"I have plenty of bitterness without drinking it, thank you. A glass of red wine, however, will suffice."
The red haired, older man eyed the woman who sat across from him in the relative quiet of the Red Wolf Pub. In the corner, Jimmy cleaned the table where Spike, Jonothon, and Gayle had just left to go spook about town like hoodlums, and one of the Hikous had just come in to get two large bottles of sake to seek out his drinking partner. Lupin had been in and gone, but the cop and the thief didn't get along very well.
However, this woman he didn't see very often. Lavender hair was cropped closely around her face, still growing out from when it had been shorn against her will. He knew the story. She was, after all, famous. Famous for her staying power despite it all, famous for the tension she radiated, famous for her bitterness.
He produced the wine, and then said, "So, darlin', don't see you much around here," in the most conversational tone he could manage.
"I rarely indulge," she admitted. "But I couldn't sleep..."
Aidan nodded quietly, before glancing to the cross around her neck. "Funny thing for a four Gods worshiper," he noted.
"I don't honor any god," Kouran said tersely. "It's what's left of my wedding band. They smelted it and made me a crucifix to teach me a lesson."
The words deflated Aidan visibly. "Oh."
"And don't bother with the pity, or the 'I'm so sorry', or anything else," she added tersely. "I'm not interested. I just want a little wine to slow my blood, and put me to sleep."
"I know that feelin'," he admitted. "Love lost is a bitch."
Her golden eyes narrowed sharply, and he put up his hands. "Hey, now! Don't get all harpy on me! I'm just as fucked as you are. And I'm still active, so I'm getting actively boned up the ass without even the kindness of a handjob."
The crude language seemed to stun her into submission as she stared at him. Finally, her mouth worked and formed words.
"I cannot believe you said that."
Aidan's lips broke into a smug grin, despite her obvious disapproval.
"Listen," he said after a moment, "Life sucks. You love. Ninety percent of the time, you lose. It doesn't matter how much your heart might be in someone's hands; you run the risk, when you trust 'em with it, that they're gonna squish it into so much tomato paste and use it to grease the way with their next hottie. It's simply the way the beast is."
Kouran frowned at him, and simply shook her head in the face of his understanding. "Destiny," she finally said after a moment, "Is a pack of lies."
"And loving someone is a waste of time, if they don't love you back."
"You got it there."
"Now explain to me why we both do it anyway?"
He stopped and groaned. "Because we are love's bitches, to borrow a phrase from the other fanged fellow 'round here."
Kouran sipped at her wine, looking a little less angry then she had a moment ago, before mentioning, "It might be easier to accept, I think, if there hadn't been so much fighting before the end. Hikou, Chichiri, and I. It's like there was a finish we should have had and never did."
"I know," Aidan said softly. "Not everybody gets closure, ya know? You didn't get any. You're still a big, open-ended story and you hate it. And I don't blame you. But darlin', it isn't anybody's fault. Not your own, and not anyone elses. It's simply what happened."
"You know," a third voice added in, "this is a really depressing bar!"
Both turned to see who had entered; a Vash in a long, red coat had appeared, and he sauntered over to join the pair, dropping into a seat. "This the Broken Hearts Club, I take it?" He asked as he looked from the pair. "Tsk! Well, you could count me in, but… I'd probably make it worse! I mean, I'm happy."
Eyes of amber and gold glowered. Their eyes trekked to one of his arms; both were of flesh and bone.
"You're Margie's man," Aidan said simply. "Aintcha?"
"Yeah, that's me! Though, you know, it's like being a boobie prize. You want pain, talk about this: I was second choice."
"At least you were a choice at all," Kouran said tersely.
"Shall we remind you that your husband was 'second choice', Kouran?" Aidan said grumpily. "And I won't even get into my love life."
"Shafted by your wife, twice. Thrown over for a loud mouth God of the Dead, twice. Yeah, we already know. Four times a loser," Vash added.
"Thank you for the reminder," Aidan grumbled.
"But," Vash said, lifting his hands even as Aidan brought him his usual beer. "You gotta look at it this way. Was it worth it?"
"Was it worth it?" Vash stated. "I mean, I didn't 'get' Margie until we came here, people." He pointed out. "I lost. Call me a big fat loser if you want, because it's true. She chose to leave rather then to stay and built something with me."
His green eyes were slightly mournful, "But it was understandable. There was bad juju on the MUCK. Hell, in time, I slipped away myself." However, his smile was still on his face, as he twisted the top off his beer, and took a swig.
"Did your story have a point, Vash, or were you just releasing more hot air?" Kouran asked icily.
"Yes, it did," Vash said, pointing up. "I got the girl in the end. I love her to death, too. But it took an ending to make a beginning. Got it? We could have stuck around where we are, but in the end, we would have faded out." He tapped the bar. "Here, we are memorable. We have love, the freedom to enjoy it, and the whole world in our burrito!"
"Isn't the quote 'the world was our burrito'?" Aidan muttered, but Vash was oblivious.
"So we're happy. We have chances here we never would have had otherwise! And I'm happy that it ended."
Aidan and Kouran looked at Vash as he beamed at his good fortune, and Kouran glanced to Aidan.
"He's got a point," Aidan said. "I could got see Rosa tomorrow. Work things out. I mean, here it's a whole new ballgame." He seemed to consider it, even as Vash nodded his approval. "Maybe I will, tomorrow."
"Good for you!"
All eyes turned to Kouran, who held her wine glass tightly. She said nothing.
"Kou-chan?" Vash queried slightly, as the silence stretched on.
Kouran finally released the glass, speaking slowly as her fingers uncurled. "The big difference with your lovely stories," she said coolly, "Is that in the end, there is no great gap. No hatred and bitterness. No other woman. You don't have a whit of competition. Vash has trounced the memory of Bart and will always reign supreme in Margie's heart. Rosa belongs to Aidan, body and soul. She was made to love him." She rose, laying a bill on the bar. "While, on the other hand, I will always be competing with the memory of perfect, sweet devotion... with a woman who beat me to death in the street like a dog."
Both men were hushed as she smiled thinly. "I think I'll make this Broken Hearts club a membership for just one. The rest of you, enjoy your precious second chances. I think I'm not going to find any remedy for my sleeplessness here."
Vash and Aidan sunk slightly as she turned away to leave, her steps silent until the bell rang above the door.
In the quiet, the men shared the same sentiment. "She really needs a good lay," Aidan opined.
"Or at least someone who'll take her out to dinner and treat her like a person!"
"Good luck with that attitude. I think anyone would be to scared to try," Aidan pointed out.
Vash nodded sadly. "To the lonely, then, and the brokenhearted. Maybe someday, somebody will remember the forgotten and that they're just as deserving of smoochies and cuddles as the rest of us."
"Amen," Aidan said sagely, and brought out a beer of his own to clink to Vash's.