Life's a bum..
I'm in a slump...
Anime: Cowboy Bebop
Pairings: Spike x Vicious, Vicious + Julia + Spike,
Part One: Because we were one
‘You should see yourself right now. You look like a ravenous beast’
---Vicious (Session #5: Ballad of Fallen Angels)
Spike POV (Point of View)
At first when I saw you, there wasn’t much about you that seemed interesting. You were huddled in a corner on the alleyway, garbage bags towering over you. You were not crying, in fact, the trembling of your shoulders seemed to say you were feeling cold.
In those days, I was a hybrid among the Red Dragons. I inspired some and I struck fear in others. The Elders were fond of me and I hated them. It was an oddly simple life. Nothing very complicated or dangerous.
There was nothing for me in the Syndicate except for the succession which I knew was meant for me and no one else. After all, that was the reason I was alive. The reason I existed in this world.
You had white hair, an unusual commodity here on Mars. People with white hair are mainly people from Jupiter or that run-down hovel known as Earth. You had heard the sound of my footsteps and had stilled your trembling. What admirable perseverance.
You would make a good addition to the Syndicate.
I wonder how the doddery old fools of the Red Dragons would react to this. Me bringing in a stray. They probably wouldn’t say anything. It’s hard to read their aged grey eyes for emotion. Perhaps they have forgotten emotion even exists. I wouldn’t put it past them.
I walked up to you and you slowly got onto your feet and looked at me. I wonder what kind of person I must have looked like to you. Evil? That could be half-way true. Dangerous? Maybe. We are all dangers to ourselves.
No, I do not think I ever looked to you that way. For your eyes had narrowed and I could see something blazing down in those cold ashen depths. You looked like a ravenous wolf, ready to tear out the teeth of your opponents. That look suited you. You…you looked like me…
You were a little shorter than me. I walked up to you and you looked up at me, that carnivorous look still lingering in your eyes. I smirked and dropped my cloak onto your shoulders. You were puzzled, and the hungry look left your eyes for a minute leaving behind an aching vulnerability.
I chose not to look at your face at that moment.
“Come,” I spoke simply and you complied.
As we came to my car, you spoke. Your voice was shaky, almost rattled. But as you spoke, it smoothed itself out, like a blanket.
“Who are you?” Of course, it was an obvious question and I was expecting it. I am a complete stranger to you.
“Spike Spiegel,” I said roughly, “You?”
There was no answer. I realized what kind of stray I had picked up. It was one with no identity. You were a nobody. You could go places and go things I could never do.
Because you have that chance. At that moment, I think I envied you.
I thought about it. That hungry look will never leave him. He’s like a beast. Like me.
“Vicious,” I said, and that sealed our fate.
FIVE YEARS LATER
I ran a hand through my deep green-black locks. Lately, I’ve been trying to tame the impossible curls but they always seem to escape the scissors. So I gave up and decided to let my hair to what the hell it wants.
“Spike!” A black-haired man came running in. He was about two years my junior and his hair was raven-black with trails of hair framing his lean face. His eyes were a deep jaded green and they were incisive. He was going to be a sharp one later on.
“What is it Shin?” I moved the paperwork from my desk so that I could place my feet on it. So sue me, I have no patience when it came to details. I’ll bother about them when the time comes. Which I hope isn’t anytime soon.
“I-It’s Vicious,” He panted out. The key word caught my attention and I sighed. That particular stray is going to run me into the ground one of these days. I wonder whether I should have left him that fateful day.
…Nah. Vicious at least makes sure I don’t die of boredom in this place. I have to thank him for that.
“What did he do?” I believe I’m twitching. I hope it’s not something too foolhardy. The Elders get very angry on Vicious’ part and I try to sift the blame, but those old crones are shrewd. Even though they don’t look like it.
“He…umm…” Shin suddenly felt a bit awkward and I felt an angry rush fill my head.
“Spill it,” Vicious better not have sent anyone to the hospital again. I regretted ever introducing katanas to that guy, honestly.
“He bought a bird?” Shin shuffled his feet aware of my disbelieving look, “Seriously.”
