AN: Alrighty. This was written loooong ago, about 2-3 years old, when I'd just finished watching Trigun, and had just started on my Slayers Fanfic. I used this to sorta get ideas out, and, occasionally, as an erotic outlet to keep smutbunnies from the other fic. It is a lot more smutty and angsty and fluffy than I originally wanted it to, but then again, it is more of an outlet than an actual story.

As you can see, if you'd read the other one, I'm in the habit of borrowing phrases from myself. ;) A lot of sentences and ideas have been used in the other fic. This is just a smutty and fluffy oneshot.

Rated for a reason, and now you know. ;)

I don't own Trigun or any other anime for that matter. This is simply for the shits and giggles of it.

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Vash the Stampede made his way through the town. It was already dark. He somehow had hoped he'd be able to make the trip back a little faster. After three days of walking with his brother over his shoulder, he'd at least hoped that he'd be able to walk into town in broad daylight like a hero. Oh well… He'd see her in the morning.

He stopped for a while to get a better grip around Knives waist. Not that far yet. He could already see the house. Right next to it was the town's inn. At the inn the lights were on, and apparently a party ditto. If it wasn't for the fact that he was dead tired, and that his brother had four bleeding wounds, he might have thought of having himself a little drink.

When he walked past the inn's windows, he immediately spotted (and mainly heard) the tall brunette, sitting at the bar. Nobody got drunk the way Millie Thompson did. That's not to say that nobody got AS drunk as she did, because most would, and himself especially so. It was more the way in which she was drunk.

After wondering for a moment, he thought that there might be a slight chance she wasn't drinking alone. Perhaps Meryl would be there too. Deciding that it might be worth a try, he swung through the door. After a few loud comments, Millie spotted Vash standing in the door. She immediately brightened up in a not-so-wasted smile, and staggered over to him.

"Mr. Vash!! 'm so glad you're back! Sempai will be SO *hick* happy too!! I gotta go wake 'er up! She's been havin' a liiiittle too much tonight, so she's already asleep!" She smiled and closed her eyes. Vash barely noticed that on the mention of his name, the whole bar went strangely quiet. It was the usual routine. At least nobody pointed a gun at him this time.

"Never mind. I got to take care of-"

Vash didn't even have a chance to finish his sentence, before the huge brunette had spotted Knives, not that he was hard to notice, but somehow she'd managed not to up until now.

"Oh my goodness, Mr. Vash!" she said, eyes wide in shock. "You're carrying a wounded man!", stating the obvious.

"Yeah.." Vash scratched the back of his head, trying to figure out how to break it to her; that it was the very menace of the entire human existence he had brought home. Finding no easy way to do so, he decided that he'd tell her later. Right now, he needed to tend to Knive's wounds. So he headed for the door.

When he walked out of the inn, he realised that the big, gentle brunette had grabbed Knives from the other side, steadying him, and helping to carry him. Vash looked at her. She nearly looked sober. With that wonderment apparently shining through his face, Millie simply stated.

"My big big sister always said, that one should never get so drunk, that one couldn't snap back to reality, in case of an emergency!"

She helped carrying Knives into their house, and guided them up the stairs. Millie opened the door to one of the rooms.

"I'll just put him in here, Mr. Vash" She got a good grip around Knives, and slid sideways through the door. "You know where the bathroom is, and you should prolly take a shower!" she sniffed and nodded in confirmation to her own statement. Then she continued. "We've done a little rearrangement of the house, so your room is next to this one! Just leave your clothes at the bathroom and I'll have 'em washed for you!" she said, seemingly in one breath. "Goodnight!"

Having the door slammed in his face, Vash stood there for a second or two, wondering what kind of strange girl Millie was. And wondered if he should have told her about who Knives was, or what he'd most likely do when he woke up.

But as Vash made his way to the bathroom, he decided that Knives wasn't gonna wake up any time soon, and so Millie would be better off not knowing. At least for now.

Also, he somehow suspected she knew. And he suspected that the fact that it was Knives and not some random dude didn't matter at all to her. Oh well, he'd check tomorrow.

He took his time, undressing, getting under the shower, and feel the water freshen him up a little. As he turned off the shower, he felt the water from his hair form into tiny drops, fall the short distance from the strains of hair to his shoulders, and make their way down his body, most of them following the paths badly healed scars would provide for them.

He grabbed a towel and dried himself off, slipping the towel around his waist. As promised he dropped his clothes for washing in a basket on the bathroom floor. Now that Knives were gone, or at least temporarily dealt with, he didn't have to make any fast escapes. He could probably sleep a little in tomorrow?

He glared at himself in the mirror and smiled. 'You did quite well, Needle Noggin' he heard Nicholas echo somewhere in the back of his mind.

He stuck out his head, and looked around. Nobody on the hallway. Good. With all those scars, he sure as hell didn't want to run into somebody. It would scare the living daylights out of them.

He made a run for it. And made it. He slammed the door behind him and leaned against it.

The room was covered in darkness, but already he could gather that there was something wrong. His suspicion was enhanced when he heard footsteps outside the door. He prepared himself, and cursed that he was unarmed. But nobody opened the door. Instead he heard an alarming "click!" and an even more alarming giggle.

His eyes narrowed in wonderment as it dawned on him: Millie Thompson had locked the door. From outside. And there was no key on the inside.

He simply couldn't figure out why. Surely she wouldn't be after the bounty! And surely even she had realised that he wouldn't run away anymore, right? So why lock him in a roo-

He felt something horrible was going to happen if he took a closer look around the room. The damn brunette was known for being terribly sharp about some things, while others just flew her by. And he was having a really bad feeling that she might just have seen right through him on one or two matters.

He slowly turned to look over his shoulder. Big room. Typewriter. White clothes on the hanger. Bed. Somebody in it. Shit!

He took a closer look. Yup. No doubt. It was the firecracker alright, the little insurance girl, the hot one of the two, in more than one way. He felt his heart skip a beat.

Out of instinct he grabbed for the door handle. He knew well enough that the door was locked, but he had to at least try. He felt his heart skip another beat.

It might as well get used to not beating at all, 'cause if she catches me in here, it will stop permanently! his mind raged. Then he took a deep breath. Okay, think Vash, think!! he thought to himself, while slightly panicking.

He tiptoed to the window. Two storages down. No way even he was going to make that jump, and he'd have to crash the window glass first anyways, since the damn window was stuck. He was pretty certain that even the heaviest sleepers on Gunsmoke would be woken up by the sound of broken glass.

He sighed.

Well, this was just great. He had defeated Knives, the biggest enemy of all humanity, and then he was to meet his doom by the delicate hands of a very infuriated, little, raven-haired firecracker.

He went to sit down on the desk. It offered the most distance between him and her. At least that would work to his defence, if she should wake up, before Millie came around and called this whole evil practical joke off. But even with that to his defence, his case didn't look convincing; He was sitting, butt-naked (except from the towel) in her room, at night, watching her.

