Title: Fairy Tales
Coupling: Meryl crushing, and WolfwoodxVash
Notes: Aaaaah? **VashxMeryl fans beware, this is not for you.** Slight slash.
Meryl confesses her feelings to Vash and recieves an unexpected answer.
VxM fans with the intent of flaming should *not* proceed.
I am a very, very WxV girl. ^_^ Vash and Meryl are the one couple in Trigun I could never see actually happening, and this fanfic reflects that. I feel like Meryl is more in love with the basic idea of Vash as a hero and a dashing gunman rather than really caring about *him*. I mean, she doesn't know anything about him until late, late in the series, while Wolfwood knows who he is, what he is, and *why* Vash is what he has become....... That's the idea I tried to get across here, so please don't flame if you happen to like another coupling better. It's a matter of opinion, after all.
~Tomo, who is wary of flames with this little fic...haha...
"So," she whispered softly, her gaze trailing up the delicate line of his cheekbone almost hungrily, "you're back."
Aquamarine and beautiful, the eyes smiling and the lips upturned - beautiful and utterly unreal, completely fake. Vash the Stampede was a man of masks, and the woman before him had not managed to crack a single one in the time she had known him. Each and every time she began to think she neared the true Vash, the one beneath all those layers, she was shoved away and left alone again...
Meryl bit her lip.
Still. There was nobody else in her life that made her feel so... small. So innocent, and at the same time wiser than he himself. She had known him for over two years - of course, two of those had been simply longing for him by her side and not knowing why - but now....
Milly had promised she would feel better once she had explained things. It was probably true, Meryl had to admit, considering she had been ripping herself up all the while Vash was gone for *never* saying what she felt.
Vash turned his head and smiled warmly at her, his face as familiar as her own, the lines and curves defined by the single bulb hanging above them in the shabby bar, like a map of seasons tracing across his face. How many hours had she spent lost in the depths of those eyes? Had he ever looked at her the way she looked at him behind his back, furtive glances through thick lashes?
Behind those masks, was it concievable that he...loved her...?
"So.... Where are...you going now?"
Vash shook his head gently, the waving spikes of gold making her look up in surprise from beneath her dark bangs. What was that look in his eyes? It was almost pitiful in it's shallow depths, and it filled her with an urge to reach out and place a hand on his arm, if only for a moment. How she *longed* to touch him and let him cry on her shoulder- he seemed to be holding so much back. "Oh, traveling..." why was there a faint blush on his cheeks? "Wolfwood and I have been on the road for a while."
Meryl nodded, licking her thin coral lips nervously - only her close proximity to the tall blonde could unsettle her this much. Maybe that was why she cared so for him? He was the first person she had allowed beneath her skin. There had been others...many others... but none of them were so beautiful as he, so removed from everyday stress as he.
She loved him for his power, for his will. For the quaint beauty mark at the corner of his eye. For the strong arms - scarred as they were - that would feel so wonderful pressed against her own...
"I...." she looked down, running her long nails against the seams of her cloak. Two years without Vash....and just when things had been returning to normal (As normal as unspoken love could be) he had gone and shown up again. That was always his way, wasn't it? Making things as difficult as possible? Stubborn. "I missed you."
Vash blinked and turned to her, raising his eyebrows in response to the quiet, almost fearful tone of her voice. Meryl felt a bit indignant at his obvious surprise, then bit her lip - if he didn't feel the same way, wouldn't saying it be destroying everything? The blonde scanned the bar, painfully aware of how alone they were as the conversation took a turn he wasn't comfortable with. After a moment he elected to follow the safest path - simply ignoring the deeper conotation of her words and taking them at face value in a typical Vash cover-up move, one that Meryl saw right through. "Ah. It did get a little boring without people following me around... Wolfwood fixed that!" An easy laugh followed that, and the woman felt herself blush, though she wasn't sure why.
Meryl Strife had never held illusions about herself, unlike many of the people she came across in her line of work. She understood what she was capable of, and when something needed to be done, she was more than able to bite the bullet and solve the problem. Milly was the sort of girl to fall for a fantasy hero, someone who could sweep her off her feet - **No. If I believe I'm honest, I'll admit I love him, even if it's just to myself. Say it now, Meryl, it will do you good. I love him. I love him. I-**
"Eh?" The black-haired girl blinked twice and smiled faintly, brushing her hair out of her eyes. When had Vash started talking?
