Vergil tried not to wince as another shriek assaulted his eardrums and mind. Only reflexes prevented him from dropping Yamato, although he could see Sláine clapping a hand to one ear while the other struggled to keep a grip on his fan.
He needed a vacation, his little brother had cheekily suggested.
A traveling companion to a doctor's conference would be nice, Sláine had suggested.
The Emerald Isle.
'At least it wasn't a completely wasted tri-'
Thoughts on interesting research was immediately shoved aside, as the shrieking of the banshee would not stop piercing his senses like cleaving him in two.
He could feel that if Yamato had a human avatar, she'd also be cringing with hands over her ears as well wishing to completely eviscerate the banshee in front of them. As it was, it took quite the amount of concentration to pull off a Heavy Rain Swords and even that was barely enough to distract the female demon he was dealing with. Instead, the pain distracted him from another flanking him, her eyes glowing and lower jaw completely unhinged.
"Vergil!" Flash of light on ofuda glimmered between fingers.
The second banshee's powered up scream hit Vergil hard enough to truly knock him to a knee, and, ah, that feeling of Yamato cutting into him was a touch familiar. Except... Yamato was uncharacteristically cursing up a storm that was mingling with the screech and Sláine's yell alongside a strange panic from the other before darkness quickly took him and then-
Nothing on the wind.
Soft splashing of liquid.
Glacial eyes blinked and looked about the expansive dark ocean before him, rippling circles expanding around his boots and reflecting his image back like a mirror.
No real light, but he could still see perfectly fine amidst the darkness.
He couldn't tell if the liquid was water, ink, or blood.
A part of him morbidly thought it might be a combination of all three.
His life had involved all three in some fashion.
All but drowning in a sea of countless sorrows constantly suppressed and tears never expressed.
Left hand flexed, but his ever present weapon - inheritance, companion, older sister - wasn't there.
Normally, he would've been wrathful on losing something - someone - so important, but the stillness in the air kept him from truly reacting. Like he was on the precipice of something. Instead, he focused, and allowed some form of relief upon seeing ghostly blades form on his command.
A glimmer of light caught his eye. Not the blue of his summoned constructs, but a flicker of something struggling in the distance, three colors ever shifting.
Seeing nothing else to do, he walked towards it, shifting his blades into something more of a defensive formation.
(Imagine his brother's reaction, seeing him using something defensive...)
He didn't know how long it took. Time seemed to have no meaning in this strange realm, each step becoming almost clockwork. He wasn't sure what realm this was, but he highly doubt it was the Demon World, never mind the Human World.
'Perhaps, a third one neither has discovered yet?' He tilted his head thoughtfully, steps still not faltering as he continued towards the speck of light. 'Or perhaps it has been mentioned before, but not entirely obvious at the moment...'
"'And, when night comes, I'll go, To places fit for woe,'" he whispered softly to himself. "'Walking along the darken'd valley, With silent Melancholy.'"
Not fear, but paranoia.
Eventually, he finally reached the small orb of light, but other than it shifting between a royal blue, crimson, and violet, his attention was drawn towards what was below the orb.
He wasn't sure what to feel when his sights locked on, other than that sensation of being drawn finally settling.
The body was void of tattoos, cheeks a bit more gaunt and slightly wavy hair still limp, but there was no mistaking the white hair that almost half-covered the right side of the face. Eyes were closed, as if sleeping and ignorant of the lapping water partially submerging him, half floating on the surface.
Peaceful was his first thought, and for a brief moment, anger mixed with jealousy flared at how peace had been ripped from his life. It seemed so uncharacteristic of him, but he felt that to a degree, he deserved to be able to express such emotions with no one else to see his vulnerability.
(In the back of his mind, he could almost hear several familiar voices - a few close to his heart - chiding him for that line of stupidity.
He couldn't find fault in their admonishment.)
As if in response to his emotions, the orb flickered to a dangerous dimness, startling him out of his brooding thoughts.
The body started to sink.
