Disclaimer: They aren't mine, and I'm not getting paid for this. Vash and Wolfwood belong to Yasuhiro Nightow and Dark Horse Manga and Geneon.

Now on with the FIC!!!

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Vash was the first to reach the church. He was the last, however, to reach the body of his fallen comrade. He stood, braced against the door jam, completely frozen in place. It took nearly a minute for him to realize that his mouth was open, and he was screaming bloody murder. That was what had drawn the insurance girls to his location. His eyes were focused solely on the preacher in front of him, though he noticed movement in the immediate vicinity of his friend. Assuming it was the insurance girls, he paid it no mind.

When he noted their hands on him, his numbness turned to panic, rage, sadness, confusion, pain...

''Don't touch him." His voice was low, calm, and controlled, which surprised the girls after his previous, seemingly catatonic state. "Don't touch him," he repeated slowly, willing his feet to uproot themselves from the floorboards.

As Vash neared the body of the fallen priest, the girls retreated a few steps to give him room. He circled the cross that was holding his friend upright, and fell to his knees, rendering himself eye-level with the man.

When he found his voice again, it came in raw whispers.

"Wolfwood..." He brought a hand up to his own mouth and released a sob, squeezing his eyes shut. He sank back on his heels, attempting to regain composure so he could speak to the soul still lingering in the room. When he opened his eyes again, they shone with pure pain.

'' 'I failed to save someone again.' Those were the last words I ever said to you." A tear rolled down his cheek. ''Why couldn't you have said something when you spoke lo me?" He yelled suddenly, his voice betraying his angry state by cracking on the last word, and he added in a whisper, "why couldn't you have told me? I might have been able to save you..." His body shook as he reached a hand out, and brushed it across Wolfwood's cheek. He whimpered when he realized the skin was not completely cool yet.

He glanced up at Meryl imploringly, and she seemed to read his mind. "Milly, hold the cross steady.'' Milly nodded, and placed one hand on either side of the upper section of the cross punisher, holding it upright.

Vash reached out again with both hands, and wrapped his arms around the fallen man's torso. Gently, making sure the heavy weapon that had been supporting his partner was not going to fall, Vash lifted Wolfwood away from the cross, and pulled him into his lap. Dead weight collapsed against Vash's chest, and he clung to it.

In a tormented whisper, he relayed his carefully checked feelings, not caring at this point who heard him. He moaned, "Please don't leave me. I need you here with me. I can't do this without you." He clung to the corpse, rocking back and forth, and dissolved into tears.

Milly and Meryl glanced at each other, unsure of what to do.

This time, as he began to calm down slightly, it was Vash's turn to play mind-reader. ''Leave us - me for a moment." There was no longer an 'us' to be left in that dark sanctuary. Vash whimpered at the thought, and the girls left hesitantly, giving Vash and the fallen man privacy.

The gunman sat for a moment, holding the priest in his arms quietly. When he spoke, his voice shook.

"I don't know if you can hear me, Wolfwood... Nicholas... but I'd like to take you up on your offer to listen to a confession now. And I hope that you will be able to understand if you can hear me." He took a breath, maneuvering his partner's body so that it lay more comfortably against him, and Wolfwood's head rested on his shoulder. He reached a hand up to run through the man's black hair, and began his confession.

"I love you," he said quietly. "I've loved you for a long time... I think for as long as I've known you." He paused, almost waiting for a response, then shook his head. "I don't know how or why. I just know that I feel so much more for you than I have for anyone." He paused again, and ran his fingers gently over the other man's features at his neck. "I wish you could speak to me."

Fresh tears made new tracks down his cheeks, and he bowed his head, trying to draw the other man into himself. "I wish I could hear your voice," he choked out.

A sudden warmth in Vash's body brought him quickly out of his detached state, and he looked up quickly. " Wolfwood?" he questioned, feeling stupid, but desperate. He received no answer, but a warm kiss of a breeze blew against his cheek, and he closed his eyes. "Wolfwood," he repeated.

He knew, then, that Wolfwood was still with him. He would miss the other man's physical presence, but he knew that he would be watched over. He knew then that he could still talk to the priest, and that his soul would listen.

He knew that he was loved.

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When the insurance girls had returned, they found him nearly as they'd left him, still clutching the body, but no longer rocking, and no longer sobbing. He had been sitting quietly, stroking the man's hair and face.

They had buried him at the base of a cliff nearby, and each said their last good-bye's to their companion.

Vash had said only five words, knelt next to the grave, with his palm over the freshly up-turned earth.

"I'll be seeing you, friend."

Silently, he added, 'and I know that you still see me.'

OWRAI

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