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Mending the Weave

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You were ecstatic to be back out in the field with Nero again once your menstrual cycle was over.  The rest of the Devil May Cry crew had picked up both your slack while you were out of commission, and Dante wasted no time in teasing you over it.  Meeting Lady and Trish was something you’d never forget thanks to that.  Lady had promptly shot the red-dressed Devil Hunter, and you were pale at the thought of him dying to one of his own friends. 

Nero had rubbed a calming hand down your back with a little smile.  “I’ve lost count how many times she’s shot him just in the head, so this is definitely nothing.”  He then kicked Dante’s foot and griped, “Get up, asshole.  It was a clean shot, so you were healed before you even hit the floor.”  It worked much better on the older part-Devil than a punch to the mouth.

“Okay, okay,” Dante had said while holding his hands out to the side, “The kid doesn’t like those jokes; got it!”

“Damn right, I don’t,” the younger man had huffed, though he knew there were way too many methods to light his fuse.  You couldn’t help feeling amused since, despite his agitation, he still lifted his uncle off the floor with a spectral claw.  “Don’t push this button, either, old man,” he warned with a glare. 

Dante’s grin had been easy and jovial as he elbowed Nero’s arm and assured, “Hey, I know how to choose my battles.  I only aggravate ya ‘cause I like ya.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Nero had grumbled, but you felt how his mood lifted since they actually listened when he said to stop.

Seeing Trish had thrown you for a bit of a loop, though she dressed and styled her hair differently from Eva.  She was sweet when she wanted to be, but there was a steel to her that wasn’t tempered by the motherhood that Eva had experienced.  It was easy for you to reconcile the difference, though, since you dealt with twins often enough.

“Hey.”  Gentle fingers stroked down your cheek, bringing you out of your thoughts as you leaned subconsciously into Nero’s touch.  “I already warned you against gettin’ lost in there, teeny,” he teased.  You huffed at him with a little smile and twisted your head to playfully bite down on his finger.  His eyes flashed as he licked his lips.  He stared with growing desire until he blinked rapidly and groaned softly, muttering, “Don’t start what we can’t finish…  We’re almost there.”

You pouted after releasing the digit, looking out at Fortuna’s port.  It didn’t take long for your excitement of seeing Kyrie, the boys, and Aurora again to overwhelm your slight frustration over not getting to have Nero.  “It’d be fun, though,” you mentioned, reaching out to grab the rail of the ferry.  “Instead of rocking the boat, we could rock with the boat.”

Nero shivered all over, his eyes closing as he took in a shuddering breath.  “You’re hornier than me, and I’m the one who’s part-demon.”

You grinned up at him, reaching up to cup his cheek and trace over his bottom lip with your thumb. “That didn’t sound like a complaint.”

“Never will be,” he assured with a little laugh, “just an observational statement.”

_______

Arriving at Kyrie’s house would always be an adventure that you looked forward to.  The boys promptly tackled Nero into the yard, his joy overwhelming you with giggles, and Nico shouted pointers at the kids while backing the van into the garage.  Kyrie welcomed you with a warm hug as the smells of dinner cooking enveloped you.  You didn’t get to think on it too long as Carlo tugged you into the lump of wrestling children in the yard, and you certainly included Nero in that.

The boys quickly learned Nero only stayed pinned if you were the one doing it.  You picked up on their new, devious plan as they worked together to set him up for you, grinning widely while happily going along with it.  It ended with both of you buried in a dogpile, but you were all laughing.

The flash of a camera drew everyone’s attention, and Nico smirked as she waved a freshly printed photo back and forth.  “This’un’s gettin’ framed,” she said while slipping inside to show Kyrie.

You looked down at Nero with a smile, giggling when he tried to scowl but couldn’t stop a grin from growing across his face.  “C’mon,” you mumbled, “these three brats are breaking my back, and I’m hungry.”

“We’re not that heavy!” Julio retorted.

“Yeah!” Kyle barked in agreement, “Nero’s not complainin’! And we’re not brats!”

So?” you replied while wriggling around to make them roll off you.

“You’re just mad ‘cause you’re tiny,” Carlo jumped into the funny, little argument.

What?!” you belted out, not soothed in the slightest by how fast Julio clapped his hand over the younger boy’s mouth.

Nero groaned as you sprang up onto your feet.  “You asked for it, Carlo!” he teased, deciding to just lie on the grass and watch you chase them all around the yard.

_______

It was after the kids had been put to bed that Kyrie settled with you and Nero in the kitchen.  You had never seen Nero drink tea before, but he sipped calmly on it after she poured him a cup, though you could feel his light distaste.  It was obvious that he only drank it because Kyrie made it for him.  Coffee would’ve been a bit too much, anyway, for how late it was, so her thoughtfulness of that was appreciated.

