A Villainous Plan
It irked him that his brother thought her capable of saving the world.
Her. The world. And not just any run-of-the-mill world either but their world, Eden fallen to depths Babel couldn't drag them up out of waiting for a miracle. That world. Smoke on the wind. A thousand possibilities and equations and solutions reduced to the frail human singularity that was her...
It was just preposterous enough to fit the usual modus operandi of Vash's inane schemes. There was always a woman. There was always a path so high the air thinned and choked him- but he'd never admit it. There was always some horribly misguided vision through geranium-colored glasses. Indeed. Vash the Stampede was a victim of personality inertia.
That irked him too.
It irked him in the same way that his legs ached and the fan on the ceiling would not shut up as it churned through the lifeblood of his sister like some demented waterwheel. The way his elbows ached when he tried to use the spoon himself - that awful sudden tearing which surpassed what bone-deep bruise of agony he could usually manage to ignore by brushing it off into the dustbin of his thoughts. Of course, these days there was far much less to think about in general. Four walls - wooden and nourished to maturity on the backs of angels to produce this eyesore that slandered the good name of architecture. A window that he could not see out of which looked out on a sky with which he was intimately familiar. And to crown the squalid humiliation? The forlorn little stool where she sat (his brother was too tall) while he counted the threads on the sheets crushing him into the bed. It was, he thought, a low ply.
It would be.
It also irked him that his brother could not recognize this as vengeance. That would have been much less offending to his sensibilities all in all. Vengeance was a natural and even righteous emotion regardless of the suitability of the circumstance in question to vengeance (one had to take these things in small steps with Vash. An annoyance - that vengeance upon his own long-suffering person could be considered progress.. but he could afforded patience where patience was due). It would also have made a good deal of sense.
But it wasn't, damn him. It wasn't.
This place was hellishly ugly and his joints felt like he'd been through a second coming of the Great Fall. Knives was a lover of beauty with a low tolerance for pain. Vash knew this - mostly due to some ill-fated attempts at roughhousing and "tag" on his brother's part coupled with his own particularly cringeworthy early pass at musical prodigy (Knives had never really accepted the notion that there were things which he could not do. He much preferred the idea that if he did not preform to certain standards it was because the standards were wrong).
The innocent are cruel.
His brother's willfull, contrary naivete irked him perhaps most of all.
But Vash knew what he was doing with her. Or at least he thought that he did. He thought that he was being clever.
Now, to be fair... Knives loved his brother. Knives was, in fact, a model of familial virtue. Punch him, shoot him, paralyze him, run out on him and call him an evil genocidal maniac and Knives would still be there when the chips were down. It was pathetic, really, but there one was - just as one was here eating whatever disgusting pap they could produce this many isles away from anywhere worthwhile (murder-suicide was beginning to hold a distinctly poetic appeal and at times thrummed in his palms like a still-beating heart. He'd seen one of those once. It had been an interesting elaboration upon the purely theoretical teachings he'd acquired as a ward of the original model of her). Under all of their differences, hate, and enmity, Knives cared. And because Knives cared he'd live through this. Because Vash was never actually clever and would someday understand just exactly how much he needed Knives. Knives, unlike Vash, could see through the self-righteous smokescreen of human indifference to all else in the face of life, liberty, and the persuit of happiness. Knives could also see through Vash's horribly amateurish stabs at psychological warfare.
Once, when they were six months old, Vash had hidden his teddy-bear in Duct J in order to lure him into curousity about the slumbering humans blow it. Subsection J would later have a singularly unfortunate encounter with the dark side of the Third Moon. Knives had felt it appropriate, in a literary sort of way. One might as well make a genocide epic even if one was going to be one of only a handful of beings to remember it. There was history to think of.
That was why he ignored her. He knew all about her - Rem Saverem with shorter hair and packing some crude human imitation of "heat". Facts both great and small caressed his brain as only a gnat begging to be crushed can. He knew, for instance, that she was in love with his brother (a wretched thought in and of itself but not entirely hard to understand - it is the nature of humans to destroy themselves reaching for heights which they can never attain. Icarus came to mind. Ixion, perhaps. Or rocket fuel plundered from the bowels of their Earth and used to rape their sky with carbon oxides and the sulphorous stench of regret).
Also, she was apparently to be his Messiah.
If it had not been clear before it was certainly clear now that Vash had - in the absence of a suitable partner for conversation - gone more than a little daft.
She was silent.
So was he.
She stared into something eyes could not exactly see.
So did he.
And lo, the game was afoot.
