Rating: PG (for action and swearing mostly)
Word count: 1730
Prompt: Anyone - teamwork - Bounty hunting was best when you had good help
Summary: The Bebop goes after an escaped convict from Midgar Prison - only Jet thinks they could use some extra help bringing this one in.
It was early afternoon and the space terminal was bustling with businessmen and tourists trying to beat the off-planet rush, all of them jostling against each other amid high-piled luggage carts and fake terra plants. The shuttle to Venus was late – no real surprise with Tatum Spacelines – and tensions were starting to run high in the overcrowded waiting room.
Lounging in the small café overlooking the main shuttle deck, Spike yawned and glanced sideways at Jet. “You sure these guys are coming?” he demanded, rolling a toothpick absently back and forth between his teeth.
“They’ll be here,” Jet promised him, leaning with affected nonchalance against the railing and watching their bounty’s every move over his propped-up fist. “You can count on it.”
“Che.” Spike tipped his chair back, head lolling towards the ceiling. “I still don’t know why you called them in the first place.”
Jet snorted. “You think you can take on an escaped Midgar Prison inmate on your own? Don’t answer that.” He peered moodily at the bounty head, watching the idle ruffle of his newspaper. “These guys are pros. I just hope the shuttle doesn’t get here before they do or this is going to get messy.”
“Maybe they’ll be on the shuttle,” Spike suggested helpfully, and Jet frowned at him.
“I don’t know if… aha!” Jet jerked straight upright, nearly upsetting the table in his haste. He glanced over at Spike almost as an afterthought. “They’re here,” he added unnecessarily.
“You don’t say.” Scrubbing an absent hand through his hair, Spike tipped himself forward to peer over the railing. “Which ones?”
“Those two – over by the elevator.”
They looked like cops, was Spike’s first thought, flicking his eyes appraisingly over the two men in the sleek black bodysuits. The first one was pale and blond, his hair spiked to nearly out the length of Spike’s forearm. His dark-haired companion was bigger, bare arms bulked with muscles, though the shorter wasn’t exactly a slouch in the definition department either. They didn’t seem to be carrying any weapons.
Spike raised an eyebrow. “Subtle.”
Jet flapped a hand in his direction. “Shut up Spike.”
The pair paused just inside the door, a quick, quiet rush of conversation trading back and forth between them. The blond one shook his head at something the other said, his expression resigned, and made an ‘oh, go on then’ gesture with one hand.
His companion grinned and clapped him on the shoulder, then turned to face the couch where the bounty head was sat, still reading. He pulled a leather-wrapped length of metal out from over one shoulder, hefting it in his hand as though it weighted fifty pounds. Only about half a foot long, the thing seemed completely useless from where Spike was sitting – too short for a hidden knife and too thin for a club. Maybe it was a stun baton.
The man grinned brightly. “Bounty hunters!” he declared, in a cheery voice they could probably hear back on Mars. “Jon Stokes, you’re coming with me!”
Spike’s jaw went slack.
Stokes scrambled to his feet, newspaper fluttering harmlessly to the side.
“Not on your fucking life!” he yelled, hoisting a powerful-looking shotgun in his right hand. The thing flared green in the split-second before it fired, a burst of electricity sizzling across the floor and leaving a large, smoking hole in one of the drab, dirty couches. It was about then that People started screaming and Spike’s chair toppled to the floor as he vaulted neatly over the railing, leaving a pole-axed Jet behind him as he dropped straight into the midst of the panicked crowd. Lightning sparked again and Spike didn’t stop to think, nearly taking out a man in a dark suit as he veered towards where he’d last seen Stokes.
There were people running and falling all around him, tripping over baggage carts and cowering in huddles while screams and energy bolts ricocheted off the ceiling. Spike struggled against the tide of fleeing bodies, fighting his way to the centre of the chaos.
A choked gasp from his left made him pause and Spike flicked his eyes round just in time to see the dark-haired bounty hunter flit rapidly through a moment of clear space near the far wall, making straight for Stokes. He was still grinning as he hit the lip of the surging crowd and kept right on going, dodge-weaving effortlessly through the chaos.
Stokes half-turned and Spike cursed when the green pulse of the gun jerked upright, a snarl curling Stokes’ lips as he squeezed the trigger.
A fireball exploded through the air, half again as tall as Spike and wide enough to give the Bebop another loading dock.
Spike felt his blood run cold. There was only one illegally funded arms manufacturer he knew that made weapons like that and he didn’t even want to know how this convict had got hold of one of Shinra’s materia guns.
No wonder Jet had insisted on calling in help on this one.
