Big Bad Al... (P 1 of 2)

"Sssh!" He said, as the opening credits began to roll.
"What?!" Jade said as the titles played across the screen. "Are you kidding?!" She shoved Alex playfully. He grabbed her wrists, pulled her closer and put a hand over her mouth.

"I said Sssh woman. Just watch." He gave her that half smile that made his eyes crinkle at the edges and sparkle. That fragile smile that lit up his face but was so easilly spooked away. She feined a struggle but gave up easilly as he refused to move his hands.

"Mmmpht" She huffed, muted by Alex's hand and flopped down in resignation. Just in time to see the title of the film play across: 'Dirty Dancing'.

Right from the introductory voice-over, Jade seemed hooked. She watched the film, and Alex watched her, casting his eyes affectionately over her when she didn’t know he was looking. He liked gazing at her. He found her features, and chassis, very well-constructed and pleasing to behold. Streamlined, compact, with hidden power packed away under the deceptively neat surface. In his opinion, she’d been engineered very efficiently.
Probably by Germans.

His stupid drunk tongue told on him.
“So pretty.”
“Hmm? Holly, pause!”
Oh, crap. He quickly snapped his gaze back to the screen. “Why’d you stop it?" He grumbled. "I like that bit.”
“What did you say? 'So' what?”
Uhh… “So… hungry?”
“Ah! Yeah! Good point!” The doc was suddenly enthusiastic. “Snacks!” She held a hand aloft and, in a tone which somehow had something of the Artemis about it, declared: “To my favourite vending machine, Mr Frowny!”

Turned out her favourite vending machine wasn’t local.
As they wandered far and wide, in search of the perfect Swayze gazy snack, they passed a jogging Jaxx. Alex had noticed him running a few times this week. Funnily enough he’d recently been thinking he should start jogging again himself, but… he’d been too miserable, too drunk, and too limpy.
The big man swooped back, and jogged on the spot in order to greet them. “Hey dude and doc!”
“Hello Jaxx.”
Alex nodded, wondering if he should ask to join him some time. But that would likely mean talking, so he probably wouldn’t.
“Keeping in shape, I see.” Said the doc, with an approving smile.
“Nice one.” Solvay nodded his own approval.
“Thanks! Uh, gotta keep goin’ though. See you later guys!” He did an interesting twirly thing. “Gotta get ready for Eve babe!” He explained. And with that he sped off.

Jade chuckled and shook her head. “Ah, he’s a funny one that boy…”
“Yeah, well, you think I’m a funny one.”
“That’s ‘cause you are!” She said, and prodded him.
“Dat’s cas yeare” he found himself mimicking.
“Heh heh, sorry.”

They strode on, rounding a corner to find Jamie working away again. Alex almost immediately narrowed his eyes. This discreet display of ungentlemanly grouch did not escape the notice of the astute lady to his right.
“What’s wrong?” She asked.
“You do like Jamie, don’t you?” She asked, with a frown.
She was treated to a Solvay snort. “I don’t 'like’ anyone.”

Jade’s face slid into a hurt huff.
He didn't know if it was genuine or a tease, and he immediately felt sorry for the way it'd come out. “Oh. Uh. What I mean is...” He frowned and stopped to consider his answer. What the smeg DO I mean? Having not been a very sociable Dwarfer even before the 'incident', he wasn’t used to having to explain himself to anyone much. There had been people in his life who demanded answers, but not many lately.
Jade raised an eyebrow, a facial beckon.
“I… Think you’re a very nice young lady” he appeased. She appeared to be suppressing laughter at this statement. He didn't know why.
“And Jamie?”
“I think he’s nice too. Yeh, seems cool.”
“Then why did you just look at him like he’d kicked a puppy?”
“Nuthin’.” He grimaced “Shut up.”
Another hurt look from the well engineered one.
Aw. “Sorry.” Don’t shut up really. He thought. He could listen to her talk for hours and not get bored.

As they neared the other engineer, the woman looked between two - Alex with his overly firm expression, and Jamie merrily working away on a vendor.
When he noticed them, Eastlick stepped back and wiped some of the oil from his hands onto a rag. “Oh. Hey.”
Jade flashed him a big friendly smile, watching Solvay from the periphery of her vision as she did so. “Hiya Jamie!”
Alex nodded and grunted a greeting.
It sounded something like “murhf”.
Jade giggled. “Sorry, what was that?”
He pulled a face then turned back to Jamie. Not wanting to add to the surly impression of unfriendliness he’d just given Jade, he added. “Nice hair” apparently out of nowhere.
Jamie gave him a confused look as if he didn’t know whether he was being sarcastic or not. “Uh… Thanks." He took a sip of a drink, shook his head, as if to himself, and went back to working on the machine.
Alex did like his hair as it happened. Jamie had a look about him that Alex found quite pleasant.

