Meryl ran down the corridor as the thugs charged after her. They were gaining and she had nothing to defend herself, she barely had the nightgown she wore! Dammit! Where the hell is that idiot! She grit her teeth as she rounded the bend at the end of hall only to run into the man in question.

"Vash! Behind me!" The Humanoid Typhoon looked confused for barely a nanosecond before spinning her behind him and transforming his arm into his second gun. As the pair of outlaws came 'round the corner he fired at a pipe above their heads. Steam screamed out, engulfing them.

"The hell? Where's that bitch! Tony?" His pal didn't answer, he was already unconscious on the floor from a steel toed boot to the head. The other was down in the time it took Vash to drive a shoulder into his gut. Meryl sat on the floor where she had fallen, blinking in surprise as her reason for being on this mid-class steamer once again diffused a dangerous situation with minimal injury.

"Insurance girl, you alright?" He was binding her attackers wrists behind their backs.

"Huh? Oh, yeah…you?"

"A few scrapes." He gave her that goofy grin he wore so often. It quickly turned into a blush. "Umm…could you…your, uh, your dress…thing…" He was pointing at her and covering his eyes.

"My dress thing?" Meryl looked down at herself to discover that the steam had dampened her nightgown to a point that it was just see through. She yelped and covered her chest, looking around for some sort of covering. "Of course! Just one more thing had to go wrong on this steamer! What am I gon-" A swath of red fell across her vision. She looked up to see Vash crouched over her in just his leathers, arranging his coat around her.

"You look pretty nice in red. Wonder if there's anything at the buffet still!" He pulled her up and started to lead her down the hall toward the main part of the steamer. "There's two more tied up back there." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder as they passed some security officers who were escorting a number of gangsters to a lock up.

"Meryl! Mr. Vash! I was so worried!" Milly was jumping up and down amongst a crowd of passengers by the main staircase. "Why Meryl, what are you doing with Mr. Vash's coat?" The giant woman looked back and forth between the two.

"I got surprised in my state room, ran out in only my pajamas." She itched the back of her head causing one of the over long sleeves to slide into her face. "Gah! Um, are you alright?"

"Oh, I'm fine. So is Mr. Wolfwood. He said he was going to check the bar for anymore bad guys. I was thinking of helping him after I found you two. Oh hey! Wanna join?" She clasped her hands and looked at them excitedly.

"I'm sorry Milly but I'd just like to get back to bed, I'm so exhausted. Maybe tomorrow, 'kay?" The big girl nodded and dashed off after giving her superior a hug. "As if there wasn't enough chaos tonight, now she's gone off to get drunk! I feel bad for the security." Meryl gave the man next to her a weary smile.

He was fidgeting and glancing around at everyone. "Yeah, she's a sweet girl and um…yeah…I should get back to my room too, y'know?" The short woman tilted her head and scanned the faces around them. People were staring. Whispering too.

"Look at him! Who is he?"

"All those scars, what has he done?"

"What's with that left arm of his? Oh shit, I think its fake!"

Meryl nudged the point of scrutiny and quickly shuffled her way to a side corridor, Vash following closely behind. Minutes later, she sighed heavily at the sight of her wrecked room. The gang members had ransacked it looking for valuables. "Well, looks like I'm going to have to find a different room. Wonder where a steward would be?" She peeked into the hallway.

"What about the other insurance girl? Why not stay with her?" Now that he was away from scrutinizing eyes, the blonde was surveying the damage with arms akimbo and an open look on his face.

"She's getting drunk, remember? She'll be at it for hours and sweet as she is, she'll hold onto the key until I'm tipsy too. All I want is a bed!" She shouted this last part at the top of her lungs, arms loose at her sides making one sleeve hang all the way to her knees. "I'm not even really tired because of all the adrenaline in me, I just want to sit…" That part was hardly more than a whisper.

An unexpected hand on her back made her turn. "Come on, I'm just around the corner. I need my coat back at some point anyway." Vash ushered her out into the hall toward his own accommodations.

Meryl fell back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "If you'd like, you can just keep the bed and I'll use the chair in the corner here." She propped herself up to her side and looked across at the man in leather. He was leaning forward, elbows on his knees. Even with all his scars and metal augmentations his body was still rather attractive. His legs were ridiculously long and the following hips appealingly shaped. The form fitting straps and sleeveless shirt allowed plenty of definition to show through on his arm and chest.

The agent caught herself staring and quickly lifted her eyes back up to his face. His expression was…odd. If she didn't know him better she would have described it as thoughtful.

She was half right. It was actually a cross between thoughtful and stunned. Vash didn't know that his massive coat would've accommodated a woman so well. It had gotten twisted and one panel was hiked up to mid-thigh on surprisingly long legs. The straps were pinned under her elbows and caused an hourglass figure to show through. She hadn't bothered with the cowl so he could see her collarbone and neck, gently defined by the single lamp on the bedside table. Their eyes locked.