And it's not even like I'm watching her! he reasoned further in his mind. I mean, it's not like I'm paying attention to the rhythm of her breath, or the way the moonlight reflects in her hair, or the way she sleeps with her mouth slightly open..

He stopped himself. Okay, so he WAS watching her. It wasn't really like he was peeking at her. To be peeking at somebody they almost by definition had to be in an un-dignifying position of either being underdressed or entirely nude. And she wasn't. Although she sure wasn't wearing much underneath the covers as far as he could tell.

Stop it! he told himself in a stern tone. This wasn't helping.

So, why am I watching her? he asked himself, just to have something to occupy his mind with. He stared out the window. Oh, who the hell am I fooling… he sighed. The big girl had been spot on. Sure, he had a thing for Meryl. And a rather large one at that. It was bigger than the usual crush, and it sure as hell hadn't diminished when she'd shown her more gentle and mature side, the last couple of days. The way she recklessly had disarmed the guys the other day..

Almost like Rem. Only, this wasn't Rem. This wasn't his dead mentor, this was Meryl, and she was here, alive and seemingly available. And she was prettier than Rem, too. And far more attractive.

But there was just no way she of all people would return his emotions, whatever they were. Besides, it might be safer for her not to get involved. He was a disaster in motion. Everything that got near him got either hurt, frightened or straight out died. He had nothing to offer her, besides trouble.

But then again, she kept tagging along. Weird that… But somewhere along the way, he…. Had grown used to her. Yeah that was it. Simple habit. Nothing he couldn't quit any time he liked.

She moved. He heard the sound of bedcovers being tugged, and a little delicate body turning over to her side.

He looked. Oh, just his luck!

She'd somehow managed to throw the blanket off. Or not so much thrown it off as she'd entangled it around her left leg. Which meant that the rest of her body lay there, uncovered. She was wearing a white silk-like nightgown. It was probably meant to be thigh or knee-long, but it'd moved upwards, revealing most of her thighs. Lovely legs too, Vash noticed, and then shook his head to rid himself of the thought.

He wondered if he should untangle the blanket and cover that petite body again. Most for her sake, since it wasn't that hot a night, and since she probably wouldn't like him staring at them… But partly for his own sake. He was getting really uncomfortable about this whole situation.

He considered what would be worse. Not doing anything, and just sit there, pretending to be unaffected, when clearly he was not. Or to take a chance and cover her up, hoping that she wouldn't wake in the process.

Oh, never mind, Vash. She'll kill you either way. He thought, and got up. He refastened the towel, though, just to ensure that it wouldn't fall off in the process.

As he neared her bed, he heard that she was slightly mumbling in her sleep. Barely audible, and not really anything he could make out, but it was adorable in its own way. He gently knelt down beside the bed, and focused on the blanket. Or tried to at least. But it was a bit hard to focus on a so dull wrapping around something so interesting. Her thighs looked so soft. He stretched out a hand towards her, slowly. She looked so soft. And tender. Although he knew that would change the second she woke up. There'd be fire in her eyes, yelling, slapping, hitting, kicking and then certain death. He withdrew his hand. This whole "untangling of the bed-sheet"-thing was deemed a mistake and he decided to withdraw to his safe-corner.

But just then he looked at her. How he.. had grown used to that face. Those cheeks. That black hair. That adorable little nose. Those slightly rosy lips. And especially those wide bluish-greyish eyes, filled with shock and just a tint of anger, which was looking at him right now… Wait a minute!

It wasn't before then he realised that his sleeping beauty had transformed into an awoken beauty. An enraged, fully awake beauty. He could see it well up behind her eyes long before her mouth moved.

"No. No no..no.. No! Don't scream! Shhh! Please.. Don't scream.." he pleaded in a hushed tone, while frantically waving his hands in front of him as a defence. But no matter how much he waved she still looked more and more on the verge of screaming. He quickly leaned over, grabbed around her with one arm and covered her mouth with the other.

"I have a perfectly good explanation!" he said, while holding a struggling Meryl, who was angrily mumbling something underneath his palm. It sounded like "You'd better have!"

"If I let go off you now, will you promise that you won't kill me before I have a chance to explain myself?" he asked, his tone and facial expression rather pitiful. She might have nodded. Then again it might just have been an attempt to break loose from his iron grip.

He let go and got up, standing with his arms in front of him in a classic "I give up" position. He wondered how to present his story, so that he'd only get mildly killed.

"I was framed!" he started, and then decided that that hadn't been the best way to sell it.

She glared at him inquiringly and sceptically, her arms and legs crossed.

"The door is locked!" he said in defence, pointing over his shoulder, and realised that he had to add: "From the outside!"

She cocked an eyebrow, scepticism written all over her pretty face. Then, eyes not leaving her gaze deadlock with the outlaw, she went to the door. She grabbed the handle, and looked triumphant. Until she realised that she couldn't open it either. Her smile faded, and she looked a bit pale.

"How was it locked? It's not like it can lock itself, now can it!" she asked, trying to mask her discomfort with indignation.

"The big girl did it for some reason! She trapped me in here!" he cried, and tried to avoid her killer glare. Please don't ask why! If he hadn't been busy looking away, he'd have seen Meryl's cheeks flush violently.

"M.. Millie did?" Meryl coughed.

"Yeah…" Vash said, dropping down on the bed, sitting and looking very doomed. But for some reason Meryl believed him. He thought he might as well try to look good. "You got a key, short stuff?"

She shook her head. He wanted to smile but thought better of it. Now that he wasn't going to be killed, it didn't look so bad after all. An entire night (perhaps, if Millie was asleep) spent in the company of Meryl Strife. Didn't sound half bad at all. Not with horrible death removed from the equation, anyways.

Meryl leaned against the door. Millie had locked the door. While the humanoid typhoon was inside her room. No doubt it was on purpose. This was SUCH a Millie Thompson plan. I guess she got tired of me not saying anything… And.. I really DID promise to, but.. Meryl closed her eyes and clenched her fists. But really, Millie! This was NOT the way to go!

She was torn out of her line of thoughts when he leaned back on the bed, putting his hands behind his head and looking up into the sealing.

"I would really like to do the honourable thing and leave, but since I can't…" he paused and smiled nervously at her. "I don't s'pose you got anything my size that I could wear?"

Her eyes widened. She somehow hadn't noticed that he wasn't wearing anything. How could she not have!? Maybe it was because whenever she imagined herself Vash in any unspecific situation, he was always half naked and slightly damp, like the day she and Millie had walked in on him coming out from the showers. She blushed to a nice pink, and tried not to look at him. He was really pushing his luck, getting all comfy in her bed, while practically not wearing anything.

"No.. I don't." she answered.

"Aw… Too bad…" he sighed, and seemed to be drifting off into his own thoughts.

Okay, so broomhead was on her bed, more than just half-naked, the door was locked, Millie was probably out cold by now, and anyways she wouldn't open the door before something had happened. What could possibly be worse?