Be it actual panic or out of reflex-
-one hand desperately reaching out while falling back just before a sword swung in defiance-
- or something else, he immediately latched on to a thin wrist, reminding himself to control his demonic strength lest he broke it. As if mocking his attempt, he nearly lost his footing when a foot suddenly sunk a bit below the surface. Grabbing the other wrist, he growled when his other foot also started going under, bringing him down to a knee. Yet no matter how much he struggled, he was unable to regain proper footing to stand back up, as if the water was sucking them in.
The ball of light now hovered before, not as dim but not as bright as before. It slowly separated into individual colors - royal blue bobbing about, crimson as if prowling in place, and violet almost lumbering behind.
He frowned, still struggling. "...you called me here. Why?"
Violet flowed around his right, a quiet rumble.
"I expelled you. You let yourselves go." He fought against the familiar pain that was starting to claw at his chest, all the while trying to control his emotions internally and pull back up externally. "Why call for me again? For what reason?!"
"'...heavy chain, that does freeze my bones around!'"
Rippling crimson cautiously floated to his sinking left leg, as if a low purr alongside the sensation of being nuzzled.
Eyes that would normally be hard ice widened, and he stilled, even though he continued sinking.
The blue one flitted forward, brushing his cheek. Like apologetic feathers. A far contrast from what he expected/was used to.
For several moments, the only sounds was that of his breathing and the ever present echo of water lapping on both of them.
"'While thy branches mix with mine, And our roots together join.'"
He couldn't help it.
It wasn't really out of pure joy, nor was it completely out of self-hatred. More out of pity, he supposed, or that small sense of peace that he probably wanted. If not maybe, just maybe, as well out of mercy towards himself and that barely hidden hint of love he had once scorned.
"I see... Well then, it would be rude of me to not prepare for this bash."
A fanged smirk crossed his face, that seemed to match the determination of his son and that surety of his brother, and the stubborn cockiness all three of them shared. As if realizing what he was going to do, the three orbs briefly touched him again. This time, he didn't flinch.
A last goodbye.
Their flow into the water was like a relieved sigh, melting into the gentle darkness.
He pulled his knee for proper leverage, despite the continual sinking into the coldness.
"I am thou..."
Calloused palms rearranged for a better grip.
"Thou art I..."
Face grim, steeling himself for his decision.
"From the sea of my soul...!"
A hard yank-
Warmth, soft. The smell wasn't entirely familiar, but it was a recent scent.
Senses tried to probe out surreptitiously. Keyword, tried.
"Vergil? Please pull your power back in. You're going to make the other guests nervous again. And our... new friend."
Glacial eyes groggily opened, and aware of the pounding headache, Vergil sat up slowly. Sitting at the small table across him was Sláine, having paused on writing in a notebook. A quick pat down revealed no injuries, other than exhaustion. Seeing Yamato within reach next to his bed was also met with relief.
And then he landed sights on the third occupant in the second bed. Hair as white as his and his kin, yet a bit wavy, strands shifting as he continued sleeping. Pale skin also stood out in stark contrast to the hotel's burgundy blanket.
Sláine didn't so much twitch when sharp eyes snapped in his direction, but he did rub his temples. "You nearly died, HE nearly died. Again. I think when that banshee unleashed her boosted scream, you somehow cut yourself on Yamato at the same time, and took the saying of 'splitting one's mind into two' to a literal level. AGAIN."
A flinch at the glare, unconsciously rubbing a certain spot under his sternum. "I suppose I deserved that..."
Violet-gray eyes narrowed further, lips pursing. "In the words of your ever eloquent brother and son, damn right. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to keep an UNEXPECTED DIVIDED SOUL from disintegrating at the slightest movement using additional containment ofuda improvised with a marker and hotel stationary?! While trying to put it into an body made up of Vital Stars, red, green, blue, purple, AND white orbs?! (Of course, I can't just buy the elemental make-up of a human body and demonic parts on short notice - I'm a general practitioner, not an alchemist!) I think I used up the local guild's entire stock of Devil Stars just to stay Triggered to keep the containment spells running and maintain the procedure! And I believe the concierge was ready to throw me out for taking so long with the Goddess of Time statue!"
