Don't panic you idiot. If you find him looking as worried as you must look right now he's going to laugh. But what he wouldn't give to hear himself be laughed at. Please say he'll be laughed at. You know there's nothing to panic about! So stop it already.

Vash moved out of the small doctors office he had found. Even though a few things were scattered around the floor he knew that they had been left when the people of this town had vanished. Wolfwood hadn't visited here. He moved out of the office, not bothering to shut the door as he went. Telling himself not to panic again as he continued down the main road through the deserted town. Wolfwood hadn't been heading back toward the girls and where their supplies where, the blood trail had stopped, and he hadn't visited this office. Wolfwood might be a stubborn idiot at times, but he wasn't so foolish as to ignore an injury if it was serious. He would have stopped to take care of it if it was bad-

I-but what if it wasn't just bad. What if-

No. Wolfwood was strong. Wolfwood was too skilled, too good. The man he trusted with all his heart to turn his back to and fight with. It just wasn't bad enough for the preacher to have bothered to stopped and take care of. Then where had he gone? Something about what he had said, the way he had said it.

That is also the mortal way of life.

Mortal. Vash had no doubts that he'd eventually die. Luck and persistence won't work forever. He couldn't out run all the bounty hunters forever and Plants eventually ran out of power if they weren't properly taken care of. Until that day he planned to live as best he could, but why had Wolfwood said it like that? The way he had smiled.

Knives is in Demitrihi.

How did he know about Knives? How much did he know? For how long? Why did he tell him that and vanish? He wasn't sure, but he was going to ask and find out as soon as he figured out where the priest had gone to. He would find him, he was sure he would. Wolfwood was fine, he was so strong, he was – well, he was Wolfwood.

He picked up his pace. The town was too quiet when it should be bustling full of life. There were so many places to check and it just felt like it was getting larger at every moment. He almost missed the church at his hurried walk, stopping and looking back. Had one of the villagers left that door open? No, wait. He smelled blood. That idiot, why had he gone to the church? Okay, well, he was a priest, but he certainly wasn't a very good one. Didn't he have any idea how nervous he was making him? Vash took the stairs by two, noting the return of blood, but trying to push it out of his mind as he reached the top.

"Wolfwood! What are you doing-" he didn't slow as he raced into the temple, "-in here. Let's go back... to... the... Wolfwood?" The preacher didn't move and Vash didn't like the way he was double over. His giant cross pressed into his shoulder the only thing keeping him up.

"Wolfwood?" There was so much more blood on the floor here as Vash moved slowly towards his best friend. He had seen death too many times to not know what was before him, there was no need to check for breath. He knew. So instead he stood for a few minutes and waited to wake up.

Then waited just a few more.

It was when the cross started to slip out of place and fall that he finally moved. Catching it effortlessly and wrapping an arm around his friend's chest to keep him from falling forward. They were both so heavy. "Full of mercy, right Wolfwood?" With care he moved the weapon aside and laid it down so he could move Wolfwood with two hands.

The front of his jacket was a mess of blood. God, why hadn't he seen it before? Why had he been so distracted thinking of his own mistakes? "Why didn't you say anything!" Because there was nothing that could have been done. "Did you come here because you knew I'd try? Did you really think there was no hope? You idiot! You didn't have to die alone! If I had gotten here sooner. If I had been there! Maybe-maybe if I had- had- If I had just- damn it, Wolfwood. Why?"

He turned his face away, unable to look for a moment. If no one had to die, then why did all his friends have to die in such horrible ways? "I'm sorry, Wolfwood. I wasn't there. You needed me and I wasn't there for you." Carefully he thought over his options. He'd have to tell the girls, but they couldn't see him like this. He'd have to take the body somewhere else, there was too much blood here. If he was going to let them see he'd have to change his clothes.

No, perhaps it was better if they didn't see. Remember him as he was.

This time he made sure the door shut properly behind him as he looked for what he would need. It didn't take him very long in the deserted town. He worked quickly, knowing that the girls would already be worried.

Milly. How was he going to be able to look her in the eye when he got back? How could he look her in the face again?

He almost couldn't open the door to the church again. The blood was still there, this was all still real. He forced himself to move again only because he knew what he had to finish would only get harder the longer he waited. He lifted his best friend into his arms, taking great care to mind Wolfwood's head, and for the second time buried someone that day.

Yet, he still wasn't done. For the third and final time he entered the church, he didn't think he could do it a fourth time anyway. He picked up the Punisher and carefully warped it back up in it's cloth. It took a couple tries, but eventually he decided what he had managed was acceptable. With the cross on his arm he headed towards the house they had picked to stay at.


"Vash! There you are! We were starting to get worried, it was quiet for so-" Meryl's words caught in her throat. Her eyes locked on the burdened he bore as she stopped her rush out the door. "Vash, what happened? Where's-"

"Mister Vash is back?" He found he couldn't answer Meryl, so he walked right past her. Straight and steady into the bedroom he could hear Milly's voice from. "That's good! I was starting to get awfully worried. Mister Vash, isn't Mister Wolfwood with you?"

"I'm sorry, Milly." It was easier to just detach. This was all just a dream after all so he didn't have to see the way her face broke as he set the cross against the wall, only to fill back up with hope again.

"Sorry? But Mister Vash, why are you sorry? Is he hurt? Should I go see him?"

"No. He's not hurt."

"But, what else would you be sorry about Mister Vash? You two..." her voice broke and she gave her eyes a quick wipe. "You two... you're so strong."

"I'm sorry." He turned away so he didn't have to see her face. Although seeing Meryl standing there, her mouth and eyes opened wide as he walked away wasn't much better. She only managed to get her voice back as he reach for the door.

"Wait a minute Vash! You can't mean that Wolfwood-"

"I'm sorry, Meryl."

Milly began to scream as he shut the door behind him.