Chapter 12: The Space Between

The way I see it
This relationship ain’t right
The space between us
Better close it up tonight
The space between us
Close it up tonight

Spike rubbed his fatigued eyes and laid the large folder of papers on the large ornate mahogany desk. Soo Ling had demanded that he read and sign the papers by noon, and he didn’t want to deal with her wrath today.

“Business calls, and unless you want to be replaced, you’d better have these signed when I come by.”

He stood up and walked over to the window. His office overlooked the river, which wound its snaky path through the span of the city of Tharsis. From up here, you would never imagine the poverty and neglect that existed below. Hell, even walking along the uptown boulevards, you’d be hard pressed to find any of the illegal dealings that went on. For that, you would have to wait until the sun set and the business people went home to their houses in the domed privileged areas. No one could have convinced him when he was a kid on the streets, that one day he would be one of them living the life of luxury. He would have laughed in their faces at that. Yet, here he was. It was a lonely existence, and the only thing that kept him going was his guilt and the desire to right the wrongs that he had done to the people that he … cared about. A couple of times he had thought about calling Jet, but he wouldn’t know what to say to him, and he didn’t want to find out if Jet knew about him and Faye.

He leaned his head against the cold glass. Soo Ling would be showing up soon, and he was only halfway through signing the papers. What was the deal with her anyway? She’d been the one to arrange for his move to the Samora Crown, and his installment in the Hidden Dragons organization. The money that was deposited into his accounts was her doing as well, and he couldn’t figure out what she got from it all. He supposed it was because she had been close to Mao, and had made him a promise to watch after his former protégé. It was the only thing that made any sense. Yet when he had asked her about it, she got a strange look on her face and changed the subject. She wasn’t talking, and no one else was either.

He pushed himself away from the window and returned to his desk. He hurriedly scribbled his name on the rest of the papers and stuck them back in the folder. Not a moment too soon, because a minute later Soo Ling walked into his office.

“You have the papers for me?” she asked in her sing-song accent as she strode over to him. She had born in the Chinese district and had never completely lost the accent. He thought it was cute. She thought he was annoying.

Spike smiled triumphantly and slid the folder towards her. “All done.”

She raised her eyebrow. “Oh? I thought I would have to chase you down again.”

He snorted. “It’s not that hard to sign my name to a bunch of papers,” he said, getting up from the desk. “Am I done now?”

She snatched up the folder, thumbing through the sheets. “You sure you didn’t miss any? You get sloppy when you’re in a hurry to leave.”

“It’d be a shame to waste such a beautiful day stuck inside, don’t you think?” He flashed his charming smile and waited for her to soften. It wasn’t working. She didn’t even bat an eye.

“Looks like everything is here. You can go now.” She closed the folder and walked to the door.

He grinned. He was being dismissed like he was a snot nosed kid. “Thanks, Mom.”

She opened the door and slammed it behind her.

He walked back over the window and looked around again. It was a beautiful day. Too bad he didn’t have anywhere to go. He turned back to his desk and picked up his communicator. After a moment of hesitation, he called Jet. After a few rings, Jet picked up, and his face lit up in surprise.


“Spike! You slug! Where the hell have you been?”

Spike smiled. He really missed the old man. “Here and there,” he said cryptically. “How’ve you been?”

Jet sighed. “Been better, but I can’t complain.” He raised an eyebrow at Spike. “No one would listen anyway.”

Spike grinned. “Well, you could get the shrew to listen to you.”

Jet looked up with a raised eyebrow. “Huh? Oh yeah, you don’t know.”

Spike’s heart pounded. “Know what?”

“Faye’s not here. Hasn’t been for a couple of months.”

“She left?”

“Yeah, met some slick guy at a casino in Alba City. They must have hit it off pretty well, because the next thing I know, she says she’s moving in with the guy.”

Spike had heard about the Rileys. After the Gate accident, none of the syndicates had been able to get close to them – they were on the straight and narrow and had enough woolongs to resist them all. After a while, no one tried anymore. They had a wide reach of in real estate and properties that spanned across several planets. It figured that Faye would get herself hooked up with a guy with money. It was ironic that he now fit into that same category. It wasn’t like he and Faye had ever been together. Not that he even entertained the thought of him and Faye. He shook his head. Best not to go there.

He didn’t realize he was holding his breath until his lungs started hurting and he had to take in a gulp of air. Time to cut back on the smokes. He was glad for her, he supposed. She deserved someone who could be there for her.

Jet was still talking. “Yeah, she and this Riley guy are a hot item on the casino circuit, so I hear. He’s from one of the old families from Earth. The Rileys of Texas, old Earth. Made their money in oil. Somehow managed to stay legit, no connection with the syndicates or ISSP. I’m surprised you haven’t heard about them.”

“So, she’s happy?”

“She breezes in every now and then. Brings souvenirs for Ed and me. Designer dog biscuits for Ein. Even kisses me on the cheek. Then she takes off again.” Jet chuckled. “Yeah, I’d say she’s happy.”

Spike was silent.

“You okay there, buddy?”

He looked up at Jet’s face on the screen. He’d almost forgotten he was there. He rubbed at the warmth on his cheeks. “Why wouldn’t I be?” he asked, clenching his jaw.

“No reason. Just thought you looked-”

“Yeah, alright,” Spike interrupted him. He reached over to disconnect.

“Spike wait.”

He paused midair and glared at Jet.

“Me and Ed are docked at Tharsis. Are you on Mars?”


“Why don’t you come by? For old time’s sake?”

Spike thought for a moment.

“I’ll fix your favorite – bell peppers and beef.”

Spike smiled. “Yeah, okay.” He cut the connection.