Chapter 14: If I Had A Boat
mystery masked man was smart
Ed fell asleep immediately after dinner. Immediately. No sooner than the last bite of green bean casserole was shoveled into her mouth, then she wandered over to the couch and passed out. Boom. Asleep. Just like that.
Jet stared at her for a second, amazed. It was like narcolepsy except on cue. He then shifted his attention to the table for a bit, letting his eyes pass over the remains of the holiday. There was turkey. There was stuffing. There was some sort of pie. He bought the pie. Couldn't remember what it was. He was pretty sure it was some sort of berry. And they were all sitting there in their original containers, turning the table into what was essentially the world's most deluxe TV dinner. Meal for 1. The staple of every bachelor's diet.
He didn't even like green bean casserole. It annoyed him on a personal level that those little onion crunchies existed for the express purpose of topping green bean casserole. Faye had insisted on green bean casserole. She just came home sans wine but plus a can of onion crunchies. She said her mom made it for her. She said she just "had a feeling."
She never touched the green bean casserole. And Jet needed to go for a walk.
It was strange, he decided after a few drinks. The dynamic on the ship. Jet had never really worked in groups before. People weren't pack animals, he decided. They worked best in pairs. That's why you don't have teams of cops. Things just never work out.
Everyone always sort of paired off on the Bebop. If it wasn't Spike and Jet against Faye than it was Faye and Spike against Jet. They were a more formidable team than they were willing to admit. And sometimes, Jet knew, it was even Faye and Jet vs. Spike. He didn't like this tag team bullshit. He liked it when it was Spike and Jet vs. the World. Or even Jet and Alisa. Or Jet and Fad. This Jet and Assorted Others didn't really sit with him well. And he wasn't even sure how it happened. One second he and Spike were settled in a comfortable rut and the next he was running Noah's damn Ark. Two of every freak imaginable. And he couldn't even figure out what parts of this life he hated and which ones he liked or if they were one and the same.
He just needed to be alone. It was a popular sentiment that no one was supposed to be alone on Christmas. But hell, it was really just another day. And though he certainly had nothing against Jesus, he liked to keep a respectful distance. He seemed a smart guy but Jet realized that night that taking part in things bigger than yourself was just asking for trouble. Keep it small. Do your own time. That was the lesson.
Jet wandered the streets for a bit, idly listening to his comm. He still kept tabs on the force communiqus. He couldn't help it. It was nostalgic and strangely soothing. It was like a sort of emotional white noise, a pleasant buzz that gently reminded him of a distant age. But even the Comm was pretty dead tonight. There was some scuffle outside a bar but it seemed to be stopped easy enough. There were a few cases of domestic disputes. Nothing big.
Then there was a report of a break in. And then another. And another. Followed by the announcement that all should be on the look out for the... Santito Banditos? Due to a shortage of manpower over the holiday, they had already let a leak out to the bounty hunting community. Jet was just about to mutter out loud how ridiculous that whole transmission was when he saw him. Santa Claus.
Santa did not go down the chimney. He did not have reindeer. He just crawled out from under the porch. It seemed this Santa was a little less dignified then the Jolly St. Nick of yore. He also seemed to be drunk. Jet rolled his eyes as he approached the intruder. "Freeze," he grumbled, his gun drawn just maliciously enough to be a threat to a drunken guy in a Santa costume.
Santa froze, his dilated pupils bugging nervously out of his head. "I-I don't want any trouble..." he stuttered. He took a nervous step back and tripped over some unidentified fuzzy lump. The lump whined in protest, and Jet thought he recognized the distinct sound of canine discourse. He leaned in for a closer inspection and found that this particular fuzzy lump fancied drinking out of his toilet. He looked up to see Ed, or at least Spike's jacket and a hat, swinging from a drain pipe. Ed almost squealed his name in delight, as she always did when she ran into one of her friends, but knew that she might be in a bit of trouble. So for the moment, she declined to say anything.
Jet just took a moment to take in this scene before he rubbed his sinuses and asked... "What the hell?"
"We're making a statement!" Santa said quickly. Jet noticed Ed nod her head frantically in agreement from somewhere inside that scarf. "Screw capitalism! Up with people!"
"By breaking into people's houses?!?"
"Yes!" Santa cried, but then looked confused. "No. I mean, yeah but we're not taking stuff. We're spreading the wealth. We're like... Robin Hood!"
Jet continued to stare blankly at the jolly intoxicated man before him and then directed his attention to Ed. "Well?" he asked her.
"Santa," Ed said in an almost embarrassed tone. "Not Robin Hood. Santa. Santa gives stuff to people but this time the Mall took stuff from Santa. So Ed and New Friend Person are giving stuff back."
Santa nodded and then summed up his story. Jet's face was totally impassive the whole time, even as he flipped on his Comm to call the station. "Jet!" Ed snapped at him angrily.
"I have to, Ed," Jet said quickly.
"Why?!?" she stamped her foot, on the brink of tantrum.
"Because the two of you are gonna get shot if you keep this up, that's why! They got the whole damn station looking for you jackasses. You're lucky I found you first. Besides," Jet added. "Between you and me there is no way your boss is gonna press charges. You're like the god damned human interest story of the year. But I ain't gonna chase you, bud. You can come with me or you can get shot down by the bounty hunters who are gonna be after your ass in about fifteen minutes."
Santa seemed to consider this for a moment before he held his hands out in front of him. "Cuff me," he barked.