I got a little frustrated writing my other Trigun fic, so I decided to take a little break and do a lemony style piece. Course...it could be because of some other type of frustration...but that's a whole nother issue. This kind of came out like train of thought and I do tend to ramble on and on. I think this is probably the loooongest lemon ever. (Snickers are own lame joke) Oh, well, you'll get the idea. Oh yeah, I'm also a sucker for fluffy angst and tension. You have been warned! Enjoy.

Don't own it. Don't care. Don't sue.

One more thing. I know how some of your minds work. Don't just skip to the end for the goodies! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat? Ah, shutting up now. R & R, kudasai! Oyasumi nasai, Gracie.

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It was chilly...a little too chilly for this time of year, but then again, night on the open desert had drastically different temperature changes compared to inside the mountain ranges. A steady wind swirled the sand around in frigid tornados across the dark landscape. Even the stars glittered like ice tonight against the frozen night blue backdrop of the sky. In the midst of the cold sat a little house...well a two-room shack really, which creaked with the wind as though it too was shivering from the weather.
Inside the shack were huddled two equally cold people.
"C-cold. I'm s-so c-c-cold!" Meryl chattered, holding her hands out as close to the light lamp as she could to try and warm them. "Danm it! Why isn't this getting hot? I'm freezing!"
"It's a light wave based conductor, it's not suppose to get too hot. That's just the way it was designed." Vash answered her calmly.
The blonde gunfighter was sitting against the opposite wall with a thick blanket wrapped tightly around his tall frame.
Meryl glared icy daggers at him and he cowered under the blanket. "Well, you asked!" he laughed nervously.
"Then why did you bring it?" she hissed, "If it doesn't give out any heat, what good is it right now, even if it is lost technology?"
"Well..geez Meryl, I brought it so we could see. Just relax, ok, the more you think about the cold, the worse it will be. We're only here for one night, anyway. We're actually lucky this house was here."
"Urrghh!" she growled in frustration, squeezing her own blanket around her shoulders and plopping down in the dirt floor on the other side of the room. "Of all the people to get stuck with out in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold desert with no source of heat, I had to get stuck with that stupid broom-head! I swear if we get out of this mess, I'm going to strangle him! Oh, what am I talking about...we're gonna freeze to death out here. How did you get us into this mess!?"
Vash put a hand behind his head and laughed sheepishly. "Yeah, sorry about that, I guess it was a slight miscalculation on my part. It'll be ok, really, it's actually not as cold as all that. You just need to calm down a little." Opps..I guess that was the wrong thing to say...
The steam rising from Meryl's ears made her look like a boiling teakettle, but she was too angry to notice. She stood up and marched over to where Vash cringed against the drafty wall.
"A...slight...miscalculation!" she seethed, "SLIGHT!!! We're nearly 500 iles off course, you dingbat! That's not what I'd call a slight miscalculation! What! Were you completely drunk! And what do you mean, it's not that cold, did your brains get freezer burn or something?!"
Vash raised his hands up in defense, "Hey now, take it easy there. I was trying to get your mind on something else beside the cold, that's all, honest!"
Meryl was just about to go off on another tirade when she noticed something odd. Vash's blanket had slipped down off his shoulders, and all he was wearing was his black desert suit, which exposed his arms to the air. Even so, Vash didn't make any attempt to cover himself up again; in fact, he wasn't shivering or reacting to the cold at all. It was like, he hadn't even noticed the blanket was off. He wasn't cold at all! Her eyebrow quirked.
"All right, mister hot pants," she barked pointing a finger at him, "what gives? Why is it you don't look cold at all? It's got to be nearly zero right now!"
"Huh?" Vash looked up at her shaking form. Suddenly a switch turned on in his head. "Ohhh! I almost forgot!" Reaching into his bag, he pulled out a small leather case with a buckle on the front. He held it up to her and smiled his sixty billion double dollar smile. "This ought to help. Sorry, I always carry it around, so I nearly forgot I had it this time."
