Chapter 11: Criminal

Heaven help me for the way I am
Save me from these evil deeds before I get them done
I know tomorrow brings the consequence at hand
But I keep living this day like the next will never come

I did not like the phone call I received the following night. There was something sinister in it, something in the synthesized voice fueled by high tensions and paranoia. It sounded like it might have been The Call. The one I've heard the boys mutter about softly to themselves as if they didn't want to upset me. But I knew about The Call. The one you didn't come back from. And this definitely sounded like it.

I drew my duster tightly around my body as I approached the alley, gripping my gun so hard I thought I might have broken the skin. No one asked you to meet in an alley unless it was The Call. I slowly put my back against the wall, darting my eyes back and forth. I must have resembled a strung out chameleon, the way my eyes were moving. In fact, I think I was even trying to become part of the wall. Maybe I could change colors if I wanted to. I had never bothered to try.

I heard a sound to the left of me and I whirled sharply around, gun poised. I was staring back into the pale face of...Shin. His gun was also pointed at me. "I'm not here to hurt you!" he shouted nervously.

"Me neither!" I shouted back.

"I know! I called you!" He was still shouting for some reason as he took a step closer.

I took in a sharp breath and squeezed a little tighter on the trigger. "Stay there," I demanded. I wasn't yelling now. My voice was cold, methodic. I knew in that moment I would shoot him if had to and it frightened me a bit.

"Julia..." he said softly, putting his gun in the air in a quasi surrender. He didn't trust me enough to drop the gun. And I didn't trust him enough to take mine off him. Shin, the kid I had tooled around the streets of Mars with for years.

I took a shaky breath, the sheer tragedy of our situation hitting me for the first time. "This sucks," I said softly.

Shin smiled slightly. "Yeah, it does. Julia, we have to talk."

"I don't want to talk, Shin. Talking is dangerous."

"I know about you and Spike. I saw you last night in the training room."

I choked back something that felt like a sob but wasn't exactly. "Shin..." I said weakly.

"You have to end it."

I rolled my eyes, dispersing the water that was beginning to pool at the bottom of them. "Why? Am I a distraction?" I spat.

"There's dissension in the ranks. Those with power are in disagreement and that means someone else can easily take over. Vicious obviously knows this."

"What does this have to do with me and Spike?"

"Spike knows it too! He's not acting on it because he doesn't care anymore."

"And this is my fault?!?" I raised my gun again in an impulsive, yet admittedly idle threat.

"He has been in love with you since the moment he met you!" he shouted, raising his gun back at me in return. We looked at each other strangely for a moment, realizing how stupid we were both behaving, and simultaneously lowered our weapons. "He would give it all up for you."

"So what?!?" I shouted again.


I ran my fingers through my hair as I leaned despairingly against the wall. Despite the fact I had obviously gotten the message, Shin continued.

"You can't give this life up. If he tries to leave, they will kill him. They'll kill you. And if we let Vicious take over the Dragons we are all going to end up dead! You have to leave him, Jules. You can't make him believe he has other options because he doesn't. This is his life. This is his family."

"Why does he have to be the one to save us? He's not some fucking super hero! He's just like everyone else! Like you, like me. If you think Vicious is going to do such a piss poor job, then you oppose him!"

"Spike is the only person Vicious fears," he said in a low voice. "He keeps him close to keep him off guard. He's the only threat to Vicious' power. This is his destiny, Julia. He can't run from it. You can't protect him from it. But if you try, I promise you, Julia, you will both end up dead."

I looked away from him, fumbling desperately in my jacket for a cigarette. "So what is our destiny, Shin?" I asked him, my voice cracking despite how hard I willed it not to. "Go around, kinda being friends with people. Just about trusting each other but not quite. Having hollow, meaningless sex to mask the fact that we've become total fucking automatons. That's our life, huh?"

"You knew that, Jules," he joined me against the wall, pawing at me gently for a butt of his own. I obliged him. "It never bothered you before."

"Yeah..." I took a long, satisfying drag but it failed to even budge the huge knot that had tied in my stomach. "But that was before I discovered there was something else."

"And that's why you have to end it. Before either of you get used to it."

Get used to it. Before I get used to loving someone. That was the kind of thing I would have said myself a few months ago. How quickly things change.



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