Disclaimer: Hmmm... I own my kids (Because I made them) I own my husband, (Because the Marriage License says so) and I own a REALLY big mortgage. (Because I'm stupid and signed on the dotted line.) However I don't own Trigun. (Because if I did, I wouldn't have said mortgage.)

Okay… I think my fluff-o-meter broke in this one!! Just call it my Christmas Present to all of you hopeless romantics out there!


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Christmas Past, Present, and Future

Christmas Past:

December 24, 0132

Milly Thompson, undeniably the sweetest and not to mention the tallest woman working for Bernardelli Insurance Society, quickly climbed the long steps up to the double doors of her employer's home office in the Second City of December. With purpose in her stride and slight irritation showing on her normally cheery façade, she proceeded to walk through the opulent two-story lobby. As she made her way past the receptionist desk, she vaguely noticed that Albert, the night security guard, was absent from his post before marching up to the row of elevators on the far wall and pushing the up button.

"Gosh! What's taking it so long?" the brunette muttered, completely vexed, while impatiently tapping her foot. All she wanted was for one of the four doors to open, so she could head up to the fifth floor of the tall building as soon a possible. Then finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the third door, the one immediately to her left, opened.

She had to come back to work, with a duffel bag in tow, in order to retrieve her best friend and partner, Meryl Stryfe. The only person insane enough to voluntarily work Christmas Eve instead of getting ready to go to a party - the Thompson family Christmas party that, quite literally, has been a family tradition for centuries.

With a ding, the elevator doors opened and the tall brunette instantly stepped out, heading toward the far end of the building where she knew Meryl would be sitting at her desk processing claims. However once she came into viewing range of her partner, she stopped in her tracks and uncharacteristically frowned.

There in profile was the petite woman. Tears were sliding down her alabaster cheek as she absently stared into the chief's office, which was directly across from her. Oh Meryl, not again, she miserably thought as concern for the short-girl took over.

She, of course, new exactly why her best friend was so distraught. It was all because of their last field assignment, Vash the Stampede, and his sudden disappearance/ rumored death after the destruction of the City of Augusta, a little over a year and five months ago. Even though she knew that the raven-haired woman would never admit it, she had fallen hopelessly in love with the spiky haired outlaw, and it terribly grieved her not knowing if he was alright or, even more so, alive.

With a resigned sigh, the big-girl marched up to Meryl's desk and stood directly in front of it, while dropping the bag on top of the various forms neatly stacked about. "Meryl Stryfe, you were supposed to be home forty-five minutes ago! Remember, we have a party to go to at my family's farm, which, by the way, is an hour away and the festivities are going to begin in about an hour and a half!"

"What?"

"Sempai, didn't you hear a word I said?"

"I'm sorry Milly," whispered Meryl as she wiped the wetness from her face. "I guess I don't feel like going this year..."

"And why not?"

"Well… isn't Mr. Wolfwood joining us again?"

"Yeah… he's probably leaning against the car smoking as we speak."

"I-I don't want to be the third wheel, is all."

"That's nonsense Meryl and you know it!" scolded Milly as she placed her hands on her hips. "You just want to sit here and feel sorry for yourself. Well guess what! You are going, even if I have to throw you over my shoulder and carry you out!"

"Bbb…but-" started the petite woman before Milly interrupted.

"Look Meryl, we all miss Mr. Vash and you know as well as I that he is probably in hiding right now. And just as soon he destroys something else we will be hot on his trail again. Besides, Nicho- I mean Mr. Wolfwood is going back out searching for him right after Christmas, and if any body can find Mr. Vash, he can. So, snap out of it and enjoy the holiday… please!"

"Oh Milly… what would I do without you," Meryl quietly muttered as she stood from her desk and walked around to give her friend a hug. "I take it that there's a change of clothes for me in there?" she asked, referring to the duffel bag after pulling away from her friend.