Meryl took a look around the room, and realised that her vision still hadn't returned to normal. Damn, why had she taken those last drinks anyways? Oh yes, to build up courage to confess.. Damn…

As her mind raced, she let her eyes wander. Not because she really allowed them to, but more because her mind was too occupied with thinking to keep track of what the rest of her was doing. He didn't look half bad in moonlight. But then again, he didn't look half bad in sunlight either. And there was something about those scars.

She'd claimed once that it wouldn't scare people away. Or at least that it shouldn't. But she knew that most girls would at least get mildly shocked. However, when she looked at those scars, it reminded her, that Vash was far more than just some idiot, doughnut-crazed, skirt chaser. He had a more serious side to him, one he tried hard to cover up, and one he wouldn't let people get near.

Actually she'd seen it a couple of times. And that had made her fall for him.

So in a way, to her, the scars proved why she'd fallen for him.

She blushed as he caught her staring, his emerald eyes meeting her grey ones.

"So, I guess I'm stuck here.." he said, calm voiced. "..with you."

She looked away, and tried not to get annoyed, nor embarrassed.

"Yes, well we might as well.." she started out, and wondered whether to continue with "make the best of it" or "set up some rules". To her regret, she chose the latter.

"Rules?" Vash asked in an almost whining tone, raising himself on his elbows.

She crossed her arms and looked directly at him. Her eyes turning from gentle lavender to steel.

"Of course, rules!" she snapped. "I'm not going to spend the night with you, without at least making some rules as to where you sleep and what you can and cannot do!"

Vash sighed. It wasn't going to be so fun after all. Oh well.

"I've just saved the human race and walked for three days, both ways.. Can I please sleep in a bed?" he pleaded and looked at her with a ridiculous look, which probably was supposed to be begging.

She couldn't deny him at least to get a good night's sleep. Nor did she really want to, in any way. But it just so happened that it stood between her having a good night's sleep or letting him have it. After considering it for a few silent moments, she nodded.

"Fine, you take the bed." She went and got her cape, which was hanging over a faux-wood stool, removed her derringers and neatly spread it out on the floor. She then tried to make herself comfortable in her improvised bed. "But can I at least have a pillow?" she asked and looked up at him.

He looked back, wide eyed in disbelief and wonderment. She'd let him have the bed? Just like that? And she was going to sleep on the floor? No way.

"Aw, that's not fair, insurance girl!" he whined. "If you sleep on the floor then I'll have to too, and then none of us will sleep very well."

Puzzled she glared at him.

"Why will you have to sleep on the floor if I do, broomhead?" she asked, slightly growling under her breath.

"Well, no real man can sleep in a bed if it means that a girl has to sleep on the floor!" he said, in a smile.

"Do you by that mean that you're giving up your right to have the bed?" she asked, sceptically. "'cos if you do, then why the heck did you bother to whine for it in the first place?!"

"I'm not giving it up. I need good sleep!" he stated.

"Well then, idiot, we're getting nowhere fast!" she hissed.

"No." he said and seemed serious for a change. "Not if you sleep in the bed, too."

She felt like a mule had just kicked her in the chest, because she was positively out of breath for a second. First she thought of slapping him. Then she thought about using some of her pent up anger along with her elaborate vocabulary to give him a good scold. Then she thought about just telling him that he was being stupid and that he should stop making jokes. Then she thought that he actually looked very good in the damn moonlight, and that the offer didn't sound half bad. Then she decided that he at least shouldn't get the better of her, and make her chicken out on that challenge. He was just saying it to spite her, to get her all stirred up. But she'd show him.

She got up from the floor and marched over to the bed. She sat down on it, and looked at him, sternly.

"Rules: If you touch me, you die!"

He winched. Then he tried a sheepish grin.

"But what if you toss and turn and throw yourself at me in your sleep?" he asked, with a wicket grin, and closed his eyes, bracing himself for a slap. She was so fun to tease. And since that probably was all he was ever going to get from her, at least he could take great pleasure in doing that. But when he opened his eyes, he saw that she was actually thinking about it.

"Hmm.. I guess that either of us is excused, if it's in sleep." She concluded and crept under the covers. "And you better not take advantage of that exception!"

Vash tried to follow, and while moving about, the towel undid itself. He grabbed it in the air and thus prevented a catastrophically embarrassing situation.

Meryl blushed and pretended that she hadn't caught a glimpse of his well-shaped butt. She tugged the covers over her shoulder, and tried to hide her red cheeks. She also tried not to think too much about the fact that Vash would be sleeping naked next to her. Or at least partly so. The towel wouldn't stay in place forever. The fact that it hadn't slid down before now was a miracle in itself. It was certain to fall off at some point during the night. Her cheeks grew a little hotter when she thought about it. She tried to convince herself that she wasn't in any way extremely interested to know what it concealed.

He moved a little beside her. She could feel it through the mattress, and guess that he'd placed himself with his back towards hers.

"You better not try anything." She stated in a bitchy tone.

"Don't worry." He said, trying to put a smile in his voice. However, it sounded just as hollow as it was. "I never would…"

She blinked. Now what was that supposed to mean? He was one of the most notorious womanizer on Gunsmoke, and here he was, thinking he could actually make her believe that he wouldn't try anything? Fat chance!

Or maybe it was because he thought she wasn't worth chasing? She felt a sick suck in her stomach and something sting in her eyes. She didn't want to think about it.

Vash closed his eyes, and tried to relax. It wasn't easy though. He'd thought that she'd refuse his offer, and then they'd either both be sleeping on the floor, or she'd be sleeping in the bed. This was not really an option he'd thought through.

Her warning had surprised him. Of course, he couldn't help feeling a little hurt. They'd travelled together for so long, and still she didn't trust him. However, he had also always made sure to create and maintain an image of being a skirtchaser. Of course she wouldn't be able to tell, that he was only chasing skirts to chase them away. Stupid as it might sound, he'd actually devised a clever plan there.

He only chased the kind of girls he knew would be repulsed by his scars, and who wasn't serious girlfriend material anyways. And the fact that he chased the prize-icon-girls, made the really sweet and pretty girls, who might actually fall for him drop the whole idea like a brick. This way, he was sure that nobody would never ever get close to him. Close enough to hurt him, but more importantly; close enough to get hurt.

She had, somehow. He winched a little, and tugged the sheet over his shoulder for comfort. It hadn't been wanted and sure as hell hadn't been planned. But it had happened anyways. She'd somehow gotten to him. And now here he was, actually lying less than an arm's length from her, and frankly it scared the shit out of him!

"…why.." a soft voice asked behind him. He looked over his shoulder, she was lying with her back towards him, sheet tugged up, just like he had.

"Why what?" he asked, having lost track of their previous conversation.

There was an awfully heavy silence. Then she sighed, apparently reluctant to speak.

"You said you wouldn't try anything." Her voice was thin. "Why.." She raised her voice to her normal tone, as if correcting what she wanted to say. "Why should I believe that?"

A lot of thoughts raced through Vash's mind. How to say this so it sounded plausible, without ruining his façade? He could of course claim that he'd never try anything on a bitchy short-girl like her. But then again, that would unnecessary hurt her. And even worse, what if she didn't buy it and saw right through him. So, after a bit of wondering, he thought that the best way to get out of the situation was to return the ball to her court.

