Author's Note and Disclaimer: Just something that's been brewing in my mind for a bit. Your typical Vash/Meryl stuff. Very cheesy. If my format actually carries over, all thoughts are in italics. Trigun and Trigun Maximum are property of Yasuhiro Nightow. I am making no money from this work.

Meryl awoke with a start. A loud clatter in the kitchen followed by a sharp yelp of pain spurred her to jump out of bed quick as lightning. Mind still half-fogged with sleep, she snatched a spare derringer from her bedside table, mid-stumble to the door. Quietly as possible, she eased the bedroom door open and peeked around the jamb, trigger half-cocked. There was no sight of anyone in the hallway, but her ears were met by a soft whimpering sound. "If that's Vash, I swear, I'll shoot him for waking me up," she thought irritatedly. She had been up half the night compiling a 25 page summary report on all claims pertaining to Vash for the month.

Cautiously, she rounded the hallway corner to the kitchen, and immediately lowered her gun. Of course, it was Vash. He cranked 'round to look pitifully up at Meryl (as he was sitting on the floor). Tears welled within his eyes, and she realized that he was sitting in a small pool of blood.

"Vash? What happened?" she gasped. "What the hell did you do to your foot!" Vash again gave her his most baleful stare.

"You don't have to be so harsh, Insurance Girl! You know how much I hate the sight of blood!" he whined.

Meryl affected a deep sigh, plans to shoot Vash for waking her up thrown to the wind. She stepped over his mess and grabbed a dish towel.

"Here, put this on your foot to stem the flow. Wait here while I get the first aid kit." Vash did as he was told without retort as Meryl made her way back to the bathroom. She quickly retrieved the kit and hurried back to the kitchen. Vash had wrapped the towel around his foot, and it was quickly becoming soaked in crimson.

"Holy thomases, Vash! It's bleeding like a sieve! What in the world happened?" Meryl exclaimed. Vash gingerly moved his foot so she could inspect the damage.

"Well, I woke up hungry, so I came out here looking for something to eat." Meryl listened while trying to see how bad his foot was cut. "I was reaching into the top cupboard when something ran across my foot."

"What?"

"I said, 'something ran across my foot,'" he repeated.

"What ran across your foot?" Meryl demanded, horrified. "It wasn't a rat or something nasty, was it?"

"No, it was that black cat that's been hanging around," Vash said.

"How did it get in the house?"

"Souldn't you be worrying about my bleeding foot?"

"Yeah, sorry. By the way, this is going to need stitches, at least," she informed him.

"What? Are you sure? You know how much I hate stitches, Meryl!"

"I'm sorry, Vash, but it can't be avoided this time. This cut is huge. It's almost the length of your entire foot! I don't know how you managed this one."

"When the cat ran over my foot, it startled me and I lost my balance. I grabbed for something to steady myself, but accidentally knocked over the knife block. The knives all landed on the floor and I stepped on one before I fell. I'm a total klutz and I'm sorry I woke you up."

Vash finished his rant with a scowl. Meryl was taken aback for a moment. She hadn't expected Vash to go all huffy. That was usually her role.

"I'm sorry, Vash, I didn't mean to-" He cut her off.

"Don't apologize, Meryl." Vash's gaze dropped to his lap. "It doesn't really matter what I say anyway," he muttered.

Unsure what to say back, Meryl pulled out the needle and silk thread to stitch his foot shut. She worked silently, one stitch at time, neatly and tediously. If she had not gone into the insurance trade, Meryl was sure she would have gone to medical school and specialized in surgery. Blood didn't phase her a bit. Vash sat tensely on the floor, biting his lip till he tasted metal. Shit, now his lip was bleeding, too. What a night.

Meryl finished her work, snipping the last stitch. She smeared his foot with iodine rather uncerimoniously and Vash howled in pain.

"Your bedside manner sucks!" he cried.

"Oh shut-up and be a man, Vash," she spat. She started wrapping his foot tightly with gauze, brow furrowed.

"Why do you always have to be so cold short-stuff? What did I ever do to you?" he whined.

"You're in top-form tonight, do you know that, Vash?"

Meryl marched over to the laundry sink and set to rinsing out the bloody dish towel. She chucked an old rag at Vash.

"Start wiping up that mess," she ordered.

