Notes: Mmm...twincest.... This was one of my first twincest fics, way back when KxV stories were few and far between - Revised 12/09/01.
The first thing the sprawling man noticed when the blurry world moved back into focus was that the room was musty, dank, and smelled of humans - plus something more. The second hazy thought that floated to the surface of his recently fevered mind was that his Vash (as soft, familiar and curvy as he was) had a few large metal grates placed aross his chest that kept him from being a very effective pillow. The snowy-blonde man turned slightly against the rough covers and allowed himself to drink in the expression on Vash's face for a very long moment - it was gentle with slumber, his lips turned up slightly in the corners while his arms...well, the twins' scars and bodies were thrown together in a jumble on top of the covers, were a mess of indistinguishable limbs. That expression, so different from the last vision he had held of Vash's eyes, narrow with anger, of his hissed promise - 'I will survive'...
A moment passed in comfortable, warm silence, then Knives closed his eyes and almost smiled with a strange sensation of satisfaction that bubled forth from a portion of his soul that he hadn't known still existed- a sort of accepting completion... it was as emotion that he hadn't felt in over a century's worth of time. An emotion he hadn't thought himself capable of feeling again, it was the happiness that had been ripped asunder when Vash had run beneath the blood-red suns.
Thin lips turned slightly, and the blonde's eyes shivered shut. He loved.... this. He loved Vash.
His precious Vash, there at his side with his pale, criss-crossed arms slung gently around Knives' slender, unmarked waist, a protective embrace that felt no different for all their dozens of years of seperation. Together, curled in a warm bed somewhere, alone. This, Knives decided with the ultimate conviction, was much better than the first reunion they had shared out under the suns, a reunion of sweat and blood and pain. It had been a necessary confrontation, because until they battled their ideals neither could rest - but it was over now, and all that remained was this gentle, heated companionship they had shared as infants.
Somehow laying here with the softness of Vash's body, it was possible to forget that they had been seperated for years, all the pain- it was almost possible to forget what the humans had done, what he had done with his own hands, the deaths that rested on both of their shoulders. Selective amnesia could lead one into believing that this was the world, and nothing but this had ever mattered before. This. His Vash. Nothing but his twin...
How long ago had their showdown been? Knives could remember being shot with the painful clarity only pain can bring, he could recall the expression of almost-regret that flickered across Vash's face as his gun fired, smoke licking from the barrel in slow-motion, like a cheap human film... Lead bullets had burst through his skin and chest, his arms with sickening, wet whispers.... they marred his perfection as Vash's had been smeared so many years ago. However.....at the same time the plant could remember warm hands against his skin, Vash's fearful face as his hands pressed against bleeding wounds, being lifted carefully and gently...
His beautiful brother, with hair like straw and eyes the color of the oceans of lore, the oceans Rem had told them about once upon a time. Knives had slithered back into conciousness for precious moments during the journey and realized he was slung over one of Vash's shoulders like a heavy sack, a burdan- he didn't move, didn't protest as he was hauled along. After all, he had lost, and this was something to think about, this sudden closeness...
Besides, he was laying near his brother- his Vash.
Now they were sleeping in the same bed, an oversized one, apparantly in a run-down hotel somewhere- typical of Vash and those human women he called companions. Knives opened his eyes and tried to sit up, though the bullet wounds in his thighs and shoulders protested the action vehemently by lacing and contracting with webs of pain. Wincing, ice-blue eyes regarded Vash with something akin to adoration in their depths. The gunman was still sleeping half-beneath the other occupant of the bed, his mouth hanging open a bit as he emitted an occasional half-snore, twitching in the throes of some donut-littered dream. The broom-headed twin had been a heavy sleeper for as long as Knives could remember, falling into his dreams with the same passion he turned on everything. Gusty. Enthusiastic. Vash.
On the Seeds ship the darker of the pair had, on more than one occasion, played numerous pranks on his sibling while the younger slept on, dead to the world.
Knives allowed himself a protective smile as he sought out Vash's single fleshed palm with his own and spun his brother's limp fingers in his grasp with a soft sigh. His head was laying on Vash's good shoulder, one of his legs tangled with the leather-clad angel's, resting with an ease he had not known for hundreds of years. How could he have survived that lonliness?
Vash's face was turned towards Knives, his breathing soft, his eyelashed fluttering-
It had been one hundred and what...fifteen...sixteen years since he had last held him like this? Or more? Knives wrinkled his nose in an almost delicate gesture that would never occur anywhere but with his brother. Nobody else needed to see emotions like these, nobody else could break through the barriers Knives had carefully erected about his soul. Why should he give the keys to who he was away? This last century had been far too long without any sort of contact, without the love they had shared only once...
