Chapter 8: Partings
A/N: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I'VE UPDATED!! Whee!
The long awaited Chapter 8 is here as well as the solution to that God-awful cliffhanger I left you guys on!
Chap. Summary: No summary this chapter, you have to read to find out what happens.
Below is my attempt at that little 'preview' thing at the end of all Trigun Episodes… well mine, when I do them, will be at the beginning. It's not really from any one character's perspective so yeah…
There are some people that we come across in life who leave their mark on our hearts. Memories of them might fade but the impact they had upon our lives is forever. And if they're important enough to us, even if they betray, we will always long to forgive them and when they die… we will always long to hold them just one last time and say to them what we didn't have the courage to say.
Sting swore that for a minute her heart beat outside of her chest as she stared down the barrel of the revolver pointed at her.
"It'd be so easy," the man whispered. "Just to put a bullet in you now, kid… you've been a thorn in my side since we met." A small smile graced his features. "But I don't think I could do that… you're my favorite heartache, kid… even if your ass ain't worth a cent."
"And you really just enjoy the thrill that comes with aiming a gun at someone and giving them a heart attack huh?!" she shouted back, all shock and panic leaving in an instant as anger settled in.
Scar chuckled. "Could you blame me?" he asked.
"I guess not."
He nodded as he looked down at the gun and then promptly sat it down on the nightstand. "We have a lot to talk about."
"Indeed we do. But why don't we first take care of those wounds, hmm? And since you're awake-" she tossed him the rolls of bandages and gauze-"you do it."
"Never willing to do anything for anyone else once it becomes an inconvenience, eh?"
Sting smiled as she kicked back in a chair across the room from his bed. "You know the story all too well, Scar, I'm surprised you had to even say that and besides… you're always an inconvenience . Now who should ask the questions first? Me, because I was the victim of that little set up, or you, because your poor, decrepit body had to go through the ordeal of being shot?"
"It wasn't a set up!" he protested, unbuttoning his shirt and then easily removing the bandages.
"Then exactly what the hell was it, Scar?!"
The man sighed and stared at the ground. "He really wants you back, you know."
"That's too bad because all I'm willing to give him is a hot, lead bullet right between the eyes. Now explain."
"I didn't set it up, I swear. I didn't even know that they had followed me."
"But the way that they set up for the attack… there was no way that those morons could've come up with it themselves… unless, of course, Mason's gone up a rung on the ladder of organized crime and hired somewhat intelligent goons."
Scar shook his head as he started to re-bandage his shoulder wound. "They had someone else order that attack. They wouldn't have moved in otherwise. Somebody knew that you were going to be there."
"So you're saying that someone's been following me? I'd of seen them by now. Besides, they don't know about my disguise… you didn't even know about it."
"Are you looking hard enough? Who were those aces you had up your sleeves back at the bar? Maybe one of them-"
"How would you know that? Who are they?" the man asked, raising an eyebrow at her as he tucked in the loose end of the white bandage and slowly eased his shirt on.
Sting sighed. "The one's named Millions Knives. He's a crack shot, strong, but has been recently seriously wounded in a gunfight."
"And the other one?"
"His name's… well… he's Vash the Stampede."
This, to Scar, seemed funny, because the second the words escaped her lips he promptly burst into loud, obnoxious laughter. "Nice one, Sting… now c'mon, tell me… what's his name?"
"Which one do you want, dumbass? Vash the Stampede? The Humanoid Typhoon? The world's first human natural disaster? The sixty-billion double-dollar man? The donut-munching crybaby of a gunman who's following me around? Pick one, it's the same guy!"
The man stared at her seriously. "You're really serious aren't you?"
"Do you think that I'd joke about something like that?"
"Vash the Stampede," he whispered, musing over it, "the frickin' Humanoid Typhoon. Are you sure he's the real thing?"
"He's proved it countless times. Besides, someone like him wouldn't go around saying he was Vash unless he really was. He'd have no reason to otherwise."
Scar sat back, mindlessly buttoning and unbuttoning the top of his shirt. "So… you're that desperate to get rid of Mason, huh? Turn a blood-thirsty killer like that on him?"
"I didn't hire Vash to do anything… and that man's hardly what I'd call a 'blood-thirty killer'."
"Didn't hire him, eh?"
"Nope… he sort of hired himself… funny really. We met by accident but I think it's more like destiny now."
"Don't feed me that bullshit, kid," Scar grumped back, eyeing her. "Destiny my boot."
Sting laughed and stood up from her chair, stretching her arms into the air as she rose up on her tip-toes. "Bitter as ever I see."
"I never had a reason to be otherwise… look, why don't you get out and go to bed? We can talk more in the morning. I've been sitting here for three hours waiting for your sorry ass and I'm beat."
The woman nodded turned to leave but his voice stopped her again.
"So you're sure it can't be him? Either of them?"
She placed her hand on the doorknob and shook her head. "No… I trust them both… maybe that's insane… and suicidal… but I do. Good night, Scar."
(Next morning- it's not letting me put in my normal spacing)
"Vann, get up, c'mon."
