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20 June 2007 @ 12:26 pm
[Trigun] Complimentary (NC-17) with fadingembers  
Vash/Meryl. NC-17. Crack, fluff and zomgdrama mixed in a blender. Written with fadingembers.

Going back to the well of old fics to put them up here, mostly just to have a single spot where all of my fic that I'm not too embarrassed about can be found, not so much for new comments. I remember this one being a lot of fun to write. It's pretty silly. It'd have to be, since we were poking fun at the "hotel mix-up" setup for pr0n. I could probably read this and see a thousand things I'd fix today, but you've got to move on. :)

Vash stared at his hotel bed. After a long day of eluding both bounty hunters and the insurance girls' incessant demands that he help them complete their paperwork, he had been dying for a nice, soft bed. Technically, he'd gotten what he'd wanted. However, when he'd opened the door to his room, he had not expected that a complimentary Meryl would come in the bed. "Um...am I in the wrong room?" he asked tentatively.

She shot him a look. "Yeah. I'd say that. Besides, I thought I had locked that door..."

His cheeks colored. "Sorry." He pulled his wallet out of his coat pocket to check the registration stub. "Weird, it's the same number...let me call the front desk."

Meryl sighed. Vash accidentally walking into her room like this almost felt like the beginnings of some dirty story. Coughing and blushing, she just as quickly dismissed the idea. She didn't think of the pointy-haired idiot like that. No way. Of course not. She didn't even like him. When he hung up the phone, she stretched and sat up. "Okay, so what did they say the problem was? You look at your stub upside down?"

His expression was very peculiar. "No..." he said slowly. "No, they mixed up our bookings. The desk clerk gave us the single room and Milly the double."

Meryl snorted. "That figures. I knew that kid looked incompetent. Why in the world would they book us together?"

He shrugged. "I guess we just look like a couple."

"A what?" She choked back a laugh. "Well, why don't you just go to Milly's room and send her back here? It's an easily correctable mistake."

"Have you actually seen Milly lately?" he asked.

She shook her head. "No. She went out with some of the locals earlier."

"Right," he nodded. "Last I saw her, she was staggering into her room completely plotzed. You know how she gets. She's not moving until morning. So, that means..."

She stared at him in disbelief. "You'd better not be saying what I think you're saying..."

"...we have to share a room," he finished.

She willed the vein in her forehead not to burst. As it was, she kept it down to a visible pulse. "Fine."

Cursing Milly and Vash and the kid at the front desk and the alcohol and Bernardelli, she left the bed and stormed to the closet. Throwing the door open, Meryl reached for the top shelf, only to find it too high.

Vash was behind her. "What are you trying to get?"

She snarled. "There's another pillow and a blanket up there."

"You could've just asked me to get them."

"Yes, but it's much more effective if I get them myself, then throw them at you."

He frowned. "It's nice to know you're making the best of the situation."

"What do you expect me to do?" She shot back.

"Well, you could be more polite about it." Ignoring the gnashing of her teeth, he reached over her head for the spare linens. "Are you sure these will be warm enough for you on the floor?"

"Excuse me?" She shoved the blanket away when he tried to hand them to her. "This is my room! I'm not sleeping on the floor!"

"Hey, it's my room too, and my back is killing me! I need the bed!"

And so the staring contest began.

Each put on their poutiest face, their saddest face, their angriest face, their scariest face. Jaws jutted and growls were exchanged.

But the desire for rest won out in the end.

"Fine!" Meryl huffed, grabbing them from him. She dropped the pillow as far away from the bed as possible, then attempted to lay out the blanket like a sleeping bag, half of the sheet under her, half acting as a cover.

He sat down on the real bed slowly as she curled up in the corner, facing the wall and not moving. This gave him a chance to exchange his coat and bodysuit for his comfortable gray and black pajamas without being yelled at for being a pervert, but something was nagging at him. The bed looked large and comfortable; the floor was hard and cold. He sighed. "Get up."

"I'm fine. Go to sleep." Her voice floated across the room.

"Look, the bed is wide. There's plenty of room for both of us. You don't need to sleep on the floor," he argued.

She sat up and turned to look at him incredulously. "What? You really think I'm going to share a bed with a pervert like you?"

He held up his hands in the classic cease-fire position. "I'm not trying to pull anything. It's just not fair for you to have an uncomfortable night when it's the hotel's fault. There's plenty of room in the bed, and I don't move much in my sleep. You won't even know I'm there."

