Disclaimer- I don't own the excellent anime known as Trigun. I think I'd have my own box set if I did.

AN: Set between Episode 18 and 19.

In the shadow cloaked sands, a single point of light lay grounded underneath its celestial brethren.

Firelight caused a flickering show of dancing dark as the pot that had smothered its light was removed. Holding it tentatively was a blue suited, black haired man, who grinned appreciatively.

"Soup's on!" He declared cheerfully.

His companion, a tall, slender man with spiky blond hair and a long red trench coat sniffed the air and his nose scrunched and eyes screwed up in disgust. "That is not soup." He retorted.

"Aw, give it a chance Vash. You'll like it!" The black haired man continued grinning as he handed the blonde a bowl.

The hazy mists of steam wafted into Vash the Stampede's nose and he grimaced. "IfI didn't know better,I'd swear you were trying to poison me, Wolfwood."

Nicholas D. Wolfwood simply kept smiling as he sat down on the sands with his own bowl, and began to eat it, back leaning against the massive metal cross planted in the sands. "You're not worth poisoning... besides, I doubt it would affect your iron stomach!" He jested, grinning, before returning to his meal.

He glanced up, however, as a loud coughing noise entered the desert silence.

"What the hell is in this!" The $60 billion dollar bounty coughed, sea green eyes tearing as he nearly threw the bowl down, glaring at it and its cook.

"It's a bit strong, but you'll get used to it." The preacher replied carelessly.

Vash grumbled but said little else as he continued to eat the soup, albeit with a hint of caution. For a while, they sat in relatively peaceful silence. However, when Wolfwood finished his bowl, he set in down, a serious look in his eyes.

"Vash, what exactly are you planning to do?" He asked quietly.

The Stampede glanced at him over the bowl. "I'm going to finish eating this stuff and then sleep." He responded simply.

Wolfwood rolled his eyes in annoyance. "I mean what are you planning to do about those disappearances... and the name Knives." He questioned, head going lower so as to look his companion in the eyes and moving into a hunched position, no longer supporting himself with his giant weapon.

Vash paused, and stiffened ever so slightly at the mention of the name Knives, looking down into his near empty bowl. "I'm going to look for him."

"And what then?" The priest continued his relentless questioning.

For a moment, the Stampede didn't reply, and glanced away. "I don't know."

Wolfwood paused, and decided to continue asking questions. There was no better time than this. "Do you always do things this way?" At Vash's perplexed look, he articulated, "Do you always go into things without knowing how you're going to do things?"

The $60 billion dollar man smiled his easy, laid back smile. "Usually." He responded simply.

Between them, the shadows closed around the flickering tongues of indigo fire.

For some reason, this struck a chord of irritation in the priest. "And you think that you can always do that? One of these days, you won't be able to save everyone. No matter how lucky or skillful you are, you're not omnipotent." Wolfwood warned, eyes hard as rock and serious.

"You're not God."

"I'd still try." His friend replied stubbornly.

"Even if it kills you? Even if you know you could fail?" Nicholas' eyes seemed hooded with shadows, every feature darkened on his normally affable face.

Vash nodded in affirmation. "I know it might not always work, and that I could most likely die doing it... but what else can I do?" He responded helplessly, shrugging.

The crimson firelight danced, banishing the midnight shadows to the edges of its power.

"What if you were forced between killing someone and letting them kill someone you care about?" The preacher asked him relentlessly.

"I'd save them both." The Stampede replied without hesitation.

Wolfwood raised a curious eyebrow, his mouth twitching into a faint smile. "That wasn't one of the choices."

The most wanted man on the planet merely smiled and shrugged affably. "I know. But that's what I'd do. Besides, aren't you a priest?" He questioned, raising a golden eyebrow. "Shouldn't you believe in redemption and forgiveness for all?"

The preacher shrugged dismissively. "Sometimes what makes sense in ideas doesn't make sense in reality."

"I won't believe that. I have to believe that isn't true." The blonde said firmly, more to himself than anyone else.

"You're a fool." The priest said softly, leaning against the cross once more, and sighed. He retrieved one of his cigarettes from a coat pocket and placed it in his mouth.

"And what gives you the right to decide who lives and who dies?" Vash asked, his voice now the serious one, the fire glinting on his emerald-like eyes.

At first, the black haired man didn't respond, raising a lighter to his lips and producing a small spark, lighting his tobacco. "Because people can't be God. We have limited powers and abilities." Wolfwood remarked quietly, breathing out a cloud of ethereal smoke, watching it rise into the sparkling desert sky, "And sometimes, we have to become the Devil himself."

"Do you really believe that?" The blonde's voice had turned soft and strangely vulnerable, now caught in this conversation and one of the past.

"I kill spiders to save butterflies. It's simple logic."

The words echoed like a haunting melody as the conversation continued.

"You have to make a decision in that split second, and most people aren't like you, Vash. Sometimes the best choice involves killing one person to save another." The priest replied quietly.

"You kill spiders to save butterflies." The Stampede declared in that same mollified, disturbingly open tone.

Wolfwood's head cocked to the side quizzically, but he nodded. "That's one way of saying it." He took a long drag from the cigarette, the miasma of smoke and shadow obscuring his features, making them one of the dreaded past. "If you try everyone, you may end up saving no one."

"If you keep saving butterflies, the spiders will die! But...wanting to save both is a contradiction. What would you rather do? Keep deliberating? The butterfly will be eaten in the meantime."

Vash almost had to shake his head. Wolfwood, not Knives, he forced himself to remember.

"I can't accept that. I won't accept that. If I did... I'd be rejecting everything she stood for..." The wanted man swallowed. "I refuse to believe that no one can be saved."

"That attitude's going to get you killed." Wolfwood wasn't sure if he was saying that as a warning or a statement.

Around them, the shadows closed again, the flickering blaze losing its indigo luster.

Vash the Stampede smiled. This time, it was a small, sad smile.A real smile.One of an accepted fate; not looking for it, but accepting it. "Probably. But I'll keep going the way I've been, and I know I won't regret it if I happen to die."

"Idiot." The preacher remarked, closing his eyes and puffing out a little bit more of the smoke from his cigarette.

Silence fell again, laden with unanswered questions about the future and about the universe. The flames slowly died down, becoming a small fireball reflecting the shine of the stars.

"Hey, Wolfwood?" Vash asked hesitantly.

Without opening his eyes, Nicholas responded a bit curtly, "What?"

"What was in that soup anyway?"