“Do you remember the first time we fought?”
Dante eyed the silver blade appreciatively as he spoke.
“Hell bro, we’ve been fighting for as long as we been together. We probably fought to see who could get out of mom first.”
His brother smiled slightly and shifted his hand. The moonlight glinted off Yamato as he silently signified Dante that he was going to attack. This sort of act was exciting for them, and Dante shifted his stance to return the favor with Rebellion. The dashed towards each other, both intent on winning the conflict, but also knowing that they were too equally matched to win that easily. Running, bloodlust pumping through their veins, the Sons of Sparda clashed together. The shriek of metal meeting metal tore through the night air, the grinding of their swords groaning like a pair of demon lovers. They stared at each other, panting, grinning, Dante showing his white, sharp teeth in a gleeful sneer.
“We…were barely adolescent,” Vergil panted. “That day the school children had made fun of you, calling you a devil because of your eyes.”
“Yeah, now I remember. I was mad at you too.”
“Because I tried to defend you.”
“You…made even a bigger spectacle of us!” he responded angrily. “I just wanted to be like everyone else, Vergil!”
Snarling, Vergil said, “We are not like everyone else, Dante. We never have been. Those insignificant insects should have never said those things about us!”
Roaring, Dante pushed back with Rebellion, shoving Vergil several feet away. He landed gracefully, the only movement from the fluttering breeze playing with his coat and silver hair.
“You were always telling me that! Always trying to make me think like you! It never mattered that I wanted to be normal, that I wanted just once to fit in. No matter where we went, you always had to do something like that! Why couldn’t you have just left it alone?!”
“And why should I have?! Why should we have had to put up with the indignity of being down-trodden by mere humans?! We are above all that, brother.”
“You were always so fucking selfish! And you still are!”
Dante charged at his brother, now enraged. Rebellion tore through the night sky as he held it up, a sliver streak ripping through the darkness. His teeth were bared at he slammed into him full force, cracking the pavement under Vergil’s feet as their swords met.
“I wanted to protect you, Dante!”
“Protect me from WHAT?!” he yelled, bringing his sword around in the air.
“All those things that they said! I knew that it hurt you!” Vergil responded, parrying his brother’s blow.
“No one asked you to save me! I never asked you to do a God damn thing for me!”
As he brought his sword up again, careless in his rage, Vergil shot back and stood on the very edge of the roof. He looked dark and menacing as the wind suddenly, eerily calmed.
“I loved you, that’s all.”
Dante stood panting and staring at his brother. Before he could react, the graceful form of Vergil flipped backwards off the roof. Dante ran to the edge and looked down, but there was no trace of his brother.
“VERGIL! VERGIL!!” he screamed out into the dark city.
It was no use though, and there was not even the smallest clue that his brother had been there at all. Dante shook his head as he headed towards the edge himself and hopped down. On the street below, he threw one leg over his motorcycle.
“Bring on the love then,” he murmured under his breath.
The lock clicked into place as Dante secured the door of the small shed he kept his motorcycle in. His mind was elsewhere as he entered the old office building he called home now. Absently, he threw his coat off at the coat rack and flopped himself down on the couch. He covered his eyes with his arm as he sighed in frustration.
“Something wrong, Son of Sparda?”
The voice did not startle him as it probably should have, but he was used to unusual visitors.
“You had better hope nothing’s in my reach, you son of a bitch.”
“No reason to be angry. I am only a visitor to this place.”
“Then I suggest you un-visit this place. PERMINENTLY. That is if you like your head attached to your body.”
Dante suddenly felt something like a squirrel climbing up his leg to sit of his knee. As he lifted his arm up, he saw a strange little creature, only about the size of the aforementioned rodent. It stared back at him, as if judging his appearance in the same way. It looked very much like a small parrot, only it had four legs instead of two. It’s brilliant purple eyes shone jewel-like in its head, which like it’s body, was covered with hairy-looking brown feathers.
“What the hell are you supposed to be?”
“I was wondering the same from you, Son of Sparda. You are not exactly like I pictured.”
