He was perfect, Faye thought. Rich, tall, unattached, not bad on the eyes, and perfect.
"Buy us a round?" she asked, and she made sure to add a hint of demand to the question.
He paused for only a moment before smiling and answering, "Of course. What will you ladies be drinking this evening?"
"Martinis, dry, with extra olives."
As the man wandered to the bar to get them their drinks, Edward suspiciously eyed Faye and gave her a small frown. "If Jet finds out, he'll skin you," she reminded Faye.
"Jet went to the bar with Spike, so he'll be too drunk to notice," Faye told the younger woman with a dismissive wave. "It's fine."
Edward eyed her for another moment, but then she shrugged. "Okay."
Good, Faye decided.
Edward would hate the drink, Faye knew, and she probably wouldn't have more than a couple of curious sips, so it would be fine.
When the man came back to where they stood, he handed them their drinks and told them, "I have a table, if you'd like to sit."
"Sure!" Edward agreed, moving to follow the man as he began to make his way across the restaurant. Faye trailed a bit behind, walking slowly in an attempt to hide her ever more painful limp. She distracted herself by watching Edward, who was sneaking a sip of her martini while their benefactor's back was turned. Sure enough, after she had taken a sip, she made a face so horrible it looked painful, and she turned a glare to Faye.
Faye was gratified that the ugly face and the glare didn't do much to distract from Edward's hair or dress. Faye had spent an hour getting Edward's curls just right, and she'd spent another hour bullying Edward into a pencil skirt and a gauzy low-cut blouse. Worth it, Faye thought. She was very proud of herself. It had taken a while (years), but she had managed to get Edward to look like a proper woman (if even just for dinner).
When they arrived at their table – chairs instead of a booth, Thank God – Faye delicately slid into her seat and just kept from sighing in relief.
She had almost told Edward to forget it when the maitre d had informed them that the bar was full, and that it would be thirty minuets until they would be seated. Standing was killer, and if Mr. Knight in Shining Armor hadn't caught her eye, she would have called it quits long before they were ready to be seated.
"Sitting alone at a table set for two?" Faye observed when they sat down.
Mr. Knight gave a bashful, embarrassed smile. "I'm here for a business meeting. I don't think James will mind that I invited a couple of lovely ladies to join us, though. I'm Henry."
"I'm Faye, and this is..." Suddenly, Faye remembered a story Jet had told her after she first rejoined the Bebop. "Stievie."
It was approaching 2:00 in the morning when Edward and Faye arrived back at the Bebop.
Faye was in a foul, foul mood, and she made a point of stomping her good foot as she made her way back to her room.
"What's with her?" Jet asked from his place on the couch. He was leaning forward with his elbows perched on his knees, sipping a beer as he avidly watched an old soap opera (Jet claimed it was a cop drama, but if that were true, there would be more crime solving and not nearly as much dramatic kissing). "Celebration didn't go as planned?"
"No," Edward sighed as she collapsed onto the couch beside the older man.
The evening had gone wonky somewhere between Faye curling her hair and forcing Edward into a low-cut red blouse which had the duel effect of clashing horribly with her hair and drawing attention to her lack of breasts.
Edward didn't officially know that the night would be a disaster until Faye offered her a martini, though.
Jet put up with a lot, a lot of Edward's bad habits and dangerous behaviors, but even Spike adhered to Jet's No Alcohol Until 21 rule.
And then dinner with those two stiff, dull businessmen – Faye had been trying hard that evening, and it was obvious to everyone at the table. The men had been gracious about Faye's behavior, but Edward was... honestly, a little embarrassed. She should have figured out what was going on. She should have known. It hadn't been until they were on their way back to the Bebop and fighting about Spike Spiegel that Edward realized what Faye was trying to do, though. Dressing her up, talking those men up, calling Edward Stevie – Faye wanted a date for Edward, not herself.
The night was supposed to be a celebration, one last hazzah before Faye went back to Venus for her surgery and was laid up in recovery for six to eight weeks. Edward had eventually caved to the hair and that stupid, shimmery shirt because she thought it would make Faye happy.
"She was manipulating me," Edward realized.
Jet finally glanced at Edward, and he did a double take, eyeing her hair and red shirt. "Ah," he said. "Faye finally noticed your crush on Spike."
