A/N: Anticlimactic but it is an epilogue of sorts. A hearty thanks to all who took interest in this story.
An Ordinary Life
Vash and Meryl stood solemnly over the body of their friend, tears glistening on both their faces as she held the tiny bundle in her arms. The baby now slept within the comforting cradle of his mother's presence, breathing softly in peaceful content. The parents, however, were nearly grief stricken as they peered at Conrad's corpse, wondering in awe at his selfless act of sacrifice.
"What do we do now?" Meryl uncertainly asked, looking to her husband. They still remained amidst the dead townspeople, standing stiffly without direction. The sun would be rising soon, and they would find their peace. "Do you think it worked?" she queried, her gaze drifting back to their friend.
"I don't know" Vash answered truthfully, his gaze turning and locking on Knives' still body. "But you should go find Wolfwood and Milly" he added, though his eyes did not connect with Meryl's. "I'll take care of Conrad and Knives."
"Are you sure?" she questioned in concern, placing a light hand upon his tall shoulder. She could feel the tense muscles beneath her fingers, the skin quivering in silent sorrow.
"Yeah" he replied, nodding his head. He turned back to his little wife and attempted a smile, though Meryl could tell the emotion was forced. "I'll meet you guys at the house."
"Okay" she agreed, though hesitantly did she leave his side.
Walking slowly from the battlefield where the many ghouls stood and their friend had fallen, Meryl took a long glance backward to the gunman standing among the dead. He looked forlorn, lost in a strange world as she watched him walk over to his brother. Vash knelt down beside the vampire, brushing aside his hair as his face showed anguish and apprehension.
Unable to stand the sight any longer, Meryl made her way back to the house as quickly as she could. With the danger removed, or so she hoped her other friends had prevailed against their adversary, she would safely bundle the baby in their temporary room and search for the werewolves. Arriving at the safe haven, though, the insurance girl was relieved beyond description when she saw Milly seated upon the porch.
"Milly!" she yelled, waving her arm as she carefully sprinted across the sand to her friend. "Milly, are you alright?" she asked as she arrived at the wooden steps, smiling widely in joy. "Where's Wolfwood?"
"He's asleep" Milly replied with her own grin, though she did peer around her partner in search of someone. "But where's Mr. Vash?" she questioned, looking anxiously to the short girl.
"He's alright" Meryl slowly replied, hesitant about explaining all which had happened.
"What's wrong, Meryl?" Milly asked, using her unique ability to read people and realizing her friend was bothered. "Where's the doctor?"
"He...he's dead, Milly" Meryl explained, a few loose tears traveling down her face in remembrance. "He died protecting me."
"Oh Meryl" Milly soothed, standing and taking the baby gently from her arms. "He wouldn't want you to cry" she comforted, giving an encouraging smile to her partner. "So let's not do it."
"Okay, Milly" the short girl answered with a smile and a nod, looking up as the suns rose above the horizon. "Another day..." she murmured, watching the bright orbs perform their trek across the sky as she enjoyed the warmth they offered.
"Yeah" Milly agreed, her gaze turned to the child in her arms. The baby opened its eyes slowly and yawned, blinking sleepily at the tall woman in confusion. He began softly to struggle in her arms, whining impatiently for his mother. "Uh, Meryl?" the tall insurance girl spoke, nudging her friend out of the wonder of nature.
"Oh, sorry" Meryl replied with a sheepish grin, carefully taking her son and rocking him gently. "Are you hungry?" she asked of the baby, smiling when he began chomping his mouth in apparent answer. "Okay, we'll find you some food."
Stepping up onto the porch and walking into the house, Meryl stopped in her tracks. She well remembered what had taken place upon her last occupation in the house, the bodies torn by her vampiric rage. Sighing deeply and preparing herself for the gory scene, she stepped into the home. Her past mistake had to be faced as terrible, regardless of her reasons for the slaughter she had performed.
To Meryl's shock the chaos she had created from her vampiric outburst was hardly noticeable, the bodies gone and the blood cleaned off the walls. Only the broken furniture lay about away from the hall and entrances, the only evidence of her madness.
"The bodies, they're gone" Meryl stated in astonishment, before her eyes shifted over to her partner who had followed her into the home. "Milly, did you...?" she trailed off.
"Actually, Meryl, they just seemed to fall apart" Milly explained with some confusion, scratching the back of her head. "I didn't have to clean up much after they turned to dust" she spoke offhandedly, slapping Meryl lightly on the back. "Besides, everyone gets mad sometimes."
