Title: smirk MILLIONS
Characters: Knives, Vash, Joey, Rem, Rowan, Steve...pairings would be Joey/Rem
Word Count: 3,000
Summary: Knives and the gang pre-manga/anime; mixed-verse.
Comments: Written for 30_smirks. Manga verse. Maybe some implied anime. Ignore the strikethrough boldy texty stuff. I was feeling
Vash awoke to desperate laughter. Forced, almost. Unnatural. His brother sensed him, turned, grinned.
“Look up, brother. Like shooting stars. Beautiful...”
Vash forced heavy eyes upward, past the twisted remains of their escape pod, into the night sky. Brightly colored lights tumbled down all around them, miles away, where they exploded in an array of reds and oranges, staining the stars crimson. Vash came to his senses, choked back an agreement.
Knives’ grin twisted into a smirk. “For Tessla,” he whispered, and Vash caught the light of a burning ship glistening on unshed tears in sad blue eyes.
“You can’t do this!”
Streaming tears splashed onto the heated metal floor. Vash could feel the pod trembling as it broke atmosphere, thrusters straining against the gravity. And all around him...
The SEEDS weren’t prepared for such extreme temperatures. They’d never make it through, and frozen inside, completely unaware, all those people...
“You used to love them! You sat with them everyday, watched them, dreamed about them! You can’t just forget! You can’t just...just...”
Knives didn’t have to smirk, didn’t even have to speak. His burning blue eyes told Vash everything he needed to know.
“My dear brother...I already have.”
“Hey! What’re you doing here?”
Knives squeaked in fright and leapt backward. Boots missed their hold on the icy floor and sent him tumbling heavily to the ground.
Joey stood over him, smirking, upside-down. Knives took his offered hand with a bruised grimace.
“Sorry about that, son. You okay?” A nod, and Joey left him to peer into Knives’ current chamber. “Didn’t expect to see you way back here. Where’s your brother?”
A shrug. “He didn’t want to come.”
“Pity. You picked one hell of a section to study.”
Knives frowned, curious. “Who’s in it?”
“Well, this here’s my wife.”
Joey watched the kids chase each other with a smirk. Careful to keep out of sight in the dark doorway, he allowed his eyes to sweep across the lush green grass and settle on Rem’s smiling face. She looked so happy. It made him wish that guy of hers had given her a kid or two before he died.
Rem’s laughter tinkled pleasantly as Knives dove in front of her, pleading for help through breathless laughter while his brother stalked him with a gleam in his eye and a half-eaten apple in his hand.
Such little devils. Such little angels.
He finally awoke with a smirk on his face, sleep-blurred eyes instantly meeting his twin’s worried ones. Vash mistook it for a smile and grinned widely, tears gathering.
“You’re awake! Rem, he’s awake! Are you okay?”
Knives considered him for a moment, took a moment to think about the warm hands gripping his own. Vash was right about the humans. Knives had been wrong. He wouldn’t make such a mistake again.
When Rem hurried into the room he widened his smile and feigned hunger, inwardly recoiling. The façade was gone now. Knives knew the truth.
And he would rectify it.
Knives knew he was being followed, and he knew just how to handle it. It wasn’t the first time some fool had stumbled across his oasis, and he was sure it wouldn’t be the last.
A flash of movement. A single shot. He trudged through the soft sand to inspect his kill. So small; he hadn’t been able to tell from his distance. Black fur quickly matting with blood. Not human, but he wasn’t concerned.
He smirked, holstering his gun, and remembered something Rem had said laughingly, watching him poke around the humans’ cold-sleep chambers.
Curiosity killed the cat. Literally.
“Hey.” Rem’s warm grin. You’re up late.
“Hey.” Joey could duplicate it. You’re normally asleep by now.
“You okay?” You always look so tired.
“ Fine. Kids all right?” You spend so much goddam time with them.
“Asleep for now. They’re darlings, aren’t they?” I wish I had a few of my own.
“Can’t get enough of ‘em.” Bastard left you high and dry.
“Come join us sometime. We’d enjoy your company.” You remind me so much of Alex...
“I wish I could, but...” I’m in love with you. You’re a distraction to me.
Was that a smirk? “Of course.”
“They’re called glasses. Spectacles.”
“Like for specters?” Knives tried to imagine a ghost wearing such a contraption. Rem laughed while Vash pulled them off his face to inspect for himself.
