped himself up on one arm, and then slowly pulled himself into a sitting position. You sat down next to him on the couch and wrapped one of his arms over your shoulders, holding on to him securely with yours. You were definitely not as strong as you needed to be for this kind of work.

"Okay. One, two, three-" On three, you both stood. Spike was incredibly unstable, but whether it was the injury or the medicine, you couldn't tell. Hoping it was the medicine, you slowly, very slowly, began walking him towards your bedroom.

The long journey across the room ended peacefully, and for once you were very thankful that your bedroom was so small that your bed was fairly close to the door. You sat down on it with Spike, each of you letting out a large huff.

"We made it!" You cheered sarcastically, and then stood up in case Spike needed help getting situated.

"This is already so much better than the couch," he breathed as he shifted into a laying position on top of the covers. "Thanks."

"Yeah, I figured it would be. No covers?"

"The air's nice."

"How's your pain?"

"Not too bad. I think you've got me pretty drugged up."
You laughed. Spike chuckled weakly.

"Is it okay with you if I unwrap you real quick before I let you rest again? I wanna take a look. It's good to let things air out, anyway." You were already starting to remove the bandages when you asked, though.

"Yeah, okay," Spike replied, mostly as a courtesy. He took a deep breath as you pulled the layers of wrapping off of him. The air did feel nice. You poked around at his wound and he winced as he looked down at it.

"I'm too scared to try and sew this up for real," you said to him. "So just... try not to move too much, and the butterflies should hold."

"I'm too tired to move too much," he snorted. You sat down on the edge of the bed, stared at his wound and looked like you wanted to say something. Spike waited.

"I..." You started, but closed your mouth again. You fiddled with your dress. "I'm not going to ask you what happened. I'm curious, but you probably could guess that. I know that I don't know you hardly at all, and you don't know me either, but... you seem like a trustworthy person. You look trustworthy to me. I know you must be at least a little bit good, because you helped me, and I know you said that you owed me one, but you could have just... not, and you wouldn't have gotten hurt again like this." You sighed. "I had a point in there somewhere. I guess I just... if you're going to be stuck here for a little while, I want you to know that you can trust me. I-I mean, you don't have to, of course. But I trust you, anyway."

Spike stayed quiet for long enough that you looked up to check that he was still awake. Thankfully, he was, he just seemed to be mulling over your words. He was silent for what felt like a very long time as he thought of what to say.

"I used to be part of the Syndicate," he said finally. "The big one. The top guy and I... killed each other recently." He sighed and looked down at his wound, then cracked a small smile. "Guess I'm alive, though."

You didn't answer, taking your time to consider his words. A criminal? You hadn't expected him to start talking right away, and you could tell he was holding a lot back, but that didn't really matter. "Was the Syndicate who you traveled with?"

He frowned again. "No, I ran away a long time ago. I've been traveling as a bounty hunter up until now." Oh, a cowboy. Still... exciting, but definitely not as terrible as a criminal.

"You traveled alone?"

"I was with a couple other people."

"Have you contacted them at all?"

"They probably think I'm dead."

"Where have you been staying?"

Spike snorted. "With a crazy old man that I can't seem to ever get away from."

You sat quietly again for a couple of minutes.

"I'm not very trustworthy," Spike said to you.

"I think you've been honest so far," you replied. "Are you hungry?"

"Yeah, I'm starving."

Chapter Text

Spike had been at your apartment for three days, now, and you'd skipped work for all of it. It was your shop, so it wasn't like you'd get in trouble with anybody, but you hated to miss business. You were really enjoying your time off, though: Spike had opened up a little more, which made you feel better about having him steal your bed from you. He'd told you a couple of bounty hunting stories, which you thoroughly enjoyed. He also seemed to be healing nicely, and could walk around on his own now, albeit slowly. You liked him a lot better now that he could get up to shower off the smell of blood.

He'd tried to smoke on this second day, but you'd caught him and asked him not to-- he cooperated, since he was in your house, but you could tell he was a little bothered by it. He'd been chewing on straws and spoons and ice cubes since then, and you didn't bother him about that.

On the third day, you asked him if he wanted to have a drink.

"Whatcha got?" Spike asked, perking up at the mention of alcohol.

"Gin," you replied, already getting the bottle out of the freezer. You smiled as you set it on the counter. "I like old lady drinks."

"Sounds good to me," he said, walking over to lean on the wall near the kitchen while you prepared your own drink.

"How much you want?" You asked after you'd finished making yours.

"How much did you put in yours?"

"Just one," you said, and took a sip. The alcohol felt warm going down. You'd always liked that feeling. "But I'm a lightweight."

"Oh, so you're trying to get drunk?" Spike laughed. You blushed and frowned to feigned offense.

"N-No, I'll drink it slowly. I was just... warning you."

"Put two in mine."

You took another sip of your drink. "You got it."

===

An hour passed, and you were now working on your second drink. Spike was on his third. The two of you were sitting on the couch, and you hoped he thought of you as a friend. You felt warm and comfortable, and the world around you waved a little when you stood up from the couch to change the music. Michael Bublé was coming on again, and you'd decided you had had enough of him for the night.

"I cann' listen to this anymore," you slurred as you fumbled with your computer, trying to pick from the long list of artists. Too many names. You weren't gonna try to read all of these! You decided to just put on the playlist that had all of your favorite songs on it. You walked backwards and flopped back onto the couch, decidimg that you were satisfied enough with your choice as you pulled a duvet off of floor and covered yourself with it.

"Spike." You said. You turned your head to look at him.

"_____." He looked at you back. You grinned.

"You called me my name," you said. Spike took too long to answer, so you continued. "Are we friends?"

"Well, we're drinking together," he answered.

"Yeah, that's... you got that right," you giggled. You took a sip from your drink. "I don' wanna go back to work tomorrow."

"You don't have to," Spike said.

"Ohh, but I gotta," you whined. "I already took, like... too many days off, cause I wanted to make sure you didn't die. But now I gotta not skip anymore, cause I needa make money." You sighed dramatically. Spike took a sip of his drink. "Spike."

"Yeah?"

"D'you wanna stay here and sleep all day 'r do you wanna come to the shop with me? I trus' you, so you can choose."

Spike weighed his options. He didn't like the idea of staying at your apartment alone, and he didn't think leaving on his own would be smart when he was still in such poor condition. "Can I smoke in the shop?"

"Yeah, sure, jus' not in my face," you replied, frowning at him. "You c'n hang out in the lil' break room an' just do whatever you want."

"I'll go with you," he decided. You grinned and reached out to pat his arm a few times.

"That'ssss what I wanted you to say," you said. "So thanks!"
Spike smiled and nodded. "No problem." He swirled his drink around in its glass idly.

"Spike," you said, scooting over to close the gap between you on the couch. You raised your glass up next to his. "Cheers me."

"Okay," Spike said. He clinked your glass with his. "Cheers."

"Cheers! To drinking together!" You downed the rest of your drink. Spike raised an eyebrow and laughed at you.

"Ah, shit," he muttered, then chugged the remainder of his glass, including the ice. "Why'd you go an' do that?"

"Cause I got tired of drinking, an' now I just wanna sit here on the couch an' chit-chat until I'm too tired." You smiled and set your glass on the end table by the couch and pulled your duvet up around your shoulders. "You c'n have more if you want to, but I think I'm done for the night. I don' wanna feel sick later."

"Guess I'll just be done too, then," Spike said, slowly standing up from the couch. He grabbed your empty glass from the end table and took them to the kitchen sink, and you called a 'thank you' after him.

"I like you," you said when he'd sat back down on the couch again. "You're a good person."

"You sure?" Spike looked at you and made a face you couldn't read.

"Maybe," you said. "Maybe you're not. I dunno if I'm a good... a very good judge of character. You could be totally jus' lying to me all the time, I dunno. But from what I've seen, you're good company. I like hangin' out with you."

Spike was quiet for a while. You felt your eyelids start to get heavy as you looked at him and tried to decide what his facial expression was, exactly. You still couldn't tell. You weren't good at that sort of thing. He really was pretty, though.

"Are you okay?" You asked him.

"I don't know," he answered.

"Tha's okay," you said. "Take your time. You got your whole life still."

Spike thanked you, but when he looked over, you had fallen asleep.

Chapter Text

You stood in front of your shop, unable to move. Spike stood behind you wordlessly, unsure of what to say in a situation like this. You felt sick to your stomach as you stared at the broken windows, and the mess inside-- you could feel your legs weaken at the sight of all the destroyed antiques, your little pieces of history, your livelihood. It must have happened just last night, or you would have known about it before now. You felt tears start to roll down your face as your brain went into a panic.

You weakly unlocked the front door and hiccuped at the sound of glass scraping on the floor as you slowly pushed it open and stepped inside, trying your best to avoid stepping on anything, even though it was all destroyed anyway. Everything was-- whoever had done this was very careful not to leave anything untouched. There was no way you could recover from this break-in. You just couldn't afford it. You could barely afford to keep the shop in the first place. You took off your glasses and let out a sob.

Spike stepped up behind you and put a hand on your shoulder. You had forgotten that he was with you, and now you couldn't decide if it was a good or a bad thing that he was. You hated crying in front of other people.

"I-I--" You heaved. "M-My... it's all... it's-- it's gone, it's broken, I..." It was so hard to breathe. "I can't fix this, I'm going to-- I can't do anything--"

There was a piece of paper on the counter. You walked over to grab it, and struggled to read it through your tears.

'I told you I was rich.'

You turned around. Spike looked you in the eye, and you immediately broke eye contact and looked down. You wanted to disappear. You crumpled up the note and threw it on the ground. Spike bent down and picked it back up again.

"T-This is everything I have," you sobbed. "This is all I have! What-- god, fuck-- What am I supposed to--"

"Let's go back home," Spike suggested, putting his arm around your shoulder and patting you gently.

You let him lead you out of the broken shop, and you cried all the way back to your apartment building. Spike watched you fumble with your keys for five minutes before taking them from you and opening the door for you. As soon as you were inside, you went to sit on the couch, setting your glasses safely on the end table. You didn't want them to get broken, too. Spike shut the door behind you and came to sit down next to you.

After a few more minutes of crying, you wiped your face on your sleeve and looked over at him. "The... the police won't be able to do anything about my money," you said. "It'll take me weeks to find a job. I won't be able to make rent. I-I'm going to lose my apartment." Oops, you started crying again. "T-There's nothing I can do, I'll have to go out and-- and--" you couldn't finish the thought. You didn't want to.

Spike sat next to you and watched you break down. You'd helped him quite a bit, and he did like you-- in the past few days, you'd taken care of his wounds, you let him sleep on your bed, you did your meager best to cook him meals. Not to mention that you weren't exactly bad company. He turned to look at the floor, which still had bloodstains on it. You were a good person, he thought, and he wanted to help you if he could. He thought about what he could do-- the only thing he could think of to do would be to get back in contact with Jet again and bring you back to the Bebop with him, as he was certain that he and Faye would probably be so relieved to see him alive that they wouldn't question your presence. Did he feel ready to go back to the Bebop, though? Could he go back to living like he had before his second death, before Vicious' death, before Julia's death?

He shook his head, scolding himself-- of course he could. He was going to have to keep living no matter what he did right now. He might as well be helpful while he was at it. You deserved that much, he decided. He turned to look at you.

"Pack up whatever stuff you really care about," he said. You looked up at him with a confused expression across your puffy, red face.

"What-- Why?"

"You said you trusted me, right?" He cracked a smile, but his expression looked tired, with a hint of... nervousness? "Go pack."

You looked at him for a moment longer before you got up and headed to your bedroom. As you were pulling out your biggest suitcase, you could just barely make out the sound of Spike having a phone conversation.

Chapter Text

It was a bit of a walk to get to the city ports. You didn't want to spend money on a taxi, so you and Spike had decided on walking-- after you'd packed and returned the main room, he'd told you that you could go with him to the ship he'd traveled on previously, the Bebop. You were hesitant at first, not wanting to impose yourself upon strangers, but quickly realized that you didn't really have any better options or ideas. And Spike was right, you did trust him. So you wrote a note to the landlady, dropped your keys in the mailbox, and left home with a bounty hunter you'd known for barely a week.

"Are you sure this is alright?" You asked as you walked. Your suitcase felt heavy as you pulled it along. Spike took a puff of his cigarette.

"It'll be fine," He answered. "Try not to worry too much."

You took a deep breath. It was nice to hear him try to comfort you, even though it didn't really do much for your anxiety in reality. You were having trouble imagining the kind of people Spike traveled with-- were they all going to be scary ex-criminals? No, they couldn't be, Spike wasn't very scary. Besides, you reasoned with yourself, these people had presumably stayed on Mars since Spike had left them however long ago. Either they had a lot of business here or they were soft enough to miss their teammate.

"Why are you helping me?" You asked, looking at Spike. "This whole situation is my own fault. I shouldn't have gone to the bar that night. None of this would have happened."

"It's okay. I owe you one," he said.

===

You were at the port, finally. Spike had described the Bebop as a 'junky old fishing ship,' but that didn't really tell you much, so you settled for just following him.

Suddenly, he stopped walking. The two of you stood staring at a ship that you assumed was the Bebop. It looked really cool, you thought-- you hadn't spent much time around ships, but you thought they were generally incredible, because they could fly and actually travel through space. After at least full minute of standing, you looked over at Spike, who seemed almost apprehensive, but he started walking towards the ship when he noticed that you'd looked at him. You followed him and tried to ignore the feeling of your stomach twisting with nervousness as the two of you stepped on board the Bebop.

The two of you entered, and Spike led you through a hallway, eventually turning to walk into a well-lit room that appeared to be a living space. The ship smelled like recycled air and cigarette smoke. You stayed by the doorway and looked into the room as he walked in, hoping that he would do the talking. Immediately upon hearing him enter the room, a young woman with short, dark hair wearing a really cute little yellow outfit stood up from one of the couches and rushed over to him.

"Spike! You asshole! I can't believe you're alive," she practically yelled. "What took you so long to call us? It's been a like month, you know!"

"Yeah, I was trying to avoid you," Spike said, scratching his head. A burly, tough-looking guy with a beard walked into the room from another doorway. He put his hand on Spike's shoulder.

"Good to see you, Spike," he said. "It's been quiet without you."

"I didn't ask you to wait for me, Jet," Spike replied, smiling at the other man. "You didn't sell the Swordfish yet, did you?"

The man-- Jet-- laughed. "Nah, we got by without resorting to that." He looked over at the doorway Spike had come from and raised an eyebrow when he noticed you standing in it. You started sweating. "Who's that?"

"She helped me out," Spike answered, motioning for you to come into the room. The two crew members eyed you uncertainly as you walked over and stood next to Spike.