Meryl frowned at him before reaching out a hand to snatch the stupid bag from him, but when she had barely even touched the leather, she pulled her hand away in shock. "It...it's warm!" she yelped.
"Yup. This stuff has really saved me a few times out on the open desert when I've had no shelter like this." Vash flicked open the buckle and pulled back the flap. Leaning in closer to the opening, Meryl could just make out a blue gel-like substance, almost like a bubble, that glowed with a dull light. She could feel the warmth rising from the shining mass, and she leaned in closer to it, reaching her hands out toward it.
Vash quickly pulled the bag back from her outstretched hands and closed the flap again.
"Hey! What gives!" she bellowed. "I thought you said you were giving that to me to keep me warm!"
Vash looked at her intently before he spoke. "That stuff was called Gela-therm 21. It is a gelatinous thermal reactor with a type R-6 field container around it. If you had touched it directly, you'd have been burnt to a crisp in 10.34 seconds exactly."
Meryl just about fell over from surprise. She stared at him open mouthed as he packed the Gela-therm back into the leather bag and readjusted the straps. Since when was Vash the peeping, doghnut scarfing, basketball head, doofus...smart. And, since when did he worry about loud- mouthed Meryl's, safety?
*He worries about everyone, stupid, it doesn't mean anything.* she thought to herself. Slowly, she relaxed and sat down in front of him suspiciously.
"Here," he held the secured bag out to her, "you can touch it now. Don't worry, you won't get burned, it's a special case."
Gingerly, Meryl reached out and grasped the small bag in her hands. Instantly, she felt the warmth travel from her hands, up her arms, and spread like water throughout her whole body. She sighed in relief and hugged the bag close to her stomach, breathing deeply and contentedly.
"Th-thank you..." she whispered. "I'm sorry I yelled at you earlier. It wasn't all your fault that we got so lost. I should have checked the map to." she apologized.
"Don't worry about it," he said, taking another small leather bag out from his knapsack and strapping it around his waist. "No harm done, Meryl."
She felt her breath stop in her throat, and every partial in her body stood at attention.
He had called her by her real name! Not insurance girl.
He said her name.
Really said it.
She slowly looked up at him. He was staring down at the open bag attached to his torso. Was it just her imagination, or was he.... blushing?
Meryl shook her head to clear it. The sudden warmth was making her drowsy. *Come on, Meryl, snap out of it already. Cripes! It's just your imagination running wild again. You're just a friend, remember! He doesn't care about you like...like that.* she bit her lip and glanced back up at Vash. He was fiddling around inside the leather case with the Gela-therm, but he showed no signs of bursting into flame, or any discomfort at all. She wondered if it was because he...
...wasn't human.
"So...how come you can touch It." she asked in a softer tone of voice. "Does it hurt?"
"Nope! Can't feel a thing, actually, if I use this hand." he said cheerfully, holding up his artificial left arm. "I guess you could call it a blessing in disguise, really. It's programmed to react to extreme hot and cold and absorb the temperatures. I can also set it to any level of sensitivity I want. One of the perks of not being a...well...not being like everybody else..." he trailed off.
Stupid, stupid, stupid...Meryl thought, mentally slapping herself in the head. Why did she have to go remind him of something that was obviously painful for him to think about? No wonder he didn't care for her, she abused him so much.
*I'm sorry*. she thought with a heavy heart. *I'm so sorry, Vash.*
Vash snapped the leather bag shut and leaned back against the wall. His eyes were on the grimy window. They looked so sad. Meryl shifted in her seat and moved so she was leaning up against the same wall as him. With the heat pack, she was actually getting a little too warm now, and she uncovered her shoulders from the blanket. She'd taken off her usual tunic before they started out on the journey and was wearing a sleeveless version with a high neck and clasped front. The cold air on her skin felt strangely good now.
