Past the Mission

By Jaina

lhanson@bgnet.bgsu.edu

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Vash was a cuddler. It struck Meryl, as she lay in his arms, waiting for her toes to uncurl, that this should not be a surprise. It did fit in with the overall sweetness of his personality that emerged on those rare occasions when he didn't feel the need to put on an act. And yet there it was. It wasn't as if any of Meryl's pre-assignment ideas about what the notorious outlaw would be like had been correct, but the idea that the fearsome criminal who went around destroying cities, ravishing women, and probably eating a few babies along the way would want to cuddle after sex...well, quite frankly, it was weird.

But not in a bad way, she decided. In fact, reflecting upon the very satisfying events of the last hour, it was a very nice thing, even allowing for the hickeys and stubble burn she was sure she'd feel in the morning. In a way, they made it even better. They assured her that she wasn't just lying in the aftermath of some happy dream. Of course, the warm body upon whose chest she was currently resting her head had something to do with that as well. She fought back a giggle. Her. Vash. Kissing. Sex. Cuddling.

Weird.

"What are you thinking about?" she heard him ask softly, and craned her head to see smiling gently at her. God, he was beautiful when he smiled like that. His face was relaxed; his eyes open and unguarded for once; his lip--was bruised. She blinked at what looked distinctly like a purplish bite mark on his lower lip. Had she done that? Interesting.

"You," she remembered to answer at last. "Me. Us. Whatever." She waved a hand to indicate the position they were in. Funny how good sex had robbed her of the ability to speak coherently.

He laughed and caught her hand, kissing her palm and each finger in turn then nibbling on her pinkie. She felt herself melt into a curiously insurance girl-shaped puddle. She wasn't going to last very long at this rate. Good thing there were quite a few hours left until dawn. "What exactly were you thinking about me?" he purred. She wanted to pout. He was putting an extra-sexy rumble into his voice on purpose. He had to be.

"Oh, just taking mental stock," she said casually, removing her hand from his grasp and running it down his chest and until it found a nice spot on his abdomen to rest on, just below his belly button. She liked it there. It wasn't anywhere that would be *too* exciting for him--best to give him some time to recover before they continued--but it gave her a little thrill to know that he was hers, all of him, including the parts other people didn't get to see. "You know, reflecting on things, making comparisons and deciding how you measure up..."

"Oh?" His smile looked a little more nervous now. "And how do I measure up?"

She grinned and pulled away from him a little so she could look at him without hurting her neck, though his arm remained loosely around her waist. "Well, are you talking size-wise or performance?"

"Um." Oh, dear, if he wasn't careful, his eyes were going to roll right out of their sockets. "Do I really want to know?"

"Honestly?" She moved closer to him on the pillow, licking her lips a little. His own lips parted slightly in unconscious anticipation. "You were..." She kissed to the left of his lips, pulling back quickly before he could meet her. "...without a doubt..." The same action repeated to the right. "...able to completely wipe from my brain the memory of any other man." She placed her lips squarely on his this time, sliding her tongue between them and kissing him as deeply as she could without getting overly saliva-sloppy. It seemed to be a successful move; by the time she pulled back, he was almost gasping. "Satisfied?"

His eyes gleamed. "For the moment." He reached out to caress her cheek.

"Mmm." This was far too nice. "So what about me?"

"You?" He looked startled once more.

"Sure. You're a century old; how do I compare to girls of days past?" She smiled as she said it, but her heart constricted a little as she waited for his answer. It was stupid, she knew. She had his undivided attention now, and that was what counted, but she still had to ask.

"Uh, good, really good." He stammered and she frowned. Maybe it was a bad question to ask, but that wasn't exactly the answer she'd hoped for.

"Oh. Thanks."

His face reddened. "I'm sorry. It was wonderful, like...wow. It's just..."

"Just?" She prodded him, perplexed as to what was embarrassing him so much. It wasn't like he'd done anything wrong. In fact, he'd been a better lover than she'd expected for their first time together. He'd been very attentive to her needs, continually asking questions about what she wanted and making sure it felt good for her.

"Well..." He was getting redder by the moment. "It's just I'veneverdonethisbeforesoIhavenothingtocompareitto," he answered in a rush.

She stared. Never done this before...that meant..."Vash, you're a virgin?" she blurted out.

"Well, not anymore," he replied, a bit indignantly.

She shook her head. "Yes. Of course...oh my god." She rolled over and buried her face in her pillow.

"Meryl? Are you okay?" He scooted up against her and tried to put his arm around her, but she shoved it away, still not looking up.

"No, I'm not," she groaned. "You were a virgin! I deflowered you!"

