Author's Note: My Cowboy Bebop works tend to link to one another in a unified string of events. This one is no exception. As well as drawing from the series canon, this work will tie very closely to the one that immediately proceeded it, "Alley Cat Shuffle", hints were seeded as that one was written. It is not critical to have read it, but you might get more, as well as some easter eggs, if you have. Some of my other works referenced in this will be "Acid Rock Riot" which was where the Six Pack came from. ;) "Dead Star Shine", the first post-anime work explaining where Spike went after the end of the series and how the crew reunited. Tidbits from "Dragons of the Darkwave 1 and 2" detailing Spike's syndicate days. And I'm pretty sure the events from "Bloody Eyed Tango" are bound to come up in the mix. If you want a series chronological list of my fics I have that available on my profile with quick summaries. If something not in the show gets mentioned in my works, chances are it's been detailed in one of my other ones. If you're ever wondering—feel free to ask. Now, without further ado … the story!
Gunter Keller clung to his phone, his hand shook as he waited for the video-less phone call to go through. Too many rings. Was something wrong? He glanced out the home office door, open just a crack. His wife Sarah still out on an errand. This was cutting things too closely for comfort. Why did it have to be today, of all days? He'd had to scramble for a reason to get her out of the house. Sweat dripped down his forehead, until at last a cold voice answered.
"Is it done?"
Thank his stars, Gunter wiped his brow. "Yes, Sir. The bounties have been officially posted. The funds laundered through enough transfers that no one will ever know the origin."
"Good. Are you certain the charges will stick?"
"My info broker was very thorough, and paid well enough." He stared at the screen where the images now displayed as active rewards. Everything looked exactly as he had filed it. "And I made certain to send advanced copies through a blind out to a few bounty hunters crazy enough to try their luck. I'm telling you, if our marks catch wind of this I'm convinced we'd never find where they'd go to ground. Either that, or we wouldn't live long enough to regret triggering this. And that's what worries me—"
"Relax, Keller, I'll make it worth your while. Once they are in custody my half of our deal will go into effect."
The arms dealer tugged on his own collar. "I really need this contract. If this deal goes sour, or if they ever find out I'm involved … you don't understand, I'm a dead man!"
Laughter, cold and calm. "If you did your job well enough, there is nothing to fear. You and I will both get what we need and no one will ever be the wiser. That was the whole point of this charade."
"I hope you're right." Keller hesitated, not even knowing the name on the other end of the line. "I'll let you know when the bounties are collected."
"Excellent. Nice doing business with you, Mr. Keller. I look forward to the delivery once everything is finalized."
The line went dead. Gunter rested his forehead in the palm of his hand. If this didn't work, he'd just painted a big-ass target on his head.
Two birds with one stone, the voice had said when this whole plan dropped into his lap. Was it really worth the insane risk?
A moment later the front door opened. Sarah's voice called out, "Darling, the store was out of fresh Europa yellow fin. Something about the ports still being locked down because of that Europa Pox Virus threat? Anyway, I had to go with the freeze dried fillets for dinner. Hope that's all right."
Fixing a confident smile on his face, Gunter strode out of the office. "I doubt we'll notice the difference, love."
The setting sun washed Ganymede's bay in brilliant colors. All of it framed by the windows of the Sandy Point Super Club. Oh this place was amazingly swanky from the ironed table cloths to the fabric napkins folded into fancy shapes. Heck, there were even fresh floral arrangement center pieces on each table. This was nothing like an evening at the Loser Bar on Mars where shoes stuck to the floor and peanut shells littered the counter.
In these extravagant halls, in the exclusive reservation-only room, the crew of the Bebop hardly seemed to fit in despite the more fancy clothes Faye had talked them into. Well, it was her treat, out of her cut of the bounty from the Golden Calf-capades, as Spike dubbed the recent fiasco. Tonight they celebrated the full repair of the Bebop, with some funds left over. The ship currently sat docked in the bay, locked up snug, since they had fully stocked the holds. And this fancy first-class dinner was the treat before they hit the stars to hunt again. Faye wore a satin evening gown in emerald green. Jet had his suit on. Spike wore the white tuxedo he had practically lived in during the entire star-cruise. Though he wasn't fond of the outfit, he had been forced to admit he cleaned up well in it. Ed, though devoid of shoes, wore the bright colored dress that had been made for her by Faye's special designer. And even Ein had gotten into the act with his bow tie. He sat with his paws on the table drinking sparkling water from an ornate soup bowl.
Spike set his red wine glass down and shook his head at the mutt. "What you can get away with if you flash a big enough wad of cash."
