the middle of a dream I call your name
Remember how I said earlier that a disturbing lack of trouble seemed to accompany Vicious on his meetings? Luckily, our next outing proved to be comfortingly bloody. Vicious didn't even have time to give us the signal. The closest thing we got was a hail of bullets bursting through the pane glass windows and hurtling through our car. Everyone hit the deck as glass rained down all around us. I felt Spike's long body covering me, encasing me like the world's skinniest shield. I thought briefly of Shin's words the night before. I was going to get him killed.
I grabbed my gun out from my jacket and began firing at what little I could see of the men before Vicious' long coat brushed over my head. "Screw it, GO!" he shouted.
Oh shit, I was the wheelman! I squirmed out from under Spike's protection and grabbed the wheel, peeling desperately into off into the street. I was both shocked and just a wee bit excited to see that the other men were following. A chase! I was a little less excited to see they had guns.
I swerved desperately around in the traffic, trying to set up shots for my partners when I could and making them less vulnerable when it was possible. Both cars rang bullets through the streets as easily as they would throw confetti in a ticker tape parade. I narrowed my eyes, gunning the car towards an approaching red light until someone, I couldn't tell who, shot it out. Well, all right.
I turned sharply into the next street. So sharply in fact, the car went up on two wheels, spinning everyone not attached to the steering wheel spilling over to one side. It also left me completely unprotected, and our opponents took the opportunity. My eyes widened as I felt the hot lead slide through my skin and my hands tightened sharply on the wheel as they turned a chalk white. I gasped in shock as I tried to keep control of the car. I gritted my teeth, tears threatening to spill out of my eyes as I barreled down the street. "Where are we going, Vicious?!?" I screamed back at him.
"The fucking hospital!" Spike blurted out as he saw my shoulder for the first time. I could sense his panic although I couldn't see him.
"I'm fine," I spat out. The hospital. Where was his head? I really was going to get this kid killed.
"Shit," Vicious grumbled, taking a few shots behind him. He managed to take out the other car's tires and they squealed angrily into a telephone poll. "Back roads to exit 56," he snapped back.
I seriously thought I might pass out from the pain and loss of blood but I kept my eyes narrowed on the road. Everything else seemed to fade to black around it, the white lines on the pavement my only link to the outside world. That and Spike's hand, which he never removed from my lap.
We all spilled frantically into the safe house Vicious had picked out for us, just grateful to be within solid walls. I collapsed on the mattress, utterly exhausted. Spike was sitting next to me in two nanoseconds, already wielding a roll of gauze.
"Jules..." Shin breathed in amazement. "That was awesome."
I smiled weakly at him. "Thanks."
Vicious nodded at me in approval and then glanced cautiously out the window. "I have to meet our contact," he said. "Someone needs to go with me."
"I'll go," Shin said quickly, shooting me a brief look.
Vicious nodded at Spike. "Take care of her," he smiled slightly. "She did good tonight."
And they were gone.
"What the hell is the matter with you?" Spike scolded me gently. "What were you thinking, driving like that?"
"I was doing my job," I said. "I'm a demon and I'm going to be chasin' after someone, remember?"
He smiled as he worked on stitching up my shoulder. "You scared the shit out of me," he said.
I sighed and leaned my head on his shoulder, wincing has he pushed needle gently in and out of my skin. I squeezed his hand and he squeezed back. That was nice. Having someone squeeze back. Which was exactly why the next words out of my mouth were, "I think we should end this."
He froze. "What?"
"Tonight, you weren't thinking about your own life or your partners or the job. All you were thinking about was protecting me."
"Because I love you, dumb ass."
Now we both froze. That was the first time either of us had said it out loud. I pulled back from him a little, staring squarely into his eyes. His eyes were still as mismatched as ever but they didn't look lost anymore. They hadn't since the first night we were ever together. God, why did he have to make this so difficult?
"So what?" I snapped suddenly, frustrated with him though I had no reason to be. I wasn't in the mood for the "but I love you" argument. I had heard it before, and it never ended well. Just one of the many other lessons I learned in the back seat. "Does that put us in a different situation than before?"
