Disclaimer and what-not: Anime based, characters are copyrighted by Yasuhiro Nightow and respected affiliates and all those names I'm too lazy to write here. Thanks to everyone for reading – chapter two is coming up shortly!
Vash stood admiring himself in the mirror. Thank goodness for the tailor in town because he wasn't sure he'd ever get his coat back in order after the quick draw tournament. No one noticed it but him but one of the snaps was bent, it still smelled like tomatoes, so he went in search of a tailor in May City. Luckily for him he got a bit of time off from being followed as the two insurance girls went to get the money they owed him from their branch office; finally. Speak of the devil; he tilted his sunglasses off his eyes as the insurance girls walked into the store behind him. The little bell above the door jingled merrily and the taller of the two waved at him. "Hey Mr. Vash! Funny running into you here! Here's your money! Thanks for the bus ride!" Milly dashed over, shoved the money at him and smiled.
He took it, counted out what he needed for the repair to his coat, and turning, he push his glasses back up his nose; "You've been following me for months now… Not much of a coincidence is it?" Vash walked past them to the front desk and set down ten double dollars. "Thanks for fixing the snaps," he said to the man behind the counter and turned to leave. He felt a bit bad as he noticed the big girl pout and turn her attention away from him, but he knew it was about time that they part ways. But the little insurance girl was right behind him.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"Out?" Vash started walking again, but she had both hands on her hips looking at him as if she'd swallowed a bug. "What is it?"
"You…" Meryl pointed at Milly, "You worked your wiles on her didn't you?"
The sunglasses slid down Vash's nose, "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." He looked up at Milly as she picked up a necklace and held it into the light. She twirled it in admiration and then set it down after seeing the price. He frowned. Didn't they pay the insurance girls enough to buy such trinkets? Vash stuck his hands in his pockets and thought of the double dollars he just received. He did have enough to buy it… But Meryl was still there looking at him evilly. "What? We went out for dinner last night when you were busy writing your report. I invited you to come along."
Meryl's eyes narrowed, "That's just it. Now Milly won't stop talking about you. It's starting to get on my nerves." She put her hand on his chest and pushed him backwards. "What is it that you did to her anyway?"
Vash looked up at Milly. She had found a seat near the dressing rooms, patiently waiting for her elder to finish talking to him. Her eyes kept moving over to that necklace. Vash frowned when he looked back down at Meryl. "She told me that you were always so busy working that the two of you never had any fun. I thought it would be nice if we all went out. Well, after the second glass of wine…" He grinned but found himself pushed against a coat rack. "Hey, what's that for?"
"Did you sleep with her?"
"No way!" Vash put his hands up to avoid another punch in the stomach from Meryl. "I just kissed her, that's all." He smiled to himself; it was a pretty nice kiss too… Holding her in his arms and feeling just how soft she was, just like Wolfwood said she was… He'd given Vash some good advice on the girls after they had gone home the night before the quick draw contest. Wolfwood opened his eyes to them, suddenly they weren't just pests, but they were women and he felt it every time he saw them. Especially Milly and her ample… assets. She certainly knew how to cut loose and Wolfwood said that if he weren't a priest he would have been all over her. Vash thought it would be a good opportunity after failing to win over Neil's mother. But Meryl… "I'd have kissed you, if you'd been the one there."
That got him slapped and Meryl huffed out of the store without another word. Milly stood and started to follow. "Milly…" Vash came up behind her and she turned.
"Yes Mr. Vash?"
He nodded to the display where she'd been admiring the necklace. "Did you want that?"
Milly turned red, "I… Uh… Well, it's pretty but I don't ever wear jewelry, only Meryl… She has her favorite earrings but I…" She looked into Vash's eyes and he could tell that she was saying 'yes' behind all of her excuses not to have it. He reached down, picked it up and strode up to the counter even as Milly followed behind, "You don't have to…."
Vash turned, "Yes, I think I do." He paid for the necklace and spun on his heel. "Turn around, let me put it on you." Milly was still blushing, but she turned and he unclasped it and slid it around her neck. Once he had it clasped again he put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her over to the mirror he'd been examining when the girls arrived. "It looks nice on you."
"Uh… I don't know what to say," Milly said, putting a hand up to it, her expression was awed that someone would buy something like that for her.
"Just say thank you," Vash replied, setting his arms over her shoulders. She turned another shade of pink and he held her like that until the surprise slowly melted from her face.