The dark-haired bounty hunter either didn’t know what he was facing or else didn’t care; he just hoisted his metal baton in front of him and grinned harder, driving head-on towards the fireball and not even flinching when it crashed into him with a thunderclap of noise that made the windows shake.
Though Spike expected charred bounty hunter to be the only possible outcome, it seemed as though this guy had known what he was doing after all. Muscles bunched in the bounty hunter’s forearms, sweat beading on his brow as he pressed back hard with something strong enough to keep that destructive force at bay. Suddenly the man’s arms whipped to the left and the fireball went winging erratically towards the far wall, a ‘Tatum Spacelines’ banner catching fire as red-gold flames splashed heavily against the wall and scorched the metal plating.
“Zack!” a voice yelled and Spike stared as the little blond bounty hunter appeared out of nowhere, a burst of ice surging from his gloved hands and quenching the fire before it could spread. Exasperated blue eyes snapped towards the other bounty hunter. “Watch where you’re aiming!”
“Sorry!” the bounty hunter named Zack shouted back, not sounding at all apologetic. “Thanks!”
Stokes had frozen where he stood, eyes bulging in shock and fingers going nerveless as Zack rounded on him with his smile firmly in place and not a mark on him.
“You…!” Stokes managed, and then he was fumbling frantically with his gun, the green glow pulsing sluggishly between his fingers.
“Oh hell.” Spike skidded to a stop and drew his gun, ignoring the sudden flurry of panicked screams from the civilians around him. He shot twice and Stokes swore as his gun went flying, clattering harmlessly to the ground a good dozen feet away.
Then Zack was on him, and Stokes jerked frantically, narrowly missing being cut in half by whatever it was that Zack was swinging at him. His leg caught the edge of an overturned suitcase and he went over, tumbling into a group of terrified college girls huddled against one of the couches.
A black gloved hand fisted in Stokes’ collar and dragged him bodily upwards, the tall silver-haired man the hand belonged to shaking the man until he stopped flailing.
He gave the bounty head a thin look. “I trust you’ll come quietly, inmate Stokes?”
Stokes gaped. “G-general?” he exclaimed, little more than a horrified squeak.
Green eyes were grim with satisfaction. “Indeed.” A quick twist of the tall man’s wrist had Stokes’ eyes rolling back in his head, his whole body sagging as though his strings had been cut, and Spike let out a breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding.
“Seph!” Zack greeted the man cheerfully. “Good catch!”
Seph gave Zack a narrow look. “I blame you for this mess.”
Zack grinned. “Fair enough. My way was more fun though. Hey,” he greeted, smiling as Spike holstered his gun and ambled casually over. “Nice shooting. You must be Jet’s partner.”
Spike nodded and extended a hand. “Spike Spiegel.”
“Zack Fair,” Zack greeted in kind, his grip strong and firm. “Good to meet you.” He tilted his head towards the man stood behind him. “The broody one over there is Seph, and the spunky little blond is Cloud.”
“What sort of weapon is that, anyway?” Spike asked. “Never seen anything like it.”
“Holo sword.” Zack rapped at the empty space below the baton he still held, the dull ring of dense metal clearly audible. “A little tricky to get the hang of to begin with, but people don’t panic as much as they would at seeing five feet of solid steel in someone’s hands.”
“Huh,” Spike said, then canted his head to the side as Jet drew up with Cloud at his side. “About time you showed up,” he accused his partner.
Jet had the nerve to look smug. “I told you they were good.”
Spike raised an eyebrow at him. “I assume you knew Stokes was running with materia weaponry?”
“Erm, well…” Jet’s prosthetic hand rasped over the back of his head. “Not strictly speaking, no – it was more of a hunch, you know.”
“Right.” Spike turned his attention to the youth Cloud. “You guys too?”
Cloud looked surprised. “Of course,” he said. “Midgar Prison is owned by Shinra Corp. after all.”
“Good to know.” Spike gave Jet a hard look. “Next time, you tell me these things,” he ordered. Jet held his hands up in surrender, and Spike rolled his eyes as he turned to the other bounty hunters. “I don’t know about you three, but I’m sick of this place. Let’s cash this bounty in and then go have a drink or three.”
“Sounds good,” Zack grinned.
“Before they make us pay for damages,” Cloud piped up, and Seph’s mouth quirked slightly.
“That seems a much more sensible plan than any I’ve heard thus far today,” the man remarked lightly, ignoring the face Zack made.
The three of them started bickering, fondness and exasperation almost evenly mixed, and Spike was shaking his head as he started across the floor towards the elevator, more than ready for things to get back to normal.
Useful partners were all well and good after all, but he’d be damned if Jet ever convinced him to split a bounty five ways again.