“Yeah, well, hurry up and get my autograph and leave. I’m not it the mood for company.”
The small creature cocked its head for a moment.
“Curious thing you are, Son of Sparda.”
“Me? How about you? Little things like you don’t usually talk, let alone act civil.”
Dante could have sworn he saw the thing shrug.
“Well, I’m just lucky I guess. And I have neither desire nor means to kill a human, so I believe I am reasonably safe around you.”
“Whatever. Go find somewhere else to roost, Polly.”
“My name is not Polly,” it said indignantly. “If you need to call me something, please call me by my proper name.”
“And that would be…?”
“Arden, if you please.”
“Alright, Denny, then-“
“You got it, Denny.”
The little demon was indignant, but found that it would be pointless to argue with the man. It would take time to teach him properly…
“Anyway, beat it Denny. I’m not up for a conversation on the price of seed today or whatever.”
Dante watched at the little bird-creature puffed itself up and settled down on his knee comfortably.
“No no, I do not wish to talk about seeds. Actually, I had no intention to talk to you at all-“
“Good instinct. Go with it.”
“-But when I saw you, I noticed you were distressed. I wondered what could cause the Son of Sparda to have trouble.”
“One word for you: brother.”
“Ahh yes, I had heard that there were two of you. I assume your sibling is up to mischief.”
“If all he’s doing is mischief, then I must be an angel.”
“I am quite certain that is not the case.”
Dante snorted and covered up his eyes again.
“Why the hell should I talk to you anyway?”
“There is no one else here to talk to, Son of Sparda. I have noticed that many creatures find the need to relate their problems.”
“You’re pretty altruistic for a demon…”
“You have let your hatred blind you, I’m afraid. We are not all bad. Your father, I recall, saved this world once.”
“So, will you tell me? I am quite curious.”
“Heh, well, my asshole brother wants to destroy this world and for me to join him. He keeps calling me out and trying to convince me.”
“Why do you not?”
“I don’t love this world, but I hate the demon world even more. Even if humans are stupid, they’re still living beings. I don’t wanna fuck it up. And I don’t want to associate with the kind of bastards that would kill a family just for petty revenge.”
Arden nodded to himself; most everyone knew what had happened to the Sparda family.
“Then why go and meet him when he calls you out?”
Dante groaned and rolled onto his side, upsetting Arden’s comfortable spot on his knee. The small creature flew up to sit on the back of the couch, which was much more stable.
“I don’t fucking know,” Dante muffled out. “I hate him so much…”
“Ah, but where hate flourishes most strongly, so does love.”
“What does a demon know about love?”
“I have been here many times before, Son of Sparda. In my time, I have been taken in by many humans. Fed, sheltered, and yes, even loved. And I believe I loved them back too. So I know a great deal about love. If a human can love a strange pet, as some of them have called me, so much, then I can only imagine the love between two who share the same blood. The same heart.”
“God damn it, why does he have to be so fucked up? Why does the only family I have put me in a position where I have to kill them?!”
“Well,” Arden mused. “Maybe he loves you as well. Why else would he try so hard to convince you?”
“Because he needs me. He can’t do it by himself.”
“Needs you in what sense, I wonder.”
Dante was quiet for a while as Arden watched him curiously. Such a strange, human-like creature for the offspring of a demon like Sparda. He lived like a human, even showed emotion like they did; openly, honestly, even displaying a conscience. All very very curious to the small creature.
“I would like your permission, Son of Sparda, to stay here for the night.”
“Do whatever you want. Just don’t bring any of your bigger buddies around. And don’t crap on anything.”
A shrill indignant noise came from the creature at the very mention of such things. Dante chuckled to himself and headed for the stairs that led to his room.
“Oh, and you can call me Dante, by the way.”
In his room, Dante laid on his bed, staring at the ceiling. In his mind, he kept hearing his brother’s words.
“I loved you.”
