Disclaimer: How I wish I owned Trigun. Sadly, I own it not.
A/N: Well, I was struck by inspiration one day to write this. I had to write it, or the idea would have tormented me so I couldn't write my other story Cowboy Bebop Meets Trigun. So, I wrote it. I'm not sure if I want this to be a one-shot or a multi-chapter fic. After you read it, tell me if you think I should continue or leave it where it is. Thank you!
Meryl Stryfe opened her eyes sluggishly. She could feel the hard earth beneath her as she tried to sit up. Dust clung to her clothes and made her sneeze a little.
That's strange. Why am I lying in the dirt?
Then, she saw the others.
Meryl saw townspeople from L.R. lying on the ground with an assortment of guns, pitchforks, and other sharp garden tools on the ground beside them, unconscious. Millie was down there with them.
Suddenly, it all came rushing back to Meryl. Wolfwood's death. Vash's departure. Millie's insistence that they follow him. And then, the man they found in the desert who tricked them and dragged them up the mountain, only to find Vash in a no-win situation.
But, if we're alive, that means he won, right? He's okay, isn't he? I'm sure he is. Of course he is.
Meryl stood up, brushing the dust off herself. Then, she saw him.
Vash the Stampede, his own body bleeding from wounds he had received, was standing over the body of a man in a white coat with blue hair. His name was on the tip of her tongue, but she couldn't seem to remember it. Despite that, it was clear that he was the one responsible for this mess. Meryl couldn't see Vash's face in the shadow of the mountain, but he seemed to be staring down at the man's body.
What is he doing? Why is he staring at that man like that?
Meryl began to walk over Vash, fully intending to smack him and give him a lecture for waiting until the last minute to save them. But then, as she stepped into the shadows, the words caught in her throat. Her gaze locked on the object Vash was holding in his right hand. As her gaze shifted all the way down his right arm, covered in scars with no material to cover it, her eyes widened at the sight of his gun.
The end of it was smoking.
Then, Meryl looked down at the body of the man on the ground. Blood was seeping out of the man's skull and pooling on the ground, mingling with the dusty earth. The most disturbing thing about this man, which Meryl now understood to be a corpse, was that he seemed to be grinning, even in death.
Meryl's eyes widened with horror as she remembered the last thing she had heard before she lost consciousness: a gunshot.
Vash had killed someone. He had done that which he had sworn he would never do. And, Meryl realized, it was her fault. Vash would never have been put in this awful position if she had not followed him. She couldn't stand it!
"V-vash?" Meryl's voice shook as she tried to speak with him.
The words caught in Meryl's throat as violet met aqua eyes. Meryl knew Vash's eyes. She had studied them often, trying to find out how this bizarre man operated. She had seen him happy, serious, and even sad. At each of these moments, his blue-green eyes would shimmer in a different way. But...
Now, as she studied his eyes once more, she almost drew back from him in fear. Vash's eyes were wide open, yet there was no vitality there. His eyes were listless and dull. The pain there, the anguish, was almost more than Meryl could take.
Meryl heard a thump on the ground. She looked down to see Vash's silver handgun in the dirt, gleaming wickedly. Then, she felt something clutch her forearm. Meryl winced in pain as the grip around her arm tightened. She looked up at Vash, who was cluthing her arm as if his life depended on it.
Meryl looked back into his torture-filled eyes. They seemed to look right past her, or rather, through her, as if Vash was seeing something in her that wasn't there. There was a glazed look them them as his eyes stared off into space.
The look in Vash's eyes nearly broke her heart. Then, they changed again. They held the countenance of a child. They begged and pleaded with Meryl. Meryl shrank away from him and tried to tug her arm from his grasp.
"Rem...I...I...I did a bad thing! I did a bad thing!"
Vash's voice lifted to a wail. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he sobbed like a child. Meryl tried to yank her arm away from him, but his grip only tighted, causing Meryl to grit her teeth from the pain.
"Vash...let me go," Meryl whispered.
Vash looked up at her, eyes glistening. "Rem, please stay with me. Please Rem?" He looked at her hopefully, a child seeking approval.
Meryl's throat knotted uncomfortably. He thought she was Rem, the woman who had raised him and shaped him as a person. Vash had not described her before when he shared the entirety of his sad past with her, but judging by his behavior, Meryl resembled Rem.
In that moment, as Meryl remembered everything Vash had told her about his life and the devastation in it, her body shook at each individual sob. Tears rolled down Meryl's cheeks. She barely noticed when her arm was released. Then, Meryl felt a gloved hand lift her chin up.
