Actions

Work Header

While the Lily White Shall in Love Delight

Work Text:

"Dante-" Vergil spoke, looking up from studying a machining manual Nico kept in the motorhome.

/"Yes, Uncle Vergil?"/ the broad sword responded just as Dante briefly roused from his nap with a mumbled "Yeah, Verge?"

Dante could've easily dismissed his new blade, but feeling the young Devil Arm's curiosity about the Human World burning as bright as his own when he was a kid, he didn't do so. The only times Devil Sword Dante wasn't out in the open was when they had to meet their clients or walk about normal civilians, much to the new Devil Arm's pouting disappointment. Vergil at least could use the excuse of being a collector or practitioner by using a sword carrying bag for Yamato if he had to go about in public, depending on the circumstances.

The oldest Sparda descendant closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, ignoring the restrained amusement from Yamato resting next to him. "I am impressed at how we’ve been able to get through without this much confusion for a month ever since our return from the Demon World. Durante for your Devil Arm, if only to better differentiate."

"Aw, why not DJ?"

Nero raised an eyebrow, having been fiddling with the radio scanner. "'DJ'?" he parroted incredulously.

/"Daddy says it's short for 'Dante Junior'!"/ the large Devil Arm chirped.

The mobile Devil May Cry branch duo snorted, Nero's shoulders shaking as he tried not to laugh while Nico snickered around her cigarette, maneuvering through the afternoon rush hour of the local traffic.

"Of course..." Vergil muttered, fighting the urge to rub his temples. "Nonetheless, Durante for you, young one."

A shrug from the red-clad devil hunter, readjusting Dr. Faust on his head to cover his face again. "You do you, bro. I'm sticking with DJ."

/”Okay, Uncle Vergil!”/

-3-1-2-4-5-

New job with the password through Dante’s phone. Perfect.

Client bought an abandoned printing plant. Not an issue.

Client wanted to convert the printing plant into a book cafe and library, and maybe a restaurant. No problem.

Aforementioned facility used to be used in ritual shenanigans before the purchase (because the client dismissed the rumors when told), and now the equipment and leftover materials have been possessed. Fun times.

At least most of the local law enforcement had enough sense on cordoning off the surrounding area that kept any other civilians away, as well some of the junior ranks actually setting up additional containment with a basic salt barrier. Apparently, it turns out the station's chief had come from a family of devil hunters and still kept an ear out for the occult, despite being occasionally mocked for it by several city officials. (From their brief meeting with one of the officers in charge of the scene, there was quite the amount of smug vindication going around.)

As it was a fairly large plant, they started with the largest room where most of the rituals had been performed in, according to past reported incidents of suspicious break-ins.

"Well, at least the client did say she wouldn't mind some destruction," Lady mused, swapping out her regular SMG bullets for modified tracer rounds. "Bit of a shame, really."

"What makes you say that?" Nero asked, Gerbera sending him away before he dropped down with a MAX-Act Red Queen on a giant roll that had tried to crush him. The possessed paper screamed as flames promptly ate away at it.

"I believe she meant in regards to most of the machinery," Vergil answered, calmly side-stepping several tongs and wrenches that embedded themselves in the wall, his high ponytail not even ruffled in the process. A flick of his wrist shredded the tools into pieces, black ichor oozing out of the cuts as the possessing demons lost their hold in the Human World. "The largest of these are almost a century old according to the manufacturing stamp, and historical engineers are likely to prefer these to be in a museum. However, given our methods of extermination and the rituals performed here, it's debatable on how intact the machines will be by the time we're done, provided that-"

The one closest to Dante rumbled to life with a roar that was a mix of both mechanical and demonic. Gears grounded in ear-piercing screeches and metal bent into unnatural shapes that could give horror artists a run for their money. More heavy equipment came to life, forcing Lady and Nero to dodge as belts and chains began to whip around them.

"-none of them are possessed by whatever those conjuring idiots were messing around with and try to turn us into pamphlets or flyers in the process," Dante finished, using one of the flung ladders to gain some height. He clucked his tongue in mild disappointment, now hanging upside-down from an upper-level railing. "Guess it was a good thing that we warned the missy about this being a pretty good possibility of happening."

