Summary: Vash makes a new acquaintance in the strangest of ways and finds himself tangled up with her hunt for a serial murderer. Things start to heat up as the murders grow closer and closer together, each one linking to another, each one looping directly back to the woman who calls herself Sting.
Hopefully a future clip: "Vash!" The woman's cry echoed in the vastness of the desert. "There comes a time when you have to choose between what is right and what you love!" The outlaw stopped dead now, his knuckles turning white as he grasped his gun. "Make up your mind! What's more important to you, Stampede?! The values of a woman who died over a hundred years ago or the woman living now that you love, who's being held captive and only God knows what else by men that have been known to torture people to death?!"
A/N: Alright, warning: this is my first Trigun story EVER! So please, be gentle. I might not get the characters down properly and I know there are only about a gazillion OC stories out there but I promise this one will be different; starting with the fact that she doesn't fall in love with one of the series character! Or at least none of them fall in love with her! Seriously that is…
Have fun and don't forget to READ AND REVIEW!
Chapter 1: The Man of No Words
The twin suns of Gunsmoke beat down harshly upon the back of man trekking the deserts that covered the planet's surface. Blond hair hung loose around his face, which was sparsely covered with stubbles of a beard, his green eyes were weary and sweat trickled down his face. The red duster he was so known for wearing had been long abandoned in desperation of cooling off and without it he looked as every man did.
I've got to get somewhere fast; Knives will die if I don't… I'll die if I don't! Vash thought rapidly, his grasp slightly tightening upon the platinum-haired man slung over his shoulder.
"Hey, needle noggin!"
Vash shook the voice of the late priest from his head. No… no! Don't think about him, don't… he's gone…
"Mr. Vash? Is that you?"
"Vash you idiot! Where have you been? We've been waiting forever for you to get back! I hope you weren't planning to just abandon us again, mister!"
The outlaw couldn't help but smile slightly, his eyes beginning to shine, at the thought of the insurance girls and what they'd say if he ever saw them again.
"Meryl," he whispered, staring upward at the sky. "I'm sorry, Meryl… I can't come back… Knives is too dangerous, I won't let him hurt anyone any more… no one… especially not you… not until I know he's okay again."
"Hey, Mister, you like talkin' to yourself or something?"
Vash turned quickly to spot two figures standing on a hill not far from him.
The smaller of the two was a young boy, maybe about twelve or so, with long, untamed black hair that hung clear past his shoulders, his bangs messily displayed across his forehead and before his blue-gray eyes. He wore a pair of brown slacks and a white shirt, with suspenders and boots, one eyebrow cocked at the outlaw with his hands upon his hips.
The second was taller than the boy, not by much, standing shorter than any other man Vash had seen, wearing a long, black coat, which concealed any amount of muscle he might've had to make up for his lack of stature, that buttoned from the waist to the throat, where a white, preacher's collar was visible. His hair was white, even if he couldn't have been a day past twenty, chopped short and radically thrown about his scalp, his eyes concealed behind a pair of sunglasses, and his stance ominous, looming, and commanding respect.
"Oh wow, someone's actually out here," Vash said, scratching the back of his head and laughing softly, relieved beyond what his voice betrayed, "say, you couldn't get me to the nearest town could you? My brother's hurt from a gunfight and I need to get him to someone who can help right away."
"Certainly," the boy piped, grinning broadly. "My name's Vann and this here's Sting. We were just heading out to New Memphis; you're welcome to come with, though you might want to sit back in the bed." (If there is such a place in the series I've never heard of it, I'm going to be making up these towns as I go along.)
The Humanoid Typhoon nodded and followed the boy and his companion over a dune, discovering their truck on the other side. "How'd you know I was out here?" Vash asked as he gently laid Knives back in the truck's bed and settled himself in the corner on the passenger's side.
"Sting spotted your tracks a while back, we've been looking out for you. What's your name?" Vann replied, rapping his fist on the top of the truck, signaling that they were ready, and then sitting down as the vehicle started off.
"Vash, like in the Stampede? Whoa, I've heard of you!" The boy smiled widely as he stared at the man before him in awe. "Yeah, yeah, you're that guy that blew up all those cities and stuff… even though I don't believe a word of it. Sting and I met these two women back in New Memphis when we were there a few weeks ago and they talked all about you."
Vash froze. "Really? Women? Well, I am quite the lady killer if you know what I mean!" He winked brightly, covering his true feelings deep inside. Meryl and Milly… they'd seen them, that had to be them; they were the only two women who'd ever talk about him in a good way.
Vann laughed. "Oh man, don't kid yourself, the short one, kind of a spitfire she was, she was on about what a 'broom-headed idiot' you were, 'harmless as a fly', but when I asked her when she'd seen you last she got really quiet and her friend, a big girl, sort of… I don't know… flakey, got really loud on about pudding and the conversation sort of died. You rub her fur the wrong way or something?"
The outlaw bit his lip. "Yeah, something like that," he murmured. "What's your story, kid?"
The boy laughed. "Momma and daddy got in bed, didn't want me, threw me in the orphanage, I raised some hell in town, got into some trouble with Sting, and here I am."
"What about Sting?"
"Not sure, don't know much about him except he's got a lot of secrets and none he's willing to share," Vann replied. "He don't talk much to me and he's the man of no words around strangers. He's friend enough, buys me food, let's me have the bed when we stop at hotels. He likes to keep to himself I guess."
The Plant watched the boy for some time, how he tipped his head back and soaked in the suns' rays, smiling to himself, and humming some made up tune quietly. This kid was hiding something about his friend.