"What's the big suitcase for?" Jet asked you, although it looked like he already knew the answer. You felt yourself heating up.

"She ran into some trouble 'cause she didn't wanna let some fat, drunk CEO bastard have his way with her," Spike answered for you. "So I brought her with me."

Jet and the woman looked you over, seemingly trying to decide what to think of you. The woman took a step towards you and held out her hand.

"I'm Faye," she told you simply.

You took her hand and shook it, trying to smile through your intense anxiety. "I'm _____. It's nice to meet you. Faye is a pretty name."

"Thanks," Faye replied, and then stepped out of the way so that Jet could greet you. You shook hands with him as well.

"I'm Jet. I'm the one who owns this ship," he said. "I trust Spike, so you can stay. Just don't cause too much trouble."

"Thank you, I won't, don't worry," you said, scrambling to keep yourself together. "Thank you very, very much. Please tell me if there's anything I can do to help you around the ship, I want to make myself useful if I'm allowed to stay."

"Don't tell him that," Spike laughed. Jet chuckled and started walking back towards the way he'd come in.

"Loosen up, girly," he said. "Spike, clear out a space for her somewhere. Lunch will be ready soon."

"Where do we have space?" Spike yelled after him.

"Look around, you'll find something!"

Spike sighed and looked at Faye, who had returned to her spot on the couch. "Be right back," he mumbled before slinking off, leaving you in the living room with Faye. You sat down on the couch across from her and fiddled your skirt nervously.

"So, you must be pretty stuck if this was the best option you had," Faye said.

"Yeah." You took a deep breath before continuing. "I ran an antiques shop, but it was broken into, and they destroyed everything. It was all I had."

"How'd you find Spike?"

"I fixed his clothes for him for free, and then later he helped me out when a guy was creeping on me at the bar." You laughed weakly. "He said he owed me one, but he got hurt in the barfight, so I ended up letting him stay with me until... well, it was supposed to be until he was healed."

Faye smiled. "But here you are," she said.

"Yeah, here we are."

Chapter Text

Spike had set you up in a small storeroom. Nearly half of it was taken up by the makeshift bed that had been thrown together with extra blankets and a pillow, and the remaining area had just barely enough space for you to be able to stand up and spin around with your arms extended. The ceiling was only a couple of inches taller than your full standing height.

You had just finished unpacking your suitcase, which was now tucked underneath the bed. You'd only brought your most precious possessions with you-- your good purse, your favorite clothes, your sketchbook and digital tablet, some toiletries, a small stuffed animal, and a couple of other small things. You'd put everything that you didn't want out in the open into a couple of empty storage bins that Spike had joked 'came with the room, free of charge.'

The bed wasn't very comfortable at all, you noted as you sat down on it. You'd eaten lunch with the Bebop crew a couple of hours earlier, and though Jet's cooking was good, there was some tension in the air-- whether it was because of you or Spike, you couldn't tell. Maybe it was both of you. Either way, you felt too nervous to go back out and face everyone.

God, you felt so lost. You'd really fucked things up nicely for yourself this time, you realized. Everything you had worked so hard for was gone, and now you were couch surfing on a bounty hunting ship with nothing but the shit in your suitcase and whatever small amount of money you had in your bank account. You weren't sure why you'd ever thought you could get on okay by yourself in the first place. You should have never gone and opened up a--

A knock on the storeroom door interrupted your downward spiral.

"Come in," you said. Shit, you sounded like you'd been crying. As if you hadn't been enough of an embarrassment today already.

Spike opened the door and ducked into the room, which was now well over maximum capacity with two people in it. He was way too tall to be in here. "You look terrible," he remarked. Okay, don't overshare, don't overshare--

"I feel terrible," you overshared. Dammit. You scooted over to make a little space for Spike to come sit down next to you, and lightly kicked the door shut after he was seated. You sighed in resignation. "...Sorry. It's been a rough day."

"No kidding," Spike said, his eyes roaming over the small collection of items you had arranged on top of your storage bins in a vaguely decorative manner. "Sorry your room's so small, " he offered.

"That's not really an issue. It's not like I have a lot of stuff." You took your glasses off and cleaned them with your skirt to occupy yourself. "Besides, I kind of like small rooms."

"Least you've got that going for ya," Spike joked. You didn't laugh. You put your glasses on again and scooted back to lean against the wall behind you. The room was quiet, past the constant ambient hum of the ship.

"I'm really thankful you brought me with you here," you said. "I hope you know that. I'm feeling really scared about everything that's going on right now, but it's good to at least know that I have a bed."

Spike didn't answer you. You looked him over idly and noticed that he wasn't smoking-- he had been smoking all day since the two of you had left your apartment this morning to go to the shop, so you wondered why he wasn't doing it now. Was he trying to be considerate?

He spoke up before you could think about it for too long. "I'm kind of glad this all happened," he said. "I don't know if I would have come back here otherwise. I was too... I didn't want to face Jet and Faye again after what happened, and you gave me an excuse to get over myself. I don't know what'll come of it, but..."

He leaned back onto the wall next to you, and you were able to get a proper look at his face. He was pretty, of course, but he also looked distinctly tired, for lack of a better word, and you supposed that made sense. He seemed to be somebody who'd been through a lot, based on what you knew about him. He took a deep breath and turned his head to make eye contact with you.

"Thanks," he said, and you were fairly certain that it was the most sincere you'd seen him since you'd met. Something about his expression made your whole body relax a little.

"You, too," you replied, and found yourself leaning up against his shoulder without really thinking about it. You were too tired to think about it. You listened to Spike take in a breath and let it back out. Time and thought were paused, if only for a few moments.

Chapter Text

Today was the start of your first full day on the Bebop.

You woke up in your storeroom bed and panicked for a full minute before you remembered where you were. You then immediately noticed that you were hungry, so you put on your glasses, made your way out of your room and headed towards the living area, which was just down the hall. The ship's temperature regulation systems were set to a perfect temperature for you to be able to go around in your nightgown, which was fortunate, since you'd been unable to fit any of your bulky robes into your suitcase.

Upon entering the living area, you noticed Spike lounging-- possibly napping-- across one of the couches, with Faye sitting reading something on the other one, and the sounds of Jet making breakfast coming from the kitchen space.

"Good morning," you yawned as you walked in. Faye hummed at you in response, and Spike didn't do anything at all. You walked over and crouched next to him.

"Spike," you said. No answer. "Spike," you said, a little louder. Still nothing.

"Oi, Spike!" Faye's voice sounded, sharp and clear in the air. You jumped. Spike jolted awake, glaring daggers at the woman on the other couch.

"What is it?!" he had a comically foul expression on his face. Faye didn't even look up. You cracked a smile and stood up as Spike dragged himself into a sitting position, squinting at you.

"Can I look at your cut? I forgot to check it last night," you said.
Spike sighed. "Yeah. Feels fine, though." He lifted his shirt up for you to look at the injury: it had much lighter dressings now, so it was a lot easier to remove them. You resisted the temptation to let your eyes stray too far off course as you unwrapped him.

The wound was scabbed over nicely now, and didn't appear to have any serious infections, thankfully. You'd tried your damndest to keep that thing clean, so you were really happy that your efforts had paid off so far.

"Let's give it some air today," you said, pulling away. Spike let his shirt fall back down again. "I'll clean and dress it again before you sleep tonight. It looks pretty good right now. Just be gentle with it today."

"That what kept you from us?" Faye asked Spike, a hint of genuine concern in her voice. "Looks pretty nasty."d

Spike didn't answer right away. He pulled out a cigarette and lighter. "I'm lucky to be alive," he said with a stiff tone as he lit it. The air suddenly felt very stale.

Thankfully, the weighted silence was broken by Jet, who had finished cooking at just the right time.

"Hey, come get breakfast!" His voice boomed. Spike sighed and took a stupidly long drag from his cigarette before he crushed it onto the ashtray sitting on the coffee table. You let go of a breath you hadn't realized you were holding and followed his voice and the smell of food into the kitchen. Spike and Faye followed not long after.

"Think about whether you need to do anything else on Mars," Jet said once everyone was seated in the living room again with their plates of food. "We're gonna be taking off later today. It's about time we get back to work."

===

Breakfast had passed without much excitement. You had felt nervous about sitting and talking with the Bebop crew, but Jet continued to be a relatively easygoing mediator, and Faye even poked her way into a couple of conversations during the meal. Spike was mostly quiet, but having somebody familiar there helped. With full stomachs, everyone was content to spend some time relaxing before actually doing anything productive.

Spike had decided that he was more than ready to leave Mars as soon as possible. He was feeling pretty sick of it by now. Too much had happened, and he wanted to get away from it quickly. It was good to be back on the Bebop, but he knew that Jet and Faye thought of him differently since his return, and he definitely was not going to tell them all about what he'd been doing in the past month. Not to mention the fact that he'd brought them a surprise party member.

After putting his breakfast dish away, he laid across the couch with a smoke and replayed last night's conversation between you and him in his head.

Every word you spoke sounded as if you were on the verge of tears. He didn't blame you, but he also wasn't really sure what to do about it. You'd taken good care of him, though he hadn't asked you to. At the time, he'd wished he could have run away, he wasn't ready to spend time with somebody he knew he would have to actually talk to. But you were too kind, and he was too hurt. When he'd told you to pack your bags, it had fallen out of his mouth without his permission, but now that you were here, he found himself feeling relieved that he didn't have to leave you behind. He wasn't sure what he was doing.

You were always so stupidly honest with him. It was a dangerous thing, because it made him want to be honest too, and he didn't exactly enjoy the feeling he got in his gut when he opened up about himself to another person. He'd done it anyway, though, he'd told the truth-- why had he done that? He wasn't sure why, and afterwards, he had scolded himself for it. You were a lot different from him, so it wasn't like he could expect you to empathize or relate at all with his problems. But you were so open and so ready to help. Spike was terrified to think that he might trust you, really trust you. He wasn't sure how to feel about how easily you'd leaned on him last night, as if you'd known him for ages and were perfectly comfortable around him. He'd felt comfortable too, and part of him hated that he had already gotten to that point without ever seriously thinking about it at all.

Julia flashed through his mind. His gut wrenched. He didn't want to think about that. He wasn't ready to admit how hung up he still was, and he wasn't anywhere near ready to start thinking about letting it go.

===

After breakfast, you'd headed to your storeroom with the intention of getting dressed, but you ended up turning on some music and laying on your bed instead. It was funny how nervous you were upon realizing that soon you would be leaving the planet you'd been on your whole life, the one you had always dreamed of leaving. The anxiety over the uncertain future had effectively kept you from feeling excited about it.

You hoped the Bebop crew didn't hate you. You wanted to be friends with Faye, and you wanted Jet to find you helpful and think well of you. You wanted Spike to like you-- you thought about his expression from the last night when he had thanked you, and hoped that your poor memory would allow you to keep that image for at long time. You decided that you were going to try and make the day a good one, if you could help it. Today you were going to space, after all.

You rolled out of bed and sang along to your music as you dug through your bins for a dress to wear. You pulled out your favorite one and decided that you might feel a bit better if you wore it-- you needed to get over yourself and accept what was happening to you, you thought to yourself.

Of course, that was much easier said than done, but you had to start somewhere, so you put the dress on and finished the next song before you left your room to face the crew in the living area.

Chapter Text

Being on the Bebop for more than twenty minutes quickly gave you the idea that most everyone on this ship had a well-established 'spot:' Spike was in his place laying on the couch, and Faye was in her spot across him on the other one, messing with a tablet. She nodded at you as you came in, and you offered her a soft 'hey.' Jet wasn't in the kitchen, though-- you weren't sure where he was, actually.

Come to think of it, you still didn't really know your way around the ship very well. Spike had shown you around when you'd first arrived, but... well, things were a bit of a whirlwind for you then. Maybe it would be a good idea to take another look around. Maybe you'd find Jet.

You peeked into the kitchen-- it was weird looking, but obviously functional, since Jet was able to use it. You wondered for a moment whether Faye or Spike could cook at all, but quickly decided that they probably couldn't (and you were right). You moved on, eyeing the stairs that lead up from the living room. You didn't remember having gone up there before, so you decided to take a look.

Up the stairs was a hallway with a couple of doors along it, all closed but the one on the end, which you decided was the obvious one to check out first.

Upon looking inside, you found the missing crewmember-- Jet sat on a stool, carefully grooming one of a quite sizeable collection of gorgeous bonsai trees. Your eyes widened at such a pleasant surprise. What a wonderful hobby! You hadn't expected something like this, but then again, you didn't know Jet hardly at all. You stood and admired the trees until Jat seemed to jump slightly when he noticed you.

"Didn't see you there," he breathed. "Something up? You can come in."

"Sorry," you laughed lightly, stepping into the room and leaning on the wall. "I'm okay, I was just looking around the ship. The door was open. Your trees are so pretty."

Jet chuckled and set down his tools. "I collect them. It's good to have something to pay attention to, but they seem to have consumed me."

"I think there's probably worse things to be consumed by, though. Little trees aren't so bad." You looked over the collection, which had many different types and sizes of trees within it.

"Expensive, though. I need to stop buying them." Jet sighed. "I can't resist."

You thought back to countless antiques that you'd bought on impulse in the past-- namely, your clothes. You watched Jet set the tree he'd been working on back into its place on his shelves. "I know what you mean. But it's better to regret buying something than to regret passing it up, I guess."

He laughed again and turned in his seat to face you. "I guess so. You worked in antiques, right? Spike said you fixed his clothes for him."

"Yeah, I ran an antiques shop. I shouldn't have sewn Spike's clothes up for free, I made barely enough to get by anyway..." You cleared your throat. Now was not the time to go down that train of thought. It was going to be a good day. "Well, all things end eventually. Besides, it was so nice to havd company for once. I loved seeing all those old things, but the long, slow days got lonely. I mostly like clothes and decorations, but even the clunky electronics are kind of charming in their own way, you know?"

"Nothin' but old junk to me, sorry. But I can appreciate old things sometimes. I mean, look at all my trees."

"Oh, that's right, they're all probably pretty old, aren't they? It's weird to think about, since they're so small."

"Yeah. They've seen a lot."

There was a lull in the conversation as Jet looked over his collection proudly.

"What are the other two up to? You seen 'em?" He asked, slowly standing up.

"Yeah, they're both just laying around in the living room," you reported.

"Guess it's about time we took off, then." Jet nodded towards his door, and you followed him out and down to the living room.

"We're taking off," he announced to Faye and Spike.

"Where to?" Spike asked, voice drenched with sleep.

"Ganymede," Faye said. "Assuming our bounty's still there."

"Should be." Jet made his was across the room, presumably heading to the bridge. "Away we go."

