1996, 2011, January 2012

Disclaimer: I've finished this story three times. I think I'm done now. Based on the anime, no manga canon visible from here. Beta by elynross. Do not archive without permission.

dead man talking

What I like best is the quiet moments, really, after every frantic movement has ceased and the body's struggle is over and we're just lying there, and it's all silence and skin and peace between us. When I can feel him breathing against my shoulder, and the little realities of the world come trickling back in, a bird flying past outside the window, the sound of children laughing and running in the street.

That's not to say the sex is bad.

The first time was really awkward, though. Adrenaline and alcohol, and we're not really good at dealing with that, either of us, so we came together like fighting, gripping each other much too hard. Hell, neither one wanted to take his clothes off, because my skin's a roadmap to everything I've done and been in my life, and his is... Ah, I don't even have the words. So much more than that. His is a patchwork quilt where every stitch and every scar testifies to just how much he loves the world.

So it was awkward, yeah, grappling with each other, the desire barely stronger than the fear, and then washing up silently and separately in that poky little bathroom and going our silent and separate ways, and I'm sure he thought he'd never see me again.

Every time he's thought that, he's been wrong.

And the one time I thought that, I was wrong too. I mean, here I am.

It's all because of him. He makes things happen, things that should be impossible. He's the least dangerous man I've ever met. He's the most dangerous man I've ever met. He's not a man at all, but that's hard to remember when he wraps his long legs around my hips and laughs in sheer delight.

That's good, but what's even better is when I find a word or two that's just right, or the air at sunrise smells unexpectedly of flowers, and he'll smile, one of those real smiles, one that cuts my heart to the core, one that I'd walk barefoot from here to April City to see.

Sometimes it makes me kinda nervous, just thinking about how old he is, about everything he's seen and done. Thinking about what he is. Hell, he's not just older than anyone I've ever met, he's older than any building I've ever seen. He just grins and says, under the sky, looking up at the stars, we're all just children. Then he goes and plays dodgeball with the kids, ends up a big tangle of arms and legs and shrieks of laughter, wailing with fake pain and utter delight, and I shrug and go with him. It's just Vash. It's just the way he is.

Things haven't changed. This world is still dry and harsh and cruel to its settlers. His eyes are still the color of water, the color water is in my dreams.

I miss the girls. They were good company, the insurance girls; sweet and relentless. I think I owe Millie my sanity, and I definitely owe her my death, that I could do it, that it was a good one.

But they are where they are, they have a life that makes sense to them, and I have a life, which is more than I expected, and I have Vash, which is more than I deserve. I have him...well. Better to be honest. He has me, body and soul, and I wouldn't give that up for anything.

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