Title: Bittersweet
Rating: PG
Warnings: AU, Twincest, Angst
Coupling: VashxKnives, WolfwoodxVash
Notes: What if, at the end of the series, Vash snapped? I've written/read plenty of the twins forgiving one another, and this finally occurred to me - what if Vash could not forgive, despite his beliefs and his life, what if he turned the tables on Knives, and set out to prove something to his twin in a way spookily similar to how Knives dealt with him?

What if Wolfwood's death was enough to change Vash forever?

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

He was vaguely aware of someone striking him, again and again, fists hard and strong and furious, cold and unforgiving. It was alien, the feeling of hatred that seemed to be burning within his mind without fuel or reason, so different was it from the warm feelings of loving obsession that had overcome his thoughts for so very long, indeed. It was utterly frenzied, confused, lost. He fell into it, into those long missing emotions, wanted to burn them into his mind so that he would always remember -

He wanted to reach a hand out, but his body would not move, even as it was lifted from the mattress and thrown haphazardly into what could only be a wall. Head lolling, his eyes still closed, Knives felt his body sag like a marionette whose filament strings had been snipped away, only to be slung upwards again by a seeking fist, then a second - one of metal and one of flesh, both shivering with the intensity of their emotions.

The hands were familiar, the hands were the answer to his prayers. "Wake up, you bastard."

That voice.

Parting lips that were cracked and caked with drying blood, Knives found only the breath to wheeze in exhaustion, fingers trembling as shakily as Vash's voice took over his consciousness. "Wake up, right now. I've had enough of this, damn it, wake up."

A knee to his chest, the heavy crack of a rib that couldn't stand the weight of impact, and abruptly Knives had been spilled across the floor, his limbs falling outwards in an awkward sprawl - a knee crushed one hand, hips settled over his thighs, and hands closed around his neck.

Oh, it felt so good, every inch of contact, every heavenly moment Vash's nails dug into his flesh. How long had it been since this weight had settled against it, this hissing breath had filled his ears? Blonde and aquamarine, tender and all wrapped up in anger and fury and denial, the expression of a puppy that was kicked one too many times.

He was beautiful.

One eye opened, flat, icy blue and gentle, and focused on Vash's expression, reading and devouring the ethereal torment crowning Vash's soul. The golden haired twin's eyes were slitted in such fury, such anger, that Knives wanted to kiss him desperately, lovingly, because all that attention was focused on himself and not one single, dirty human. Because he was angry at last, and finally he was ignoring Rem, ignoring that priest, and he was here....

All his.

"Va.......shu....."

The grasp slackened slightly and Knives sucked in a full breath of cold air, mind whirling dizzily as oxygen was replenished, rushing throughout his starved limbs in a surge of tingling pain that left Knives anticipating more. "Better." The voice had a slightly hysterical tinge to it, cracking with desperation. "Much better. Now. You open your eyes, look at me straight, and tell me why."

Knives flexed each of his fingers in turn, glaring as best he could after having been unconscious for what he judged had been at least three weeks - he had drawn it out as long as he could. His escape to sleep had been a sort of strike at Vash's patience and loyalty, hiding within his mind - in the end Vash had realized that Knives was running from confrontation within himself, and evidently couldn't handle that.

He was shaking. All over. The lanky cloth he wore rustled softly, black and dark as night - it was strange to see against the pale, creamy flesh. Interesting in the most heartbreaking of ways - black. "Hah....you've just exchanged her color for his...." A wheezing cough. "How predictable you are, dear brother."

The blow was harder than all the others combined, and for a moment sports flashed and the world trembled. Knives nearly passed out into blackness and oblivion again as his head was flung backwards - then someone slapped him, across the cheek. Slapped him, hard enough to make him bite the inside of his cheek, and slammed him against the floor again.

Oh, please, Vash, touch me again-

Anger. He could taste it surrounding him as Vash's fist connected again, beating his brother into the ground, possessing him as completely as Rem's gentle words had once owned his soul. He was so temptable, my Vash, Knives purred in his own mind, he was so impressionable and naive. How could someone not love a being like him, who threw himself into whatever he cared for with all of his heart and soul?

God, but it felt wonderful. Knives could scarcely do more than choke on the blood in his mouth, tangy and acidic, as Vash's weight jammed him painfully into the floor another time. The metal of his one cybernetic hand was cold and emotionless as it tangled in Knives' hair and ripped him up from the floor until they were nose to nose, eyes meeting in the semi-darkness.

"Never," Vash breathed, eyes slits of dangerous, brooding aquamarine stone, "ever say that."