"Yeah, there sure is! I packed your favorite red sweater, those black slacks with the wide pant legs and the black boots you just bought last week."

"Thank you," smiled the short-girl as she picked up the bag. "Oh! You look really nice, by the way," she then said, while referring to the balsam green blouse and cream slacks her partner was wearing. Then with wink before heading to the restroom to change, she added, "And I really like your hat!"

It was a Santa hat.

"I'm glad to hear that Sempai! There's one in the bag for you, too!"

Ten minutes later the insurance girls (wearing their Santa hats) stepped off of the elevator and proceeded to leave the building. That is until Albert caught their attention as he stepped out of another elevator originally heading up to the fifth floor.

"Oh Miss Stryfe…"

"Why hello Albert, why are you still here?"

"I'm going to leave after I make the rounds one more time," he smiled, handing a package to her. "A boy dropped this off about two minutes ago and I was just heading up to lay this on your desk."

"For me?" she questioned as she stared at the manila envelope that looked as though it had a smaller package inside it. Then with a smile, she thanked the older man and wished him a Merry Christmas before he left the area.

"Gee… Sempai, I wonder who it's from?" the big-girl curiously asked after wishing the guard a happy holiday as well.

"I-I don't know…"

"Well open it!" Milly eagerly chirped as her sky blue eyes twinkled.

"O-Okay," she breathed right before she opened the envelope and pulled out a little card and a black box. She opened the card first and read the script. Then with a smile, she opened the little box and gasped.

"What is it? Who's it from?" asked Milly, dying from suspense.

"It's an Angel," whispered the petite beauty as her silvery orbs glistened with unshed tears. She then handed her friend the gift right before she read the card out loud, which simply said:

An Angel for an Angel

Merry Christmas,

Santa Claus

"Oh Meryl… it's beautiful! This is real gold, isn't it," Milly gushed as she took in the beautiful charm that rested on an equally stunning chain.

The crafter of the piece had shown the lovely lady in profile wearing a flowing shift with her head slightly bent and her arms outstretched. It was almost as if she were holding on to some imaginary being, a child perhaps. While her gossamer wings flowed behind the heavenly form as if in flight. The charm was simply exquisite, but what made it different from a "traditional Angel" was her hair - or the lack there of. Instead of having it long and cascading down her back, she had a short pixie haircut with wisps of hair caressing delicate features.

"I believe it is gold, but-" she started as she looked to her friend while wiping her eyes, yet again. "But, who could afford something like this and want to give it to me?"

"Don't know, but I'd say whoever it was most certainly cares a lot about you! It was specially made and the Angel looks just like you, too, Sempai! Here let's put it on you," Milly chirped excitedly as she pulled the necklace out of the box and proceeded to place it around Meryl's slender neck. "There perfect!"

"Oh Milly…"

"Come on Sempai, we have a party to get to," interrupted the brunette again keeping her friend from denying the precious gift. She then grabbed her friend's bag and hand before heading out the doors.

There parked in front of the office building was Meryl's car, and pacing back and forth on the sidewalk was the preacher in black with a cigarette between his lips and a Santa hat being worn lopsidedly on his head. He had been muttering that he should have gone in there too, until he noticed the two lovely ladies and instantly smiled. He then let his appreciative gaze linger on the statuesque beauty walking toward him.

"So, what took you two so long?" he commented, putting the cigarette out on the heel of his shoe before placing it in a trashcan on the curb a few feel away.

"Well, we just wanted to make sure you had plenty to smoke before the long drive, is all," the short-girl smartly retorted as she got into the driver's seat. "I can't believe Milly got you to wear a Santa hat, too!

"Yeah… Yeah… just call me St. Nick!" he muttered from the backseat as they pulled away from the curb while thinking, It's funny what you do for love.


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Christmas Present:

December 24, 0133

"Hey short-girl, watcha' doin' out here all by your lonesome?" a blonde man asked as he sat down next to the petite woman sitting on the bench seat inside the Thompson's Gazebo.