This is not normal Vicious behavior, “I’d better go ‘look’ at this bird,” I said, feeling some of my usual crankiness seeping. Sometimes I wonder why I bother.
Vicious was in the training room, running his hands on the ebony sheath of his katana. I almost smiled at this behavior. He was treating that weapon like a lover. It was unusual for him, but I knew him better than anyone.
Better than I knew myself for that matter.
I saw what Shin was talking about. There was a sleek black raven on his hunched shoulders, giving him an air of mystery. The bird’s eyes were red, an unusual colour.
“Spike?” His voice was not as brittle as the first time he spoke on that day. In fact, his voice was like the stream, not always easy-flowing, but could pass through.
“Heard you got a bird,” I said, sitting down next to him, “You gave Shin a heart-attack.”
Vicious’ eyes flickered to his raven and stroked its wing feathers. I watched this uncharacteristic display of humanity. I guess he deserves some amenities. In this life, you get what you can.
I wondered what I ever will get out of this life here. If you can even call it a life, that is. Sometimes I wonder whether what I did to Vicious was the right thing to do. I’m not the one to doubt, but that particular thought keeps me awake through the long hours in the early morning.
“Yeah, well,” He waved it off, a slight smile on his face, “You came to check whether he was telling the truth?” His eyes always feel like daggers to me. One false move and they can pin you down.
I snickered softly, “Yes and no. I was trying to escape my mountain of paperwork,” I looked at him and added, “The Elders want me to turn bookworm.”
He chuckled softly and gestured to his sword, “Want to spar?”
“With you?!” I made a face of mock-horror, “You’ll probably end up sending me to the hospital.”
“Not you,” He spoke quickly, “You…you’re better than me!”
I smirked at his show of modesty. He acts that way around me sometimes. It’s like I’m his idol of sorts. I wish he had picked a better role model, but he is free to do what he feels is best. Though there is a nagging feeling inside of me that says, ‘Later on, you’ll regret it.’
Something along those lines at any rate.
“Not with swords,” I ruffled his hair to show I was not displeased at him. He arched to my touch on his hair, “But perhaps with guns.”
He sighed. I was the best sharpshooter when it came with guns. In the entire Syndicate. I was quite proud of my skill. Vicious prefers the katana though. I gave him that when he said he wanted something to protect me with. An endearing thought. So because I thought it was original (and because I was a hopeless Bruce Lee fan) I got him a katana. I have yet to see that thing leave his side. I think he even sleeps with it.
Yes, may that thought never cross my mind again. It’s disturbing.
“Spike?” He asked. His voice was soft, “Why are you here? In the Syndicate?”
That question took me off guard. I paused, letting my feelings and thoughts arrange themselves. They were old memories and ones that I wasn’t prone to bringing up with anyone. However, with Vicious, it’s different.
It’s always different with Vicious.
“My father,” I spoke, noticing that he tensed up at the word ‘father’. I suppose he was remembering his parents or lack thereof. I can’t know, “Was the previous leader of the Red Dragon Clan. My whole reason for being here is to take over. I can’t change that. So I stay here and wait for that day. In a way,” I paused. Maybe I shouldn’t tell him this? I’m not sure. This might put some foolish idea in his head, “I don’t want to be here, but I don’t have a choice.”
“But what if I took over?” Ah, the steel in his eyes returns. It’s rarely there in my presence, but I catch glimpses of it sometimes. It reminds me of why I brought him here in this hellhole of Mars, “Then will you be free?”
I took out a cigarette and lit it. The nicotine always soothes me. It’s a bad habit and Vicious hates smoking for some reason (which is why I do it when he’s around. It’s delightful to see how angry he gets. Which isn’t often and usually not at me), but none of those options could dissuade me form smoking. Ah well.
“No,” I said, taking a deep breath from the cigarette. Ashes began to drop onto the marble floor, “Because they’ll kill me. I would become a potential threat.”
He deflates and hugs the katana closer to him. I noticed the raven had perched onto one of the ledges. I glared at it. I hated pets of any sort, but if Vicious wanted it, I wasn’t going to be the one to sulk and make a fuss about it.