You stood in the living room trying to wrap your head around the idea that you were actually about to leave Mars. Now that it came down to it, you were really nervous. Spike looked at you upside-down like he wanted to say something, his head lying over the end of the couch, but he stayed quiet.

Suddenly, you realized something, and were dragged back to reality.

"Spike," you addressed, since he was already facing you (sort of). "Does the bridge have windows?"

"Yeah," He yawned.

"Can you lead me there? I don't remember which way it is." Spike looked at you for a moment longer before sitting up and picking himself up off of the couch.

"This way," he said, and you followed him out of the room.

Chapter Text

You'd always wanted to leave the planet.

The takeoff gave you a rush like you'd never felt before in your life as you stared out the observation windows on the bridge. You'd flown before, of course, but never with the anticipation of actually leaving Mars. The feeling was incredible.

The first couple of stars appeared faintly. Your heart stopped as you realized what they were, as they became clearer, as you felt your body fill with a feeling kind of like a bright light, as the sky grew darker and as the ground below finally left your field of view. More and more stars appeared and soon you could no longer count them-- you were in space. You were in space, and you couldn't tear your eyes away from it. You were sure that the dream would end if you did.

Your glasses clicked against the window as you tried to take it all in at once-- the stars, the other ships, the gate, the stars, the stars, the stars. You slid down to sit on the floor and let out a shaky breath as you gazed outside and allowed your stomach to settle with the realization that it wasn't just a daydream. It was really right there in front of you, and there was so much of it that you would never be able to see it all even if you could live forever. The thought was terrifying, but it was also absolutely magnificent. Your problems were nothing here. You were nothing here. This was everything, you thought to yourself, and you had never felt more alive. It was a good day.

When you finally, finally tore yourself away from the view and turned yourself around to look up at Spike standing a few feet behind you, he glanced down to see you grinning like you'd won the lottery. It was a look of true, pure, unadulterated joy. You tried to get your words working again, eyes shooting frantically from Spike to Jet to the window and back to Spike again.

"Man, you're worse than I thought," Spike said to you.

"Are... Do you..." Another glance to the window and back. "It's real," you managed at last, running a hand back through your hair in an attempt to ground yourself.

"Of course it's real!" Jet was laughing from the ship's controls. "What did you think was going to be up here?"

Spike looked over at him and couldn't help but crack a smile. "Fly gently, Jet, it's her first time," he said in a sarcastic tone, obviously trying not to laugh at his own joke. The comment snapped you out of your dreamy state instantly.

"Hey!" You burst into laughter, feeling a faint blush creep onto your face. "Come on! I mean, you're not wrong, but--"

"If you ignore him, he'll leave you alone eventually," Jet said with another chuckle.

"It's okay, that joke was too good not to be made." You looked back out the window once you'd finished laughing. "It really is incredible, though. I've always wanted to see this. It's like a dream come true."

"Don't worry, you get used to it," Spike said, glancing first at you and then past you out the window. The bridge was comfortably quiet. He couldn't remember if he had been as excited about going to space for the first time as you were now. He probably hadn't even thought on it hard enough to have a real opinion about it at the time.

It certainly was a beautiful view now, though, he thought.

Chapter Text

After what felt like hours, you finally decided that you were hungry enough to leave the bridge and search for something to eat. The ship was in hyperspace now, on its way to Ganymede: when Jet had first entered the gate to jump, you had to replay your awe a second time around.

Upon asking him what you could eat, Jet had told you that you were welcome to anything in the living room fridge and cabinets, and that the kitchen was his cooking ingredients. You'd quickly found yourself a snack and plopped yourself down next to Faye on the couch across from Spike. Faye had some (probably wanted) man's file pulled up on a screen that sat on the table, and she seemed to be telling Spike about its contents. To your dismay, they were both smoking. You figured you could always retreat to your room if it was too much.

"Is that the bounty?" You asked rhetorically, scanning the screen as you muched.

"Yup," Faye answered. "Festus Zekharyah. Shot his wife in the face and ran off with their 10-year-old kid afterwards. Bounty's 2 million. He's ex-ISSP, so they consider him quite dangerous."

You winced at the thought of the man's horrible crime. You didn't know what you were expecting, but it still was awful to hear about. And damn, 2 million woolongs? That sounded like quite a hefty sum of money to you. You could have paid rent for months with that kind of money... Oh well. It wouldn't do any good to dwell, you reminded yourself. You swallowed your current bite. "Won't you have to catch his kid with him, too?"

"Well, yeah, probably. Hopefully it won't get too messy."

"Kids are nothing but trouble," Spike grumbled.

"I don't know, I kind of like them," you said. "They're smarter than we give them credit for."

Spike laughed. "That's exactly why I hate them."

You frown and turn back to Faye. "How long does it take to get to Ganymede?"

"Like a day, I think." She switched off the screen display on the table and reclined in her seat, stretching her legs out onto the table. "You might wanna get comfortable. Honestly, I'm gonna take a nap after this smoke."

"Eugh, yeah, sounds like you have a good plan." You dreaded long waits like this, but it would probably be good for you to be forced to relax and rest for a while. You wondered what Ganymede was going to be like. You wondered if you'd be kept awake by your excitement (and your anxiety).

By now, you'd finished eating your snack, so you got up from the couch and decided you might as well go and try to draw for a while or something. When you entered your storeroom, you dug your sketchbook and favorite pencil out and laid down on your bed to see if you could get your hand to make anything.

===

The sound of your storeroom door opening woke you up. You had fallen asleep on your sketchbook in bed. You immediately noticed that your glasses were smudged from being pressed to your face wrong, so you took them off and sat up, cleaning them on the blankets as you looked to see who had come into your room.

Naturally, it was Spike. Of course he wouldn't bother knocking, you thought. He made a smug face upon realizing that he'd caught you sleeping.

"I knocked," Spike said defensively, now leaning on the doorframe. "Three times."

Oh. "Uh, I'm sorry," you mumbled, putting your glasses back on. "What's--"

"Jet made dinner," he interrupted, seemingly wanting the conversation to end there. But he didn't move to leave, he just stared at you. Was he zoning out?

You stared back, trying to decide what could be wrong.

"There's something on your face," Spike said finally, seeming to come back to earth. You rub your cheeks, and sure enough, you'd slept on pencil.

"Thanks," you said. You stood and set your book and pencil back inside of the bin it was in before, and then turned around. Spike was gone now, so you left your room and went to wash your face and hands before going to get your share of the food Jet had made.

Chapter Text

"You're kidding, right?" Spike was incredulous next to you on the couch. "Jet, you're fucking with me, right? You need me for this bounty! He's supposed to be dangerous! Dangerous is my thing!"

Jet, unfazed, took another bite of his supper before responding. "All the more reason for you to be on grocery duty," he said. Faye snickered, and Spike shot her a mean look. "You just got here, you've got a hole in your gut, and our new friend over there told you this morning that you need to be careful not to open it back up again."

Spike turned to you now, with a look that seemed... frustrated, but also kind of pathetic. You gave him a guilty shrug. "He's kinda right, Spike. You aren't completely healed up yet, so it would be smart to take it easy... relaxing for a couple of weeks on a spaceship isn't so bad, right...?"

He groaned and leaned his face down into his hands dramatically. He'd finished eating nearly as soon as the meal had began, of course. "_____, I brought you here, you're supposed to be on my side," he whined. You couldn't help but giggle. He was acting like an impatient child-- funny, didn't he say he hated kids?

"I just don't want you to nearly die again, like with what happened at the bar," you said. "It won't be too bad, right? I've never been to Ganymede, so maybe you can show me if there's anything cool to do here once we finish shopping?"

"I hate shopping," Spike mumbled, slumping back in his seat on the couch in defeat. You gave him a joking pat on the shoulder.

"Trust me, I'd much rather be on shopping duty," Faye said, rolling her eyes. "I hate going after crusty old guys. And I need new lipstick."

"You'd better be using your own money for that," Jet quipped.

"Ugh, you're joking! Relax, of course I do!"

"Liar," Spike muttered.

"I could look for some for you if you want," you offered, trying not to laugh.

"It's fine. I'll just get it while I'm hunting the bounty."

===

After dinner, you'd pretty much headed right to bed, hoping that you would still be be able to sleep even though you'd accidentally taken a nap earlier. Just as you'd gotten comfortable, you remembered something-- you'd forgotten to wrap Spike's wound up for the night.

You sighed and crawled back out of bed, put your glasses on, and then walked to the living room, relieved to find Spike still on the couch. He seemed to be having a final smoke before bedtime.

"Hey," you said softly as you approached him. "I forgot to wrap you back up. Can you show me where the med kit is?"

Spike looked at you for a moment as you fiddled with your nightgown idly, and then got up to get the medical kit from one of the cabinets. He set it down on the coffee table.

"Hold this for a second." He handed you his half-finished cigarette, which you held for him reluctantly while he tugged his shirt off. The room was lit more dimly than it was during the crew's usual waking hours, and you allowed yourself to take a nice, long look at Spike's toned body, figuring you could just use his wound as an excuse. You were tired, you deserved this. And he was so pretty, you couldn't help yourself. His skin looked nice in this light, too.

You were brought back to earth when he mumbled a 'thanks' and took his cigarette back before he sat down on the couch again. You crouched down to be level with the table and Spike's (nice) body, then quickly rolled up your sleeves and turned to the med kit to get out supplies to clean the wound, avoiding eye contact as you got right to work wiping it down. You heard Spike take a drag above you.

"It's looking a lot better," you said, cleaning the small amount of dried blood off of the cut. "I think it'll probably be healed in a couple of weeks max. It'll leave a scar, of course, but... I dunno, I think scars look kind of cool."

"I got plenty of scars anyway," Spike said. He watched quietly as you pulled bandages out of the kit and started to wrap them around him.

The silence felt strange as it settled in your gut. You knew that he could probably do this on his own now, but you did it for him regardless. Spike realized this as well, but he didn't stop you-- whether it was laziness or some other reason, you weren't sure. Neither was he. Maybe he just liked to be fawned over.

Once you'd finished wrapping, you felt the bandages again to double check that they weren't too tight. Man, this guy was solid. Okay, don't overdo it. You pulled away and sat back on your heels.

"Alright, you're all set," you said as you stood up. You wanted an excuse to stay and chatter, since you knew that Spike would probably be out here for just a little longer still to finish his cigarette, but you couldn't think of anything. "I... I think we should leave that on tomorrow. It's a relief to see you looking so much better."

"Yeah, I'm sure," Spike said. He didn't seem to be about to bother with putting his shirt back on. You supposed that made sense, since he was going to go to bed soon.

"Yeah," you said, nearly whispering. You stood in silence for what felt like ten minutes, but you knew that it definitely couldn't have been that long in reality. You took a breath and rubbed your eyes. "Yeah. Sorry, I zoned out. I'm gonna, uh..."

You watched Spike as he crushed the end of his cigarette into the ashtray on the table and stood up. Pretty.

"Good night," you said to him.

"Night," he said, smiling weakly and patting your shoulder as he walked past you, presumably to his quarters. After a few moments, you turned and headed back to yours as well.

Holy shit, you had to pull it together.

Chapter Text

Despite your best efforts, you were unable to sleep through the whole night. Your afternoon nap had taken its toll on you, and you were now awake at 3am, laying on one of the living room couches playing solitaire on your phone in an attempt to waste time until your eyes got tired again.

Slow footsteps interrupted your solitaire trance, and you looked towards the sound's source to see shirtless, bandage-wrapped, bed-headed Spike dragging his feet as he entered the room. He glanced at you, but didn't stop or say anything, he just continued past you into the kitchen. You sat up to take up less space-- you were on 'his' couch, so you assumed he'd want to sit there-- and when he returned from the kitchen with a glass of water, he sat next to you.

"Morning," you whispered, setting your phone down on the table to give him your attention.

Spike took a long drink of water before he replied. "Morning." He sat his glass down on the table and pulled out a cigarette and lighter. His breathing seemed to be a bit labored, and he kind of fumbled with the lighter a couple of times before he could get it to light. When he finally got it, he took an incredibly long drag from the cigarette, sinking back into the couch as he did.

"Are you okay?" You hadn't seen him like this since back when his injury was in more serious condition. Was it the wound? He ran his free hand over the leg of his sweatpants-- anxiety? He didn't seem like the anxious type, though. "Do you hurt? I packed the pain meds, if--"

"'M fine," Spike cut you off, forcefully blowing out a puff of smoke. "I just couldn't sleep."

"Oh, okay." Even you could tell that he really didn't want to talk about whatever it was that was bothering him. You didn't want to pry, of course, but... still, you were concerned. You didn't like seeing him like this, it didn't suit him.

Spike took another deep breath in and out, turning his head a little to look at you. Thankfully, he seemed to be intentionally trying to blow his smoke in the other direction. "What are you doing out here at the ass-crack of dawn? Don't you like sleeping in?"

"I was playing solitaire. I took that nap before dinner, it made me wake up early," you replied, fiddling with your hair. "Not to mention that I'm a bit of an insomniac, anyways. I've never been a great sleeper."

"Me neither," Spike said. You scoffed.

"That's a lie. You sleep like nobody's business. Solid as a rock."

"Not always." He sighed, took a drink of water, and then a drag.

Something clicked in your brain. Ah, so that was it. You decided to pry, just a little bit.

"Nightmares?"

Spike didn't answer you, so you were pretty sure you'd hit the mark.

"It's not much, but I have the end of my bottle of gin from back home a flask. You can have it if you want a little something for your nerves," you offered.

"...Yeah, okay." He wasn't looking at you anymore. He really didn't like admitting his problems, did he? Oh, well.

"One sec." You stood and padded off to your storeroom, taking a couple of minutes to dig through your things and find the flask, which you then brought back out the the living room with you.

You handed it to Spike as you sat back down, and he set his cigarette down for a moment to unscrew the lid and take a swig. He made a face, but went ahead and finished off the flask anyway, setting it on the table and going for his water immediately after. Must've been some nightmare, you thought to yourself.

"Thanks," he said after he'd gotten the taste of straight alcohol out of his mouth. He picked his cigarette up again and settled back into the couch.

You gave him a tired smile and picked your phone up from the table, opening up solitaire again. You'd pestered him enough. "No problem."

The two of you sat in a rather comfortable silence for quite a while, you weren't sure how long. You played solitaire while Spike worked on his cigarette and stared at the ceiling. He had dreamt about Julia. When he had woken up in a cold sweat and stumbled out into the living room, he'd thought about going right back to bed after he saw you laying on the couch-- that was a whole other pot of feelings he didn't feel like having at the moment-- but his throat was so damn dry that he decided to just deal with it. Besides, he couldn't stand to be cooped up in his room right now. It was barely larger than yours, and right now it smelled like sweaty blankets. He'd wait for the air to recirculate a bit.

