Written: April 11 – 12, 2003
Rating: PG (some slightly intense imagery & mild swearing)
Disclaimer: I do not own Cowboy Bebop. Other richer, more fortunate people than myself do. (Excuse me, now while I wallow in my misery over that fact…)
Summary: Contains spoilers for the movie, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", which takes place between Sessions 22 & 23. A short musive piece on the aftermath of the events of the movie, with only slight F/S undertones (because I love those two!)
~ Author's Notes can be found at the end of the fic. Enjoy! ~
Prologue: Butterfly Fields
Light; muted and cold. It was gradual, the way he became aware of it; slowly overtaking the darkness that clouded his mind and eyes with a gentle persistence that demanded attention. Open your eyes, it urged softly.
The light became harsher, brighter, prying at closed lids. He squeezed them tightly in defiance; Spike Spiegel was not one to be pushed around, not even by the Sun herself. She could go away right now, for all he cared—come back when he didn't feel so much like a train had repeatedly run him over.
Or a madman had shot him full of lead.
"Ah. So Sleeping Dummy finally awakens."
Clothing shifted, the clack of familiar heels on linoleum signaling the woman's shift in stance from wherever she stood in the room. He had not as of yet opened his eyes, still attempting to play dead to the light's persistent advances; but it didn't take eyes to recognize the familiar, liltingly sarcastic voice that invaded his slowly coalescing thoughts.
Spike's lips twisted in a sour expression. "Well, at least you're not humming…" he grumbled, voice hoarse with lack of use. Finally giving in to the light, he blinked woozily, allowing his mismatched eyes to adjust to the sudden brightness that accosted him.
White. He couldn't recall anything ever being so white. Were hospitals always like this? What exactly was the purpose of all that white? If anyone had asked him, it was terribly depressing. Not to mention hell on the eyes.
Somewhere across the room, Faye 'hmphed' softly in annoyance over the barb, but refrained from returning a biting remark of her own. The cowboy's auburn eyes narrowed curiously, but he dismissed the abnormality with the laidback carelessness that was his nature.
After all, it would have taken a lifetime to figure out that woman and her moods. A task he wasn't really interested in undertaking. Or so he had convinced himself.
"Did you think I would really subject myself to your dumb opinions again, gaujo?" her voice broke the silence. He could tell by her tone that she was smiling that crooked, smart-ass grin of hers, despite the annoyance in her voice.
He allowed himself a smirk of his own. "Constructive criticism," he stated matter-of-factly, stretching his fingers experimentally upon the mattress.
The violet-haired gambler made another small sound of annoyance at his comment, and he could here her shift again from wherever she had been seated, her white-heeled boots clacking softly over the linoleum as she abandoned her post, drawing near.
"Never said I didn't like it."
Her footsteps halted, startled by the unexpected admission. Spike hid his smirk beneath a cool veneer, his expressionless features twisting only slightly with effort as he struggled to pull himself into a seated position on the bed. He listened to the clack of her boot heels as she once more resumed her trek to his bedside, not bothering a glance in her direction; seemingly absorbed in his task.
The sudden weight of her hands on his shoulders surprised him, wrenching him firmly into a vertical position; but his features remained blank, betraying nothing. He raised his head slightly, meeting her green eyes and regarding her coolly over the assistance.
She didn't even flinch, crimson-painted lips twisted in a sour expression momentarily. "You really are a pain in the ass, you know that?" she exclaimed irritably, releasing a hopeless sigh as she pulled away to place her hands on her hips in a defiant gesture.
Spike allowed himself a smug smirk at that. "We can't all be model citizens like yourself, now can we?" He pulled himself up further, wincing in spite of himself as he disturbed a wound in the process. "Ow."
An unaccustomed look of concern flitted across Faye's features. "You idiot," she muttered, crossing her arms. "You really did another number on yourself. You never learn, do you?"
The stubborn cowboy responded with a grimace. "I didn't exactly take a gun to myself, Faye…" he grumbled, annoyance finally seeping into his tone. He pulled his fingers away slowly from where they lay pressed against a bandage on his abdomen, finding them sticky with his blood; the bandages beneath stained dark from the reopened wound.
Faye swore softly under her breath. "Looks like you tore your stitches." Snatching up a cloth from the nearby bed stand, she pressed it to his wound, eyebrows furrowed in a look of irritation which succeeded only somewhat in masking the concern in her green eyes. "Jesus, it doesn't take much with you, does it?"
He took the cloth from her hands, pushing her hands away slightly as he took over tending to the wound; scowling slightly in a childish expression. "I hardly moved. It was a shitty job if they tore that easily."