Vash glanced at her from the corner of his eyes and smiled. But, it was an empty smile.
"So, insurance girl, what are you planning to do when we get to Halavere City?"
So, they were back to "insurance girl" again.
"Oh, I don't know for sure." Meryl sighed, "I'm suppose to report to the local post and receive my new assignment. Since Milly has been exclusively assigned to follow you by herself now, the company is going to give me another disaster prevention job. Err! I mean...another job..."
Vash didn't answer, but his hands played absently with the buckle on the leather bag.
"So...what are you going to do when you get back to the house?" Meryl asked quickly.
He smiled sadly and leaned his had back on the wall. "I guess I'll keep trying to get Knives to come around," he said with a small laugh.
"Oh..." she nodded, remembering the day that Vash had wandered back into town with his comatose brother on his shoulder. The viscous killer who had destroyed thousands of lives, the self-proclaimed annihilator of mankind, the big-ass baby who couldn't stand getting a shot... Yeah, the killer plant was really a wimp when it came down to his own pain. Meryl gave a small snort of laughter as she recalled how scared she had been when she first saw him, and how Milly had raced right in with no fear at all. Since then, Milly had taken over caring for Vash's brother up until he woke.
"How do you think Milly is getting along with Knives right now?" Meryl asked with a smirk.
"Oh, I'll bet she's just fine. It's Knives I'm worried about. I hope she doesn't abuse him too much," Vash laughed. Milly was the only person, besides Vash, who had any control over the sulky plant. Knives seemed to loose his touch for destruction when he was around Milly, and Milly was able to keep him on a pretty short leash because of it.
"Yeah," Meryl laughed, "Milly's pretty amazing all right. Sometimes I forget how smart and capable she really is. You and her are a lot alike really...uh..." Meryl stopped and glanced at Vash, blushing pink in the process. "W-what I meant to say was...your, uh, personalities are real similar."
Vash raised his eyebrows and stared at her with a strange expression before he broke into a loud gaffough. "It's alright, don't sweat it!" he chuckled with a big grin on his handsome face. "Getting a compliment from you is like winning a game of poker with a royal flush. It doesn't happen too often, so it makes it extra special!"
"Uh...yeah...right." Meryl said as her eyebrow twitched. It was just like him to mixed praise with dumb comment like that. She never knew if he was being completely honest with her or not.
Except for that one time...*That's why you can't follow me...*
Meryl's heart still tightened when she remembered his words to her the day that Wolfwood was killed.
"Vash?" she began carefully, tightening her grip on her own legs.
"Mmhum?" he replied with his head down as if he knew what was coming.
"Why did you want to come with me this time?"
She waited for a response. Nothing.
As discreetly as she could, Meryl shifted her eyes toward him. He was staring down at the leather bag in his lap, eyes wide, his mouth was slightly open and his fingers were clamped around the metal buckle on the front flap. He looked...frozen. Something was wrong.
"Vash?" she leaned in toward him.
Suddenly, his whole body shivered violently, making Meryl jump back in surprise. "What! What is it, Vash!" she yelped.
"I'm soooo c-c-cold!" he said through chattering teeth. "My heat packs not w-working any more!Erghhhhhh! It's frickin' freezing in here! " he whined pitifully, shaking the bag close to his ear as if listening for broken parts. "No way! This can't be happening, this thing is suppose to have a half life of a thousand years!"
Turning the leather bag upside down, he dumped out the gel bubble and it hit the dirt floor with a dull smack. It was black and lifeless, and gave off no heat at all. Vash gaped at the cold blob on the floor and sat back down with a thud, wrapping the heavy blanket around himself and giving another shudder from the cold. "Just great!" he cried pitifully, "Why does this kind of thing always happen to me? What'd I do to deserve this! It's not bad enough I always get picked on, now I'm gonna freeze to death out here! Maaann!"