Spike hated the position he was in right now. He wasn't ready to be on the Bebop again, he thought to himself as he took a drag from his cigarette. He wanted to go chase the bounty on Ganymede at least, give himself a bit of a rush, find some kind of action to throw himself into and forget things for a while, but his damn injury had him stuck with you on shopping duty. It wasn't that he hated you, of course. You were very hard to dislike. Too nice. But he would have to walk around and spend time with you and talk with you and buy groceries with you, and right now he was busy trying to avoid figuring his emotions out-- he dreaded that he'd have plenty of time to think while they two of you were out.

He looked over at you playing on your phone. You were leaning back into the couch, and you looked very, very relaxed. You looked bored. You looked tired. You looked gentle. Your blinks were slow and heavy, and you were taking your sweet time between moves in solitaire. After you finished your game, you closed your eyes for a few moments too long, and Spike saw you jolt slightly as you realized you were falling asleep and sat back up straight to keep yourself awake for a little longer.

"...I think I'm going back to bed," you said, clicking your phone off and slowly standing up. "I'm finally passing out again."

Spike stayed quiet. He held back a frown, breathing out some smoke instead.

"Good night," you said, turning and walking back towards your room.

"Night," He replied, watching you leave. Part of him wished you wouldn't. It was a nice distraction to have another person in the room right now, he reasoned. You were good company. Another part of him scolded himself for feeling lonely.

Damn it, he needed to get his shit together.

Chapter Text

When you awoke the next morning, it took you a couple of moments to remember where you were as you stared up at the blurry metal ceiling of your storeroom. Ah, that's right. Spaceship.

Shit, that's right! Spaceship!

Your heartrate sped up as yesterday came back to you. Were you still in hyperspace? You rolled over and out of bed, put on your glasses, half-sorted your blankets, and then made your way out to the living area.

Spike, Faye, and Jet were all eating what you hoped was breakfast and seemed to be chatting about the day to come while you approached them. Spike noticed you first and gave you a nod-- this prompted Faye and Jet to turn and look at you.

"Good morning," you said, straightening your nightgown.

"Morning," Jet replied. "Breakfast's in the kitchen, help yourself. We'll be arriving at Ganymede in a few hours."

So, you were still in hyperspace. Good. You wanted to watch the landing process. You walked to the kitchen and got yourself some breakfast, then sat down next to Spike, who (thankfully) had left room for you on his couch. He handed you a piece of paper once you were settled.

"This is the stuff we gotta buy today," he said. You nodded and looked over the list while you ate-- it was mostly just groceries for Jet's cooking, as expected, plus a couple of toiletries and other supplies.

"This looks doable," you said. "I assume you know where the shops are, right, Spike? I'll just follow your lead."

"Yeah. It'll be stupid easy." Spike frowned, then set his now-clean plate down on the coffee table and leaned back in his seat.

"Stop whining about getting the easy end of the deal," Faye said, scowling at him. "We know you're upset. I'm not happy either, yanno. Plus, what if Jet throws his back out or something?"

"Hey! Shut your mouth, I'm not that old," Jet snapped. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

"If we get back before they do, I think 'm gonna wash the Swordfish," Spike said (to you or himself, you weren't sure which), bitterly ignoring Jet and Faye's bickering.

"Swordfish?" The thought of delicious cooked swordfish passed through your mind, but you pushed it out before you could get too attached to the idea.

"My ship," Spike replied, looking over at you. "The Swordfish II. She's an old racer, I've missed her. Gotta give my girl a little TLC."

"Whoa, a racing ship?" You perked up, wide-eyed. "Can I help you wash it? I want to see, it sounds really cool!"

"Can't turn down an offer like that," he answered. Help makes the work go faster.

===

After the meal, you helped Jet clean up and then went to take your time getting dressed and ready for the day. You felt excited about grocery shopping, which you thought might be a bit of a strange thing to feel, but you didn't mind. It was so novel for you to be visiting another world. You wondered whether you be able to see Jupiter in the sky on Ganymede. You daydreamed about what the Swordfish might look like-- what color was it? Was Spike a good pilot? You hoped you would get to go for a ride sometime.

Spike, who was on his couch having a smoke, watched as you drifted through the living room towards the bridge, humming idly in your daze. You skipped a little and kicked your dress skirts out in front of you with bare feet as you went on your way, and your hair bounced as you hopped up the steps and disappeared from view. Off to watch the stars fly by, he guessed, blowing some smoke out of his lungs. He'd never really thought a person could be so endlessly fascinated with such everyday things. There was something... sweet about that childlike wonder, but it was also something he didn't think he would ever really understand entirely. The again, there were a few things about you that he didn't really get.

The bridge was empty, besides you-- Jet was probably off doing... well, something, you figured. You picked up your skirts and sat down on the floor in front of one of the windows to watch the stars fly past the ship, appearing like glimmering lines, almost too fast to see. You passively noticed that you had stopped humming at some point. You leaned against the glass, desperately hoping that the sight and the feeling of calm within you would be burned into your memory for years to come.

You thought about your shipmates. Jet was friendly with you, and Faye was... well, she didn't seem like the type to like people easily, but she'd shown hints of a kind side, and you wanted to get to know her if you could. Spike had only really been vocal about his opinions of you a couple of times, but he seemed to care about you at least a little bit when you looked back considered his actions. The look of sincerity on his face from the other night came to mind. You smiled at the thought, happy you had remembered it. Right now, things felt like they were going to be okay. You wrapped yourself up in that feeling as you watched the sky and imagined it whizzing by all around you.

Footsteps on the bridge broke your train of thought, and you looked behind you-- Spike. You'd noticed him on the couch earlier. He walked over to you and stood next to you for a moment, debated something in his head, and then wordlessly sat down on the floor next to you.

You smiled. He looked a bit silly sitting like you were, since his limbs were so lanky.

"You don't get tired of this?" He was looking out the window instead of making eye contact. Not smoking, you noted as he spoke.

"Haven't yet," you said to him, turning back to the stars.
"What do you like so much about it?"

You thought about this for a moment before answering. "They keep going on forever. We don't know where they stop. We don't know if they even stop at all."

"Kind of a scary thought," Spike muttered, looking at you now. Star lines reflected on your glasses. He had expected himself to feel uncomfortable when he'd come onto the bridge after finishing his cigarette, but now that he was sitting here, he felt calm. There was something nice about this that he didn't have a good name for.

"I want to see as much as I possibly can," you said. "And this is a nice distraction from my thoughts. You don't like it much?"

"No, this is fine. I just prefer more exciting distractions. I get restless."

You didn't have a reply. There was a lull in the conversation. Spike stared at the reflections in your lenses, and you could feel his gaze in the pit of your stomach, but it wasn't a harsh feeling, just warm. You tried to focus on the view out the window. Endless.

"Did you end up getting any sleep last night?" You asked, mostly to fill the air.

"Not really," Spike answered honestly.

Another lull.

"Thanks for not smoking," you said quietly.

"Yeah."

Chapter Text

"Oh, there you are, Spike." Jet's heavy boots sounded as he walked onto the bridge. He laughed as he made his way to the pilot's seat. "You weren't on the couch, I got worried!"

Both you and Spike turned your heads to look at him. "I was babysitting," Spike said.

You laughed. "I wasn't doing anything dangerous, you know."

Spike gave you a sarcastic look. "What if you fell out the window?"

"I don't think you have to worry about that." Jet chuckled and punched something into his controls. "We're about to exit hyperspace, so you might wanna stay seated."

You looked back out the window as the Bebop slowed. the hyperspace gate in front of the ship grew larger as it drew closer. It looked nearly identical to the one you had come through from Mars, as expected.

As the Bebop passed through the gate, Ganymede came into view-- it was beautiful blue, a striking ocean world against the incredible backdrop of the dark, starry sky and an absolutely immense Jupiter. You held your breath as you absorbed the view in front of you. Jupiter was somehow much, much bigger than you'd expected. And that was saying a lot, since you had already expected it to be overwhelmingly large. It was stunning. Well, pictures could never compare to the real thing, you reasoned.

The Bebop approached the sparkling blue moon of Ganymede and slowly began to descend into its atmosphere. You half-registered Jet talking to what must have been an air traffic controller (or something of the like). Small, glimmering silver flecks slowly began to stick out to you against the water-- cities, you gathered.

Spike's thoughts drifted loosely as he watched the deep blue grow closer. He still felt frustrated about not getting to go hunt for the bounty, but he had a knack for finding trouble, anyway. Things would be back to normal soon.

He looked over at you. You were entranced with the sight before you, of course. Your glasses shone blue like Ganymede's surface. He wondered if things would ever be normal if you stayed on the Bebop. How long were you going to stay on the Bebop? Spike caught himself before he could think too hard about it.

The Bebop landed on the water near a city and Jet taxied it into port.

"Here we are," he said.

"Thank you," you mumbled, still a little dazed. Next to you, Spike stood up. You looked up at him, and he offered you a hand.

"Time to go grocery shopping," he said simply. You took his hand and allowed yourself to be pulled up by him. Warm. Once you were standing, he let go of you and strode off the bridge.

"Be careful out there," you said to Jet as you left.

===

After getting on your shoes and purse (and grabbing the grocery list), you met Spike out on the Bebop's deck. You followed him off the ship, and the two of you were well on your way to the market district.

As you walked through the city, you felt thankful that Spike was walking slowly. You weren't very quick in the first place, so you were especially slow now, taking in the sights of another planet as you walked. Spike had been in front of you at first, but once you'd gotten to a more populated area, he matched your pace more closely to walk next to you instead.

Shopping was relatively painless. As you went along, you realized that going down the list for items was a great way to get a good look around, as you had to stop at all sorts of places for the numerous things on the list.

At the liquor store, you used a little bit of your own savings to get yourself a bottle of vodka ("If you're nice to me, I might share," you'd told Spike as you checked out.) You also spent a little money on some salmon and a rather fine-looking loaf of bread-- you deserved something nice, you reasoned. You figured you could probably ask Jet to help you with cooking them, as long as you were willing to share with the rest of the crew (which you were). Many of the buildings here were similar to those on Mars, but the atmosphere felt a lot different to you, and the sea air was wonderful.

Spike mostly kept to himself during the shopping trip, but you wished that he wouldn't have. You liked talking to him, you just couldn't think of anything worthwhile to talk about, so you whistled an ad-lib marching song as you walked around.

After a couple of hours, with arms full of groceries, you and Spike started on your way back to the Bebop.

"You're good at whistling," Spike said to you. You felt relief from a tension that you hadn't noticed before wash over you.

"Thank you. I'm glad it wasn't annoying you." You shifted the groceries in your arms. "Can you whistle?"

Spike chose to answer by whistling a short scale. His tone was lovely.

"Ohh, you're good at it too!"

"Thanks."

...Well, that didn't last long. And now that he'd mentioned it to you, you felt hyper-conscious about whistling.

So you just hummed softly all the way back.

Chapter Text

The Swordfish II was even better than you'd expected. It was definitely more than a little... well-loved, but that only added to its vintage charm. It was a beautiful ship.

"You're a lucky man, Spike," you called to Spike, who was on the other side of the Bebop's deck getting the hose out. He grabbed a couple of towels and walked over to you, pulling the hose along with him as he went.

"Ya think so?" He smiled and looked towards the Swordfish with honest pride and affection all over his face. "Guess I am, at least with this old thing around. Saved my ass more times than I can count-- must've been with me for more than 10 years, now."

"Jeez, that's a really long time to be flying one ship. You must be a pretty good pilot, then, huh?" You adjusted your ponytail as you chatted-- you'd tied up your hair and changed into more appropriate ship-washing clothes (a t-shirt and shorts, rather than an antique dress) once you'd gotten back from your previous outing. Spike had, as well-- he was in his sweats and a t-shirt. You smiled. He seemed to be in a really good mood (was it the Swordfish?), which you found to be quite refreshing and contagious.

"I'm not bad." He turned and tossed you a towel. "There's no soap or anything, so I'll just spray it with water 'n you can start wiping it down as we go."

"Sounds good. Try not to spray me."

"No promises." He stepped up to his ship, held the hose towards it and pushed his thumb over the spout to get the water to spray out further. The water made the Swordfish's red paint glimmer in the sunlight.

Once Spike had covered a fair area with water, you approached the ship and reached up to wipe off the dirt and grime with your towel. The water on the deck was pleasantly cold on your bare feet. You noted that the ship actually didn't seem to be all that dirty-- it was mostly dust that seemed to be coming off onto your towel. As you wiped more and more at the Swordfish, the red only shone brighter in the sun. It was like an old sportscar, you thought, mind wandering to the collection of old toy cars that was your shop.

While you were wiping down one side of the ship's nose, you felt a little water rain down on your head and shoulders. Your glasses now had annoying water droplets on them, as well.

"Hey! Watch your aim," you called out to the culprit, who was spraying the other side of the Swordfish's nose.

"I'm just trying to be thorough in my cleaning," Spike replied innocently, but you could hear the sarcasm dripping from his voice. "I don't want to miss anything."

"Somehow, I doubt your intentions are so pure," you said.

"You're the one that seems to think I'm worth trusting."

You yelped as more water fell on you from above. Spike laughed and bent down to grin at you from under the nose.

"What, you don't want a shower?"

"It's cold, you egg!" You stomped your feet, trying to kick water at him. He scrunched up his face and pulled back. "Is this what I get for helping you out?"

"Hey, you offered, lady! You should've known I'd betray you." Even more water rained down upon you, and this time you moved to try and avoid some of it (to little avail). It was nice (and a little strange) to see Spike acting so cheerfully, but you didn't really want to be the only one getting soaked here.

Suddenly, you had a terrible idea.

You walked up to the ship, lined yourself up so that Spike was directly on the other side of the nose, and threw your soaked towel up and over. You quickly ducked under the nose and got next to Spike-- somehow, the towel had hit its mark, and was on his head now-- and then tried to make a move to grab the hose out of his hand.

Unfortunately, Spike was faster than you.

"Whoops," was all he said as he pointed the hose right at you. You let out a short scream and stumbled back to avoid it, but you were already sopping wet. Spike pulled the towel off of his head to reveal a nasty smirk. He cocked his head to the side and shifted his weight. "C'mon, _____, what was that?"

You pulled off your glasses and sat down on the deck, laughing as you accepted defeat. "You don't play fair!"

"You tried to sneak up on me! You call that fair?"

"It's fair when your opponent is the one who knows how to fight!"

Spike snorted. "I disagree. You had a clear advantage."

"My ass," you mumbled, rolling your eyes.