“No, silly. They help people see.”
“They don’t help me see.” Vash’s magnified eyes caught Knives’ smirk and he smiled sheepishly. “What?”
“You look weird. Funny-weird.”
“But Rowan wears them!” Vash’s voice was indignant. “He doesn’t look weird.”
“I don’t think it’s the glasses...”
Vash tried to tackle him, but Knives rolled away, laughing. Vash tripped over his own feet trying to change course.
“Ha! Vash, you need glasses!”
“Knives! Give it back!”
Knives smirked. “You have to catch me first, you thief!”
“But you didn’t want it!”
“Well I do now!”
Rem and Rowan watched the kids play, one with a smile and one with a thoughtful frown.
“Walking and talking at barely four months. If that’s not a new record, I don’t know what is.”
“Amazing, isn’t it?” Rem turned to her colleague, dark eyes bright. “They can do so much so early. Think what they’ll be capable of next year.”
“Think they can power the terriform process?”
“I think if they can’t, the next batch will.”
Knives skidded wildly across the ice, smacking his brother hard enough to send them both careening into a cold-sleep chamber.
“Ow!” Vash’s eyes blazed. “You idiot! That hurt!”
“Sorry.” Knives was rubbing his own wounded head. Vash pushed himself to his feet and struggled to see high enough to read the chamber’s serial number.
“Hey, a new one!”
“Really?” Knives scrambled up beside him. Vash turned to him, smirking.
“We haven’t even covered a quarter yet. Still gonna memorize ‘em all?”
Knives’ eyes shone. “Definitely.”
“So when they wake up, I can greet them all by name.”
“They’re living creatures—”
“They’re demons! Just look at ‘em!”
Steve smirked. “You think just ‘cause somethin’ grows white feathers it’s an angel? How much energy output do you need to learn that they’re no better’n machines—”
“They think and feel.” Rem’s voice was thick with emotion. “They have souls.”
“Bah! Even you don’t know how they got here, or why. And to cap it off, their growth rate is downright unnervin’.”
Rem’s gaze fell to the sleeping twins, curled around one another tightly.
“They’re here to help us survive. They have to be.”
“What makes them go all limp like that?”
Vash poked curiously at the sizzling strips of onion. Rem glanced at him.
“Hmm? Well, it’s a chemical reaction, I suppose. The heat releases chemical bonds that make the onion rigid.”
“So just heat does it?”
“A very hot heat, yes.”
“Like this?” Knives grabbed a fresh onion from the pile, held it up. He concentrated, then smirked, satisfied. It fell limp in his hand.
Rem gasped. Vash stared. “How—”
Knives frowned. “I pulled the heat out of the air. Is it wrong?”
Rem didn’t hear him. “Alchemy...their electricity is alchemy!”
Warning lights screamed from every crevice in the ship. Rem awoke with a start. What the—
Something was wrong, dangerously, nerve-wrackingly wrong. Her gut reaction was to check on the boys, but they were already there. Jesus, they moved so fast...
“What is it?” Vash’s wide eyes were a muddled brown in the crimson lights. “What’s happening?”
“I don’t know, honey, I—”
Something in Knives’ expression caught her eye, made her swallow. A nasty gleam, the hint of a smirk. But no. Not Knives.
“You’re bleeding.” He was as surprised as she by the observation.
“Oh...I had an accident...”
Lefébvre, Jacques, 2190, Age 48, 4FG8J-FR107G
“That’s a weird name,” Knives remarked thoughtfully. “I can’t even pronounce it.”
Vash frowned, mouthed the syllables slowly. “French? What’s that?”
“Another language,” Rem clarified. “Another way of speaking.”
“Really? How many ways are there?”
“What’s ours called?”
“So my name is English?”
Vash smirked. “Your name is funny.”
“What’s your name, Rem?”
Rem considered the twins for a moment. “My name is...a blend.”
“A few different languages.”
“They blended them?”
“Of course. Come here, boys, and I’ll tell you about a place called America.”
Quickened breaths solidified instantly, dissipated just as quickly. Ice hung from motionless chambers and coated the slick metal floor. Knives smiled, hugged himself close, relished the cold; such a radical change from the ship’s comfortable norm.
Funny how such a deathly chill could be used to sustain so much life.