"Thank you," she said. Milly closed her eyes and sighed, "I'm sorry about Meryl. I… I didn't want to tell her about last night but I just couldn't help talking about it because I had such a nice time…"
"Me too," Vash replied. He set his cheek against her head and closed his eyes as well. "It's nice being here like this. Almost… It's almost normal."
Milly pulled away from him and turned. "You can't have normal can you? Being a gunman and all?"
Vash opened his eyes and shook his head, "No, I can't."
She reached up and grabbed his hand, "Well, maybe you can't have it permanently, but what would you say to one day?"
"What are you suggesting?"
Milly put a free finger to her lips and looked up at the ceiling, "I don't want to sound too forward but… I was thinking maybe we could you know… pretend?" She nibbled on her finger in such an interesting way that Vash was tempted to kiss her again right then and there in the store. But he didn't and pulled himself away from her. Milly turned to look at him, "Sure you're a great gunman and all but what if you just pretended you weren't for an afternoon? We could go out for lunch maybe and…" Milly trailed off, "It's stupid."
Vash shook his head, "No, no… Actually, that might not be such a bad idea. You need to stay away from your superior for a few hours until she cools down, and I don't have anything better to do." He grinned and pulled her out of the store and into the street. "I have just the place to start this game of pretend…"
Milly sat in the shade of the old hotel, swaying back and forth on a swing someone hung for the ladies in town. Vash sat next to her, head on her shoulder, snoozing. She looked down at him from time to time, but he seemed so comfortable that she didn't want to disturb him, even as Meryl walked past giving her one of the nastiest expressions she'd ever seen her friend wear. "What's wrong Meryl?"
"You… He's a womanizer, Milly."
Vash opened an eye that Meryl couldn't see from the street and whispered to Milly, "Do you think she's jealous?"
Shrugging, Milly said to Meryl, "Do you want to join us? Mr. Vash was telling me the most delightful story about his childhood." The reply she got was for Meryl to huff away again and disappear into the tavern a few doors down. Milly looked at Vash as he sat up. "I think I may have made her mad. I should have gone back to the hotel a few hours ago to help her out and…" She sighed, "I'm sorry Mr. Vash but I should probably go soon."
"Not so fast," he said as she tried to pull away to follow her senpai, "Have you ever seen her drink?"
Milly shook her head, "No… Well, yes, once, but she had a good reason. It was right after she broke up with her last boyfriend. It was right about the time we got assigned to you, actually. He asked her to marry him and she turned him down because he was going to make her quit her job. Meryl is too independent to be stuck as a housewife…" Her eyes fell on Vash's for a moment and she added, "Not like she isn't good with children, because she is… I just don't think that she wanted to give up her life either."
"What about you?"
"Me?" Milly set an elbow on the arm of the porch swing and leaned onto it. "I… I just got a job to be able to send money back home for my family. The job isn't really all that important to me. All of my sisters are married and have children. I wanted to do that to, but when I turned twenty my family pretty much gave up trying to get me married off. Said I'd become a spinster."
"A bit," she replied. "But it's just an expression, Mr. Vash."
Vash frowned at her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, "Don't call me 'mister' anymore, okay? It's too formal…"
"I suppose I could…" Milly smiled and leaned over into his arms. "But that would mean it's not a job anymore, and we were only playing this game for a day, right?"
"Would it be so bad to extend it?" Vash squeezed her tightly and sighed. "I was thinking we could have a few more days like this. If you didn't mind."
Milly closed her eyes, "No, I wouldn't mind. But Meryl…"
"Yes… Where is Meryl?" A voice spooked Milly into opening her eyes. She looked up at Wolfwood. He stood where Meryl had been a few minutes before, looking darkly at them. Milly thought it was kind of interesting that the priest was so serious now after his rambunctious drinking the two nights before, and his own interest in the restaurant lady. Suddenly he was all business, although she hadn't seen him for awhile and thought he may have gone back to work.
"What a surprise, Mr. Priest!" Milly grinned at him. "I thought we weren't going to see you again."
"Apparently," he replied. "Where's the little insurance girl? Shouldn't she be here with…" He nodded to Vash as if he weren't sitting there. "Because I thought she liked him."
Vash lifted an eyebrow, "You think so?" He shrugged, all he'd gotten was a dozen knocks on the head and more bruises than he could count from the little one. If she liked him it was sure a childish way of showing it. He hitched a thumb toward the road, "She went into the tavern over there, if you wanted to know. If the insurance girl liked me so much she would have come to dinner with us the other day." He kissed Milly on the forehead gently, "I kind of like it here." She turned a shade a new shade of pink Vash noted.