"Well, that too. But I was actually thinking of the towel." Wait, what?

"What?"

"The towel. The disgusting, wet, grimy-ass towel you threw on my head." Clever bastard, he was too good at covering his tracks. He picked up the towel at fault and tossed it your way. "I'm gonna smell like grease for weeks!"

"Better grease than blood and guts," you said.

"That's the other thing!" Spike feigned a pathetic face. "I'm injured. You're supposed to go easy on people when they're hurt."

"As if!" You laughed and hung your now useless glasses from your shirt collar, then stood up. You were dripping heavily as you walked back over to Spike with a grin. "You sure don't act like an injured man."

Spike was quiet. He looked down at your soaked form with another one of those expressions of his that you couldn't quite read. You could only tell that it probably wasn't negative.

This was your chance. You held out your hand to shake.

"Truce?" You asked. Spike's look changed to one of suspicion.

"...Sure." He shook your hand, and you pulled yourself against him into a gross, soggy hug. You cackled as he quickly jumped back away from you, the front of his clothing now thoroughly soaked.

"Hah! Gotcha!"

Spike closed his eyes, his face serious. "I should never have trusted the likes of you."

"Aw, come on! Don't be so dram-- AAGH!" You yelped as Spike sprayed you with the hose again.

"You deserve this," he said solemnly, but he was smiling now. You dove to try to grab part of the hose off of the ground, and then pulled it out of his hands-- this worked much better than trying to take it from him directly. You jumped backwards to get out of his reach and finally (finally!) sprayed him with it.

"What the hell's going on here?" Faye's voice rang out-- it seemed that neither you nor Spike had noticed her walking onto the Bebop's deck. Jet was walking behind her.

"Washing the Swordfish," you said, trying not to laugh. Faye smiled at the sight of you still spraying Spike (who was now resigned to his fate) with the hose.

"You're doing a great job," she giggled. "We found out where our guy is staying, so we're gonna ambush him at his hotel later tonight."

"Oh, great work!" You set down the hose and shot Spike your most dazzlingly innocent smile before you walked over to Jet, careful not to get him wet. "Oh, Jet, I bought us all some salmon at the market today-- do you think you could cook it for lunch? I'm no good in the kitchen, but I thought it would make a nice treat as a bit of a thank-you for having me around."

"Salmon? Really? You've got yourself a deal, missy." Jet looked excited at the prospect of a delicious meal.

Faye grinned. "Finally, somebody with good taste around here. _____, I think we're going to get along nicely," she said, winking at you as she passed by and entered the Bebop proper. Jet followed her.

"Keep up the good work," he said. "I'll get lunch going. Spike, play nice."

"Thanks!" You called as he disappeared from the deck. You turned back to Spike and held in a laugh when you saw his exasperated facial expression paired with his wet hair and clothes. "We should finish washing, right? I can't wait for lunch."

Spike looked at you for probably a solid minute before he answered. "...Yeah, I'm starving."

"No more foul play," you said, pointing at him. He put his hands up and cracked a smile.

"Whatever you say."

Chapter Text

Spike sighed as he stepped into the shower. The water was just a little bit too hot, just the way he liked it. He felt tired from shopping and washing his ship, which was strange until he remembered that he hadn't exactly been working out or training at all lately. Of course he would be a little more low-energy.

He was feeling pretty good for once, though, when he thought about it. Shopping was okay, but he had been a little on edge, trying to keep an eye on you so that you didn't get mugged or kidnapped or something. You were so small and seemed pretty oblivious to what was going on around you-- eventually he needed to tell you to keep a better eye out, but... it was okay to let you have a little blissful ignorance for right now, he thought. You seemed to have enough anxiety on your plate.

What he'd really enjoyed was washing the Swordfish II. He was already happy to wash it in the first place, with or without your help-- his ship was one of the few constants in his life, something he would always come back to when he needed it. It was comforting to be back with it again, and washing it was a nice way to set that comfort in his mind. He'd surprised himself with how light he felt with you there, too, though-- he'd felt good enough to fuck around with the hose a little, and you'd played along better than he'd hoped.

He kind of wanted to punch himself for flirting, but then again, it wasn't like he was being entirely insincere, and you hadn't gotten on his ass about it after he'd let himself slip up. No harm done, right? He thought back about how you'd looked standing in front of him, completely soaking wet with your glasses hanging from your shirt collar. Your smile was huge and true, he could see it in your eyes. He lo... he liked that about you, your stupidly genuine personality, the way you didn't bother trying to hide when you were happy or upset.

Spike sighed and scrubbed shampoo into his scalp, trying to remember the probably made-up tune you'd been humming on the way back from shopping. Julia had been like-- No, he stopped himself. No. Julia was gone. He was feeling good right now, and he wasn't ready to let go of that feeling yet. Here he found himself trying to avoid wallowing in his past, for once in his life. He wanted to just let himself feel happy for a little while.

He'd let himself wallow later, maybe, when he was in bed and feeling shitty about the sleep he wasn't getting. But right now he wanted to get clean and eat some fish. God, he was so ready to eat some fish.

===

You rushed into the bathroom as soon as Spike had finished his shower, almost (but not quite) forgetting to check him out for a split second as he exited the bathroom in only a towel.

You got out of your cold, wet clothes and into the steamy shower in record time, taking a deep breath as you felt the warm water fall through your hair and on your back.

You felt better than you'd felt in quite a while. Seeing a new city on a new planet was amazing. Getting to wash an old racer was amazing. Spraying your best friend-- Spike was your best friend, you realized-- with a hose and laughing together was amazing. Seeing him happy, really, truly happy, was wonderful. Hearing Jet's excitement to cook the food you'd bought felt great. Getting Faye's positive approval felt like another step towards friendship. You felt wonderful. You were excited for lunch. You were happy that you'd gotten to see Spike laugh. You liked to see him smile. You loved to see him happy.

Things were going well.

Chapter Text

Jet was truly the maker of dreams. You felt like you were floating in a dream-- clean and fresh from the shower and filling your stomach with delicious, divine, perfectly cooked fish.

The whole crew was silent for the entirety of the meal, for the first time since you had arrived on the Bebop. They were all focusing intensely on enjoying the luxurious meal. Once everyone had finally finished eating, you all thanked Jet for his incredible cooking, and Jet gave you his thanks for buying the salmon in the first place. For once, the Bebop was relatively quiet and peaceful as you all allowed yourselves to laze about and digest.

Once a little time had passed, Faye and Jet prepared themselves for their date with the bounty and left to carry out their ambush. You wished them luck from the couch, where you were drawing and liatening music. Spike was out on the deck, probably having a smoke. You were surprised by how quiet things felt when the living room was empty, even though you had been out here alone previously when you couldn't sleep. Somehow it felt different when it was still daytime.

You'd just closed your sketchbook and were getting up to put it away back in your room when Spike walked back inside.

"Welcome back," you said as you started walking towards your storeroom. "Get cold out there?"

"Nah." Spike followed you to your room and leaned in the doorway to talk while you put away your book and supplies in a bin. "Good call on the fish. It's been a while since I ate that well."

When you'd stowed everything properly, you sat down on your bed and gave Spike your attention. You smiled. "What, you didn't like my cooking back home?"

"I didn't say that." Spike smirked. "But you can't deny that Jet's a mean cook."

You laughed. "Yeah, no, he really did do a wonderful job."

Spike didn't reply or leave like you assumed he would, so there were a few beats of silence before you spoke again.

"Did you need something?"

Spike shoved his hands into his pockets. "Oh, no. I was just wondering if you thought I was nice today."

You smiled knowingly. Ah, so he wanted booze. When you'd returned from shopping, you had immediately stashed it in your room, so that none of the other crew members could steal it without you knowing.

"Mm, I dunno, Spike. That stunt you pulled while we were washing the Swordfish was pretty--"

"It was an accident the first time," he interrupted, pulling out a hand to point his finger at you. "You're the one who started egging me on!"

"Aren't you supposed to be trying to suck up to me right now? I thought you wanted booze. Am I wrong?"

"Yeah, I guess I should be, but I feel shitty lying to you for some reason." Spike had kicked himself internally for letting that slip out as soon as he'd said it, but he had to roll with it now. "So I'm being honest instead."

"Aw, and here I thought you were a remorseless bounty hunter," you joked. Spike pouted.

"Come on, _____."

You squinted and stared him in the eyes to imitate scrutiny. He crossed his arms and squinted back at you.

"...Okay, we can have a couple of drinks together. But I want to check on your gash first, 'injured man.'" You hopped up from your bed.

"Fine by me." Spike's smile returned and he moved out of your doorway so that you could exit and close your door behind you before he followed you back into the living area.

"Don't drink it all without asking, though," you said while you got out the med kit. Spike sat down on his couch and took his shirt off. He had removed his bandages from the night before already when he'd taken his shower, so you didn't need to deal with that this time.

"Yeah, yeah, don't worry your little head."

You sat down on the floor in front of him with the kit and went through the routine rather quickly-- clean the wound (it was already fairly clean), check on how it was healing (it was healing up quite nicely), and then re-dress it. Spike's body felt pleasantly warm to the touch as you wrapped him in bandages.

"Okay, all set." You somehow kept your hands from lingering when you'd finished, and quickly stood up to put the med kit back into its cabinet. "You're looking great. Soon you should be okay without the wrapping. I'll be right back."

Spike nodded, and you made a quick run back to your room to grab the bottle of vodka while he put his shirt back on.

===

A drink and a half in was a decidedly good place for you to be. The couch was soft, Spike was radiating warmth next to you, the radio was playing mostly good music, and right now you felt content to stay right where you were for the rest of your life, clean and comfortable and tipsy enough to not feel worried about anything, at least for a while.

Spike was three drinks in, working on his fourth, and unlike the last time you two had had drinks together, he actually seemed like he was buzzed-- his words were slightly slurred when he spoke to you, and his posture was loose and relaxed as he leaned back into the couch cushions. You briefly wondered whether he was having stronger drinks this time or if he was just good at acting sober. It didn't really matter, you decided.

The conversation had been light so far-- backless bets about whether or not Jet and Faye would be able to catch the bounty, a story about how Spike had gotten the Swordfish, a little whining about your makeshift bed, some reminiscing about your unremarkable past and how good it sounded compared to the mess you were in now.

"I like it here," you said, taking a sip of your drink. "Really like it here. Even if my bed sucks ass. I like being around people."

"You'll get sick of it after Faye steals your shampoo for the tenth time," Spike said.

"I like Faye, I'm-- I'll share with her, that's okay." Another sip.

"If you cut her too much slack, she'll take advantage of you."

"You just don't like trustin' people."

"You like trusting 'em too much."

You each took a sip from your respective drinks.

"I think people can all be good at heart," you said. "An' I'm not really good at... reading people, so it's hard to know when they lie. So it's easier to just trust 'em."

"That'll get you killed," Spike said, looking at you with an almost stern look.

"Hasn't so far," you retorted. "Trustin' you got me here. You haven't killed me yet, so I think I was right."

Spike looked at you for a moment longer, then finished his drink and set the empty glass on the table.

"You're a trus'worthy person, Spike," you continued. Spike frowned and turned himself sideways on the couch to sit facing you. "I think there's a lotta good in you. You're nice, 'n you're funny, 'n you helped me out twice, so I know you like helping people."

"I told you before, I'm not trustworthy. And you shouldn't tell a man who's killed people before that he's nice."

"Well, I like you." You finished your drink and leaned over to the table to pour yourself a third. "I don' think you'd kill someone that didn't need to die. You want another one?"

Spike sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Yeah." He watched as you poured the drinks. God, what the hell was he doing? You were so nice to him. So kind. He liked feeling cared for, but he hated the feeling he had in his gut now-- the one that came from trusting somebody again, the one he knew wasn't just because of the alcohol. He was careful not to touch your hand as you passed him his fifth drink.

"Cheers," you said, holding up your glass to his with a sweet, lazy smile on your face.

"Cheers," Spike forced himself to say, then clinked his glass against yours and took a big swig. You sipped your drink gingerly and hummed along to the radio, which he'd forgotten was playing. He liked your voice, but he felt a lump form in his throat the longer he listened. He took a few more sips from his drink and tried to ignore it.

"I thought I toldya not to drink all my booze," you said, still smiling.

"You gave me this, idiot."

"Yeah, but-- but you're having it too fast."

"Says who?"

You leaned in towards Spike on the couch. "Says the booze-buyer!"

"Better catch up," he replied, taking another drink.

"Bad." You feigned a surprised expression and gulped down half your glass in one go, then sat back down on the couch, sitting criss-cross and facing Spike. "I can' drink as much as you or 'm gonna get sick."

"If you throw up, I'm not going to hold your hair back for you."

"Spike!" You made a shocked face and held in your laughter. "I thought we were friends! Don' you care about me?"

Spike knew you were just joking around, but he still felt a pang in his gut. He cared about you more than he would've liked-- he felt another pang as he realized what he'd just admitted to himself-- and he didn't feel ready to care about people again, not yet. Things had never really gone smoothly when it came to his interpersonal relationships, though. He took a long drink, unintentionally emptying his glass in a failed attempt to avoid the 'past relationships' train of thought. Well, shit. There went the pleasant evening he'd been desperately trying to hold onto.

You watched as Spike set the glass down on the table and laid back against the couch with a sigh. He looked so tired, all of a sudden. How could he! It was fun drinking time right now! You got up on your knees and scooted closer to him, then leaned sideays against the couch back again and looked at his face. His expression as he stared at the ceiling was distant, and it made you feel worried. You frowned.

"Y' okay?" You asked, even though you knew that he would probably lie to you.

"Yeah, just drank too quickly." Of course, you were right. Luckily, you were also drunk, so you weren't afraid to call him out.

"Liar. You're makin' a face."

Spike took a deep breath, but he didn't answer you.

"Wha's up, Spike? That look doesn' suit you," you tried, offering him a gentle, concerned smile.

"...Not up for discussion," he said finally. Of course, you would respect him, but you still didn't like seeing him this way.

You touched his arm with one hand and hoped that it came across as comforting rather than as an invasion of personal space. "Okay, but is there anything I c'n do to help?"

Spike's heart dropped when he felt your hand on his arm, and he knew his composure was slipping when he found himself reaching over to rest his other hand on top of yours.

He realized that he shouldn't have had this much to drink, not with (caring, trusting, too-kind) you, not with a walking (humming, whistling, grinning) reminder of the fact that he still had working emotions, not tonight (when he had felt so happy just a few short hours ago). He realized that he had not allowed himself to truly mourn Julia's death, and now he felt the grief hitting him all at once, along with a feeling of uncertainty he had long since forgotten, one that felt unfamiliar after all this time (and almost scared him). It took everything in his being to keep his face from screwing up. He took a long, shaky breath-- he knew he would only sit here and feel worse if he asked you to leave him alone. He couldn't solve this issue by avoiding it anymore.