/"SPAWNS OF THE TRAITOR!"/ came the bellow from one of the possessed machines, spitting out the movable type pieces like bullets.

"'Go die,' 'worthless half-breeds,' 'bleed for Grandfather's sins,' blah blah blah." Nero rolled his eyes, him briefly back to back with Lady on firing away their guns. A flung line shaft was caught by one of his wings before it reached either of them and was thrown back like a spear, punching a hole through the original sender. "Don't half of these guys ever get tired of spouting the same old crap?"

Lady snorted, having slung away her SMG and switching out for a Striker modified by Rock Goldstein that she had been wanting to field test. Mentally, she noted that the kickback was still a bit strong despite bracing herself, and she was going have to see about getting both shells and barrel revised as well because some of the demons were getting a bit too close for her comfort. "For as long as I can remember working with Dante, nope. Next to the usual 'puny weak humans' lines."

"Figures."

"Less talking, more killing," Vergil sternly reminded, using Yamato to catch another volley of movable types and fling them back.

The four of them fell into a comfortable rhythm that was a mix of taunting, weaving around and covering each other's backs, mingled with the orchestra of gunfire and pieces of metal falling. Dante, Nero, and Lady were forced to be a bit more careful with their fire-based tactics when parts of the room started to catch on fire, luckily taken care of with ice from King Cerberus.

Due to her limited ammunition capacity, Lady had to find gaps in-between the flow to reload, Dante and Nero covering for her easily. Unfortunately, one of the possessed cutting machines had snuck around her flank and slashed down with its impromptu claws, forcing Lady to instinctively to block with her Striker. She was able to kick the demon away into Dante's line of fire, but not before the morphed blades went through her shotgun, slicing off part of the barrel and cutting into the revolving chamber.

Her small arms needing constant repairs or replacing, Lady was used to. Her own Kalina Ann actually surviving a strike from Yamato was practically a miracle (although she had a sneaking suspicion it was because Vergil was exhausted at the time). Dante "renting" Kalina Ann II had brought out a protest from her, but she forgave him for that due to circumstances at the time.

Not even on the first day of a field test with a potentially new shotgun for her arsenal...

Dante didn't think it was possible to feel killing intent projected by a normal human, save the rare martial arts masters, so he was taken quite off guard when Lady yanked Durante out of his hands with a human snarl, the Devil Arm letting out a squeak of surprise in the process. Mildly worried for her, any questions that he had immediately died in his throat when he caught sight of Lady practically going to town on several organic demons resembling silverfish that had decided to spawn in.

“Dante, the hell you sta-” Nero stared at his uncle, who now had what Nico would call “oogie eyes” following Lady as she went about her rage-fueled destruction/slaughter while Durante was cheering excitedly like a little kid on a thrill ride (something the engineer often accused him of having when he’d look at Kyrie, which he didn't quite denied). There was also something else that uncomfortably reminded him of what he had seen on some of the Knights before he had left the Order, namely the ones when they had seen very pretty faces. “Are- Are you- Oh, HELL no, you’re not- Father, please don’t tell me that he’s-”

Looking over to Vergil confirmed his suspicions, noticing how the older twin had just turned his head away, as if utterly fascinated by the grime-covered window. Except Nero was just barely able to catch that tiny bit of pink that really stood out on his father’s pale skin, despite the muted sunlight shining through and Vergil's attempt of using his ponytail as a cover.

“Oh, come ON! Are you two kidding me?!” he exclaimed, throwing up both hands in vexation. His wings easily took care of some of the smaller possessed rollers that were trying to sneak up from behind. “What the absolute hell?!”

/”I must admit, her lack of actual swordplay is extremely crude compared to yours, Young Master, but I will give credit on creativity,”/ Yamato spoke, smug amusement lacing her voice. /”Oh my, I didn’t think it was possible for the human body to bend that way. Fascinating.”/

“That still doesn’t explain why these two are acting like this! Like- Like twitterpated dumbasses!” he snapped back, glaring at the long uchigatana and gesturing at how Dante was completely focused on Lady’s rampage with a strange intensity and how Vergil was still looking away. He himself was now fighting off his own blush at the ongoing showcase of violence, because it was starting to set off his devil which was so freaking wrong. It was bad enough Nico would still tease him about having to catch Lady naked after beating Artemis, and Trish was equally bad when she'd bring up their first encounter under her disguise as Gloria.