“So,” you spoke up while holding your own steaming cup, “I’m always happy to visit, and you know he,” you nodded at Nero, “is, but you sounded a bit worried over the phone.  What’s up?”

She looked between you and Nero before giving a little smile.  “You’re both a bit too perceptive,” she teased then gave a soft sigh and explained, “The Holy Knights are stretched thin because of a recent increase in demonic sightings…but they can’t reach out for help.  All the attacks have resulted in damages that Fortuna can’t afford to repair if extra hands are hired…”

Nero reached across the table and gently covered her trembling hand with his steady one.  “Spilling hot tea on your hands won’t fix it,” he mumbled with a tiny smile, feeling your agreement before even giving you a questioning glance.  “We’ll help.  If it’s bad enough, I’ll call the idiots in, too.”

Kyrie tried not to giggle, but you snickered at her attempts to school her expression, so she lost it while Nero grinned at you.

_______

The first couple days were a bit slow, but the following two weeks were extremely hectic.  There were some stretches of time where you and Nero didn’t get to rest and barely managed to choke down a quick sandwich between demons.  Kyrie kept a few of those sandwiches ready in the refrigerator, though, and Nico was happy to help with supply runs.

The Holy Knights had been standoffish at best when either of you were around, but a few had purposely left you open to attack during a skirmish.  When the demons failed to take you down, you rounded on the soldiers and promptly beat them into the ground.  If they were so petty as to let their help get injured or killed, then you didn’t believe they were good enough to protect innocent people.

You wasted no time in reminding them, “I’m not doing this for you, ya stupid pieces o’ shit.”  You stomped on the back of the idiot currently lying facedown in front of you, giving a little smirk as you dug the heel of your boot in a bit.  “I’m doin’ this for Kyrie, her kids, Aurora, and Nero.  You’re just garbage.”

You sensed Nero coming closer, and you didn’t want him worrying with what these idiots had pulled, but as you made to turn away, one couldn’t resist a parting shot.

“And you’re no Devil Hunter!  You’re just a mediocre demon magnet!”

“Then what does that make you?” you retorted with a smirk, belatedly realizing you really needed to stop hanging around Vergil so much.  “After all, you just lost to this ‘mediocre demon magnet,’ and that was after you left me to die against a whole pack of upper-tier demons.  Maybe you need to go back to basic training, little boy.”

“I’ll drag them all there myself.”  The growl made you shiver, and your gaze was drawn to Nero as he prowled up to your side in his fury.  His eyes were the coldest you had ever seen, like chips from an arctic glacier.  He looked very much like his father at that moment with the displeased scowl, but the slight curl of his lip that made the expression somewhat feral was all him.  His words did all the cutting that he held himself back from using his sword to do.  “I told you useless scum that I wouldn’t tolerate that from anyone, much less those who swore to uphold Credo’s ideals.  You don’t deserve that uniform.”

You could feel his desire to fight and put them all in their place.  It made you a little antsy, and you had to resist the urge to fidget, but you were proud of him for not acting on it since you had already driven the point home physically.  Anything further would only cause problems for Kyrie and Aurora, though they’d both cheer Nero on anyway.

Nero sighed and threaded his fingers between yours, surprising you for a moment.  “C’mon…” he muttered with a little tug of your hand, “The stench of their bullshit is clogging up my nose, and I’m sure there are some actual demons elsewhere that need killing.”  You snorted with a little smile, gladly following him wherever he led.  “I’ll see about giving them some etiquette training later.”

You really didn’t think Nero and ‘etiquette’ fit on the same page, much less in a sentence, but you didn’t have to say anything as he gave you a bland glare for your growing amusement.

_______

Once the demons had been cleared out of the town, small squads were assigned to sweep other areas of the island.  You and Nero took Mitis Forest due to it being riddled with demonic energy normally ever since the Savior incident, which had the bonus of giving you both some peace away from any Holy Knights.  Nero was in desperate need of soothing his Devil instincts after denying himself the need of destroying those who attacked his mate.  You loved watching his Triggered form in action, so you were quite happy to play a supportive role by taking out demons attempting to ambush him with your weapon’s gun mode.

Once the area was empty and he had calmed enough to return to his human form, you led the way to the waterfall and shallow river.  “If we track all this filth back with us, Kyrie won’t let us in the house,” you mumbled with a smile while working his gory clothes off his body, “so let’s get rid of the worst here and maybe the last of that frustration, too, shall we?”