The boy groaned as he curled tighter into a ball beneath the covers of his bed. "Go away, Sting."
"You're sick aren't you? See I told you not to take those drinks from those saloon girls but no you're a big man, you can handle it and besides they were pretty, right? That's what you get for not listening to me," Sting chided as she stood over him, arms crossed, glaring.
"Does that mean you'll go away?"
"No, it means that I merely have to do this!"
Vann emitted a sound that was a cross between a squawk and a shriek as Sting lifted the mattress and dumped him out onto the floor.
"See you downstairs in five kid."
"What is that thing?" Sting asked as she approached Wolfwood and Vash, who were seated in the hotel's lobby. Leaning against the wall next to the priest was a large cross covered with canvas, which was held on by a series of belts.
"It's a beauty isn't it," Wolfwood said proudly, smiling, "had it sent in just this morning after Vash told me last night that he'd left it behind a few cities back."
The woman grunted as she tried to lift it but found it impossible. "I can see why he would. It'd be impossible to carry it and Knives. But that still doesn't explain what it is."
"It's his personal arsenal," Vash said, "or at least something like that."
"A priest with an arsenal, huh? That's a teensy bit unusual. Oh, damn, wait, what was I thinking? Vash the Stampede having someone normal following him around? Never," the woman quipped, rolling her eyes as she sat down.
"Very funny," the outlaw muttered, eyeing her.
Sting grinned. "So, are we going to hang around here some more?"
"You're the one that's been dragging us around so far so why don't you decide?" Vash said propping his chin up on his palm.
The woman shrugged and shifted in her seat uncomfortably. "We could stay here another day I guess. It wouldn't hurt anything."
Sting raised an eyebrow as Vash fell backwards out of his seat and jumped when a large hand was placed on her shoulder. "Oh, hey, old man," she said, looking up at Scar and then laughing sheepishly. "Ooh, hey, Vash I forgot to tell you, Scar woke up last night."
"No kidding?!" the outlaw shouted, thumping his head on the table as he tried to sit up and then falling back again and he held the offended area. "So I take it he's not the bad guy if you're being so nice to him."
"Well, he's not the bad guy at least."
"Jeez, Sting, don't be so nice," Scar muttered, pulling up a chair.
"Careful, asshole, the little thing might not hold your fat."
"I'd rather be fat than a twig," he snarled, lifting a foot and pushing her and her chair over.
The window behind them shattered and in a second humans proved to be the excitable beasts they are and all chaos broke loose.
No way, Wolfwood thought as the memory of the old man shoving the woman down just in time flashed through his mind. No one but Vash can do that.
If anyone else at the table made this realization they didn't show it as Sting and Vash scrambled to one side of the now empty window pane and Scar and Wolfwood made for the other.
"What the hell?" Sting whispered. "I thought that we were done with this shoot-out bullshit for another few days! Do you have a different schedule than me or something, Typhoon?"
Vash ignored her for a second as he drew his gun. Secretly he glanced over at Scar, who looked peeved. How did he know? the Plant thought. Knives, where are you?
Resting, brother, like you told me to this morning… another assailant… you don't have very good luck do you?
Now's not the time to be like this, Knives, Vash grumbled mentally back. At least help by covering fire or something.
The brother's reply didn't come and Vash swore under his breath. Knives' mood-swings had the worst timing.
"We're sitting ducks here!" Wolfwood growled. "What the hell are we supposed to do? Someone could get shot!"
"Someone already has," Sting whispered, horror gripping her.
In the confusion they'd all missed where the bullet had landed and that a young girl, stricken silent by absolute terror, was now kneeling beside her father, who was slowly bleeding over the lobby floor.
"Damn it," the priest hissed, lunging forward to assist.
Sting watched as Vash moved to help as well, tending to the man's wound as Wolfwood did his best to comfort the little girl, who's tear-streaked and panic-stricken face hurt more than bullets.
"Wait… where's Vann?!" the woman hissed, eyes widening. He should've been down quite a while ago, though she was happy he wasn't, she worried irrationally for him.
"We'll worry about that later," Scar replied as he carefully slid up the wall so he didn't reveal himself through the window and managed a look through the shattered pane. "It's clear now I think. I don't see anyone in the building across from us. They must've split after they realized that they hadn't hit who they wanted to. Let's get that guy a doctor, there's nothing you can do, Vash."
"Knives? Knives, I was wondering if you'd seen Vann, I can't find him anywhere and-" Sting stopped half-way through what she was going to say when she realized that the room she was stepping into was desolate. She sighed. "You know it'd figure that you're gone when I actually need your help with something."
She sighed, glancing around the room, frowning as her eyes caught some bandages lying on the bed. When she neared she could see that they were stained red with blood and looked new used.
"What are you doing in here?"
Sting looked up quickly to find Knives standing in the doorway of the bathroom that attached to his bedroom. He wore a white, collared shirt and a pair of simple cotton pants and looked very irked with her presence. "Sorry, I was just wondering if you'd seen Vann."
"I haven't seen the brat, now get out before I remove you," he replied sharply, venom in his tone.
