Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by Yasuhiro Nightow, Yousuke Kuroda, Satoshi Nishimura, and various publishers including but not limited to Young King Comics, Madhouse and Pioneer Entertainment, and Victor Company of Japan. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Posted by: Elspeth, A.K.A. Elspethdixon

Ships:  And the Lord said, "Let there be subtext." 

* Author's Note: This fic contains spoilers for episode 23, "Paradise," and episode 24, "Sin." *

Victory

The gun barrel presses cold against the side of my head, a hard, painful circle against my temple.  You move fast.  I barely saw you draw.  Can you pull the trigger with equal speed?  I want to see you try.

I can hear the girls screaming, begging for help, begging my human puppets to stop.  Can you hear them?  I know you can.  I can feel it.  You want to save them, don't you?  You want me to stop.  Do you really think screaming at me will work?  There is only one thing that will stop me.  Only one thing that can save your friends.  I know it, you know it.  It is me or them.  Make up your mind.  I can wait as long as I need to for you to decide.  They do not have that luxury.

It is difficult to hold this many minds at once, difficult to fill so many people with sustained, murderous intent.  They do not really want to murder your friends, or rape them, or commit any of the other actions I am impelling them towards.  Their wants do not matter.  I am stronger than they are.  As I am stronger than you. 

You are remembering him, aren't you?  Remembering cradling his body in your arms, whispering his name, kissing cold lips for the first and last time and tasting his blood.  Regretting chances lost, things never said.  His death hurt you, just as the death of these girls will.  My master will be pleased.  These others, these worthless specimens of humanity, are not for you.  You belong to Him.  Why do you think He keeps destroying them?

I killed him, you know.  Your precious, lying priest; my mutinous subordinate.  I did not pull the trigger, but it was I who gave the order.  I wiped him out as I will wipe these two girls out, ended his life and his pain and added more pain to yours.  Doesn't that make you angry?  I know it does. 

You hate me.  You fear me.  You want me to die.  To die as he did, an eye for an eye.

Why do you hesitate?  You want my death.  Those girls want my death, though they may not know it, because they want their attackers to stop.  I want my death, my release, my triumph.  Go ahead, coward, and give everyone what they want.

You are screaming inside, aren't you?  Screaming inside and out.  You can't handle it, can't face it, can't admit how wrong you are.  That life is not sacred, that people are not precious, that we all are destructive, flawed, destined for death.  Your sentimentality makes you weak.  Weak things are easy to break.

Listen to the girls scream.  They don't have much time left.  Someone is going to die today, regardless of your wishes.  It is up to you to decide whom.  Either way, it will be your fault.  Either way, my mission succeeds.

Kill me, and know that you have betrayed everything you ever stood for, broken every vow you ever took, defiled the memory of the woman you dared to love more than my master.  Kill me, save your friends, and you become a murderer.

Spare me, and watch the two girls who travel with you die in agony, because you refused to save them.  Hear their last gurgling breath, gaze upon their mutilated corpses, and know that they are dead solely because of you.  After all, it is your fault that they are here, as it is your fault that I am here.  Spare me, let your friends die, and you are a murderer still.

Heads, I win, tails, you lose.

You've made your decision, then?  Good.  I can feel myself smiling, as I can feel your finger tightening on the trigger.  Oblivion waits, peaceful, close, and free from pain.  You've chosen heads.  I am pleased.

Eternal suffering to Vash the Stampede.

My master will be happy.

\\\_~