He grinned down at you, and the blood on his face and in his hair made the stormy blue of his eyes stand out so much more brilliantly.  “You have some of the best ideas,” he answered, moving to return the favor of unclothing you and helping to quickly rinse both your hunting gear before stepping under the waterfall with you.  Your hiss at the chill made him snicker, so you hugged your cold skin against his heated flesh tightly.  “Shit, that is cold…” he grumbled, not able to feel the difference until it wasn’t an environmental thing any longer by changing the temperature of your own body.

“It’s alright,” you assured as you used your hands to scrub the majority of yourself clean.  After he had done the same, you stepped into his open arms and hummed in pleasure before saying, “You’ll just have to warm me up.” 

His big hands cupped your bottom as you leapt up to wrap your legs around his waist.  “Always will,” he replied while pressing you against a rock that had been worn smooth by the water and catching your mouth in a gentle-but-needy kiss.

_______

After another couple days, demon sightings and attacks calmed to a manageable level for the Holy Knights.  Those currently in charge thanked you and Nero for aiding them, and you gave them a couple extra notches of respect for coming right out and saying they had no way to pay you for your time.  Nero laid their worry to rest quite simply and with a little smile, but they couldn’t feel the feral anticipation within him.

“You guys have been kind to my family despite Fortuna’s view of me, and we all need help sometimes, but, uh…” he paused to make sure he had their attention, “I wouldn’t mind giving those…rookies a refresher course.”

You smiled at Nero’s subtle hints toward the Knights.  As long as they continued being good to and protective of those he loved, he would help them even if they couldn’t afford him.  They also understood this and were happy to agree with just about anything he wanted.  You thought they were a bit naïve for believing they were getting some free training for their less-skilled Knights from Credo’s best soldier.

Nero had called himself Credo’s shadow when he spoke about his older brother and mentor.  When he was a child, it meant that he followed the man everywhere and learned everything he could from him, but once he grew older, he meant it in a darker sense.  They all knew he was an Officer within the Holy Knights and answered only to Credo.  What that actually meant was, when the man needed something done that he couldn’t do himself or couldn’t trust anyone else to take care of, he sent Nero.  It had actually kept Nero out of undeserved trouble many times due to being an alibi. 

“I didn’t know him,” you said as you and Nero began the walk back to Kyrie’s house, “but if I can tell just by knowing Kyrie, Credo would be very proud of you.”

Nero’s cheeks turned a light pink, and he scratched his nose with a tiny smile.  “Thanks…  I know you’re kinda biased, but I still appreciate it,” he replied, grinning when you stuck your tongue out at him.  “If you’re not gonna use it…”

“Oh, I plan to,” you assured with a smirk, “It’s the when that’s being an issue,” then frowned when he cringed a little.  You nudged his arm before he had a chance to feel guilty.  “I don’t hold respecting Kyrie and the boys against you, Nero, and besides,” you took his hand and pressed your lips to his fingers, “I really want to eat out your Devil form again.”  His cheeks flushed a little as his eyes glowed, a quiet rush of air slipping out of his mouth in a wanting pant.  “I love your sounds, but you are kinda loud…”

He pouted at you and muttered, “I’m not the reason the neighbors called the police.”  Your face lit up brilliantly as you remembered your nearly shrill cry.  “I mean, I’ll take part of the blame,” he graciously offered with a satisfied, little smirk, “since it was my cock that you were screamin’ on.”  His smirk grew in correlation with the increase of heat in your face.

You huffed and challenged, “We’ll see who’s screaming this time,” as Kyrie’s house came into view across the empty streets.  You wondered how long it would take before people felt safe enough to leave their homes again.  Nero’s feeling of victory drew your attention back to him, and you elbowed him while grumbling, “Jerk.”

“Family trait,” he retorted with a snicker.  You poked his side roughly, which made him squeak and scowl at you.  “Hey…” he called softly before you reached the porch, “If things are this bad here…what are they like for Gramps and Grams…?”

Your eyes widened, and you whispered, “Oh, shit…”  His expression became a determined scowl, and you knew what his mind settled on without him having to speak.  “I’ll call Vergil and Dante,” you said as you turned back to the porch.  “We don’t have a way to get there without help or a way to contact them.  It’d probably be dangerous to open a portal for them right now, anyway.”

Nero gave an affirmative noise as he entered the house behind you.  “We don’t know what situation the other guys are in right now, either,” he added onto your planning.  “For now, things look okay here in Fortuna.  I don’t know if there are other places that are getting overwhelmed.”

“I’ll check with them on that, too,” you assured, leaving him to update Kyrie, Nico, and the boys as you went for the phone.

_______

Vergil was the only one at the shop, defending it and the Temen-ni-gru by himself.  Meanwhile, Lady and Trish were taking care of Red Grave City, and Dante was in a place called Vie de Marli.  You knew barely anything about the last one but shelved your ponderings for later.  When you told Vergil of your concerns, the line quickly went dead before he was stepping out of a portal almost on top of the coffee table.