Vergil winced while still rubbing his chest, now fighting the headache as he caught sight of dark circles underneath the older cambion's eyes. He was more used to the calm and soft spoken doctor, not the angry-worried field medic that fussed over his more rambunctious companions (also known as "the mother-henning big sibling from Hell," as Dante and Lady would mutter). "Apologies for the trouble, Sláine. If there's any way to make amends..."
Sláine softened, his frustration lessening as he went to remove the IV and then rearrange both his and V's blankets. "Try NOT doing that again, help out with restocking for my clinic, plus a month of volunteering at the local hospital, and we'll call it even. Also, YOU get to tell the others."
The older twin supposed that there could be far worse bargains, human or devil. "Agreed. How long have I- have we been out?"
/"Three days, Master,"/ Yamato answered, sounding almost as exhausted. There was that sense of frazzled hair and mussed up clothing, lacking her usual elegance.
A raised eyebrow at her, trying to ignore the hunger pangs but gratefully accepting the cup of lemon-ginger tea, his other hand combing through tangled hair.
/"Think marathon surgery and microsurgery at the same time, Master. Sláine and I had to make sure that V's soul was safely and cleanly separated from you without any further injury to either of you."/ A tired huff, like running fingers through her bangs. /"I also believe that we may need... further training on preventing accidental division."/
"That, I will not argue with. Wait..." He glanced between the three occupants, and did not stared at the small pile of empty Star containers of varying sizes. "What did I do exactly? How were you able to anchor him from me to his new body?"
"What you did was more or less an impromptu wakemitama," the lone medic answered, now pouring out what smelled like chicken soup from the kettle into a bowl. "The alternative term is 'bunrei,' 'spirit splitting' in a nutshell. Basically, dividing a spirit while still retaining everything and not losing anything before it gets re-enshrined to its new home, as performed in my father's home country - think of it like lighting a candle with an already lit candle. My father's done it a few times when I was younger, so I had a good idea of what happened. The various orbs was to help form a vessel with your blood to properly give the foundation because, well..." Sláine gave a weak shrug.
/"...he is more or less still you, Master,"/ Yamato finished dryly. /"Once the empty body was finished forming, his soul settled right in with little difficulty. The only thing left was to make sure all of his vitals were stable, hence the Vital Stars."/
Normal humans attributed miracles to being acts of gods, although Vergil wasn't sure if that really applied to the current situation, unless looking at it from the supernatural definition. And then there was that issue of V's exact relation to him. Devils copying another's image at their origin, see Trish. Devils identical to each other through artificial means, see Lucia. "Offshoot" just sounded wrong.
That wasn't even getting into his own feelings towards the human side he had tried to discard, like the tantrum-throwing child he would've been accused of - throwing away something he didn't like. The side that he had considered weak and in the way of obtaining power.
Yet V had lived - not just existed, lived - during those forty-six days alongside the also discarded nightmares since their forced separation.
"From the sea of my soul...!"
A hard yank, gritting his teeth at the blinding white light that suddenly replaced the darkness around them as the slender body cleared the water.
"...stand again and see with thine own eyes!"
It was Dante's human love on remembering Eva, gaining him close friends without even realizing it.
"Strength is a choice, Verge. Fighting like hell to protect what's important, and you know how stubborn humans are." A small smile and a head tilt at the additional picture frames on the desk.
Nero's own human love to forge on in spite of his own tragedies and pain was what gained him family.
"I hated myself for not having enough strength to protect Credo that day. S'why I jumped in, because I wasn't going to let you two die. ...Father." A quick rub on the nose, chin lifting stubbornly.
Maybe it was the same for him.
"'Love seeketh not itself to please, Nor for itself hath any care...'" Vergil mused, savoring a spoonful. "Truly, love is blind."
"'But for another gives its ease, And builds a heaven in hell's despair,'" a voice croaked weakly from the other bed. It was hard to tell if that slight crook to V's lips was a badly hidden grimace or something else. "Yet 'love is kind,' is it not?"
"Hn." Despite himself, Vergil could feel his lips curl up a bit.
"What day is it?" V carefully turned his head to look about for a calendar.
/"The third of May,"/ Yamato replied, sounding far more like her composed self.