Knives shifted, feeling his stomach twist - he was going to throw up, and Vash shoved him to one side, where Knives was sick - nothing but bitter bile, as he had not eaten solid food in weeks. When he was done, the short haired twin lay back again, limp beneath his brother's body, pleased with himself.
He had done it.

He had snapped Vash. He had won, after all these years of suffering, of regeneration, of screaming, murderous rages and nightmares that never ceased, even as he ate and spoke and moved. Vash had killed and now he was capable hating with incendiary passion, as bitter and moved and angry as Knives had ever been. The battle...he had lost there, underestimated his brother's love for a priest and been taken down by that single error of judgement - but hadn't he won the war? Was Vash beating him down, suppressing him, hating him?

Yes. Oh yes.

Knives half laughed, half choked, spitting flecks of blood as he spoke. "I win," he hissed, eyes filled with dire amusement - it was a game, and the rounds had been playing for generations, but in the end Knives' had formed a strategy that could not lose, and had proved his greatness. Had made Vash understand his jealousy, had defeated the greatest enemy of all - Nicholas D. Wolfwood, who had thought himself worthy of taking Vash's heart. "I win, I win, I-"

"Brat." Vash again forced his shoulders into the wooden floor, fingers tightening in a painful grip. Knives reveled in it. "You tell me why he had to die," his teeth were gritted, lips cracked, but wet, and so close! "and I'll decide whether I'll let you win or not."

So, Knives smiled faintly, Vash thought himself in control of the situation. Vash thought he could pull an apology from his brother, and then all would be well - he had another thought coming, then. With a well-placed smirk, Knives leaned back and let his pale hands press against Vash's face.

He was beautiful like this, powerful in anger in a way he had never been in all of his youthful innocence. There was nothing left of the carefree blonde outlaw that Knives had pursued, he had been remade, like a blade forged anew in a fire. He could hate. He could kill. Knives had never felt so close, so proud, so loving of his brother than he did at that moment, as Vash's fingertips dug bruises into his arms. "Wake up, Vash. He didn't have to die. His death was useless to me, useless to you. I don't care who he was or what he was, he's dead now, and he might as well have never existed at all."

The elder's smile widened.

"He was human. He was nothing. Just like her."

Suddenly there was a bullet hole next to Knives' left ear, and the muzzle of a gun pressed into his forehead, just above his eye. The silence stretched out for a long while as Vash's hand trembled on the grip of his gun, and Knives paced out his breathing, shock in his eyes.

Vash had changed, and suddenly he realized that he didn't know this new man, didn't understand him at all. All that Vash was emitting was dull, throbbing pain splashing with the brilliance of crimson hot anger - glowing molten steel - hatred, burning like a fire within his soul. He could not be second guessed, Knives realized, almost shrinking back into the ground, and he could not be risked, because any moment he would snap, and any moment he would pull the trigger, bringing nothing but death.

This was not a broken Vash, this was a Vash with more resolve that Knives had ever seen before....

"You," Vash whispered, voice so intense that the hair on Knives' neck stood on end, "will be sorry. You took him from me, and you will BE SORRY." The gun pressed harder, and a trickle of blood found it's way down Knives' chin, tickling as it crossed the peak and drooled down his neck. "You will be the one asking forgiveness, Knives."

Another aching silence, as the twins struggled for words.

"You have taken what I loved most from me, not once, but twice. You claim to love me. Do you think I can't see those dreams you have, what you want to do to me? Never, Knives, I will never love you until you are truly, honestly, fucking sorry for their deaths. And then they will mean something, and you will tell me how much they meant, and then I will consider speaking with you again."

Knives' mouth dropped open.

"But right now, I can't stand to look at you. You make me sick, and I'll make you sorry... You disgust me..." The gun's harsh pressure lifted slightly, and teardrops spattered across Knives' face, catching in his eyelashes as the other shifted.

"I'm leaving."

There was a heavy thunk as Vash stood, uncoiling to his feet, smoothing the lapel of the black coat he had found, or made - Knives couldn't tell. The gun he held was nothing special, a human weapon, though it's sight was sure to be true, and Vash treated it like it was some sort of talisman, folding it into the length of his coat with practiced ease.

"When...?"

So this was Vash, beneath his amusing exterior, this monster was what he had become - this was the mutation of his twin into something else entirely.

"Maybe never."

And just like that, Vash turned without looking over his shoulder, and disappeared out the door, away from his brother and his past and his memories.

Such was the bittersweet taste of victory.