Faye scoffed in reply, her tone indicating that she agreed with his assessment. "The doctors here are idiots," she hissed irritably, plopping down in a nearby chair with an indignant huff. "I told Jet we should've just done the job ourselves, but that Electra woman practically insisted that we take you to a hospital."
The name brought him back to the present. His countenance darkened, growing serious as he continued to hold the cloth to his wound to staunch the blood.
Electra. After all the trouble, the effort and near-death, it had been the woman closest to Vincent that had delivered the final blow. Vincent was dead. And Spike hadn't been the one to kill him, in the end.
It was mixed feelings that accompanied this thought. Motives were a concept that Spike could relate to, especially motives involving the past. But the driving force behind most of his actions in the last few years as a bounty hunter hadn't been vengeance, or a sense of justice, but greed and necessity. When his motives had crossed with Electra's, that's when the real problem had occurred, leaving him lost and unfulfilled over the outcome of this hunt.
Vincent was dead; the virus had been eradicated, and Mars had been saved. They had lost the bounty, yes, but Spike had lost many a bounty before. No, this sense of loss and confusion was something else. It left something to be desired, something he was missing.
Perhaps it was the fact that Electra's experience somewhat resembled his own mangled past; but whereas she had finally come to terms with her past and her involvement with Vincent, his own past was still left unresolved.
Was it jealousy, then, that he felt?
He blinked, slowly, coming back to himself; back to the reality of the room around him, to the weight of his hand still pressed to the blood-soaked cloth on his stomach. He realized Faye was eerily silent, as if she had sensed the darkness of his thoughts. The room had become surprisingly serious in such a short span of time.
"Spike…" Her voice was hesitant, an unusual amount of concern coloring it at the sight of his grim expression.
Her voice faded out, as he slowly pulled the cloth away from his wound, staring at the dark stain of blood with fathomless, brown eyes. "I'm going to need another cloth," he muttered uselessly, still staring at the sight of the blood-soaked cloth in his hand.
The blood changed, meshing with past and present; becoming the blood of numerous battles, of numerous wounds and bodies and scars. The blood was a pool; it was a river; it was a tapestry that littered cobblestone streets and brick walls and dew-drenched grass; leaving its signature on flesh frozen in the semblance of humanity. The blood was his and it was another man's and another's, and it was hers. The blood was blood. It marked a path through his past, which he followed with his surrogate eye, endlessly and continuously, and as he continued to stare, lost in his false eye's wanderings, he wondered if it was the blood of his future as well. Did the future hold for him only blood? Even now, when he believed himself dead—a man merely living a dream of life, unable to find rest—he continued to see blood and be blood and leave blood in his wake. Was this what the future held for him then? Merely blood and an endless, lucid dream?
He was suddenly torn from his morbid thoughts by a hand gripping his wrist. Faye tore the bloodied cloth from his hand, throwing it hastily into the wastebasket at his bedside. Spike raised his eyes slowly, in time to see the flash of distress in her green eyes before she turned swiftly away, grabbing another clean cloth from the bedside table behind her.
When she had turned hastily to him once more, the look was gone, replaced with a grimness that set her mouth in a rigid line as she pressed the fresh cloth to his wound with practiced skill. He made no move to stop her this time, staring blankly at the woman as she leaned over him; porcelain profile visible between a veil of violet hair. The simplest things seemed to capture his attention, all of a sudden—stray strands of violet dissecting her face; thick dark lashes partially obscured by her hair, gaze low as she attempted to staunch the blood flow to the wound on his stomach.
Faye made a noise of frustration, straightening up somewhat from her uncomfortable position, but maintaining the pressure on his wound. "We're going to have to stitch you up again before you lose too much blood," she remarked matter-of-factly. She pursed her lips silently, unknowingly revealing her concern once more to him.
Spike seemed to regain himself once more. He seemed to be falling into a daze all too often since awakening after his ordeal with Vincent; a characteristic that was highly unlike him. He frowned mentally, but outwardly, he allowed himself a small smirk as he focused instead on Faye's slip in character.
"Hmm, concerned Nurse Faye? There's an unexpected scenario," he commented ruefully, delighting in the regularity of taunting the woman. He was rewarded by a narrowing of Faye's eyes and a none-too-gentle addition of pressure to his stomach wound. He hissed softly in pain, losing his smirk.
"You seem to be doing okay if you can still manage to make suggestive jabs like that," she remarked coldly, not bothering to spare him a glance. "And to think for a minute back there I thought there was something seriously wrong with you."
Another hiss of pain from Spike. "Other than having your hand jammed into the gaping hole in my stomach, I'm just peachy."
She relaxed the pressure on his wound and he breathed thankfully at the reprieve. The mood was once more serious; he could sense it in her stance.
"How did I get here?" he asked softly, the first in a series of queries heavy on his mind.