Edward blinked at him. "You... You knew?"
In reply, Jet snorted. "With the way you follow him around? Hard to miss."
Edward suspiciously side-eyed Jet. "And you don't mind?"
Jet shrugged. "You'll grow out of it," he stated.
"No I won't."
"Quiet, Ed. I'm watching this."
"I'm sorry," Faye snapped.
Edward looked up from her Tomato and blinked at the older woman who was looming over her in a robe and slippers. It was the morning after their little night out, and Edward felt much better about the whole thing after spending the night cuddling with Ein and Tide in the bathtub and spending the morning in cyberspace.
So she replied to Faye's apology with,"No you're not."
"Fine," Faye said, rolling her eyes. "I'm sorry you're upset."
Edward had to think about that, but then, "Yeah, okay. Now stay out of it."
"Not on your life," Faye sniffed, moving to settle onto the couch next to Edward. Grabbing a magazine from the coffee table, she began flipping through it, and Edward went back to cyberspace.
"Loose her again and I'll tell your investors that all the shiny new toys you've been buying with their generous donations were purchased from a kid with no credentials or formal training," Edward promised after Faye had been escorted to her room.
Dr. Amjed's eye twitched, and he told her, "I assure you, Edward, we'll take good care of her."
Edward was sure they would.
Before she could say more – before she could really put her foot in her mouth, Jet set his hand on her shoulder and he was guiding her towards the exit.
Jet was in a much more forgiving mood towards Dr. Amjed than Edward was, since the doctor had just finished repairing the joint in Jet's left shoulder and had connected the sparkling new metal arm that Edward had built.
Edward's business relationship with the hospital had been deteriorating ever since she'd signed that contract with them – the more she looked into medical business and the closer she looked at the contract she had signed, the better she understood exactly how much she was being shorted in the deal.
And after she found out that the hospital had lost Faye... There was no coming back from that.
Edward had drummed up enough business for the hospital over the past year that Dr. Amjed would always owe her. But their working relationship had an expiration date, and if anything were to happen to Faye this time around, things would go sour fast.
As they left the hospital, Jet said, "Relax, Ed. They'll take care of her."
Leaving Faye made Edward twitchy, but there was nothing she could do. After all, the Bebop wouldn't be pulling any more money from the hospital, soon enough, and they had work to do.
"Let's get off this rock," Edward told Jet, because she didn't much like visiting Venus these days.
Faye was going to be in the hospital for a week. Between Edward's deteriorating relationship with the hospital and the loan sharks still sniffing around for Faye, no one was comfortable docking the Bebop on planet. Therefore, while Faye was being kept at the hospital, the rest of the crew would be hunting bounties off planet.
"Come on, Jet," Spike moaned after Jet finished detailing the open bounties in the area. "We've been going after small fries for ages. Where's the challenge?"
"Stop your moaning!" Jet snapped. "After that mess with Banks, we need to lay low for a while-"
" You're being paranoid," Spike argued with a mean frown. "The ISSP doesn't suspect that we had anything to do with his getting away-"
"And we don't need to give them any reason to think we did! We're laying low!" he declared with a note of finality. "Now, I say we go for this guy first – Marty Jonston, for 30,000 woolongs."
"Chump change," Spike bitterly muttered.
Edward agreed, but the Bebop wasn't stripped for cash at the moment, and everything they were making now was being stashed for when her contract with the hospital expired. Also, Jet needed to acclimate to his new arm before they went after any big bounties.
Peering at the bounty posting over Jet's shoulder, Edward read, "Suspected location: Earth," because Jet had promised her that even if they didn't dock the Bebop on Venus, they were going to stick close to the planet while Faye was in the hospital.
And with a grin, Jet told her, "Wrong. He had a few tidy little scam businesses going on Earth, and when he was caught out, he came to Venus under a false name. The info I found said that he was working as a gardener on one of the floating estates, and he's caused a few problems for his new employers. Don't think they'll mind us going in and taking him off their hands."
"Maybe they'll send us off with souvenirs as thanks," Edward said hopefully.
And Spike, picking up on her meaning, smacked his lips, because in his opinion expensive food was the best food.