Every Heart For Years

Chapter Six – Life

Journeys. Paths… roads… they're called many things, but one thing is for sure, we all travel on one. Our lives twist, turn, collide with others, and some stay that way, while others split again and keep going. Sometimes they re-collide, and others never hear from another again. We are all looking for that special something to keep our lives going. For some it's love, others pride. Some want families… others, most, are still looking.

I'm no exception to that rule. I wander through my life wondering what it is that I'm around for. I'm sure the same thing goes the Stampede too. Though he may claim all he lives for is killing, his softer side shows that he's around for more than that. Our paths collided… stuck, twisted and parted and then slammed back together again. No reason or fault really, it's just what 'fate' has done. But that's another issue entirely.

Question is

How are we supposed to know what to do with the time that's given to us?

---

Vash stared at Meryl like she had three heads or something. She expected some kind of reaction like this, and didn't say anything until he at least got his feet back on the ground. Her story… was long in a way, and yet short at the same time. Probably much like Vash's. A special story, but nothing overly interesting… at least not to her. Others might have been able to debate her on that subject.

" Meryl you can't be Marina… that'd make you older than I am. You'd be DEAD." Meryl smirked a little at Vash and shook her head. For the most part, he was right, she was older than him. The fact she was smirking at him, only seemed to annoy him. He frowned a little and leaned back in his chair, almost glaring sharply at her. " Your trying to make a joke out of this aren't you?"

" Vash if you would shut your big mouth for just a few MINUTES, maybe I could explain it to you hm?" Vash stared at her like she was going nuts, but shut his mouth and crossed his arms. " Fine, but I very much doubt you could prove anything." Meryl scoffed and rolled her eyes, leaning back in her own seat. " We'll see."

---

" Marina hurries up!" A small seven-year-old Rem called across the yard at her sister, sitting on the ground with the neighbor's newborn kittens. The slightly smaller girl huffed and picked up the gray colored kitten in front of her and stood, scurrying up to her sister. " I want to ask mommy if I can have THIS one!" Rem giggled and rolled her eyes. " So long as he gets along with Bud."

Marina wrinkled her nose at the name of her sister's puppy. Their mother had always said that they were very much alike, and yet at the same time, they could at like… cat and dog. The two followed the street up towards their house; Marina's hand in her sister's while her free arm carried the sleeping kitten.

As they reached their house, Rem released her sister's hand and ran into the house to inform their parents of the 'new' edition. Marina placed the kitten on the ground, which looked up at her before staring behind her. Suddenly the kitten let out a hiss and ran towards the house. Marina blinked and tilted her head, before she felt pain in her neck and knocked out.

Rem ran out the door and stopped dead in her tracks. A man carrying her sister over his shoulder was climbing into a car. Before the car sped off, Rem let out the most horrified scream she could. " Mommy!"

---

Marina opened her eyes painfully, the bright light all around her hurt. Her insides hurt, like someone was boiling hot water inside of her. Almost like the time she stuck her hand in boiling water her mother had been making. The small memory caused her to try and look at her horribly scarred hand. However the scar wasn't there anymore. She blinked a little before letting a whimper of pain, as it seemed to be getting hotter inside the room.

She whimpered a little more, letting out what she hoped was a mommy. She must have let something out, because a moment after someone was standing over here. He scribbled something down on the paper, before pulling out a needle. Despite the bright light, she felt her eyes widen. She squirmed and tugged at the restraints on her arms, trying to avoid the needle. As it got closer, she closed her eyes tightly.

She waited for the prick she expected to follow; however after a few moments when it didn't come, she opened her eyes slowly. It was dark out, and suddenly very cold. At least compared to what she had been feeling. After a few minutes her eyes adjusted to the light. She was sitting in front of her house. She let out a squeak, feeling her arms over. " It was just a bad dream!"

---

Marina tried to settle herself down to sleep. It had been seven years already since the bad dream. She was twelve now, and yet she still had bad dreams. Part of her knew it wasn't a dream. Her scarred hand had been healed, and she had odd words burned into her upper left shoulder. Her parents insisted that the dreams came when they had her hand repaired. She had believed it when she was younger but now questions were starting to pick up in her mind.

Another fact was that when she had been younger, she had broken her arm running into the street and slide on ice, it should have taken almost a year to heal the way it had broken, but within a month it had healed like it had never been broken. After that, her parents removed her from school. The hospital was quite worried about it, even though it should have been a good thing. They had drawn her blood, and then called back shortly after they had gotten back home. Her blood, something was wrong with it, but her parents never told her what.

Getting up, almost weakly at the thoughts going through her mind, she also noticed she seemed… older than the rest of the kids her age. She wasn't sure if it was because of her dreams, or just her, but she excelled wonderfully in school. Up until her parents removed her anyways. They had wanted to move her into her sister's grade, and perhaps even higher. A couple of kids liked to call her teacher's pet, and other mean names, but she had gotten pretty good by then at ignoring them.