"Why would I?"

"Because you're a skirtchasing pervert, that's why!" she growled from underneath the blanket.

He did nothing to dispute that. Better for her to think so.

"But what happens if I touch you?" he asked, rhetorically.

"You die, broomhead!" she hissed.

"See? Not worth the trouble, then." He said, while his mind disputed that she just might be. "Good night, Meryl."

He could feel that she froze, that every muscle cramped up for a second, in shock. Damn. He'd used her name. Oh, not that it mattered. So what if she figured out that he'd fallen for her? It still didn't change anything. Well, perhaps it did. Perhaps she'd be repulsed, and then he'd lose her, even as a friend. He pushed the thought away. She wasn't going to read anything out of him suddenly calling her by her name. He was just being paranoid.

He… had said… her name? She just couldn't believe it. Not only had he returned as he'd promised, but he'd also known her name. Then she mentally shook her head. It didn't mean anything. He'd known the names on most of the skirts he'd been running after. It didn't mean a thing.

Then she slowly turned, to look at his presumed sleeping form. He was still facing away from her, and showed no sign of being awake. Perhaps he'd just gone to sleep. Without trying anything.

Perhaps she wasn't pretty enough. Or perhaps she was just too bitchy. She sighed, and turned so that she was lying on her side, facing his backside.

The man of her dreams was lying there, less than an arms length away from her now. This was probably the best chance she'd ever get. And she'd just pass it up, like she would everything good but risky that presented itself.

He was nothing but trouble. An idiot. A broomhead. A do-gooder. And on top of that, she wouldn't have a living chance, since she was just about the only thing in a skirt, he hadn't chased. Then she thought it through.

One should think, that over 100 years of trial and error would at least have lead to some sort of successful way of chasing women. But the only thing, that Vash seemed to excel at, was the way he chased them away. Now, either he was a born idiot, or it was a deliberate strategy of his.

Her head felt a little fuzzy and she was reminded why she'd been drinking. Courage. To confess. She swallowed something stuck in her throat. She'd never be able to tell him. Not even while he was sleeping.

She figured that she'd never have a chance to get this close to him again, so she gently stretched out her hand towards him. Only an inch or so from his shoulder, her courage disappeared and she retracted her hand again, hoping that he hadn't noticed.

He had, though. He'd sensed the hand. He could easily feel the warmth of it, even as it was hovering over his shoulder, and the tension between them was best described as an electric current. She had reached out to him. And not in an aggressive manner either. It actually felt, although he had to admit it was rather unlikely, like she wanted to touch him. But this was Meryl. The girl who routinely beat him up, if nothing else then mentally. It'd been destiny's cruel joke that he'd fallen for her. And now, this revealed something new, something he sure as hell hadn't been aware of. That there might be a slim chance, that she was at least somewhat interested in him.

Or she might just have wanted to correct on the bandage on his shoulder. He really couldn't tell. But the mere fact, that there was the slightest chance that she wouldn't kill him intrigued him.

He had to take a chance. He knew he had to. And it was only painstakingly obvious that he'd regret it for the rest of his very long life, if he didn't. But then again, this whole thing about her getting too close.. He spent a couple of minutes battling himself, and figured out he might as well turn around to see if she in fact had reached to him, or if it had just been his vivid imagination or a semi-dream.

Slowly he turned around. Yup, she was facing him alright, but her eyes were closed, as if she was sleeping. Was she sleeping? Had she been sleeping when she reached out for him?

He reached out, and gently pushed some hair from her sleeping face, and ran his hand down her cheek. She didn't seem to mind. He hadn't instantly dropped dead. But then again she was sleeping.

Growing a bit bolder, he moved a little closer. He looked at her, with gentle, though serious eyes. He knew now what those feelings of uneasiness he had when he was around her were.

He slid the hand cupping and caressing her cheek down to get a hold on the back of her head, and very carefully tilted her head so it was turned towards him. Then, gently, not really on purpose, he lowered his head. And like it was the most natural thing in the world, he placed his lips on hers. It was perhaps the most innocent peck in the world, but a kiss nonetheless and it sent electricity through his entire body. He then lightly lowered her head back on the pillow, slipped his hand from her neck, and turned to lie on his back, placing his arms behind his head.

Well, that had been stupid. Not only had he risked his life, he'd also kissed her without permission, something she was sure to kill him for, if she'd known, and something he wasn't entirely proud of. Not that he would ever get a permission to kiss her. But he had to know what her lips felt like. At least once. And if that would cost him his life, then so be it. After all, he had accomplished what he needed to in life. He'd disarmed his brother. And hopefully Knives would come to his senses. Especially since his recovery would depend on the nurture and care of humans.

So, if there was ever a good time to die, and a good cause to die for, it had to be "finding out how Meryl's lips feel". But now that he had, he was feeling even more uneasy. For some reason he'd thought that knowing would bring an end to his longing to kiss her. However, it had just the opposite effect. He lay there, looking up into the ceiling and wondered how the heck he was going get through the night, alive.

It was about when he'd decided to leave the bed (just to be sure he didn't do anything stupid), when the catastrophe kicked in. Meryl had moved in her sleep, and was now lying partly on him, with her head resting on his chest, just underneath his shoulder, with one arm lying flat on his chest, and one leg over his.

Panic shot through him as he felt her hug herself to him, pressing every curve against him. His initial reaction was to flee, but that was pretty impossible. First of all, he had to remove her hand, without waking her up, then move her head off his shoulder, without waking her up. And finally he had to move that leg from his thigh, without waking her. And he'd have to do all these manoeuvres without touching her. This was going to be tricky.

He first tried to wiggle himself out of her iron grip. However, he soon realised that her leg had caught the edge of the towel. If he moved, he'd drag himself out of his only garment. And if she woke with him butt-naked in the room, he was sure to die an unfair and horrible death. If he stayed put, she'd either wake up and kill him, or, hopefully, roll over, and he'd get away with it. Either way, it'd be a lot more pleasurable to stay put. He tried to relax and just enjoy the feel of her against him.

However, after five minutes or so, he decided that it wasn't pleasurable to lie like that, after all. It was really frustrating. Her full curves pressed against him, her soft and warm breath on his chest, her raven tresses caressing him, and the silken dress, that was slightly crawling up her legs, and of which one strap was moving down her shoulder, revealing a little more of those breasts pressed against him. He wanted so badly to touch her. Mainly just to put his arm around her and tug her to him in a warm half-embrace. But as it were, he didn't dare to move a muscle for fear that he'd either wake her, or do something stupid. Really stupid.

His lower region sure as hell felt ready to do something stupid, and he tried as best as he could to distract himself. Why did this excite him so, anyways? Sure, she was the hottest thing on two legs, and both her and her nice legs were firmly pressed against him, while both of them were minimally dressed. But apart from that, there was nothing really erotic about the situation. He sighed in resignation. This situation was only this bad because he couldn't keep his mind out of the gutter.