Leaning his weight on one arm was painful, but Knives forced himself into it and managed to lean over Vash's form until their lips were just a few inches away, seperated by air and wind and one hundred years of lonely solitude. Vash still had the sweetest smile imaginable, wet, pink lips that were full and pale in the morning light that filtered through the dusty window, the sort of smile that lit up a room. It reminded Knives of a game they had played on the Seeds ship- the one who woke up first had to wake up his twin without using telepathy or touch, had to rouse his brother and soulmate with the sheer force of his will, desire, or love. Vash never managed to wake Knives - well, perhaps once, though the boy hadn't given a sign of his awareness - but Knives always won when he tried. He had always loved and needed Vash more than Vash had ever loved or needed him...
Now he was going to bend the rules of that long ago game by lowering his lips softly, gently, pressing them against his brother's with the in cautious of touches.
Vash still tasted sweet, like honey or sugar or perhaps powdered donuts. The thought made his brother's lips twitch in what was dangerously close to a smile. Beneath Knives' touch he stirred slightly, but didn't wake, merely mumbled something half unconciously against the lips on his mouth and snorted a bit. For a moment his brother didn't move, let himself linger there above Vash, melting in the sensation of breathing against his mouth...
Knives broke the kiss and move to his brother's neck, running a curious fingertip along the scars that marred Vash's chest. Why had he allowed this to happen? He had always known that his twin bore the scars of his vow not to kill, but seeing him laid bare like this, his shoulders puckered and drawn up in places, thick white tissue looking almost dead in the pale morning light... It was real. Suddenly...real.
"Vash," he murmered, hurt by the sight. How many of these had he caused? The arm, yes. That could be repaired- Knives had survived a head-on Angel Arm and been fixed up at no expense. If Vash would come to him, that could indeed be repaired... Of course, if he had listened in the first place to what his brother had always known, always believed, none of those scars would have been necessary... "Vash....."
The last time Knives had woken next to his twin had been all those years ago, onboard an abandoned Seeds wreck, their bodies pooled together under the blankets, warm despite the desert night's chill. The attraction he had always felt for his brother was twisted into something that resembled love, even lust- and now, he could feel it again, rising in his heart as he looked down at the creature before him. Back then Vash had given in and in the end, Knives felt he had enjoyed their encounter- he had screamed enough. He had kissed passionately enough. He had belonged so completely and utterly to Knives for those few precious seconds of sheer and utter closeness....
In the year since that night Knives had dealt with enough dreams of it over the last century to last a lifetime, dreams of the young-looking man that was currently sprawled out in an extremely compromising position against him. Vash. The only person who would understand him, who should have stayed by his side throughout his life on this globe that would be theirs someday... The only creature beautiful enough to love. So close to perfection, his twin... his Vash.
And yet that little something that had began so many years ago, there had since been a change, a twist of fate that neither of the twins had predicted. In trying to make heaven for the being before him, Knives had isolated himself beyond recall, forced himself away from the one creature he loved more than anything, more than life itself. He had murdered, burnt, tortured- but it was for Vash, the one thing that mattered in all of the world. Rem had died. The humans had died. In his effort to turn his twin's head back to seeing the truth, Knives had even injured his love- July, when Vash's blood had spilt against the floor in elegant spirals of crimson. The left arm. But wasn't that a sacrifice Vash should thank him for, sooner or later? It was for him and for Eden...
"I wanted to make the smallest possible sacrifice at the given time, Vash," blue eyes narrowed slightly, softening with a sigh. "Joey was right, but...You must hate me by now," Knives took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of his twin- Vash smelled like honey-vanilla. Was that what Knives had wanted...for his brother to break down the walls Rem had reinforced so long ago? After all, if Vash was capable of hating, he might be ready to return to Knives' side, to help create the Eden his twin had painted in his dreams for so long. And yet....at the same time, that hatred might keep him from being one with Knives ever again, from ever becoming the lover he was meant to be...
When Knives realized his twin was giving him a sleepy-eyed, admiring look, he quickly wiped the thoughtful frown from his lips and stared at Vash with an unforgiving gaze- firm, not angry, not happy, but hovering somewhere in between. It was the expression that, when they were children, had always made Vash break out into sheepish, guilty giggles when he had done something wrong...
The aquatic blue-green eyes of his twin regarded Knives silently for a moment, secure in the arms of his brother and lover. What was said now would alter their future, and the future of the people of Gunsmoke, would either free them of a devil or loose something ten times worse on their unsuspecting cities... "Hey," Vash finally said weakly, before yawning ferociously and flashing his brother a sleepy grin. Uncoiling himself and stretching out like a cat, the blonder of the two laughed softly, checked the position of the suns in the sky, and spoke again. "Good morning, Knives."
"Vash..." Knives whispered after another agonized moment, his voice filled with injured amazement, surprised that Vash didn't look regretful. "You shot me again, Vash- Angel arms- what...?"
"I had to. That was days ago. Can't we worry about this another time?" Vash asked, tapping his twin affectionately on the nose and laughing softly when Knives went cross-eyed for a moment. Brilliant blue eyes blinked- he was certain that by now Vash hated him, and this subtle show of love was something he had not been prepared for. "Like...never?"
