All the Time in the World
Anime-verse, not manga. Spoilers up to the second-to-last episode.

The Higher Being is hesitating.

Time slows, the same way that it does in those cheap flicks that begrimed motel rooms have for their only channels which play so late you've forgotten yourself and Midvalley lets run while he trance-fingers chords on his saxophone. Time slows. If there was a wind it would take an eon to finish playing with the fringe of His blond hair, which is the precise shade of sweet oranges in the cast of the sunset. The noise in his head is just the same as the squawking of static through speakers, throwing ghosts of black and white across the ceiling until I have to roll back over and say turn off the tv Midvalley, turn off the goddamn tv, just like that.

I could use the Touch on him to do it, but he prefers that I don't and I prefer to avoid his vengeance of hours of piss-whiny notes drilling through my skull. Just trying to get the right -feeling-, Legato, you don't -mind- now do you? So I always just tell him, voice dead in that way he both marvels at and hates, and eventually he remembers where he left the remote.

There's enough time for me to remember this now, even though I know that all of that is over and done. Forever. There will be no more enduring of early morning warmups played right in my ear, no more barely-palatable coffees stared into while Midvalley tries to decide which side of the rounded knife to use for butter and which for jam. No more. Midvalley has failed and it looks like I might too, by the way that the Typhoon's finger trembles on the trigger. Midvalley has taken his own way out of this, even though the self-punishing stance had been his all along and only by him enforced on the others. Neither My Lord Knives nor myself ever cared for anything but results, even if it took a few tries to get there.

But that was how Midvalley lived, and that was how he died and the only regret he'd had at the last enveloping of pain was that he wouldn't have a chance to finish that last rag he'd been composing and the only thought that he'd had was how the explosion sounded -exactly- like the lowest note of a cello gone off and cracked.

I know. I was there in him when it happened.

I had a girl the other night while you weren't looking, Midvalley. Oh? Her hair was dipped in honey and it swung heavy as a rope, back and forth, back and forth. And her skin was as firm as a ripe plum just chilled for a minute's span in ice. Each iris of her eye was as round as a grape and shone the color of almonds and her teeth tasted like peppermint from how well she always brushed them and from the roof of her mouth, the faintest tang of raisins.

Yes, but what did she -sound- like? He always wanted to know that. Every breath and gasp, every gallop of the heart that played to the bass rhythm that was life itself fighting to stay that way.

I don't know. The usual.

I do not think that this will fail, even though the Stampede sweats to keep from it. Pain is something I understand, and if He is diffident enough to let the two women suffer then I will only adjust my tactics. If I must have these villagers enact every carnal perversion upon them, I will do it; if then I must turn to standard cruelties for their bodies afterwards, I will do that too. Come now, Vash. You know I will not stop until I am killed.

Why is He taking so long? Should I up the ante? All He has to do is pass through me and he can have all the confrontations He desires with My Lord Knives. Should I try to push him again? No. This must be done of his own wish, untainted by other influences, or it will be useless.

I have all the time in the world. I am everything He would hate himself to be. I kill because I do not care about hiding the pains of life and I do not believe that other ways are better. And because I am so unworried to die and waiting for it and calling to it and receiving it as eagerly as a lover who tastes like tangerines. He cannot save me from myself. No matter how much He wants me to find value in my existence, to be the same animal as the rest of these flocks, I will not remember the pretty illusions that claim another day will be better. That is over now. That is over forever.

I woke up and you were gone, Midvalley. I was picking up your boots. See? Want to go have breakfast? I -know- you're hungry. Yes. Let's go eat.

I woke up and you were gone.

I have all the the time in the world. Everything has slowed, just as it does in those tawdry ballads-turned-film that Midvalley watches when it's so late you've forgotten yourself and what you're doing in those motel rooms covered with the rust of other travelers. I have time and the Higher Being's hand twitches in sympathy to the screams of His friends and to the ripping noises that were their clothes and will not be soon. Mine does as well, to his. I let it because soon I will not have to work any longer at stopping it. My Lord Knives will be pleased with me at the end of this. And then He will let me rest.

Across from me He shivers from all the pains he cannot stop and all the lives he cannot save. He wants to keep us all alive but some of us do not want to stay. The taste of sugar is on my tongue. It is just as it is when he fingers his saxophone and the music wails emotions that surprise both of us by being there when we have just finished joking that neither of us would ever be that sap-stupid. Come now, Vash. Some of us have never wanted to stay.

Come now. I woke up. Let's go.