Chapter 9: Under the Bridge

It's hard to believe
That there's nobody out there
It's hard to believe
That I'm all alone


It took Jet forever and a day to move his ass off that bridge, at least as far as Spike was concerned. He had swung himself underneath the structure and was hanging there. When he finally heard the footsteps move off the space above him, he carefully scaled his way over and down the side. His foot had barely touched the muddy ground when he heard a gun click behind him.

He groaned and put his hands up. "What?" he growled.

"I'm holding you up."

Faye. Well, this was turning out to be a fun evening. It was like some acid trip version of This Is Your Life. Spike turned and pointed his own gun at her. "How do you know I'm not holding you up?" he asked, accent back in place. "I am the one in the mask."

"Oh, you can't be holding me up," she said coolly.

"And why is that?"

"I have no money."

"Well, I don't have anything either. So really, we're just two people holding guns."

"I could shoot you," Faye said with a derisive grin. "And then it would be one person with a gun and a corpse."

Spike considered this. "You know...we could make quite an interesting project out of this. How many scenarios can we invent for two people with guns under the Venus Turnpike On Ramp? It'll be like one of those art projects. What are they called..."

"Found object," she answered for him. Spike nodded, impressed. He didn't know she had the slightest interest in art.

"Well," she said. "Give me what you have."

"I told you I don't have any money," Spike protested. "All I have is a cough drop."

"What flavor?"

"Honey lemon."

"Give it," she jerked her gun to the side like a terrorist instructing a hostage in a bad movie.

"You're stealing my cough drop at gun point," he stated more than asked.

"Yeah, well, I was supposed to meet my partner here but he bailed or fucked up or something. So I might as well get something out of this. So give it."

Spike smiled under his wool cap and tossed her the cough drop.

"Thank you," she said as she unwrapped it and popped it in her mouth, all the while keeping the gun on him.

"No problem. This has been a harrowing experience. I might never walk alone in a dark alley again," he said wryly, his smirk almost audible.

Faye looked at him strangely before pointing her weapon with a newfound fervor. "I should shoot your ass," she said nonchalantly.

"Why is that?"

"You remind me a lot of someone I knew. A crime punishable by death, as far as I'm concerned." Her tone was cold and bored, but there was a warmth in her eyes that betrayed her. A glint of nostalgia, affection and regret. The Faye Paradox. Crunchy outside, creamy center.

Funny. He didn't miss it at all.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of another gun clicking. Both he and Faye rolled their eyes.

"Are you being held up or something?" Ravi asked, sounding every bit 17.

"No, it's cool," Spike replied, still using his accent. Ravi was about to point out he sounded like a homosexual Beefeater and then ask why, when she recognized the woman beside him from her picture in the magazine. She then decided to shut up.

"It's not cool," Faye protested, annoyed that this guy just wrote her off so easily. "I'm holding a gun to his head. And who the hell are you, anyway?"

"She's my partner," Spike said smugly. "My partner shows up when she's supposed to."

"Actually, it was a total accident that I..."

"My partner shows up when she's supposed to," he repeated.

"I'm a very dangerous person, you know," Faye suddenly felt compelled to note. She was now pointing the gun inches from his face. In the two nanoseconds it took her to do this, Spike had his own gun inches from hers.

"Me too."

"We can easily just blow each other away right this second," she snapped.

"What's keeping you?"

They paused. Not that they were actually moving. It was more of an internal pause, a sort of impromptu assessment of the situation. Their eyes met. Shit, thought Spike. My eyes. She'll know my eyes.

Deep down, he knew she'd know them even if they weren't two different colors, just like he'd know hers. But for the moment, he pretended it was a purely physical thing. Like identifying a crook in a line up based on his tattoos.

A brief flash of recognition flashed across her face and was gone. "Uh...should I be shooting one of you?" Ravi asked.

They stared at each other for another beat before they both answered, "No, it's cool." They each put away their guns, turned from each other and walked away.

"What was that about?" Ravi asked him when she was positive they were out of earshot.

"Dunno. Just some desperate bounty hunter looking for a head. She was harmless."

"She was your partner."

"Have you been stalking me or something?"

"Don't flatter yourself. I know the stats on every hunter in that book."

"Well, she's not my partner anymore," he said sharply, and then quickened his pace.

Ravi had no trouble keeping up. "You're gonna tell me you two didn't have a moment back there?"

"Oh was a real romantic interlude. Right out of the movies," Spike brushed her off.

"Ugh. Whatever, as far as that goes," she persisted. "I just meant something...familiar. A moment that actually proved you are a human being."

Spike whirled around so fast that Ravi almost walked right into him. She took a startled step back. "I've felt harder and more passionately than your snot-nosed little brain can fathom," he growled at her. "But that's over now. So leave me the fuck alone." He took a moment to acknowledge that he had become a walking clichˇ, then shook his head and kept walking. Neither of them would say another word the rest of the evening. Not when they picked up Morris and Caleb from the hospital, not as they got their asses chewed out by Noah, not for a good five hours.


"Where the hell have you been?" Jet asked as Faye stormed on to the ship.

"Where the hell have I been?" Faye swung her arms around wildly. "Where the hell were you? Hang out by the bridge in case we need to head him off. That's what you told me."

"Wait, you were waiting there this whole time?"

"YES! That's what you asked me to do, isn't it?!?"

"Well...yeah," Jet ran his hand over the top of his head with a guilty expression. "But I just figured you would have left after 15 minutes."

"Why would you figure that?"

Jet gave her a look that warned her not to insult his intelligence and Faye rolled her eyes in agreement. "Ok, fine. So I was uncharistically reliable," she said as she plopped down on the couch. "Sue me."

Jet shook his head but he was smiling. "Fucked up night."

"Hell yeah. Hey, um...not to sound like a raving lunatic again but uh..."

"I know," Jet cut her off.

"I thought it was him too."

"Are we losing our minds?"

"Yes," Jet said simply.


"Yes. Because right now, the idea that we are simply losing our minds is the easiest and most agreeable explanation. So we're a couple loons. Let's leave at that."

Faye nodded. "Sounds good," she shrugged as she went off to bed. Not that she would be getting much sleep. The little fucker. It's so like him to be a haunter.


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