The trip from there on in was silent, Vash checking on Knives every now and then to make sure he was still steady; he was. Sting made the gunman weary, he had an air of some mystery about him, his habit of not talking left everyone sort of in the dark, and the sheer fact that he seemed very… dangerous… amplified everything.
"We should be getting into the city any minute, last me and Sting checked it was only about a few hour's ride from where we picked you up," Vann said just as the twin suns set and the moons rose.
"I really appreciate it you two."
Vann waved a hand. "Think nothing of it, me and Sting will help however we can."
Sting did nothing to add to this sentiment and continued driving on.
* * *
"Dr. Groves probably ain't awake at this hour," Vann began as he leapt out of the bed of the truck, Vash soon following with Knives slung over his shoulders, the buildings of New Memphis looming lit up around them. "But he'll get out of that bed of his for a few coins and an ill man. He usually does everything, no questions asked, as long as he gets his payment. I'd try to keep low, people 'round here are anxious, they like money and lots of it and you, to them, would be one big piece of gold."
"Thanks, hey, uh, you wouldn't know any good hotels around here would you?" Vash asked, watching as Sting hauled a duffle from the cab of the truck and sling it over his shoulder.
"Not any good ones but me an' Sting are gonna be taking a room at that place," the boy replied, pointing to the building they'd parked in front of, which was dimly lit with uproarious laughter spilling from it. "Not the cleanest dump but it works, maybe we'll talk before me and Sting get to moving again. See you, Vash!"
The outlaw watched as the boy raced off.
Sting, however, turned to face the outlaw, the first time that the man had actually bothered to acknowledge anything anyone said. He stood there for a second, motionless, before nearing again offering an arm to take Knives with. "I'll get you a room and watch him until you come back with the doctor," he spoke softly in a muffled voice.
Unsure if the preacher could hold his brother's weight the Plant hesitated. "He's pretty heavy."
"Ah, don't worry, Sting's pretty strong, he can handle it," Vann called from the porch of the small hotel grinning wryly as he barely managed to lift the duffle bag, which he had pulled from the trunk but seconds before.
Vash paused a second. "Okay," he muttered, slipping Knives' deadweight frame from his own shoulder onto Sting's, who shifted uneasily for a second and then straightened, starting off again.
I'll be seeing them again soon, he thought, I can feel it. That Sting… there's something different about him.
That was the voice.
That pierced the ears.
And broke the heart.
Of the outlaw named Vash.
"I-insurance girls?" he said it before he even turned to look at them but as he did 'lo he was right.
Both stood there, looking as they had when he had left them, both with wide eyes, staring in slight disbelief.
"Oh, Meryl, it is him! I told you it was!"
The shorter of the two was still stunned, even after her partner ran to Vash, hugging him tightly, proving that he was tangible, that he wasn't a ghost.
It can't be him, Meryl thought rapidly. But it is! He's alive, I don't believe it… he made it out alive! He's here… he came back!
But any rejoice she was feeling was quickly washed away as anger emerged. "Vash, you jerk!" she shrieked. "You had us worrying sick about you for over a month! You inconsiderate asshole! I can't believe you!"
Ah, music to his ears. Meryl's screeching never sounded more beautiful. "Good to see you too… Meryl."
It made the woman stop her ranting and just stare, their eyes locking and time stopping for a second. He'd never said he name before. It was then she let the barrier around herself collapse and she found herself in his arms, hers wrapped around his waist, her face buried in his chest. "I missed you, Vash," she whispered, "even if you are an idiot broom-head."
This is how it should always be, he thought. But it can't… when Knives wakes up he isn't going to be happy and he can't know what I feel for Meryl or she'll be endangered. Maybe someday Knives will be well and I can love her like I've wanted to.
Milly coughed and the two leapt away from one another, blushing crimson. The taller girl smiled brightly. "Since Mr. Vash is back we won't have to return to the office again, you should tell the boss that, Meryl."
Meryl nodded. "Yeah, I'll get to it in the morning. But first… I want to know what happened with Vash. Is he… you know… dead?"
The outlaw didn't meet her gaze. "No," he whispered. "He's alive. I was going to get a doctor for him before you two showed up."
They although shocked and a little scared that he'd brought that killer with him, alive nonetheless, didn't say anything and silence fell between them.
* * *
Vann watched Sting from where he sat on the bed. The man stood in the window, looking out it thoughtfully, arms crossed, sunglasses missing, revealing what was hidden. Scars danced circles around his left eye, which was staring sightlessly into the darkness of the streets below. "You can't keep up this disguise the entire time we're here."
"I like this disguise, no one suspects the skinny looking man of God."
"Someone's bound to find out or notice or something."
Vann shifted uncomfortably. "This is dangerous."
"I warned you about that coming into the business, kid."
Silence fell between them.
Sting looked to the floor. "Vann… I told you it was dangerous… I also told you that there'd come a time when I'd have to leave you behind, where it'd get too dangerous."
"I know, Sting. What if they find out?"
"Find out what?"
I don't know… there are a lot of bad things people can find out about me
that'll throw us both into peril."
"I mean… Sting… what if they find out you're a woman? There are people crawling this place looking for you and there are, needless to say, few women with your looks."
Sting looked away. "Get some food, Vann and bring it up… I'm gonna take a shower."
Vann nodded and watched his companion turn toward the bathroom door, stripping away the black coat, revealing a white shirt that clung to smooth curves and a chest flattened from deliberate exercise. Their plan had been to get her around dressed as a man, a preacher nonetheless, but if anyone found out their secret was blown.
But if we fooled Vash the Stampede how hard can a bunch of mercenaries be hard to fool? Vann thought as he started downstairs, stopping at a door half-way down the hall. That unconscious, bullet-filled, blond man lay on the other side of that door. I really wonder what that story's really all about.