Nero could almost imagine Yamato snapping a fan out in front of her with a chuckle, like one of those high-class noble ladies. /”In a moment, Young Master. It has been a very long time since I’ve been entertained this much.”/

Mercifully, it was quickly over (although not soon enough, in Nero’s opinion). Lady let out one last war cry as she dropped from the rafters with Durante pointed down, pinning what looked like an engine before giving a vicious twist, eliciting both metal and demonic screaming until the demon died with a pitiful wail. Panting harshly, the huntress raked sweaty hair back from a flushed face, bi-colored eyes gleaming with satisfaction as she rested Durante's tip on the floor as her adrenaline rush wore off. “Break my equipment, why don’t you? How’s that for percussive maintenance? Sorry for borrowi-”

She finally noticed the proverbial dead silence from the three part-devils and glancing over had her unconsciously taking a step back. Dante had a near reverent and awed look with hands clasped under his chin, Vergil had his head turned away in as close to disconcertment as he would allow himself to show, she got the impression of smug amusement emanating from Yamato, and Nero was covering his face with an exasperated - and mortified? - air. Instincts and paranoia immediately flared up in her, almost causing her to reach for her smoke grenades.

"What?" she asked warily.

“Lady...” Dante breathed heavily, restraining himself from wrapping his arms around her and trying to wrestle his devil back under control. “...if you ever decide to stay at the shop permanently, I won’t say no.”

“What.”

“I can clear out a room just for you,” he continued, stepping closer, blue eyes shining brightly. “Maybe renovate a bit so you can have your own weapons rack. Hell, even get a weapons bench installed.”

“WHAT.”

/”That way, you don’t have to stay at those hotels or your apartment,”/ Durante added hopefully, catching on to his wielder’s thoughts. /”You also don’t have to worry about people sneaking in to take your stuff. You were always complaining about needing to change the locks at your apartment because of those stupid jerks that keep trying to steal your guns, and how your landlord hates it, too.”/

Dante nodded enthusiastically, ponytail bouncing.

“I... would not object to your presence at the shop either,” Vergil spoke lowly, continually not looking at her.

Lady didn’t want to admit that what both Dantes were offering was highly tempting, but she had a sneaking suspicion at the primary direction it was leading to. Even Vergil’s words was equally putting her off-kilter. Dante teasing and taunting banter with her, she could deal with, as well most of the quasi-sarcastic exchanges she had with Vergil. But this Dante with that particular expression on his face... Her flush soon deepened upon realizing the implications of her grabbing Durante straight out of Dante's hands and going into combat with Durante in front of him from a demon's perspective. Unable to think properly at the moment, especially with the expectant look, she did an about-face and immediately sped-walk out through the closest doorway, trying to ignore the loud protests from both sword and owner as Dante quickly chased after her.

Nero slowly turned his still red-tinted face at his father, stormy blue eyes all but drilling holes akin to Helter Skelter.

A slightly embarrassed cough, attempting to recompose himself. “Demonic... courtship among certain types is usually where the male demons enter combat against each other in an attempt to woo a prospective female mate. Not unlike some species of animals here in the Human World, like rams or bucks.”

“‘Usually,’” Nero repeated, voice flatter than the bench Nico used for precise measurements on more delicate work.

/”There are other types where the females battle to prove to the males instead, be it against each other or defeating the prospective male to show that they are capable of protecting their offspring and themselves,”/ Yamato supplied. It was as if she was calmly enjoying an afternoon pot of tea in spite of her wielder’s barely hidden discomfort. /”Do not forget that among the majority of demons and devils, displays of dominance and violence are - as humans puts it - a thing, Young Master. You also then get to the more powerful devils closer to Father’s caliber - I believe Father recalled with some amusement on how he started courting Lady Eva the demonic way after she had accidentally shot him in the head, much to her initial annoyance as she was unaware of and didn’t quite comprehend his actions early on. Consider the fact that Dante is the manifestation of Master Dante’s will and power, and consider the fact that Lady was using Dante during combat in front of Master Dante...”/

Nero wasn’t sure whether to die from embarrassment or just laugh himself sick at how both of his father and uncle were reacting to the equivalent of an unintended demonic proposal, or how his paternal grandparents had met. Especially when he remembered the numerous sword-involved double entendres from the more crass Knights that liked visiting the ladies of the night.