Vash gave her his best dirty look and started mopping up. Meryl picked the knives up and dumped them in the kitchen sink. She grabbed a can of disinfectant and tossed it to Vash.

"Don't forget to use that when you're done."

They cleaned in silence for about five minutes until Vash cleared his thoat.

"Yes, Vash?"

"I, uh, I could use a hand up," he muttered.

"What's that, Vash? I couldn't quite hear you." Vash sighed heavily and grit his teeth ever so slightly.

"I said I need some help getting up." Meryl smirked and dried her hands on a clean dish towel. She extended her right arm.

"Why didn't you just say so?"

Vash gave her a wary look and stood on one leg, gingerly moving his left foot. His balance faltered for a moment and he leaned into Meryl. She could smell the scent of the soap he usually used in the shower. The smell was nice enough, but intoxicating when mixed with that of Vash. A hint of gunoil, black powder, and something else she couldn't quite place. They stood like that for a moment, her face in his shirt, his hands on her shoulders for temporary support.

"Meryl..."

There it was again. For the third time in the night, he had used her name. She almost couldn't collect her voice.

"...yes, Vash?"

"You can let go of me now." Meryl suddenly became aware of herself and let go of his hand. Her palm was left cold in its absence. They stood next to each other awkwardly for a moment, each unsure of what to say.

"Do we have anything to eat around here, Insurance Girl?" Vash asked, trying to break the tension.

"Not much," she answered. "I think there are some crackers in the cupboard, and Milly might have some leftover pudding in the fridge."

"Is that all?" he asked dejectedly.

"I'm sorry, but I was planning on going to the store in the morning. I don't know, I might have some donuts stashed in my room." She regretted saying it before the words had finished leaving her mouth.

"What, you, little old Meryl hoarding donuts?"

"I have no choice! You usually eat them all before I get a chance to even look at them, let alone eat one!" Vash looked pensively towards Meryl's bedroom, clearly not listening.

"Fine! I give up on sleeping tonight! Follow me and I'll see if I still have a few." She marched down the hall to her room with severe disaffection. Vash hobbled behind as quickly as possible on one good foot.

Meryl clicked on the bedside lamp and bent over her dresser, hunting for her stash of junkfood. Vash came thumping into the room and stopped short in the doorway.

"You can come in, Vash, you have my permission."

"It's not that," he said in an oddly strained voice. Meryl turned around suspiciously to see Vash at the threshold, his eyes averted to the ceiling in a strained attempt at being considerate. Meryl realized with quick mortification that she was still in just a short nightshirt. She was bent over to hunt through her drawers, giving Vash an unimpeded view of her underwear.

"December's Secret Lingerie Quartely, Page 67, Lavender fantasies," he recited.

"Vash, you pervert!"

"I'm sorry, Meryl! I can't help it if you look as good as the models in the catalog!" Vash clamped his mouth shut in horror at his own loose lips.

"What did you say?"

"I-I'm, sorry! I'll leave now! Forget the donuts, just don't kill me!" Vash turned abruptly on his good heel and hobbled down the hall.

Meryl stood in shock. Okay, she was humiliated, but somewhat flattered at the same time. Vash thought she looked... good? She looked back down at the drawer and saw a box of powdered donuts peeking out from under a teeshirt. For a moment she comtemplated her options. Okay, Vash was a bit of a pervert at times, but all men were, in her experience. At least he was honest. "And cute," she thought. Wait, where did that come from? Since when had she found Vash cute? And since when did he call her by her name? Was it possible that they liked each other, just a little bit?

Meryl stared at the box of donuts. A pang of guilt stabbed in her chest. Vash was nervous around her, always jittery that she would punch him or inflict some sort of physical pain. His body was scarred so badly that it merely hurt to look. "What must he feel like?" she wondered. He had to be lonely. Without another thought, she grabbed the donuts from her drawer and hurried down the hallway. Vash's door was closed, of course. She rapped lightly against the doorframe.

"Vash, can I come in?"

"I said I was sorry Meryl! I promise, I won't look again!"

"Vash, please, just let me in. I'm not mad."

"...you're not?" His voice held a clear note of incredulity.

"No, I'm not."

There were muffled shuffling sounds and Vash opened the door, shirtless and framed from behind in moonlight. He shifted to the side as she walked by.

"Um, do you mind if I shut the door?" he asked.

"I don't mind. Why?"

