Disclaimer: This is an unauthorized derivative work infringing upon the characters and overall feel of the TV series Trigun. Go ahead, sue me. I'm $60,000+ in student loan debt, you're not going to squeeze a cent out of me.

Rating: PG

Note from the author: This is the sequel to 'Tame the Whirlwind'. If you haven't read that you can probably get through this fanfiction without too much trouble, however, I would still suggest starting at the very beginning (a very good place to start). The sequel to this story is 'Inherit the Wind' which is still in the production phase. For those still waiting for the final chapter of the first fanfiction I apologize. If you think you're anxious, think how bad poor Vash feels waiting for two weeks with Meryl's shirt only half off. Alas, sex scenes are not something I feel comfortable writing in the middle of ethics classes.

Inspiration Soundtrack: Lightning Crashes

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But on the twenty-fifth of May, at sunset, a violent wind howled madly,

Battering and rending my plants;

Rain poured down, Pounding the vines and flowers into the earth.

It was so painful

But as the work of the wind, I have to let it be ...

- Ryokan

Reap the Whirlwind

He stayed for three months.

Three months didn't seem like quite enough comfort to her for 10 years of lonely waiting, but it would have to do. She couldn't really even act surprised when he told her, she had always known he would leave someday. He had . obligations. For whatever reason, he felt that he was responsible for every single soul on the planet. That it was his job to protect them from themselves. And maybe he was right. Whatever the case, it would have taken a harder and colder person than her to stop him. Somehow she knew, he needed to help people. As much as it was an assignment, it was also his passion, his gift.

His love.

She could never deny him anything. It would never even have crossed her mind to beg him to stay. Instead she stared at him over the stack of pancakes he placed in front of her with what she hoped were calm eyes and asked him the only question that meant anything.

"Will you come back?"

He nodded, his face all seriousness. A silent promise. A man of his word. He stared at her with piercing blue-green eyes, as if wondering whether she would question him further. But she was too wise to him for that. She wouldn't let on how much his announcement had hurt her by asking more than the basics. Where he went wasn't important. Not why, either, she doubted he really understood himself. She didn't even query him as to when he thought he might return. A week, a year, another decade of waiting, it didn't matter. He would come back to her, he had said so. Instead she slid her knife through the several fluffy layers of pancake goodness before her, popped a tasty hunk into her mouth, and forced a smile at him around the fork.

It did cross her mind for a moment that she could follow him, but she had shaken that idea out of her head almost as quickly as it had appeared. First, he wouldn't have wanted her to go. His job just would have been harder with her always in the way. And of course he'd always be worrying about her. It had been bad enough when they were just friends, traveling companions. How much worse would things be now? She would be a target for every bounty hunter and bad guy in the territories trying to get a hand on Vash the Stampede. She would be a hindrance to him, someone he was not willing to risk any danger to, and she would hold him back. But that was not the only reason. She needed to be here, for his sake. He needed to know that, somewhere, there was a home for him to return to. To know that someone was waiting for him. A thought to keep him warm on cold evenings sleeping in the desert. A happy memory of love for when everyone else seemed an enemy.

He needed her to be his rock, and she was willing.

And so they finished breakfast and she went to work as always and that night they made love with the windows open to the hot breeze of midsummer. It smelled faintly spicy, like it always had in her dreams of the territories, and his tears had tasted of salt when she kissed his closed eyelids. They left the apartment together the next morning, him heading off down the street in the opposite direction. She couldn't help herself, she turned to watch him go. The sight of his lanky outline walking away from her seemed somehow achingly familiar. She didn't cry, but at the office her co-workers could see her eyes were puffy and red, and left her alone.

It was sometime two weeks later that she started getting sick.

At first she thought it was something that she'd eaten. Bad eggs, bad meat. She thought about contacting the grocery store and reporting her symptoms. In the end, she figured it was just her and left well enough alone.

The next day she was sick again.

'Stomach flu?,' she wondered, raising a hand to her head to check for temperature. It didn't make sense, she felt fine aside from the throwing up. A little depressed maybe, but that was understandable. She thought she would have heard if something was going around. 'Stress?' Yes, that could be it. Since Vash had left she'd been working herself to the bone. Putting in extra hours and foregoing time with friends in an effort to forget the huge gaping hole in her soul. Some time off was in order. She called in to work and spent the day with Millie and the kids at the park.

Laying on a picnic table, arms crossed behind her head for a pillow, she watched the two young children run screaming and laughing in a game of their own devising. She smiled for the first time in a week. Millie sat at her feet knitting.

"I can't believe you're knitting, Millie," she teased, "I seem to remember you wielding a stun gun not too long ago." Millie paused in her work and smiled up at the kids gamboling before her.