Meryl sweat dropped. *Geez, I forgot how much of a baby he can be?* she thought as she watched him hop up and down in his seat and rub his arms spastically with his hands to stay warm.
He was so preoccupied that he didn't notice at first when Meryl laid her hand on his shoulder and gently squeezed it.
"Relax you crazy idiot," she said in a calm voice, "we can share." She held out the second leather heat pack.
Vash stared wide-eyed into her face as if he couldn't believe his own ears. "What?"
"I said, we can share this, doofus. You don't think I'm going to let you freeze to death out here do you? I can't very well carry you back to town.. Besides, this is yours to begin with. I'd be freezing too if it wasn't for you."
"Uh, well...are you sure?" Vash stammered turning noticably red in the face, "What I mean is...we're going to have to get kinda close to both use it, you know."
Meryl felt her face burn again. "Yeah, I know." she said shyly. "What am I suppose to do though, let you die. I guess I'll just have to trust you to behave yourself, won't I." Meryl gave him a 'touch me in the wrong place and your dead' look.
"Eeep! Yes ma'am!" Vash saluted sheepishly.
Meryl unhooked the leather bag from around her waist and held it out toward Vash who placed his hands on either side of the small satchel. Instantly, Meryl felt a loss of warmth until only her hands and arms were at all comfortable. Vash seemed to be having the same problem since he hadn't stopped shivering.
"This isn't working." she growled, "all the heat is being lost like this. We have to get closer to the bag."
Gingerly, they both scooted together until their shoulders were barely touching. Extremely conscious of each others close proximity. Both of their hands were wrapped around the bag, but still it wasn't enough.
"I'm still cold," Meryl groaned, "Besides, we can't stay like this with our hands up all night, this is stupid. All the heat is escaping into the air!"
"We could...uh..." he began nervously, "...well, if we both got under one blanket and, uh, put the Gela-therm in between us...none of the heat would escape...right?"
Meryl narrowed her eyes at him.
"Or maybe not!" he gulped. "Uh...never mind! Dumb idea! Sorry! Forget I said it, maybe we could..."
"Ok." Meryl said, stopping Vash in mid-sentence. He gapped up at her. "You're right, it's the only way to keep warm enough to survive." she said flatly, not meeting his eyes.
"Uh...right." he managed.
The two of them wiggled out of their blankets, shivering from the increased cold. Vash took his slightly bigger blanket and laid it down on the dirt floor. Then they both sat down in the middle and he pulled the edges of the thick material over their shoulders, covering them completely. Vash felt Meryl's side pressed up against his. Her shoulder, her hip, her leg, all lay next to his own. He tried to move as little as possible.
She was so stiff, he wanted her relax against him.
As soon as the blanket was closed, Meryl felt the complete warmth return to her body. But it was nothing compared to the heat that came from being pressed against Vash's side. The close contact with his body made her blush even more intensely, and Meryl felt herself tense with excitement and her heart thrummed. The heat bag was laid down so it was half on her lap and half on Vash's, with both their hands still clasped over the top. Vash moved to adjust the bag a little and his hand brushed hers. She drew in a sharp breath.
Vash cleared his throat and croaked out, "You ok?"
"You sure?"
"I said I was fine!" she barked.
"Ok, ok. Sorry."
The minutes passed like hours to Meryl as she continued to feign being comfortable. But every time she shifted or moved her sore limbs, she would brush against an arm or a leg, or part of his chest. And she could feel his body tense with each contact. *Is he really that uncomfortable being this close to me?* she thought sadly. She tried catching his eye a couple of times, but his long blonde hair had fallen and was hanging over his face. Meryl sighed.
"Still ok?" he said softly, making her jump a little.
"Uh-huh. You?"
"Sure. But, uh, my arm is falling asleep, propped up like this."
Meryl flexed her own arm and sure enough, "Mine too, actually." she laughed slightly.
"I'm afraid this won't work." he said with a sad smile, "Maybe you should just hang onto this, I'll be alright."
