Shall We Dance?
Disclaimer/Notes: This is a fic for ChibiMonkey13! She's a kind reviewer, an awesome writer, and a spectacular person. And it's her birthday today! I wish I could send her bunches of hugs 'n candies and all the neatest stuff in the world, but all I can really do is write her a fic. Anyway, this is set in the anime episode Live Through, the night before Vash left. ChibiMonkey...I know I could never write VxM fluff as good as you, but I hope this is okay!
Night had long since swept the brilliant orange sunset away, leaving a starry night and three reluctant moons in its place. Vash knew; he'd counted. He wondered where the other two were hiding. At one point he'd bothered to calculate exactly when and where the moons would appear, their trajectory across the sky, their speed of orbit, and the speed of this planet's rotation...
But that had been a long time ago. He'd forgotten it all now. He supposed that space in his head had been taken up with more important things. Like how could donuts be made only from icky, sticky batter and sugar and still taste better than the last every time you ate one?
Some questions just didn't have answers. Besides, knowing all that stuff wasn't any fun. It was nice to be surprised every once in a while. After so long...there wasn't much that surprised him.
"Vash! So this is where you've been!"
He jumped. Okay, strike that. She surprised him all the time.
He looked up from the little booth in the corner of the bar, swiveling his head to meet her eyes. "Ah, you found me! Hiya, Insurance Girl!"
He gestured for her to take a seat in the worn bench across from him. Another mystery about her, another impending surprise: he never actually knew if she'd listen to him. She was like a coin that flipped sides from motherly to absolutely brutally businesslike every half-second.
She took the offered seat. She leaned forward onto the old, ratty table and mustered a very nice glare. "I don't suppose you have a good reason for being at a bar, alone, still not completely healed, and after the moons have risen? You know, it's very dangerous out there!"
"You're wrong," Vash said simply, flicking absently at a stray lock of hair that had just fallen into his eyes. Darn thing... "You just walked in, so I'm technically not alone. But the moons are pretty, aren't they?"
"But aren't they?" Vash leaned back in his seat and looked out the door. He'd chosen this one so he could see the sky from where he sat.
Meryl grudgingly nodded, resigned to being pulled into Vash's insanity.
"Have you ever danced?"
Meryl choked even though she wasn't drinking anything. Another thing Vash hadn't known was possible. "Danced? Excuse me? Did you drink too much, Vash?" Meryl looked at him like he was insane.
Wasn't he, though? He answered his own mental question: Probably. If one walked around here long enough getting sand in their brains, they'd surely go crazy, right?
He smiled at her. "Nope, I didn't drink anything at all, I promise. I was only wondering..."
He let his head drop down, his expression introspective. He buried a grin and looked up from under strands of hair to see if she was biting.
She let out a huge sigh. "Yes, Vash. While I was in school, I danced. Just once. It's a useless thing. It was an emulation of what school had once been like on Earth. Let's just say I was glad that we weren't on Earth that night. Since then, I haven't bothered to make the time for something so trivial."
Aha! Yep, she'd swallowed it hook, line and sinker. Though for his life he couldn't understand that phrase. "Did you ever dance in the moonlight?"
Meryl was losing patience. "And you need to know this why?"
"Because. I haven't. Actually, I don't think I've ever danced before. But Rem did. She said there was this man she knew, named Alex. She said they'd dance sometimes. Did you know they have only one moon on Earth? Isn't that strange? Anyway..." Vash laughed and rubbed at the back of his head. "You know...I've always wanted to try it."
This time she said it straight out. "You're insane, Vash." She stood to go.
Vash grabbed her arm and she turned around. Grabbing retreating people wasn't something Vash usually did. He wondered if he surprised her, too. The desperation on his face was real this time. "Do you remember that night on the cliff?"
Meryl suddenly looked accutely uncomfortable. "Vash..."
"I won't be staying here. I really did mean what I said then, but...It's now or never, Meryl. I have to find Knives. I realized that. So...please."
She wrenched her hand from his, but she didn't leave. She leaned against the back of his seat, in front of the door, her back to his. "Why?" she said softly. "You've only just healed and you're heading out again?"
He was glad she couldn't see his face, either. "I'm sorry. I was afraid to tell you, but...I didn't want to go like that again." He attempted a lighthearted laugh.
Meryl's footsteps reached his ears. They clattered against the wooden floor and crunched into the soft sand until he couldn't hear them at all. He closed his eyes and sighed. "I'm sorry," he said again.
"Hey, you're the one who wanted to do this, you dud-brained broomhead. If you don't get out here, I'm leaving."
Her voice was soft, despite the reproachful tone. Vash grinned. Another surprise.
He got up from his seat and walked out to where she stood. He wondered if the ground where Rem danced had been several inches deep with sand. He supposed not. "Okay," he said. "Ah...now how do we do this?"
Meryl looked around. She seemed determined not to move from her spot. "There's no music. And just in case you didn't know, this is stupid."
Vash smiled. "I know that. But music is silly, anyway. Who says you need music?" He paused. She stood a few steps away from him, her her bowed and her arms curled in. "Are you cold, Insurance Girl?"
She shook her head.
Vash walked forward and put his arms around her from behind. When she looked up, he gave her a goofy grin. "It is cold out here," he said softly. He slowly turned her around. "So...you know, I think when you dance you're supposed to put your hand on my shoulder and I'm supposed to—Anyway...if you don't mind my saying, I think...um...you're just a little bit short for that, Insurance Girl. So how about improvising?"
"Just whatever," Vash said. "Formalities are overrated, you know."
Oops. She sort of based her life around those formalities. Vash waited for her to pull away, but she didn't. He had his arms around her and she ever so slowly put hers around his waist. It was more of an embrace than anything. They stepped slowly through the sand. It didn't really matter that there was no music. The wind and the sound of distant laughter played a lulling tune in his mind.
It was a sound he might never hear again. If he fought Knives, there was no telling...
He tightened his embrace on Meryl, but it was he, a couple minutes later, who pulled away. "Sorry for making you do this," he said, letting the hint of an apologetic smile creep onto his face. "I just wanted to try it once. I thought it was nice."
He could tell Meryl was blushing even in the dim, blue moonlight. He could almost hear her mental cogs turning, trying to come up with a way to explain everything away. It was how her mind worked, he'd noticed. Tomorrow, it would be ascribed to exhaustion or weakness, or maybe she'd blame it on those emotions she denied herself. She probably wouldn't be there to say goodbye.
"It was—nice," Meryl replied in a fragmented tone that lingered somewhere precariously between professional and womanly. Like him, she had her own façade to hold up. She looked like there was more she wanted to say, but she shook it away, smiling slightly. She looked up into his eyes. "I'll...I'll see you tomorrow."
He nodded. Whatever happened tomorrow and the next day, tonight felt like enough. He grinned and walked away, waving absently, and she stood still to gather her composure.
Author's Notes: Hehe...awwwkward. Hmm...I am really really horribly bad at VxM fluff! (cries) I tried to think of an idea for a fic and I knew ChibiMoney liked VxM. I wrote a really tragic sort of story just a bit ago but I didn't want to post that one because it wouldn't really make for a good birthday present... Anyway... (crosses fingers) Any thoughts, constructive or otherwise, would be very, very much appreciated! Please?