-3-1-2-4-5-

Dante easily caught up to Lady down the flaking hall with his longer legs, hand snagging her wrist. "Lady..."

She abruptly stopped, and he had to skid to prevent himself from bowling over her. Noticing how tense her shoulders were, he slowly and silently eased his sword out of her fingers, which she willingly let go without a word and so he waited.

(And Vergil always claimed that he had no patience. Hah!)

"Were you serious?" Lady eventually whispered hoarsely, as if not trusting herself. "Both you and Durante?"

Even with her back towards him, he could still see the blush on her face as he set his sword on his back. He had wanted to ask her to permanently stay so many times, but her turning her head away and him respecting her action - that old fear - since the library had prevented him from ever doing so. Over the years, he had been content to work with her whenever she swung by or whenever their missions lined up, sometimes even deliberately doing things so that she'd stay just a bit longer. True, some were pretty dumb methods and Vergil would obviously point out better ways to actually catch a woman's attention, as if Morrison wasn't the only one to do so already.

(Like Vergil was one to talk, the deadbeat dumbass.)

Watching her swing Durante around despite being almost dwarfed by the blade's size, he couldn't deny that it actually had his heart staccato in a way that was different from when he sparred with Vergil. For one, his "playing" with his twin didn't had his devil sitting up and taking further notice of the fire in her eyes as she slammed Durante down on a possessed piece of machinery, nor the way how her gun's muzzle flash enhanced the fading scar on her nose. If anything his devil was going about the equivalent of /'finally, stupid'/ at the moment, having partially sulked in the background over the years on not being able to properly court her ever since they went about mopping up the leftovers while Temen-ni-gru returned back underground. The antics of trying to get her to stay longer had mollified most of the internal whining.

"You know I rarely joke about stuff like that, Lady," he replied softly, his thumb now slowly rubbing over her knuckles.

/"Could..."/

Both hunters looked at the jeweled pommel that stuck out over his shoulder.

/"...could I call you 'Mommy'? I didn't wanna ask earlier 'cause you looked so red, 'specially with Uncle Vergil and Big Bro Nero around."/

If it was any other situation, Lady would've hysterically laughed at such a request. But to hear such words spoken in that odd mix of child-like awe and worshipfulness, and the child-like fear of saying the wrong thing from such a demonic-looking weapon, she wasn't sure how to feel at the moment other than a strange warmth. She could almost see the image of a white-haired boy with some dirt on his nose, shuffling his feet while shyly peeking out from behind Dante's coat, eyes almost as blue as his bearer looking up at her with childish anxiety. She wasn't usually used to talking with weapons, never mind the Devil Arms Dante had in the shop. (He still had to occasionally tell Agni and Rudra to shut up after Enzo had unceremoniously dumped them off, dryly commenting how those two were starting to interfere with his business.)

The fact that Durante actually had enough tact to wait until they were alone...

"Why didn't you go back to Dante or dismiss yourself when I grabbed you?" Lady asked, trying to regain some mental footing. "I know most Devil Arms don't easily let themselves be used by just about anybody without good reasons."

/"...kind hands."/

She stared.

If a sword could blush, the red jewel turned brighter. /"Daddy has strong and gentle and warm hands."/

Part of her mused that it was ridiculous and unfair on how a Devil Arm could have the label "adorable" attached to it in spite of his jagged appearance. Yet here she was, speechless and so Lady gestured for Durante to continue.

/"I'm Daddy's will manifested, but..."/ Resolution, the impression of an innocent child's face turning into that of a serious adult, gleaming steel that didn't hide his true nature. Almost similar to how Dante looked when she had lent him Kalina Ann after their fight in the library. /"...I'm also Sissy and Big Brother Sparda forge welded together, yet at the same time I am my own blade. Other than Daddy, I also get to call the shots."/ And like a dial being flipped, bashfulness again. /"And I could feel your hands are strong and kind and warm like Daddy's."/

Dimly, Lady was aware that Dante was still holding her hand gently. A quick peek at the expression on his face revealed a sort of tenderness that seemed to be reserved only for her, with barely hidden affection within his eyes. If she hadn't known him for years, she would've been threatening at gunpoint while demanding if he had been replaced by a shapeshifter or some other doppelganger.