Vash the Stampede held her chin up. He looked at her, aqua eyes questioning. With his right hand, he wiped her tears away, leaving a trail of warmth across her face. Meryl hiccupped a little.
"Rem...are you sad?"
After a few moments, Meryl managed to choke out, "Just a little."
Vash's hand dropped away. Meryl saw his eyes shift a little more, pleading again.
"Rem, I did a bad thing! I did a bad thing, and I made you sad!"
Meryl's heart ached as she watched this poor man, who had suffered through so much, wail like a child. Without thinking, she wrapped her arms around him and embraced him, sharing in his warmth. She rubbed his back with her hand, cooing softly in an attempt to calm him.
In a few minutes, his wails had stopped. The only sound to be heard was the wind as it blew, carrying her cooing noises and his quiet sobs away.
Finally, when his body stopped shaking from occasional sobs, Meryl pulled away. She looked up at Vash's face. His lower lip was trembling, and it looked like he was about to cry again. He didn't, though. Then, he spoke.
"Rem, do you hate me?"
Meryl blinked in surprise. "Hate you? Why would I hate you?"
Vash's voice shook. "I...I killed, Rem. I shot him dead, I did, I took his life!"
Meryl stared up at him. She didn't know what to say to this child-like Vash. It was almost like the Vash she knew had gone away and hidden himself from this great trauma. Instead, this child-version of Vash had appeared to take the heat. Meryl wondered why Vash felt that his child-like self could handle this where he could not.
"There's always another way! There had to be one! You told me that! I just didn't see it in time to do anything about it!"
Meryl put a finger on Vash's lips. "Stop it, Vash."
Vash's eyes widened.
"Listen to me, Vash. Everyone makes mistakes. But, it's possible to make them right again."
Vash looked at Meryl hopefully. "Really?"
"Of course, Vash. Now, come on. We should leave." She held out her hand to him.
Vash took it.
Then, Vash's eyes shifted again. Meryl watching as the child in this century-old man disappeared, only to be replaced by the actual man. Meryl smiled sadly. It was time for him to deal with this on his own.
Vash the Stampede blinked. He seemed disoriented, to say the least. Then, he looked down at Meryl's and his hand, locked together. Vash stared at it before pulling his hand away slowly. He looked at it, then at her.
Slowly, he turned around. He stared down at the corpse. Vash began to shake uncontrollably. He turned back around and looked at Meryl, his eyes wide with anguish and disbelief.
"...I...I did that...didn't I?" Vash whispered tremulously.
Meryl nodded solemnly and closed her eyes to stop the tears from flowing.
Meryl opened her eyes in time to see Vash's eyes roll to the back of his head as he collapsed in a heap at her feet. Meryl rushed to his side and began to shake him while calling his name. The only response she received was Vash moaning and curling into a fetal position.
Meryl sighed and stood up. She should have expected as much. It wrenched at her heart that Vash was feeling such pain and anguish. Also, Meryl couldn't help but feel the sharp sting of guilt over the situation. Vash wouldn't have been forced into such a terrible position had she not followed him.
Meryl felt the tears begin to come again. With a fury, she clamped down on those emotions. This was no time to be getting all mushy. Vash needed help, both physically and mentally. She, Millie, and Vash had to leave immediately. The townspeople of L.R. wouldn't appreciate Vash the Stampede staying in their town after everything that had happened.
Meryl walked over to Millie and shook her friend gently. Millie mumbled something about pudding before opening her eyes. Millie blinked a few times and yawned before she suddenly sat up straight, hitting Meryl in the forehead by accident.
"Ow." Meryl clutched her head.
"Oh, Sempai, I'm sorry! It's just that, I suddenly remembered what happened. Where's Mr. Vash?"
Meryl sighed. "Over there."
Millie gasped. "Oh, poor Mr. Vash! What happened, Sempai?"
Meryl let Millie help her to her feet. "He was forced into a position where he had no other alternative but to...to..."
"To what, Meryl?"
Meryl couldn't say it. However, it was clear from the look on Millie's face that she understood.
"Oh, Sempai! We have to get Mr. Vash some help! Come on!"
Millie ran over to Vash's prone form, carefully avoiding the blood that had seeped all over the ground. Then, apparently without much effort, Millie carefully picked Vash up and draped him gently over her shoulder.
"Millie, it's time to leave."