Her expression wavered and to Vash's amazement, she seemed to be considering his offer. "Well..."

A balance appeared in her mind's eye, weighing her options. Warm bed, good. Sharing warm bed with crazy, accident-prone lecher, bad. Sleeping on floor, bad.

She sighed. "Dammit. I get the left side, though." She picked up her pillow and stood. He still hadn't responded.

Looking up at him, she found his eyes to be as wide as dinner plates. "What?"

"I- I- I didn't think you'd actually say yes...It was more of a courtesy... You actually want to..."

She shot him the dirtiest, most evil glare she had, and Vash jumped back a foot.

"Rightside'sfineforme."

"Good." She pushed past him and climbed into bed. "Good night." She curled up on the pillow and closed her eyes. After a few moments, she heard Vash whimper and climb in on the other side.

They both lay there for a while, very aware of the other's positions, tension keeping them stiff as boards. Meryl kept waiting for him to make some stupid remark that she could whack him for. After a while, though, his breathing grew deep and even and she managed to relax.

Vash smelled really good.

Her eyes flew open and she had to stop herself from squeaking in surprise. Where the hell had that come from?

Nonetheless, it was true. She loudly sniffed the air to make sure it was him. Nothing from the direction of the window. The scent wasn't from the blankets. Rolling over to face his side, she tried one last time.

Dear God, it was him. No, it couldn't be him. It was something he ate. It was something he wore. However, another test in his direction proved that she just couldn't place what he smelled like.

He smelled...warm. He smelled like a bakery. He smelled like candy, like something sweet and safe.

Meryl decided she was officially insane. She was sharing a bed with the most wanted man on the planet, and thought he smelled like a teddy bear. She groaned and rubbed her eyes with the heels of her palms.

"Oh man, don't tell me she snores..." Vash muttered.

She frowned at his back. She was tempted to take a swing at him for his rudeness, but that would not be conducive to sleep and she didn't feel like starting this whole ordeal over again. She closed her eyes and resolved to fall asleep quickly, no matter how good he smelled.

After a while, Vash rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. While his back was feeling a lot better, he no longer felt like going to sleep. At least Meryl didn't seem to be having that problem. As long as she was awake, he feared going to sleep in case he accidentally broke into her personal space bubble and got a knot on the head as a result. He turned his head to look at her. She lay precisely on her side of the bed, no closer to him than she had to be. Her eyes were closed and her face relaxed.

She looked beautiful.

Maybe he had never seen her when she wasn't upset about something. Maybe he had never seen her when she wasn't concentrating on work. Maybe he had never seen her when she wasn't lost in thought.

Or maybe he hadn't taken the proper time to look at her.

Because now, while she slept, she was beautiful.

Her mouth was open only slightly, her front teeth resting on her lower lip. Her eyes were closed, her often furrowed brow relaxed. He admitted to himself that he had always liked her eyes. They always sparkled with such expression. That expression was usually that of anger, but it was such a lively anger.

She shifted only slightly in her sleep, and shivered. He smiled, and brushed a piece of hair out of her eyes.

In response, she smiled, too. Then she promptly grabbed the blankets and yanked them to her side of the bed.

"Hey!" he yelled.

In response, she just murmured something incoherent and curled up in the blankets. Vash just blinked. Was she still asleep? "Hello…?" he whispered. Nothing. Amazing. Well, it was good that she wasn't awake to smack him for yelling...but now he was cold.

He tugged at the blankets gently, but even in sleep her grip was strong. "Shit," he grumbled. He tried rolling her over a bit to create some slack, but she just clutched the covers closer.

He pondered his options. Spend the night on a nice bed completely awake and cold, or try and snuggle close to her and risk dismemberment if she woke up.

Hey, what was life without a little risk? And smoothly as he could, he moved to her side of the bed and pulled what little blanket he could over his body. He and Meryl were now practically nose-to-nose.

Meryl was lost in sleep, warm and happy. But she just couldn't get comfortable. Trying to find a good place for her arm, she stretched and threw out an arm.

Vash gulped when that arm landed right around him.

"Pleasedon'tkillmepleasedon'tkillme..." His plea seemed to have worked, for she did just the opposite: Meryl smiled and pulled herself closer to him. He didn't know whether to be nervous or relieved.