Annoyed, Dante flipped over onto his stomach and buried his face in his pillow. Where did he get off telling him he loved him?! Damn it, of all the stupid things to say… What was he supposed to do now? What was he supposed to do if he had to stop Vergil, if he had to kill him? It was easier when he could hate him and be hated back, but now… Now Vergil had to go and love him, and all those stupid things that damn bird had said were true. As much as he hated Vergil, he loved him just as intensely. There was nothing more he really wanted than to hold him, to hold on tightly to the only family he had left in this world or any other. There had to be something to hold on to in this world for him, other than killing and drinking and women. There had to be something that would bring him comfort and stability and happiness. He remembered when they were still young enough to be considered children, so very long ago. They were always fighting, always in competition. He remembered the way Vergil always looked hurt when their mother would laugh and play with Dante but not him, but he would always act as if he didn’t care. He had known when his twin was hurting and first chance he got, he would dash away from his mother and grab Vergil by the hand, pulling him over to join in. Dante knew what Vergil did not; their mother loved them both, very much. He also remembered, as he lay awake in his bed, the nights when Vergil would have nightmares and climb out of his bed and into Dante’s. He remembered the feeling of holding him so close and feeling the warmth of his body as Vergil told him of the horrors that went through his mind. And as he thought of the “conversation” they had earlier that night, Dante remembered all those times his brother had defended him from their schoolmates’ taunts, enduring the same ridicule himself unflinching. He asked for no thanks for his actions, saying only that Dante should not have been the subject of ridicule from such weak, ridiculous creatures. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that Vergil had always hated this world, and that was the reason he had never wished to blend in as Dante had. A sadness fell over his as he realized he would never be able to change his brother’s mind, save but one chance. He only hoped the love he felt for him would be stronger than his hate.
The next morning, Dante rooted through his refrigerator in hopes of finding something edible. Sadly, he only found one slice of pizza and bit of teriyaki chicken from a few nights ago. There wasn’t enough of either one, so with a shrug, he dumped the chicken onto the pizza and shoved it in the microwave.
“Good morning, Dante,” a small but recognizable voice said.
“You’re still here? Don’t you have anything else to do?”
“Actually, I don’t, and I find you very curious. I would like to stay here for some time.”
“Jesus… Whatever. Do you, like, need anything? What do you eat?”
“Oh, I will eat just about anything. Meat, plants, fungi. The only things I need are a place to sleep, food, and some water. Actually, I would like to request a small dish of water to bathe myself in.”
“You’re certainly making yourself quite at home there, Denny,” Dante said as he pulled his breakfast out of the microwave.
“Whatever. Hey, do you want a piece of this chicken, or is it, like, ya know, weird for you? Being a bird and all.”
Arden hopped cheerfully towards Dante and fluffed out his feathers.
“I am not a chicken, so I cannot be bothered by it. I am quite hungry.”
Dante nodded and set a decent sized hunk of meat down on his desk, which doubled as a table and many other things in his sparse office. He watched as the little creature quickly gobbled the meat down and looked expectantly at him for more. Luckily, it only took two pieces to sate Arden’s hunger, and he was content to preen himself as Dante finished his breakfast. Making a mental note that teriyaki should never, never be mixed with pizza sauce, Dante stood up and searched for some sort of dish to put the water in. He found a plate that was deep enough, he figured, and filled it with water in his bathroom sink. Managing not to spill too much of it, he placed it on the desk and watched for a moment as Arden began to bathe fervently.
“Well, ok, I guess I’m going to go out for a little bit. Do you, uh, want anything?”
He felt silly asking a bird, but he figured he might as well. Arden looked up from his bath, looking every bit like a drowned rat.
“I am content, Dante. Thank you.”
He watched as Dante slipped on his jacket and headed out the door. Content, Arden finished his bath and waddled over to a spot on the desk where the sun was hitting to dry himself. He dozed lightly, warm, full, and clean, he wanted little else from the world at the moment. It was moments like this he was much happier here than in the demon world, where tasty chicken and bathes were hard to come by.
He must have fallen asleep at some point however, because the next thing he knew Dante had come bursting through the door. It startled him so much that he almost fell over, but Dante hadn’t noticed. He watched as Dante began to put away the few groceries he had picked up on his outing before eyeballing a larger box on the floor.