Spike shrugged, seemingly not the least bit offended by my sudden outburst. "Did you expect it to?"
I shook my head. "Maybe," I grumbled, mostly because it just occurred to me that I did a little. "I just...what the hell is the plan here, Spike? Are we gonna run away together? Get a house with a dog and pop out a few kids?"
"No kids. And I'm not a fan of dogs."
I sighed deeply. "I just have a hard time believing that's possible," I said softly, and more to myself then to him. "When we joined it wasn't really with the future in mind. The others won't care about our plans. They aren't just going to let us go because it's right or because we've earned it or because love conquers all." I was speaking with Shin's words ringing in my head. Shin, who loved Spike as much as anyone, telling me that Spike would be a marked man in spite of that love. Love had no place in this profession, and if you were good at it you understood that.
"So essentially what you're saying is, the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world," Spike summed up. "Here's looking at you, kid."
I stared at him blankly, trying to decide if I should go with my first instinct, which was to laugh, or my second, which was to smack him upside the head. He always did that. Cracked jokes when it was time to be serious. Sometimes it was charming. Tonight...not so much. "Well..." I said in a low voice. "We're hardly kids anymore."
"No," Spike said as he flicked his lighter compulsively. "We're not."
I shifted my gaze briefly to his fingers as they snapped frantically across the flint. I jiggled my foot, Spike flicked his lighter. We were turning into an emotional train wreck. I reached out and grabbed his hand, both to make him stop flicking which was driving me insane and also so that he'd pay attention to me.
"If you leave...they'll kill you."
"So then I'll kill them first," Spike shrugged.
"You say that like it's an errand you have to run."
"It's on my list. Right after get my oil changed," he smiled at me, but I failed to see the humor. "You know, Julia, not every love story is tragic. Sure, the good ones are, but there are some out there that end quite happily. With a jolly jaunt into the sunset."
"You mean happily ever after," I said.
"Well, sure. Why not?"
"Nothing can end happily ever after," I said matter of factly.
"Oh really? How so?" "Something can't end if it's supposed to be ever after. Ever after is forever. Forever doesn't have an end," I nodded, pleased with my theorem. I had just made that up too.
Spike considered this for a moment before asking, "So what?"
"I guess my point is that ever after is a long ass time, Spike," I sighed, gingerly inspecting my shoulder. "I love you too," I admitted at last. "But I'm on my last pair of glass slippers."
Spike leaned back against the wall with a pensive expression. "They got to you, didn't they?"
That sort of took me by surprise. "What are you talking about?"
"Shin, Lin, Mao...someone talked to you. About how I'm throwing my life away for a woman. How it's my destiny to lead the Dragons into greatness."
I didn't say a word, but something must have shown on my face, because he sighed and said, "Thought so."
"I don't want to be The Girl, Spike. The face that launched a thousand ships and all that shit. The hussy that came between friends. People have been pegging me as a home wrecker my whole life and damn it all if I prove them right."
Spike took that opportunity to kiss me, and I silently cursed him for it. "I want you to understand something," he said gently. "And then what you decide to do is your call. I would rather die for something I believe in than live the rest of my life doing someone else's bidding. And I believe in you. I will believe in you until the day I die...even if that happens to be tomorrow."
I thought for a second that I was going to cry and then decided that would be something The Girl would do. So instead I just threw my arms around him and kissed him passionately back.
I saw Spike's eyes widen under mine as we snapped back from each other. Vicious was leaning in the doorway, Shin lurking somewhere behind him. He refused to look at us, but Vicious refused to look away. "Very interesting."
Neither of us said a god damned word. What could we say? So we stared at him dumbly. I thought absurdly back to my old apartment and how I used to catch my landlord's cats having sex when I turned the porch light on. I imagined we looked something like that.
"Well," Vicious said, his voice colder than I had ever heard it. Both of us actually shuddered. "I suppose we better regroup and discuss our future plans. Busy day tomorrow."