Time has a capricious nature in the Underworld, the concept and meaning of it lost upon the demonic hordes that rise up against us. There is no point in trying to keep track of it when it can run backwards, slow to a crawl, stop completely and loop back in on itself from one breath to the next. We merely adjust, for that is what we have always done with each situation we are thrown into. We adjust until we are no long able to. Thankfully our capabilities are limitless in comparison to the time of our youth, though my methods were far more questionable than Dante's, and so there is nothing that can even come close to stopping us.
My twin doesn't bother to bring up my follies, once had already been more than enough for the both of us, and I am somewhat grateful for his silence on the matter. As much as I don't deserve it I am far more grateful for his companionship in what we both knew I intended to be a one-way trip to fix one of my gravest sins. There had been no deterring him from coming with, not that I had put any sort of effort in trying to keep him from joining me. I am certain, to a degree, that there is more to his decision than he had initially stated, as keeping an eye on my personage is the flimsiest of excuses. I could press for the truth, if I so desired, but I am content to let the matter be.
As the fighting starts to lull, the rank and file demons grotesquely painting the ground with their blood and decaying flesh, I take stock in our surroundings. The ruined Qliphoth has become a hazy fixture on the horizon behind us, and there is nothing else for as far as the eye can see in every other direction. I feel the weight of my brother's gaze on my back, an increasingly frequent occurrence that I had noticed but never gave any thought to as we wandered the Underworld aimlessly. I do wonder what goes through his head at times, and now I am curious as to what he could possibly be thinking about as he stares at me in silence.
It becomes something of a game, one that I hadn't realized I was participating in until I had caught myself risking glances at him in the heat of battle not even moments after that instance. Dante's movements have become seamless as he shifts between a myriad of styles and weaponry that he has accrued over the years, absolutely none of it wasted. I can almost liken it to a dance that only he knows the steps to, and the more I watch him the more my pulse quickens.
My inattention is punished with a deep score to my side, which isn't a problem for my innate regenerative abilities to take care of, but it is embarrassing to have been injured all the same. I don't even have to look back towards my brother to know that he's aware of my injury, his gaze flashing to me for a brief second as he scents my blood on the air. I expect him to make a jab towards my skills, as has been customary between us when one slips up, but he goes against that very grain as he hacks his way through the demons to reach my side. He fights like a man possessed, fiery red ethereal swords trailing behind him and cutting down every other demon that is not directly in his path.
"You're hurt." His voice is half-distorted, as though he is on the verge of Triggering, and ladened with genuine concern. Uncharacteristic worry etches lines into his face that almost seems years younger than I had last observed, but I brush that off as something trivial in comparison to the fact that Dante is openly worried over me.
"I'll be fine." I internally wince at how chilly my voice sounds, and for a second my younger twin hesitates, something else rather uncharacteristic of him. "I let my focus slip." My confession comes out in a much softer tone, surprising not only myself but Dante as well, if his expression is anything to go by, with my sudden willingness to admit to a moment of weakness. "I will be fine, Dante," I reassert as I turn away from him, taking care to keep my voice as neutral as possible. His gaze weighs on my back far heavier than before, making me feel like a coward for trying to avoid him and his concern, but he doesn't press the issue any further.
Another wave of demons falls upon us quickly enough, and like before I find my gaze drawn back to Dante's form. I am more mindful of this growing habit so as to not sustain another injury, and watch my twin expertly carve through swathes of demons. There is an undeniable beauty in the way he moves, effortlessly twisting out of the way of an incoming attack and then following it up with a precise slash that is often enough to finish off nearly everything that has risen against us. For one brief second his gaze meets mine and it is right then that I make the connection. I want my brother in a way that is taboo among humans.
He couldn't have been picking up on that, could he? It wasn't impossible, but it is unlikely given that Dante isn't incredibly observant. Or maybe I am not giving my brother enough credit when it comes to paying attention. My own attention had slipped enough, the blood staining my side and coat verifiable proof to that extent. Still, that doesn't tell me if Dante is even willing to give something like that consideration when even I know that he's only ever shown interest in women. I have to gauge his willingness without raising his suspicion, a momentous task in and of itself without any outside interference…unless I can use the fighting to my advantage.
I hesitate to do anything at the first opportunity presented to me as we pass by one another with just a hairsbreadth of space between us. Dante doesn't seem to notice, but as more opportunities come and go without me doing anything I suspect that he's aware that something is going on. My suspicions are confirmed when he looks at me directly at what is the twelfth time we move by each other. His expression is maddeningly unreadable to me, but that instance is where I finally falter while he simply continues onwards. It is almost enough to earn me another injury, but before the blow can be delivered the near-faceless demon is impaled by one of Dante's summoned swords.
My twin makes quick work of the remaining demons and I feel…ashamed that I had let myself become so careless. All in the pursuit of something that may very well be beyond my reach. It is foolish of me to even entertain the notion when I should simply be content with his presence.
"Something is clearly eating at you, Vergil, so let's just cut past the bullshit and start with what has you so damned distracted." Dante's tone is as brusque as the words coming out of his mouth and he gives my bloodied side an incredibly pointed look. His gaze quickly slides up to mine and my chest tightens uncomfortably at the seriousness and concern I find there. "And don't you dare tell me you're fine because that and that tells me you aren't fine." He points accusingly at my side and then at the demon that he had slain before it could inflict a wound on me.