Nero seized up a little, twisting toward the energy with one hand on Red Queen’s hilt.  You didn’t miss that he angled himself with his right side behind him, and a gentle, soothing croon sounded low within your throat as you took his guarded hand.  He blushed a little under Vergil’s piercing gaze and stared at the floor while lowering his left hand from Red Queen.  “S-Sorry…” he stammered softly, “Just…bad timing…bad placing…and-and really keyed up…” and tried not to freeze when Yamato’s sheathed tip tilted his chin up.

You noticed how Vergil’s eyes weren’t hard or judging, simply steady and calm.  His voice was the softest you’d ever heard it as he stated, “You, Nero, are the only person whom I regret carelessly harming.”  Nero gasped quietly, his eyes wide, as he took his father’s words as the apology they were.  The older part-Devil’s stare became extremely calculating, and you wondered what was going through his mind, but none of you had time to sit down and talk, so he simply said, “Should any of the others find themselves able to return, then I will join you.  Until then, be safe,” while slicing open a portal to Hell.

Kyrie had kept the boys in the kitchen throughout Vergil’s impromptu entrance, and you looked over at her.  The expression on her face was the coldest that you had ever seen as she glared at Vergil, and it caused your words to get hung in your throat.  It occurred to you that she would have been the one to find Nero after he had been attacked.  “…Kyrie?” you called softly, shivering as that terrifying look on her face warmed once her eyes shifted to you, “Can we, um…talk?  When we get back?”

“Of course,” she assured with a little smile, “I think Nero’s left me out of the demonic loop again.”

He winced and rubbed the back of his head.  That was a nervous tic you hadn’t seen before, but you also didn’t feel guilt from him very often and certainly not to this degree.  An exasperated sigh left your lips before you smiled at him.  “Dork,” you muttered while gently elbowing his side, feeling the remorse lessen within him as a sheepish grin grew on his face, “Looks like we need to have more than one good talk.”

“Yeah, yeah…” he grumbled, “I’m just not good at that stuff.”

“More like you’re not good at it when it’s about you,” you retorted as you both stepped through the doorway Vergil created.

Nero let out a frustrated groan and griped, “Stop poking logic-shaped holes in my madness!”

You both heard Vergil’s chuckles before the portal closed behind you.

_______

You and Nero exited the portal into absolute chaos, and only his split-second Trigger and leap into the air saved you both from being skewered by multiple demons.  “Over there!” you yelled over the noise and pointed out a clear area.  Sparda and Eva weren’t overwhelmed by any means, but there were too many for them to stop the demons from escaping to the human world.

“Let’s clear some of these bastards out,” Nero said then tossed you up into the air.  You used the gun mode of your blade to take out enemies to give you both a safer place to land as whiteish-blue energy built up around Nero.  He streaked at the ground and unleashed the power in a devastating attack.  All the demons within an impressive radius were vaporized, and he calmly caught you as he stood back up.  “That evened the playing field a bit,” he muttered with a snicker.

“Flashy but effective,” you teased while twisting around him with your gunblade to fire into the enemy horde, knowing the demons wouldn’t be stunned for long.

He stuck his long, bluish-black tongue out at you while sending out his own Summoned Swords.  You opened your mouth for the normal retort, but he interrupted with, “I always intend to use it,” then pressed his back to yours as he drew Blue Rose.

Each time one of the swarm was defeated, it felt like two demons took its place.  If you had been in the human world, you knew you would’ve died from exhaustion, but the strange atmosphere of the Underworld fed you and kept you going.  You noticed how that energy seemed to grow stronger within you each time a demon was killed.  “It really is survival of the fittest…” you mumbled in surprise, also realizing Nero had yet to drop out of his Devil form and concluding it was nurturing him.

Your attention was drawn fully back to the fight as you sensed Vergil’s familiar energy.  That was followed up by a darkening of the atmosphere before a countless number of slashes demolished the demons surrounding you and Nero.  You hadn’t been able to fight alongside Vergil yet, though you had heard of his various Judgment Cut attacks. 

“That’s fuckin’ cheatin’!” the younger part-Devil yelled out, hissing when, after a quick teleport, Vergil thumped him over the back of the head with Yamato.

You couldn’t help quipping, “He’s just using what he was born with.”  Nero’s jaw dropped in shock over you using his own words from so many months ago against him, making you snicker even as you took the break Vergil’s attack created to pat his cheek.  “C’mon, these demons aren’t gonna kill themselves.”

You grinned impishly when he pouted at you.