"Oh I'm just thinking, Vash," she replied quietly, setting her gaze on the outlaw before offering a small smile.

"I'm sorry… do you want to be alone?"

"No, you're fine," she replied, her smile warming as the five moons' soft light gave her an ethereal glow. She was thinking about him, after all, and how she was glad that he had come for a visit from showing his twin the "good" in mankind. Especially since she hadn't seen him since he and Knives had left a few weeks after their showdown six months ago.

Their journey throughout the desert had been good for the deviant twin - very good. For the most part, he started to accept the humans and their right to live. Though he was still leery of some and had a short temper when it came to large crowds. At least he seemed to be doing just fine with the Thompson clan, and they would be considered a large crowd on their own. Meryl was really happy for the outlaw clad in "normal" clothing - a white button down, black slacks and a Santa hat (compliments of the big-girl). Things were finally working out for him and he definitely deserved it!

Unfortunately, things weren't so good for her while he was gone. She missed him terribly! It felt as if a part of her was missing when he was away, of course, she would never tell him that. After all, she didn't want to scare him off, permanently. So, when he told her his plans for his brother, she simply smiled, wished him luck, and told him that if he ever found his way to December to look her up.

Little did she know that he would take her up on her offer, because not four days ago two gorgeous blonde men confidently strode into Bernardelli HQ asking to speak with one Meryl Stryfe. And as luck would have it, Karen had been in the lobby at the time and, after she wiped the drool from her mouth, she escorted the men up to the fifth floor.

Boy, did they cause a scene with the fairer sex! The entire floor was buzzing with excitement and declarations of love (and other various offers) from the women as the twins followed her coworker through the building. Finally, when they stopped in front of Meryl's desk, the entire floor quieted and the spiky haired one looked down upon her bent form (the only one diligently working) and simply said "Hey, long time no see… insurance girl."

"So watcha' thinkin' about?"

"Hmmm…" she replied, slipping out of her mushings. "Oh! I'm sorry… I… ahhh… was thinking about you… aaa…and you're brother," she stammered.

"Oh yeah? Anything good?" Vash suggestively asked, eyebrows moving up and down. She immediately smacked him on the shoulder and called him a pervert. Which, in turn, made him chuckle before exclaiming, "I really missed your abuse, insurance girl!"

"Yeah right…" she snorted before laughing as well. "Actually, I was thinking about the up roar you two caused at work the other day."

"Hey, it let you start vacation early didn't it?"

"Yeah… I guess it did…" Meryl couldn't help but smile as she recalled how the chief informed her that vacation could start immediately (with pay) if she got the two "distractions" out of the office right away.

"I wanted to thank you for letting us stay with you." He smiled shyly, lowering his gaze to the faux-wood floor for a moment, before glancing back up to the lovely lady sitting right next to him.

"My pleasure… I was getting lonely anyway, especially since Milly and Nicholas bought a house together a few months ago."

"When's the wedding again?"

"You're the best man, Vash. Don't you think you should know?"

"Hey, he just asked me yesterday," he replied defensively before adding, "So, cut me some slack… geeez!"

"Okay… I'm sorry. The wedding is in two weeks, here in December."

"Ummm… can Knives and I stay with you?"

"Of course…" she simply replied before the silence again grew between the two. Then after another moment she admitted, "I'm really proud of you and how well your brother is adapting, Vash."

"Yeah, who would have thought," he replied before a big smile crossed his handsome face. Then with a chuckle, he added, "Actually, I think he might be infatuated with Milly's little big sister, Jilly. He's been by her side all night with a dopey grin on his face."

"That doesn't surprise me, Jillian is an amazing woman, though I don't know if I can picture him wearing a 'Vash' grin," she replied cheekily as a big smiled appeared on her face.

"Hey!"