He should have chosen nervous. Three-point-seven seconds later, Meryl's eyes popped open and she looked up at him.

Vash grinned. "In my defense, you grabbed on to me."

"Well--maybe, but--" she sputtered. "Why are you over here, anyways? You said you didn't move around when you were asleep!"

"I didn't, you did," he pointed out. "You grabbed all the covers and wouldn't let go, so I had no choice but to come over here if I wanted to be warm."

She opened her mouth to respond angrily, then stopped. "Oh," she said. "I...sorry." Belatedly, she realized that her arm was still around him. Immediately, she fought back a blush. Move, she scolded herself. You look like an idiot. Her body didn't seem to want to listen to her; in fact, it was telling her that it felt fine where she was. Moreover, Vash didn't seem to be in any hurry to move away.

They were close enough to feel each other's breath on their lips. Despite the warmth, Meryl's body froze on her, not allowing her to move away. It struck her just how handsome he was, how his eyes drew her in and refused to let her go, how his thin lips were so inviting.

Vash broke the silence. "So."

She couldn't think of anything to say to that other than, "So."

"So. Are you going to give me the blanket back or not?"

"Oh. Right. Sorry. Again."

"If you don't want to, it's okay. I mean, your side of the bed is warmer..." He gave that nervous grin again.

"Um." Her mind went blank for a second. "Well, it might be better. I'll probably just end up grabbing it again. I guess...stay if you want to."

He raised an eyebrow. "So you trust me not to try anything?"

I don't trust myself. The words came unbidden to her mind. "Please, like I can't handle things if you do."

"All right then. Goodnight." He closed his eyes.

"Goodnight." Meryl's arm still hadn't moved.

Much to her surprise, Vash's arm did. He wrapped it around her, mimicking her position. Her face turned a shade of bright red.

Sensing her embarrassment, Vash said, "Well, this just makes everything equal, right? I can't let you take advantage of me while I sleep!"

Meryl gaped. "Take ad-- Why you little--"

He opened his eyes to look at her. There was that energy he had been thinking of before. He could only smile while she verbally berated him, and could only silence her with a kiss.

They pulled away from each other as if burned. Meryl spoke. "What was that for?"

"Well, um, trying to sleep. Had to shut you up somehow."

"Oh, thanks. That's a good thing to know. You're such an ass sometimes."

"Maybe I'm only like that because you're so rude to me all of the time!"

Of course, none of these remarks stopped them from kissing again.

She pulled away after a little longer this time. She was certain she’d felt a bit of tongue. “Okay, seriously, what was that?”

His eyes sparkled. “You know what they say. Once is an accident, twice is coincidence, three times is—“

“Oh, shut up.” She grabbed him and kissed him again, and this time she didn’t pull away. While the first two kisses had been gentle, the third was much hungrier. Meryl wrapped her arms around his neck, and his hand wandered across her, finally resting at the base of her spine. For an instant, she had the thought that maybe this wasn't the most sensible thing she'd ever done, but Vash took that moment to deepen the kiss and she abandoned rational thought completely. She pulled herself closer so that their bodies pressed together from head to foot. Well, more like head to foot to knee, with her height. He was warm and soft--she felt like she couldn't get close enough. Continuing to kiss him until they were both breathless, she hooked a bare ankle over his clothed legs.

Meryl pulled back to catch her breath, and Vash took the opportunity to place a kiss at the nape of her neck, running a hand down the offered leg. When he heard her breathing return to normal (normal for the situation, at least), his tongue sped up her neck and over her chin as their lips met again. His hand made a similar motion, sliding up her leg before resting on her upper thigh.

She wished he had done this all of the other times she told him to shut up.

She breathed his scent in and was just about to move her hands somewhere else on his body when he pulled away suddenly. She practically gasped at the sudden lack of contact. "Wha-what's wrong?" she stammered, scared that he'd suddenly decided to reject her. He looked away. "Vash?" She moved closer to touch his shoulder, their legs still entwined, when she felt a conspicuous hardness against her.

"We shouldn't...I'm sorry. I shouldn't have..." He swallowed; when had his throat gotten so dry?

Meryl's bottom lip quivered. Why had he stopped? Why was he pushing her away? What had she done?

She didn't know whether to cry or beat the shit out of him.

