cowboy bebop

It was an accident and it was entirely planned. The accident was in finding the Bebop, old and plain and piloted by a man with one arm, who smoked and cursed and smelled of cooking oil and spices. Spike hadn't been looking for anything like that, for gruff masculinity and bonsais and cigarettes, and certainly not for a secondhand gate-jumper, but that was what he found. And when he found it, he knew that he wanted it. He wanted it in some vague, needy way that made the jagged hole inside seem a little less bottomless and feel a little less raw.

He looked at Jet, sitting there on the Bebop's deck, fiddling with a one-man fighter, and he felt like maybe there was more to this life than shadows and blood and the haunting memories of an ethereal song.

"I'm not a cruise ship," Jet said, voice muffled by the bulk of the Hammerhead. "You want passage, go find someone else."

"What about a partner?" Spike shaded his eyes against the glare of light off of the water.

Jet pushed himself out from underneath the Hammerhead and scratched at his beard. He looked across the short span from the deck to the dock and Spike felt vaguely guilty, though he didn't know why.

Cop eyes, he thought to himself, and in the ghost world of before that would have scared him off. But now it only made the want to be on this ship stronger.

"Had enough of partners for a while." Jet wiped his hands on his coveralls.

"So have I." Spike's eyes were drawn to the way the light danced on the artificial muscles. He wondered if the arm would feel cold or burning hot, like the metal rings in the dock posts. "Let's get a drink."

Jet continued to stare at him, and for a breath Spike wondered if this suddenly solid moment would whisk away into the fog, to join the rest of his days. But then Jet grunted and jumped onto the dock. He landed with a solid thud and he reached out, the metal arm moving up before he caught himself and stuck the flesh one out instead.

"Jet Black," he said.

"Spike Spiegel." Spike shook the hand. It was solid and sure, as real as everything else was like a dream.

Jet pulled out a pack of cigarettes and tapped out two. "So," he said, handing the second cigarette to Spike. "How 'bout that drink?"