_______

Once the demons were either dead or fleeing, you were beyond fidgety with how much energy had built up within you from the battle feeding you, and Nero wasn’t much better off.  The need to do something gnawed at you both and made it very hard to focus.  Nero groaned quietly when he tried to return to human form and couldn’t, and Vergil smirked in amusement while Sparda and Eva made their way toward you.  You slid your twitching hand into the younger part-Devil’s as he shot a pleading look toward his father and grandparents.

Vergil took mercy on the two of you and explained, “This is what it’s like without Mundus’s little contraption absorbing the essence of the Underworld.  You can either ride out the burst…or help it fade more quickly.  I’ve found masturbation helps.”

Nero let out a pained noise and covered his face with his free hand, missing the tiny smirk his father let slip.  Your giggles at both of them refused to be stifled, so you buried your face against the younger man’s arm and teased, “C’mon, it’s not that bad…  Parents are supposed to teach us these things.”

“Geez, do any of you hear that squeakin’?” he muttered while rubbing his ear.  You bit his unarmored bicep hard in retaliation, and a moan burst from his throat that had him slapping his hand over his mouth and his face burning reddish-purple.  He stared at the other three with wide eyes, his embarrassment almost overpowering even the excess of energy.

“Although we wished to surprise you, your need is greater.  We have added a bedroom for you,” Sparda informed with a smile that was very understanding, but his lips twitched as he tried to hold in his own chuckles.  “It’s across the hall from Dante’s and Vergil’s rooms.  We shall wait for you before discussing these happenings.”

Neither of you needed the comments explained, and you stepped into Nero’s hold as he flared his wings out, unable to help laughing in delight when he leapt into the air and soared with you.  The house was warded with insanely powerful spells, and the safety you both felt upon crossing them had Nero stumbling through his landing, which was an opportunity you didn’t waste.  After tackling him to the floor of the gifted room, you shimmied out of your hunting gear, standing to get the pants off, then planted a bare foot on his chest when he tried to sit up and playfully growled, “I think I like you down there.”

He grinned with a lick of his lips and retorted, “If you want me under you that badly…I got a better idea.”  Your interest and desire made him let out a shaky sigh, and he took the feelings as the consent they were, reaching for you with his spectral claws.  He hummed with pleasure when you relaxed into his hold.  “C’mere…” he murmured while maneuvering you to face his legs and straddle his chest, “I’ll take care of you if you take care of me.”

You bit your lip and moaned at the thought of tasting him again.  “I’d take care of you anyway,” you assured then braced your weight on your forearms, sliding your tongue against the seam of his groin as his hands slid over your bottom.  He matched your movements, making you touch him the way you wanted to be touched.  You enjoyed his teasing, and he purred upon having his suspicions of how much confirmed, though your bodies were begging for release before you had started.

Nero’s hips tensed under your hands as his thighs trembled.  It was so hard not to squeeze your head with them, and he had a new admiration for your restraint all those times he made you come so hard that your vision blacked out.  He used one of his ethereal claws like a spreader, making a fist between his knees to keep himself from hurting you.

You moaned loudly at how he held his body open for you, the heated tension in your core bursting, and you suckled and tongued the tip of his cock until he had to muffle his noises in your flesh.  Your fingers, lips, and tongue stroked him gently through his climax while he did the same for you. 

He breathed a sigh of relief as he returned to his human form, though you sulked a little and muttered, “That’s not fair,” since he was fully clothed and clean while you had to pull your hunting gear back on.

Nero grinned and admitted, “I like having the chance to watch you,” with his chin on his fist.  You looked over your shoulder at where he sat on the bed and blushed at the intensity of his gaze, giving a little smile as you added an extra shake of your hips while pulling your pants on.  The needy groan was more than worth it, and you sucked in a breath when he swatted your bottom.  He pulled you against his body, though you were already leaning toward him and didn’t mind his hand cupping your throat and tilting your head upward.  “When all this shit calms down…” he breathed against your lips, “…I’m gonna make you scream.”

“Big words,” you taunted, pressing up a bit to make sure he felt your smirk.

He could also feel the want that welled up in you, not to mention smell your arousal, and he flicked his tongue at your mouth in a tease then retorted, “You know I can back ‘em up.”

You hummed a little moan in agreement.  “I’m up for a reaffirmation anytime,” you assured verbally, smiling at the mishmash of need, pride, and love within him.

_______

Nero was extremely shy and embarrassed upon returning to the others.  He couldn’t look any of them in the eye without his cheeks burning, which wasn’t helped when Sparda clapped him on the shoulder and made him flinch.  “My grandson is glorious!” his voice boomed with how proud he was.  “Your first time experiencing the power loop in the demonic realm, and yet you still managed to satisfy your mate along with yourself!”