She let him take over the task of holding the compress, turning from his bedside to pull a nearby chair to her and rummage through the pockets of her jacket, presumably for her own medical supplies. She was wearing the jacket as a shirt, he realized; cinched across her stomach in an attempt to contain her well-endowed chest. He wondered briefly what had happened to her usual yellow halter.
"That woman—Electra—she contacted us on your communicator and I picked you up in the Redtail," she answered, a triumphant gleam to her eyes as she finally managed to locate her small medical kit from within her jacket's many pockets. "Not an easy task, shoving an unconscious, lanky bastard like yourself into a one-passenger zip craft and still managing to fly it." The sarcasm in her tone was subtle, managing to maintain the serious mood despite the slight barb.
He ignored the customary insult, watching her sift through her med kit for fishing line and a needle. "And Vincent?"
Her brow furrowed imperceptibly. "Dead. But I'm sure you knew that. I suppose you mean the bounty?" He nodded slightly, and she sighed, disappointment apparent in her green eyes. "The good news: Vincent was considered enough of a threat that the bounty was dead or alive. The bad news: your soldier girlfriend collected on it. Apparently, she was the one who made the final shot in the end."
Spike sighed raggedly, not exactly surprised, but frustrated nonetheless. He didn't let too much of his disappointment show, however; allowing a wry grin to twist at the corners of his mouth.
"Should've…expected as much," he muttered, staring sightlessly across the hospital room at the gray sky outside the window. The dark profile of monolithic buildings amidst a haze of rain was all that could be seen from his vantage point; the glass streaked with droplets coursing narrow paths down the dirty panes.
He gave a short, dry laugh, clutching at the wound in his stomach with the effort. "She was too much like you in the end, really…"
Faye made an indignant sort of noise in the back of her throat, twisting about to retrieve a bowl and cloth from the medical stand behind her. "I would've at least split it 70/30 for nearly getting yourself killed. And twice, nonetheless." She smirked slightly to herself. "So, maybe 60/40."
Spike couldn't help but grin, as well, allowing her to remove the bandage and gauze from his wound. "Such generosity."
The smirk faded from the dark-haired woman's lips as the gauze was stripped away, a slight frown replacing it as a garish, puckered wound was revealed; several stitches visibly broken. She dabbed gently at the area with the wet cloth in her hand, feeling his muscles tense beneath the light touch as she cleaned away the blood that continued to ooze steadily from between the split stitches. Lucky for him the blood was bright and clear, and not dark with infection. It was simply a matter of stitching up the split section.
"I guess she wasn't all that bad, though," she spoke up suddenly, tone once again soft and serious. "She didn't take it all for herself; she insisted on paying for your medical bills once she'd collected on Vincent's bounty."
She laughed slightly, a chuckle that barely escaped her lips. "We couldn't exactly turn down the offer—it's not everyday we get the chance to receive quality medical attention. Jet practically jumped at the offer, though I could tell he was a bit sore that that was all she was willing to share of the bounty. Guess I don't blame him."
The violet-haired woman sighed gently, a tired sound, but not quite a show of disappointment. "Though what good that did… Should've just done the job myself in the first place."
Spike raised his eyes to the ceiling in reflection. "It wasn't about the money. She didn't care about that."
Her eyes were distant, almost sorrowful. "I know. You could tell…just by looking at her." She returned her gaze to her task, focusing once more on cleaning his wound. "She wasn't like us."
Spike pursed his lips pensively. "Not in the ways you could see…"
After several heartbeats of silence, Faye leaned back from her task, fishing once more through a pocket in her jacket and retrieving a moderately sized flask.
"Looks like you only managed to split a small section," she informed him lightly, the business-like tone returning to her voice once more as she poured a small amount of the flask's contents over the bowl of water and drenched her needle with it. "Shouldn't be too hard to stitch back up again."
A look of apprehension finally wormed its way across Spike's face. "Don't you think you should get one of doctors in here for that?" After all, what was the purpose of being in a hospital in the first place if you managed to do the job yourself?
She raised one fine, dark brow, glancing at him across her work. "After the shoddy job they did last time?" she prompted pointedly. She noted the slight note of dread in his auburn eyes, huffing lightly in indignation. "Don't be such a baby. It's not like I haven't sewn you up a million times before."
She rolled her eyes melodramatically, pulling a face. "I swear, I could do this sort of thing in my sleep by now, with all the times I've had to stitch up your sorry ass!"
Spike mirrored her expression mockingly as she leaned across him, pouring a generous amount of the flask's contents over his wound and eliciting a short cry of pain from the injured cowboy. Spike continued to hiss slightly in pain as she shoved the flask into his hands and retrieved her needle from the bedside table.
