Chapter 23. Cat Dreams

Two days after the shooting, Faye was still at Spike’s. She’d promised Jet that she would stay to keep an eye on him, and to Spike’s chagrin, she’d done exactly that, being so annoyingly attentive that he wanted to choke her. She had demanded that the chaise from Spike’s office be brought into Spike’s bedroom so that she didn’t have to be uncomfortable in the chair as she watched over him. Spike complained that he couldn’t get any privacy with her hovering around, much to her satisfaction. The only plus was that Soo Ling had backed off, saying that Faye seemed to have the situation, and him, under control. He didn’t understand why she thought the situation so amusing.

Spike was sprawled across the bed with an ashtray parked next to him, when Faye walked into his bedroom. She sat down on the chaise next to his bed, a determined look on her face, like a doctor delivering bad news.

“Spike, I can’t do this.”

Spike cringed. He wasn’t surprised that she was backing out; maybe their past history was too painful to overcome. His whole life was filled with painful scenarios involving women and kids. Faye could be a royal pain in the ass, his match with snarky comments, and she could drink him under the table too, though he’d never admit it to her. He couldn’t imagine her not being around to get under his skin. He sat up and stole a quick glance at her. “Tell me how to make it up to you, Faye,” he said softly. “Tell me what to do.”

Faye was curled up on the chaise with her feet curled beneath her, her dark hair spilling over her shoulders. She looked out the window silently, ignoring his question. Spike bit off the impatient retort that threatened to spill from his mouth and willed himself to relax. The soft sounds of jazz flowed through the room, echoing off the walls to create a melancholy spell over the two of them.

Finally, Faye turned her head to look at him. “I was pregnant, you know,” she said softly. Her eyes glittered with intensity as she struggled to maintain her calm.

“What?” Spike swallowed the lump in his throat.

Faye pulled the afghan off the back of the chaise and draped it around her shoulders. She shivered and pulled the afghan tighter before she continued. “It was a few weeks after Jet and I left Mars, after … .”

Spike looked down, the sickening ball of lead in his gut growing heavier.

“I like my cup of coffee in the morning … you know that. Anyway, I kept getting these weird stomach cramps. I thought maybe it was Jet’s cooking – you know, when he finds those ‘great deals’ – I figured we were eating a bad batch of something. But he wasn’t getting sick, only me. Then I realized what was happening.” She looked up at him. “You know?”

Spike could only nod, not sure what to say.

“I couldn’t … I told Jet I was going to hit the casinos for a few days, and I … I…” Faye turned back to the window.

Spike reached for the cigarette pack hidden in the folds of the sheets. Faye glanced up at the sound of the Zippo click, and he lit one for her, then settled back against the headboard. He was grateful for the music that covered the awkward silence as the two of them smoked.

His mother — foster mother — had liked jazz music. Jazz reminded him of a time in his past, his first scenario of loss and regret. He and his sister would come home from school, and Mom would be in the kitchen with cookies and milk, jazz playing in the background. Sophie would run to Mom’s open arms for a hug, then sit down at the table to bite into a cookie, her legs swinging beneath the table.

Mom was the only mother Sophie had ever known. Spike, who’d only been with her for a year, resisted getting close; he still had vague memories of his own mother before the orphanage. It wasn’t until later, quite by accident, that she became Mom and Sophie his sister. It was the only time he could recall being happy as a kid.

“I had a sister once,” he said softly.

Faye turned to him in surprise.

“Her name was Sophie.” Spike took a deep drag off his cigarette and blew smoke rings into the air. “I guess you could say … I killed her.”

Faye gasped. She twisted in the chair to face Spike. “What happened to her?”

Spike crushed the cigarette in the ashtray. He’d never told anyone about his sister, not even Julia. After Faye’s painful admission, he owed it to her to share something about why he was the way he was. He lit another cigarette. “I had been living with my … my foster mother for about a year, from the orphanage. Sophie had been with her since she was a baby. I was ten, Sophie was six.”

Spike hadn’t thought about Sophie in years, and he didn’t know how to begin. He took a deep breath.

“One day, I was on my way to hang out in Tharsis city as I always did, and as usual, Sophie wanted to come. For some reason, she liked following me wherever I went, but that day I didn’t want her to come. I wanted to get into trouble by myself without my kid sister hanging on me. Mom made me take her with me, ‘cause she knew me too well and knew the kind of trouble I liked getting into.” Spike stopped talking and stared into space, a faraway look in his eyes as he remembered that day so many years ago. When he looked at Faye, she was watching him, waiting.

Spike continued. “I-we took the shortcut from our house, down a street that led to a hill. It was a shortcut to the boulevard; I would slide down the hill to get to the bottom of the boulevard instead of walking all the way round. Sophie was right behind, keeping up, but I could hear her breathing hard. Me being the stubborn ass that I was, even at ten years old… I refused to slow down for her.” He stopped again.

“What happened, Spike?”

Spike drew in a shaky breath. “I knew to stop just before the bottom of the hill. She didn’t. The hill was steep, and she slid right onto the highway, so fast that the truck didn’t have time to stop.”

The room was quiet as Faye took in what he didn’t say. Spike laughed bitterly. “So you see, I learned early in life that me and women shouldn’t mix. I’m dangerous to be around.”



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