Shocked silence, and an unexpected weak laugh escaped from the more frail part-devil, that of genuine delight. "Truly, 'I am but two days old.'"
This time, Vergil did smile a bit. "'Sweet joy, but two days old.'"
Sláine simply sighed through his nose, shaking his head. "Less poetry, more soup for you, Vergil, and we'll see if you can stomach some as well, V."
Glacial eyes and dark blue-green eyes immediately looked at each other at the same time as Sláine shuddered in the background at the eerie stereo effect. Even Yamato gave off a surprised rattle.
Separated beings once again, but the following thought that ran through their minds prompted identical mischievous smirks to grow at the same time, something Vergil hadn't done since childhood.
Dante and Nero almost Triggered at the sudden full body chills that ran down their spines while repairing the younger hunter's roof that had been damaged from a recent storm. Wide ice blue eyes met equally wide stormy blue eyes, and both hastily made sure that whatever arsenal they currently had on hand was closer.
V leaned back against the cushion of the booth, soaking in the warm ambiance of the pub as well the smell of food wafting about, glad to be outside of the hotel room after two more days of being cooped up. Vergil and Sláine were a couple tables over on negotiating with the agent and client who had contracted Vergil to handle the feral banshees, namely extra compensation. It was mostly because Sláine had to be the one to take care of the two banshees alone when Vergil became "unexpectedly incapacitated," plus a surprise ambush by a pack of Hell Cainas and Judeccas when it wasn't really his case.
(Watching the older pair play some twisted version of "good cop, bad cop" was quite entertaining, in part due to how petulant the client was not wanting to pay what was appropriate. The part of "resources used in exotic pest extermination is difficult to obtain" not being comprehended by the client was deserving of Vergil's chilling displeasure. V couldn't blame the agent's growing exasperation.)
Two tables away, V could hear a group of business folk discuss over an upcoming deal. From behind, a waiter trying to soothe the ruffled feathers of an unhappy patron over an order due to the differences on what was expected and the reality of the ordered dish. Nearby, the giggling whispers of several girls, mostly commenting on his, Vergil, and Sláine's exotic appearances, namely his and Vergil's distinct silver-white hair. (V was sure he wasn't the only one who became a bit uncomfortable at some of the more salacious comments.) Near the entrance, greetings from the front desk as a new group of patrons came in for their reservation. Another group passed by after having paid their check, talking excitedly about an exhibit.
No scrambling on difficult to stomach rations or escorting a group of civilians to the nearest squadron at the barricades. No arguing on trying to improve coordination between the four of them, Nero included when they teamed up.
No struggling of his failing body being held together by strings of demonic power that faded at each passing hour.
For the first time since his brief existence - 'Or is it the second time? No, first.' - V could actually relax and enjoy a cup of tea.
Which was promptly ruined when a body crashed against his booth's table, jostling his hold. He was glad the hot liquid landed mostly on the table, although he couldn't say the same for one of the scones.
"Oi! What the hell was that for?!" the shoved woman shouted, standing back up and stomping away.
"You call this a work of art? I call this a piece of shit!" Her accuser jabbed a finger at what looked like a mottled gray stone the size of his fist sculpted into a rough sphere sitting in a padded box, her multiple bangles jangling. "This thing is just a lump of stone, not some prized sculpture you claimed over the phone!"
"Hey! I paid good money for the trip to get that!" the redhead spat. "The fixer all but said that it's worth more than its weight in gold! Some priceless artifact, at that!"
"Ha! From what I can see here, this thing is worth less than the rocks your fixer probably walks on!" the brown-haired woman sneered.
As the two continued to squabble over it, V studied the item in question and cautiously probed it with a bit of demonic energy teased out. He was surprised to feel a faint flicker of demonic power echo back. (Sláine had been insistent that he'd go easy using his demonic powers when he accidentally pulled a Royal Fork out of reflex after being startled by a brawl going off in the next room - the plus side was not feeling as tired like before.)
Whimsical wasn't really in Vergil's nature, and that applied to him as well. That was more of Dante.
But this was his own life...