"Thank you" Meryl managed to choke out through grateful tears, emotional over her friend's willingness to cleanse her mistakes.
The small insurance girl knew what her partner would have had to have gone through to clean the house so thoroughly of the blood, a task which she could not imagine herself doing without difficulty. With more determined steps Meryl strode to the kitchen in search of food, slowly placing the child upon the clean table top as she looked about the cupboards.
Meryl's efforts quickly revealed two sources of nutrition for the baby. In the cupboards was found a box of dehydrated milk while in the fridge she stumbled upon a vile of the blood serum Conrad had created. Looking doubtfully upon the red liquid, she shook her head and carefully placed the glass back in the fridge. She mixed the powdered milk and poured the contents into a bottle, slowly turning to her son with the human nutrition. Taking a deep breath and praying this would work, she lifted the child and placed the suckle to his mouth.
To Meryl and Milly's glee the child at once began chomping at the plastic, intent on taking the milk into his body as quickly as possible. The small insurance girl looked up and smiled at her partner, receiving a similar answer in return. Perhaps Conrad's sacrifice had proved itself.
Sitting on the porch as the suns traveled its journey across the sky, Meryl and Milly watched for Vash. Occasionally the big girl would go into the house to check on Wolfwood, managing the bandages and checking to see if the priest had awakened. After the fight with Legato he had collapsed on the return to the house and had yet to regain consciousness and Milly knew the energy he had used would need to be replenished before he could even lift his head.
As the suns stood high at the peak of their course a tall figure appeared on the horizon, walking in the direction of the house. Meryl stood up and quickly strode toward the man, knowing the long, spiky hair belonged to her husband. His red coat, however, was missing as she rushed into his arms, the baby between them gurgling happily. Then a sudden thought hit the short girl and she looked up quizzically into the gunman's face, raising a single brow in question.
"Where's Knives?" she asked, realizing he was not carrying his brother upon his back.
"He's in a safe spot" Vash assured her with a smile, gently taking the baby into his arms. They proceeded to the porch where Milly waited, grinning happily at the couple. "Hi, Milly" the gunman greeted, as if the day was not unusual.
"Hi, Mr. Vash" Milly responded, giving a small wave. "Are you hungry?"
"Yeah, I'm famished" he answered in a pathetic tone, rubbing his stomach. "I could really go for some donuts."
"Well, you'll have to make do with some soup" Meryl scolded, her usual bossy tone returning at the arrival of her husband. "There isn't much here in the house and we haven't looked around the town for a bakery."
"Aw, come on, Meryl" Vash whined, attempting to give her his puppy dog look but falling flat in his efforts. "Pretty please?" he pleaded, looking around at the many buildings which might house the treat he desired.
"Oh, fine" Meryl conceded, sighing as walked up the porch to grab the car keys for the expedition into the commercial district of the town. She stopped halfway into the house and turned to look at the gunman with a stern glance. "You have to watch Wolfwood and the baby while we're gone. If anything happens to either of them..." she threatened, causing the blond to gulp and rapidly nod his head in agreement.
The two girls traveled through the town in search of the precious junk food, also stopping to find many articles which they needed to fix a more full meal. They were gone for several hours and the suns were beginning to set as they drove up in front of the house with a backseat-load of treasures. Jumping out of the car and picking up a few of the items, Meryl looked annoyingly toward the house.
"Where is that irresponsible man?" she grumbled as they began lugging in the heavy bags toward the kitchen, plopping the food down onto the table. "Milly, could you deal with the rest of the food while I go see what he's doing?" she asked, her gaze traveling dangerously up the stairs.
"Okay, Meryl" Milly answered, stepping outside to finish the work.
Meryl climbed the stairs and listened for a moment atop the landing, hearing the sound of voices coming from the room shared by the werewolves. Creeping up to the door she placed her ear on the wood, listening. To her joy she heard the faint voice of the priest talking to her husband, their tones low but content.
"You can come in now" Wolfwood suddenly shouted, though his voice was barely above his normal level.
Meryl blushed in embarrassment and opened the door, revealing the two men smiling at her. Wolfwood was sitting up on the bed, the usual cigarette in his mouth as the bandages gleamed in the fading light. Vash was seated beside his friend in a chair turned slightly toward the door, as if he had been waiting for her to enter.
"You shouldn't be smoking so soon after your injuries" Meryl scolded, relieving her unease at being caught eavesdropping.
"I'm fine" Wolfwood retorted, throwing back the covers as he swung his legs over the bed. "Just needed some rest" he spoke, wincing a little as he put weight on his legs and stood to his feet.