He felt her softly murmur something against his chest, and cursed himself for being too lost in his own thoughts to pick up what it had been. Well, she sure looked like somebody who was dreaming. Dreaming happily.

While he was occupied with loosing himself in her sleeping face, his arm acted on its own accord, and snaked down around her shoulders, gently hugging the little insurance girl to him. Against his better judgement he allowed it to stay there. This position made him feel different, somehow. Protective, possessive even, but above all, manly.

That, however, changed when he felt his sleeping princess' body stiffen, and she made a frightened startle. She then glared up at him. Usually he'd have panicked and scrambled to the other end of the room. But in this particular case it wasn't really possible. First of all, she was still lying on him, and second, he was through with running. If this cost him his life, then that was just the price he had to pay. No point in fighting it. Might as well get the best last seconds out of it as possible.

"What the HELL are you doing, idiot?!" she hissed, between clenched teeth. "I KNEW you'd try something!" Even though she did her best to sound pissed, she inwardly thanked him. So it wasn't because she wasn't worth chasing after all. And she had this remote fuzzy memory of him actually kissing her. Although she had initially been pretty certain that she'd imagined it.

He calmly looked down at her.

"To my defence, you rolled onto me!" he said, knowing that she'd probably not believe him.

Sceptically she raised an eyebrow.

"Somehow I doubt that!" she said, though not moving.

He smiled wryly. Not dead yet. Short stuff sure had some spunk, not scurrying away.

"You really think.." he started, slightly changing position so that he was looking her more squarely in the eyes. "…that of all the things I could do to your sleeping body, this would be my choice?" he asked, with a teasing smile. Though, in reality it was just so. This position was so nice. Especially now that she was awake, and apparently not moving.

She frowned. No of course not. And she probably really had rolled onto him, in that wonderful dream. However, she wouldn't admit it. He should know her well enough to realise that.

After a few minutes of silence, he asked: "But now that you're free, why don't you move?"

Meryl thoughts raced for a moment. She needed an excuse. It was hot enough in the room, so warmth was no excuse. There was space enough in the bed, so that would fly either.

"No." she flatly said, thinking that this at least would buy her a few more seconds to conjure up a legible excuse to use.

He raised his eyebrows.

"Oh? So she wants to stay?"

This was unforeseen. And intriguing.

She nodded. Was that a pink shade on her cheeks he saw? Or was that just a trick of the light.

"And why is that, if I may be so bold?" he said, in an uncharacteristic gallant tone.

She moved a bit, then relaxed her head on his shoulder again, and made herself comfortable.

"I guess I like to lie here.." she said, deciding that sticking with the truth was easier, while her cheeks were burning slightly. "It's strangely… comfy!" Well, it wasn't quite a confession, but this was as far as she could possibly admit without dying of shame. At least, this was as far as she could go, without exposing her feelings too much, and risking getting hurt.

Vash chuckled slightly, partly of amusement and partly of despair. Sure it was comfy, but it had a really bad influence on him, one immediate threat a mere physical one, and the more serious a mental one. He sure could get used to this. And that, per definition, was bad. She'd get hurt. That, of course, was assuming that she'd even want to stay with him, which was fairly optimistic in the first place.

But his biggest problem, he had to admit, was that he was scared. She was ever so dear to him. Which was why he'd kept her at an arm's length. To make sure she wasn't hurt. But now that Knives wasn't a threat anymore, he really had no excuse anymore. And that scared him witless. He had no longer any reason not to take the confrontation. And more than anything, he was afraid how she'd react. However, he was aware of the fact that he might never get a chance to lie with her like this again. He had to at least try something, but what?

His train of thought was brutally derailed as he felt her hand starting to trace some invisible pattern between his scars on his chest and shoulders. His eyes a little wide in shock, he looked at her, trying to contain his panic and keep a cool façade.

"What are you doing?" he asked, but in his attempt to force his voice to remain calm it broke. He cleared his throat.

She paused for a moment.

Normally, when caught doing something she shouldn't, like stare, Meryl would hastily stop, preferably with a little jumpy shock to it. However, this time, she felt like pushing her luck. She knew she couldn't tell him how she felt, and showing him straight on, by heavily hitting on him, was just too risky (and might send a wrong signal, like "I just want a quick fuck, since I'm so desperately boring and always too tied up with work to get myself a boyfriend."). So, she gathered, the best chance she had was to get him to realise, that there was something more. To make him take initiative to a confrontation.

"I'm just admiring your scars.." she said, 10% voice, 90% air.

Slightly thrown off guard, Vash took a sharp inhale. He had expected many answers, but not that. However, surely she had to mean it some other way.

"Yeah, it's amazing how they all fit onto me, huh? One should think there'd be a shortage of space for new ones, but there always seem to-"

He trailed off as she traced her hands in circles on his stomach. What was she doing? Did she have any idea at all what that was doing to him? He gritted his teeth and looked at her. She didn't seem like she knew. No husky smile, no malicious and self-confident glance, no half-closed eyes, only rather red cheeks and a shy look. Very unlike the way his insurance girl usually conducted herself.

No matter how he tried to concentrate and focus on things less appealing, he couldn't stop his immediate physical reaction.

This was bad. He knew that if she looked down, she'd see the bulk through the towel and the blanket. He really wished that he'd brought some spare pants or at least some boxers with him to the bathroom. They'd at least be able to contain his erection a little more discreetly. One glance down, and he'd be killed. Damn.

Without thinking, he gently placed his hand under her chin, and lifted her head so that she was facing him. Their eyes locked, and he knew he had to come up with something really important to say now, to justify that he'd turned her head.

"You know what I really want right now?" his mind spoke, unfortunately through his mouth.

Her eyes widened and her lips parted in a stunned expression. Shit. He had to think fast now.

"what… Vash…" she silently whispered, while inching a little closer to him, and closing her eyes a little.

If he said what he was really thinking, she'd slap him and never talk to him again. This moment was becoming way too close, and he had to push it away. So he did exactly that, the only way he knew how to; by playing the fool.

"Doughnuts." Vash brightly came up with.

Like glass hitting stone from miles height, so shattered the moment. Meryl first thought she was dreaming, or hadn't heard him right. Then she realised that it after all was broomhead she was lying with, and hence an idiotic statement like that was to be expected. She didn't quite know what she was most angry about; the fact that he had ruined a perfectly good moment, or the fact that she'd for a moment allowed herself to get caught up in it.

"YOU IDIOT!!" she shrieked and turned her back to him with an angry and sudden move. She tugged the blanket over her shoulder, for comfort. Was this his idea of a gentle rejection? Or was he just maliciously toying with her emotions, mocking her.

She really tried not to. She's been good at avoiding it, for so long, and now she couldn't any more. She broke down and cried. Although she contained it to quiet sobs. He reached out for her, but she shook his hand off her shoulder.

"Get away!" she growled, eyes shut, tears running down her cheeks, and her voice trembling.

Vash closed his eyes and cursed himself inwardly. Knowing that he'd probably not only wasted the chance to be more than friends, but also the friendship in itself, he got up and out of the bed, silent and reluctant. Why did she react so hurt? Why didn't she just beat him up or laugh at him, or something?

