[[A/N: Anyone who has read 'Steam' will find that this resembles the second chapter loads. This is because I wrote this short piece before 'Steam', and implanted loads of elements from this into that. However, this is a very different concept than in 'Steam'... I'll leave you to read it... ^^;;]]

Meryl felt as though she was going to kill him. The feeling wasn't new, and this time it was shared by Wolfwood.
"Wake UP Needle-noggin!! The bus has stopped! We can go now!!"
Wolfwood was starting to feel more than just a little pissed off at the absolute lack of reaction from the legendary gunman, quietly sitting on the worn seat of the bus and staring out the window.
"Vash-san, we've reached Charlott. It has lots of people in it - I'm sure it'll sell donuts! Oh, maybe it'll sell pudding..."
Milly chattered on as she smiled her oblivious smile, but Vash continued to act as though he couldn't hear a thing. Finally Meryl snapped.
Meryl yelled, and proceeded to grab the collar of his red trenchcoat into her grasp. She was startled to see that his eyes strangely seemed focused, yet unfocused at the same time. As in, the green eyes were focused, but were clouded by something... was he sad? What was troubling him now? Meryl yearned the moment to last just a little bit longer, to at least uncover some truth of him...
However, the moment was only for a split second.
His eyes almost immediately returned to normal and he gave a sigh and laugh.
"Okay okay, sorry. Let's get going."
His hands reached up and he began to pry Meryl's fingers off his coat. Her eyes narrowed, and she pulled her hands off him.
"It's about time you heard us."
She muttered. He laughed.
"No, I only heard you."
"Wolfwood was being louder than I was."
"You don't need a megaphone to sound louder than him."
Biting back a reply, Meryl pulled up her suitcase and charged out front angrily, her suitcase bashing innocent people this way and that as she swung it back and forth wildly. She huffed up to the motel and disappeared through the doors. Wolfwood sighed.
"She's never going to loosen up, is she, big girl?"
Milly blinked.
"What? Me?"
Wolfwood shook his head with a laugh.
"Nonon. You're the most loose girl I've met for a while. It's the short girl I'm talking about."
"Sempai? Oh, she's not always like that."
At that, Vash and Wolfwood began to howl with laughter. Milly frowned slightly.
"Now, please. She's really not."
They stopped laughing and caught their breath. Vash looked at Milly with an amused expression.
"Oh, really? Then what's she usually like? Worse than that?"
"She's usually a lot lighter than this. Less stiffer."
"I haven't met a stiffer one than her."
Wolfwood said over his shoulder as he set to taking his cross off the roof of the bus.
"Like, she's always wired up."
He landed back down to ground and slung his cross over his back. Milly nodded lightly.
"That's because she's tired. You know - lots of stress, but no relief of sleep. I don't think she slept a wink last night."
A look of confusion passed over Vash's face. Wolfwood laughed.
"That's because I took her place. Hehe."
He winked at Milly.
"You're really comfy. But I guess you're just a tad bit bony for her, eh Vash?"
Vash raised a skeptic eyebrow.
"Uh huh."
Wolfwood flicked the bridge of Vash's nose with a grin.
"Just kidding. I bet just the thought of having to sit next to you kept her up. Oh, the horror of it all!"
He laughed as Vash attempted to whap him, dodging his attempts and eventually hiding behind Milly.
"Oh. She was awake before me, so maybe you're right."
Milly said. Vash opened his mouth to protest, but he saw that Milly wasn't serious. So he just grinned.
"Let's go. I need to refill my water bottle. I'm parched!"
"We'll meet in the motel, right?"
Wolfwood prompted. Milly nodded and smiled happily.
She sang.
"Okay, okay."
Vash picked up his bag and set off towards a store with Wolfwood following as Milly took her luggage towards the motel.