"Sure thing, Sempai, but," Millie hesitated, "what should we do about him?" Millie indicated the corpse.
Meryl's face wrinkled in disgust. "Leave him."
"But, Sempai, don't you think we should bury him?"
Meryl glared at the body of Legato Bluesummers. "He doesn't deserve it, Millie. Leave him to rot."
"Sempai, what about Mr. Vash's gun? Should we bring it?"
Meryl stared at the silver handgun in Millie's hand, the setting sun reflecting off its side. As much as Meryl couldn't stand the sight of it, she nodded.
"Are you sure, Sempai?"
"Yes. Bring it. If Vash ever recovers from this, he'll need it."
Without another word, Meryl began to make her way down the mountain, with Millie, Vash slung over her shoulder, close behind.
It had been a few days since Vash had awakened. Much to Meryl's dismay, he had begun screaming in anguish a few seconds after she left the room. Since then, however, his attitude had seemed to be improving somewhat. He had even begun to eat some of the soup she made for him.
Yet, he seemed so sad. Meryl still felt guilty even though Millie had insisted that what had happened might have occurred anyway. Meryl vividly remembered his screams and what he had said on the day he first woke up when she and Millie had found him on a cliff near town. He was such a tortured soul, and he didn't deserve it. Any of it. It made Meryl burn with rage at Millions Knives, Vash's brother. If anyone deserved to suffer, it was him.
Meryl looked up at the stars. The night was so clear. The wind was blowing gently, causing her hair to rustle a little. As Meryl walked aimlessly through the town, she hardly noticed that she was heading up the hill. Suddenly, she heard a voice singing.
"So...on the first evening a pebble from somewhere out of nowhere drops upon the dreaming world. So..."
"On the second selestial evening, all the children of the pebble join hands and compose a waltz," Meryl finished softly.
Meryl walked up to Vash and sat down next to him. "That's a nice song."
Neither spoke for a while. Then, Meryl got up her courage to say, "You can...you can stay here as long as you like."
She was looking down at her feet when she heard his reply. "That sounds good. Might not be such a bad idea."
Meryl looked at him. His voice seemed far away as he gazed at the night sky. She wondered what he was thinking about. Sometime, it was so hard to figure him out. Meryl had spent a lot of time recently thinking about him. When she had first know him, he had seemed so goofy, so idiotic, and so ridiculous she had hardly believed it was possible for him to be the Humanoid Typhoon she had heard so much about. Yet, on their travels together, Meryl had seen so many different sides to him, so many different aspects to his personality. He confused her and probably always would.
That incident back at L.R. had been one of the most bizarre experiences of her entire life. Vash had clung to her and called her Rem. Why that was, she didn't know. It made him all the more perplexing.
"What are you thinking about?"
Meryl jumped at the sound of his voice. "Oh, nothing in particular."
"You're a terrible liar."
Meryl blinked. "Huh?"
Vash looked at her sadly. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked that."
"No, no it's ok. I just..."
"You just what?"
Meryl looked at him solemnly. "I'm confused."
Vash blinked. "About what?"
"'About what?' You're asking me 'about what?'"
Meryl sighed. "You."
Vash stared. "Me?"
Vash stared some more.
"I don't understand you at all, Vash. I've seen you smile, laugh, cry, and scream, but I just don't understand how all all those completely different traits combine to form one person. I really don't."
Vash was quiet for a long time. "I guess I don't really have the answers to those questions," he said solemnly.
"I didn't think you did."
Vash looked at her, surprise evident in his eyes. Meryl smiled slightly. "If you had the answers, would you be sitting up here looking up at the stars, searching?"
"...I guess not."
Meryl looked at him for a moment before standing up and brushing herself off. "Well, I have work in the morning so I better get to bed."
As she began to walk away, she felt his hand grasp her arm. She stiffened slightly, expecting the same hard grip that she had experience back at L.R. However, his hand held her arm loosely, almost as if he was afraid to hold her more tightly.
Meryl turned and met his gaze squarely. His eyes were uncertain, and they wavered. "I just want to know, what happened to me that day?"
Meryl froze. She knew which day he meant. The day he had killed. But, why was he asking about this now? He hadn't seemed to remember anything about it when he came to so Meryl hadn't mentioned it for fear of awkward questions. Yet, he was asking her.
"What do you mean?" she asked uncomfortably.
"For some reason, I feel like something happened after I...you know and before I fainted. What was it?"