"And why exactly is that a bad thing?"

"It's too much pressure," she mumbled into the pillow. "I don't want to have to perform up to the standards of a hundred and thirty years of fantasies!"

"Not that long, really," he mused. "Rem never really said much about sex, and I spent the next fifteen years with Knives, so you wouldn't really call my adolescence normal." She just groaned again. "Oh, come on, Meryl." He gathered her up in his arms and began placing kisses down her neck and shoulder. "It was great. You were great, and I can honestly say that no fantasy comes close to the real thing."

She turned in his arms to face him, sniffing a bit. "Really?"

"Really."

"Okay." She leaned forward, and they kissed for a little while. "Vash?" she asked when they pulled apart.

"Mmm?" He was playing with her hair, curling strands of it around his fingers.

"Why did you wait so long? Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just curious."

"It just never felt right," he answered after a considered silence. "Getting close to people never seemed like a good idea. I was carrying around too much emotional baggage. Despite what you've seen, I have actually met a few girls who liked me, but I could never bring myself to tell them anything about myself...and if I couldn't trust them, how could I love them? I didn't need any more emptiness in my life."

"What made you choose me, then?" she whispered.

"Who said I had a choice?" He gazed at her intensely, and she blinked back sudden tears. "You grabbed on to me like no one else and now I don't want you to let go, ever. I love you, Meryl."

"And just when did this happen?" she joked, hoping he couldn't tell how choked up she was.

Instead of chuckling, his expression turned more serious. "I'm not sure exactly," he mused. "I remember when I knew I loved you, though. It was after...after Augusta. The first night I spent on the road after I woke up in the rubble. I'd made up my mind to change my life. I'd done too much damage. But I remember thinking of you and thinking how I'd never see you again...it hurt."

"That long ago?" She fought back the pang that always came when she remembered those two years of quiet hell. His pain had been greater than her own, she was sure, and she certainly had him now. Still, she held him a little tighter and laid rested her head against his shoulder. "Why didn't you ever say anything?"

"It was just too much," he said quietly. "I was already torturing myself over what I did to the city and not even being able to remember it...and then I had to face Legato's men and then--" his voice caught in his throat. "Well, you know the rest. I couldn't deal with the possibility that I'd hurt you, too."

"Well, you're stuck with me now." She smiled up at him. "I trust you, Vash. Whatever happens with Knives, or anything else, we can deal with it together."

He smiled back. "I think I can handle that." They lay together in contented silence for a few minutes until Vash broke the silence once more. "Okay, what is it?"

"What's what?"

"This." He placed a finger over her lips. "You've got the strangest smile on your face. What's going on in that head of yours now?"

"I'm just...thinking. Remembering." She brushed a stray flop of hair away from his eyes. "About how you looked to me when we first met, and how I see you now."

"Do I look different?" he asked.

"No." She shook her head. "I think I must have been blind back then, though."

He grinned. "So I don't look like a foolish broomhead idiot after all?"

"Oh, you still do," she replied, then placed her hand on his chest, above his heart. "But there's so much more to you, Vash. It's all right here. I had to have been blind, or I would have fallen in love with you sooner than I did."

"And just when was that?" he whispered against her ear.

"That's my secret." Rolling him over onto his back, she climbed atop him and kissed his lips, then continued down his neck and chest. He responded eagerly, running his hands down her thighs. "Stick around long enough, I might just tell you someday."

"That's the plan," he answered rather breathlessly, then moaned a little as she moved on him. "Meryl?"

"Yes, Vash?"

"I'm glad I came back."

"Me, too."

He kissed her then, and there were no more words.

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Well, well, well. I have been infected by some sort of mood-altering drug. That's the only explanation for this. What the hell happened to me? I'm Angst Bitch #1 (of the Two Angsty Bitches), for pete's sake! I have nothing against schmoop, but still..this is very unlike me. How disturbing.

Anyways, I do believe the seed for this fic was planted when WickedTigerlily accused me of becoming "smuttier every day." Which made me think "Hey, people write lemons all the time...at least, they should...what about what happens after, before the characters roll over and go to sleep? And...tra la la.

The title comes from Tori Amos' "Past the Mission" (duh) from her "Under the Pink" cd. It has absolutely nothing to do with the story, as coming up with a title post-writing took almost as long as the actual creation of the fic, but it sounds nice and if you squint a little, the song kind of fits Trigun. Of course, if anyone does a Tori songfic after reading this I shall be forced to commit ritual seppuku.

Anyways. If you're still reading, cool. Feel free to leave a review if you're so inclined. If not, I shall set my flock of evil monkeys on you to hound you until you do.

...just kidding.

As far as you know.