"I said, what are you looking at?" Vash sipped his glass and smiled innocently at her over the rim of the cup, his eyebrows arched in curiosity. God, but his face was sculpted so nicely-
"You," Meryl answered, vaugely, waving her fingers in the air and looking away. "Because you don't look any different, any older than before. You're lucky," she added, quirking the corner of her mouth up in an appreciative smile. "Some people just don't show their age."
The smile widened a bit, and for just *one* moment Meryl believed she saw something in the depths of those powerful eyes, something that skittered away from the light of her seeking vision. What *was* that? She sought out his gaze again and tried to hold it with her own, but Vash simply looked away and ran a finger over the knuckles of his cybernetic left hand. "No. I suppose it is...lucky."
"Why did you come back?" The question was faint, and it made the woman blink. Easy to answer-
"The Insurance company asked me to keep tabs on you, you know that-"
The gunman wasn't satisfied with that, and immediately pressed her answer. "Things have changed, Meryl, and..."
Meryl's heart leapt into her chest as her name escaped his perfectly formed lips. Had he ever said that before? - no. She would have remembered. It would have echoed in her heart like this, and she would never have forgotton - "Things always change," she whispered giddily, running a finger about the rim of her glass. "For both of us. That doesn't matter between us, does it?"
Yes, things had changed an impossible amount. Because now she *understood* her emotions, and he was saying her name.... Now they could - "You don't understand me, Meryl."
What was there to understand? He was the fantasy fairy tale hero, tall, strong, brave, minus the flowing white steed. She could *picture* herself with him forever, and that was what was important, right? Right? Of course. "No," she agreed, "I don't think I'll ever fully understand the man behind your coat, Vash, but I try. Love does that, you know, gives you the power to try endless things. Things you would never dream of, otherwise!"
For a moment the room was exceedingly silent, as if all the other little conversations had ceased suddenly and all ears were on them - Meryl gritted her teeth and studied the bowl in front of her, unaware of the emotions that had slipped free in her exclamation.
"...What?" Vash asked with a serious edge to his tone, his voice suddenly very loud in her ears, though it was no less encouraging than it had been before. Completely surprised. And the expression on his face was torn, his lips pursed, his eyes slightly narrowed - he hadn't expected that, had he? It amused her that she could shock someone like Vash the Stampede, legendary gunman and fighter, outlaw that sent young children alight with imagination with a mention of his name.... hers to surprise. Then, after a heartbeat, he whipped up the masks again and the glimpse of true emotion was gone - "Yeah, people in love do crazy things, don't they-"
"Don't look so worried, Vash," there was unease in her heart at his response, but she pushed it away. Gave him time to think before continuing. Maybe he was as scared as she, maybe he would confess as well, maybe he had never loved before - it didn't matter, she knew with all her heart that he would be good for her. That together they could live a peaceful life, away from his guns and the money on his head... She could change all that, if only she had him by her side! "You'll turn into an old man if you think like that."
Silence greeted that, silence that stretched on and on as Vash sighed softly and finally spoke. "You....really are just like her. Those were....her words, a long time ago."
Meryl's eyes widened, her heart pausing mid-beat at the mention of another woman. "Who?"
When Vash stood suddenly, his coat rustling slightly, and pressed a few double dollars on the table, all Meryl could do was stare after him in shock. Her heart contracted for a moment and then she stood as well, cheeks flushed dark beneath the gloomy lights.
The blonde smiled down faintly at her and turned until they were face to face, inches apart save for the gap in height. The look in his eyes was the look of a man repeating words that were long dead to his ears, simple words that had been worshipped for a lifetime - "Someone I loved."
Meryl opened her mouth and closed it again, unable to comprehend the answer.
"You have her soft, dark hair..." fingers reached out, brushed against her skull, and then a soft index finger slipped across her lips, "And her smile. Your eyes, though, are different...if they were the same, it would hurt so much more just to look at you.... I'm glad you're different."
Words. Find something to say. He's slipping through your fingers! "I.... don't understand."
"Someday, insurance girl," not her name, that was no longer an intimate option that either of them could stand, "you're going to find the perfect man. He won't have a past to eradicate, and he won't have other faces in his heart. He won't be spoiled or haunted. He'll truly love you, and you'll love him."
"I..." The girl shook her head furiously and embedded her fingers in the front of his coat, "I want that to be you! I want to always be wth you. You're supposed to love me...you're the hero. I'm the heroine. Together we're supposed to-"
"You're such a baby," the words stung, but simply in familiarity and softness. It was not an insult, it was another statement that simply seemed to hang in the air with the superiority of a phrase long-cherished. "A child. This isn't a story you can be a part of, miss. You're so used to thinking with your head, insurance girl, that you got confused as soon as your heart was involved - "
"I am *not* confused!" the clinging fingers turned to fists and she licked her lips, wishing she could look him in the eyes. "And I'm not a child! Don't push me away simply because you're afraid I'll be hurt, I can take care of myself!"