"If I could make a proposition?" V spoke up just as the women were about to come to blows and one of the concerned waitstaff walked over. "I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. It would be of no trouble if I were to take the offending item off from both of your hands. One of my... brothers happens to run a shop that specializes in potentially interesting items, and I find that rather interesting."
"Yeah?" The brunette narrowed her eyes at him. "What's the catch? Freaky goth like you has got to have something behind."
'Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to dress like how I did before...'
"What she said," the red-head chimed in, jabbing a thumb. "If she's not going to take it off my hands, your offer better be damn good."
"No strings attached, no questions asked, if that is your concern. Consider this satisfying a curiosity of mine, as one person's refuse may be another person's prized possession." V spread out his hands with a smile as disarming as he could make, remembering Nico and Nero's quips about him "looking a bit creepy." "Let me speak with my brother and his associate to see about proper payment, if that is alright with you, miss."
Seeing that she was no longer involved, the brown-haired woman left with one last glare at the other woman. Relieved, the waiter went back to his duties.
"If you can wait a few more minutes." V tilted his head at Vergil and Sláine, looking as if their negotiating was almost complete from the way how deflated the client appeared and the highly restrained smugness all but radiating from Vergil. Pleased that she had sat down, V filled two cups and breathed in his deeply, savoring the aroma. "'To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour.'"
All he got was a blank stare from the red-haired woman.
V sighed softly in mild disappointment. "'Wandering in many a coral grove, Fair Nine, forsaking Poetry...' It seems the old arts are not as appreciated as they used to be."
Other than curious looks from the other two part-devils, the redhead was pleased at the amount on the check Sláine wrote out, all but skipping out of the pub. Which left V studying the stone oval, slender fingers gently tracing a faint spot.
"It's not just a stone carving," Vergil spoke quietly, sitting next to him. "A dormant demon bird's egg."
"And you would be correct." V hummed lowly. "By normal sights, it is simply a piece of rock with a dense nature. To the wary, all it needs is a steady supply of power to nurture for its hatching, if our research on most Hellbirds still holds true. Better to not let this young one fall into the wrong and unknowing hands."
"Well, YOU have fun explaining to Dante when we get back," Sláine sighed, snatching a scone and working away on it with gutso. He also ignored the barely visible and identical smirks being exchanged.
Despite a minor kerfluffle regarding V's shaky status even with the excuse of being Vergil's "newly discovered relative" (not to mention paperwork expedited via the backchannels at the embassy), it was easy to declare the egg as a souvenir when they went through customs.
After boisterously laughing upon hearing Vergil's mishap and getting a Summoned Sword to the head in response before the older twin did an about face and left the main office (citing an errand), Dante thoughtfully stared at the egg before simply smiling at his newest family member. He hadn't missed the somewhat melancholic look showing up on V's face at several points, strange as it was, but it was probably no different than when he'd looked at Eva's picture.
"I've been meaning to renovate and repair the shop soon either way, so perfect timing. You're gonna have to keep the chickie in your room, though. Maybe pick up falconry at that, given how most Hellbirds are."
V released the breath that he didn't know he had been holding in, loosening his fingers around the padded box cradling the egg and a Devil Star. "Thank you, Dante."
"Bah, you're my brother." The younger twin flapped his hand flippantly, not bothering to stop the slightly goofy grin. "Vergil's my freezing stick-up-his-ass big bro, you're my nerdy goth big bro. (Although I think technically you're my little bro...) Consider this a late birthday present from me."
Warmth suffused his chest upon hearing that, ducking his head in an attempt to hide the smile he was suddenly fighting and trying not to bite his lip (a habit he and Vergil still occasionally did). While V had believed that Dante would've accepted him regardless, even with the half-truths during the whole Urizen situation, the heavy sense of worry being lifted was relieving. "And you're still our foolish annoying little brother."
"Heh. Ah, that reminds me." Dante jerked a thumb at a pile of paper sitting on the coffee table. "You gonna pick a name, bro? One of the pencil pushers I know said that it'll make things harder if you're gonna stick with just 'V,' although we can still use that as a nickname."