He is my charge after all. Though he’s slowly fitting into the Syndicate. I felt a pang of guilt. A killing machine. Vicious hasn’t killed as of yet and I hope he doesn’t have to soon. Learning how to kill is always a painful experience. I learnt the easiest way though.
“You need to kill him,” Three voices called out simultaneously.
The metal was cold against his skin. He raised it to his eye-level.
The man just stood there, a perpetual smile on his face.
The sound rang throughout the room.
Blood seeps into the already crimson tiles.
“You are worthy.” The three voices say, almost in an ominous tone, “You can kill.”
And all the boy could see was the smile on his father’s face.
COUPLE OF DAYS LATER
“Spike Spiegel,” An old (hell, say ancient) voice calls out. It is cracked and ragged and it could give the most fearless men chills, “Your mission.”
There was a gang that had sworn loyalty to the Red Dragons. Three years later, they lost their nerve and decided that they were better off without the Red Dragons. A big mistake on their part. Once you are part of a Syndicate, they never let you go.
I, for one, should be total proof of that. But do they ever learn? Noooo.
I was supposed to take a team with me and assassinate the leader of this so-called gang. It shouldn’t be too hard, but I felt uneasy. As if something I’ve been dreading will show itself.
I’ve been hanging out with that damnable fortune-teller for too long now.
“Who may I take?” I silently hoped that they would have no objections to setting up my own team. I didn’t like some of the people they force me to work with. Some of them I’m sure would take great pleasure into stabbing me in the back. It makes me edgy and I end up glancing behind me everytime I walk down some empty corridor in God-knows-where.
It’s enough to give a guy aging grey hairs if you know what I mean. No wonder the Elders are such ancient relics.
“You may choose your own,” One of them spoke. I let out a sigh of relief.
“But-,” I could have growled. I knew there would be a catch, “-You have to take Vicious.”
I think my breath stopped in my throat and I was incapable of breathing, “W-what?”
“Take Vicious. He has grown and needs to prove himself.”
Take Vicious? I would have protested then and there if it hadn’t been for the dead-set look in their eyes that said, ‘You have no choice.’
Like I ever had a choice in the first place, you damnable old geezers.
Vicious has never been on a mission before. How would he manage? And why do I feel so worried? He’s…..
He’s just my reflection.
I could feel the urge to drown my sorrows in tobacco smoke. Vicious has never killed. The day came sooner than I had expected. Damn the Elders!
Yet…I knew that it couldn’t be postponed for much longer at any rate. Vicious’ skills were coming into light and there was nothing I could have done.
I assembled the team and that night, I called Vicious to my room.
He seemed calm. Had he heard from the others what is to come? No. The Elders like their decisions to remain private. His hair had grown. I hadn’t noticed that the last time I saw him. It now reached his shoulders.
His eyes were blank now, frighteningly so. Sometimes when I look into a mirror, that’s the kind of face that looks back at me. I felt a part of my heart clench in fear.
“Vicious,” My tone was quiet, “You’re to come with me on the next mission.”
A light sprang into his eyes, “Really?”
“Really.” He seemed almost…happy with the prospect.
“T-that’s great!” Vicious smiled. An honest smile. My insides felt like melted rubber.
“Just…take care, okay?” I snapped, “Missions are not playtime!”
Vicious immediately quelled his joy and I felt guilty. I tore my eyes away from his stilled form, “Get some sleep.”
He hadn’t moved. I know this because there was no sound of footsteps. I couldn’t look at him.
“When you went on missions…,” Vicious’ tentative voice began, “I would worry because I would never know if you ever came back. This time, I’ll be there and that makes me feel better.”
“It would make me a whole lot better if you stayed here,” I grumbled, but I turned around to meet hesitant grey, “But I guess this time my hands are tied,” Literally, “And I somewhat know how you feel.” Because that’s how I’m feeling at the moment.
Vicious nodded and began to walk towards the door. He paused, his hand outstretched towards the door knob.