"Things change when you're a mother," she said in all seriousness. Meryl looked at her quizzically, Millie was very rarely serious. "You make sacrifices, you learn to accept things you wouldn't have before." She turned away from her children to gaze at her old friend. Her face oozing a sort of sad honesty she continued, "You grow up."

Meryl thought she was quite grown up enough, thank you. And Millie? Meryl smiled and shook her head before leaning back again upon her arms. Millie had never grown up, whatever she said. Meryl watched clouds race across the hazy blue of the sky. A hot wind blew hair damp with midday sweat from her brow. One of the kids screeched as the play got a little too rough. Millie stood with comforting words and moved to break up the altercation. Meryl's eyes drifted closed. Yes, this day had been exactly what she needed.

That evening she was able to get to sleep almost right away. She had even managed to skip her now nightly ritual of staring out her window until the early hours of the dawn. Staring at the spot down the street where she had last been able to distinguish his retreating form. Staring and hoping that, just maybe, he'd come. That maybe he'd find two weeks to be too long without her. That maybe he was hurting as much as she. That she meant as much to him as he to her. Instead she finished the book she'd been trying to read forever and wrote in her journal. She curled up on top of her blankets, it was too hot to do otherwise, and drifted off to dreams that, for once, didn't involve him. She dreamt of the kids and the park. Of screaming laughter and childish tears. She dreamt of bouncing balls and swings and jump ropes. And smiling blue-green eyes.

In the morning she was sick again.

She was better by the time she dragged herself into work ten minutes late, but she must have looked awful because the boss didn't even chew her out. She was beginning to get concerned. She had very rarely been sick in her life and didn't really know how to deal with it. Wounds she could handle. Bandages and antiseptic, those were concrete things that she could understand. Disease you couldn't see, couldn't feel, and generally just had to let run its course without any really effective treatment. She mentioned it to Millie that afternoon when she stopped off to return the book.

The kids were squabbling over a game of checkers in the living room. Millie was preparing dinner, chopping onions and trying hard not to cry. Meryl leaned comfortably against the kitchen counter munching on a fresh baked cookie. That's why she didn't fall over at what Millie said in a sniffling reply.

"Maybe you're pregnant?"

Chop.

Meryl coughed out little bits of cookie. Eyes staring wide and frightened at her friend through dark bangs. "What?!?" she almost shouted.

"Well (chop) it's just that it sounds like morning sickness to me (chop)."

Meryl was in shock. "How?. . .I mean. . . I can't. . .I mean. . ." She trailed off not knowing what she meant.

"Well," said Millie in that simple, cheerful, no nonsense way of hers (chop), "It's pretty clear that you and Mr. Vash were-"

"Millie!" Meryl shrieked in an aghast whisper. She glanced towards the doorway that lead to the living room. The kids were still playing loudly. She sighed shortly in relief, they hadn't heard anything and probably wouldn't understand if they had.

"Come on Meryl, what's to hide (chop)," Millie said teasingly, "Everybody knows." Meryl colored furiously at the idea that her sexual exploits were common knowledge. "Anyways," Millie continued with her lecture, "that's how it works (chop). When a man and a woman love each other they-"

"I know how it works, Millie," she replied darkly. Meryl was beginning to get annoyed with her friend. Suddenly her legs didn't feel quite strong enough to hold up even her slight weight, she collapsed into a chair at the small kitchen table. Arms hanging lifeless at her sides and eyes still wide with shock, she tried to remember when had been her last "time of the month". She hadn't really been keeping track lately, she'd been too concerned with Vash's departure. Too busy wallowing in her own self pity. 'Oh God,' she thought, raising a trembling hand to her face. It was possible.

In a voice that sounded like that of a scared young girl and not her own, she went on, "I never.I haven't been paying attention. . .it didn't even occur to me . . ." She was stuttering like an idiot. 'He's not even my species,' she thought desperately.

Chop.

Millie turned to her, eyes full of concern and understanding and everything that made up the strong-willed Millie that had come out in their travels whenever Meryl had felt too weak or scared to go on. "That's how it happens sometimes." She had dropped the lecturing tone and her eyes had gone soft, remembering. "That's how Nicky came about, you know. I never intended to have another so soon after little Meryl."

Elbows leaning on the table and hands held before her eyes, Meryl stared at her friend through spread fingers. Millie's knowledge, Millie's understanding, Millie's pity. These hurt her more than the pinch of her own naive stupidity.

Closing her eyes and letting her head hang between her hands, Meryl shut out the suddenly incomprehensible world. A world where her cheerful, ditzy friend turned out to be the smarter and stronger of the two of them. A world where men left those they loved in order to save the souls of those who didn't give a damn about them or anyone else. For a moment, she wasn't sure she wanted to live in that world, let alone bring more life into it.

"You're right, Millie," she said after what seemed like forever, her voice muffled by the thick dark hair hanging about her face. She raised her head to gaze, shaking, at her friend. "Maybe. . . maybe I should go see a doctor.