It would have been beneath his dignity to be the first one to break. Their sisters did not communicate in words but his own thought processes were shackled by oppressive, fascist echoes of primitive mortal language. Language was a knowledge whose tart skin, once bitten into, could not be untasted and which also irked him to this day except that the cross must be borne for the greater good. Not that they would understand that. One man dead for all their sins - how like humans. How conveniently devoid of any sort of personal responsibility.
At this moment he was her personal responsability, and she chose to make this room as devoid of him as possible by pointedly ignoring the plant. Well, Knives did suppose that ignorance was bliss. Hmph. Humans didn't deserve that.
There were exactly thirty-nine boards in the hardwood floor.
This was no good. She'd come back again (there was always, it seemed, an 'again' with these women of Vash's - they'd go, then come around) to watch him. She was scribbling something. If he became agitated she'd notice and confront him or (worse) confront Vash who would proceed to torture him with all sorts of bizarre theories concerning his own state of mind which showed an obvious lack of time spent on Vash's part perusing the psychology lectures Rem had left among their educational materials. On the other hand, if he did not become agitated he would surely go insane.
.... it irked him that that might actually be a relief from this horrible monotony.
An annoyed sound - barely a sniff- and she was looking at him. A hit - a very palpable hit.
High noon. Dust was settling on the widowsill and her reading has slowed to a crawl. High noonand he'd just forced her to draw.
"What's your problem now?"
A smile crept about the recesses of his cerebellum. Their silent little standoffs were a contest of wills. It was naturally inevitable that she be the one lured into making it break as Knives was above such things as starting conversations with the plebs. Still, there was something to be said for baiting the mortals - like tearing the legs off of spiders.
A sigh. She shoved her papers onto the side-table which was his useless blanket-covered legs. Floolish mortal blabber.
"If you don't mind, some of us have better things to do then pout like a little boy. You're just lucky that Vash hasn't decided to restrain you, you manic."
It had taken her all of a week to stop pretending to like him. Another had passed before she had ceased alternately sulking and being furtively afraid. Knives was actually vaguely impressed. ....In the way that one is impressed when one's housecat is fully trained to use the sandbox, of course. Vash. Damn him - he'd known that. Feh. Knives might be broken but he would not submit to this foolishness. It would only further re-enforce his brother's delusions.
"Do you really need for me to answer that question?"
It had taken him all of a week to become resigned to the fact that verbal abuse and enlightenment concerning her inexhaustible horde of mortal inadequacies would not induce Vash to recall his lapdog and take care of Knives properly (it was amazing, what he was asked to put up with for family...their sisters, he was quite sure, would be appalled). Another had passed before the plant came to the realization that that did little to mitigate how much fun it was. .... an invalid had to amuse himself somehow. Besides, she should thank him. Knives was being magnanimous and educational.
She rolled her eyes, visibly restraining herself, "Look, if this is about the water rationing, I told you that your scrawny ass isn't getting any more than the rest of us and I don't care how..."
"I don't recall asking about water, mortal. So I'm not allowed to breathe now, then?" his voice cut a measured clip that was markedly devoid of the highs and lows which marked his brother's rollercoaster of tones. "My, my - aren't we forgetting our place."
Sometimes he thought that she might be as bored as he was and welcome these little spats. Not that he could ascribe actual emotions to cattle like this, you understand, but theoretically. That or she was the most easily baited women on the planet.
Damn you, Vash, for knowing me.
"You're not allowed to be a jackass! I know Vash has talked to you, dammit. Some people in this house actually have work to do instead of lying around on their asses all day..." her left eye was doing that twitching thing again. Lack of bodily control. How... lovely.
"Yes, and consuming this planet and my sisters until their eventual dessication and death because you're too stubborn to give up a world that was never meant for you must be such hard work. Or are you talking about stalking my brother? I must admit - it's probably the most interesting life one could pick if one had to choose between the dull, muddy greys of limited useless human existances."
She rolled her eyes again. Her creativity has been put on ice by his brother who would likely become vexed if she were to hit the invalid. He hadn't taken to that one slap well. Knives had found it heartening. That Vash could still believe in her innate functionality and goodness in spite of some severely flawed logic, emotional issues, and reflexively violent tendancies spoke towards a hopeless optimism which Knives had been progressively hacking at for over a century. One that could, theoretically, be broken with physical abuse of his person by said mortal. He could exploit that.
... Knives took what he could get.
"Oh, and you're really one to talk about fulfilling lives? Yeah, being a megalomaniacal hermit with no friends must be real exciting there Knives. Eaten any babies lately?"