He really should be comforting her. Telling her that he wasn't an idiot, or, perhaps he was, but only because she made him so damn nervous. He didn't want to be an idiot, especially not if it hurt her so. He went and sat down on the desk, still the place offering most distance to the bed.

"I'm sorry.." he whispered, barely audible.

She cried for a couple of minutes, trying to stop herself, but with no real luck.

"Why couldn't you just have left me alone, you inhuman idiot?!" she muffled sobbed, having buried her head in the pillow.

She slowly raised her head to look at him, but he adverted her gaze. He was staring out the window, apparently. He then looked as if he decided on something, and then turned to look at her.

"Do you really want me to?" he asked, very serious, looking her straight in the eyes.

She sobbed, raised herself to a sitting position, and instinctively raised her shoulders a little, while hugging the sheet. She could feel something was wrong. When Vash was this serious, you didn't want to make an impulse decision.

She shook her head. No matter how much of an idiot he was, and no matter how much he hurt her, she somehow couldn't stay away from him. She knew that, and it bothered her, but there was no way around it. It'd been bad enough the times he just walked away, or the time where she and Millie were called back. So on this particular subject she didn't feel like wrapping her true opinion in a net of insults and irritation. If he was this serious, and she said he should leave her forever, he just might do that. And no matter how stupid he was, she'd never get over that.

"And you're sure about that?" he asked, with slight elaborate breathing.

She looked at him, and could see his eyes water a bit. He looked like somebody who'd been standing on a tall building, ready to jump, but persuaded to get back inside, and now temporally feeling the fear and relief mix inside of him like an emotional vortex. She dried away some tears, eyes not leaving him. Could he have been thinking of doing something stupid, like… Or was it the thought of leaving her in itself that'd seemed so scary? She was pretty sure he was trembling.

"You're the biggest idiot on Gunsmoke.." she said, trying to remove the last tears and smile. "But I don't think I could get used to a life without you…"

Pretty impressed with herself, she leaned back against the headboard of the bed and looked at him, not blushing too much. That was actually some sort of a confession, wasn't it?

Brought out of her self-satisfaction by his chuckle, she looked at him. He was definitely shaking. He was kinda laughing, but she could clearly see that he'd been crying if she hadn't been there. He was shaking badly, slightly hunching forward, probably in an attempt to hide the shaking.

She quickly got out of bed and went over to him. He turned a little away from her, obviously trying to avoid being confronted by the fact that he for some reason was shivering.

"Vash…" she started, reaching slightly for him.

He got up from the table, trying not to make it look like an escape-attempt. He stood by the window, pretending to look out. Although it relieved him to no end that she didn't want to be rid of him, he couldn't help to feel a need to be alone. This had been a little too painful, and a little too close. He tried to think of something to say, to pretend that everything was fine, but was afraid to say anything, since he knew his voice would tremble, and thus reveal just how scared he'd been.

He froze when he felt a couple of arms snake around his waist from behind, and was hugged. Wide eyed he looked over his shoulder to find short stuff standing there, hugging him from behind, and looking pretty mild, but determined. Almost comforting.

He'd stopped shaking. That was at least something, she thought. This had been a bad idea, but at least it'd worked. Now he wasn't miserable anymore, he was only shocked. She could handle shocked.

"I'm sorry.." she said. "I never got around to thanking you for keeping your promise…"

Vash's brain had a hard time getting back on track. So he just stood there, not daring to move, just looking at her over his shoulder.

"You came back. In one piece even." She smiled.

An awkward silence ensued. She hugged herself to him and let go, reminding herself that she was trespassing on his private space. As she let go, the towel undid itself, and slid down. That brought Vash out of his semi-stunned, trancelike state. His fast reflexes managed to catch it, though.

"You better get over here and lie down under the sheets, before you put yourself in an even more embarrassing situation." Meryl said, walking over to the bed and sliding under the bedcovers herself again.

"Not sure that's a good idea.." Vash flatly said, slowly drifting into his more melancholic state again.

Meryl bit her lower lip. She'd known him for so long. How come she hadn't learned how to get him out of that state?

"Why not?" she simply asked.

"What if I tried something?" he asked, a little absent.

"You already said you wouldn't, and I trust you." Meryl replied. A little nice for her, but.. He was her friend, if nothing else, and right now he could use nice words.

He huffed.

"Really?" his tone was uncharacteristic sarcastic.

Meryl bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from saying something unconstructive. She was actually trying to be nice and..

"Yes really, now get back here!" she snapped.

"It's okay, Meryl. I can take the floor." He said, and laid down on it. "I think I'd sleep better here than in the bed anyways…"

Meryl looked at him blankly. Not only because he'd used her name again. But also because he indirectly had told her how much it'd hurt him. If she didn't do something, she'd only have managed to strain their friendship during this night.

"I promise I won't yell at you again." She said with a sigh, and a soft smile. "At least not tonight."

Hesitant he sat down on the bed, and lay down on the outmost edge of it, back turned towards her. Meryl threw the blanket over him. He didn't move. It was as if he'd been turned into stone. She wasn't really sure if it was an improvement from shaking or not.

"Goodnight Vash." She said while making herself comfy, hoping to get some reaction.

None came.

She scuffed closer to him, admiring the scars on his shoulder, and wondering how the new ones would heal up. She then decided to make one last attempt. She spooned up behind him, placed a hand around his waist, and hugged herself slightly to him.

If possible he became even tenser.

"Is it okay if I lie here?" she asked, knowing that he'd probably not answer her anyways. He seemed to be emotionally and motivationally numb.

He nodded silently.

She nuzzled against his back and her hand drew that same invisible pattern between his scars on his chest. He needed rest. She hummed the only lullaby-ish song she could think of, "the children of the pepple.", and could feel him slowly relax.

After a couple of nice soft minutes, he hesitantly opened his mouth.

"…Why are you doing this, Meryl?" he asked, no particular tone, and most of it air anyways.

She bit her lower lip. He didn't sound mad or annoyed. Actually if he sounded anything it was puzzled.

"If I answer that one, I get to ask you a question, okay?"

Vash huffed a chuckle. Ever the rulemaker. Well, he needed to know, so there really wasn't much choice than to agree to her terms. He nodded.

Meryl sighed.

"Because I like to." She said, flatly, and realised that it perhaps wouldn't suffice as an answer. "I… I know how nice it can be to have somebody to hold you." actually she didn't, not really. It wasn't what you'd call hands-on experience, but she knew how nice it felt now, and people kept on telling her how it was important to have somebody to hold and be held by. "And I want you to feel nice, for a change."

He nodded silently, as if accepting her explanation. Before he got the chance to change his mind and ask for her to expand on that statement, she said "My turn!"

"Alright then." He sighed.

Meryl bit her lip. It'd been bothering her ever since he said it, and now she wanted a straight answer.

"You said that you'd never… Y'know… Try anything… with me…" She tried her best not to let her blush leak into her voice, but failed.

"I did." He concurred. "And?"