He knew he had forgotten something. "That... will require some extra time to ponder over."
where nest parent?
callcallcall where nest parent notsafe no nest parent
oh nest parent!
strange nest parent but come with yummy
Yummy, yummy, so hungry!
Yummy taste funny...
Oh! Hurt Nest Parent's not-wings!
No mean to hurt Nest Parent! Mean no yummy!
"It's alright, little one. I'm not angry."
Not-wings very gentle on head. Nest Parent not mad?
"You just entered the world, a simple mistake." Next Parent's not-beak changed shape, not-wings on head made chest feel funny but warm. "I will heal. So, eat."
Happy Nest Parent not mad. Nest Parent look funny, but feel safe.
Hungry, more yummy, but careful. No hurt Nest Parent.
Full, so much yummy. Nest Parent picking up with not-wings? Not-feathers feel nice.
"'Till the little ones, weary, No more can be merry.'" Strange sounds from Nest Parent's chest, not-beak again curling. "'Like birds in their nest, Are ready for rest.' Enough for now, little one."
Nest Parent... feels familiar.
"Hm. What shall I name you?"
Hope good name.
"'Sweet moans, dovelike sighs, Chase not slumber from thy eyes.'"
Lady raised an eyebrow as she stared at the dozing chick who sat in the lined box on V's lap. "'Griffon'? Seriously? Don't the three of you have a bad history?"
V gave a wan smile while shrugging lightly, careful not to jostle the Hellbird nestling that snuggled further into the towel-lined box. Vergil had been fortunate to have a volume on birds of the Demon World, and one of the illustrations matched both the young he was raising and what Dante remembered of the adult that had served Mundus. Part of the description explained how Griffon's species inspired the Thunderbird mythology. "The one who accompanied me was... a companion who truly grew on you over time."
"Even if there were a few times on the... consideration of taking up Nicoletta's suggestion to see how he tasted," V added almost impishly.
The lone human bit her lip on trying not to laugh at the raised eyebrow from Vergil, who apparently didn't quite remember that detail - Nico had gleefully recounted that exchange. Instead, she studied the demonic chick, knowing better than to reach out and touch since she noticed V's protective body language. The gray fuzzy down reminded her of raptor chicks from the few times she had visited zoos, but the split bottom mandible pointed at his supernatural origins. "But, really, why that name?"
A pause, as V silently stroked the fluffy down. He could also feel Vergil's interest from the way glacial eyes glanced at him from one of the folders the older twin had been working on. Part of V had wanted to go with a different name, so that this nestling wouldn't be burdened by his predecessors' sins and legacy. Yet at the same time, he felt that he'd be dishonoring such a loyal companion who had been atoning in his own way. V couldn't forget the way how the bird's head would nuzzle at times after teasing him with the "princess" comments, how eyes with multiple irises closed under slow strokes on wings that was almost preening. How he curled around rippling feathers on catching what little rest they could as they went about the crumbling city.
Soft chirping roused him from his thoughts, gleaming dark eyes looking up at him with utter trust and love as beak opened and closed, demanding to be fed. V smiled as he carefully doled out small strips of meat, going slowly to avoid choking the chick and being accidentally nipped again.
"The Griffon I traveled with... had been doing good for those that were in Red Grave, in spite of our natures. My hope is that this Griffon can continue that legacy of reparations."
"Redemption calls unto, All of those who persist with the strength of the few..."
Dark blue-green eyes blinked as that lyric in Eva's soft voice drifted through his mind. He caught Vergil's eyes, who no doubt shared his mildly surprised look on unexpectedly thinking that line as well. V - Vergil - had been pursuing exactly that with just his - their - familiars, even though it hadn't been quite their primary goal.
'How... appropriate.' He held his fingers still as the small beak nibbled a bit at the remnants, pecking lightly at his fingernails in examination before looking about his surroundings.
"Speaking of names." Lady tilted her head at him. "What about yours?"
It wasn't quite a new beginning, but it was still a new lease on life for him.
"'I was angry with my friend: I told my wrath, my wrath did end,'" Vergil murmured thoughtfully.
Gently caressing Griffon's tiny head, V let out a soft laugh, enjoying the soft chirping at the questioning head tilt.
"You can call me... Vitale."