"Well, I figure we've made this much noise already. I wouldn't want to disturb Milly if we haven't yet." Meryl nodded affirmatively as he closed the door with a soft click. She made her way across the room and sat on his bed. Vash chose to stay standing by the the door. Meryl claimed not to be angry, but her fuse was short. He figured the more distance, the better.

"I found those donuts you wanted," she said.

"Oh, uh, thanks, insurance girl." She set the box down on his bed and opened it.

"Do you want one?" she asked, while starting to nibble on one herself.

"Uh, maybe."

Vash tried to size up the situation. He ticked things off in his head. "1: I accidentally saw her underwear and she claims she isn't mad. 2: She's on my bed. 3: She's in her nightshirt, offering me free donuts. 4: I am really confused right now, but slightly turned on." Unsure of what to do, Vash cautiously approached the bed and sat down. Meryl handed him a donut.

"Thanks," he replied.

"Vash?"

"Yeah?"

"Can I ask you something? It's a bit personal." He was silent for a moment.

"It depends on the question." Meryl bit her lower lip with some uncertainty.

"Well, it's just... I just wanted to know, have you been, you know, lonely very much?"

"I don't see how that's very personal." He pondered to himself, eyes fixed on the floor. His answer came with some hesitation.

"Yes. Yes I have. I've been lonely most of my life." Meryl was taken aback by his reply. It wasn't quite what she'd been asking about, but that made his admission no less gut-wrenching.

"Doesn't that scare you, Vash?"

"Frankly, insurance girl, it terrifies me."

Vash was unsure as to why he was telling these things to Meryl. Normally he did his best to keep his feelings of fear buried deep as possible. Perhaps he was tired. Perhaps he merely felt some calming refuge in the dark, but he had no qualms in telling her. Meanwhile, immense pity was welling in Meryl's throat. He was... terrified? It was a shock, and at the same time, not that much. Vash was of such strong character, she had never thought of him being afraid, let alone terrified; but there it was. He had said as much.

Without a second thought or really any consideration, she scooted over to Vash, and wrapped her arms around his neck. He was shocked by her display of affection, to say the least. It was... nice. She held him like that, unmoving for a while, neither pulling away. After a minute or so, she broke the silence.

"I'm sorry, Vash. I shouldn't be nasty to you all of the time. Sometimes I don't think about how you must be feeling. Milly and I are here now, and we'll follow you as long as you want us to."

"Thank-you, Meryl. I know it sounds cliché, but you don't know how much that means to me. I really-" He stopped short. That had nearly slipped out. Tears were welling in his eyes as he held his tongue in check. He wanted to tell her, badly. Somehow it didn't seem entirely wise. The ever-present fear of rejection in his mind began to take over again.

"You what, Vash?" Meryl asked quietly. Was he going to say what she hoped? Vash swallowed a lump rapidly forming in his throat. Should he? The girls had followed him through thick and thin. They knew him better than anyone; even his own brother.

"Meryl... I love you," he whispered. At first, even he wasn't sure he had actually said it.

"Vash? Really?" He nodded. "How long?" she asked.

"I'm not sure, I think it just happened over time."

"Vash, I love you, too." They looked at each other for a moment in the dim monlight. "Vash," she started to say, but he leaned down and covered her mouth with his own, the pain in his foot completely forgotten. Slowly, they eased down on the bed together, not stopping to come up for air, desperately making up for years of lost time. The box of donuts fell to the floor, spilling its contents in a powdery mess, but they neither heard, nor cared.

Milly awoke the next morning and made her way sleepily out to the kitchen. An open box of first aid supplies sat discarded on the counter, the sink full of knives. Confused and a bit worried, Milly made her way back down the hall to Meryl's room. Her knocking went unanswered, and when she peeked in, no one was in the bed. She turned and went to Vash's door, softly knocking.

"Mr. Vash? Are you in there? I can't find Meryl anywhere."

There was no answer. Crossing her fingers that she wouldn't catch him changing, Milly opened the door a crack and peeked inside. Her face softened into an immediate smile. Two people, one very short and one very tall, were curled up together under the covers in a tight embrace. Various articles of clothing were strewn across the bed. Milly shut the door with a quiet click and made her way back to the kitchen, the contentment on her face tangible. "You were right, Mr. Priest," she thought, "they did come around." She retrieved some pudding from the fridge and sat down at the table humming her favorite tune in the bright morning light.