She was glad for one thing though; her sister never treated her ill. She had to admit at times their parents treated her more over better than her older sister, but Rem also realized that really in the end, the only one Marina really had was her. She relied on her even more than she did her parents. She passed her sister's room in the hall, almost drawn into the room for one of their midnight talks, but she couldn't get herself to do it. She walked the stairs at the top of the hall and sat down.

In the silence she heard her parent's voice, along with another voice, discussing someone she wasn't so surprised about. Herself. Part of her knew better than to go off and ease drop on her parents, but she wanted to know what exactly they were hiding from her.

" Your daughter's abduction… we're not sure what they did to her really. Her blood… technically it's dead. From the readings we got on the scans… she's not surviving on food either. I think she only eats because you make her. Her body isn't running on nutrition, it's like… she's got her very own energy core inside of her. It's almost like powering her. Of course there isn't one, we don't know how she's surviving. Her natural abilities seem… overly enhanced. " She heard nothing from her parents for what seemed like forever.

" Like… super strength?" She guessed the doctor shook his head, and just continued. " No, I mean… for her age her eyes are perfect compared to the fact she used to have to wear glasses. She's no longer allergic to fish, her body heals to a point her skin and bones are perfect. We found traces of a silver like substance inside her bones, only it's not… silver or any metal." Marina blinked. I'm a bloody FREAK.

The doctor seemed to think so too. " I want to take her to special facility. Your daughter isn't the first person they've tested on. We have several other people too. However if we don't find out how to take care of her… I'm afraid she may end up like them." Marina had enough; she stormed down the stairs and crossed her arms over her chest. " End up like what!?"

Her parents looked shocked that she had over-heard them, but the doctor just stood and walked towards her. " If we don't get you cured… you're going to die."

---

Marina grumbled under her breath, leaning against the wall of the 'church'. At least it looked like one. Instead of nuns, there were doctors, and instead of people praying, there were 'freaks' everywhere. Unlike her though, most of them seemed to be having serious reactions to their testing. For her protection however, they changed her name. She was to go by Meryl now. She didn't mind so much, she just wasn't even sure how long she'd be there. Probably for the rest of her life. And because she wasn't reacting like the others, the doctors studied her the most, trying to figure out if there was something 'special' about her that kept her from getting sick.

It was supposed to be against the rules to keep a calendar, however Meryl didn't need one. She had been here six years already. Her parents had given her up without much of a fight, insisting that it was for her own good, but part of her knew the town was starting to get scared of her. They wanted her out. She didn't even get to say goodbye to Rem, as they had taken her away the same night that she had over heard her parent's conversation. She had watched her sister make it to the window in time to see her being driven away.

Meryl muttered under her breath again,climbing up the wall that surrounded the church to a small alcove that let her see out over the country side.. Her once long hair was cut short, and her mostly gentle attitude had faded into almost a sour complexion. It was hard for her to try and stay happy in a place she felt she could never leave. The sick ones were dangerous when they went into fits, though she herself had very little to fear. Most wounds were superficial, and healed within hours. After six years, she didn't think they'd find anything on her to help the others. Much less that her life was in danger like the others.

What bothered her more perhaps was the fact they never caught who was doing this. Year after year, more and more people shifted through. Mostly female, and quite a few of them children… she had seen quite a few of them die in front of her. Sometimes gruesome deaths, blood and almost boil like burns on their skin. Liking being… boiled from the inside out, at that thought, she shuddered at the pain she remembered going through her insides, despite being young at the time.

Others passed on with no pain. They just stopped breathing. The doctors said that could happen to her. A few had shown no signs of problems and just died right off. However they weren't healing and the doctors could read on the scales that their bodies had been failing. They couldn't pick anything up on her though. A few computers had even exploded in trying to read energy levels coming off her body.

Quite a few times they asked her if she remembered how shegot back to her house. Being in one place at one moment and then moving all together could have been called Psychic, however Meryl believed to a point, that she had actually done something to the room she had been in. She vaguely recalled a few adults talking about scientists being killed in a building that collapsed not too far from her house. No one knew exactly what the scientists had done.

Meryl shook her head, to clear the thoughts flowing through her mind in time to see a car approaching the church. It was rare, she had never seen a red car like this one. The doctors all drove white ones so that they knew who was coming and going. Red reminded her of Rem and the sudden drive to want to be home filled her. She bit down on her bottom lip, hopping off the side of the wall where she had been sitting to investigate.

At the gated entrance, she spotted the car. As she approached she noticed many doctors looking very distraught and even a few were cursing. One spotted her, but instead of shooing her off like usual they did, he motioned her to come forward. As she came to a stop, her eyes landed on the woman stepping out of the car. Long black hair, older than her… by maybe two years, she was just stunningly beautiful.

As she turned to face Meryl, her mind already knew who it was, but it wasn't until the doctor introduced the woman did she actually believe it. " Meryl I believe you remember your sister Rem… she's a doctor of sorts now too… she's come to take you." Rem just smiled brightly at her sister as Meryl stared at her in disbelief, before jumping on her sister.