"Why are you apologizing?" He was silent. She grabbed his chin and forced him to make eye contact. "Tell me. Please."

He looked her in the eyes, and there was something horribly sad and yearning and scared in his. “This…isn’t right. It’s too easy to get caught up in a situation like this. I can’t take advantage of you like this.”

“Take advantage of me?” She barely held back a snort. “I’m not some delicate flower, you know. Vash do you really think you could have done any of that if I didn’t want you to?”

Mutely, he shook his head.

“I’m not some hormone-driven teenager, either,” she added. “I may not have planned this, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want it. That doesn’t make it bad.” She took his hand and kissed it, wondering where this brazenness was coming from. Probably from wherever you’ve been hiding what you’ve known all along, Meryl. “Do you want me?” she asked.

For a moment, he was silent and she thought she’d die. Then “Yes,” he breathed.

“Then it’s okay,” she whispered.

"Okay," he whispered.

She guided his hand back to her leg. Cradling her head with the other hand, he kissed her again, a gentle touch that belied their frantic actions a few moments ago. Meryl tugged at the hem of his shirt, trying to pull it up and off of him. After too much fumbling on both of their parts, he growled, pulled away, and tossed it to the floor. When he turned his face back to her, she almost melted at the passion and lust in his eyes.

The passion and lust lasted about four seconds before his countenance changed to a mischievous grin. "Your turn! Off with the shirt!"

She smiled and slowly undid every button, keeping eye contact with him the entire time. Meryl almost enjoyed watching his expression falter. Vash tried to stay cool, but a nervous blush was growing on his cheeks. As she shrugged the shirt off, she leaned forward to kiss him.

He surprised her by pushing her away again. Before she could scream her frustration at his “chivalry,” she realized what he was doing.

He was looking at her. All of her.

She felt herself grow warmer under his gaze and resisted the urge to cover herself. Of course, the desire and appreciation evident on his face made that a bit easier. He didn’t make any cheesy clichéd comments about how beautiful she was without those pesky clothes, but with the look on his face, he didn’t need to.

After a few moments, he leaned forward to kiss the spot where her neck met her shoulder. As he moved his kisses towards her ear, he slid a hand up to cup her face, then moved the caress down to her breast, kissing and nibbling at her all the while. She shivered and leaned into his touch. It both relaxed her and increased a different kind of tension; however, it wasn’t long before she craved something more substantial.

She ran one teasing finger around his waist, feeling the tiny sensitive hairs there prick up at her attention. Meryl waited until he had become accustomed to the sensation before easing her hand down the front of his pants. Her middle finger traced the fine line between his hip and his thigh.

The last thing she expected him to do was giggle.

"What was that?" she asked. Was he...laughing at her?

He stopped, laughing, confused. "I don't know..."

She repeated her action and he giggled louder. "Stop that, it tickles!"

Meryl sighed. "Of course it would." A wicked grin crossed her face as she watched him chuckle, and she shoved her hand between his legs and grabbed him. His laughing ended on a squeak as his mouth gaped and his eyes widened.

"That tickle?" He shook his head slowly. "All right, then."

She ran her hand leisurely up and down the length of him, pausing to swirl her fingers around the tip. A little noise escaped his throat, halfway between a choke and a whimper. She squeezed him a little and he thrust up against her hand, then looked embarrassed at his lack of control. “Sorry,” he said.

“It’s fine,” she murmured. “I don’t think this is quite going to work like this, though.”

“Mmm. I think you’re right.”

Reluctantly, he slid away from her and off the bed and she watched with interest as he shed his pajama bottoms. He crawled back onto the bed and she welcomed him with an embrace, skin-to-skin this time, and a deep, hot kiss. Slowly, he maneuvered them so he was more on top of her and pulled his lips away from hers. “You know,” he muttered, “You’re still wearing too much.”

Meryl shoved him to the side, rolling them to a position where she was on top. "Sounds like a bit of a problem. What do you expect to do about it?"

"Me? Hey, I took off all my clothes, you have to do yours. It's only fair. Besides, your weird girly clothes are complicated."

"What? How is underwear complicated?"

"I've heard stories...all your strange clasps and hooks and multiple thingies. Don't think I don't know."

"Considering what you normally wear, I'd assume that clasps and buckles and 'thingies' wouldn't be a problem for you."

