Jet was about to knock on Faye’s door, informing her dinner was ready, but that’s when he heard quiet sobs coming from behind it.
The violet-haired woman had been noticeably more distant lately; there had been more sighing, more silent tears. He stood there, hand outstretched hesitantly, unsure if she would appreciate him intruding on the gloomy moment she was having. But then again, he had seen her cry many times these past three months and she didn’t seem to care.
It was a different story altogether with Spike; she was a blank slate around the injured man from what he had seen. There were no fights, no witty banter, no almost flirtations; Faye had managed to pull herself away from everything she used to be, especially who she was around Spike. Her gaze now empty when they landed on the man she had begged to stay.
Jet sighed and knocked lightly. “Faye? Can I come in?” He said gently at the door.
Faye was startled by the knock and tried to dry her face as quickly as she could, tired of letting the older man see her cry. “Okay”, she replied shakily, hurriedly stuffing all her tissues under the covers.
Jet opened the door cautiously, stepping in several feet. The light behind him painting his shadow on the floor in front of her bed, not quite reaching her small form, but there was now enough light to where he could see her. She was leaning her back against the wall opposite the door, her knees brought up to her chest and her arms wrapped around them. Jet could see, even in the dim light, how red and puffy her eyes were.
He hated to see her like this, so different from the stubborn and spunky cowgirl he had become accustomed to. Even though they hadn’t gotten along much during her initial time on the Bebop, after she had saved Spike, a bond of unspoken respect grew between the two. For the last three months it had been just them taking care of Spike; she went out and caught bounties, while Jet watched Spike and worked on repairing the ship, which was permanently docked on Mars after the syndicate had almost destroyed it completely.
After that emotionally draining night, Faye refused to talk at all, outside of the briefest of necessary responses.
She would catch bounties and tend to Spike’s wounds, but when she wasn’t doing those two things, she was in her room. She barely ate, and that’s not from a lack of trying on Jet’s part, but she just couldn’t seem to keep anything down. With the brief moments he saw her each day, he could tell she was losing weight.
But after the first several weeks, she started spending more time outside her room, and although he wasn’t sure why, he wasn’t complaining. Most of it sitting with him while he tended his Bonsai.
Initially, it was just in silence. Jet decided against questioning her, afraid she would take offense and slink back to her room, so he just let her be, realizing her effort to mend the mood she had been in. He noticed that she no longer wore her red headband, and had begun wearing her hair down, her bangs hanging over her face, casting her eyes in shadow. Jet thought maybe she was attempting to hide the bags under her eyes, for they had become increasingly obvious. He knew she wasn’t sleeping much.
But little by little, she began to talk more. She would ask him things; How did he get into gardening? How did he get the Bebop? Had he talked to Ed since she left? How long did it take him to style his beard like that?
Over the months, Jet had gotten a small table for the kitchen, so they wouldn’t have to keep eating in the living area.
It seated four.
She sat there with him some mornings, drinking coffee, and often continuing her aimless line of questioning.
She never asked anything too serious or anything having to do with the indisposed fluffy-headed man in the other room. Always skirting around the edges, seemingly wanting to saturate the conversation with so much randomness that it made her forget the things she didn't want to think about. It appeared all she wanted was something to ground her back in reality, something to give her a sense of normalcy in a world where it seemed everything had gone to shit.
It became a pleasant time for both of them.
She even talked about her past a bit. She told him she had remembered almost all of it, but that it didn’t matter, she realized that after she’d found the remnants of her childhood home. The majority of everything that was important to her now was on that ship anyway. He didn’t know how to respond to that, so he didn’t.
But over the three short months, Faye started to get some of her fire back. They’d even begun to argue about meaningless things again, which made him internally sigh in relief. Jet knew it would just be a matter of time, but he really had been worried about her. There had been days where even he had a hard time functioning properly; Faye hadn’t been the only person affected by Spike’s choices. But Jet was able to pick himself up, claiming the responsibility of keeping their small family afloat in the few ways he could.
Jet knew that she had feelings for the reckless cowboy, but he hadn’t realized how deep they were until he had left them to pursue Vicious. Jet hadn’t been happy about it, but he was tired of trying to persuade Spike to leave the past in the past. But Faye had taken his leaving harder.