---

Vash raised his brow a little at Meryl as she stopped suddenly. " So basically you aren't even human anymore." Meryl glanced at him before raising her brow a little. " Yes… in many ways I could have defended myself against you. But I chose to be more human. After all, that's what I was born as." Vash simply snorted at her. " So Rem rescued you and then what?" Meryl twitched her nose a little and shrugged.

" She was assigned to the Seed's project. She simply put me down as part of an experiment and took me with." Vash blinked a few times. " Then how come I never saw you?" Meryl sighed and leaned her face into one palm of her hand. " I stayed out of sight mostly. Quite a few of the other doctors' thought I was 'contagious'. I did however go with Rem when they found you two. For the first few months, Rem gave you to me to take care of. Knives was a handful as it was, and as much as she wanted too, she couldn't take care of both of you at the same time and get work done."

Meryl almost laughed at the look Vash gave her. She waved it off a little as she returned to leaning back in the chair. " I also know what happened on the ship. Who beat you and Knives up… who killed most of the people in the pods… and for the longest time after we crashed, I was fulfilling a promise. One I couldn't let anyone know about. However I had to take a break from that. My body hadn't caught up to age yet. Though I was already a good hundred years, I still looked eighteen. I was 'adopted' by the Stryfe's and I decided to live my own life. Mr. Stryfe's ideas… they were so odd and yet I found I liked them."

Vash stared at her a moment, before raising his brow in question. " And what exactly were those ideas?" Meryl sighed and leaned back into the chair. " That my life was my own. I had lived most of my life belonging to someone else. Doctors, promises, things that belonged in the past… a past that I hated. I threw it all away for the chance to change." Vash frowned deeply. " You threw away a promise from Rem didn't you?" Meryl nodded for a moment before looking down.

" I found out the hard way… that no matter what happens the past is what made me who I really am. And Knives made sure I remembered that. When he showed up in our little town… beat up and bloody, it was like watching a train wreck. He wouldn't take anyone's help; he tried shooting several people including me. Even with him grown up, I knew it was him. By then I at least looked a little older, but it seemed my body-stopped aging. Kind of like you and Knives."

Meryl sighed weakly as she glanced over at Vash. " I am who I want to be. I chose who I want to be… and with seeing Knives, I realized what I really wanted was Rem back. I owed her my life from a dark dank time in my life. So when Knives married Milly… and decided to go after you, I decided I would finish what I started. I would keep my promise."

Vash leaned forward from his chair, looking torn between running away and hugging her tightly. But instead he opened his mouth to the one question she knew he'd ask. " And what promise is that exactly?"

---

Meryl muttered curses under her breathe as she made her way from the back of the ship towards the control center. She had seen the escape pod, knowing that it must have been Vash and Knives that Rem had set off. But she knew her sister better than that. She'd want to set the dials to save the rest of the innocent people asleep in their capsules. And forfeit her life at the same time.

She had been correct too. Meryl found her sister leaning over the controls, trying desperately to find a way to change the course of the other Seed ships. Leaning over her sister's shoulder she let out a sigh. " Rem… I'm sorry everything turned out this way… I know you've loved this experience…" It was the most she could say. Her sister wouldn't have taken anything back for the chance to do this over again. She knew it, and Rem knew she did as well. After a moment her sister finally sighed and backed away from the controls.

" Promise me… Marina that you'll take good care of Knives and Vash. Especially Vash… I know how much leaving me behind has hurt both of them." Meryl nodded a little, hugging her sister tightly.

---

Vash grunted slightly at Meryl, staring at the ground. " Those were her exact last words." He seemed slightly stunned by them, like it took a lot out of him just to hear it from her. " How did you survive?" Meryl blinked before looking to the ground herself. " Not sure really. Woke up on the ground. Good guess I was out for months though… my body was sore, could pretty much guess everything broke and burned."

Vash didn't say anything as he stood and walked away from her, still staring at the ground, very stunned. Meryl didn't try to stop him either when he walked out of the front door into the night.

" I guess… I failed that promise Rem and I'm sorry… But I'll do my best to take care of him now."

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I guess to be it was kind of a boring chapter… but I needed to get at least a basis for Meryl's past. Meryl being so 'special' is going to come up later on too. Guess the kind of cliffy is… will Vash come back this time? (Okay okay, yes that sucks. XD) And yes I know, the details are really kind of raw, but I shall be clearing those up later on what they did to her. It's all coming, just in bursts.

Thank you to those who reviewed for the last chapter especially with my Meryl/Merle mistake, and to Otaku...yup I write themmyself. Got the idea of kind of introductions from another Trigun story, but made them my own philosophical twist to them. So glad someone really likes them!

Please R&R… maybe for those of you who review… I'll make the next chapter a little… fluffy. Hehe depends on who wants it that bad.