Title: The Aftermath
Rating: G
Coupling: None
Warnings: Spoilers
Notes: Spoilers for the last episode and for number seventeen, I don't think there's anything too huge, just a lot on Vash's past, Knives, and Rem. Don't read if you can't handle spoilers! It's not yaoi (GASP!), but it's a nice story anyhow.

~Tomo Trillions
http://www.hanashika.com/tomo/index.html
knivesnomiko.pitas.com
~~

The sky was still blood red. It has been for the last few days, probably because of the debris in the upper atmosphere that were still circling the planet a thousand miles up. It certainly made the new home Knives had chosen a bit more interesting, though there's only so much one could say for the desert planet when it came down to it. Knives tilted his head and watched as the entire horizon was painted a sickly orange color- later, the smoke above would dull the suns to dim pinpoints in the sky.

He was being followed.

The first day that Knives struck out, away from their escape pod with an oversized double pack on his shoulders, Vash wouldn't come near him.

"Where are you going?"

"There's no point in staying here..."

The blonder twin would follow from a dune or two away, watching Knives cautiously as his twin picked a path through sandy terrain. Of course Knives noticed it- Vash was so easily tired that he didn't even sense it when his brother watched him sleep. Knives slowed his pace though, unwilling to lose his twin, his Vash, who he had wrecked civilizations for already.

Of course he had been carefully executing those humans he come across, the survivors from Rem's ships- while Vash slept. It was almost too easy to snap their necks or aim the gun he had snatched on his way out from a dune away- it was satisfying to watch them crumple in on themselves, or to hear them cry out before death claimed them. To kill...such power was almost addictive. Bodies were a problem- he usually buried them in the sand or- when he was feeling strong- he flung them out of the way, so far that Vash would never find them. It wouldn't do to alienate him any more right now, when the balance between them was so thin!

Knives scowled as he surveyed the massive Seeds ship before him, one of the few that was almost whole even after impact. Humans. They were like the mice in the cargo bay on the ship they had grown up on, the ones Vash would never smash, even when they ate into the precious stores. Every one of them deserved to lie out and rot under the glowing red suns, until their eyes burnt away and they returned to dust.

But then, if Vash saw that, he would run.

Knives slipped open a can of dried fruit and began to eat without really tasting the food, musing to himself. He felt Vash's exhaustion in the back of his mind as the boy slumped down against a stone and panted- Vash had neither a weapon nor a pack... He was without water or food, while his twin was well stocked on both accounts, and more than willing to kill. Knives shrugged that off and ate the bland food, the gears in his mind turning while his twin's hunger knawed at his gut.

When Rem used to show them animals within the holodeck, there was one in paritcular that caught Knives' attention. The three of them had used to go through makeshift fields and forests, watching the birds that flew between the nonexistant canopy and the untouchable sky and tiny rabbits that were always just too far ahead to catch. The animal, though, that Knives always compared Vash too in his mind was called a 'deer'. It was a four legged grazer, graceful and slender- the perfect target for humans. Rem had explained the gentle being as one of the denizens of the woods that humankind had left behind on Earth- but when Knives had later researched the creature, he learned that it had been extinct for over a hundred years before the Seeds ships had left.

In a way Vash is like that hunted animal...a sudden move now and he would run- who knows when Knives could catch him, then....? At any rate, the short haired boy would lure his twin back. Vash had to stay where he belonged.

The third night was different- Vash had neared Knives for water, but came within ten yarz of his hated twin. Knies was rather surprised that he didn't realize he was awake- after all, they had always woken to the same nightmares-

That is, until now. Knives never woke up screaming for Rem.

~~

Vash curled against a longish stone and wrapped the tattered blanket he had claimed from the wreckage of one of the ships they had passed around his shoulders, feeling quite pitiful and sorry for himself. "Baka," he whispered to himself. "Knives pulled packs of provisions. Why didn't you do that?"

He closed his eyes as Rem's face rose to mind, unbidden. He had been too shocked to think, too hurt to breath, too hungry to move or think. He had stumbled out of unconciousness and floundered after his twin without really meaning too, but now that he was following Knives, it was difficult to stop.

"I should go another way. He killed her," Vash reminded himself as he watched his twin on the next hilltop. Knives had started a fire, and was warming a can of something in the embers. Vash's stomach gave an extra heave and the boy closed his eyes against the his own vertigo, brought on by weakness and emotional exhaustion.

Just as it was impossible to bring Rem back, it was impossible for Vash to leave Knives and blaze his own trail. He was too scared- terrified of the thought of being alone on this world- to do anything but trail his twin. It didn't matter where Knives was going, it mattered that he was going, that he had a plan of sorts - he was storng, and he would survive.

The spikey haired boy had never, ever been truly alone.

Vash rolled his swollen tongue in his mouth as Knives' fire died away. He could see as his twin bedded down on soft blankets from his pack, he watched the fire exhausted itself for a lack of fuel. It didn't occur to Vash to wonder what Knives had used in place of wood- which was a good thing. By the time he was there, though, even the bones of the unlucky human had been incinerated.

'I'm just here for the water,' Vash told himself, pulling the canteen from Knives' pack. It would be easy to take the gear and run- but where would that leave Knives? Vash couldn't bring himself to force his twin into the hungry lonliness he had been wading through for the last few days.

He drank from the canteen, emptied half of it and wondered where the water had come from. Below the hilltop he was standing on there were humans, their settlement visible as nothing but a string of dim lights scattered across a valley, as tiny and quivering as stars - he froze, and stared, swallowing the remains of the water in his mouth with a scared gulp.

Vash looked up into the broad expanse of the sky and sighed softly - the real stars were hidden, and only the faint light of three smoke-kissed moons shown down from the sky. He sat down against his own will, listening hungrily to the wind and the breath of his twin.

~~

Knives' lips curled into a faint smile. How like Vash to fall asleep in the midst of such a situation- how predictable he was by falling asleep next to the murderer of the woman he called mother. Vash would never hate his twin, no matter what he did- Rem's damned preaching had assured that. Cautiously Knives reached out and pulled Vash closer- his twin was exhausted, and didn't even stir from his sleep. The boy pressed against the inside of his sleeping roll, and zipped it up around the two of them, then wrapped his arm around Vash's shoulders.

Sleep was easy, and neither stirred.

~~

Vash was startled and rather alarmed to discover himself wrapped around his twin brother when he woke the next morning. His first reaction was to stand and run like hell- but after another moment in the warm company of his twin's body, that was no longer an option. In sleep Knives' face was relaxed and open- Vash could fantasize that they were back on the ship, sharing a bed, waking at the same moment in the morning to another day of combing the familier ship-sized cage.

His brothers hands were bloodstained...but Rem had said anyone could start over. He had laughed at death- but maybe he didn't understand! Vash narrowed his eyes thoughtfully and wondered if his twin could be changed. Perhaps...

Somehow he had fallen asleep again, because the next time Vash woke, Knives was stirring something in a metal pot over another fire. Vash swallowed and wrapped the blankes tighter around his shoulders- the movment made Knives turn. "Yo, Vash," he said softly, eyes glittering His twin had returned, and for the moment he had surrendered and returned to the side of his twin. "Welcome home."

Alright, this could be home. For now.

For now.

~~~~
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