She just started to laugh at the stricken look on his face before he smiled and laughed with her. Then after the laughter died, he asked her, in a teasing manner, if she had any one special following her around. She furiously blushed before murmuring "no" before she looked to him and confessed, "I think I have a secret admirer, though - well sort of."

"What do you mean?"

"Well…" she started as she told him about the beautiful charm and how she got it last Christmas. She then pulled it out from underneath her lavender sweater to show him. "Isn't it beautiful? Though, I still don't know who gave it to me…" she trailed off as she looked to him and saw the intense look in his stunning aqua orbs.

"Ummm… Vash?" she asked shyly as another blush crossed her cheeks.

"It's stunning… just like its owner, Meryl," he whispered as he caressed her cheek with his real hand. "Though, I don't think it's complete…"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Well… ummm…" he started before he changed the subject by saying quietly, "Meryl, I got you something…"

He then pulled a little black box of his pocket and handed it to her. With a smile, she accepted the gift and opened the box and was completely stunned. There before her was a pendant of a kneeling man in gold with spiky locks and his arms outstretched similar to the Angel's.

"Oh Vash…" she whispered as the tears fell freely down her cheeks.

"I… ahhh… had it made while I - we were separated for those two years," he admitted as his own eyes glistened with unshed tears. "Here… let me see the pendant and I can put them together for you."

After he made the two into one, both entwined in each others embrace, he continued to stare at the charm and whispered, "Meryl, I had this made because… ummm… you were always there keeping me out of trouble, defending me, taking care of me, like my guardian Angel. I… ahhh… I guess I didn't realize how much you meant to me until after you were gone. I missed you. Though, I didn't know how you felt about me so that's why I only sent the one piece to you last year. Then I saw you again in New Oregon, and I had never been happier, even with my brother still out there after me. I knew right then and there that -" Vash paused for a moment to take a deep breath for adding on the exhale, "I loved you."

"Yyy…you love me?"

"Oh God Meryl, I love you so much…" he breathed with conviction, lifting his gaze from the pendant looking into her heather-colored orbs. "That's why I had to come here… to tell you…"

"Oh Vash…" she whispered before she rose from the bench in order to stand before him. Then she gently wrapped her arms around him as he did in kind before adding, "I love you, too, more than anything."

Pulling faintly away, Vash cupped Meryl's face with both hands and whispered "Merry Christmas" before softly kissing her.


.

Christmas Future:

December 24, 0134

"Vash… stop! Just where do you think you're taking me?" Meryl screeched as the tall blonde practically dragged her through the Thompson's farmhouse.

"Hey… I just wanna spend some 'quality' time with my insurance girl," he replied right before he opened the back door in the kitchen and led her out to the family's gazebo.

"And just what do you mean by 'quality time,' Mr. Vash?"

"Give me a minute and I'll show ya' short-girl," he slyly replied right before he stepped into the faux-wood structure and sat on the bench. Then, without any hesitation, he pulled her onto his lap and kissed her soundly. "Mmmm… I needed that," he added after the arousing kiss had ended, leaving them both breathless.

Another year had past and here they were again sitting in the exact same spot where they confessed their love for one another a mere 365 days ago. Boy, and what a year it had been…

First Milly and Nicholas had married in January and were now expecting their first child any day now. During the early part of the year the preacher decided to relocate his orphanage to just a few blocks from the Thompson homestead. All so he and his big-girl could remain close to their friends and family. Milly even left the insurance company, to assist her darling with the abandoned children.

While Knives, though he said that he was still leery of humans and their intent, moved in with Milly's sister Jillian in May. He even became a deputy to the newly appointed Sheriff in town all because he said that he could "still sift through and eliminate the garbage."