Meryl blushed and stammered something similar to "Yes, of course. That should be alright." She turned her head away so he wouldn't see how red she was and that way avoid any teasing. He made a noise of surprise and was instantly beside her.

"Your neck! There's something on it." He brushed her hair out of the way with his mechanical hand. She froze at his touch, her breath catching in her throat. "It looks like it's just a few scratches. Did those guys grab you any?"

"A little. One had me by the back of my neck and my wrist. He didn't expect me to kick back at him…" She let her head tilt back toward his hand. It was cool and soothed the light sting she felt.

There was a light tickling sensation on her cheek as he exhaled through his nose, eyes darkening slightly. "Let me see." A livid bruise had formed on her light skin. Vash's jaw hardened but his flesh fingers were gentle as he moved her hand to get a better look. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"That I wasn't there faster. If I was they wouldn't have gotten the chance to hurt you."

"It's okay, really. I'm not so totally helpless. I've had to pick up a few things following you. Trouble is inherent when you're around." She said it with a smile but his face was still serious. "Wow, do you really always wear this coat in the desert?"

Vash blinked. "Of course, you know I do. Why?"

"It's really warm, I'm almost sweating." She undid the front buttons and fanned herself.

"It's designed as a second skin. If it's cold, it keeps you warm. If it's hot, keeps you cool."

"Well in that case I think it's malfunctioning." Meryl smiled at the man kneeling on the floor next to her.

"Not really. The pipe I shot was part of the heating system for this block of rooms. They're all about fifteen degrees cooler than the rest of the suites. Ah-hahaha!" He rubbed the back of his head as he laughed. Meryl sighed as she made a mental note to investigate that claim in the morning. Heating was surprisingly expensive. "What? What's wrong?" Vash's face was hardly a foot from hers.

"Nothing, just thinking about work stuff." The coat had gotten ridiculously warm and she couldn't stand it anymore. Trying to kick her legs free of the fabric, she began to pull it off. Its owner deftly flicked the panels of the skirt in the right direction to remove it. She rolled up onto her knees so he could pick it up and hang it on the back of the door. Meryl tilted her head as she got a pleasant look at his back.

A nice butt and an S-curve spine made for an attractive base to all his back muscles, melding gently into his shoulders and a strong yet graceful neck. He turned around and stood there, sideways, just looking at her. She could feel her cheeks getting pink all over again.

She was lit from behind and to the left from the lamp. Slender thighs and wide hips were wrapped in thin satin that sagged a little around her waist. The light just managed to make her nightgown that little bit transparent and he saw a basic shape to her chest, not as small as her day clothes made it look.

"Vash?" He blinked at his name and nonchalantly sat down on the edge of the bed, removing his gun and holster as he did so.

"Sorry, was thinking about pastry. Something on your mind?" His grin appeared a little manic to Meryl. Something had crossed her thoughts, but she wasn't fully sure what it had been. She was about to shake her head before the room temperature hit her. She squeaked and grabbed the blanket, yanking it up to her chin. The cover was cold though, and she began to shiver, squeezing her eyes tight.

Vash was behind her in a moment, flesh arm holding her to his chest and legs stretched out on her sides. Meryl slowly relaxed as his warmth spread through her. "Why did you do that?" He hmm'd in a questioning tone. "This. Why are you holding me like this?" Something pressed lightly on the back of her head. It was his cheek.

"You're cold. I'm warm." He rubbed a hand up and down her left arm.

"Oh…" Oh? The Humanoid Typhoon wraps his arms around you in his bed while you're wearing practically nothing and all you say is 'Oh'! What is wrong with you?

The woman suddenly shot upright and whirled around to look at him. "What's going on? Why all this! You don't even call me by my name!" Without realizing it, she had placed a hand on his right thigh. The blanket had fallen away and her nightgown had slid above her hips in the sudden movement. Her panties were red but Vash didn't notice. He was focusing on her face.

"Meryl…" She blinked. "When you found me in the hall tonight, you looked so terrified. You were sobbing." She shifted slightly. I was crying? "You may not remember it, but you were, and when you called to me your voice was so different. In that instant I felt so…afraid…for you, it made me…I wanted to kill, Meryl. I wanted to kill whoever was trying to hurt you. That's never happened to me before."

He was telling the truth. She had known for a long time now that if he had to fight, he wouldn't kill. Even if they were going to end his life, he wouldn't end theirs. He was speaking again.

"If something happens to you it would…I'd…I want to protect you." His expression had hardened. Yet, it wasn't frightening, it was…beautiful. Something warm was on her cheek, his hand. Vash's face was so close now.

Without even realizing it, she breathed out, "I want you to." And then he was kissing her. And she was kissing him back. A hot arm slid around her waist and pulled her down on top of his chest. Meryl planted her hands on the sides of his face and kissed him harder. A cool, metal hand was on the back of her neck.