“Hm?” I glanced at him. He seemed quiet and on the verge of the breakthrough.
“You’ll live forever right? You can’t die. Not ever,” His voice shook. I would say his greatest fear is me dying. I wasn’t surprised. But I was touched.
“I can’t die,” I said softly. He looked thoroughly relieved and left the room. The door closed with a soft ‘click’ and I continued heedlessly, “Because I’m not really alive.”
It was a hovel. And I’m saying this in the nicest sense. The floor was completely bare except for broken alcohol bottles that riddled this place and the ash smell that drifted towards your nose every once in a while.
It was a disgusting place and I could see the repulsive looks shot by my team. I ignored them, looking at Vicious, observing him. He didn’t have the looks of nausea on him, yet there was a faraway gaze in his eyes. It was like he was remembering a past best left forgotten. It’s a common thing.
I placed my hand on his shoulder and he snapped out of it. He gave me a tentative smile and I shook my head smirking slightly.
Immediately, my gun was in my hand and one eye was surveying all exits close by. Vicious placed a hand on the katana, ready to pull it out and attack whoever was coming. My team had looks of apprehension as they too pulled out their chosen weapons.
The sound of footsteps died away. The only sound I could hear was my steady breathing. I remembered something my Jeet Kune Do master told me.
“You can’t always prepare yourself. There are times when you will be caught off-guard. However, you can alter it to your advantage and THAT, you can always do.”
It felt like an…
The windows tinkled.
“Ambush!” I yelled, dropping on all fours onto the ground. Suddenly, the window glass shattered as the rain of bullets came down on us like a crossfire. Those who heard my cry (and had the sense to realize what was going to happen) ducked, but there always the unlucky few.
I didn’t have the time to feel even the slightest brush of sympathy for them though.
Guys in deep blue suits poured into the room. I raised my gun and started firing. Everything beyond that point felt hazy and bloody. I lost count of the amount of cartridges I used. Vicious was at his element, his sword cutting them down like a reaper in a cornfield. I noticed though that none had been killed. Only decapitated, which is the least of their worries in this situation.
I kept firing and I felt Vicious’ back on my own. I turned to smirk at him and asked, “Having fun?”
“More than you can imagine,” He retorted, his own pistols in hand. Mind you, the katana is a great weapon and all, but I’m afraid compared to guns, it falls a tad bit short.
Not that that’s ever stopped Vicious before.
I diverted my eyes from him and continued to fire. However, the fatigue was seeping in and I felt myself waver. The guys just kept on coming!
Vicious was back into his slash-and-hack routine. But there was a guy by his side he had missed and he was taking aim.
I didn’t realize what I was doing until I felt a searing pain shooting through my skull and there was warm blood pouring all over me. My vision cracked at that moment and all I seemed to be able to see was shades of grey and rainbows of colour.
So very blurry…was my last thought as the pain dragged me down the threshold of consciousness.
“He’s alive, but…”
“…Just not awake yet…”
“Calm down Vicious! He needs his rest!”
“Vicious I swear I’ll kick you out myself if you don’t leave!”
Dark muttering. I could feel my sense of humour drifting back into me.
“See? He’s fine. Look, he’s smiling in his sleep.”
I blearily opened one eye. One half of my face was throbbing so badly that I didn’t even think of opening the other eye. It was also felt scratchy which meant that there were bandages on my face. The itchy white kind.
“He opened his eye. That’s a good sign.”
I didn’t expect to see this. There was a frantic Vicious with mussed up hair and blood-shot eyes. If I didn’t know Vicious better I would have said he was crying. Doc was there too, looking majorly pissed off and relieved at the same time. I don’t know how he pulls that look off, but he did (with flair too).
“D-Doc?” God, my throat feels like sandpaper right about now, “What t-the hell happened?” If I talked anymore I’m sure I would end up dying by dehydration.
It was Vicious who answered and he was uncomfortable. His hands twitched and his eyes and face was haggard beyond repair. I swear some of those worry lines weren’t there before.
“You got shot,” He spoke quietly as if he was disturbing the dead, “It—he took out your eye Spike. We had to rush you back here.”