Finally, for Vash and Meryl, it had been an exceptionally good year. She had been promoted and became the new "chief" at the insurance company in June. While, Vash had never left his short-girl's apartment and became the newly appointed Sheriff for December after he was cleared of all criminal charges in early September. All with the help of written accounts of his heroics (provided by Bernardelli's chief) several testimonies from law bidding citizens of Gunsmoke and the clincher… an anonymous letter sent to the Feds stating the outlaw's innocence and pinning the deeds to one Legato Bluesummers and his gang, the Gung-ho Guns. Of course the letter had been hand delivered by a mysterious blonde man who for some reason was able to convince the officials quite easily.

"Do you know what else I need, Meryl?"

"I'm afraid to ask…" she replied as she saw the mischievous gleam in his eyes.

"I need you."

"Well, you can wait until we get back to the hotel," she replied as she climbed off of his lap and tried to give him a look that signaled agitation.

"Oh come on… It's not like we have never done it in here before," he prodded, using his best seductive voice, while rising from the bench so he could wrapped his arms around her. "Besides I think we should make it a yearly tradition," he added before lowering his hands to cup her bottom and nibbling on her neck.

"But Vash… someone…m-might be watching…" she moaned while enjoying his affections.

"Let them watch…"

"Vash… please…"

""I'm trying to please you… if you would let me."

"Vash…" she warned.

"Okay… okay… I know, later right?" he sighed as he pulled his head away from her neck. "Your just so sexy tonight in your very tight and very low cut red dress. As a matter of fact, I think I may need to arrest you because I know you are definitely breaking a few laws by being so damn hot!"

"Using your handcuffs, no doubt… hmmm… might be fun," she replied impishly as her eyes glimmered at the thought.

"Damn… short-girl! Don't say stuff like that or else I'm start where I left off…" he moaned.

"Sorry…" she smiled.

"No you're not."

"I know."

"Hey MMM…Meryl…" started the blonde turning serious as he stared intently at the woman before him.

"Yes?"

"Are you happy… w-with me?"

"Of course I am, you needle-noggin," Meryl replied. "I love you."

"Good… I love you, too. Very much…" he whispered as he brought his hand up to caress her cheek.

"Vash, what's wrong?"

"Nothing… well, maybe just one thing…" he answered before trailing off.

"Vash? Please you're making me nervous… what's wrong?"

"Well… it's just that you are my girlfriend…" he sighed as he looked down and mumbled, "I don't want you to be my girlfriend any longer…"

"What?!" the shocked insurance girl cried as her eyes began to water.

"I-I mean -" he started as he looked back up to her and added, "I want you to be my wife… If you'll have me?"

"Really?"

"Really!"

"Oh Vash…"

"Will you marry me, insurance girl?" Vash pulled another black box out of his pocket and kneeled in front of her. Meryl instantly nodded, while whispering "yes" as the tears flowed freely amongst the two. With a shaky hand, he opened the box pulling out a perfect diamond solitaire set in gold and placed it on her left ring finger.

"Vash… it's beautiful," she breathed before wrapping her arms around his shoulders. He responded in kind by slipping his own around her waist and pulling her close … making them into one, both being entwined in each other's embrace.


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"Hey big-girl, no spying…" Nicholas lightly scolded as he stepped up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her swollen belly.

"But darling… what do you think they're doing?" she curiously asked, peeking through the kitchen door trying to see inside the gazebo.

"Well… for what I can see, I would say he just proposed and short stuff said 'yes,'" he replied, noticing the lovers embracing. Then with a chuckle, he added, "Though knowing tongari, I'm sure he tried his best to botch the whole thing up!"

"Gosh, don't you think they would want to come inside and announce it?"

"Nah… not yet," he drawled as he kissed her on the neck. "They're probably going to do the same thing we did right after I proposed… remember?"

"Ooooh…. You mean they are going to make love and in the gazebo again…just like they did last year?"

"Yup…" he answered. "Come on, let's go and warn the grownups, so they won't get interrupted."

"Okay darling…" she smiled, letting her love lead her out of the kitchen. However, she stopped for a moment as she turned back to the kitchen door and smiled, while whispering…

"Merry Christmas, Sempai and Mr. Vash."