"Stay there," he said, almost too quietly.

You were content to stay there, if that was all you could do for now.

Chapter Text

Spike awoke to a splitting headache. He looked over to the empty glasses on the table and groaned as the room wobbled a little around him. He was still a little drunk. The night's activities returned to him, and he gently kicked at the screen on the coffee table to get it to display the current time-- 3am-- then quickly decided that he was definitely going to go to bed and get back to sleep as soon as possible, before there was much time for his emotions to wake up.

Upon moving to get up from the couch, however, a weight on his arm stopped him-- he looked over and saw your face buried in his sleeve, your arm looped loosely around his. It didn't look very comfortable to him, but you were sound asleep. That's right, he'd told you to stay next to him on the couch, he remembered now. The two of you must have passed out that way. Spike frowned. He wanted to go to his own room to sleep, but...

He leaned back into the couch and his head pounded. He regretted drinking so much so quickly. It was nice to have drinks and loosen up, but the hangover was much less enjoyable. And oh, god, those damn emotions. He only wanted to forget about those right now, but here they were, threatening to bubble up again. He needed a distraction. One grief session was more than plenty for right now.

Spike looked down at the top of your head and sighed. Your hair looked soft. He could only see a little of your face, and you still had your glasses on, but you really did look peaceful. He gave in to the temptation to touch your hair, allowing himself to brush through it with his fingers ever so lightly, desperately hoping that you were drunk enough still to not wake up. He rested his hand on your arm afterwards. You felt warm-- probably the alcohol.

Did he really need to get up and go to bed? He'd slept on this couch countless times before, anyway, so why should it be a problem now?

It shouldn't be one, he thought as he leaned his head back against the couch again. He was too lazy to get up and go to his own room to sleep alone. He could blame the alcohol if anyone asked, and it wouldn't be a lie.

Besides, it wasn't like you were bad company.

Chapter Text

"... fucking guy..."

You heard voices, but you weren't quite registering language. You drifted in and out of sleep.

" ...hangovers... let them... "

Faye and Jet. God, be quiet. Please be quiet. Your head hurt. Your body felt... like alcohol.

"...daughter..."

"...drinks... you asshole..."

A low, annoyed-sounding groan rumbled against your cheek, but it didn't come from you.

"Fuck off, I'm sleeping..." Oh, the groan was Spike. You made a small noise and pressed your face further into whatever uncomfortable pillow you'd slept on. You really didn't want to be up yet.

"Go to your own room if you don't want to be disturbed, sleeping beauties." Faye. She didn't sound very happy.

"I'll sleep where I please, you hag."

You heard Faye huff, and then footsteps as she presumably left the room. Well, you were awake now, for better or for worse.
You groaned and pushed yourself up into a sitting position-- you must have fallen asleep curled up on the couch last night. You took off your glasses before you opened your eyes, and found yourself looking right at Spike, who had apparently also slept on the couch.

On the couch, with you.

Oh, god, you'd slept on his arm. Suddenly, you felt very wide awake. Your embarrassment hit you at once. Heat rushed to your face. You breathed deeply and scooted backwards a little to give Spike some space. He looked over at you with an easy expression (because of course he did), as if you hadn't just slept on his arm all night.

"G... Mornin'," the words tumbled out of your mouth clumsily. Spike looked like he was about to laugh at you, but he resisted. Something in his eyes softened as he watched your face. You winced as your headache reminded you that you'd had too much to drink last night.

"Finally, I can move again," he said sarcastically.
"I-I am so, so sorry," you said quickly. "I don't remember falling asleep. I-I must have been too tired. I would have gone to bed if I'd noticed myself--"

"It's fine," Spike interrupted you before you could ramble any further. You seemed to have forgotten the fact that he was the one who had asked you to stay on the couch with him. He was grateful for you having stuck around, but he didn't really feel like to reminding you about it all right now. He stood up. "Water?"

"...Y-Yes. Please." You looked around the living space as Spike grabbed the glasses off of the coffee table and went into the kitchen. Your bottle of vodka had about a quarter left in it-- you supposed you would re-hide it before somebody else got a chance to drink it. You'd heard Faye leave the room earlier, so you assumed that she was off to shower or sleep after her long night out chasing the bounty with Jet. Oh, Jet was probably home now, too, then. You wondered how their outing had gone. Bounty hunting didn't seem like an easy job.

Spike returned with two glasses of water, one of which he handed to you as he sat down on the couch again. You thanked him quickly and got right to drinking it down.

"Faye and Jet caught the guy," he said to you, but not before he'd taken a long drink of water. He looked pretty hung-over, as well.

"Really? That's great news," you said. "How much was the bounty, again? Two million?"

"Yeah. But they didn't get paid."

"Wait, what? Why not?"

"Remember how I said 'kids are nothing but trouble?' Well, the guy's daughter is still out there somewhere, and the bastard won't fess up to her location." Spike leaned back and draped his free arm along the back of the couch. "Damn police won't pay until they have the both of them."

"That's... annoying," you said between sips of water. "But I guess it kind of makes sense. Are they gonna go back out to look for the kid, then?"

"Yeah, but they're taking a break for now. Faye's cranky 'cause she hasn't slept."

"I don't blame her."

"Poor baby needs a nap," Spike said sarcastically and chugged the rest of his glass of water. "Wish she didn't wail so damn loud."

"Yeah, she is a little noisy." You smiled and drank some more water. The room was quiet now, and you could barely hear the shower running down the way. If it weren't for your hangover, you'd have said it was a nice, peaceful moment.

Spike, in the silence, was considering whether he wanted to sneak out and look for the man's absent child. It was true that he didn't like kids, but it was even more true that he was just about sick of being cooped up indoors-- grocery shopping hardly counted as an outing, and he was itching for something to do that would get his hands dirty, even just a little bit. He wanted something to do. He wanted to have a smoke.

He hadn't smoked since much yesterday. He'd been trying to not smoke around you too much, since he knew that you really seemed to hate it, but it was a difficult trade-off considering the fact that spending any respectable amount of time with you led to conversations, which usually gave him the exact type of gut feeling he smoked to avoid. Of course, Jet and Faye had been smoking regardless of your presence. Spike vaguely hoped that they hadn't picked up on him being considerate, something he wasn't exactly well-known for. Faye might not have noticed yet, but he was certain that Jet must have by now-- he wasn't a fool.

Yeah, maybe he would sneak out for a bit for a smoke and do a little snooping around. It wasn't like some kid was gonna be able to hurt him-- well, probably, anyway. Either way, he could smoke while he was out without feeling guilty about bothering you. Maybe getting out to let off some steam would finally work the tension out of his body and help him sort his head out a bit.

He turned and watch you finish your glass of water. You looked kind of zoned out, or maybe like you were thinking about something. It was like the expression you'd had while watching the stars, but your eyes were missing the glimmer. Your hair was like a rat's nest. You'd slept in your day clothes. This look didn't suit you, but there was a certain 'morning after' charm about you as you turned to face Spike with bags under your eyes.

"So, what are we doing today?"

Spike blinked and raised an eyebrow at you. "'We?'"

"We-- oh, uh, I didn't mean 'we' neccessarily, I-I just assumed, you know, since neither of us really have much to do." You paused and attempted to collect your thoughts. "I mean, I assume. I guess I'm mostly asking you what I should do today, since we already went shopping. You know, idle hands, and, uh..."

"You can do whatever you want," Spike told you when you trailed off. "It's not like you have a job to do, or anything. You're kind of a freeloader."

"Ouch, you don't have to say it out loud like that." You smiled weakly. "I'm trying not to be too much of a lazy slob. And if somebody asks me to do something, it's not like I'm gonna say no."

"Either way, Jet probably wouldn't have the heart to kick you out for sitting on your ass. You've been sucking up to him, anyway." He paused to yawn. "Faye doesn't mind you. 'N I'm the one who dragged you here in the first place."

"What did you say you were going to do today?"

"I didn't."

"What're you doing today, then?"

"Dunno," Spike lied. He didn't want to have to keep an eye on you if you followed him when he went into town later. "It's not like I can do anything exciting while I'm healing."

"Maybe it's good that you have some time to stay in, then." You leaned forward and set your empty glass on the table, then yawned and stretched your arms above your head. "God, I hate hangovers."

As you settled back into the couch cushions, Spike had to stop himself from looking you over too closely. He cleared his throat. "Go back to bed and sleep it off."

"I might just," you replied, cracking a smile. It sounded like a great idea. "How's yours?"

"Could be worse. You aren't as loud as Faye."

At that, the conversation died down again, with nothing left for either of you to say. You wanted to get back to sleep, but you decided to sit on the couch a bit longer first. After all, if it weren't for your hangover, this would have been a perfect moment of calm.

Chapter Text

You awoke to a knock on your storeroom door. You sat up in your bed and fumbled for your glasses for a moment, then got up and opened the door-- there Faye stood, looking past you into your room for a moment before she turned to make eye contact.

"Faye, you're awake! Did you have a good rest?" She'd never come to talk to you like this before. "What's up?"

"You seen Spike anywhere?" She asked you.

"Not since I woke up next to him earlier," you answered. "He's not sleeping? What time is it?"

"No, I checked all over the place. When I couldn't find him, I thought he might be in here, but..." Faye sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "It's almost one now. I should have known he was going out for more than just a smoke, that bastard. He must be doing god-knows-what in town by now."

"Shit," you muttered. Spike really didn't need to be getting into trouble right now, with his wound nearly healed. What would he do if it opened up again? Would he be able to recover? You took a deep breath in and out to stop the train of thought before your anxiety could drive it too far. "Are you going to go look for him?"

"I don't really want to, but I guess we should." She leaned on the doorframe with an exasperated look on her face that told you this wasn't an uncommon occurance. "Hopefully he's just at a bar or something."

You hesitated and fiddled with your nightgown for a moment, but managed to speak up as Faye was pushing herself back up to walk away. "...Hey, can I tag along?"

Faye looked at you, not answering you right away. She probably knew just by looking at you that you weren't exactly bounty hunter material. "Okay, but I can't promise it's gonna be safe."

"I-I've got a pocket knife."

"That probably won't do you much good if we run into someone dangerous." She flashed a smile, then turned to leave. "So watch your back. You better get changed, I'm waiting."

"One second!" You quickly shut the door behind her and threw on some clothes that you cared about a little bit less than the others, then smoothed your hair up into a ponytail while you walked out into the living room.

===

Faye was a fast walker. She seemed to stand taller than her height allowed, and took purposeful strides ahead of you towards each bar the two of you dropped into to look for Spike. She'd slapped at least five men across the face for trying to grope her, and by now you could tell that she was both extremely capable and extremely sick of Spike's shit. She'd gotten a shot of cheap whiskey at the last bar.

The two of you were walking down a busy street when Faye suddenly stopped in her tracks.

"SPIKE!"

She really is loud, you thought to yourself as you looked to follow her gaze. Sure enough, there was Spike-- he was smoking against a wall in a thin alley off the left side of the street, and his face looked both frustrated and guilty when he turned and saw Faye rushing through the crowd of people towards him. You pushed past dozens of people, almost losing sight of Faye's bright yellow outfit in the crowd. When you finally caught up with her and Spike, you could tell she was already scolding him for running off just by the expression on his face.

"--fucking run away like that again, you buffoon--"

His expression changed to a confused one when he saw you approach.

"What the hell is _____ doing here?" He interrupted her mid-lecture.

"She asked to come along, what the hell do you think?" Faye put her hands on her hips and sighed. "Don't try to change the subject. Come on, let's just go back to the Be--"

"No, I'm looking for the kid," Spike said. "Since you couldn't find him. _____, you should go back to the ship, this part of town is shady."

"Her," Faye said. "The kid's a girl, you dipwad."

"...Whatever. I was looking for it, so you can either help me out or leave." He looked back over at you and took a puff from his cigarette. He already knew the answer to his next question, but he asked you anyway. "Why did you come with her?"

You fidgeted. "...I was worried about you," you said honestly. "You're not completely healed up yet. I don't want you to get hurt again."

Spike sighed. Damn it, you weren't supposed to be able to just say things like that to him. "I'm fine, y'know." He breathed more smoke in and out of his lungs and stood hunched over once he'd pushed off of the wall. "I'm a bounty hunter. This is what I do for a living. I'm not even chasing a criminal right now, I'm looking for some harmless ten-year-old."

"You're also injured. What if something happens? Spike, please, you know you shouldn't be risking moving around too much."

"All the more reason for you to go back to the Bebop and let Jet and I handle it," Faye said. "This isn't even an exciting job. You hate this kind of thing."

"You can't expect me to stay cooped up in the ship all damn day. That's even worse. I just wanted something to do."

"Do you even know what the girl looks like?"

"... Dark skin, right?"

"Dark skin, blue eyes, brown hair, four-foot-five, last seen wearing a blue shirt, overalls, and a pink puffer jacket."

" ... "

"Spike, please, just go back to the ship." Her voice held a hint of desperation. "I'll look for the kid, and you can take _____ back with you."

Spike looked at Faye for a moment, trying to read her expression. Then he turned to you, sighed, and shoved his hands into his pockets.

"Fine, fine," he gave in, finally. "You're probably better with kids, anyway." He walked past you and Faye. You glanced at Faye, mouthed a 'good job' at her, and then turned to follow Spike as he moved into the crowd.

"Good luck, Faye," he called behind him with a lackadaisical wave.

===

"Faye must really care about you," you said to Spike as you walked next to him on a much quieter street than the one you'd found him on. The air was cool and the sky was clear, though Jupiter took up a lot of it. You would never get used to that. "She seemed really worried when she asked me if I knew where you were."

"Yeah, she's not as tough as she likes to think." Spike's exchange with Faye just before leaving the Bebop to confront Vicious flashed through his mind. This was something he really didn't want to think or talk about right now-- when she'd scolded him, he knew that it wasn't really about his health so much as it was about her own insecurity and fear that he would disappear and die somewhere again. Come to think about it, him running off and dying seemed to happen a lot when it came to the women in his life. Come to think of it, this was a terrible train of thought to have while walking with you. "Your hangover gone?"

"Yeah, I ended up sleeping really well this time." You allowed Spike to change the subject. "I feel fine now. Do you think we should pick anything up on the way home? Does Jet need anything?"

"Your booze supply was looking a little low this morning." He blew out some smoke and smiled at his own joke. Home, huh? You sure were quick to label the Bebop that way for yourself. It had been his home for quite a while, but he'd never really thought to call it that.