Well. That would explain why one half of my face feels like a watermelon ready to explode. I wasn’t too disheartened. Surgery can do wonders these days, “And the mission?” I asked, more worried about that.
Vicious’ hands clenched his sheath tightly, his white from anger, “Completed.” He said blankly, the savage look entering his face. I hide my shudders. That look….
“Good,” I sighed, “How long am I supposed to be here Doc?”
“A good two months,” He spoke angrily as if he hated me or something (which he doesn’t. Thank God), “So enjoy while you can.”
I ignored the jibe. I knew what he meant. ‘Enjoy your peace and luxury while you still have it in that hellhole.’
Doc left the room to get some painkillers.
Vicious was still there, pacing the room slowly as if he couldn’t meet my eyes for some reason. It made me irritated. Vicious never kept secrets from me. Never.
“Vicious.” It was a command for him to confess, “What happened there?”
He stopped pacing, his hands gripping his sword tightly, “I thought you were dead.”
I blinked (at least as well as I could blink with one eye), “So?” I said nonchalantly.
Suddenly, I felt myself being lifted by my shirt collar and I met hot ash grey meeting my own brown eyes. I showed no sign of fear. This is Vicious. Why should I, of all people, fear him?
But there was a distant fear lurking there.
He dropped me down gently and bit angrily, “You said you will never die.”
“I’m still alive,” I pointed out, hoping to calm his rattled nerves. Yes, rattled. He may not show it very clearly, but this encounter shook him deeply.
“Promise me,” He was not facing me, “That the only one who can kill you…is me.”
That is pretty much like saying, ‘Spike, promise me you can never die.’
In the Syndicate, he might eat those words later on.
But he was Vicious…..
“All right,” He nearly jumped at my reply, “I promise.”
His face broke out into a reassuring smile and for once, despite losing my eye, I felt that things would work out in the end.
THREE YEARS LATER
There was a gentle sound of, wood striking wood. The ball rolled slightly off course before falling into its designated hole. I couldn’t suppress a smile. Until Vicious hit one ball that struck another. I scowled as I watched both balls fall smoothly into their hole. I’m sure my eyebrow was twitching right about now.
Vicious smirked at me, well aware of my anger. I guess that’s why he did it. He has grown over the years. His body is lean and hard not the youngster I used to know who spent hours in the training room. Vicious had grown up, evolved.
So had his status in the Red Dragons. People began to praise Vicious for his cutting methods of dealing with ‘traitorous scum’. I didn’t quite approve, but you can’t get anywhere in this life without a little blood on your hands.
Maybe it was a mistake. But that incident three years had changed him. For better or for worse I cannot yet say. But there was always that lingering fear that Vicious…
“Spike? It’s your turn,” Vicious gestured to the table, “Unless you’re planning to give up?”
I have to give it to him. He knows exactly how to push my buttons, “You wish,” I retorted, sharpening the end of my stick, “I can still beat you at this.”
“You’re welcome to try,” He’s become more outspoken too. He’s not the hesitant boy I took in so long ago. Nostalgia for the soul, I thought, aiming precisely.
It wasn’t long until the game was over. Vicious won, but I came pretty darn close. We were chuckling to each other, always at ease. That’s the way it was. Vicious knew me and I knew Vicious. There was that bond that you needed Hell and God to try to remove.
The bar was pretty much empty except for a lonesome woman by the counter who was sipping red. Could be a Bloody Mary for all I knew. I couldn’t care.
But Vicious went up to that woman and signaled me to come closer. My footsteps suddenly felt heavy and I think I was almost incapable of moving.
“This is Spike,” Vicious pointed to me and then pointed the woman near the counter, “And Spike, this is—,”
The woman got up and turned her head slightly. I came in contact with harsh jaded eyes, the kind that comes from a sad life. Her face was pale, almost as pale as Vicious’. She wasn’t posing of any sort and still gave off an aura of indescribable power.
“Julia,” She said and my life was over.
END PART ONE
Life's a bum...
I'm in a slump...