Aquamarine filled with regret that could not be disguised with tinted sunglasses or a false smile. "I'm not afraid. I am more than capable of love. I just can't be the person you need, because... I love... I'm sorry."
When he turned again, Meryl couldn't go after him. She just stood as the world crashed down around her ears, and he - the man with spikey hair and a brilliant smile - walked away.
"That girl....." Wolfwood cigarette hung from his lips, fizzling softly as Vash nearly passed him, then turned and nodded to the priest slouching against the wall of their hotel. "The short one. What's-her-name...... she's fallen in love with you."
"Your timing, Wolfwood, is perfect as usual." The blonde slung his shoulders up against the thin wall, sighing softly as Wolfwood cigarette hit the ground and disappeared with a soft crunch. Another second passed, then a long arm was around his waist, the hand resting appreciatively on his thigh.
"It's am amazingly easy thing to do, tongari."
Silence for a moment.
"She doesn't know anything. She doesn't understand, and she doesn't- I can't love someone who can't take care of themselves. Not in a world where things can be lost like so many grains of sand in the wind, not when-"
"Shh." Soft, warm fingers sought out his own, and Vash allowed the calloused touch to massage across the palm of his good hand, warm lips closing about the finger and pulling the black leather away teasingly. Closing his eyes, the gunman shifted towards the source of heat and was rewarded with a soft chuckle and then a closer touch. "What did you tell her?"
A peaked nose nestled against his neck, soft, smoky warmth leaked through thin cloth and surrounded him. Vash leaned into the embrace, never tearing his eyes away from the stars as he whispered an answer. "The truth."
"I didn't know you were capable of telling the truth anymore, tongari," hot breath ghosting across his skin as the fingers wrapped comfortably around his wrist until both of them could feel his pulse, togetherness. Understanding there against warm, soft skin.
Sad eyes shifted downwards at the comment, and Wolfwood regretted the words as soon as the had slipped free. Why did Vash say nothing to contradict them? He couldn't possibly believe that was true... "Half the truth. As much as she needed to know."
"She can find that out later," Vash told him, reaching up and pressing his hand against Wolfwood's cheek, smiling at the faint traces of dust and gunsmoke that clung to his partner. He had come close to trying to explain the solace he found in those arms, but even he himself couldn't understand it on a level above the most primal knowledge that it was right, that Wolfwood was what he needed. "When she realizes... what will I do?"
Smoky blue eyes narrowed a moment, and the grip on his wrist tightened, then slacked off as a hand slid up his arm beneath the billowing coat. "Let her accept it. Because, tongari...."
Vash closed his eyes and let gentle lips caress his neck, tracing a pattern familiar to the two of them alone. Wolfwood was right - nothing could be done, she was certain to discover them eventually, but....
"Because I love you."
The blonde smiled faintly and murmered an agreement as he buried his fingers in Wolfwood's hair. "Mmm. Love you, too."
When Milly returned to her room after a day of work, she was greeted by her sempai, who was curled on her bed, eyes half closed and cheeks stained with tears. "Meryl?"
The taller woman dropped her bag of groceries and licked her lips, immediately at her superior's side with concern scrawled across her face. Meryl's normally collected visage was a mask of running make-up and nervous twitching, her cheeks pink from crying and her eyes puffy beneath lowered brows. "What? What's wrong, what happened?"
For a moment Meryl considered explaining - but what could she say? How could she explain the agony of seeing him with another and knowing two years of soundless dreams were nothing but a heat-vision that was quickly fading away? She threw herself into Milly's arms and cried into the other's shoulder, the starched white fabric prickly against her damp cheeks. What was there to say, what was there to wake up to in the morning when the man she loved loved another?
She had seen them there on the porch, sharing the closest of contacts, whispering so gently, and she had known - "I've never been anything to him but a distraction, a piece of baggage he was forced to carry. I was just like the others who've imposed on him, wasn't I? I thought I was special....I thought I deserved him..."
She closed her eyes and sighed softly into the warmth of her partner's neck. "Heros..... heroines... villians... I've grown up, Milly. they're all the same down inside, don't you think? I don't believe in fairytales anymore."
Milly Thompson didn't know quite what to say to that.