Meryl's throat constricted. How could she possibly explain this to him? There was no way. It wasn't possible for her to explain it to him as he was now. It would only make him feel worse.
Meryl took a deep breathe. "I'm sorry, but I can't tell you. Not now."
Vash looked fearful. "Did I do something...I shouldn't have?"
Meryl shook her head. "No, nothing like that. I just...I just don't think I can tell you right now. Maybe, when all this is over, I can."
Vash looked at her sadly. "I understand."
He released her slowly. Meryl rubbed her wrist a little. It was still sore after the last time. "I'm sorry."
Vash nodded, his eyes downcast. Then, suddenly, without thinking, Meryl reached down and embraced him. She hugged Vash tightly, trying to let him know that he wasn't alone. A few moments later, he reciprocated. The two stayed like that, sharing in each other's warmth.
Meryl pulled away. When she did, she saw Vash's eyes. They were full of wonder, and for the first time, they seemed to have some life in them again.
Meryl laughed nervously. "Well, I better go. It's really late."
Meryl walked away quickly, thankful it was dark outside so Vash couldn't see her blush. She had no idea what had possessed her to do that. She shook the thoughts furiously from her mind. She couldn't have her head in the clouds now. There were things to be done!
Still, the memory of the embrace lingered as she lay awake in bed.
Meryl looked up at the clear blue sky as water fell down from the heavens. Millie and the other workers digging the well had hit water just a few minutes ago. Millie was currently pulling herself out of the well, waving her arms happily.
"We hit water, Sempai! We hit water!"
Meryl smiled. It truly was a great day for the town. She allowed herself to feel the joy that permeated throughout the place. Yet, there was something missing, something that would make the moment truly perfect...
"Sempai, do you think Mr. Vash will come back?"
"Of course he will, Millie. He wouldn't dare leave a good woman like me waiting!"
"Yeah, you're right!"
Vash had left a few days ago with Cross Punisher slung over his shoulder, justone day after the townspeople had tried to kill him upon dicovering who he was. He had gone to face his brother Knives. Meryl didn't know if she would ever see him again, but much to her own surprise, she was willing to wait for him as long as it took for him to return.
Meryl looked out towards the empty desert. The wind blew dust randomly through the desert in random directions. Sometimes it seemed like she could see random shapes form in the blowing dust. The blaring sun made the desert appear to shimmer. Luckily, the water that was currently gushing from the ground shielded her from the heat as she became soaking wet.
Then, she saw a figure behind the whirling sands. She was sure it was another trick of the light, but she squinted at it nonetheless. Soon, she could make out the torso of a man with something slung over his shoulder. She blinked when the figure emerged from the desert.
It was Vash the Stampede, his face wreathed by a true smile for the first time in ages, with the body of what appeared to be another man (probably his brother Knives) slung over his shoulder.
"Look, Sempai! It's Mr. Vash!" Millie shouted happily.
Millie ran over to Vash and immediately greeted him. She chatted for a few moments with him before relieving Vash of his burden. Millie carried Knives off to the house to tend to his wounds. Vash watched her go, a silly grin on his face. Then, he looked back in Meryl's direction. He strode over to her and stopped not far from her.
Meryl smiled. "Welcome back."
Vash grinned. "It's good to be back."
"I take it you were successful?"
Vash's expression clouded over a little. "Yes, I won the fight. However, the battle won't be won until I can reform my brother."
Meryl's eyes narrowed slightly. I have my doubts about that particular venture. "So, what happened to the red coat?"
Vash smiled again. "I didn't need it anymore."
Meryl's eyes widened. That's the first time he's called me by my name... "Yes, Vash?"
"Remember that thing you said you couldn't tell me before? Will you tell me now?"
Meryl blinked. Then, without any warning, she smacked him upside the head.
"Hey! What was that for?" he whined.
"What is the matter with you?" Meryl lectured. "You're bleeding! And you've been wandering around in the desert for hours, maybe even days! Those gunshot wounds are probably dirty AND infected! Get in the house and let me treat those now!"
"Yes, ma'am!" Vash squeaked.
Meryl grinned. "Get going, will ya!"
As Meryl began to push a protesting Humanoid Typhoon towards the house, she couldn't help but chuckle internally to herself.
Even though he's brought me nothing but trouble and will probably continue to do so as long as I live, I'm glad he's back. And no matter how this reform business goes with his brother, I'll stay by his side through it all.
Heh, I must be an idiot.
To remain a one-shot, or to NOT remain a one-shot. THAT is the question. Now, review for me please!