"The Essence of Argument" "The Essence of Argument"

"You know, you're beautiful when you're angry."
--possibly the oldest cliche in the book

I don't dare say a word.

She stands towering over me, full of righteous wrath. Her gray eyes flash brilliantly, her lungs breathing in to vent her fury upon my poor soul. Every muscle in her body is quivering, ready to pounce or hit or I know not what else. I cringe in anticipation. Even her gaze makes me feel about two inches tall.

Quite a feat, considering I am at least half a foot taller than her.

Most men would cower in fear at the sight of this avenging valkyrie. Most men would run screaming into the cold, dark night if faced with this angel of death, coming after their blood.

"You!" I hear her scream distantly. "Get back over here!"

Most men are quite wise. Who am I to argue?


I duck behind a nearby building, resting against the wall, panting heavily. Cautiously, I peek around the corner to see if she is there. Down the road, I spot a flash of white fluttering through the dusty wind.


I pull back to my temporary hideout, looking frantically for a safer one. I am suddenly very aware of how brightly colored my coat is.

"What'd you do this time, Tongari?"

I jump at the noise, spinning to confront the intruder, although there really is only one person it could be. Meryl must have me more spooked than I thought...I didn't even notice the lanky priest approach. I make shushing noises frantically, nervously checking around the corner again.

"You don't want to know," I grin weakly, hoping that Wolfwood's cigarette smoke doesn't tip her off. She can be like a bloodhound when she starts to hunt.

"You know," Wolfwood observes laconically, lighting up another cigarette, "things could be a lot easier for you if you didn't try to piss her off all the time." He calmly dodges my admittedly haphazard attempts to put out the burning stick in his hand, leaning casually against the wall.

"Yeah, I know," I reply back as I give up covering up the smoke in favor of finding a different hiding place. I check the door on the building side. Locked. I look up, speculatively eyeing the fire escape.

"Vash-san! Don't think you can hide from me!" The voice seems to echo endlessly through the alleyway.

God, she's coming.

With an eep, I leap for the metal railing, scrambling awkwardly to the window. Salvation!

"So, why do you do it, then?" Wolfwood asks, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his conversation partner is currently five feet above him.

Locked again. I look up at the sky in frustration. Don't people trust anybody anymore?

I can hear her steps coming closer. Can I reach the top of this building?

"Oi, Tongari? Aren't you going to answer me?"

Shut up, Wolfwood. Yelling is NOT going to help.

Maybe if I hide under my coat, she won't see me...

"Ne, Vash, are you still alive up there?"

Not if you keep yelling out my location to everyone within five miles, you persistent chain-smoking little freak.

With a sigh, I realize he's not going to stop until I answer. Peeking out from underneath my coat, I whisper loudly down to him. "What was the question?"

"Why do you keep pissing her off? It's not like it makes it any easier for the rest of us," Wolfwood grumbles, taking another long drag from his cigarette. "One of these days, she's either going to kill you or drop dead from an aneurysm."

I pause, pondering the question. His point is a valid one. Sitting back on my heels, I play back the events in my mind, sifting for a reasonable explanation.

For some reason, I keep coming back to the image of her at the height of anger. The way those eyes of hers flash, filled with a sudden fire. The way her body quivers, tensing to lash out. The way her attention is focused completely on me. And only on me.

I reflect wryly on the truth of old cliches.

Of course, I can't tell him that.

"Because it's fun," I call down to him, leaning over the rail. It's close enough to the truth.


I yelp in surprise as the bullet narrowly misses me. Thrown off balance, I find myself tumbling over the railing, collapsing in a heap on the ground.

I shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning.

Looking up, I see her towering over me again, smoking derringer in hand. Her eyes hold a distinct gleam that I don't think I like.

"You've got a weird sense of fun, Tongari," Wolfwood mutters, pretending to walk away nonchalantly from the alley, although I know he's really trying to put as much distance between himself and Meryl as possible. I'd do the same in his place -- there's no telling how far the damage will span after she's done with me. Despite what she may think, Meryl can be as destructive as me, when pushed beyond a certain limit.

I seem to have a talent of triggering it.

I glare balefully at Wolfwood's rapidly retreating back as he leaves me to my fate.