"Vash...?" Knives blinked at his brother, his throat closing up on the hundreds of words, curses and vows of affection that had only moments before threatened to pour from his lips. Funny how Vash could do that to him.
"I really missed you, Knives," the blonder of the two admitted, not meeting his twin's gaze. "It's been a long time."
As Vash's expression shifted into one of regret, he looked up, eyes speaking what his lips could not. If Knives could learn to act with his heart alone, without the hatred and stereotypes that filled his mind......
Rem had said you could always start over. The first step to that was forgiveness- and Vash would give that to Knives without a second thought.
After all, they were brothers.
"It...has..." Knives said, trying not to let his confusion show as Vash slipped his arms around his twin's shoulder and hugged him tightly. What was this? It had only been days ago that Vash was firing his weapon on the monument with his name on it, written in smeared blood... He was so full of contradictions now that Knives could barely read him. Sitting back, the short-haired man regarded his brother with fascination, licking his lips in surprise. Vash was smiling slightly at his response, seeing through his twin with more accuracy then should ever be allowed.
How could he...?
Hesitantly, Knives reached out and touched Vash's cheek with his hand, staring with parted lips as Vash allowed the touch- he didn't even flinch. Hands that had killed thousands of humans ran down the gunman's neck and dipped against his milky collarbone- still, the scarred man was not scared of those slenderly built, soft fingers. How was this possible? All of Knives' planning had taken into consideration Vash's anger, his bitterness and years of losses- after all, look at all that had befallen his twin! He had wanted to force Vash to kill willingly, and now he had won that small victory with Legato's death under the twin suns... He also, so many years ago, had killed Rem, snuffing her light out like a candle in the dark. What's more, he had laughed then, laughed at their fragile eggshell lives that were so easy, so horribly tempting to destroy....
How could his sibling forget this...? Now, after all these years...?
Did that mean it was a mistake...to....
Vash sighed softly and held his arms out slowly, like a child waiting to be picked up by it's parent. Knives let himself gather his brother against him, and breathed in sharply as Vash nestled his head against his shoulder, delicate spikes of soft buttercup caressing his cheeks. Cautiously Knives allowed himself to kiss Vash's ear, to run his hands down the spine that was dented here and there with bulletholes, endless numbers and networks of scars.... Knives traced along the curving metal braces that were bolted to his ribcage, memorizing the knew feel of his brother's body-
He could feel breath against his skin, could feel the grate pressing sharply against his chest, could feel Vash's legs slipping around his waist with a clarity that sent shivers down his spine-
Knives hated having to guess at his brother's motives. "Vash, why are you doing this?"
For a moment Vash tensed against Knives' body, then looked up at his twin, surprised by the question. "What?"
Knives' eyes were narrow with an almost suspicious glitter. He didn't think Vash was capable of treachery, but this behavior was abnormal, and illogical, and Knives was not the sort to let something go unnoticed. Vash had always loved humans for their nature- and wasn't revenge part of that? What was wrong with his twin? "Why are you letting me touch you?"
The answer, when Vash spoke it, hit Knives like a fist to the gut and left him staring with openmouthed shock at the man in his arms. "You can always start over. We are going to start over."
A tumult of emotions. First, anger- Rem's words were still finding their way out of Vash's mouth- the answer was not Vash's, it was the philosophy of Rem's undying ghost. Frustration that Vash still didn't understand humans, what they did to him, how they used him. Then surprise- he was being tolerated. Love- he was near his twin, he was holding Vash, this was what he had wanted all along, wasn't it? Adoration- Vash was so perfect as he spoke his beliefs, even though they were not the ones Knives wanted... At last, acceptance, that this was what would make Vash happy.
Was this Eden?
"You still can't think for yourself, Vash," Knives whispered, tears in his eyes as he pressed his forehead into his twin's hair. He didn't want to cry here in front of Vash, but it was hard to dam the flood of misery that had filled his mind so suddenly that it took his breath away. "Those are Rem's words. You still haven't found yourself."
Vash shook his head and kissed Knives softly on the cheek, purring his words against the soft skin of his brother. The touch affected Knives as plainly as a sledgehammer to the chest. "No..." he whispered, smiling softly at his twin. "Rem is dead, has been dead for years. It took me this long to realize it, but she only gave me a piece of the puzzle... You're another piece. Wolfwood...was another. Every step I've taken has taught me things, Knives, has shown me the good and the bad, what love is and how hate can consume... now I'm starting over. We're starting over. Together."
Nodding happily, Vash buried his face in his brothers chest and laughed, the sound bouncing off the walls of the room and making his shocked twin look down. "You and me, and the whole world. You tried it your way, now we'll try it mine- and Knives, I'll show you your Eden."
Vash kissed Knives once more on the cheek, and pressed a finger against his twin's chin, trailing it down the bandaged chest and pressing his hand against the flat of the other man's stomach. "Well? Are we agreed?"
Knives nodded in mute agreement. Maybe Vash was right- maybe it was his turn to lay out the rules to their own private game.