Vash shot her a look. "Fine. You win. I’ll fix the situation." He sat up, knocking her onto her back, then hovering above her. Meryl gave a surprised cry, which was silenced with a kiss. Driving two fingers under the hem of her underwear, he pulled them off. "Much better," he whispered into her mouth. He tossed them away and continued to kiss her. Once again, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close against her. As they kissed, he ran his hand up her leg, lightly stroking the inside of her thigh.

Meryl rolled onto her back, pulling Vash on top of her. She reveled in the sensation of his body weight pressing down on her. Her fingers traced a twisted line down his back before settling a hand on his ass, the other hand running its fingers through his soft hair.

Vash's hand was making an excruciatingly slow slide up her thigh. She knew he was taking forever to tease her, he had to be. She resisted the overwhelming urge to just grab his hands and put them where she wanted them.

Picking up on her frustration, his hand moved to her lips, gently running a finger between them. Underneath him, she let out a gasp. "Was that a good sound or a bad sound?" he murmured.

"Why don't you try it again and find out?" She bit her lip to keep from crying out as he did just that. He stroked the center of her warmth with two fingers lazily. Maddeningly, he kept them in a circular motion just around where she wanted him most.

“How does that feel?” he asked, and dragging her eyes up to his face, she saw a look of deep concentration. He moved his fingers softly, not wanting to hurt her.

“Good,” she breathed. “You can go a little harder—mmm…” She sighed with pleasure as his fingertips brushed the right spot, then clutched at his shoulders and jerked her hips towards him as he slipped a finger inside her.

A second finger joined the first, softly stroking her inside, while his thumb searched again for that spot. Watching his face again, she couldn't suppress a small giggle.

He stopped all movement. "Don't tell me you're ticklish, too..."

She shook her head. "You look so deep in thought. Don't be so serious. I promise there won't be a test on me later on."

He pouted. "I'm just trying to do my best for you, you know."

Meryl lifted herself up slightly and kissed him. "Trust me, you're doing fine. Fabulous. Great. Are all outlaws like this, or are you just special?"

"I'm not a regular outlaw, I'll have you know. What other criminals go around spouting 'love and peace'?" Upon saying the words, the two fingers inside her habitually moved into a crossed position.

Meryl's eyes crossed and widened and she dropped onto her back. He started to pull away, but she launched a death grip onto his wrist. "Don't. Stop."

"Anything you say," he whispered, resuming his motions.

A moment later, she stopped his hand with a gentler touch. "Though maybe we should stop...You can't do that forever..." Her fingers wandered to his member and traced around the edge of the head. She closed them around it and gave it the faintest tug towards her, careful not to hurt him.

He moved closer to her then stopped. “Scoot back,” he murmured, and she repositioned herself so that her head was back on the pillows once more. She spread her knees further apart to make room for him, and he crawled between them. Taking each of her hands in his own, he brought them to rest on either side of her head.

Her breath quickened as he gazed down at her. There was no going back after this; they were at the point of no return, ready to cross the line in the sand, turning a corner in their relationship, and a hundred other clichés. She smiled at him and tilted her head up receptively as he leaned in with a gentle kiss.

Vash slowly entered her, trying to be as gentle as possible. Meryl arched into him, biting her lip so she only let out a soft moan. It's been a while, eh, Meryl? her thoughts chuckled.

His head dropped between her shoulder and her neck and he let out a rush of warm breath on her skin. "You all right?" Meryl asked.

His mouth had lost all connection to his brain. The most coherent statement he could make was, "Feels...nice..."

Vash's mind was swimming. Everything felt warm. He was in danger of drifting away on that feeling, when Meryl put a hand on his cheek and turned his face in her direction. Giving him a light kiss, she thrust her hips towards him, drawing him deeper into her.

Vash purred. Placing his hands on the curve of her hips, he moved in and out of her as slowly as possible, still wondering if he would hurt her, or if she would like what he was doing at all.

He decided that the fact that she was close to biting her lip off was a good sign, and thrust faster into her. Meryl cried out before grabbing the pillow next to her and covering her face with it.

Vash stopped. "Are you okay?" He had never seen Meryl lose control like she had in that brief second.

She lifted up the pillow. "What do you think?" The look on her face added, "you broom-haired idiot." There was the Meryl he knew.

