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The Gospel According to Wolfwood

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Vash is a lousy driver. He's also a lousy rider, and just generally lousy at any form of transportation, including the ones where he isn't expected to do anything other than sit on his ass and not interfere. The sight of his beloved Angelina's wreckage makes Wolfwood consider leaving Vash's chewed up, living carcass to the sand worms, but then he thinks about his contract, and thinks about the orphans, and thinks about how he doesn't really want to see Vash screaming and flailing in the mouth of a sand worm, as much as he wants to just kick the everloving crap out of him–for the motorcycle and other issues–and so he drags him to the nearest hotel and then locks himself up in his room with a hefty amount of tobacco and enough bad temper to start a civil war.

There's no pretty way to say it: the guy is a moron. (And even if there was a pretty way to say it, Wolfwood would still find a way to sneak in an insult, just on general principle.)

He wouldn't have fired, he said.

I would have dodged, he said.

And then he had the nerve to call Wolfwood a coward. Really, don't shower me with all of your gratitude at once, you jerk, he thinks.

Wolfwood knows that Vash can act the part of a complete dumbass with painstaking authenticity, but sometimes he has to wonder whether that authenticity comes from the fact that it's not an act at all. There are certain things in life that shouldn't need explaining. Things like why turning your back on an assassin is a bad idea, and why busting a cap in his brow before he gets the drop on you is a good one. How someone could survive a year, let alone what's probably over a century on the Outer, without knowing the basic facts of life like that was beyond Wolfwood. Or at least he preferred not to think about the how.

The human body is 70 percent water and 30 percent... well, not water. Wolfwood's biology schooling over at the Eye of Michael didn't exactly extend much beyond which organs to aim for in order to ensure instant death. Assuming Vash can be classified as human (and the jury's still out on that one), his body is more like 70 percent iron and 30 percent parts-that-will-soon-be-replaced-with-iron. If he ever walked past a lifting magnet, he'd probably get half of his internal organs ripped out of his torso. And he'd probably survive that, too–the monster–at least long enough to lecture Wolfwood on the virtues of lifting magnets, and how it's entirely possible that they could one day decide not to attract metal, if given a proper chance to reform.

People can change, that much is true. But in the end, it all comes down to math. Probabilities. One life in exchange for two, for five, for five hundred. Chances that someone will buy into your juvenile hippie philosophy, against chances that they won't. And Wolfwood would rather carry the blood of a thousand would-be murderers on his hands, than the life of a single innocent that died because he hesitated to pull the trigger when presented with the opportunity.

Math. Rationality. Common sense. How could someone intelligent enough to calculate bullet trajectories with mathematical precision think any differently? How many people would be alive today, how many kids born, if the idiot did the rational thing and iced that nut-job brother of his the minute he started exhibiting homicidal tendencies? Hell, how many would be alive if he sucked on that muzzle and blew his own brains out afterwards? Certainly everyone that ever died because he knocked some random, murderous scumbag out of the path a stray bullet. Certainly not the rapist bastard he saved from the vengeance he so very much deserved.

Certainly not Wolfwood, who would have met a rather pathetic end if Vash hadn't taken the right bus at the right time and spotted his sorry, dehydrated corpse with those keen, inhuman eyes of his–not that it would have been much of a loss for humanity. Then again, if Knives had just dropped dead sometime in the distant past, Wolfwood never would have been on his way to Jenora Rock on that fateful day in the first place. He probably would have been more concerned with things like getting into some girl's pants, or getting his chest hair to come out faster, or something. He would have been a kid, maybe. Maybe not. It's too complicated. It doesn't matter.

What matters is making a choice, and making it when it counts. To cry over it all you want later, but to pull the damn trigger when it starts looking like a trigger needs to be pulled. 

Begging, and stripping, and singing about genocide (for God's sake) might have worked on the sort of losers Vash has been pitted against so far, but there's not a chance in hell it's going to work on the Gung Ho Guns–to speak nothing of that creep Legato and the monster that calls Vash a brother.

Just how far are you prepared to take this bullshit tactic of yours, Wolfwood thinks. What if you get killed, you idiot? Can you even get killed? Can Knives? What does it take? What if the lives of every man, woman and child on this planet end up depending on your ability to suck it up and get over your childish principles? Will you be able to sleep the night your brother decides to rain judgment on your precious humans, knowing you could have stopped it all?

Ah, screw it.

Thinking about what makes Vash tick is like trying to cure a hangover with more booze. It may look like you're getting somewhere at first, but it's really just a matter of time before you end up back at square one, and worse off for trying. The frustration is, sometimes, more than Wolfwood can handle. In the absence of a more culpable target, he decides to drive his fist through an innocent closet door, and then wipes the blood and the cobweb off his knuckles, somewhat regretting his short temper.

"This one's definitely coming out of your wallet, Needle-noggin," he says to the closet, and lights another cigarette.

Later, when he looks at his reflection in the window pane, dust and snot stains stare back at him, like the icing on the cake of his shitty demeanor.

Not everything is Vash's fault, really. Of course it isn't. But pretending that it is sure makes it easier for Wolfwood to look himself in the eye right now.