Meryl reasoned with herself that it wasn't the stars that glimmered in the atmosphere that night that made her so melancholy, but the fact that she looked at them alone did. But, being reasonable, she knew she didn't drag anyone up here with her, so who was to blame? And she did look at the stars, in wondrous, twinkling, astral harmony, set upon a cloudless night sky that stretched forever. She often wondered about forever, and in her thoughts, would occasionally remember those eternal points of light. She knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that forever was not something meant for her.
And he's forever, isn't he. Yes he is. Damn him, her thoughts went. The tragic hero of her most recent years played in her mind on loop these days, it seemed, and she kept dreading the moment when she'd actually have to fulfill her promise to Milly. Why did she make that promise? She knew, just knew it wouldn't do any good. She supposed that, yes, it would be good to get things off her chest and into the open, especially when he could hear, and that, yes, it would save her a lot of anxiety and trouble with having to withhold such a secret from him, but still...
She hated it, nonetheless. She turned around at the voice, and sure enough, it was him. Mr. Vash the Stampede, in all his goofy glory, grinning and waving like a maniac who'd had one too many donuts. She swore that she'd beat him senseless one day, if for no other reason than to just get some anger out. He could be good for anger management, if you really thought about it.
He approached her and looked down to peer at her curiously. "What are you doing up here so late?"
Yes, she could clobber him right now, and no one would know. Taking on an exasperated tone, she replied, "What does it look like I'm doing?" Though there was no need to get huffy, it sure was all too easy to become so around him.
"Getting ready to dance?" He grinned and started doing some funny, wiggling thing that she supposed was his version of 'dancing.' She had a sneaking suspicion of what he was trying to do, and it worked; she begin giggling at the odd sight, and covered her mouth to hide the smile that had formed.
Vash kept grinning but stopped his movements to sit down beside her. "See? It's not that bad, now is it?"
Confused, she asked, "What is?"
"Smiling, and laughing. You need to loosen up a little! It's great." He nodded solemnly, with a look of utmost seriousness upon his face. She, in turn, broke into a nervous smile.
"I suppose." She looked down at her hands and studied them for a moment. Meryl knew this had to be the time to tell him, or otherwise, she might never tell. She had to brace herself, be strong, and, most importantly, look him in the eye. If she looked him in the eye, then she could do it. She couldn't run away, then.
And she wouldn't now.
"Vash?" She turned to gaze at him, hoping that she wasn't blushing. Yet.
His vision lingered upon the sky for a second longer, then wandered back to her. "Hmm?"
She twisted her fingers together. This was it.
"I-I've been meaning to tell you something. And... I'm not quite sure how I should say it." It was a start, right?
"Then just say it?" His expression was of complete curious innocence. He had no idea what she was getting at, did he? No, of course not. How could he know?
Her heartbeat thump-thump-thumped in her ears. His eyes were so captivating. Now or never, and she had already started it. Go.
"I like you, Vash. I... I really care about you. I know it's strange, but it's true. I've felt like this since... since I saw who you really are. But, I still don't know who you really are, and now that you've faced Knives, and brought him back, I thought maybe this is for the best, because now you don't have to run away and hide, and that maybe we could all stick together, because--"
Meryl cut off as she realized she has just babbled out a complete string of nonsense. She bit her tongue and lowered her gaze for a second. Time to recollect yourself, girl, she thought. She looked back up at him...
And blinked. Of course. She hadn't thought about what this would really do to him, had she? She'd been so selfish in her thoughts, she never contemplated what would really happen after she told him...
Because now, Vash stared at Meryl with the most blank expression she had ever seen.
The heartbeat in her ears stopped; perhaps her heart stopped beating altogether, then. For the look he gave her frightened her more than all those times before, when she had been scared to death of what he might become. But the uncertainty of the next moment stilled her to stare back, her distress most evident upon her face.
She finally found her voice, saying, "Vash..."
But he cut her off. "Meryl. You don't have to explain it to me. I understand." With that, he turned away from her and gazed back up at the stars.
Stunned. That was the only way to put it. Her tongue felt thick in her mouth, preventing her from speaking right away. What was there to say? He just dismissed her, so easily, with a few simple words.
What's wrong with him?
That's when the anger came again.
"Well, if you understand, then why don't you say anything?!" she rounded at him. She was determined not to be ignored, after spilling her guts out to the man she cared about more than anything else in the world! Why, she'd ring his neck if she had to, kick him in the shins, punch him in the nose, slap him, anything!
But his next words drained everything out of her.
"There's nothing to say."
All that was left between them at the moment was silence. Awful, dreaded, horrid silence. The abject way he had carelessly made her feel at that moment crushed what small, good hopes she had had of this conversation.
Anger forced its way up again; it was a good defense.
"Well, if you have nothing to say, then you can stay here and rot for all I care, Vash the Stampede!"
Meryl jumped up and hurriedly walked away from the cliff and from that... that man. That idiotic, two-faced, yellow-bellied coward of a man!
But Meryl did not get to see the look upon Vash's face as she walked away and left him alone on the cliff.
- end part one -