A/N: This is a little inspired by Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson, and a little inspired by American Idiot by Green Day. The title's from a Cage the Elephant song of the same name.
Roxie's walking into town when her ghost materializes behind her.
She might have accidentally hit the button to call him up, or maybe she changed his autonomy settings some night she was drunk and lonely.
Or maybe she just needs to get him fixed.
"Heya, Collin," she says.
She can feel his tall, cold body, inches away from her. "You gonna catch the fight tonight?"
"Where I was headed, yeah, what's it matter?"
"You're just going because Cage—"
"Hey, ghostie, maybe you shouldn't tell me what the fuck my motivations are," Roxie says, turning around. Collin shrinks away a little. He talks big, inside he's just a fucking obedient robot, can't stand his owner getting angry.
"You want me to leave?" Collin asks, staring through his transparent hands to the dirt road under their feet.
"Nah." Roxie turns back to town again and starts walking. "I get lonely on the walk."
"What do you wanna talk about?" Collin asks.
"Your robot is showing."
Collin examines himself, confused by Roxie's statement. "What d'you mean?"
"I mean that askin' what I wanna talk about is a little weird. No one fuckin' does that these days."
"If you wanna be like me, you gotta just talk. Pretend not to care what the other person wants to talk about. D'you wanna be normal?" Roxie asks.
"Fuck yeah," Collin says, determination in his voice.
"Fuck yeah!" Roxie says. "Okay, then you start talkin'."
"Uh, today, in storage, this other ghostie, she comes up to me—you ain't gonna believe this—she asks me what kinda chip I got. Then we get into this whole convo about our tech, it was fuckin' rad," Collin says.
"Boring story, and 'rad' went out of style a real long time ago."
Collin looks a little disappointed. "Okay."
He doesn't talk the rest of the way to town, just hangs behind her with his artificial chill. Sometimes Roxie wishes she got a normal ghostie, one without a goddamn personality. But she's had Collin a real long time. She loves him. She just wishes he knew when to fuck off.
When they hit town, she asks him to leave.
He looks a little disappointed. "Be careful, Roxanne."
She hears the mechanical whir as he disappears back into her pocket.
She's standing right next to Papa Ed's Organically Grown Fish Store. Sometimes Roxie thinks they could stand to shorten their name a bit, but it's been like that as long as she's been living in this place.
Across the street, the Phoenix is buzzing with Charlatans and Saints, starting little skirmishes with each other. Roxie's always kinda identified with the Charlatans. That's the one most of the girls join.
She's never really wanted to join either group, but in a pinch she'll lie and say she's in one or the other. Sometimes she gets called on it, but it's not often enough for her to want to stop.
She's kinda tempted to see what's happening in the Phoenix, but the fight starts pretty soon, and she really wants to catch Cage. She doesn't have a clue who he's fighting, but honestly, it doesn't really matter.
She runs for a few blocks, 'till she hits the Machu Picchu. That's where all the fights are at, either there or the 2024, across the street, but usually at the MP.
A Saint bouncer stops her at the door, sets up a nice forcefield with a snap of his fingers.
"And who're you?" he asks, that Saint cockiness about him.
"Roxie who? Ya do know this's a private fight, dontcha, sugar?" he asks. "Damn, you's a pretty one, ain't you? You a Charlatan, hon?"
"No, asshole, I'm a Saint," she says, hands on her hips.
He looks impressed. "S'cool. Ya out on the farms or're ya more of the fightin' type?" He breaks his 'field, runs a hand down her leg. "Ya look like a fighter to me."
"Just lemme in," Roxie says, trying to push past him.
"Sorry, baby, private show," the Saint says. The 'field's up again.
And then there's a hand on Roxie's shoulder, and the distinct too-much-cologne smell of a businessman. "She's with me," Swift says.
Swiftie's an old friend of Roxie's, they go way back, back to when Roxie's dad was gonna marry her off to him for two hundred bucks and a nice stash of Racehorse.
They almost did get married. They didn't love each other. Swift's dad just wanted him to get a pretty girl, and Roxie's dad wanted Racehorse.
Her dad overdosed and died, Swift's dad decided Roxie wasn't the right kind of person for Swift to marry.
Anyway, they're good friends after all that.
He's rich. She isn't.
The Saint looks duly impressed that Roxie knows Swift, and takes his 'field down, letting them in.
"Roxanne, do you honestly want to see every single one of Cage's fights?" Swift asks.
"You'd be surprised," Roxie answers, calling up Collin.
"I guess I wouldn't be. You've been stalking him since high school," Swift mutters.
"Hey, I don't stalk 'im. I just…watch him do his thing."
Collin looks pleasantly surprised to see Swift. "Mr. Citus!" He calls Swift's name a few more times, looking confused when he doesn't turn.
Sometimes Collin forgets that only Roxie can see him.
It's disappointing for him every time.
Her little ghostie just wants to be human, more than anything else.
"Why'd you bring me out, Roxie?" he asks.
"Just 'cause," she mutters. Swift's going off about his new girlfriend, Angela, and how bad the gang war is for business.
Roxie's never quite known what the Citus family does. She just knows that it's successful.
They get seats on the second level of the club, Swift on one side of her and Collin on the other. Collin's leaning forward, trying to look at all the people on the first floor. He loves analyzing behavior.
Swift keeps talking.
Roxie just tunes it all out, pretends she can hear Cage's voice, yelling at a victory or some shit. Roxie asks Collin how much longer 'til the fight starts, Collin says six minutes and thirty-eight seconds, and Roxie tells him he sounds an awful lot like a robot.
He shrugs that off.
It's actually eight minutes and twenty-four seconds by Collin's count before Cage walks onto the stage. The club's pretty packed, down in the general admission people are shoving for a better look at him.
He's the classic bad-boy type you see in all the 'grams. He has tattoos down his arms and a big one of a Saint fucking a Charlatan in between his nipples.
He licks his lips, staring out at the audience, and Roxie feels herself leaning close to the railing.
He's bleached his hair for this fight, and it looks perfect with his slightly demonic red eyes.
Swift is laughing at how absorbed she is, Collin's staring just as hard as Roxie is at Cage, and everything's perfect—Roxie thinks Cage winks in her direction.
And then the door of the club breaks down and a pink gas—Nova, Roxie thinks, it has to be- starts to fill the room.
Collin yells for Roxie to run, but the Nova's already got her.
She's slipping, sliding, just on the edge, and then she falls into the irresistible comfort of the Saint's crowd control.
A/N: All feedback is appreciated, and if you're not from the RG, I'll return reviews that're over two lines.