"No!" she yelped, a little too quickly, "What I mean is, we just have to find a way to sit that's comfortable, you dork! Look, just...uh...put your arm around me and I'll move over a bit so I'm in front, that way our arms won't be bent in an uncomfortable way, ok." She bit her lip and waited earnestly for his response.
"S-sure." Vash stammered, setting a new red-in-the-face record.
"Ok, then." she replied. What was with him? He was usually so foreword with girls. Well...pretty girls anyway. Maybe that was it, maybe she just wasn't pretty enough.
Carefully, he lifted his arm so it looped over Meryl's shoulder and around her arm, pulling her into him. She shifted up a bit so her back could rest up against Vash's black clad chest and shoulder. The leather bag slid so it was mostly in his lap now. Meryl slowly relaxed her head so it rested on his large pectoral muscle and her hands grasped the smooth leather of the bag. The two friends both sat stiff and tense for a couple minutes. Then Vash sighed deeply and relaxed against the wall.
"You're right," he said, "this is...better."
"See...what did I tell you." Meryl said smugly.
This is...nice...so nice. And she relaxed as well.
Vash adjusted his arm so it wrapped around her more completely and Meryl leaned into his chest slightly, breathing deeply the scent of leather and gunpowder and fresh soap that was Vash. How often had she dreamed of just his situation, being close to him, laying in his embrace, even if it wasn't out of love? Just touching him and being touched by him. Ever since he had hugged her that day when he was almost killed, she had obsessed over the sensation of his body against hers, desperate to feel it again. Even if he did swing her around like a monkey the next time, she swore she wouldn't punch him in the head again. If only he would keep touching her like he was right now.
Her brain finally released her from all her tension and she stroked the leather bag sleepily, reveling in the warmth it gave. His artificial hand came up to rest over hers. So warm, so peaceful, so...perfect.
Vash grunted slightly and Meryl looked up into his face. His eyes were tightly shut and his mouth was set in a thin line. He seemed to be concentrating on something.
*What's with him, now? Is the bag too hot?*
Suddenly, Meryl realized exactly where the leather bag was sitting...
...and what it was sitting on.
In all their shifting about, the bag had moved so it was completely in Vash's lap, and since it was filled with gel, every movement could still be felt through the bag. She froze in terror and turned a brilliant shade of red. She hadn't just been stroking the bag.
Vash's eyebrows knitted together and he held his breath when she pulled her hands away from the leather. He didn't have the courage to tell her what her hands were unknowingly doing when she first started. Besides, it had felt so good. Slowly he opened his eyelids and looked at Meryl with cloudy eyes. The world came screeching to a halt as his sky blue meet her steely gray. A look of tender longing. How long had he dreamt of something like this, from anybody. But, it was different with her. It meant so much more somehow. Vash felt his heart hammer not only from arousal, but from another emotion that he hadn't felt in decades. So beautiful...so delicate...so...
...so pissed off!
He jumped up out of his seat just in time to avoid a swinging right punch.
"You unbelievable pervert!" Meryl screeched like a banshee. "I knew this was a bad idea! Urrgghh! Why am I not surprised? You'll chase anything in a skirt you dirty jerk!
"Ah! Sorry, I'm sorry! Really! I just didn't know how to stop you!"
"Didn't know how to stop me! You blinking idiot, that's a likely story! I've seen you when you're on a hormonal rampage, looking up girl's skirts and peeking in their bathroom windows! This whole thing was just a set up wasn't it?! I can't believe I was so stupid!"
"H-hey! It's NOT like that, honest!" Vash held up his hands in defense.
"Shut up!" Meryl shut her eyes.
*But it IS like that,* she thought, *you don't love me, Vash, you'll never really love me, not like her. That's why I can't give in, even if I want to. It's your fault, for making me want you. You...you bastard...*
"Meryl?" he said with hurt in his voice.