Nero was completely mortified.  His jaw worked uselessly until he just stared at Eva for help in reining in her husband, but Vergil was the one to save him with a sighed, “Father…” and a roll of his eyes.  He then turned his exasperated gaze on his own son, though.  “Demons do not operate within human morals or insecurities, Nero.  A mate is precious, especially since most never find one and, of those that do, they’re just lowly scum and are too stupid to know what to do aside from-”

“I get it!” the younger part-Devil burst out, covering his face with a hand as he half-groaned, half-whimpered, “I get it, just please stop, shit, fuck, I get it, I get it…!

“Hushhh,” you shushed him while standing on your toes and tugging his head down to tuck his face in your neck, soothing the now-humiliation welling up in him with strokes of his hair, “Hush, now, lovely…  They’ll be quiet.”

Eva thankfully cut in at that point, staring curiously at Vergil.  “Speaking of mates…  Vergil, may I ask about yours?”

The complete agony that twisted the man’s face told its own story.  Nero had perked up quickly at the question, but he stayed silent at the pain he saw and reached over to gently grip his father’s shoulder.  Vergil took strength from it and softly answered, “I…  I don’t know,” before closing his eyes and breathing slowly for a minute.  “All that’s left of my bond with her…is merely a shredded hole,” he turned away slightly, and Eva reached out to cup his face with tears in her eyes, “…and Mundus took razor-wire to the edges of it.”

Sparda bared his teeth as his eyes glowed, the very ground beneath you quaking with his fury.  “He shall pay in blood,” he snarled, drawing in his own calming breath when Eva gently squeezed his hand before returning her palm to her son’s cheek.

“My sweet Vergil…” the Witch murmured, “In my experience, the bond dulls and fades once your mate passes.”  Both Vergil and Nero froze at her words, quickly processing what she was saying.  “If she were dead,” she explained bluntly, “the most you would feel should be a tingling warmth when remembering her.”

“She’s alive…?”  The older part-Devil sounded so hopeful, but you could barely think on it with the heartbreak that wrought havoc inside you.  This was the first time you had ever borne witness to just how well Nero could control his expressions.  Not a single sliver of his emotional or mental state showed on his face, and you realized at that moment just how much like his father he could be.  Vergil finally overcame his shock enough to breathe, “…But how would I find her…?”

“It is obvious you mated with a part-Angel,” Sparda spoke up with a thoughtful tone, “and bearing a child of such mixed energies would be difficult for any creature.”

“Sparda is right,” Eva agreed, “but Angels are susceptible to mind control if done correctly.”  Nero sucked a hissing breath through his teeth, jerking to face her completely as his Devil energy roiled over his body in both anger and shock.  “Wait, calm down!” she tried to tell him as she moved her hands placatingly.

“To hell with that!  You just said I’m-!”  His alarm had shot through you like lightning, and you were quickly interrupting him with a tug on the lapel of his coat.  A soft noise escaped him when you nuzzled his neck, and stress bled out of him at your soothing touch.  “…Sorry,” he mumbled, toeing at the ground in shame before he made to wrap his arms around you then aborted the motion with an embarrassed glance at the others.

You sighed quietly, rolling your eyes with fond exasperation and moving his arms to make him hold you.  The earlier comments were obviously still bothering him, but he did relax a little more.  He was on an emotional rollercoaster, and neither would you deny him comfort nor would you allow him to deny it to himself.  “What point were you trying to make, Eva?” you prompted, knowing there was a reason behind what she was saying.

Eva had a happy, little smile on her face as she watched you and Nero, and she sighed softly as she pulled her mind back on track before answering, “Hmm…  I doubt Sparda’s theory holds true.”  She stared intensely at Nero, her eyes glowing with power.  “Now that I know what I’m looking for, I can tell the Angelic power within Nero is strong, so Vergil’s mate’s ancestry would’ve been no Third Sphere weakling…or even Second Sphere, I believe.”

“So…” you bit your lip in a moment’s hesitation, “you’re thinking someone’s controlling her?”

“Either they are or had been,” she clarified then looked at Vergil.  “What can you remember about her?”

His brow furrowed in frustration, and he closed his eyes then covered his face with one hand.  His voice was strained when he answered, “Mundus twisted that, too.”  He pressed his lips together before outright frowning, clenching his teeth in obvious pain.  “I think…  Flowers?  And possibly…smoke?  No, not actual smoke, but…” he trailed off into a soft groan, sweat beading on his forehead from the effort.  

“…Wait,” you breathed, “Wait.  Flowers and smoke-but-not-smoke?  Incense?!”

Nero had gone very still, and he was barely louder than a whisper, “Aurora?”

