The Final Moment

The city at night was beautiful, and while from her balcony she could only see a part, it was enough. Vash was doing dishes in the kitchen. Knives was beside her, seemingly as lost in thought as she was. The bustle of the people below, despite the advanced hour, was comforting and familiar. This was not her original home, not where she had been born, but this was where she had chosen to live, where she had set down roots. This was the place she belonged.

"I think it's all right, Meryl." The voice from beside her was soft, but terribly defeated, a strange tone.

She looked over to him, dark eyes surprised. "What are you talking about, Knives?"

He sighed quietly, and directed his gaze away. "You. And my brother. It doesn't matter."

A wild, fierce ray of hope shot like a lightning bolt through her chest. Her skin erupted with goosebumps. "What do you mean?"

"It doesn't matter. You and him. Even if I kill you, there would still be another he will care about. No matter how many I kill, there will always be another. That's the way he is. He'll always care." She would not be insulted by his choice in words. They had come too far for that.

"He'll always care about you too, Knives." She moved a bit closer to him. "I will too. I like to think we've become friends." She was nervous about treading on such thin ice.

He was quiet a long moment, and she was afraid she had gone too far. This was the first time she was worried about hurting his feelings, as opposed to what would happen if she did.

When he spoke, his voice was resigned. "I believe that."

"We have a lot of faith in you, Knives, as cautious as we are. I think we can all make this work." She was terribly earnest, but she wasn't sure whether it was out of sincerity or desperation. Did it matter?

"I know."

She paused a moment, and looked at him, observing quietly. He had changed a lot since he had awoken. Whose influence had it been? "I would like you to stay with us here, but I know we can't keep you if you don't want to stay. But I would like you to."

He was watching the people at the café across the street, entering empty-handed and cold, exiting with sweet caffeine and an inner fire. Could something so small bring them that much satisfaction?

He took a deep breath. She had never seen him look this uncomfortable, and wasn't sure how to deal with it, but waited, silent and patient. He would tell her if he wanted her to know.

He did. "For a while, Meryl, I thought I was in love with you. I thought I saw what my brother saw in you. I thought, here is a woman who can make me happy, like that other woman tried to. But it wasn't true."

She was not surprised, but neither was she pleased. She waited, silent.

"I loved the thought of loving someone. It was immature. Vash and I are different, because he knows what love is. He knows what unconditional love is. I do not. I think this is what makes him the stronger man."

She listened to his torrent of confession, shocked and somewhat amazed. But she did not interrupt.

"I think I would like to learn. All of the years he spent interacting with people, I spent in contempt for them. Much of it I spent in healing from our last encounter, unable to move, but aware and hating. I know there is more than that in the world, but I don't know anything about it. Knowledge is power, Meryl, and I am a weak man." He stopped suddenly, as if whatever spirit that had possessed him to speak so openly had been recalled to heaven.

She smiled slightly, stepped forward, and embraced him. "You can stay here as long as you want."

He froze a moment, blinked, and then looked down to her. Slowly, cautiously, he put his arms around her and hugged her back. She felt as though they had reached the top of a huge mountain.

She pulled away after a little bit and gave him a beaming smile. He smiled back slightly, not his normal smirk, but an actual smile. He looked almost as though he were afraid of his expression.

Knives cleared his throat, unsure about how to act now. Could it really be that he had dropped his façade? "I have a lot to think about. I am going to go inside. Thank you, Meryl." He took a step towards the door, but then glanced back. "I mean that."

She grinned. "I know."

He nodded once, and disappeared. She heard the door to his room shut, and she leaned with her back against the balcony.

"You can come out now, Vash. I can hear you."

Blue-green eyes peeked from the corner of the doorway. "All right." He stepped out onto the balcony, a warm smile on his face. "Nice job, pretty lady."

"I didn't say anything that wasn't true."

"That's why it was nice." He grinned and pressed a kiss to her forehead. "You know what?"

"What?" She slid her arms around his waist and pressed her cheek to his chest. He was so warm and safe. His arms were certainly the place to be.

"I think we're going to be all right." He tightened his arms around her.

She smiled in his chest. "Yes. I think we'll be all right too. I think everything will be fine."

The air was cool, but it didn't matter. The light of two moons filtered down to them as they stepped back inside, holding each other. Despite everything, despite anything, life would go on. Everything would be fine.