Voices rose, and the duel expanded to drive the silence which hobbled time from the room. Knives had a habit of not noticing when he got huffy (not that he ever did get huffy) but he could certain tell when she did. Sometimes she'd kick the bed.
"I have a Cause!"
"What - being a sociopath is a life goal now?"
"You say that as if antipathy to your degenerate human society is a bad thing."
"Regardless of the problems in our own society, the sanctity of
human life is..."
"Worth more than the sanctity of nonhuman life!?"
"Are we going to have to get into the vegetarianism conversation again? Because I am SO not in the mood for the..."
"Using animals is different from abusing plants, because they're not sentient, so if I eat animals then and..."
"For the last fucking time, we are not ABUSING the..."
"Have you READ an article on plant engineering? One with pictures and small words, even? If you..."
"At least I read the newspaper. Maybe if you did you'd have a clue about humans or ANYTHING that happens on this planet instead of stewing in some irrelevant five-hundred year-old philoso..."
"HAH! You don't even know who Herbert Spencer IS! Or Darwin! Or Nietzche. NIETZCHE! Your race is so pathetic they can't even hold on to what vestiges of rudimentary understanding that they might once have stumbled across in...."
He knew they were coming in spite of the shouting. Knives was gifted
"Hi!" the other human had probably heard them from the drill
site. Feh. Let them get take their pleasure where they could.
"Hi!" Vash trailed the girl into the room carring a sack of doughnuts. Vile, completely non-nutritious waste of salary. The artificial substances involved in their production alone made him feel something close to nausea (having been bedridden for a month, Knives had become very well acquinated with the cruel mistress that was actual nausea, and could thus tell the difference. These mortals made him more nauseous by the day).
He wondered briefly if his twin was simply mimicking the other human, or if Vash was on some level actually capable of such vacuous cheer. Knives was not sure if he cared to persue that vein of speculation. He could, however, understand her urge to frequently hit his brother- swatting at him like a kitten swats at a mountain lion. He had always done such things with much more flair and cunning and (well, let's be honest) ruthlessness. He had also been much more persistant. But it was all the same. Alas, their common methods had never really had the effect of driving home a modicum of good sense. Sometimes when Vash wailed in pain and let that stupid smile drop, though... sometimes they could pretend.
Not that her good sense wasn't flawed good sense. Postmodernism dictated that to her it probably seemed like good sense and you could only expect so much from a mortal anyways.
Vash - being Vash - had picked up on their verbal combat by virtue of the tension still drifting about, and also very likely because of the yelling. "Say, Insurance Girls, would you mind if I talked to my brother for a sec?"
The large one said yes beacause she was a blind follower with no purpose beyond becoming a breeding cow (Knives approved of this) and the short one did so out of unrequited human emotion (ewww).
Goddamit Vash, get that stupid grin off your face, damn you...
"You like her," the stool was scooched backwards to accomodate his brother's gangly frame. He had never grown into his height like Knives had.
"Shut up," Knives mumbled against his will.
"She's your friend."
How did his smile just keep getting wider? These masks he wore were almost disturbing - moreso when they weren't masks, "Shut up."
That didn't deserve a response.
"She says that she hasn't had an intellectual conversation since Wolfwood ... passed on. Well, even if it's yelling. But she yells at everybody. And those random moods - you two have so much in common!" Vash enthused, waving his arms about wildly.
"I knew it would work! You're friends!"
"I'm so happy!!!" Vash clasped his hands together and got those ridiculous stars in his eyes, voice going almost falsetto.
It irked him that his brother could use her to save the world from him. Knives the was the Messiah, dammit. Who was the angel here, anyways? Besides Vash, that is?
It irked him that he could not stand up, forcibly remove Vash from the premises, and then turn this hideous town into a charmingly decorative smoking crater. Perhaps after the terraforming was complete it could be Eden's swimming-pool. He'd have to be sure to vaporize their bones and preserve the water-tower as a diving platform.
Except he couldn't.
Damn you, Vash. This is all your fault.
"SHUT THE HELL UP!!!"
So instead he fumbled for a crumpled ball of useless bureacratic blatherings and lobbed it right between that yammering idiot's eyes. She'd have to retype it and get all irrationally emotional. It'd be fun.
Authors note: My first Trigun fic. Be gentle with my ignorant self. Knives is... harder to POV than I thought. Arg. Anime-continuity and not manga (obviously), being as how I only own one volume of the manga. *shakes head* And I had no idea what to title this...