Your mind was racing.  “The way you trusted her…  You didn’t balk when she asked about what happened at all…  Also, the way her power flowed into you…”  Your own hope mingled with his, though you could feel the hurt restraining it.  “Nero, the way she cares for you…  Something has to be wrong,” you tried to soothe him, “If she is your mom and knew it, she’d have a damn good reason for hiding it.”

Vergil had heard enough and twisted quickly toward open space.  “I assume this woman lives in Fortuna,” he stated, drawing Yamato and promptly slicing open a portal back to the human world.  He glanced once back at his father and mother, but they only smiled and nodded toward the tear.

You didn’t have a moment to think, moving with Nero when he half-leapt toward it and shouted, “Wait!  We don’t know if- Shit!”

The blue-dressed part-Devil was already striding through the gateway, Nero going after him to try to talk sense into him, and you barely managed to slip through before it closed.  Only Nero’s arm catching you prevented you from running off a dock.  You gripped that arm like a vice, reaching out and grabbing Vergil’s as well, and promptly gave them both an earful, “What the fuck is wrong with you?!  You can’t just barge into Aurora’s home, and if you,” you glared at the elder part-Devil, “would have waited just a damn minute, I could’ve told you she doesn’t know you!”

“You have no idea what I’m going-”

You didn’t let Vergil get a word in edgewise, interrupting him with, “I have plenty of an idea of what you’re going through!”  You growled at Nero when he opened his mouth.  “Remember when you brought him,” you pointed at Nero, “back to me, bleeding out and dyingI felt that wound, Vergil!  Why the hell do you think I was on the floor?!  We both get it!”  You let out a frustrated groan.  “Just…chill out for a second, would ya?”

Nero hadn’t had time to process everything yet, his shock still arcing through you, but he managed to bring his thoughts under control.  “Let me just…talk to her for a minute…please?” he asked quietly, staring right at Vergil.  “I’m not a stranger or hostile at all, and-and- I’m not…I’m not gonna scare her over a…over what could be a wild goose chase, okay?”

Vergil’s eyes narrowed, his teeth clenching so hard that his jaw was twitching.  His displeasure and frustration were obvious, but he breathed through them and relaxed a little.  “Very well.  You have fifteen minutes.”

You huffed and cut in, “I’m going with you,” while leading the way to Aurora’s shop and home.  Nero let out an offended noise, but you shot him a little smile and said, “Your emotions are such a mess right now…  If she doesn’t sense it, I’ll eat my gunblade.”

He scowled but muttered, “Point.”

Aurora still had her shop open, so Nero didn’t bother knocking.  You motioned once more for Vergil to wait, but he seemed lost as the scents from inside the little store enveloped him, so you quickly entered behind Nero.  A snicker escaped your lips since Aurora was already on Nero’s case, getting him into a chair with a cup of tea.

Neither of you got a chance to say a word as she immediately asked, “What corner of the demon world have you two been gallivanting off to?”  You let her mother you a bit, gratefully accepting the calming blend of tea that she handed you.  “I could sense you before you even got here,” Nero snorted into his cup, “and I know you brought someone with you.  What’s going on?”

Nero gazed at her for a long moment, eyes roaming her face, before he decided on asking, “About twenty-five years ago…what do you remember?”

A rather severe frown pulled her lips down.  Her voice was harsh as she scolded, “I’ve told you before, boy.  Don’t ask about my past.”

“Why?” you cut in, wincing at the hurt that struck through Nero as he physically recoiled like he had been hit.  Aurora blinked in surprise, her brow furrowing and eyes narrowing.  You ignored her suspicion, reaching out to gently guide Nero’s head to rest against your chest, cupping his other cheek and brushing your thumb over the skin. 

Aurora observed your actions, staring long and hard for a few moments.  “Why don’t you come clean with me?  What’s going on in your heads?”

Nero’s reluctance was hard to fight through, but you dropped a reassuring kiss to his hair and bluntly stated, “Some new things have come to light, and…we think you might be Nero’s mom.”

Her face whirled through a range of emotions.  Nero became more anxious and fidgety the longer she was silent, and it was only your hold that kept him in his seat.  You simply watched and waited, knowing how observant and smart the woman was from your first meeting with her.  A few moments passed before she opened her mouth a few times.  Her face was pale and her eyes wide with shock, but she softly said, “I can’t say whether I am or not…  My memories from more than about twenty years ago are spotty at best.”

You kept your voice gentle when you asked, “Will you please tell us what you do remember?”

“I…  I guess I can do that,” she whispered, stepping a little closer and reaching out to cup Nero’s face.  “Sweet boy…  Any woman would be blessed to have you as a son.”

His voice was a choked, raspy wreck when he quietly replied, “You’re one of only two women who have thought so.”