When they got round the next corner Jade was chuckling away. She had that scampish look about her again. Uh oh…
“Why, Mr Alex Solvay, I do believe you’re jealous!”
Alex’s eyes widened, his whole expression rather taken aback.
“I beg your pardon!? Of what?”
“Of Jamie… Fixing stuff!”
He swallowed.
“I am not jealous” he grouched. “I just feel…”
“… Jealous!”
“No.” He said, as firmly as if he were speaking to the aforementioned hypothetical puppy, after it’d picked up his favourite album and began to chew. “… I just feel funny about it. That’s all.”
“And, why d’you think that is?” She said with a smile, half teasing, half genuinely drawing it out of him.
He shrugged. “I dunno, I’d got used to me and Bedge’s little repair team… And now Bedge is gone.”
“And you feel all possessive, like in Bedge’s absence you’re the only one who should be mending the stuff?”
He nodded, sulkily.
“Is that why you won’t work with him?”
An equally sulky shrug.
"It's a big spaceship, Al..."
Alex thought it might be a bit crass to point out that obviously there was Justin as well, who was probably still officially Chief Engineer (despite being a little shit), but that the less than esteemed Mr Pancake spent more time wanking than fixing things.
“Alex, Jamie's not trying to replace Bedge. He didn’t even know Bedge.” She tilted her head, quizzically. “Bedge was your friend, right? The big simulant?”
He sighed, suddenly craving a cigarette. “Yeah…”
At the sudden Irish yelp, Alex stepped backwards and bumped into the wall in surprise.
The smeg?
“You admitted he was your friend!” She explained.

… His scowl coulda withered worlds.

“Yeh. Well. I didn’t mean like that.” He mumbled after a moment’s shock. “I mean… I mean I… I mean that I knew him.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Big Bad Al had a friend.”

It was about then that Artemis came pelting up the corridor, in pursuit of what looked like… No surely not. It couldn’t be… Oh holy smeg… it was… A GIGANTIC SPIDER… which was charging their way.

“Apprehend that arachnid!” Cried the scrambling scientist.

Instinct took over. Before there was chance to construct any façade of cool, Alex found that he was round the corner, and had yanked Jade with him. “Alex! Whaddaya doin’?” She wriggled from his grasp.
The spider appeared, bounding now, in an almost un-spider-like manner – which somehow made it all the more frightening - and slowed as it rubbed against the wall, but, horribly, it was still moving forwards, and clearly heading for Solvay who backed away in a most unmanly, almost timid, fashion. His pursuer sped up.

He squawked and vaulted with impressive agility for a tired, drunk, fag-craving man with a scissor-stabbed leg, up on top of a row of vending machines.
The spider began playfully “pawing” at them with two of its thick, furry, legs.
Solvay shuddered.
“You are seeing this, right?” He yelled at Jade, who was thankfully back near the corner and apparently not of interest to the monster. “I’m not hallucinating?”
It wouldn’t be the first time, to be fair.
Through the almost deafening roar of his panic, Alex could’ve sworn he heard the creature emit a cat-like “rowwr!”

“Lanky Locks! And the good lady doctor herself.” Artie skidded around the corner and waved cheerfully, as if giant meowing spiders were everyday business. “Didn’t you hear my instruction to apprehend Patches?”
He took in Alex’s odd position and frowned. “What on Io are you doing up there?”
Alex mutely indicated the monstrosity below, thankful that the vendor’s smooth front seemed too slippery for it to climb. It was trying though. Eheeewww.
Artie blinked. “But… This fine creature won’t hurt you, my boy!”
“Ain’t comin’ down till that thing’s gone.”
Artemis looked rather affronted. He bent down and scooped the furry spider up, holding it to his shoulder and petting it. At its closer proximity Alex recoiled, flattening himself against the wall above the vendors as best he could. The back of his shoulders and his neck began to tingle and creep. “Get it away” he managed to spit, voice more hoarse than Flicka.
The crazed looking scientist muttered a soft something, and, to Alex’s horror, the humungous spider began to purr.

Apparently not noticing Solvay’s terror, Artemis gifted him a wide smile.
“Dear Patches here is cat-brained, and quite affectionate.”

And then, to Alex’s further dismay, he held the hairy specimen out towards him, as if expecting him to reach down and pet it.
He tried backing up further, a trapped specimen himself, and glared at the scientist like he was insane.

Which he probably was.


End of Part One. Continued in Part Two, coming very shortly --->


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