"Well, Milly will be glad to hear that" Meryl commented with a stern face as he took a few steps toward the dresser to extinguish the cigarette. Inwardly, though, the small woman was overjoyed at his quick recovery. "Vash, where's the baby?" she asked, turning her attention toward the blond.
"He's asleep in our room" Vash answered as he rose from the chair, smiling as he nodded toward his old friend. "What'd ya get me?" he asked, looking past her to the downstairs which hopefully held his treat.
"We found some donuts" Meryl replied while she rolled her eyes at his childish nature, wondering at his innocent act after all that had happened.
Before Meryl had time for any other conversation the blond had streaked past her and down the stairs toward the kitchen, intent on consuming the delicious sugary morsels which awaited him.
"Will he ever grow up?" the woman wondered aloud, sighing.
"Probably not" Wolfwood answered, looking behind Meryl as the short insurance girl heard footsteps along the hallway.
"Nicholas!" Milly exclaimed, rushing past Meryl and trapping Wolfwood in a tight hug.
"There, there" Wolfwood wheezed out, patting her on the back as he attempted to breathe enough oxygen into his lungs. "I'm just fine now."
"You had me so worried" Milly scolded, though she smiled widely at her mate as her grip loosened.
"Yeah, sorry about that" the priest replied as he scratched the back of his head. "Well, I'm starving" he announced, looking to the girls. "What's for dinner?"
"Ugh, so much alike" Meryl grumbled as she walked out of the room, followed closely by the couple. She first checked in on the baby, finding him awake and curious atop the bed. She smiled at him and picked up the child, cooing softly as she walked down the stairs. Her mouth dropped open as they reached the kitchen, piles of donut boxes strewn about the room. "Vash!" she exclaimed, finding the gunman happily seated on the floor amidst his victims.
"These are great!" he commented through a mouthful of donut, grinning widely. "I left you some" he offered, holding out a single box.
"Vash, don't you think we aught to be going?" Wolfwood commented in a serious tone, looking pointedly at the gunman.
"Yeah, you're right" Vash agreed, placing the box on the ground and standing to his feet.
"Go where?" Meryl suspiciously asked, looking between the two men.
"To Knives. I hid him in one of the houses, just in case the remedy didn't work" Vash explained as he grabbed the car keys from the kitchen table where Meryl had left them. "But if the serum hasn't worked by now..." he stated, looking away from the group.
"Then we're coming to" Meryl stated, holding the baby tightly as she looked sternly at the men.
"Yeah" Milly agreed, placing her hands on her hips.
"Fine" Wolfwood slowly submitted, still unsure about their coming as Vash merely nodded his head in answer.
"No smoking, dear" Milly teased as they began filing out of the room to the car. "It's bad for the baby."
Climbing into the vehicle Vash drove them through the town and past the square where the battle had taken place. The only evidence of the previous night were many piles of gray dust blowing gently around in the wind. A single marker lay near the well in the center, and even from a distance Meryl knew the grave belonged to Conrad. Passing the area they soon arrived at an unsuspecting house, though the single window in the front appeared to be covered by a cloth.
Stepping out of the car the three followed Vash into the building. Upon the floor in a far corner of the single room structure lay a figure, wrapped in cloth and unmoving as they entered. The gunman strode over to his brother and knelt down beside him, slowly turning over the body. Knives' face was revealed to all, his expression serene and calm.
"Is he still a vampire?" Meryl quietly asked, stepping cautiously toward Knives.
"There's only way sure way to find out" Wolfwood stated, nodding his head in the direction of the disappearing sunlight barely streaming through the covered window.
"Yeah" Vash quietly responded, his face sorrowful as he looked to his brother. Carefully the gunman hoisted Knives upon his back, slowly standing and walking toward the door. "Stand back" he warned, opening the door with his boot. "We don't know what will happen." Taking a deep breath Vash stepped out into the light, allowing the sun to cast its rays upon them both.
To his utter relief nothing happened. His brother remained on his shoulders as the suns shed their warmth on them both, wrapping their warm blankets about them in comfort.
"It worked..." Meryl whispered in awe, a smile growing on her face. "It worked!" she shouted rousing the baby to utter a squeal of delight at her happy tone.
Vash turned and smiled at the group, carefully setting his brother down as he opened his arms. Meryl raced into his waiting comfort, the baby happily laughing between their warm bodies. They would now be able to start a new life, one without fear of the thirst nor any effects on their child.
After their ordeal, an ordinary life was much welcomed.