"Here. Drink some of this if you're going to be a baby about it."
"What is it?" he asked, still gasping slightly from the sting of the alcohol. He brought the flask to his lips, considering it dubiously.
"Gin," she replied, threading her needle with skilled fingers. "Not the strongest stuff, but it'll do," she continued as he took a hefty swig, not even pulling a face as the liquor burned a quick path down the back of his throat.
Scooting closer in her chair, she pressed a hand firmly to his shoulder, indicating for him to lie back slightly. He obliged, taking another quick swig from the flask as she went to work on his wound. The room was quiet for several minutes, only occasionally broken by sharp hisses of pain on Spike's part; other than that, the cowboy was silent and stalwart, watching the rain wind its lazy path down the window panes as Faye worked swiftly and skillfully. The world was gray beyond the window, distant buildings mere silhouettes as the rain fell soft and steady, smudging out lines and leaving only shadows.
Like a dream…
The fishing line snapped against Faye's teeth as she finished her work, tying the stitches off; snapping him out of his reverie. It was a hospital room he was in, the low background hum of electricity and recycled air meeting his ears in slow realization. The rain was apart from it, separate; not even the sound of raindrops pattering lightly on the window pane could be heard.
He felt the gauze being pressed to his newly stitched-up wound, felt the pull of the medical tape as it held the gauze in place. Faye's red, windbreaker jacket swished softly as she began to wind clean bandages around his abdomen, her slender fingers moving deftly as she worked.
Finally she pulled away, admiring her handiwork momentarily. Satisfied, she slid her gaze to his face, thin brows furrowing slightly as she studied the far away expression on Spike's face.
Mismatched, auburn eyes turned slowly in her direction, focusing gradually on her face.
Faye frowned ever so slightly, beginning to worry. "You're being an awfully good patient for once. You alright?" she prodded, attempting a tauntingly carefree tone. The concern in her eyes only managed to defeat her attempts, however.
Spike merely stared at her for several moments, and she was unsure whether he was looking at her or looking through her; beyond her. Then his eyes seemed to focus a bit more, brows furrowing with some unknown weight.
"The butterflies…" he began slowly, voice barely audible. He seemed to be talking to himself. "I don't remember passing out," he continued more clearly, "But there was a point when all I remember was them."
The gambler's breath felt as if it had failed momentarily in her throat, green eyes wide with shock and confusion at his words. "The virus…!" she gasped faintly, the significance of his words becoming slowly apparent to her.
The expression in Spike's eyes was indefinable. "Never seen so many damn butterflies in my life…" he mused thoughtfully, his tone void of any recognizable emotion.
He seemed to return to himself then, stretching his arms lazily and leaning back against the headboard in a carefree manner.
Faye had managed to overcome her shock, lips pursed in a slightly twisted yet wry expression. "So you saw them too…" she murmured musingly. His eyes shot to her once more, betraying a hint of surprise.
A dreamy sort of smile hovered over her lips as she recalled the elusive, yellow lights that had indicated that the deadly virus had gone to work. "They really were beautiful…those yellow butterflies."
Spike's gaze turned once more to the rain, brown eyes pensive. And then a wan smile crept across his face as he, too, recalled the golden butterflies.
Yes, they had been beautiful, hadn't they? Crossing his arms behind his head, he leaned back against the headboard, closing his eyes against the offensive whiteness of the surrounding room; against the rain and the brightness. He smirked softly to himself, the memory of yellow butterflies fresh in his mind.
Yellow butterflies ushering him swiftly into dreams.
This was my first CB fic, so I hope you'll all bear with me. This may be continued in further chapters, or may just remain a one-shot—let me know what you think! (If it does continue, it would be an F/S fic, btw.)
The title, Concordia Discors is Latin for "harmony in discord". I found it a pretty turn-a-phrase, and thought it fit the wayward thoughts of Spike rather well in this piece; the constant focus on sights and sounds and the apparent discord of his mind.
As for the term "gaujo", Faye's very first nickname for the lanky cowboy, I wasn't quite sure how it was spelled so I sort of interpreted. There's a word, "gaucho", which means a South American cowboy; but I didn't think it was the same word that Faye uses, so I went with my own spelling. If anyone has any information on that, please let me know! Every fic I read it in or website that mentions it has given it numerous spellings so I don't know what to follow.
Also, I know just about nothing about field dressing, so any inaccuracy on my part can be attested to my complete lack of personal experience in that area. -^_^- Everything in the scenes involving the care of Spike's wound was based on tidbits of knowledge learned from television, movies, and the few open wounds and surgical scars I have been privy to in my short lifetime (most of it was based on seeing my sister post-major back surgery this past summer. Her scar was also located on her lower abdomen, but on her side.)