I freeze up immediately, having wanted to avoid being so direct with my intentions when I don't even know if Dante is at least receptive towards the idea. Unmistakeable fear claws through me. Fear of rejection. Fear of him using this against me. Fear of him turning against me. Fear of him pitying me. I can live with rejection so long as that is the only outcome, but between the rest… I am wholly incapable of handling either of those situations. It would simply be too much.
"Verge?" Dante's tone is considerably softer when I don't immediately respond and he starts to approach me with a faint frown.
"I can't." My voice is a strained whisper, but he hears it clearly and pauses mid-step, his brows knitting together. I arbitrarily note that he looks impossibly younger, almost at the age when we had clashed at Temen-ni-gru, but it is a trivial observation to make in this moment.
"Can't? Can't what, Verge?" Dante finishes the step forwards and watches me carefully as he takes another while panic bubbles up inside of me. It must be as clear as day on my face because he pauses again and raises both hands in a gesture meant to show that he isn't a threat. "Hey, bro, whatever it is you can tell me. We can work through it together."
I want to believe him, I want is so badly, but my fear is so utterly paralyzing. Irrationally so. "Dante, I…" My tongue fails me where it never has before, and I can feel my hands shake ever so slightly. If he notices then he doesn't give any indication and instead takes another step towards me. There are now a total of four steps between us. Four too little.
"Vergil…" My brother's tone is pleading as he presses for the answer I desperately do not want to give. "You're my brother, so you know that whatever it is that's eating away at you probably won't bother me. We all have had our issues, but we're good now. I don't see anything that can mess that up."
A sliver of hope blossoms just enough for me to swallow down my fear. "I want you." The words feel heavy on my tongue, but I say them before I can change my mind.
Dante blinks a few times, brows furrowing as he processes my statement then gives me a look of confusion. "I'm right…oh." He blinks again as he seems to come to the conclusion of precisely what I meant and then a grin steals over his face.
My hope crumbles immediately and, before Dante has the chance to respond in one of the ways I had feared that he would, I bolt. The shift to my Sin Trigger is instantaneous as I desperately run away from my little brother, but I cannot outrun the shame I feel. He gives chase in his own Sin Trigger form, and knowing that we are evenly matched I push myself to keep ahead of him. As if to spite me, Dante catches up almost effortlessly and sends us both crashing to the ground with an aerial tackle.
My twin surprisingly takes the full brunt of the impact, his wings wrapped around the both of us as we tear a long furrow through the hard-packed Underworld earth. Before we can even come to a complete stop I try to break free, but Dante's hold on me is unyielding. "Vergil, stop!"
I go completely slack in his grasp at the sharp command, my heart in my throat at the realization that there is simply no escaping my brother. He has me at his absolute mercy, and the knowledge of my desire for him to use against me. I revert back to my human form and screw my eyes shut to wait for the inevitable.
"I'm sorry. If I had known you were gonna react like this I would have just kissed you instead." There's no dishonesty in his words, his distorted voice surprisingly gentle as he sits up. His wings unfurl from around us, though he winces in pain with their movement, and his arms loosen around me. There is a faint odor of blood, his blood, and then it vanishes as he drops out of his Sin Trigger.
I open my eyes and carefully twist in the loose embrace he has on me to face him. We're almost nose to nose, with me awkwardly half-laying on him, and Dante leans in to brush his lips against mine. The kiss is soft and tentative, my brother's gaze earnest as he stares into my eyes. It takes me a few seconds to respond, my hands clutching at the edges of his jacket as I press into the kiss hungrily. I don't have a clue as to what I'm doing, my experience with such intimacies woefully lacking, but my younger twin doesn't seem to care at all.
After a minute Dante breaks off the kiss and tilts his head just enough for our foreheads to touch. "Just in case you need to hear me say it, Verge, I want you too." With that declaration he angles his mouth for mine and shifts his arms up to loop them around my neck. Something wet and warm pressed against my lips, and as I part them I realize that it is my brother's tongue, but there is something more. Rich and smokey sweet liquid fills my mouth without any warning.
I know this taste from a lifetime ago, and it is unmistakably Dante's blood. Swallowing it down with a moan, my hands tighten on his jacket briefly and then snap up to frame his jaws. I fervently take control of the kiss, my tongue forcefully delving into my brother's mouth as I greedily search out every last drop of that succulent substance. My twin yields to me with a stifled groan, a flicker of surprise in his gaze at the sudden shift in my demeanor followed by an intense satisfaction.
A sudden curiosity strikes me and I press the side of my tongue into the razor sharp point of one of my brother's canine teeth. Dante's reaction to my own blood is so different, so utterly docile as he swallows the fluid and whimpers softly into my mouth while his eyes close. I break off the kiss once my tongue has healed and pull back to watch my twin intently.
"Oh fuck," he pants out, a dark pink dusting his cheeks and the bridge of his nose while he opens his eyes and stares back at me. His scent spikes with desire and he tightens his arms around my neck as he shifts under my weight just enough to get a leg wrapped around my waist. "Vergil." My name comes out of his mouth with a faint whine and a roll of his hips against mine.
Before I can accommodate my brother my senses prickle as I pick up the presence of more demons heading our way. I bite down a growl at the interruption and quickly wrap my arms around Dante before I spring to my feet. He clings to me even after we're both standing, mouth twisted into an irritated scowl as he turns his head to look around, having picked up on the encroaching hordes as well. We won't find peace here, that much is clear, so I wordlessly draw Yamato and slice through the fabric of reality with the intent of taking my brother someplace safe. My thoughts instinctively turn towards home as I create the portal, and as soon as it's open I tug my brother through it.