Wolfwood nodded slowly with a frown plastered on his face and replied, "What's with you two all of a sudden?"
"A game," Milly smiled. "We decided to act like normal people today. But I forgot to tell Meryl…" She bit her lip, "I really should go and tell her…"
"I'll do it," Wolfwood said, an amused expression finally breaching his face at the big girl's words. "A game you say? That's it?" Milly nodded but she wasn't sure what Vash was thinking about all this, a moment before he was saying something that seemed to her as if it wasn't. "All right then. Maybe I'll go see if she needs help finishing her drink…" He wandered down the road after Meryl and Milly looked at Vash.
"What a nice surprise. Everyone is together again." Vash shrugged and Milly elbowed him. "I hope she understands when Mr. Priest tells her..."
"She probably won't."
Milly stretched and put her legs out in front of them, stopping the swing. "I feel really bad about Meryl…"
"What does it matter? We're adults," Vash said, but Milly was frowning. "Okay, I give, what is it you're thinking?"
"I know, but I just can't stand thinking I'm betraying her by doing this. She's the independent type, but I think she really wants to have someone and even if I'm playing…" Milly thought for a moment, and then she shrugged back into the swing and let her feet up. She stared up into the bright sky where small wispy clouds floated by. "Every woman has to have a reason to be dependant… I feel bad because Meryl hasn't had a boyfriend in such a long time and I think she's using you as an excuse not to get herself a new one."
Vash let the swing sway back and forth and he too looked up into the sky, his legs straight out in front of them like he were a five year old. "I guess I can understand that. Maybe the priest…"
Milly punched him softly in the shoulder and he glanced at her. "He's a priest, goodness. What do you expect him to do, sweep her off her feet and take her to the confessional?" She blushed at the thought. Vash thought it was a mighty cute expression on her face, thinking dirty thoughts like that made her look more mature even with the red flush across her face. He curled his left leg up under his butt and made to lean on Milly's shoulder but she moved abruptly and he bumped his nose. She giggled, "Oops."
"Ib's all bright," Vash mumbled, rubbing his nose. Milly watched him and smiled. He dropped his hand from his nose and leaned toward her. "So tell me something."
Vash put his fingers up into Milly's hair, letting the strands fall over his hand. "So if Meryl's been using me as an excuse not to get a boyfriend, what's been your excuse not to get one?" He let his fingers tangle in her long bangs as he brushed his hand over her forehead.
"I…" Milly flushed again, her eyes dropping beneath those long thick lashes. Vash felt his heart flop. It really didn't matter what Meryl said to him about being a womanizer, the truth was he'd been watching both of them and it was Milly who had all of the little cute features. The sparkling blue eyes, the soft eyebrows, the long lashes, a strand of hair that curled in just such a way as it ran down her neck behind her ear… "I don't… I'm not sure what kind of excuse I have… I just… Maybe…" She was clasping her hands in her lap, her toes dragging in the sand beneath the swing. "I was too caught up in enjoying myself when I was younger. Guys didn't look for girls who wore their hair down, didn't wear makeup, ran around and got muddy. I didn't think anything of it until later and by that time I had this…"
"What did you have?"
Milly smiled slightly, "I had this mantra that I said any time I did something a normal girl wouldn't do, 'I'm not trying to impress anyone,' that's what I would say. Well, I never did impress anyone and so everyone just left me alone. After awhile I guess I started to think that if I actually wanted to have a boyfriend I needed to change and do the girlie things, but by that time I was afraid if I did then I would change and I didn't want myself to become someone I couldn't stand just for a boyfriend." She lifted her eyes to him and brushed a bang out of her mouth, "But then you came along… And I have to admit I don't understand why you're even here next to me right now… Sure, we kissed but we were both pretty drunk and we were playing that silly game… But when I woke up in the morning I didn't think anything of telling Meryl about it because I didn't think…"
Vash was leaning forward now, his hand under her chin as he leaned in. Milly blushed, she'd really never had anyone look at her like that, and he was so lovely. His face was so beautiful, it wasn't feminine but the complexion was flawless, his eyebrows were perfect, well, everything about his face was just without error, and she started to wonder if the rest of him was the same way… But the fact was that she was afraid that Meryl might be right, that maybe he was using her for a quick romantic fling before he went off on some other conquest. Did he really care about her? Milly wanted to believe it, the way he set his nose to hers and closed his eyes. She looked down at his nose, at his face and felt his soft lips press against her cheek. Goodness…. If he didn't like her then he certainly made a most convincing argument otherwise!