She was also aware that she hadn't pulled her hand away at all either.

"Kind and warm."

That was a first.

For all that Lady teased Dante on him owing her, she wasn't that oblivious to some of the things he did to make her to stay a bit longer at the shop. At the same time, she felt that she wasn't deserving such a proposal from him, what with all the shenanigans she's put him through, even if she accidentally did the proposing to him per demonic customs this time. For a broken a person such as her... Lady let out a muted wry laugh at that line of thought. She wasn't the only person who had cracks within themselves, because their group - their ragtag misfit of a family - all had various lines of damages of their own. Even Kyrie, the softest of them all, had her own share of baggage, given her own prior relation with the Order.

She took and took, and yet he was still giving.

"Dorks," Lady muttered, her soft tone and slight smile taking out any real sting. "Just... only in private, Durante."

The pommel brightened again, a delighted gap-toothed smile. /"Thank you, Mommy."/

"And as for your... offer..." She hated how she was struggling on trying not to act like a flustered schoolgirl. "I'll... see if my landlord is willing to release my agreement and security deposit early."

Letting out a relieved chuckle, Dante beamed as he finally stepped in closer to her, his devil rumbling happily when Lady subconsciously leaned into him nuzzling their foreheads. He knew that their entire group were a shambling mess of walking pieces (albeit not to V's degree, thank goodness), yet he liked to believe that the time spent and shared between all of them recreated them into individual mosaics with how each random piece slotted into each other's gaps. Vergil would probably put it more poetically where they were like those fancy rose windows in churches and cathedrals, albeit with more chaotic designs.

It felt weird, to hear those words earnestly spoken out loud by Durante, but it was a truth that he had kept locked away within him for so long since Temen-ni-gru. One of those precious things that would've been worthless to any other treasure hunter or collector, but dangerous leverage in those that liked to play mind games. He had been ready to be let down, to accept her turning down his proposal. In a way, Dante was actually glad for Durante being present.

To hear her not say no became a priceless treasure to him, something that made his devil all the more curl protectively over it with encompassing wings. Definitely worth it after all those years since she shot at him with a rocket in their first meeting and then a bullet to his forehead.

Even if he had to bend over a little because of their height differences, prompting soft laughter from both of them as she tiptoed up to match him.

-3-1-2-4-5-

Sensing that there weren't any more demons or possessed equipment at the moment, Vergil silently sat down on an empty crate to wait for Dante and Lady, resting Yamato against his shoulder. He barely flinched upon feeling warmth against his back, relaxing a bit at Nero's presence and listening to some of the mechanical parts of Red Queen being shifted about.

Human touch. Such a simple thing. It was odd for Nero to have his back to him like this, given the younger part-devil's attitude, yet at the same time Vergil could sense an intent behind it.

'I trust you to trust me to trust yourself.'

An old memory, that of small hands trustingly playing with claws and horns, prompted a quiet huff from him.

"Did... Did you and-" Nero snapped his teeth shut with a clack, instead focusing to make sure the screws and bolts were still tightly in place on Red Queen, having pulled out a portable tool kit from his jacket. He didn't know why he was even contemplating that question, face flushing a bit.

Quiet, but a thoughtful one.

"...she was worthy," he spoke, voice low.

Nero had to actually strain his own enhanced hearing to catch it, and forced himself to not press. For all he knew, he had been left at the orphanage for all the more common and negative reasons, such as being unwanted. To hear "worthy" being used to refer to her had him reminding himself that his father was a very layered person, like the pages of the book that still sat next to his bed at home.

"The only one to wear red amidst the field of browns, grays, whites, and greens worn by the others. Like the morning sun that warns sailors of future foul weather." Fingers tapped Yamato's tsuba, lost in memories, before another muted laugh. "In a way, she was similar to Lady."

His braid shifted, Nero tilting his head back a bit questioningly, still working on Red Queen out of habit and needing to move something.

"The truth is... I wanted to be protected and loved..."

