Author: Renet (mistressrenet at yahoo dot com)
Spoilers: Background spoilers for both characters
Personal Website: Renet's House of Insanity.
Notes: This is the tip of the iceberg, at best. If you're new to anime or Trigun, I recommend you skim my reasonably short overview (with helpful linkage) here so I can babble on more here about the pretty boys. Heh. Anime quotes are from the dub; manga translations are courtesy of Dark Horse (to Maximum V. 2) and Sumire from that point onward.
Wolfwood: "So you can smile."
Vash: "Eh? What's that?"
Wolfwood: "I was worried. You always smile all cheerfully...but it's so empty, it hurts to look at you. I see you hurtin'...and grinnin' just to bear it. That's how it looked to me, at least."
--Trigun, V. 2
When I first started this essay, I thought it would be easy-- but it hasn't been at all. There's so much chemistry in the Vash and Wolfwood pairing-- anime and manga, dub and sub-- it's hard to pull out specific incidents, come up with coherent and well-thought-out arguments. You're inclined to just point and say, "Look at them! Just look! Vash won't let Wolfwood do too much damage to the guy who tried to kill him, so Wolfwood doses the poor slob with Tabasco sauce instead! Look at the way they cover each other in Quick Draw, the way they barely even have to consult with each other! And what about all the snappy dialogue?"
But this is a community for essays, so here I go.
This a story about people who were supposed to be on opposite sides, who end up ready to sacrifice almost everything for each other.
This is a story about love, and loss, and sacrifice, about losing yourself in someone else but never really losing your self.
Vash the Stampede is a gunman with a troubled past who wears a bright red coat to symbolize his determination to bring peace to the planet; Nicholas D. Wolfwood is a self-proclaimed preacher carrying around a gun the size of a small city, whose money goes to an orphanage that's only briefly glimpsed in anime or manga but whose children clearly haunt him.
At first appearance, Wolfwood is tough, strong, sharp-tongued, and ill-tempered as often as not. At first appearance, Vash is soft, goofy, easy-going, always happy. In fact, Wolfwood's a soft touch for children and pretty girls, and Vash has a core of steel and a background of sorrows he doesn't always bother hiding.
Wolfwood is tough and doesn't hesitate to kill; Vash goes to extreme-- even absurd-- lengths to avoid killing. Wolfwood is practical, Vash idealistic.
Wolfwood: You're bowing with your palms together? Take a look at those crosses--you're in the wrong faith, aren't you?
Vash: I can put more feeling into it this way. What's so wrong about that?
Wolfwood: He was right, you know? You just don't know how to treat the bad guys.
If you do this for every last one of them, there'll be no end to it.
--Trigun Maximum, V. 5
In both anime and manga, Wolfwood is working for Vash's archenemy. In both anime and manga, Vash is not entirely human, and is carrying around more secrets than even most anime heroes. They are both, at times, guilty and conflicted about the paths they are on.
Vash, to Wolfwood: "You...told me back then...that my face looked better with a real smile. If you could see yourself through my eyes now...you'd see a man forcing himself to play the devil while his own heart cries out."
--Trigun Maximum, V. 2
They each have a family, a home, that's vitally important to them, and they both fight like hell to keep their homes intact. Their methods are wildly different, as are their ethics; but they both support each other in their battles, all but unquestioningly.
They are friends first-- perhaps the best and most reliable friends either one has ever had-- and sometimes they feel so close and joined you just think there can't be any room there for anyone else. They also seem to understand each other better than anyone else-- they leave things unspoken, and come closer to honesty with each other than they do with anyone else.
Wolfwood: "It's about time I left the church anyway. I figured there was no hope 'til I made some money for [the orphans there]."
Vash: "Make money...as a priest?"
Wolfwood: "That's not all, but...
...it's not exactly like that."
--Trigun, Vol. 2
Vash and Wolfwood can be-- are-- both comfortable and uncomfortable with one another, relaxed and happy in each other's presence until they're aware, again, of who they are and what they're doing, and then the tension snaps back and they're as wary as tomcats.
It's like watching a rubber band stretch and stretch and stretch and then-- snap!-- everything's pushed back together tight and tense and Vash and Wolfwood are thisclose and you're just riveted, waiting, wondering what's going to happen next.
And then the tension creeps out again-- the manga in particular has a talent for cutting to a new, unrelated, scene without ever quite telling us how things are resolved-- and they're comfortable together again, almost the people they would be without the red coat and the giant gun and the ever-present violence of their desert planet.
Vash: "I'd much rather lead an uneventful life if I could."
Wolfwood:"You couldn't if you tried."
--Trigun anime, Murder Machine
They are also the kings of snappy dialogue, snarking at each other like the lovers in a 30's romantic comedy, teasing and harassing each other, complaining about each other's quirks in a routine that seems natural to them from the very beginning.
Vash gets yelled at a lot-- a lot-- but Wolfwood's one of the few people he bothers standing up for himself with, yelling back, teasing, barking orders when he feels it's necessary.
Wolfwood: "You got us into this, do something!!"
Vash: "You fell in all by yourself!"
Wolfwood: "You're the outlaw!"
Vash: "What's that got to do with anything!?"
--Trigun anime, Murder Machine
There's something so honest and true and real about the way they are with one another-- even at the most trying and tense times-- that I can't help but see them together. They belong together, on some base, basic level that's hard to describe rationally or coherently.
And they work together, to the bitter end. For love. And peace.
I tried to stick to unspoilery ones. There are lots, lots more out there: I have recs on my own LJ and I recced for August at try_this_fic, and my friend tiggymalvern, an excellent V/W writer, recced for September there.
hibem's AU How to Sleep Above the Sky is a well-handled look at a very different Vash and Wolfwood, born in a very different world. They are still undeniably Vash and Wolfwood, though, and their chemistry is still undeniably there.
Enough to Make a Preacher Swear, by robofetus0 contains only the background spoilers you already know, pretty much. A lot of grumpy Wolfwood ranting, which is just my thing. Oh, and hot sex. Yay!
Little or Nothing, a VxW and MxW where Wolfwood tries to figure out what he wants. Wonderful characterization and hot, believable sex.
Marksmanship by emungere. Where the contrast between the lives they pretend to have and the lives they really lead get to Wolfwood.
Also check the LJ comm v_x_w. Yum.
Good stuff, but here be spoilers.
Croik's "Sin Nombre" is currently down, but is a nice angsty V/W take on things. Temporarily hosted here.
For Love and Peace is by Totally Rockin' and has Queen in. How can you resist?
Trigun Maximum, Vol. 8. Vash is telling Wolfwood he's an idiot for saving him. Wolfwood is telling to shut up, already. They're so cute. Remember to read right to left.
Knockin' On Heaven's Door, a Trigun doujinshi (fan comic) with some of my favorite art. And hey, there's my icon!