He chuckled, "Why not? The little insurance girl isn't around."
"No, I mean…" She shut her mouth and toyed with the necklace he had bought her. "I'm not saying I don't like this but… You're just going to leave us one day aren't you? I don't know if this is such a good idea because if I give my heart to you… I'm afraid I won't be able to stand…" Milly squeezed her eyes shut and turned to cling to Vash's coat. She buried her head in his chest, "Don't do this to me!"
Warm arms wrapped around her. His fingers played through her long hair and he stroked her back. "I can't help it."
"Yes… Yes you can. You shouldn't have kissed me… I know perfectly well that you don't actually get drunk… You get sick too easily…" She breathed in the dyed leather and the dust, the gun smoke and aftershave… "Meryl warned me about you because she knew I haven't met anyone else in my life and the first…"
"Was that really your first kiss?" Vash looked down at her curiously, licking his lips. She wasn't all that bad of a kisser if that was the truth. He just didn't understand girls sometimes, but he wanted to understand Milly for some reason. She was just this soft little thing, well, big thing, and she felt so good in his arms, just a bundle of nerves, but she was flesh and bone, something he hadn't experienced in a very long time himself. It was too dangerous to get close to women, no matter how much he flirted and played around with them. Girls in general turned him down the moment they knew his name. It came with the territory and he played up to it. But on occasions he met one that was really special… Milly was special. He had lied to Meryl; sure he would have kissed her just as easily as Milly, but it wouldn't have meant anything. A kiss is just a kiss unless there was feeling behind it. He didn't realize he had a soft spot for the big girl until he saw her sadly rambling during their game of truth or dare. It was just a coincidence that one of the other guys at the table dared him to kiss her. Now he just wanted to do it again and again, and it was all he could do to keep his hands from touching anywhere but innocent places.
"Vash… If you really don't…"
Rolling his eyes, he grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up to face him. "I really do. I wouldn't have agreed to your proposition if I didn't. I wouldn't have bought the necklace for you… I wouldn't be having such a hard time keeping my eyes off of you." Milly's mouth pouted in such a sweet way he swallowed, wanting to kiss it again, but he settled the thought, running his hands up her shoulders to her neck, under her ears, feeling the soft lobes on his thumbs, the smooth hair under his fingers. "I just wish I'd noticed you sooner."
He leaned forward and kissed her cheek lightly, barely brushing the skin with his lips. "I'd really like to be with you for awhile longer, but if you don't want that…"
"I don't know what I want… But I have a feeling it's all going to end so soon…" Milly's hands wrapped around his waist, feeling how gaunt he was below his coat. He was so strong and so gentle it was… She sighed and closed her eyes as he kissed her cheek again, then her jaw, then down her neck and up again to her ear. A tingling ran over her body and he ran his tongue lightly behind her ear. "But if today is it…"
"One day at a time, right?" Vash whispered in her ear. His breath was soft like a flower petal on her cheek. "But I promise, as long as spring days are, we'll make the most of these peaceful moments." He nibbled on her ear, and then pulled away for a moment. Milly opened one eye to look at him and he was smiling, those aqua eyes peering into hers with the same emotions as the words he spoke. "As long as that's okay with you… It is okay with you, isn't it, Milly?"
She was silent a moment, but her mind reeled… If she said no then she could end this now, end the whole thing before everything went too far. It was silly to have even suggest they play this little game of cuddling and dating but she was just so tired of being single when her sisters were all married and happy… But if she said no then she'd regret it for the rest of her life. If she said yes then she knew she'd go much farther… And perhaps if Vash did leave within a day or even months from then she'd regret giving her heart to him because she wouldn't be able to get it back… What was more painful? His brows drooped slightly as she was taking too much time to answer him. Finally she blurted, "Yes! Yes, that's okay…" Her words carried off into the wind as he kissed her again, his lips parting hers as his tongue flickered between them. Her entire body felt like pudding, and if she'd been standing she would have dropped to her knees right then, but in the absence of that she felt like she would fall apart. Milly hoped she made the right choice… But then again, perhaps there were no right choices, only the choices that could make a moment good or bad… And oh… This felt good…