She cringed. He had said her name again, but this time it hurt to hear it. Tears pricked the corners of her eyes.
"Meryl...?" he said tenderly, reaching for her hand.
No. Stop it. Hurt him.
"Put a sock in it you plant bastard!" she screamed, slapping his hand away and storming off to the farthest corner of the room with her blanket. "I'd rather die from the cold than let you touch me again you perverted unhuman asshole!" She threw herself down against the wall and completely covered herself in the blanket, hiding her whole head in the dark cave of material.
Instantly, she realized the horribleness of what she had said to him. Unhuman, it wasn't even a real word, but it was probably the worst thing she could have ever called him.
Unhuman? Vash sat stock still, shock written on his face. Was that what she really thought of him? Then it was true. Worst fears always hit you when you're least prepared. He had been a fool in thinking she could ever care about a...thing...like him.
That she could ever...love him.
Doing the best Meryl could to bite back the guilty tears that threatened to fall, she hugged herself as tightly as she could to battle the ragging cold that overtook her again. Shivering from the loss of heat, both from his body and the leather heat pack, Meryl concentrated on breathing as calmly as she could.
Why did she react like that? It's not like she hadn't ever fantasized about Vash before. Why did she go off on him like that?
The answer was that she wanted more than pure physical contact from him.
She wanted so much more.
*Don't think about it,* she told herself. *It would never have worked. It could never be real love. He'll never...never love you like...like you love him.* Meryl felt her heart break the moment she accepted the truth. She loved him. She loved Vash. And she had lost him now, forever.
A good hour passed by, but neither of them made any move to talk to the other. Meryl kept her head buried under the blanket, shivering and shaking. After a while, her little cave of solitude became so stuffy, she felt she couldn't take it anymore.
That's when she heard it.
A soft hiccup at first, the sound carried gently from the other side of the room. It took her a minute to realize what it was.
No, sobbing. Sobbing from the heart. Sobbing that was being suppressed as much as it possibly could be; as if the person crying was trying as heard as they could not to be discovered. But it was too much for them. The pain escaped in short soft choking bursts and sniffs. It was a heart wrenching sound.
Meryl slowly peered out from under her blanket and her own bleary eyes focused on Vash. He was sitting against the wall with his blanket in a pile on the floor, leaving his body completely exposed to the cold and slightly blue. The leather heating pack lay abandoned in the middle of the floor where she had flung it. She couldn't see his face; it was buried in his hands. But, she could see his mouth and his teeth, which were clenched together tightly. Tears poured out from under his hands and ran down his chin, dripping and pooling along his neck and chest. His shoulders shook, but not from the cold. The sight broke her heart all over again.
Forgetting her own anger and pain, Meryl stood and shuffled over to where he was.
"Vash?" she whispered. Her bottom lip quivered slightly when he didn't respond. It was too much for her to take.
I'm so sorry.
"Vash, stop it Vash...please stop..." Meryl fell down in front of him and covered his hands with her own. A loud burst of crying came from his throat when she touched him, and Meryl felt her own tears slid down her cheeks. "Please...stop..." she rasped "...please, Vash." she tried prying his hands away from his face, but they wouldn't budge. She was scared now.

"Vash...look at me please...please..."
But he refused to met her eyes and instead let out shuddering breath, "I...I'm sorry," he choked through his tears. "I'm..sorry..."
"Vash," Meryl cried out as she flung her arms around his neck and sobbed into his shoulder, releasing all her anger, pain, and longing, "You stupid..." she wailed, "It's not a big deal, really! I'm not m-mad...it's ok...I'm not angry w-with you. I'd c-could never hate you, you idiot. Please stop crying..I can't stand it...I'm so sorry, I'm the one who should be sorry. I'm sorry I called you so many awful things...It's not your f- fault...God, I should have told you! I'm so sorry, Vash, please f-forgive me. I'm so sorry...so sorry...so...so...uunh..." Meryl couldn't go on anymore when she felt Vash's tear soaked hands grab her back and crush her into his embrace.