A shifting of feet. A rustle of cloth.

She approaches.

I eye her nervously as she stalks towards me, a magnificent fury incarnate. I start sweating a little, wondering how far I can get before she decides to take me down. I know she wouldn't actually try to shoot me, but the hand holding her gun is clenching suspiciously; I'd rather not test my theory.

"Ah...Meryl? You might want to let up a little on that trigger..." I say hesitantly, scooting away from her across the dusty ground.

She doesn't appear to hear me. I swallow hard as I bump up against the wall, trapped. I try scooting up the wall, but only succeed in standing up. My heart begins to race as she reaches for me, seizing my collar roughly. Breathing heavily from the chase, she pauses to recover herself before slamming me against the wall.

Under different circumstances, this could be rather exciting. I wonder idly if I could persuade her to start wearing leather.

"Vash-san," she growls, pulling me back to reality. She seems a bit at a loss on what to do with me, now that she has me cornered -- and that doesn't make her happy at all.

I briefly consider giving her a few suggestions, but they all seem to involve handcuffs and cord and many other restraining devices I know I would regret letting her use later on. I have enough scars as it is. Also, she would probably kill me for proposing such things.

Well...if she were angry enough, she might take me up on the offer.

Unfortunately, I doubt we would have the same objective in mind.

I think it's time I started running again.

"Vash!" I hear her scream in frustration. "Not again!" Her hand is still clenched tightly upon my red coat; too bad I'm not in it anymore. I dodge the coming bullets, making a beeline for the next building. I can hear her puffing behind me, a pale wraith in the moonlight.

And so the chase begins again.

Running my heart out over the shifting desert sands, I hide a little smile.


(bonus side story)

"So...how long do you think they'll be at it?" The man takes another slow pull from his cigarette, quietly watching the spectacle below.

"I don't know...it's awfully hard for Sempai to calm down after she gets started..." The tall, long-haired woman looks on at the same place concernedly. "Do you think I should go down and try to stop them?"

"Nah. He's already down to his pants. No reason to ruin their fun now."

The woman leans forward, peering into the distance. "Don't you think the townspeople might complain about it, though? They are being awfully loud..."

"We've been staying here for more than a week. They should be used to this kind of thing by now. It's not like those two don't do something like this every other day, for Chrissake." The man holds up a pair of binoculars, zooming in for a closer look. "Yeah, there goes the pants," he reports dutifully. The woman, with perhaps a twinge of guilty curiosity, takes the binoculars away from him to observe for herself.

"Oh, my," she breathes. "Vash-san certainly has a lot of energy, doesn't he?" The priest takes back the binoculars quickly, putting them to his eyes.

"Looks like she's keeping up with him just fine," he smirks, standing up as if to get a better view. "A perfect match, if you ask me."

"I wonder if they're going to take all night," the woman muses aloud. "We do have to leave early tomorrow, after all."


I find myself pinned against the same wall. It's almost as if fate is guiding my hand. Or legs, in this case.

She's lost the gun since then, but determination still holds steadily in her eyes, mixed with an added gleam of amusement and, God help me, a touch of wicked enjoyment.

To the side, a mound of clothing lies scattered across the ground. All of it mine.

I don't find the situation terribly fair.

I suppose I ought to have found some other way of escaping her grasp, but I didn't want to ruin a good thing. It seemed like a good idea at the time...and I didn't have much time to think with her chasing me all over the place.

Unfortunately, I only have a limited amount of clothing on. I was bound to start running out sooner or later.

She's laughing at me. Laughing at me!

"Well, Vash..." her mouth twitches in stifled merriment. "You...might want to try something new this time." She looks pointedly at the sole piece of clothing I still have on -- a rather flimsy pair of boxers. Her hands have a firm grasp upon them to ensure I stay in place, making me alternately blush and shift uncomfortably.

"This is all your fault, you know," I scowl at her accusingly. I cross my arms over my body self-consciously.

She only smirks in reply.

Author's notes: It's almost scary what one can come up with when they're putting off writing a paper. I'm not really sure where this came from(especially the S&M references), but once it got started, it just sort of wrote itself. I hope you're not too traumatized by this little story.