She pushed away for a moment to look at him. "Vash, I don't think…no, wait, no. I know that no one has ever said anything like that to me. What you want is so…so…dammit." His eyes opened wide as she set her mouth to his, but only for a moment. He closed them again as she let her hands drop to his chest, bracing when he pulled her closer and rolled gently so he was on top of her. She whimpered when his metal hand rested on her thigh, but quickly forced it back when he moved it away.

Meryl began to fumble with the bottom of his shirt until she could get a hand underneath, his abs tightening as her touch went across them. He had moved to kissing her neck now and was steadily working his way to her clavicle. He paused just long enough to remove his shirt and undo the main straps of his remaining glove. The tiny woman took the chance to slide onto her knees and wrap her arms around his waist, straining slightly to reach his neck. His natural arm was propping him up against the wall on his right as his mechanical arm crossed her back so he could squeeze her left hip. A moan slipped from Meryl's throat, causing Vash to look down at her.

Her face was flushed and her eyes were glassy. He sat back on his heels and placed both hands on her sides, slowly sliding them down until they were at the mid-thigh hem of her nightgown. Short, airy breaths fluttered in and out of her chest as he held her eyes in his. She nodded. Her arms raised up as he gently pulled her nightgown upward off her petite body, tossing it to the other side of the room. She hooked her thumbs into the waistband of his pants and ground her hips into his as he kissed her again, letting a warm hand slip from her shoulder to her breast.

His metal arm carefully held her across her now naked back as he laid her down again, returning his lips to her collarbone. She accidentally dug her nails into his hip, causing him to hiss against her sternum. Meryl was about to apologize when he took her left nipple in his mouth and began to stroke the back of her thigh, straddling her other leg. She gasped, arching her back and tangling her fingers in his hair making him become more forceful with his mouth.

Vash took his hand off her leg to unbutton his pants, trying to keep his tongue where it was. Unable to fully remove them in such a position, he stood up to peel them off. Meryl waited fully splayed out and panting, fingers twisting into the sheets. He must have had some sense of self preservation because she noticed that his genitalia were whole and relatively unscarred. The tall blonde turned back to the small raven-haired woman and paused, breathing heavily. He stared, letting his aqua eyes run up and down her body. He smiled.

Her violet eyes followed him as he crawled back onto the bed, kneeling between her legs. The man leaned down and began to kiss his way up her leg, occasionally licking and glancing up at her. She squirmed at the tickling sensation he was causing until he pressed her still with a mechanical hand on her stomach. The coldness of it made her shudder and break out in goose bumps. She was so light headed.

Vash had reached her hips now and was slipping her panties off. He rested his arms on either side of Meryl's legs after dropping them to the floor. "Vash…" He glanced up.

She was looking at him with half lidded eyes. "Is something wrong?" She shook her head no, smiling as she rubbed a leg against his side, careful not to catch on the aluminum mesh. She let her head fall back to the bed, placing a hand on the back of his skull.

With no more warning than a firm squeeze on her hips, he began to lightly lick her clitoris. Slight as it was, the action caused Meryl to arch her back and clap her free hand over her mouth to stifle the moan that was nearly a scream. Amused, Vash licked harder and faster making her grab his hair tighter. If he didn't do something soon Meryl was sure that she was going to have to start yelling at him, her emotions were building so quickly.

Vash could tell that she was getting restless, she had begun to growl. Firmly holding her waist, he started kissing his way back up her body. Meryl giggled at the sensation of his breath on her stomach, twisting her torso as he got higher and higher until he had reached her forehead and there was too much of him on her to let her wiggle.


"Yes, Vash?"

"Are you sure this is okay? I know this is sudden and I'm dangerous to be around but if you're sure you want me-" Meryl had thrown her arms around his neck and was nipping at his lower lip between kisses. He had to fight his desire and pull his head free to finish what he was trying to say. "Meryl, please! This is important. I want to keep you safe but if all I do is attract trouble the only thing that makes sense is…is you keep away from me." He let his head rest in the crook of her neck. The woman beneath him gingerly wrapped her arms around his shoulders, trying to take in what was happening.

"So…you want to protect me by sending me away?" She felt him nod. "Live out my life in a dusty office full of papers, fretting every day about where you are and what you're doing." Her hands began to ball up into fists. "Possibly even marry a drunkard and have more kids than I can feed-"

"What? No! No, no Meryl. That's-"

"That's all I can see, Vash. Without you that's what I would have. I'd rather have to carry a gun into every building I go in than have to live like that." She took his face in her hands. "If I end up with mechanical arms and legs, then so be it. You. Are. Stuck with me. Even if you were to try to get up right now and walk off without me, one way or another I'd find you again, I've done it before. Got it?" She was frowning at him now in that way she had, the one where what she said was undeniable truth and if you went against her you'd only end up in extreme physical discomfort. Vash sighed.