"Just thought I'd ask," he whispered before driving himself deep within her. Underneath the pillow, a happy Meryl sound could be faintly heard. He was close to whimpering himself at how good this felt. Her warmth and wetness surrounded him and he thrust into her harder, trying to bury himself in her as much as he could. He wanted to stop for a moment and savor this intimacy, the closest he’d ever been to another person, but way she wrapped her legs around his hips let him know that to do so would be a Very Bad Thing.

As he pumped into her rhythmically, he heard another moan from beneath the pillow and decided that it needed to go; he wanted to see her face. Slowing the movements of his hips, he gently removed her hands from the pillow and kissed each palm, then moved down the inside of her right arm. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around his neck and he took the opportunity to nudge the pillow out of the way.

Her face was flushed and her eyes pinched shut. He kissed up her neck as he moved into her, and she grasped him closer. “Talk to me,” he murmured. “Tell me what you feel.”

“I--can’t,” she choked, and bit back another cry as he rocked his hips against her sharply.

“Yes, you can,” he breathed, and let loose a low moan of his own as she flexed her inner muscles. “Please…for me…I want to hear you.”

"I--I feel...Dammit, I can't think of words right now!"

"Try anyway. Just words now. Sentences later."

If she hadn't known better, she'd think he was teasing her. But he wasn't. He really was thinking of her. He wanted to know how she felt. He wanted to know what to do for her. He really wanted more than for her to lie flat on her back while he enjoyed himself.

"Why aren't more men like you?" she thought aloud.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Flying." A choked sound escaped her throat as she threw back her head. "I feel...almost weightless. Like...the clouds. I'm with the clouds."

Vash almost completely withdrew, holding her back as her body instinctively followed him. "Like there's nothing else in the world," he sighed, pushing himself in at an excruciating pace before resuming his faster speed. "Anything else?" His voice was beginning to crack, as he felt his blood rushing through his body.

"Yes. I-- I--" Meryl's breath was coming in short gasps. She was repeating one word; exhaling it over and over. Vash had to put his ear to her mouth to find out what it was.

"Faster." Her tongue darted through his earring to lick the underside of his ear. "Faster. Please...oh, God, faster..."

"I was thinking much the same thing," left Vash's mouth as a grunted "uh-huh," accompanied by a timid nibble to her nape. Moaning, he felt her hand run through his hair and push him closer to her neck. As he took deeper bites, his hips were rocking as fast as he could move them.

Meryl's senses were abandoning her. Her sight was unfocused (when her eyes weren't shut), and her ears could only pick up the sound of her heart pumping, which was getting progressively louder. Her mouth felt dry, and licking her lips offered no comfort to the bruise she knew would appear on them tomorrow morning. The only thing she could do was feel. She felt him lying on top of her, pumping inside her, one hand on her buttock, one on her breast, his tongue and teeth working their way over her neck and shoulder. She was feeling so much she thought her head might burst. She could barely breathe, but air didn’t seem to be very important at the moment.

A curious shiver ran down her spine and then everything seemed to stop as she clamped her legs around his hips, refusing to let him withdraw even a little. She arched up against him until it felt like her back might break. Her mind no longer registered the feel of the mattress beneath them. She really was flying, all the warmth and sensation she was capable of having rushed to the single point in her body where they were connected. She thrust against him helplessly, nonsensically, knowing only that he was inside her and with her and god, it felt like dying and being reborn at the same time. There was a thundering noise in her ears and beyond it she could dimly hear herself calling his name. “Vash…Vash…” He groaned against her ear and all she could do was clutch him to her and try to become one with him until this incredibly free rush ended and she floated to earth again.

Vash had no idea Meryl had such a grip. One moment, she was holding on to him as if she could never let go, and the next, her body completely relaxed, only her arms still hanging around his neck. It almost seemed like she was done.

But for all intents and purposes, she didn't want him to stop.

He kept pumping, her climax only adding to the heat and moistness inside. Dizzy with pleasure, his movements were purely instinctual, logical thought processes thrown out the window. Nothing in the world felt like what he felt now, his body hyper-sensitive to the slightest touch, the slightest movement.

The strong arms that held him up were suddenly wavering under his own weight. His lungs felt on fire, his breathing turned to short gasps. He never wanted to stop feeling like this. Despite the intense heat, a shiver ran over his body. He licked a bead of sweat off of his upper lip as he felt his body start to lose complete control.

