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Nightmares

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Spike flopped himself down on the yellow couch after a long day of chasing bounties. Jet, his new business partner and roommate, had gone off to a local town to spend his share of the spoils. Spike didn't know or frankly even care exactly where he'd gone- All he knew was that he was absolutely exhausted. Today's bounty had been a particularly slippery catch, and on top of that there was the constant nagging fear that someone could be out to get him at any moment that his life as an enforcer in the Red Dragons had left him with. That fear alone was usually enough to leave Spike drained at the end of the day, but adding the challenging bounty to the mixture meant Spike was pretty much running on empty even though it wasn't even dinner time yet. Without giving a shit about what Jet might say, Spike put his still-shoed feet on the couch and lay down in an attempt to take a nap.

The next thing he knew, he was his teenaged self again. He had been walking home alone from school when he was jumped by a group of three White Tigers who had been sent to get back at the Red Dragons (and Mao in particular) by any means possible as a result of their ongoing turf war. Upon recognizing him as a friend of Mao's, they had sprung upon him with knives. He evaded their first flurry of attacks and ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He ducked into an alley in an attempt to lose them, but he soon found himself cornered, armed with only his fists and with the three of them quickly approaching. Luckily, Mao had taught him a couple of things about martial arts. He clenched his fists and tried to assume a fighting stance.

"Huh, only three of you." he said, attempting to feign confidence. "Come at me. I may not have a weapon, but I'll take you all on if I have to."

"You're Spike, aren't you? Mao's little project?" said the middle Tiger, advancing even closer. "Heh, I'm gonna enjoy this... in fact, why even use a knife? I don't know about the other two goons here, but I know I can break you bare-handed." He dropped his weapon on the ground with a crash, grabbed Spike by his collar and thrust him against the brick wall, shaking him. "Tell Mao this is for my brother, Spike!"

But Spike was not the kind who would go down easy. He gave a swift kick, catching his attacker off-guard, followed by a hard left square in the jaw-

"OW! SPIKE!"

-But the voice wasn't that of his attacker. Spike jolted to his senses. He looked around. He was no longer in that dark alleyway, but laying on the couch in the Bebop's living area. Home, where he SHOULD feel safe. It was just another nightmare... And there in front of him stood Jet, having returned from his shopping trip, rubbing his jaw painfully.

"Shoot Spike, that must have been some dream you were having..." said Jet "You were sound asleep when I got home, so I went ahead and made dinner. I came back in to let you know it was ready and you were whimpering a bit, but I didn't know it was that bad..."

Spike sat up and rubbed his eyes, still exhausted even though he had slept.

"Yeah, it was." he said. "Sorry about that... but just for the record, next time it happens -and it WILL happen again- don't try to wake me up unless you really have to, because it might not just be a punch in the face next time. I might really hurt you, and I don't want to do that. It's happened before."
"Shoot, Spike..."  said Jet, looking concerned. "How often do they happen... these nightmares?"

"Only damn near every night..." replied Spike.

"Are they about anything in particular?" asked Jet, tilting his head to one side like the giant 'black dog' that he was. "If you don't mind me asking."

Spike pondered the idea of telling his new acquaintance the details of his nightmares. No, that conversation would have to wait. He had only lived here for a few days, and his life with the Red Dragons had taught him that people could act like your best friend one day and quite literally stab you in the back the next. As such, he didn't quite trust him yet. He didn't trust anyone, really... Besides, Jet was a former cop, and he thought it might be best to show him that he could live on the right side of the law before revealing anything about his criminal past.

"Not anything in particular that you need to know about right now." he finally answered, with a serious expression on his face. "Let's just say that my life hasn't exactly been sunshine and rainbows."

Even though Spike had not revealed anything, Jet understood what he was getting at. He'd met many people in the ISSP who had gone through unimaginable experiences and had the mental scars to show for it. Hell, he'd never been quite the same himself after losing his arm- and he still had dreams about that sometimes.

"Hm, fair enough." he said with an eyes-closed nod. "I take it you're one of those guys who've had it hard in life, huh? You a soldier or something?"

"I guess you could say that." replied Spike. "But not the kind you're probably thinking of. Seen my fair share of combat, though."

Spike paused, giving Jet a rather icy glare.

"Let's leave it at that. Please."

Jet knew better than to push the issue any further. Spike's demons were his own and they would come out in due time, as would his. Besides, if Spike's dreams were terrifying enough for him to violently lash out upon being woken up, he was probably better off not knowing anyway.
"Alright, you don't have to say anything if you don't want to. I get dreams like that too, so I don't blame ya..." Jet said. "But if you ever need someone to listen, I'm always here. Anyways, the food's ready."

Jet turned away and started off for the kitchen.

"What'd ya make?" asked Spike from the couch.

"That dish you said was your favorite a few days ago- bell peppers and beef." answered Jet. "Thought it'd be nice to have something a little more expensive for a change."

"Awesome." said Spike, smiling for what felt like the first time in ages. "Thanks- for that and... just offering to be there if I need it."

Jet smiled as he continued walking to the kitchen. Spike had already proven himself to be a skilled bounty hunter and certified asshole, but he could already tell that there was so much more to that idiot than what he let on.