“Then shame on all the other ones,” she declared, smiling a little when a laugh bubbled out of him.  She made herself a cup of tea and sat so that she was facing you both.  “The most I can recall of my childhood is cold people in white, freezing rooms and hallways, strange machines, pain, exhaustion, and hunger…and so much loneliness…until freedom and victory.  I know I escaped from wherever I was, and I met a man who brought me here to Fortuna.  He said I would be safe here, taught me all I know about plants, oils, teas, and so on…”  A mirthless, little chuckle slipped through her lips.  “He was like a father to me, but he couldn’t have known about Sanctus and Agnus,” Nero couldn’t help snarling, and you even bared your teeth with his anger, “and they killed him to kidnap me.  Things get extremely…fragmented again…after that.”

“Take your time,” you mumbled when she paused to take a sip of her tea.  The fifteen minutes Vergil allotted you had definitely expired, and you figured he was eavesdropping, but you didn’t have the heart to call him out.  He and Nero both needed to know what Aurora was willing to share.  You wouldn’t be surprised if she knew he was listening since she had known it wasn’t just you and Nero to begin with.

Aurora smiled gratefully at you before letting out a soft sigh.  “There are moments when scents come through,” she paused a moment to close her eyes, “I can remember leather…and a bit of tea and aged paper…along with a crisp chill like fresh dew on an early-spring morning…”  A little smile curved her lips even as a light blush painted her cheeks.  “There was something else beneath it all that scared me and thrilled me, drew me in but warned me away…” 

Nero had gone very still against you, and the unadulterated hope that burned in him took your breath.

With eyes still closed and lost in bits of memory, Aurora had no idea the effect her words were having on him, and you didn’t want to interrupt her.  “There was more pain after that…and-and screaming and blood and-!”  Her eyes snapped open with a gasp when you took her hand, and terrified, glazed irises fluttered around the shop, golden energy burning off her before she seemed to come back to herself.  “I-I escaped again…but why didn’t they ever come after me?  Why would I settle here, so close to…so close to such agony?”

“You can sense things, right?” you asked softly, “You felt Nero and I, and you could sense our bond before…”

“I…  Yes, I can, but why…?”

“Can you feel within yourself for any you may have?” you wondered, calmly waiting when she closed her eyes again.  Nero was about to vibrate out of his seat with nervous energy, his voice stolen by it.  You were glad you had come with him, not sure he would’ve been able to wrangle his emotions and instincts without help, but that was help that you would always provide.

Aurora’s dark-blue eyes were glowing golden when she opened them.  “I…I always feel…one…  It’s mutilated, so dark, cold, and scarred…” 

“Don’t stop there,” you murmured encouragingly, “You can do it.”

Her eyes glowed a little brighter, and she clenched her teeth as a familiar determined look came over her face.  “Alright…  It hurts, but…” she closed her eyes again and gasped, “Wait, I feel…another one?  And a thinner one?”  You couldn’t help tightening your hold on Nero, both your anticipation swirling together.  “The first one is fiery and steady...but also trembling?  The smaller is unbelievably strong and warm…”  A soft sob escaped her as she looked between you and Nero before lurching forward and wrapping her arms around him.  Her voice was choked with tears as she forced out, “It’s…  It’s the same color as…as that gold and…and light blue…when Nero is close to you…”

You kept your sniffles quiet as Nero’s shoulders shook, all three of you realizing she had settled here to stay close to the son she sensed but couldn’t remember.  The relief, excitement, happiness, love, and comfort overwhelmed you, and tears trailed down the side of Nero’s face that you could see as he raised shaking hands to cling to Aurora.  You stepped away and opened the door, rolling your eyes when Vergil stumbled a little from leaning against it.

Aurora made a quiet, pained noise and looked up, freezing at the sight of her new guest.  Nero drew in a slow breath and tugged a little on her shirt to get her attention then said, “S’okay.  He, uh…doesn’t remember you either.  Mundus fucked him up…just like Sanctus and Agnus fucked you up…”

You reached out for Vergil’s hand, pulling the fingerless glove off, then took Aurora’s and pressed their palms together.  “Learn each other again and heal.  You have plenty of time…” you paused and gave a little smile to Nero, “…and a wonderful son who is more than happy to help.”

Aurora spluttered a little and grabbed your arm.  She pulled you close to hold you and bury her face against your shoulder with a whisper, “And a wonderful daughter-in-law…  You’re part of this mentally mauled, idiot family, too.”

“M’not an idiot,” Nero grumbled, but he couldn’t help smiling when you gently wiped the tears off his cheeks.

Vergil was hesitant as he carefully curled his long fingers between Aurora’s, but a little smile bloomed on his face when she did the same.