“Welcome home,” he said, not taking his eyes off the box.
“Hey Denny. I’ll put this stuff away, and then I got something for you.”
Now the box really interested him. He hopped slightly in the direction of it, but remained on the desk; he did not want to appear too eager. As Dante finished and walked over to the box, Arden watched intently.
“So I went to the pet store to see if they had anything that might be useful, and I found this,” he said, pulling a cage out of the box. “The girl asked me if I had a hamster, ‘cause it’s got ramps, but I told her I had a retarded bird. Point is, I got her number.”
“I am not retarded in any way!”
“Yeah, well, whatever, but I thought you might be more comfortable with your own space.”
“You will leave the door open?” Arden asked cautiously.
“Yeah, sure. I got these little toy things too…umm…I wasn’t really sure about the whole thing though…”
He placed the cage on the desk as Arden circled around it. It had two levels other than the floor, food and water cups, and some brightly colored bird toys.
“Yes, I think this will do nicely,” he said after careful consideration.
Hopping up onto the hanging door, Arden toured his new home slowly. When he happened upon one of his toys, he looked at it a long time before looking at Dante skeptically.
“Delightful!” he exclaimed after experimentally pecking it. “Oh, and by the way, there was a letter pushed under your door after you left. I carried it over to the desk to avoid it being stepped on.”
Sure enough, once Dante looked at the top of his desk, there was an envelope that was not there before. Opening it, he found himself reading familiar handwriting.
I want to see you again tonight. If you do not come, you will be responsible for my actions. In a city full of humans, do you really want to risk that?
To the point, as always. Dante folded it up and put back in the envelope.
“Was it from your brother?”
Dante nodded as he put the letter in a bottom drawer, where he kept all the others.
“And are you going to go to him then?”
“Yeah, but this time it’ll be different.”
It was night in the city. The neon lights flashed and blinked as people wandered about in their own lives. Dante slowly walked among them, hands in his pockets as he passed thrift stores, pawn shops, and the other types of stores that were to be found in that area of town. He feared nothing from the delicate creatures around him, not the mugger or the lunatic. He went down a dark alley and jumped up to grab the fire escape, pulling himself up to the first landing. He leaned back against the rough wall and closed his eyes, listening, thinking.
“I’m here, Vergil,” he murmured to himself. “But where are you?”
“So glad you could make it,” a voice came from above him.
Surprised, he looked up to see his own face looking down at him. Vergil hopped down onto the landing with him, far away as it would allow. Still, this was the closest they had been without swords in a while. Dante stared at him, making no move, but keenly aware of every move his brother made.
“You got so angry last night that it would not have been any use talking to you. I thought maybe tonight you would have had a chance to cool that hot head of yours.”
“Verg, why…why do you want me to join you?” Dante asked cautiously.
This question took Vergil by surprise, as he hadn’t been expecting it at all.
“…It would be easiest if we worked together to open the gate.”
The tone of his voice was unsure though, and Dante knew he had pulled him into uncomfortable waters. Slowly, Dante moved so that he was facing his brother, who was beginning to look confused. Usually Dante would get angry and say something snide, but he wasn’t doing anything, he wasn’t even being aggressive. Vergil kept one hand on Yamato’s hilt as he watched his brother with caution.
“Is that really the reason?”
“There could be no other reason, Dante.”
“None? You sure don’t sound sure of yourself.”
“I don’t know what kind of nonsense you are trying to pull, Dante, but-“
Slowly Dante took a few steps forward towards Vergil, all while pulling Rebellion out of his bag. He kept the sword down once he brought it out though; something that further confused his brother.
“What the hell are you doing?!”
Vergil’s voice was becoming shrill, which it had always done when he was angry or upset. Dante remembered briefly that he used to make fun of him for it. As he moved closer, Vergil drew Yamato and held it forward, showing Dante he didn’t want him coming any closer.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with you tonight Dante, but don’t come any closer. I’m warning you.”