Vash's lips pressed together and an "M" sound escaped his throat. He continued the noise, slowly adding another syllable to it as he squeezed his eyes shut. "Meh-- Meh--" He could feel himself on the edge of release, ready to fill her with himself. He almost wanted to deny himself his climax, wanting to be with her, inside her, feeling her forever.

Meryl's hands clamped around his ass as she thrust him into her as hard as she could. Vash's arms finally gave out on him as a rush screamed through his body. His green eyes opened as wide as they could as he whispered, "Meryl..." before collapsing onto her.

His arms wrapped around her, and his head nestled against the base of her neck. She gave a short laugh. "Maybe the incompetent kid at the front desk knew what he was doing, after all."

He snorted in reply. Conversation halted as they each waited to come down off of their respective highs.

After a while, she sighed happily and stroked his hair. “That was new.”

He frowned up at her. “Well, I should hope so, unless I’ve been missing something…”

“Not that, you dork.” She knocked her first against his temple lightly. “You’ve never said my name before. I think I like it when you say it like that.” More time passed, both of them lost in their own thoughts, before she spoke again. “Um, Vash?”

“Mmm?” He blinked rapidly, trying to free himself from the post-orgasmic blur of warm soft comfy happy...

“Don’t take this the wrong way, but can you move? You’re crushing me.”

“Oh, sorry!” He immediately rolled onto his side without letting go of her, essentially reversing their positions as he held her against him, her head just below his neck. He took the opportunity to place a kiss on her forehead.

She rested her hand on his sternum, then traced it up the other side of his neck. “I can feel your heartbeat.”

“Good to know it’s still working.”

“It’s beating so fast.” She relaxed as he tightened his arms around her. “Vash?”

“Yes?”

“Never mind. It’s nothing.”

"It’s been my experience that ’nothing’ is girl-talk for ’something.’ What did you want to say?"

Meryl sighed. She felt so strange. She wasn’t the sort of person to do this sort of thing. She was logical. She planned everything out.

So who was this impulsive woman in the arms of a criminal?

The part of her that needed to keep everything under control was surfacing again. The question was most definitely a mood-breaker, but she had to know. "Now what?"

He shrugged. "Sleep? I mean, we were both really tired before all of this, and now I’m even more tired because--"

"Vash, stop." His mouth, open in mid-sentence, snapped shut. "You know what I mean."

Unfortunately, he knew all too well what she meant.

"Well, as great as this was, it doesn’t mean we’re together, because I’ll still tell you to keep away from me because I’m a danger to you. So...it was fun...BYE!"

"Hey, funny story - uh, I’m not actually entirely human, you see. I’m a plant. Yeah, those things in the huge bulbs are my brothers and sisters. Can’t believe it slipped my mind until now! Well, that leaves me with some awesome power, and I’m pretty sure I destroyed the city of July all those years ago, so stay away from me because you never know when the next city’ll go boom!"

"Now we are an inseparable couple, totally devoted to each other! We will show our devotion by staying as far away from each other as possible, until I’ve hunted down the man who is ultimately responsible for July. Don’t worry about keeping dinner warm."

Vash sighed and tried to decide what he should actually say. “I don’t know.” Well, that was certainly eloquent. “Like you said before, this wasn’t planned, but…I mean, I didn’t really…” He tried again. “What do you think?”

“I don’t know, either,” she admitted rather sheepishly after a long moment. “I never expected this to happen. But I do…care about you, Vash.” She wanted to slap herself for the irrational hesitancy in her own voice. She was lying naked in his arms; it was a little late to worry about revealing what she felt.

To her surprise, he squeezed her once then tilted her chin upwards with his hand. “Me, too,” he whispered, and kissed her.

She responded to his touch, placing one hand on the back of his head to bring him closer to her. After the kiss ended, she blinked in surprise at the suspicious glitter in his eyes. “Vash, are you crying?”

“No,” he lied, and moved to rest his cheek against her soft hair. “Just tired. I think…we should just take this one step at a time. Not rush into anything. Well, anything more.”

"That sounds good to me," she said drowsily, sleep beginning to overtake her in the warmth of his embrace. Against her will, she yawned. "Sorry."

"Don't be." He reached out to pull the blanket more snugly around them. "Go to sleep. I promise I'll be here in the morning."

"You had better be," she whispered, resting her head on his chest. Within a few minutes, Meryl was fast asleep, her lips curved in a small smile.