She had been a wreck when he had met her at the hospital after dragging a bloody and unconscious Spike there. He remembered how she sat there in a daze in the waiting room, her clothes covered in his blood. She hadn’t even acknowledged him when he sat down next to her. Her eyes were distant, as her bloody hands were clenched in her lap.
And today, even after so much progress, it seemed Faye had fallen back into that pit of despair once more.
Jet walked over to the bed and sat down on the edge, his back to her. “What’s going on Faye?”
She didn’t respond right away, taking a moment to collect herself and her thoughts. She uttered an audible sigh.
“I’m just…tired, Jet.” She rubbed her aching eyes with the heel of her palms, taking a labored breath, “…I haven’t been sleeping, that’s all...” She didn’t really want to delve into the numerous reasons for her relapse into a room recluse. “I’ll be fine, you don’t have to worry.”
Jet was, by no means, an expert on women, but by now, he was quite adept at reading Faye.
“Come on, do you expect me to believe that’s it?” he said quietly. “You…know you can talk to me Faye.” He clasped his hands together, leaning his arms on his knees. “You’ve been doing so much better lately, you haven't had any issues with your bounties and you've been coming out of your room a lot. Now I know he hasn't... ”
“That night...”, she interjected, taking a short pause, “keeps looping in my mind, Jet. It won’t stop… it was so much. Too much.”
She didn’t have to say which night, because he knew; it was the night that neither of them dared to talk about. Jet rubbed the back of his neck, unsure how he should respond. He was the only one who knew what she’d done, and she’d sworn him to secrecy too.
“I shouldn't have done it.” She whispered.
A short silence came from Jet as he chewed her words. “I guess when you saw him, you couldn’t help yourself.” He turned his head to the side and glanced an eye over at her. “I think you wanted it to be over. You knew his past wouldn’t let go of him, so you…helped.
Jet spoke again, “I know you might feel like you’ve made a mistake or regret what you did, but it will eventually get easier to bear. I know right now it doesn’t feel that way because it’s still so fresh, and I know you’d never done anything like that before, but I promise, it does get easier.”
Faye let his words sink in. He wasn’t far off the mark honestly, but it didn’t stop the haunting memories. Everything had happened so fast that night.
She could still see Spike’s back as he walked away from her, feeling as if her words would never reach him.
Remembered the strong smell of his blood as she cradled his lifeless body against hers.
The feeling of her anger taking over as she decided to deal with the rest.
As she sat there, she fidgeted with her hands, and ultimately squeezed the sheets in her fists until her knuckles were white, trying to cease their shaking. She was tired alright, but it sure wasn’t from lack of sleep. She was tired of the amalgam of feelings swirling around inside her; it wasn’t supposed to be like this.
“I always find my way into situations that will hurt me in the end because I never take the time to think about the consequences of my actions. I let my emotions take control and ask questions later. I guess we can see where that's gotten me.”
She took a breath, steeling herself to speak his name.
“And Spike's the exact same and I let myself become all swept up in his problems too, like I didn't have enough for myself. I got in too deep, Jet. But it looks like he was in over his head as well. She was never going to let him go...”
“She’s gone now, Faye.” Jet said quietly as he turned his head back toward the door. “So is Vicious.”
“I know that Jet, but that’s not the point! That asshole would always go running off after even the whispers of her name, without giving us a thought, and then we’d be the ones to pick him up when he had been beaten down. He knowingly dragged us into his problems and convinced himself that we would just look the other way while he ran off to die.” Tears pricked at her eyes again, her voice raised. “Did he think we didn’t care? Or did he care so little for us that what we wanted never mattered to begin with?” She paused for a moment, failing to calm herself. “And here we are, busting our asses to care for the fucker who abandoned us. Again.”
As the words left her mouth, she knew she was wrong to think of Spike that way. Knew that he hadn’t abandoned them, but she was too angry from other things to think about the truth anymore.
She began to cry again, hot tears streaming down her face, and Jet, sitting there in silence, listening.