Dante held up Rebellion in the same position, crossing blades as he got closer to his brother. Slowly, he used his own sword to push aside Vergil’s, finally close enough to see the concern and confusion in his twin’s eyes. Vergil backed up until he was pinned against the railing of the fire escape landing, Yamato nearly useless at such close proximity. Dante’s hand reached for his face and Vergil jerked his head away, distressed by his twin’s strange actions. He didn’t like that Dante was getting so close to him, and now he was trying to touch him. He bared his teeth at the hand near his face and tried to raise his sword, but Dante had the leverage to keep it down with Rebellion.
“Stop this foolishness, Dante! I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but I don’t like it.”
The tone of his voice was extremely uncharacteristic as Vergil looked at him. His eyes were soft and this gaze held him as Dante gently laid his hand on his face.
“Did you miss me, bro? Do you even remember me?”
Slowly, Dante slid his hand back, his fingers stroking Vergil’s hair.
“Dante, stop it. This isn’t…This isn’t like you at all.”
He didn’t listen to the protests. Dante knew Vergil was right; he wasn’t being himself. However, he had finally come to realize that acting as he had before was not helping the situation. All he really wanted was to have his brother back. Slowly, he leaned forward, his gloved hand sliding to the back of Vergil’s head to pull him closer. Though his brother struggled in his grasp, Dante kept holding him, pressing their bodies together. For the first time in years, he felt Vergil’s chest heaving with breath, heard the sound of his heart racing and smelled the sent that reminded him so much of home. His own chest ached to hold his brother closer as he pulled them together and laid his head on Vergil’s shoulder. The feeling of silver hair tickling his cheek made Vergil seem softer some how, more like a living creature and less like an enemy. Dante could feel as Vergil turned his head slightly to try and look at him.
“Dante…What…what are you doing?”
His voice was soft and low as Dante lifted his head to look into his twin’s eyes. He quivered as he felt the breath go out of Vergil and into his own lungs.
He moved so close that their lips brushed against each other with each breath, and slowly, Dante tilted his head instinctively. As if he were compelled by an outside force, Vergil met his brother’s lips gently. It was a short kiss, but he tested Dante again, lingering this time as fiery lips responded to his own. Again, a third time, and he groaned into his brother’s mouth, letting Yamato drop onto the metal landing with a clang. Vergil’s hands reached for his brother’s face, one digging in to the silver hair and the other gripping the back of his coat fiercely. Their kissing became more passionate, Dante pushing his tongue into Vergil’s mouth as the feeling became more intense in his chest, like he might explode at any moment. The slide of Vergil’s tongue against his own made him groan as he in turn let Rebellion fall heavily, his arm free to wrap around Vergil’s waist. He held him closely, tightly, afraid that if he let go, his brother might suddenly disappear. Vergil pulled away from the kiss, leaving them both panting. Wordlessly, he latched onto Dante’s neck, sliding his tongue along the skin to taste him.
“C…come home with me, Verg…”
Vergil stopped and looked up at him.
“Come home with you?”
Dante nodded and ran a hand through Vergil’s hair, breathing heavily.
“I can’t do that, Dante.”
“Please, Verg. I really want to be with you.”
Suddenly, as if realizing what he had been doing, Vergil let go of Dante completely and pushed him away. Dante growled as his back hit the railing on the other side of the landing painfully. Quickly Vergil bent down to grab his fallen sword and held it up in a defensive position again.
“I don’t know what just happened, but you stay the hell away from me, Dante!”
Dante reached out for him, but a flick of Yamato sliced his palm as Vergil jumped off the landing, disappearing into the night.
“Vergil! Wait! Don’t go!”
But, as usual, his calls were for nothing. He looked out into the darkness, searching for anything that might have told him where his brother had gone. After a moment, he sighed heavily and fell back against the brick wall. Burying his face in his hands, Dante groaned in frustration.
“God damn it Vergil, you get me hard like this, then go and leave me? Some brother you are… You’re gonna pay for this…”
He slid down onto the landing, sitting on the cold metal as he tried to calm himself. He’d have to find someone to take home tonight, because there was no way he could go around all wound up. Resting his arms on his knees, Dante hung his head in resignation.
“What the hell have I done?”