For a long while, the two of them sat there in each other's arms, wrapped in each other's pain and comfort, oblivious to the cold. Eventually, their sobs subsided and they relaxed in each other's arms, sniffing occasionally and gently caressing each other for comfort. Weakly, Meryl lifted her head up and looked into Vash's face. Her heart fluttered in her chest.
He was looking at her with that strange expression again. His eyes were red and puffy from all the crying but they also held a soft light that warmed her more than that stupid heat pack.
*I could live in that look...* she thought. She reached out a hand to touch his face, and he leaned into her touch, closing his eyes and sighing. He was so perfect, gentle, and....cold...
"Vash, you're freezing," Meryl said with panic, "you're skin is like ice!" She looked around for the leather pouch and snatched it off the floor along with her blanket and his. Vash watched her mutely, with a strange stillness she did not like. Just how long had he been this cold? Tenderly, Meryl tucked Vash's blanket behind his back and around his shoulders. He was so cold.
She smiled warmly, "All right drama queen," she said softly, "I know a way for us both to be warm, as long as you behave yourself this time," she chuckled weakly. Vash smiled sadly and closed his eyes.
Meryl set the leather bag in Vash's blue hands. Immediately, the color began to come back and he shivered uncontrollably from the change in temperature. Without wasting a moment, Meryl adjusted his legs so he was sitting Indian style, then she situated herself on his lap, pulling her blanket up over her shoulders and resting her head on his chest. His heartbeat pounded in her ear.
"Put your arms around me," she whispered.
Vash hesitantly looped his strong arms around Meryl's smaller frame, pressing her to him and causing the warmth to envelop them both completely. They melted into each other, exhausted from the mental stress of the past couple hours. *Even if he doesn't love me, there's nothing to stop me from pretending tonight*. she thought and snuggled into the soft material of his shirt. A few minutes later she was asleep.
The outlaw slowly saw his vision come back into focus as warmth coursed through his body. The sudden rushes of heat made his skin tingle intensely. He gazed down at the thick head of black hair nestled under his chin and inhaled the scent deeply. Lavender.
How did he feel about Meryl, really? What was she to him?
Vash remembered how he had felt when she told him not to touch her ever again. The thought sent a chilly wave through his stomach. It had felt like...like when Rem had died. It was the same feeling of hopelessness and despair. What was the connection, he questioned, between Rem and Meryl. *I've almost got it,* he thought, *I just need a little more time*.
His hand stroked her hair tenderly and she sighed against his body. The vibration sent electric currents through his system and he closed his eyes.
From the edge of sleep, Vash heard her whisper something.
"...Vash..." she breathed, suspended in a dream, "mnn...love you..."
He knew it before she said it.
"That's it." he said quietly.
As gently as he could, he readjusted Meryl's body so her back was lying against his chest. Then, slowly, he brought his knees and arms up around her and encased her in a circle of his own body. His hands moved around her waist and his head came down to rest on her shoulder, and he cried.
This time, he cried quiet tears of happiness. She loved him.
That was what he had always wanted, without realizing it.
He fell asleep with his lips pressed to the soft skin of her shoulder in a dreamless kiss.

*************************************************************************** All right kids, you go to bed. Adults, you can stay up late for the next episode. Milly: (wiping eyes with a hanky) Oh that was so sweet! I just love those two. I knew they would get together sometime. Love is so wonderful! Wolfwood: Great, now the mushy stuff is over they can get onto the shagging! Milly: Dear...? (smiling sweetly) Wolfwood: Yes, honey? Milly: (Pulls stun gun out from behind her back) Wolfwood: Waaa! I mean, go love and pudding! Milly: That's better, dear. Wolfwood: Whoo-ee. On to round two.

(Coming soon.after the almighty spell check has it's way with me.)