Faye narrowed her eyes over her wine glass rim. "Surprising, isn't it? Remind me, Spike, what we discussed on the ship?"
"Relax." He spread his hands. "This time I honestly left everything back on the ship. I got the message. No guns, no blades. All I have is my lighter and a pack, your majesty."
"This was an expensive reservation. I don't want to get thrown out."
Jet chuckled. "They let Ein in. I think we're good."
She turned her eyes on him. "You better not be packing heat either."
He unbuttoned his jacket and held it open. Nothing but his vest.
"Good, you'd think I was taking a bunch of barbarians to dinner."
Standing on her chair, Ed peered toward the kitchen. "Where is our food? Ed is hungry!"
Faye held up a hand. "Good food takes time."
Leaning his elbow on the table, Spike muttered, "And fancy food takes even longer for a tiny amount of it. Hey, as long as my steak gets here before it's cold, I'll be happy."
Faye knocked his elbow off the table. "Mind your manners."
As he offered her a grunt the waitress opened the door and walked out with a loaded tray. She smiled as she set down each plate. Spike's steak smothered in melted cheese. Faye's plate of assorted sushi in their tiny little packages. Jet's lobster and shrimp combo platter. Ed's stuffed pasta drowning in tomato sauce, she clapped her hands with glee. And for Ein, a freshly grilled burger patty with mushrooms.
Eagerly they all dug in, manners left far behind them. Halfway through the meal, the waitress returned with a tray of drink refills. A glass of grape juice for Ed, more sparkling water to refresh Ein's bowl, and fresh glasses of wine for the adults. She offered a wink at Spike as she set his down, "I poured this special vintage just for you, tenderloin," taking the old glasses with her.
"Nice service." Spike picked up the glass and held it out as the waitress went through the door. He took a gulp of the wine and winked back at her.
Faye followed the gaze and scowled. "Seriously? You're gonna make a pass at her?"
"Relax, it means nothing. By tomorrow we'll be in hyperspace."
She still grumbled, lifting her glass with the classic style and taking a sip of wine. "You're back to sawing your meat like a common thug."
"So?" He grinned, making it worse on purpose.
Ed giggled, almost snorting juice out her nose as she drank.
Faye took a larger gulp of her wine, rolling her eyes. "I can't take you guys anywhere!"
Jet leaned over and whispered into Spike's ear, "Some first class meal, the shrimp aren't even cooked."
"Eh, well, it's gotta be better than if I had tried to cook it." Spike lifted his glass. "Bottoms up, pard!"
The two clinked glasses and downed their wine.
Finished scarfing down his burger, Ein lapped up the rest of the sparkling water and hiccuped before emitting a little belch. That earned him a glare-a-la-Faye. But he simply yawned and rested his head in his paws on the table edge. The picture of contentment.
"Hey Faye," Spike pointed, "is there a rule about dog paws on the table?"
She glanced over, but Ed was between her and the slumbering corgi. "Yes. It's bad manners. Ed?"
Her own plate and glass empty, Ed patted her tummy. Sleepy eyes turning up to Faye. Well that was nothing new. After all, Ed had three modes: hyper, eating, and sleeping. There seemed to be nothing in-between.
"Help Ein out. Paws off the table."
Ed reached over and yawned. In the process she laid her head against his and started to snore.
Faye glared at Spike. "She takes after you. The girl can sleep anywhere."
He flashed a cavalier smile. "It's a skill set."
Shaking his head, Jet popped another shrimp in his mouth. "One I wish I had, Spike-o. I mean where did you learn how to do that?"
"What?" Spike blinked back at him.
"Sleep like the damn dead anywhere?"
He shrugged and glanced back at Faye, her forehead resting on her arm. "Haha, I think our nanny finally gave up!" Spike lifted his wine glass and tipped it back. Finding it empty, he peered into the upended glass with one eye narrowed.
Jet had to laugh. A moment later, Faye snored. "Aww, shhh, we don't want to wake sleeping beauty. Right?" Feeling a might pleasant, he reached over to slap Spike on the shoulder ...only to find Spike leaning back in his chair a touch too slack. He poked his shoulder.
In slow motion, Spike tipped off to the side and down onto the floor, landing limp on his side. Snoring.
The alarm struck Jet as his grin faded, his nerves awash. The horizon already tilting. Something was wrong. Terribly wrong. He tried to stand and his legs buckled, sending him in a heap to the floor.
In a blur the last thing Jet saw against the fancy patterned rug were the waitress's shoes and a pair of white cowboy boots. The waitress laughed, "Anyone want desert? No?"
See You Space Cowboy