His chilling and cutting words directed at a near-tears waitress when she couldn't locate one of the books that he had been searching for, and then the feeling of scalding liquid being unceremoniously dumped on his head. Green eyes flashing in indignant rage, while her words were ever so saccharine that, apologies, good sir, they just ran out of the tea that he had ordered, and it was highly suggested that he seek another establishment for the flavor he desired. Her vitriol coated with honey stood out starkly amidst the scandalized air from the others that had been watching in shock, refusing to look away despite him immediately towering over her in his own angry human reaction.

Her not backing down had made his devil sit up and notice a bit, much to his chagrin back then.

"Her temperament was as fiery as her hair, defiant in spite of her own weaknesses." Vergil didn't think that it was possible for him to feel content to share, other than melancholic. He was glad for Yamato staying silent. "She had just jammed her knife into the eye of a low-level demon and was trying to strangle another one with her hood when I encountered her again. I thought her inelegant, she called me uncouth."

Her irritation burned like a torch as she dragged him to her home, because of the night guard that were out enforcing curfew having heard the attack. She hadn't loosen her grip on his wrist through the twists and turns of the back alleys when the whistles sounded, ignoring the pressure of frustration from him after hissing at him to shut up when he growled in protest. She still hadn't even blinked at the blood splattered on her dress, only wiping away some that had landed on her face and leaving an occasional smear.

His devil had become more interested, and begrudgingly piquing his own.

The low height of her small abode briefly caused him to feel far too large upon having to duck his head while she easily rushed through the threshold, as he could almost feel the top of his hair brush the ceiling. The main room also included several piles of books stacked in a corner protected by a patched fire screen sitting next to an old electric heater. A small shelf with no pictures but small pebbles of varying shapes, seashells of different colors, an assortment of knick knacks, and an obscured figure of the Savior, dust flying off of it as small hands slammed the door shut. A clock with a cracked face chimed the late hour before ticking away.

Breaths held, and tension eased when there was no knocking after several moments.

Her dirty hood was carelessly thrown on the threadbare sofa, red waves spilling out of her braid like his mother's shawl as she went about making sure her curtains were drawn, turning on a small lamp, and bustling through the cabinets.

That familiar edge of loneliness, barely shown behind a pinched brow and tight lips as she set a dented kettle on the stove to boil, tea served in chipped cups.

His one hand practically dwarfed his mug. She could barely wrap hers with both.

One of the books' spines had the name of a familiar poet that immediately sent a pang of grief through him before it was ruthlessly shoved to the side.

And yet...

"'Can I see another’s woe, And not be in sorrow too?'" he all but said in a whisper, almost unbidden.

Her prickliness softening just a bit upon recognizing that pained echo. "'Can I see another’s grief, And not seek for kind relief?'" she followed, just as quiet.

They both knew he wouldn't be staying much longer, young as they were, old as they felt.

He was far too focused in the pursuit of his own goals.

She could never leave the island under her own power.

But for a brief moment, just that once, they opened themselves to each other and let the world slip by them.

The bittersweet wistfulness between them was present, but it wasn't as heavy as Nero thought it would be, finally putting away his tools. Stormy blue eyes watched dust motes float through the filtered sunlight, almost envious of the whimsical nature of the particles that went where the air currents took them. "Do you think... Would she be...?" 'How do you miss someone you've never met?'

A lonely boy, always longingly looking at other children who could happily run into their parents' arms without a care in the world, beaming upon hearing specific words lavished on them. The isolation enforced by his distinct white hair. He did feel the love from the couple that had helped raised him, no denying that, but they never gave him those words, even though they did praise him for his own accomplishments.

'We truly are alike,' Vergil mused. Despite his own attempted air of aloofness, to mimic Sparda when dealing with people he was wary of, he sometimes found it difficult on speaking what had to be spoken out loud, what needed to be spoken. He had become far too accustomed to being cautious of any possible traps hidden behind words from those that lived in the shadowy and darker side of human society, never mind demons that preferred to toy with the mind and heart. Thinking back to Temen-ni-gru, he wondered the "what-ifs" on each encounter with Dante and Lady, as well what if he had actually listened to Dante before he willingly fell, who seemed to had actually understood Sparda's reasons far better than he did. 'I call Dante foolish, when in fact I have been the unreasonable one. And here's Nero, as blunt and straightforward as his attacks, who realized Father's lessons far better than either of us without even intending to.'