Sting lifted one of the bandages from the bed. "Where'd this come from?"
"That's none of your business," Knives snapped. He wanted to move from where he stood in the doorway of his bathroom but he didn't want to expose to her the fact that he was weak, the way he limped.
His wounds had been torn open again in the rash, idiotic moment where he decided to save that pathetic spider's life. They would've healed properly if Vash hadn't been dragging him around the desert so carelessly for so long. His twin had done a fair job at keeping the wounds cleaned but the constant shifting hadn't allowed them to heal properly. The fact that Vash hadn't allowed him to regenerate in a Plant had made it worse. He'd be marred with scars similar to those that Vash's body was deformed with.
"You didn't hurt yourself pushing me out of the way did you?" she asked.
The moment after Knives had saved her she had wondered about it briefly. The landing for them both had been hard. More-so him than her; she wasn't recovering from being shot.
"And if I had?" Knives didn't know where she was going. He didn't want her sympathy. He didn't want her to 'feel bad' for him. Even wounded he was still stronger and worth much more than her.
Sting frowned at the ice in his tone. "Forget it," she said, turning and leaving.
"Look, spider, don't get the wrong idea about what happened. It was a mistake and it'll never be duplicated… next time it comes down to that you either save yourself or you die because I'm not going to be there to save you. Your kind is weak… there's no point to saving a human."
She stared at him for a second before quickly stepping out of the room and closing the door behind her.
"What the hell's going on, Vash?"
The outlaw stood, leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed. "What do you mean?" he asked.
"I'm not kidding with you, man," the woman hissed, glaring at him. "I was going to let Knives being the way he is slip by because I mean he's obviously been through some hard-ass times but most of the mentally-instable people I've met still think they're human at least."
Vash sighed. "We all have our own little horror stories to tell… you told me yours and I guess it's only fair that I tell you mine…"
Scar was elsewhere.
The tails of his long cloak brushed the dusty ground and people parted ways to make room for his passing.
He turned quickly down the alley between two large buildings and continued down it until he was out of sight from everyone on the streets.
"You've been following me for three blocks… when do you plan on striking?" he asked, eyes shifting upward to the rooftop of the building to his right.
A young man sat on the edge of the roof, one leg hanging carelessly down, arms folded around the other. He wore a flowing brown duster and a white mask to hide his face. A sleek rifle was held on a strap across his back and a revolver rested on his hip.
"Beautiful day isn't it?"
"Don't feed me that bullshit… what are you doing here?"
"You saw me this morning through the window didn't you? And you shoved her out of the way in the knick of time… I knew you would… I was hoping you would. Because I needed her possible danger to lure you out. Your welcome is worn out; Mason only kept you around because you had information important to him but now you're a liability and I've been hired to get rid of that liability."
"So I'm supposed to get killed by a coward who hides behind a mask?" Scar asked, scowling, "Mason apparently can't afford honorable thugs any more or what?"
"Watch it old man."
"No, you watch it, kid." The old man's rammed heavily into one wall of the alley, causing it to, surprisingly, cave inward under his weight and collapse.
He was out of there in a flourish of his black cloak, leaving his hunter behind for the moment.
"Vash! Where's Sting?"
The outlaw turned immediately toward the voice and saw Scar sprinting toward where he stood in the center of town. "I don't know," the Plant replied quickly, watching as the man sharply stopped and eyed him. "Why? What's wrong?"
"No time. Tell her that I'm sorry for everything," Scar said hurriedly, shaking his head, eyes rapidly shifting from side-to-side as if he were trying to see something not there.
"What? What's going on?" Vash asked, brow furrowing in confusion.
The man ignored the question as he turned slightly to his left, eyes focusing on the rooftops surrounding them. "You know… I'd run but there's no way I'd get away… why prolong the inevitable?" he said, laughing hoarsely. "Make sure she doesn't do anything stupid, Stampede."
Vash's eyes widened as he realized what was coming a second too late.
Scar had just enough time to glance upwards before a gunshot cracked through the air and his body fell heavily to the ground at the Typhoon's feet; a sizeable entry wound blazing a path right through his heart
The outlaw looked quickly toward a building almost directly in front of where Scar had been standing. A man stood on the edge of the roof, lowering his rifle and looking triumphant, despite the fact that his face was hidden behind a white mask.
Vash, eyes narrowed, reached for his revolver but the sharp sound of another bullet firing stopped his finger on the trigger.
The assassin let out a scream before he lost balance as his body fell, crashing to the ground below. The panic that had started after Scar's bullet was stirred up again as the people, who had been shocked still, began to scatter for cover as well.
Sting stepped into view, a gun in hand, and her eyes met Vash's.
"I'm sorry," he mouthed, crouching down beside Scar's body.
Sting's shoulders and head slumped and she fell to one knee, a hand rising to cover her face as tears began to burn in her eyes.
Damn you, she thought, staring at the body below her but not seeing it, not focusing on the blood pooling around it. "Damn you," she whispered.
A/N: Okay… that's not really a cliffhanger is it? Nah… I planned a really huge one but I decided not to. Anyways, PLEASE REVIEW!