"Well… I just wanted to know why…" she said, in thin voice

A silence followed. More a thoughtful one than an awkward one, but uncomfortable either way. He couldn't sneak out of this one. The question was too direct, and anyways, he couldn't mobilize enough energy to play an idiot and regain his more silly façade.

"Because you're one of my few friends…" he started. "And you're important to me. Too important for me to risk anything, especially not on something as stupid as skirt chasing."

Not really caring anymore if she figured out or not, he was rather satisfied with that statement.

"Is that some gentle way of saying that you don't find me attractive?" she said, and huffed a little scornful laugh. ""I like you as a friend, but.." isn't that the oldest one in the book?"

Vash blinked in disbelief. Sure he couldn't see short-stuff's face right now, but he was sure that if he turned around he'd find her slightly hurt and annoyed, rather than mocking and playful, as she should be, knowing that he had a thing for her. But it somehow seemed like she mistook anything that came out of his mouth today. Sure, she hadn't yelled at him, but this was just as bad, and he didn't feel like he'd deserved it at all. A little angrily he said:

"Alright, let's try this thought on for a moment: What would have happened if I'd hit on you?" he asked rhetorically and continued right away: "You'd most likely have beaten me up, screamed and never wanted to see me again, right? That is provided I survived it at all. So what the heck would I gain from doing that, even if I did find you attractive?!"

She didn't answer. A question popped up in his mind.

"And why are you so keen on knowing anyways?" he asked and slowly turned his head to look over his shoulder, slightly lifting himself to his elbow.

She rolled over to her other side, turning her back to him, and scuffed over, making a little distance between them. She was being unreasonable, she knew that. And this was the confrontation she wanted him to initiate, for sure, but still.. She just couldn't get around to saying anything. She could hear him turn around.

"Or could it be, Short-stuff, that you secretly admire this fantastic stud?" he said in a teasing tone, with that same kind of moronic voice he always used when he bragged.

Even though she would have punched his face in that minute, his words still sent shivers down her spine. She gritted her teeth and was just about to break her promise and yell something, when he continued.

"See? Pisses you off right off the bat!"

She huffed.

"No it doesn't!" she lied. "Unlike what you might think, Vash, Meryl Strife isn't that easy to tick off!" she said with some dignity in her voice. She looked at him over her shoulder with a somewhat challenging stare.

He cocked an eyebrow. Was she daring him? Although he knew he might end up hurt (either mentally or physically), her look had made him regain some confidence and he had to see how far he could push it. He scooted closer, placed an arm around her waist and dragged her into a spoon-position against him.

"Really?" he said, in a low, smooth voice.

He hugged her against him, and she froze. Her eyes wide, she turned to look at him. He was smiling in an almost mocking way. He was actively trying to tick her off? Well, she wouldn't fall for it. She tried her best to relax in his arms.

"Mmm… This is nice…" she said, trying to sound sincere and relaxed, but couldn't quite manage to. Her voice was slightly trembling with nervousness. She could feel a certain tingling in her abdomen, and instinctively thought of how nice it would feel to lie naked like this.

But he still seemed a little shocked. She hadn't pulled away, and if he did so, he'd back out of the challenge.

She pushed herself a little against him, and started stroking his thigh with her free hand, just below the towel edge, trailing her fingers back and forth, following the edge. Vash's breath was caught in his throat. This was slightly bad, he could feel. Because even though he knew in his mind that this was only a dare, a tease, and nothing else, some of him wasn't quite remembering that point. He could feel his manhood starting to harden, and in their current position, she'd notice pretty damn fast. Her slow caresses of his thighs had now moved to the softer inner side of them, moving slightly up his leg, past the towel.

A little too suspiciously fast he drew his lower regions a little away from her. Which, unfortunately, only served to catch her attention.

"Backing out so soon?" she scorned, but with a malicious and seductive tone to it. "Why, Vash, you disappoint me." She chimed, almost whining, yet still with that oddly seductive tone.

With a fast motion she arched her back, and thus rubbed her well-shaped rear against his groin, effectively making him try to strangle a moan. Did pretty well, too. It only came out as a slight grunt through gritted teeth. Damn! Busted! He could feel it only too well. She was tense, had stopped dead in her motion, and he could vividly imagine her shocked expression.

As if checking whether she'd felt right, she wiggled a little, making him wonder if she was doing this to provoke or mock him, and forcing him to strangle another guttural noise. Well, since he was busted anyways, he might just as well exterminate all doubt, mostly to keep her from checking.

"Just to spare you the classical question: I left my gun in the desert…" he said, trying not to panic.

He moved a bit away from her.

"Vash?" she croaked, her voice breaking with disbelief.

"Don't worry, short-stuff." He said, turning around. "I said I wouldn't try anything, so I won't. But at least you know that I do find you attractive."

Meryl turned after him, now facing his backside again. So he really.. did find her attractive then? However, that didn't mean that he liked her, let alone loved her. But he had stated that she was important to him, and a friend. Wasn't a friend you were attracted to a potential lover? She thought about it.

Okay, maybe she was being desperate. But she needed to know she at least had a chance before she threw herself into the embarrassing situation of confessing.

But perhaps she didn't really need to confess. Surely it wouldn't change anything. She was just another skirt in the line, but she at least had a friendship with him. She could probably never expect anything else than that, and confessing would only strain their friendship, she thought. So why not at least take a little advantage of it. Have a little taste of that fruit she could never really have? Of course it'd hurt like hell, but…

He'd done a good deed in defeating Knives, which nobody seemed to notice, or at least credit him for, and they probably never would either. But such was his life. He never got the credit for anything but the catastrophes in his wake.

And this time, he'd saved them all for good. He should at least be entitled to a little reward.

She huffed. She was flattering herself thinking he'd think of her as a reward. Besides, it was only a lousy excuse for having sex with a man she'd wanted to jump for so long. But then again, if he didn't want to, he could always turn her down. However, since this probably would be her last real attempt to get him, she wouldn't go down without a fight.

She'd show him just how damn sexy she could be, when she wasn't the desperately boring straight-to-business-Meryl Strife he knew.

She reached out and let her fingertips dance over his shoulder, neck and back. He froze.

"Meryl?!" he asked in a puzzled and slightly panicked tone.

She came nearer, the top of her thigh now touching the bottom of his, her knees gently stroking against his legs. She moved her caress to his sides, where she knew from herself the skin was very sensitive. He unconsciously responded with a shiver. It thrilled her. To know that she could do this to the humanoid typhoon… She felt the power rush through her, reinforcing the tingling sensation between her legs. She moved her hands to his chest, as she closed the gap between them and pressed herself against his back.

"Meryl!?!!" he yelped. He made a move to leave the bed, but Meryls hand shot down and grabbed the towel. If he moved, he'd be standing butt-naked in front of her. It was a win/win situation for her, she thought with a sadistic smile.