Knives took a new path tonight, flattened his numb nose against a new chamber. The occupant was smirking in his sleep; fascinating. So varied; no two the same. As different from each other as he and Vash were from them.
Vash was wrong; they’d love them both. He’d prove it.
“They’re speaking now. Full sentences, and they’ve learned how to ask questions.”
Steve smirked. “Wonderin’ about the birds and the bees already, are they?”
Joey frowned; Steve lowered his eyes obediently. Rem sighed.
“It’s true; they do seem interested in where they came from. They keep asking about their mother; it’s as if they instinctively know they’re...different.”
“Maybe we should tell them.”
“Are you sure that’s appropriate?”
Joey’s frown deepened. “Meaning?”
“Well, if they implore further and discover Tessla...”
“I see. You think they’d seek to hurt us?”
“Not without incentive.”
“And Tessla is incentive?”
“I believe she could be.”
Vash watched the uncharacteristic smirk on his brother’s face widen. He swept a hand out to indicate the endless sands all around them, bright blue eyes wide.
“It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter! Of all the planets in this galaxy, they chose to repopulate a desert! So stupid...”
Vash was afraid. He didn’t recognize his brother anymore. Something had happened inside him—something wrong.
“They’ll all die anyway. One by one; they can’t survive without water, power. Isn’t it beautiful, Vash?” Knives turned to him, grinning wildly. “This planet is a heaven!”
Vash thought it looked more like hell.
“Don’t be stupid. You’d never—”
“Because. All those people...” Vash trailed off uneasily. His brother’s sapphire eyes were sparkling like the naked gleam of a knife.
“Perfect, huh? Now Tessla can rest in peace.” He giggled, unhinged.
“Wha—Tessla!” Vash sputtered. His brain connected the pieces suddenly and he froze. Knives smirked.
“I had to do it, Vash. For her. They would’ve done the same to—”
Their pod jerked suddenly, dumping the twins in a corner. Vash barely noticed, his eyes blank, but Knives ran to the tiny window with a hiss.
Vash’s smirk was haughty, emerald eyes luminous in the harsh half-light. “You know I’m right. They’ll never think you’re normal; you think too much to be human.”
Knives’ eyes flashed in the dark. “Don’t say that, Vash. Don’t even joke.”
Vash’s teasing air vanished. “I’m sorry. You know I didn’t mean it.”
“Still...” Knives turned back to the miniature chamber, frowning uneasily. Vash crouched beside him.
“Isn’t it weird?”
“Seeing so many asleep like this. Even the children.”
“Not like them. They’re older, but...younger. In their minds.”
“Our hearts are the same.”
Vash frowned. “I hope so.”
“They’re starting a war...”
Vash’s observation was remorseful, but Knives didn’t take it that way. His smile stretched into a smirk.
“I told you. You were right, back on the ship; they’re a violent race.”
Vash glared. “No they’re not, Knives. You can’t blame them all for what a few did.”
“But you can plainly see they’re no different from those few, brother!”
“You tried to kill them all! How can you call them violent, after what you did?”
“How can you call them peaceful, after what they did to Tessla?”
“You’re a hypocrite, Knives.”
“And you’re a naïve fool.”
She’d clenched her mouth so tight she’d shattered her own teeth...
“Hey, Knives! Feelin’ okay?” Vash stood in the doorway with a ball. Knives tried to remember where he was.
“I was gonna see if the crew would play dodgeball.” He paused at his brother’s silence. “Think you’re up to it?”
“Not tonight. Tomorrow?”
Vash’s grin flipped, eyes shining. “Okay! See you at dinner.” He smirked just before leaving. “Prepare yourself for a serious butt-kicking!”
The door was almost shut when the agony returned. Knives grimaced, stomach churching, and wondered why the ship’s main control console kept coming to mind.
It was supposed to be different. There were supposed to be people everywhere, and plants. And water. And food. And—and people, dammit. Billions of people.
Vash couldn’t even wipe away his tears without rubbing hard, gritty sand into his eyes. This was all wrong. He was supposed to have a shower to wash off in, to share with the crew and Rem and his brother, who slept fitfully beside him.
Vash wasn’t fooled. That thing wasn’t his brother. His brother loved life, and he never smirked like that.
His brother had died with the futures of all those people...