*last night*

Meryl came out of the bathroom. She was not in a good mood. Her spirits were considerably dampened by the fact that a sandstorm raged outside. She was looking forward to resting her tired and rigid bones today. She trudged into the back of the bus only to find that Wolfwood had, once again, taken her space, leaving her no choice but to sit next to Vash.
She sighed and sat down next to Vash. Just as she did, the lights flickered and died out. The bus came to an abrupt stop. Sounds of dismay and surprise rose up, but the bus driver got their attention by shouting.
"The engine probably got affected by the sand storm, along with the other motors hanging at the back. I'll go and fix it, but it'll mean around 4 to 5 hours of delay. I'm awfully sorry about this folks."
Murmurs of 'it's okay' and 'we don't mind' passed about before quieting down again. Soon, the only sounds that filled the bus was of the occasional tinkering of the bus-driver at the back, and the sand violently lashing against the windows, although the sound was muffled.
Soft breathing and snores filled the bus, and Wolfwood and Milly were once again sleeping leaning against each other.
As for Meryl, she felt like a board. As to say, she felt stiff. She didn't like sitting next to Vash; she only felt uncomfortable. People around the bus were able to lean against each other with ease and sleep with peaceful hearts; she felt the distinct awkwardness of leaning into Vash. It would feel so weird. She felt like he was the type to look at her as though she was lice or something before shoving her off.
But Meryl could feel her muscles and bones aching. She heard everyone deeply sleeping, and let out a sigh. She chanced a glance to her right, where Vash was quietly looking outside the window, leaning against his hand and looking outside the window.
'He's sleeping already?'
She thought. For some reason, she felt disappointed. She looked down onto her knees, and set her hands against it. She hadn't slept in the past two days of the bus trip, all because of Wolfwood. He kept taking her place, today being the third time, and she just couldn't bring herself to sleep while she was sitting next to Vash.
There was only one way Meryl felt she could sleep in comfort without having the window seat, which was to lean against Vash, which she really didn't want to do. She tried to sleep in her current position, and failed miserably. She leaned backwards and tried resting her head into her arms using the back of the seat as a rest. Her neck began to ache. She turned around, and pressed her forehead onto her arms and laid them against her knees. She waited. Her back began to pain.
She thought about just staying up again.
Meryl looked around the bus quietly. She needed something to do, something to think about. Her eyes darted around, and found the window. The sand was beating against it. She didn't want to think about the weather, and abandoned the idea.
Her eyelids were growing heavier.
She tried to think of something else, and her eyes fell upon her file. She couldn't very well start typing out her next few insurance paper reports. She discarded that idea as well and felt her eyes grow even heavier.
Meryl thought. She wanted to sleep, but she couldn't. She just couldn't...
'This is getting annoying.'
Vash thought. He let out an arm and pulled Meryl into him. She was too tired and shocked by this action to speak or react. He kept an arm around her, and whispered,
"If you want to lean into me, just say so. Geez. It's so disconcerting to see someone try to sleep the way you do."
Meryl honestly wanted to back out and kick Vash out into the sandstorm but she was too tired. He was surprisingly very warm. She supposed his heat had something to do with his coat. Or maybe all guys were warm. She didn't know. She rested her cheek against him, and closed her eyes. The warmth and comfort almost swept her away into sleep immediately.
It was the first time Meryl had been allowed so close to Vash the Stampede. She could faintly hear his heartbeat from where she was. It made her own heart-beat quicken. Because no matter how much she acted like she hated Vash, her heart knew better. She cared for him deep inside. And she liked him. A lot.
She hastily shut out her thoughts for the moment. Half opening her eyes, she saw a bunch of buttons in front of her line of vision.
So many buttons.
Meryl lifted her hand up, and brought her hand to the buttons in view. She played with the thick black buttons fascinating her vision with her fingers, not particularly thinking much anymore.
Vash had been looking out the window, resting his chin in his other palm when he felt something tug in the middle of his coat. Looking down, he saw Meryl toying with his buttons. He found the motion very cute. A side he hadn't known or ever thought of Meryl. Mm.
"Why didn't you sleep for the past two days?"
Vash whispered.
"How... do you know?"
She murmured, most of what she said getting absorbed into Vash's coat.
He felt her warm breath through the coat and wondered why he felt so relaxed at the moment. It should've been the opposite; he'd only let her lean in so that they could both sleep at least once during the whole bus trip. Which reminded him.
"I haven't been able to sleep much either. You emitt too much tension."
Meryl's fingers closed around a single button and she closed her eyes.
"Sorry. Thanks."
She mumbled. Then she let sleep sweep her away into her own realm of dreams.
Vash found the arm draped around Meryl automatically wrap more closely around her. Her head rested just below his collar.
'Man, she is small.'
Then, soon after the thought, Vash sank a little lower and lightly rested against Meryl himself.
'Not bad.'
He mused. He was feeling a sense of calm and peace he hadn't felt for a long, long time. Seeing Meryl's sleeping face made Vash feel somewhat guilty.
He knew she was - slowly, yes, but surely - falling deeper and deeper into love with him. Just as he'd taken her into his half-embrace, he'd felt her heart-beat go faster. Strangely enough, so had his. He wasn't used to doing this sort of thing, he supposed.
However, he knew that he wasn't used to it because he didn't do it all the time - for a good reason. He didn't want anyone to get too attatched to him. He didn't want anyone to like him enough to call him a friend. But it was too late already. He knew this.
Then he felt her snuggle a little into him, and rest a hand onto his knee, the other still clasped around one of his coat buttons.
He was at first surprised she was awake, but then realised she was asleep. The missing '-san' proved it to be simply sleep-talk.
'Dammit, she dreams about me?? Crap...'
He could have cursed out aloud. He had no idea what Meryl saw in him, but he knew one thing; it was going to get deeper.
'Rem... what would you want me to do?'
He thought. He looked down at Meryl's sleeping form before looking up again.
Her reply was through his heart.
He felt his heartbeat in himself. He could hear it even, since it was so quiet in the bus. It was pounding faster. Closing his eyes, he wondered... and finally thought,
'I give up!'
He shut out his dark thoughts for the moment, and just felt Meryl's gentle rise and fall beneath his arm, her breath gently filtering through his coat. He closed his eyes and joined the rest of the bus, sleeping for once, in peace.