"Why are you doing this?" he asked, pretty sure it was to get back at him for all the trouble he'd put her through. It wasn't fair. He had a hard enough time trying to get his body under control again. The last thing he needed was for her to deliberately trying to excite him. With no small amount of success, he unconsciously added. She moved upwards, resting her head on his shoulder, draping a leg over his waist. Not fair at all. He felt his dick twitch as he tensed.

She whispered over his ear:

"Why? Do you want me to stop, Vash?" and made sure to put a lot of air into that statement. She nibbled at his earlobe. "Do you.. really… want me…. to stop…? Vash?"

"Look, when I said I wouldn't try anything, I did not mean it as an insult!" he snarled, gathering the willpower to do so. "You're damn attractive, and you've proven your point, Meryl. Now, stop toying with my feelings! It hurts."

He wasn't usually the one to complain about pain, but this really did hurt. This wasn't the Meryl he knew, and even if it were, she'd never been so malicious before. If this was only payback it was very evil indeed. But then again, he had to remind himself that she didn't know how much he treasured her. She didn't know that he actually wanted this, more than anything else, with her, and nobody else. But he wanted it to be real, not payback, and for the right reasons. She couldn't know how much it hurt.

"Toying with your feelings? I thought I was toying with your body?" she said, with a little sarcastic huff.

He turned around angrily, and in the process the towel, which Meryl still was holding hostage with her one hand, slid off. He grabbed around her at the small of her back and pressed her against him, with angry aquatic green eyes staring right through her, and a stern look on his handsome face.

"Do you think this is only a bodily reaction!?" he growled, pressing her erection fully against her hips. "Do you think you, or anybody else for that matter, could make me this hard if there weren't feelings involved?"

Her eyes became impossibly wide as she felt him press against her. He really was hard, almost to the point where she swore she could feel it throbbing with every heartbeat. Funny how her bodily reaction to his touch sank in way before her cognitive reaction to his words. She could almost feel herself become wetter. It was as if she all of the sudden felt very empty, and she needed him to fill that gap. She wanted so badly to rock against him, but thought better of it.

Then at last the words sank in. Especially the words "feelings involved" seemed hard to process.

He let go of her, and grabbed the towel, in a valiant attempt to reclaim it. Meryl snapped out of her daze and stood her ground. He tugged the towel a little harder, she grabbed it with both hands. He grabbed it with both hands, she put a foot on his chest and used her entire strength to pull it out of his hands. The blanket had slid off, and Meryl caught a glimpse of his still erected manhood. She was slightly dazzled for a moment, never really believing she'd get a chance to see him. He used her daze to get a firmer grip around the towel and pulled her back. Her foot slipped off his chest, and with a little startled scream she was dragged against him, while he was reeling in the towel. Realising he'd reclaim the towel soon, Meryl thought fast, and then decided to use a dirty trick: she wrapped her legs around his waist, and held on tight. He rolled over on his back, let go of the towel, and grabbed around Meryl and tried to force her off of him.

Having claimed the towel for good, Meryl decided to throw it as far away as she could. Which was only about 8 feet from the bed, but it still counted. She almost felt like screaming out in triumph.

Vash however seemed far from thrilled. He shot his now lost towel a defeated glance, and stopped their little wrestling match and let her sit on his stomach.

"You're really not helping.." he said, in an unusually low and serious voice.

"Helping?" she said, feigning innocent and cocked her head to a side.

"Look, are you trying to make me do something stupid?" he asked, half whining, half annoyed.

She tried not to blush as she smiled down at him, whispering a silent "perhaps".

He blinked.

"And we are seriously talking about the same kind of "stupid"?" he croaked, disbelief making his voice break.

She nodded. As if to underline her statement, she leaned back, reached behind her with her right hand, and timidly brushed the fingertips over his shaft. The reaction was immediate; his dick twitched, and a sharp inhale was stuck in his throat, forcing him into a cough.

His hand snapped out, quickly locking itself around her wrist, moving the hand to a less treacherous place.

"I'm not that stupid." he said, voice slightly shaking and his breath unconsciously a bit heavier and faster than usual.

She blinked, an eyebrow twitched and she suddenly had to fight the urge to hit him, not to hit on him.

"What!?" She hissed. "Are you going to tell me that I'm not good enough for you?"

"Would that make you stop trying to seduce me?" he asked, disarming.

"Not a chance!"

"Then no."

She blinked, now really puzzled. What the heck was the matter?

"Like I said, I won't risk what we have on a stupid one-night-stand!"

He really did care for her, she thought, and only hoped it could be on more than just friends-basis.

"Well… Who says it is only one night?" she smiled, warmly, trying to sell the idea. He wasn't really buying it. She sighed. As she'd figured, he really was an idiot, who needed everything explained to him, if it had to sink through.

She lowered herself, and gently pressed her lips to his. To her gratitude he responded by letting go of her arm, and wrapped his one arm around her waist, and had the other one cub the back of her head. The kiss was warm, tender, and hesitant from both' sides. After a few such blissful seconds, Vash broke the kiss, and looked sternly at her.

"So.. How many nights are we then talking about?"

She smiled at him, and then looked as if she had to really think it through.

"Oh, I dunno… Until you grow tired of my yelling at you?" she offered. There. That was it, wasn't it? This time around, it actually HAD to count as a confession.

Boggled eyed he looked at her in disbelief. The heck? Short stuff actually… had the hots for him? How was that even possible?

"You do realise that people will think we're a couple, then?" he asked, prodding for how deep her feelings went.

"Do you mind that?" she asked, timidly, looking at him with big emotional lavender orbs.

"People thinking we're a couple or… us being one?" he asked, not wanting to put too many cards on the table.

"Both?" Meryl tried, with a slight smile, trying to cover the fact that she was really nervous about what his answer to that one would be.

The thought was both very appealing but also a bit disturbing. Now she would really get close. And that was not only a danger to him, but to her as well. But then again. She tagged along no matter what. No matter what happened and no matter what he said. She'd get hurt anyways, he knew that. But with Knives out of the equation, perhaps he'd be able to handle it. And if she tagged along by his side instead of tagging behind, perhaps he'd have an easier time protecting her.

"I wouldn't mind." He replied, still a little hesitant to lay all his cards on the table.

She smiled. He had feelings for her and wouldn't mind being a couple. Seemed like Millie was right when she'd told her that there was nothing to fear by confessing to him.

"And.. you?" he asked, obviously not really grasping her honest and deep felt interest in him as a partner.

"I think.." she said, leaning in on him, softly nibbling at his collarbone, "..that we would make a great couple!"

AN: To quote my husband "You serve them 24 pages of foreplay and no actual sex, and you expect them not to kill you!?", and all I have to say to my defense is that I wrote this for my own pleasure, and I sorta think the tension ran out at the confession, so I personally wouldn't gain much from continuing it. And when it comes to writing, I'm a selfish bastard. Hope you'll forgive me too. ;) That is, if there's anybody here that actually still reads Trigun Fanfics. It IS rather old, after all.. Oh well.

Review if you like. I'd like to hear your opinion on it.

Also, I haven't forgotten that I owe the readers of my other fic a Xellos/Filia fanfic. I am working on it.. Honestly. ^___^;;