Eva would probably be laughing at their awkwardness, and then be lecturing them sharply at their constant hesitancy. Sparda perhaps would be far more prideful of Nero.

"We are the sons of Sparda! Within each of us flows his blood, but more importantly, his soul!"

"You carry her fire within you, as brilliant as your Red Queen, and I believe... she would be proud of you." Vergil shifted his position to the side, causing a slight yelp from Nero as he fell backwards at the unexpected loss of support. His protest got cut off as Vergil wrapped a hand around the back of his head and brought their foreheads together gently. In spite of the awkward positioning, Nero froze and stared at glacial eyes that glimmered with affection Vergil hadn't thought possible of himself. "As am I, Nero."

He had thought human touch to be unnecessary in the past, after the attack, but looking at it now in the present and from research, it actually was important, on also being able to convey more and further than words alone. The bright red flush on his son's face at those last four words brought a small smile to him as Nero let out a small embarrassed grumble but leaned into the gesture, a subconscious soft purr in his chest in response to the older half-devil's own pleased rumbling. Like a kitten curling up contently to its parent, or perhaps a puppy rubbing noses.

He thought he didn't care about the painful inferno when connected to the Qliphoth as Urizen.

He hated the needle-like chill that he felt as V while his body slowly crumbled.

"Did some pesky fatherly love get in your way?"

Now, he preferred this comforting warmth that would sprout up between him and his son in these small moments.

-3-1-2-4-5-

Nico had just started on a new stick when the quartet finally finished talking with the cops and what looked like some of the city officials. Even though she was standing outside the salt barrier, she had still been able to feel that sense of nastiness coming from the plant. Granted, it wasn't to the level of driving around the Qliphoth's trunk and roots, THAT was a whole different can of worms, but she believed that she might've at least built up some resistance to the trippy juju most bad demons put off. Then again, she wasn't the only one on trying not to constantly twitch at feeling the heebie-jeebies, if the reactions from some of the cops she talked to were of any indicator.

Too bad she was banned from talking with any of the reporters that were covering from behind the police barricade, leaving the sign and the phone number on the motorhome's side to do the advertising. Not her fault some of the viewers took a comment she made out of context, which resulted in both Dante and Nero getting flooded with calls that were less of the exterminating kind and more of the exuberant fangirls kind. Okay, she couldn't fault the sheer unspoken disappointment Kyrie practically radiated after that incident - who knew the sweet ex-church girl could guilt trip someone so hard into doing most of the chores without even trying.

"So, how bad did you guys trash the place and what was the client's reaction?"

Nero flapped a hand as he climbed in to take his customary position in the front seat. "She wasn't too put off by the damages, although she was rather disappointed on losing most of the bigger machinery. Said that she had been hoping to donate them to an engineering school her nephew went to, or at least one of the tech museums, but the school and museum both said no when she told them about this place having been used in rituals. Told her that they didn't want any bad juju coming on to their grounds either. We did recommend her to some pros that could do a better cleansing job, as well making sure there weren't any more gaps left behind."

Nico snorted. Being an engineer herself, she did like reading up the history on the old giant machinery. "Not that I could blame her. Those things were built to last, and it would've been neato on seeing them in action again. Anyways, if any of y'all got demon parts, gimme gimme."

"Apologies, Nicoletta," Vergil answered, taking a seat on the chair next to the small table. "Most of the demons were possessing the equipment to make their presence here, and the few organic ones that did spawn in didn't leave enough materials behind that would've been of any sufficient use. Also, they were rather low level."

She pouted. "Aw, bummer. Was hoping to see what I can cook up. Eh, there's other fish in the ocean."

Readjusting the review mirror, she noticed how Dante and Lady were all but cuddling with each other on the sofa, while Vergil and Nero appeared to be a lot more relaxed than before. Knowing something had gone down between the four of them and deciding to be a bit more tactful this time, she simply smiled to herself before starting up the engine and fiddled with the radio, softly singing along. She could always tease it out of Nero later on, or rope Kyrie in to get him to spill the details.

"'The fallen angels you run with don't know, It is our pain that makes us all human after all...'"

She ignored the stares as she continued singing.