"Alright. I don't much like it but…if that's what you want there's going to be some changes." He held up a hand at her indignant look and began ticking them off on his fingers. "You need something stronger than a cape full of Derringers. I know some people that can help you find what'll suit you."

Well, that's not unreasonable… "Fine with me, what else?"

"The big girl comes along. More than once she's displayed more sense than you and gotten the hell out before real danger happened or stayed where she was told. You'll need to listen to her at those times." Meryl was surprised by that one.

"Really? Huh…I guess so… What else?"

He looked down at her intensely. "You're going to start wearing a shorter skirt with bare legs!" Meryl's tiny fist connected with his jaw, causing him to fall off the bed.

"The hell I am! That's a ridiculous condition! That one I refuse." She sat with arms crossed over her chest, nose in the air. "I just ask that you don't leave us behind, don't get drunk so often, don't ogle other women, clue me in when you have a plan, ask me when-yeek!"

Vash had grabbed the blanket and pounced at her, wrapping the two of them in a cocoon of white. He pinned her arms to her sides and kissed her just a little roughly, taking the opportunity to slide his tongue into her shocked mouth. She gave a token struggle at getting her arms loose but decided to get back at him by squeezing his hips with her legs. He gasped at the sudden strength she seemed to have and pulled away to look at her. She was smiling like a cat. He smirked back at her and gave a little push with his hips.

Caught off guard again, Meryl moaned, grabbing his arms as best she could in an attempt to steady the sudden spinning in her head. A little harder and longer, Vash pressed his groin against hers. She arched her back and shuddered. Crossing one of his arms behind her back, he took hold of her opposite shoulder and slid his other hand to press against her lower back. He lowered his lips to her ear and whispered, "Are you sure you want to continue with this? It's okay if you want to stop, I won-"

He cried out in surprise when she grabbed his penis, set him in place and bucked her hips, causing him to quickly slide halfway into her. They laid there for a moment, gasping in shock. He from her decisive and forceful action, she from the ache she suddenly experienced. She had been plenty wet, but he was still slightly larger and harder than she thought he had been. Her eyes began to tear.

"Ah! What's wrong? Do you need me to pull out?" He looked so worried she almost had to laugh.

"No, you're fine. Just give me a moment to get…get used to you. Mm…alright, I think I'm okay now. Slow, please." Vash watched her face for any sign of pain as he gently pulled out partway and slid back in. From there, he took his cues from her. Speeding up as her gasps came short and fast, slowing down when she let out a long moan. He would mute her by covering her mouth with his. The walls were thick but he still didn't want to disturb the neighbors after the rough evening they'd all had. Meryl wasn't making it easy, though.

As he altered pace to keep her going, she would run her nails lightly across his skin searching out sensitive points to apply pressure or kiss or lick. A few times she had to yank his head back down to silence him as he did her. Their pace started to become more hurried and he lifted her up to straddle his lap as he sat back, one arm stretched out behind to steady them. Meryl took hold of his waist with both hands and began to swivel her hips. His head fell back, a groan rumbling out of his chest. The raven haired woman leaned forward to lick at a scar on his right pectoral muscle.

Wrapping a hot arm around her hips, Vash began to grind upward against Meryl's pelvis. A gasp of his name moments later and he had to seal her scream against the fleshy part between his neck and shoulder. He grit his teeth as she bit down, her inner muscles contracting forcefully around him. He grunted as he followed her moments later.

With the last of his strength, Vash laid Meryl down on her back and slowly pulled out, causing her to whimper softly. Lying down between her and the wall, he gathered her to his chest. One arm under her neck, his metal hand on her stomach, he nuzzled into her neck and smiled despite his breathlessness. The small woman turned to the large man next to her, stroking his false arm and thinking about the weapon concealed inside it. Feeling the chill in the air again, she kissed his forehead and pulled the blanket off the headboard where it had somehow ended up, and switched off the electric lamp with a contented sigh. No more words between them, they fell asleep like that, legs still tangled up.

Outside the door, a large insurance girl and a lanky priest exchanged mischievous looks.

"Took 'em long enough, eh girl?" Wolfwood glanced over at Milly. She was blushing and giggling.

"Sure mishtah wolfe-ood. Hee hee hee!" He nearly fell over when she flung herself at him, planting a whiskey flavored kiss on his lips.

"Whoa there girly!", he grinned awkwardly as he stood her back up. "Off to bed with you, where's your room at?" Milly blinked confusedly.

"Umm…I can't remember! Isn't that silly of me! Hee hee heeee!"

Wolfwood sighed and grinned a little. "Come on then, I'm just down the hall." They weaved off down the hall, giggles and whoa's trailing behind them.