The tears he had been fighting back burst forth when her steady breathing assured him of her slumber. What have you done, you idiot? kept coursing through his head. He couldn't deny his feelings for her anymore, and that could only lead to disaster for the both of them.

She had said she cared about him. How could she? Could she really want him, when she knew so little about him? What would she say when he told her about himself? About his past?

She'd be frightened. She'd be disgusted. She'd run away from him as fast as she could.

A bitter laugh echoed through his mind. Isn't that what you've wanted her to do?

He couldn't deny it. But he didn't want her to leave on these terms. Now it was infinitely more personal.

He thought of sneaking away that night, but he didn't have it in him to be that cruel. He also knew it would accomplish nothing. She and Milly would just be back on his trail tomorrow, Meryl ready to kill him.

Vash sighed, assessing the situation in his head. He had let someone in to his life. No matter how much he pushed her away now, they would still be bound somehow; he could never completely shut her out. If he ran away, she would be a presence in his mind always. He'd see her in another woman's face, hear her in someone else's voice.

"What am I supposed to do?” he murmured to the night. Rem, with her immeasurable philosophy, had never gotten to the lesson about how to push a woman away after bedding her. In fact, he mused, Rem would probably be very disappointed with him at this moment.

Meryl's question rang through his ears. "Now what?"

With her in his arms, he tried to think of a real answer until sleep finally overtook him.

***

It was light that dragged a reluctant Vash into unwelcome consciousness. The room was far brighter than he’d last remembered. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to ignore it, but once the process of awakening had begun, there was no going back for him. He grumbled a little and rolled over, reaching out with one arm.

He touched only mattress.

“Mmph?” Vash raised his head and cracked his eyelids open. Beside him, there was only a crumpled sheet where a warm body should be. Completely awake now, he sat up and looked around. No Meryl.

She was gone. He sat there to digest this as the memories of the last nearly-sleepless night came flooding back to him. It had been wonderful…and incredibly stupid on his part. What was he going to say when he saw her? How could he possibly explain that even after last night, they couldn’t be together…he couldn’t pretend that he didn’t care about her, that making love with her had meant nothing. She’d see right through his lies.

Well. If she’d already left him, maybe he wouldn’t have to. Maybe she’d woken up to see him beside her and cringed away, horrified at what she’d done, then snuck away before he was aware. It didn’t seem like her to run from her mistakes, though.

He got up to pull on his pants and was sitting on the edge of the bed pondering things when he heard the door opening. He whipped his head around to look—and there she was, dressed and ready as she always was. She looked the same as she always did…and yet, to Vash’s eyes, very different. They stared at each other for a split second before her face melted into a soft smile. “Good morning,” she said. “Sorry I wasn’t here…I’m used to waking up early and you looked so peaceful I didn’t have the heart to wake you.”

He put on his best smile. “That’s all right. I don’t mind the chance to sleep in.” Almost involuntarily, he extended his hand and she took it, sitting beside him on the bed but not touching his otherwise. They sat together for a minute, neither saying anything.

“So where are we headed today?” Meryl ventured after a period of silence. “I mean, we do need to keep up on our reports and all.”

“Oh, right.” Vash’s mind floated back to reality. “Um, I was thinking of heading to Jeneora Rock.”

“All right. That sounds good.”

He looked at their joined hands. He knew what he had to do. This couldn’t go any further. But god, he didn’t want to let go.

“I didn’t tell Milly,” she said suddenly, and he looked at her face. A little pink, she continued. “I wanted to get our things to load in the car, and she was awake. I just told her there was a mistake with the rooms and that we had to share, but I didn’t say anything about…what happened.” He just stared, and she rushed to explain. “I’m not ashamed, Vash.” She leaned forward and wrapped her arms around him. Slowly, he moved his around her as well. “This is just all so unexpected. I was hoping we could just…keep it to ourselves…until it’s less strange?” She bit her lip. “Just for a little while.”

“Of course,” he murmured, resting his chin on her head. “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.” I don’t want to hurt you.

“Mmm.” He could feel her smile against his neck. “We should probably get going.”

“Yeah.”

Neither of them moved. They just leaned together, holding each other. Vash ran a hand down her back and stared into the distance. From where she sat, Meryl couldn’t see the tear that trickled down his cheek.