"Good one," you said flatly. "You drank more than I did last night. I think it's your turn to buy booze."

"I wasn't aware that we were taking turns." Spike gave you a sly look. "I'll get some whiskey. Maybe I'll share, if you're nice to me."

You couldn't help but giggle. He was definitely an idiot, but that didn't mean he wasn't clever. You looked over at him and grinned. "You're on."

Out of nowhere, you felt something crash into you. You turned to see a young kid stumble before continuing to rush past you. The kid had brown hair and a pink-- wait a second.

"GRAB THAT KID! SHE'S A THEIF!" Some old lady, probably a shop owner, was yelling out into the street.

What luck, you thought, and by the time you'd turned to Spike, he was already gone from your side, having run off to chase after the kid without hesitation. Lucky for you, he wasn't exactly short, so you didn't have too much trouble keeping him in sight as you struggled to catch up with him.

You quickly realized that you would never be able to keep up with Spike now that he was running. Evidently, he was in much better physical shape than you-- of course, you already knew this just from looking at him so often, but you hadn't seen him in action before now. You pulled out your phone and slowed down a little so that you could catch your breath while you sent Faye a text message explaining the situation and location as best you could, then shoved it back into your bag and ran as fast as you could in the direction you'd last seen Spike going.

Chapter Text

"Say 'thank you,' Faye."

"Fuck you."

"Ouch, that stings. Come on, aren't you happy I snuck out after all?"

You stayed quiet-- you weren't really sure whose side you should be taking right now. Spike sat next to you with a glass of whiskey on the rocks, and Faye was on the couch across from you, looking frustrated. The sound of Jet doing dishes penetrated the thick silence in the room (you'd offered to help him after dinner, but he'd sensed the tension in the room before you had and decided to use the job as an excuse to stay out of the incoming squabble). You empathized with Faye-- Spike had really made you worried when he'd snuck out to chase the bounty's daughter, so you wanted to be frustrated with him-- but he did end up catching the child, so you didn't really have it in you to feel upset with him. You could hardly blame him for wanting to get off of the ship for some air.

...That, and he'd also promised to share the whiskey he'd bought earlier with if you were nice to him today (in your opinion, he owed you either way, but that was another matter).

"I thought yo--"

"Faye, Faye, Faye. You already yelled at me earlier. Plus, I'm the whole reason we got paid at all."

Faye sighed and stood up from the couch, then headed for the door. "I need a drink," she said, exhasperated. "I'll be back later." You and Spike watched as she left.

Okay, you felt bad for her. She was worried about him, just like you were, but she had more pride than you did. You sunk into the couch, deciding that you'd offer her the last of your vodka later; booze seemed to be the way to the Bebop crew members' hearts, as far as you could tell.

After a couple of minutes of silence, Spike stirred next to you, downed the second half of his drink all in one go and rose from his seat (glass in hand), leaving you to sit on the couch with only your own thoughts and Jet's dish-doing sounds. As he plodded out of the room and down the hall, even you could tell that his thoughts seemed to be off somewhere far away. You leaned your head back and stared at the ceiling. What did he think about all the time, anyway?

The peace and quiet was broken in no more than five minutes, of course.

"Hey, _____!" You jumped slightly as Spike's voice carried loud and clear down the hallway from his room into the living area. "Can you bring me the med kit?!"

"Coming!" The panic hit you instantly-- was Spike okay? Did he open his cut when he ran after the kid earlier? You grabbed the med kit from its cupboard and made a mad dash to Spike's room, which was a couple of doors down from yours-- you'd never gone in before, but you knew where it was. You opened the door, halfway prepared to see him laying on the floor in a pool of his own--

"Hey," he said, looking very casual in just his sweatpants as he sat back against the wall in his bed. He was in the middle of removing his bandages. "Thanks, I forgot to grab it when I got up. Jus' put it there," he nodded towards the end of the bed.

You let go of a huge breath that you didn't know you were holding. "I thought you had hurt yourself again," you said as you set the med kit on the bed. Spike chuckled.

"Nah, 'm just lazy." He removed the last of the bandages with surprising dexterity. The cut looked fine. "Thought I'd try it myself this time."

"Oh," you said, mentally slapping yourself for feeling disappointed that he didn't need your help caring for the wound anymore. You desperately hoped the feeling didn't show.

"Unless you want to help me." Spike felt the words fall out of his mouth, and he let them. He had decided earlier that was going to drink some whiskey and relax tonight, and the alcohol warming his body told him he might as well loosen up the emotional shackles a bit, too. It was as good a night as any. "You're probably better at this than I am."

"Uh, yeah, I'll do it, if you want." You allowed a dangerous thought to sit in your mind-- was he making an excuse for you? You took a breath and took a quick glance around the room, trying not to dwell on your anxieties.

As expected, Spike's room was not much larger than yours, and sparsely decorated, but you thought that it would have been messier. To your surprise, the bed was (sort of) made, and there weren't any clothes on the floor. His jacket lay on the end of his bed, but it didn't make the room look any messier. You glanced behind you-- maybe you should close the door?

Spike scooted over to sit on the edge of his bed as he watched you gingerly shut the door behind you. You weren't good at hiding your nerves-- he couldn't help but feel a little proud of himself. You were cute like this, he thought.

As you got to work cleaning up his scabbed-over cut, he reached for his glass and took another swig of his whiskey when he felt himself tensing up at your touch-- relax, Spike, holy shit, it's fine to think a girl's cute. Damn his past relationships, this was right now, and he was going to let himself feel happy, even if it was just for a few minutes, a few hours if he was lucky. If there was one thing he'd figured out about you, it was that you lived in the moment and seemed like you were loving every minute of it. It looked like something that might be worth a shot to him. It was as good a night as any.

Guilt pricked at his gut like pins and needles when he looked down at you and heard you hum an aimless, wandering tune while you diligently worked at wrapping his body up in bandages.

Spike liked to be cared for. Your hands were so gentle. Your voice was so rich.

You were so kind to him, so kind.

You reminded him of Julia.

He knew that that was part of why he liked having you do this for him now, and why he liked hearing you hum and whistle as you went through your days. He knew that, and it hurt him to think about, but it felt kind of good, too. He knew that, and he also knew that he didn't just like you because you reminded him of her sometimes. He took a long sip from his drink, and then another for good measure. He liked you. He liked you because you were so different from everything Julia had represented. Ever since he'd run away from the Syndicate, she had been a dream to him, a ghost from the past that he couldn't let go of-- and when she was killed, when he had gone to kill and be killed by Vicious, he knew that the dream was over, but he didn't know how to cope with being awake and alive and having to move forward on his own, without a ghost in the back of his mind, without a reason to dwell in the past the way he had always done.

But you-- you'd trusted him and taken his offer to run away from your home and your past, and you'd had your cry about it all, and you were settling with it. You lived in the moment because you didn't want to live anywhere else. You couldn't stand to. You were looking forward to what came next, and he knew that as far as you were concerned, he was a part of that 'next'-- he'd brought you here, onto the Bebop, onto your new path, and you were so, so scared, but you were also excited, and for some reason, through all of this, you'd trusted him.
You finished wrapping Spike's cut and set your hands in your lap. Spike finished drinking his second glass of whiskey and set it on the bedside table.

You sat down on the floor in front of him. "You owe me a glass," you said softly, and he knew you must have been working up the nerve to say it since he'd opened the bottle after dinner. You were staring at his wrappings instead of his face because you felt shy in his room with him.

"Yeah, I'd say you've been pretty nice to me," Spike agreed. He moved off of the bed and sat on the floor to be on your level, then grabbed the bottle of whiskey and poured some into his glass. He handed the glass to you when it was filled.

"Thanks." You took the glass from him, hyper aware of the feeling of your fingers brushing his when he passed it off. You leaned back against the door. You shouldn't have shut it, you thought, suddenly feeling a lot more self conscious.

"Cheers," you said, then raised the glass towards him and took a sip. The whiskey burned as it went down, leaving your body with a warm tingle afterwards. You passed the glass to Spike.

"Cheers," he said, and took a small sip before handing the glass back to you.

After sipping whiskey in silence for a couple of minutes, you noticed Spike staring at you, the same way he'd stared at you when he'd woken you up from your afternoon nap a few days ago. He was making a face you couldn't quite figure out, but you thought that he looked honest.

"_____," he said.

"Is something wrong?" You asked.

"There's something on your face."

"Where? What is it? Can you get it?"

It was as good a night as any.

Spike leaned forward onto his hands and knees towards you. He didn't stop leaning forward. He pressed his lips against yours in a short kiss, and then sat back down again.

You opened your eyes and sat staring at him with your lips parted, all of your blood rushing right to your face. It took you a moment to register what had just happened, and once you had, you felt like your head was going to blow off.

"Are..." You began, but had trouble finding your words. "A-Are... You're not drunk, right?"

"No, just a little buzzed," Spike replied. "You okay?"

"I'm... yeah..."

"Take your time."

"Did you mean that?" You felt like you were about to fall apart at the seams.

"Yeah." Spike smiled at you more gently than you had ever seen him look. It was so lovely. That expression suited him, you thought. "Here, let's try again."

Spike leaned forwards and kissed you again, but this time, he stayed there. You were stunned again at first, but managed to snap out of it and kiss him back a little. You felt his hand on your face-- thin, calloused fingers, stronger than they looked. You wanted to touch his arm, or his shoulder, or something, but you still couldn't get your body to cooperate with you.

After a few moments, Spike pulled away and you took a deep breath, having finally convinced yourself that yes, this was really happening. You felt around for the glass of whiskey and finished the rest of it, then handed the empty glass to Spike, who laughed and set it on the bedside table, next to the bottle.

"W-Where did this... I...?" You felt so happy and nervous and confused and excited all at once, and you couldn't make heads or tails of any of it.

"It's hard to explain," Spike said. "But you've helped me a lot. We met during a rough spot. It's still a rough spot. You're... full of something beautiful, something I don't have. Maybe I'm hoping it'll rub off on me."

"God, Spike-- god, you've helped me too. You have something beautiful in you, too. You're wonderful. I knew you were a good person," you said, finally moving, finally wrapping your arms around him. "I knew it."

He sat still for a moment before wrapping his arms around you as well-- you felt even smaller like this, somehow-- and savored the feeling of warmth and closeness and comfort, honest, true comfort. He buried his face down into the place where your shoulder met your neck and took a deep breath.

"Thank you," he muttered, almost inaudible.

"You too," you replied.

Chapter Text

Spike felt like floating away. He'd forgotten how nice it was to kiss somebody and mean it, really mean it. It felt good to feel this way. It was a little nerve racking, and laced with just a hint of guilt, but that was unavoidable. He tried to focus on the good parts.

You'd nearly forgotten the feeling, as well-- working all the time didn't exactly leave a lot of time for your social life, so it had definitely been a while since you'd last had a romantic encounter. It felt wonderful, but you couldn't help being a little nervous about the whole thing. Your body felt all shaken up and your heart was swimming in your stomach. What a feeling it was.

"I'm... surprised," you said. You leaned back against the door, and the cool metal gave you a shiver. Cold, compared to Spike's body heat. "I didn't know you liked me this much. I knew you didn't hate me, but..."

"Trust me, I didn't really expect all this either," Spike half-mumbled.

"What, I'm not your type?" You grinned nervously.

"Not historically." He smiled at you in an almost wistful sort of way. "The last woman I was in love with killed me." Killed by a woman, killed by a Syndicate boss... you were beginning to wonder just how many times this guy had died.

"She sounds pretty dangerous."

"Yeah, she was."

Was. A feeling in your gut told you not to press, so you let the quiet be.

The silence felt comfortable. Spike took the opportunity to pour himself another glass of whiskey.

"Why tonight?" You asked.

Spike sipped from his glass and considered the question. "I got impatient," he finally answered. "I act exclusively on impulse, y'know."

"No, I know that," you said with a light chuckle. "Lately you've just seemed sort of... I don't know, solemn, maybe. I could be reading it totally wrong, though."

"I've been fine, I just..." He sighed and set the glass on the floor next to him, his head back up against his bed. He'd already kissed you, so he might just as well. "I.. I dunno. I'm fine. I feel good now that this--" he made a general sweeping gesture, "--is off my back."

You could tell he was holding something back, though.

"Me too. I'm still feeling nervous, but... at least it's out in the open now. And y'know, Spike," you said, trying to get him to make eye contact, "I know I've said this before, but you can talk to me. I don't want to pry and I won't force you to tell me what you don't want to tell me, of course-- I-I don't think I could get you to if I tried, anyway-- but I want you to know you can talk to me." You smiled gently and looked down at his hand, which was gripping his glass of whiskey a little stiffly. "I really care about you. A lot."

"I..." Spike followed your gaze to his hand and loosened his grip on the glass. He didn't really want to discuss those feelings right now. He didn't want to ever discuss them, even though he knew he would probably have to eventually. But it could wait. "...Thanks. I don't want to talk about it. But thanks." He lifted the glass to his lips and took a long drink from it. The least he could do was be honest. You deserved better, but this would have to do.

"Of course," you said. You couldn't expect him to pony up his darkest thoughts right away, you understood that. You felt around in your pocket for your phone, but you quickly realized that you'd left it in your room. "Hey, what time is it?"

Spike looked towards his bedside table and used his free hand to lazily shove it over so that he could read the clock sitting on top. "'Bout eleven," he replied. "Wanna 'nother drink?"

"Yeah... yeah, that sounds great." You looked at the empty space next to him for a momemt, and then scooted over to sit next to him up against the bed.

"You got it." Spike threw back the remaining whiskey in his glass and then reached up for the bottle so he could pour some out for you. He passed the glass over to you. "Bottoms up," he said, and as you took your drink, he took a swig right from the bottle.

You both drank a little more than you'd initially intended to with that first sip. You set the glass down in front of you and leaned your head on Spike's shoulder.

"I never thought I'd end up liking a guy like you, either," you said. Spike snorted.

"The hell's that supposed to mean?" He knew exactly what you meant.

"You smoke like a chimney." You didn't have to mention that he was a bounty hunter with no direction in life who had 'died' twice (at least).

"Hah. I'm not quitting for you." Well, it wasn't like your life had any direction, either.

"I figured." You smirked and looked up at his face as best you could from his shoulder. His skin was warm. "You don't stink too badly, so I'll put up with it."

"Oh, you're too kind," he replied sarcastically, but he really meant it. He looked down to meet your gaze and was hit by the sudden thought that he wanted to kiss you again. He resisted and took another swig of whiskey instead. He didn't want to make you nervous. A comfortable quiet settled in the room. The whiskey was warm down his throat, and your cheek was warm on his arm.

