Chapter 8: Hope

You're looking for salvation
You're looking for deliverance
You're looking like an idiot and you no longer care.


"Yeah?" I snapped.

"Your foot looks like it is actually trying to sever itself from your leg."

I looked briefly to the offending appendage, which was in fact jiggling on overdrive. "Sorry," I said, physically grabbing it to get it to stop. The second I released it however, it started up again. "It's beyond my control."

Spike seemed to find this funny. He reached out and pinned my foot down to the floor. We both stared at it for a moment, and then shifted our attention to my other foot, which was beginning to compensate for it's captive partner. He looked at me oddly, and then pinned down that foot, until the free one began to twitch again. "You seriously have no control over this?" he asked.

"It's a nervous tic," I shrugged, though I didn't feel the slightest bit embarrassed. Odd, but I never felt self-conscious around Spike. "I mean, I could get it to stop but it requires a conscious effort. And if I'm nervous I usually have my mind on something else. See?" I stared at my foot as if I was telepathically willing it to stop, which I kinda was. It behaved.

"Nicely done," Spike complimented me.

"Now mention the fact that people I don't even know just shot my landlord."

"Hey, did you hear a bunch of strangers just gunned down your landlord?"

"And..." my foot started up again. "There it goes."

Spike shook his head in wonder. "You don't have to be so nervous, you know."

"And why not?" I sighed. "Are you guys going to protect me?"

"Well...yeah. Haven't we always?"

I smiled at the sentiment, though it didn't really help much. "This whole thing is out of our control. A bunch of people in suits who barely know which way is up anymore are going to decide who lives and dies. I know you guys like to pretend you're the master of your own destiny...Vicious especially. But the fact remains if these people want us dead, we're dead."

Spike didn't say anything. He just sighed and offered me a cigarette. One thing I always appreciated about Spike, he never spoke to hear his own voice. If there was nothing useful to be said than he kept his mouth shut.

"You know," I started up again. "I think Vicious thinks Mao is in on it."

"He probably is."

"How can you think that?" I snapped. "He practically raised the two of you. You honestly think that man would have sent you to your death that night?"

Spike shook his head. "That wasn't intended to be the blood bath it was. They fucked up, not us. And I think that whole incident only further split the Syndicate on where we should go from here. I absolutely think Mao is partly behind the merge. And you know what? I think he's right."

I stared at him in amazement. "What do you mean?"

"I think Mao is an excellent business man. And I think, unlike the majority of his crew, that he'd prefer to avoid violence when he can. And I think it's smart of us to join forces."

"So why are you supporting Vicious?"

"Because he's my friend. And because as far as my life goes, I couldn't care either way. I never joined for the business."

"So why did you?"

"Cause they made me an offer," he shrugged. "And you?"

"Same." We sat in silence for a moment before I sighed heavily and stretched myself out on the floor. I lay on my back, watching the ceiling fan rotate over and over. It was soothing in a weird way. "It seems kinda stupid now," I said to no one in particular. "That I just accepted this life so easily. Smart people shop around."

Spike leaned back himself so that we were both staring into the ceiling fan. "Rich people shop around," he corrected me a little sadly. "People like us can't afford to turn down offers."

I turned so that I was staring at the side of his face. "What kind of people are we, exactly?"

He shrugged, which was difficult given the position he was in. "I dunno. But somehow I always got the feeling you and I were the same type."

He turned so that he was looking directly into my eyes. I had never noticed before, but one eye was a little lighter than the other. It was subtle, but if you really looked you could definitely tell. It seemed somehow appropriate that Spike would have mismatched eyes. There was just something about him that didn't fit. When I had first met him I sort of wrote off his nice guy aloofness as a strategy devised to pick up girls. And although I was pretty sure that he still used this quality to do so, he struck me differently now. He just seemed lost. Like he was coasting along, not having any sort of actual direction and not really minding. Kind of like me. Most people just wrote me off as a bitch when really I just hadn't found anything worth my undivided attention. Then something very odd passed over his face. I didn't quite recognize it at first, and then it struck me in a bout of backseat nostalgia so strong it resembled an acid flashback.

He was going to kiss me.

He was going to kiss me? Why the hell would he do a thing like that? He so definitely was though. Any second he was going to start leaning in....yeah. Here he comes. Spike's mouth was barreling towards me and I was absolutely powerless to react. I was Spike. Frat Boy Spike. Coming at me. Maybe I could turn my head subtly like I didn't notice. Maybe I could sit up quickly like I had to go to the bathroom or something. Maybe I....

Our lips connected. And in that second it was like someone wiped my brain clear of all thought. Everything I was just worrying about, had been worrying about, vanished entirely from my mind. There was nothing there except the two of us. Nothing there but the moment. Nevermind that we were camped out on the dirty floor of a safe house waiting for our turn to be shot at. It didn't matter.

It had been a long time since I had kissed someone without thinking about something else. And that's when I became scared shitless.

I leaned back suddenly and looked away from him. I could almost feel embarrassment radiating off of him and I felt compelled to tell him he had nothing to be embarrassed about. Really. He did a bang up job, actually. But that struck me as a very stupid thing to do, so instead I got up and went to the bedroom, which wasn't any different from the living room. I closed the door behind me and watched with some amusement as my foot started up again. Ok. That whole thing didn't happen. It was all a dream. The whole bit.

"Do you ever get the feeling that your whole life is just one giant dream you never wake up from?" His words echoed in my head. The classic Spike quote. His rational for everything. It was all just a dream.

No, I answered him. Life is not a dream...just choice moments.



Back to The Agent Orange Collection

Back to Main