Broken fingernails clawed fruitlessly at the black ichor creeping up on his limbs, yet no matter how much he scrabbled and scratched at the material, it kept creeping up.
He could feel the stickiness seep into the scratches he's caused on himself.
A brown-covered book slowly sunk into the inky darkness to his right.
A white sword slowly cracked as the shards floated to his left.
A red amulet wrapped in gold that was dangling in front of him faded away.
"The heart is a tumor of weakness."
He raged against the chains slowly wrapping around him, gradually freezing his limbs and then his heart.
"So let me rid you of it."
Gnarled roots constricted around his throat, forcing him to thrash about in order to be able to breathe.
"You need neither ego, nor memories."
The shell that formed around his limbs started to tighten.
"I will bestow upon you a new name, servant of the Demon Emperor."
Blackness, almost darker than the void, oozed over his wide eyes.
"Your new name will be..."
Blue-green eyes snapped open, and V fought to control his harsh breathing as he practically fell out of his bed, the sheets reminding him too much of the constricting armor.
"V?" Yellow eyes blinked in the dim room, feathers rustling as Griffon bobbed on the floor towards him, talons softly clicking on wood. "You alright?"
"I'm..." Saying "fine" would be a lie, because he was anything but fine. He ran a hand through sweaty bangs, taking in deep gulps of air and wishing for the chill of autumn instead of the heat of summer. At least his body wasn't cracking and fading away like before, the few times he's woken from restless and unsavory sleep. "I'll recover. I simply... need a moment."
The demonic eagle would've made some kind of snarky comment like his immediate predecessor, but also like his namesake, Griffon knew when to hold his beak. Instead, he rubbed his head against V with a soft trill, as if trying to reassure the half-devil.
Feeling his heart calm down, V accepted the gesture for several moments before standing up, prompting a curious tilt from Griffon.
"Where ya going?"
He paused at the door frame. "Tea might be of some assistance."
"If you say so." With several hops, Griffon went back to his nest box and fluffed his feathers before going back to sleep. Tea wasn't something that interested him, not like training with his lightning, beak, talons, and exchanging insults with Dante.
V was partially surprised to also see Vergil and Nero both nursing steaming mugs in the dark kitchen, moonlight from the window amplifying the shadowed bags under bleary blue eyes and mussed hair. Without a word, Vergil poured hot water from the kettle and gently pushed over a mug towards V, while Nero nudged over the jar of honey. Vergil would normally never use teabags, but V wouldn't be surprised if his other half wanted something a little faster at the moment - he had been thinking of using teabags as well while coming down the stairs.
For several moments, the three of them quietly sat in Dante's kitchen, attempting to chase away the lingering shadows.
"Mundus with the armor," V spoke first softly, adding another spoonful of honey and then breathing in the soothing aroma of chamomile. "The book sinking."
Vergil didn't quite twitch, but his jaw did tighten a bit. He had almost anticipated that there would be some kind of link or bond between him and his "youngest brother", different from with Dante's. "Yamato broken, and my - our - amulet dangled before us as if a carrot before a horse."
V's eyebrows pinched, not quite having thought of them sharing the same nightmare at the same time. On the other hand, given what they had went through and how he came to be, he should've expected that.
Nero slowly blinked between his father and "uncle" before sighing through his nose, taking a sip. Even though V was a bit more relaxed than Vergil, him actually sharing something personal was still just as rare. 'Guess I might as well...' "Credo getting stabbed by the old fart," he mumbled. Strands from his loosened braid partly covering his face as he ducked his head, staring into his mug. "...I couldn't do anything because the old fart got the shitty giant statue to grab me."
The sudden surge of parental rage from their demonic sides was unexpected, and both of them struggled to reign their instincts back in (the process a little more difficult for Vergil than V). Ever since Nero's poisoning experience and time spent with Kyrie, Vergil had noticed that sense of protectiveness over the couple (as well their foster children), something that apparently had copied over to V as well. It wasn't completely unpleasant in either men, only the fact that they disliked it flaring up at inopportune times. Both older part-devils simultaneously closed their eyes, slipping into the meditative breathing pattern learned so long ago to refocus their minds. Almost unintentionally, they echoed each other as words from memory left their lips, raising the hairs on the back of Nero's neck.
"'Sweet dreams, form a shade
O’er my lovely infant’s head,
Sweet dreams of pleasant streams,
By happy, silent, moony beams.'"
Like a spell, the gloom between the three of them seemed to lift, the night calm and soothing again. Blinking sleepily at their odd synchronicity (and flushing a bit at the poem used), Nero figured he could bother both of them later when they weren't so sleep deprived. Going by the quick looks exchanged between the two, Vergil and V were apparently of the same mind as well as they set to finish off their mugs.