He set the bottle on his nightstand and dared himself to snake a hand back and around your waist. Settle down, he reminded himself, his fingers resting on your hip. Settle down for a moment. It's fine to feel this way. It feels good. It's good, so enjoy it.

Chapter Text

You were woken up by an intense feeling of nausea.

Slowly, very slowly, you sat up in your bed. You had no idea what time it was, but your stomach felt like it was about to eat itself, so you didn't really care. You forced yourself to stand up, made your way out the door, and hobbled down the hall as quickly as you could to the bathroom. You didn't like it, but you knew that this type of hangover nausea would only go away once you'd thrown up. God, you really needed to make a habit of staying hydrated when you had drinks with Spike.

===

After doing your business and brushing your teeth-- no, your entire mouth-- at least five times, you washed your face and took a good look at yourself in the mirror. As expected, you looked like absolute shit, so you turned away and decided it would be a better idea to go have some water before you tried to get some more sleep.

The familiar sight of Spike reclining on the couch with a cigarette greeted you as you entered the living room. A smirk played on his lips when he turned his head and noticed you. He looked dead tired.

"Hey, bright and early. How ya feelin'?" He asked in an obviously mocking tone as you walked past him and into the kitchen. You knew that he had to have heard you throwing up.

"Like I drank too much cheap whiskey," you said, speaking up over the sound of water filling your glass. When you walked back out into the living room, you saw that Spike had shifted himself up into a sitting position (presumably so you would have room to sit next to him), and his mostly-finished cigarette was now smashed out in the ashtray on the table. You cracked a smile and took a seat. "How considerate. What time is it?"

"Anything for you," Spike replied, an airy laugh in his voice. He kicked the display monitor on the table to get it to turn on. The clock read 7:08. "Seven-o-eight. You should go back to sleep, you look like shit."

You yawned and took a long drink of water. He was being awfully sweet this morning, wasn't he? "Yeah, you don't look much better. What're you doing out here, anyway? You drank at least as much as I did."

"Couldn't sleep." As usual, you thought.

"What, you have another bad dream?"

His smirk grew into a smug grin. "Couldn't stop thinking about you," he said, pretending to be smooth.

You nearly spat out your water. You heard Spike laughing to himself as you took a moment to collect your thoughts-- you'd been so caught up with vomiting that you hadn't had time to think about last night-- and allow the heat in your face to settle down a bit. "Spike, you-- jeez, don't say things like that!"

"What, don't tell me you forgot!" He turned on the couch so that he was facing you more properly. You sipped from your water and sighed, exasperated.

"Of course I didn't forget! But it's so early!"

"Come on, we've flirted before."

"You-- You know what I mean! It's like, what, seven in the morning?" Spike rolled his eyes. "Anyway."

"Anyway?"

"Anyway, you should go back to sleep." You paused and downed the last of your water. "So should I, for that matter."

"Aw, I put out my smoke for you and you won't even stay to chat?" Spike frowned dramatically as you stood up. "You wound me."

"Spike, you know I'm right. I could carry groceries in the bags under your eyes." You grabbed his hand and pulled on him, trying to urge him to stand up-- you'd forgotten how heavy he was, though, so you found yourself much too tired to continue tugging. He smiled gently as you dropped his arm and slumped your shoulders. "Didn't you tell me to go back to bed a minute ago?"

"I changed my mind." You sighed when he proceeded to stand up on his own and walk over to you. You looked up at him, holding eye contact as best you could (and trying not to yawn), and in response, he bent down right into your personal space. "You don't even want to sit and listen to music or anything? I bet I can find another jacket for you to fix for me."

"Back up, I can't see you when you're this close," you said, holding back a giggle. Spike obeyed and pulled back about a foot. That's better. "You don't know how bad my eyes are. You definitely don't want me to sew anything for you right now. And I'm not just blind right now, I'm also very tired."

"Fine, fine." Spike sighed and made as if he were going to walk past you, but as he did, he put his arm over your shoulder and spun you around to walk out of the living room and down the hall with him. You couldn't help taking a deep breath as you felt his hand fall from your shoulder to rest on your back, just above your waist. How comfortable. "Bedtime it is. But tomorrow, let's, uh-- let's go out, or something. Without the suffocating romantic tension and cheap booze."

"I hope that means it'll be expensive booze this time," you said, starting to feel sleepy again. A date. A date. A date. You smiled as the thought settled in.

"Keep hoping," Spike chuckled. You stopped at your storeroom door, which you had left open in your rush to the bathroom.

"Good night," you said, walking inside and turning around to lean on the doorframe and face Spike.

"Good night," he replied. You took one last blurry look at him and did your best to commit his expression to memory. He looked tired-- utterly exhausted-- but you could make out a softness in his eyes, that kind, genuine sort of look that you didn't want to miss or forget. Without thinking very hard about it, you reached up and pulled him down to kiss him on the cheek.

And when you did, Spike swallowed his guilt, if just for a second or two, and felt that this was all a good idea.

"Good night," you said again, hazily, and shut the door.

Chapter Text

Morning came all too soon.

Spike sat up in his bed and yawned. He’d kicked the sheets to the foot (again), so he reached forward to pull them back up, giving him a satisfying stretch in his legs and back. He glanced at the clock on his nightstand as he got out of bed-- eleven-- and threw on a t-shirt. Something smelled like breakfast.

Down the hall, he could hear Faye groaning about some minor annoyance in the living area. He stopped briefly at your door and considered knocking on it, but ultimately decided against it, recalling your adventure in nausea earlier this morning. He moved on to the living room.

“THERE you are! How much sleep do you even need?” Faye’s voice rang in Spike’s ears. “Look,” She nodded to the screen on the coffee table, “We’ve got another bounty. Gross little old man, identity theft. You were so eager to catch the last one, you think you’re feeling well enough to nab this guy? Should be an easy target, even in your miserable state.” A mocking grin. “No fighting, no biting.”

Spike ran a hand back through his hair, bent down and exaggerated a squint as he looked over the bounty on the display. Nicholas Scroumaney, age 71, olive skin, grey & balding, wanted for identity theft, 600,000 reward. “And what if I say I’m bus--”

“Oh,” Faye interrupted, raising her index finger. “Busy with what? You got a date?” She gave Spike a sly look. He frowned and stood up straight.

“Jesus, Faye, you know I--” Spike managed to stop himself before he could say something too stupid. He sighed. “Fine, I’ll do it, just fuck off. Ya got any tips on this guy?”

“Ooh, touchy subject, huh?” Faye smiled. She knew she’d won. “Apparently, he’s a musician. You might wanna check around for any lounge or dive-bar shows. Seems like somebody saw him earlier this week a couple towns over. I’d tell you to be careful, but I doubt this guy’s gonna be any trouble.” Spike’s stomach growled. “Eugh, was that you?”

“Leave me alone, woman, I just woke up.” He waved a hand at her and went into the kitchen to start some toast and coffee. Should he make you some? You didn’t like coffee, he recalled, but you might want some toast. Good for hangovers. He wasn’t sure when you’d get up, but he could always just bring it to you. Though, would that be too much, waking you up to give you toast? Maybe he was thinking too hard about this. He got out a few too many slices of bread and started heating one up in a pan on the stove (the ‘poor man’s toaster,’ Jet had called it). You could have whatever he didn’t finish after he ate, he decided.

===

You awoke to a knock on your metal door, but kept your eyes shut. Maybe you had imagined it.

Another knock. You mumbled a low “one second” and rolled out of bed-- the floor was so cold, shit-- to open the door.

“Hey,” Spike greeted you, holding a pile of toast in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

You cracked a smile and rubbed your eyes. “Hey.” You stepped backwards and sat down on your bed to make a little space for Spike to step into the room. “Breakfast in bed? What time is it?”

“Eleven-thirty-ish.” You fumbled around for your glasses and put them on. Spike sat down next to you, leaving space so that he could set down the plate of toast between you. “I made too much,” he explained, but you knew that if he really wanted to, he could probably eat all of this and more in one sitting.

“Well, I’m not complaining. Thank you,” you said, wasting no time in starting to eat. Spike sipped his coffee-- he’d eat after you had your fill, he re-decided.

“How’s the hangover?”

“Mostly better. Throwing up helped.” You nodded. “Toast also helps. How’re you?”

Spike scoffed. “Don’t ask me that,” he said, but he was smiling as he took another drink of coffee. “I’m alright. Drank enough to fuck up my sleep, but not enough to give me too bad of a hangover.”

“I’m always impressed by how well you hold your liquor.”

“Well, I’m a lot bigger than you.”

“You’re tall, but it’s not like you have much body fat.” You laughed. “Anything going on today?”

“Faye gave me the low-down on another bounty. He’s a crusty old man, so I should be able to catch him without straining myself.” He stretched his torso out slightly for emphasis, and then slouched back down again. “Supposedly he was seen a couple days ago in one of the nearby towns, so it’ll be a good excuse to go bar-hopping ‘n figure out where he’s gonna show up next.” Spike turned to you as you finished a slice of toast.

“I’m done,” you said, before he could ask you. He nodded and started on the slices you’d left for him. “You’re sure you’re up to catching this guy? I mean, I guess I can’t really stop you if you insist on it, but we should at least make sure you’re wrapped a little extra securely.”

“I’m fine. The cut’s already scabbing. Plus, you’re coming with me.”

“Wait, why?” You couldn’t imagine that you would do anything besides get in the way while he was working. Bounty hunting was dangerous, after all, even if this was supposed to be an easy job. Spike sipped his coffee nonchalantly.

“I’ll blend in better if I have a date.”

“So you’re asking me to help you bounty hunt.” You hold back a laugh; this sort of ‘date’ seems like it might be something he’s done before. You shouldered him, and he shouldered you back. “When are we leaving?”

“Gotta get his name first, then we can actually go out ‘n find him.”

“You said he’s using a fake name, right? Do you know it?”

“Nope.” Spike popped the last bite of toast into his mouth and stood up from the bed with his empty plate and coffee cup. “Gonna go figure that out right now. Take your time getting ready. Don’t bring a purse.”

“Okay. I’ll be out in a bit, then.” You stood and sloppily made your bed. What were you going to wear? A sort-of date was still a date, after all. And no purse? For a quick getaway, maybe? You seriously hoped this bounty wouldn’t turn out to be trouble, for Spike’s recovery’s sake.

“Seeya.” Spike winked as he left the room, and you gently kicked the door shut behind him. You were beginning to learn that while Spike was relatively dependable when it came to getting results, his methods were more than a little questionable.

Chapter Text

In the Bebop’s bay, you stood and stared at the Swordfish II for a moment before Spike noticed that you were there. It really was a beautiful little ship (especially now that it was clean).

“Hey, you made it,” he said, pushing off from where he’d been leaning against the ship. He was wearing a white dress shirt (which looked to be a bit worn-in, but certainly wasn’t in bad shape) with his usual leisure slacks. “Glad you didn’t get lost in the hallway.”

“Jet told me where to go,” you explained. “Are we really taking the Swordfish?”

“Unless you’d rather walk,” Spike replied, earning a chuckle from you as you walked over to him. He took a moment to look you over before he turned to climb up towards the ship’s cockpit. Over his shoulder, he added, “You look nice.”

“Thank you. I haven’t worn this in a while.” You smiled and glanced down at your dress, a sleek, long-sleeved velvet number that hit just below your knees. It fit you just right, it was super comfortable, and it was also one of the more modern dresses you owned, so you thought that it might be a good choice for a classy ‘date’ where you needed to blend in with the crowd a little bit. You looked back up at Spike in time to see him hop down onto the ground in front of you, having opened up the Swordfish’s cockpit.

“I’ll help you in,” he said, but all you could do was look at him quizzically.

“Isn’t it a single-seat racer?”

“It’ll be a little tight, but we’ll fit.” Spike nodded towards the cockpit. He seemed awfully sure of himself. “Get in, unless you really would rather walk.”

After a moment or two’s hesitant looks, you sighed and allowed Spike to help you climb up into the sphere-like cockpit of the Swordfish. You’d never been inside a ship quite like this one before-- it was bigger inside than you had assumed it would be, and it definitely had a vintage feeling about it, which you supposed was to be expected from an old racer. The old-fashioned tech design was simple and had a certain charm about it, bringing to mind photos from old magazines you’d seen in the mechanics sections of other antique stores back on Mars.

“Scoot up on the seat as far forward as you can,” Spike said, projecting his voice as he began to climb up after you. You did as he asked, and a few seconds later, he pushed himself up and over the edge of the cockpit, then slid in onto the seat behind you. Despite the cockpit seeming large to you a moment ago, it really was a tight fit with both of you in there, sharing the seat. Spike reached his arms around either side of you to access the ship’s controls that lay in front of you. His chest was right up against your back. “I can see right over your head.” There was a moment’s pause as he considered the reality of the situation. “...Is this okay?”

“Y-Yeah, it’s fine,” you stammered. You’d been in close contact with Spike before, of course, but this specific type of proximity felt a bit different. He was really warm. And he smelled good, too-- only a little bit like smoke, much to your relief. You watched Spike’s hands in front of you as he put on a pair of fingerless leather gloves before reaching around and fiddling with the controls. Long, nimble and dextrous.

Pretty.

“Jet, we’re going out,” He stated into the intercom. After a few moments, the bay doors opened up. Spike started the Swordfish’s engine and gripped the handles to steer. You made yourself as small as you could in an honest effort to stay out of his way.

“Good hunting,” came Jet’s voice over the radio.

“We’ll see,” Spike replied, and before you had a chance to react, the Swordfish was rolling out and lifting into the sky. Right out the gate, it was very fast-- it certainly lived up to its title of ‘racer,’ you thought-- and only a little bit bumpy. You didn’t have a seatbelt or anything, so you did your best to hold onto the front of the seat, trying not to think too hard about the fact that Spike’s body around you was actually what mostly held you in place. But his back was so warm, and his legs were right there, and his arms were--

“Your hair smells good.” The comment sounded offhand, like an idle observation, but he was so close to your ear that it surprised you a little. You stiffened, your face heating instantly. Spike let out a soft laugh when he noticed you tense up, and the sound made you feel like you were going to pass out. “Sorry. But you’re right there in front of me, I can’t help it.”

You couldn’t help but smile to yourself. He didn’t seem like the type to notice small things like that, nor one to apologize so quickly. “...No, it’s okay. Thank you,” you mumbled. At your thanks, Spike seemed to relax a bit behind you. He cleared his throat.

“So, we’ll land in about ten minutes. All we have to do is ask around a bit to find out where the guy’s playing, and once we find him, we’ll just nab him at his gig before he even realizes what’s going on.” Back to business, you supposed. You tried to ease back into him a little as you watched the sky zip past the cockpit of the Swordfish.

“Sounds like a plan to me.”