In the hallway, Spike was standing outside her door, leaning against the wall. He had been on the way to the bathroom, slowly hobbling around on unused muscles. He had stopped when he found something more interesting to occupy his time.
He stoically listened to Faye’s outpouring. It was more words than he had heard from her since he’d woken up a month ago, the two never exchanging more than hollow small talk these days. But that didn’t mean he didn’t have questions to ask about what happened, questions that Jet couldn’t answer, he just felt that maybe, for the time being, he should keep his mouth shut.
He felt something tighten in his chest when he listened to her tired and distraught voice, feelings he wasn’t accustomed to feeling, and nothing he wanted to explore anytime soon. But among all the things he was feeling, guilt was the most pronounced. But he didn’t want to think about that either. Keeping most feelings away for the time being seemed like the right move.
Faye’s face flashed in his mind. She looked so different now. Unruly hair and dark circles under her eyes, and she even wore more conservative clothing that seemed to swim on her small frame.
And he was curious about the scar that now adorned her face.
He didn’t understand everything that was said between the two, but he made a note to ask Jet later, not caring if he knew that he’d been listening.
He instinctually reached in his sweatpants pocket for a cigarette but remembered Faye had taken them all. Just another form of payment she had decided to extract from him. Normally, he would have taken it upon himself to pester her about it and retaliate by stealing some of hers, but he just couldn’t bring himself to do it, no matter how bad he craved them.
He grinned and chuckled silently to himself. I guess I can’t complain though. He brought a hand up and tentatively placed it over the bandages wrapped around his abdomen that Faye had changed earlier, feeling the ghost of her fingertips grazing the least amount of skin as possible.
He turned quietly, shuffling toward his initial destination, mulling over what Faye had said.
Goddamn, I need a cigarette and a drink.
Faye and Jet lost track of how long they sat in silence with only the sounds of the ship to fill the space. But in that silence, she had come to a decision. Something she had been thinking about for a couple of weeks now. Once she started to move, she knew she couldn't stop or she'd never follow through.
“Jet, I think I need a break.” She timidly scooched to the edge of the bed, sitting next to him, but not looking up at him. She wiped away her tears with the back of her hand, “Everything is too much right now, I… thought I could just keep this up and then everything would go back to normal and somehow I would stop feeling all these things, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”
She slowly stood up, standing in front of him, her tired green eyes meeting his concerned blue ones. “I just need some time to sort things out. That lunkhead is well enough to get around on his own now and I think we’ve saved enough from the bounties to keep you two afloat until he can get back to doing them. That is, if you can keep the Bebop from getting destroyed again.” She forced a tired smirk at him.
She got on her hands and knees, digging under her bed and pulling out a bag, which she hastily began stuffing clothes and other necessitates into. Jet sat there watching her for a moment before he spoke up.
“Are you sure Faye?”
An irrational fear arising in his chest, afraid that she might not come back.
She stood there in silence, looking down at the bag she had been filling.
“Yeah.” She said quietly. He didn’t respond right away, letting her response linger in the quiet.
“How long do ya think you’ll be gone? Where will you go?”
She paused at her task and looked up, thinking. “I don’t know…and I don’t know.” She smiled weakly at him.
“I just know I need to get away from here. Clear my head. I’ve been here, with…him too long.”
She reached over to her side table where Spike’s Jericho sat. She had claimed it as her own since the night she saved his sorry ass and had been using it ever since. He wasn’t going to be using it for a while anyway. She had left her Glock on the workbench in his room in exchange. She knew he had seen it, but he hadn’t had the guts to bring it up it seems. His gun felt good in her hand, for many reasons she didn’t want to delve into at the moment, or maybe ever. She rubbed her thumb over the grip, almost possessively, and put the gun in her sweater.
She hauled the bag over her shoulder, turning around once more, looking sheepishly at the older cowboy. “Don’t worry Jet, I’ll be back.” She stepped into her boots. “I’m not Spike, I actually want to come back.”
And with that last remark, she walked out of her room and to the ship hangar, giving the Swordfish one last glance, quickly pushing down any thoughts about it or its pilot, and jumping into the Redtail. She started the engine and sped away before she could change her mind.