Vash watched his brother sleep uneasily. The sleep, it—it wasn’t natural, and it wasn’t anything like a cold-sleep. His eyes were open, more periwinkle than blue, and his breathing grew irregular at times. Rem had called it a coma. She’d said some people never woke up from them.
Vash wiped fresh tears from his raw eyes and sniffed. He didn’t believe it. Knives would laugh again, and cry, and smirk and be a jerk, and be—be his brother again. He had to.
Knives would wake up, and he’d be fine, and everything would go back to normal again.
“Steve is what’s called a bully.”
Rem’s face was grim as she dabbed at the bruise on Knives’ cheek. She needn’t have bothered; such a small wound was healing rapidly enough on its own.
“I don’t think so,” Knives protested. There’d been no smirk, no arrogant grin. “He’s just upset, that’s all. He’d never hurt me on purpose.”
Rem didn’t respond. Vash snorted.
“Steve’s always upset about something.”
“The ship makes him uneasy.” Knives understood Steve’s anxiety.
“He gets more uneasy when we’re in the room with him.”
Knives glared at his brother. “You’re too bitter.”
“And you’re too soft.”
“I honestly don’t see why it’s so hush-hush,” Steve grumbled, his weight making the instruments on the metal table clatter as he shifted against it. “Least if we told ‘em they might shut the hell up about it.” He smirked suddenly, fixing his gaze on Rowan from under his bangs. “Might even teach the brats a lesson or two: ‘We managed to harness your sister’s power; we can deal with you, too.’”
Steve thought he was being ignored until Rowan glanced at him, his expression nonchalant.
“Steve, are you familiar with the phrase ‘to touch the Devil is to die’?”
Vash found Knives huddled down inside his coat, staring vacantly at a cold-sleep chamber. He lowered himself to the freezing floor beside him, shivering.
“I heard what he said to you.” No response. “Look, Knives, don’t let him get under your skin. He was just trying to rile you up.”
Knives sighed, stared at his arms, wrapped tightly around his knees. “I know. It’s just...”
Vash leaned against his brother, his smirk one of complete understanding. “Well hey, you’ve always got me and about a hundred million frozen people to keep you company.”
Knives sniffed, attempted a smile. “I know.”
His smirk was gone now, wiped away by the sudden intensity of the moment.
"On this ship, out here in the middle of nowhere, I just...I hate to love...without a proper home...”
Rem thought her heart would burst. Tears threatened to spill from her eyes; she was leaning forward.
“Oh Joey, I never thought...after Alex...that I could feel this way again—”
A silent alarm sounded suddenly, and Rem jerked away, eyes wide with fright. Joey frowned. “What is it? Did I scare you?”
“No, it’s—the boys! They’ve found her! Oh God, keeping her was a mistake...”
“Rem, come quick! She’s giving birth!”
Rem’s smirk vanished. She whirled, eyes wide. Joey looked up from his seat behind her, startled. “Are you serious?”
“Hurry, she’s in pain!”
Rem ran. Though she was no doctor, plants were her thing. She wouldn’t miss this for the world—any world.
Nearly three hours passed. The crew stood silent, speechless.
“How come there are two?”
“They can’t be full plants if they’re male.”
The question hung heavy in the air. Rem’s mind whirled with implications and possibilities.
Was it possible the plants were compatible with people?
“A butterfly can flap its wings in America and cause a hurricane in China.”
Vash poked his brother. “You’re just quoting Rem. You have no idea what that means.”
Knives’ smirk faded. “Well neither do you.” He paused. “Rem, what’s a hurricane?”
“It’s...a sort of mixture of extreme winds and water. Two of the four main elements. Remember?”
The twins considered her silently for a moment before Vash spoke up. “What’s wind again?”
“It’s...well, it’s...the gravitational forces acting on a planet can...” She stopped, frowned. How could she explain wind to two people who had never before seen a sky?
“What? What did I miss?”
Twin smirks on twin cherub faces. They were scarcely nine months!
“You really can’t tell?” Sparkling blue eyes met narrowed brown. Unnerving. Rowan swallowed.
“What do you mean?”
Small fingers pried open the metal panel; blonde hair disappeared inside. Knives’ voice was young, childlike, but his words belied his astonishingly young age.
“You can increase her energy output by about thirty percent if you just cross this wire here and remove the blue one altogether.” He stepped aside. Rowan stared at the cluster of wires in Vash's hands.
His life’s work...by no more than infants...