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Rock On, Melody

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By devil hunting standards, it was an ordinary day. A quick incident at the graveyard, long periods of boredom, and a couple of small-fry who decided to off themselves into the path of Nico's driving. Quiet, but still ordinary.

Nico stomped on the brakes. "Here's your stop." The van lurched like it was going to be sick of her.

Nero waved a hand as he leapt out and onto the footpath. Before him, his house was miraculously suburban. It had a white-painted exterior and a picketed front fence in front of the yard. Even the wooden cross emerging from grey cobblestones was adopted as a stake by some nearby tomatoes. With Nico reversing into the oversized garage, no one could see the neon sign which advertised their branch of the business. All in all, it looked like the home of one big happy family.

Nero entered, closing the door behind him. He expected to be greeted by a house full of light and the shuffling of his wonderful girlfriend.

He was met with silence and the pinprick feeling that something was wrong.

Lowly stepping into the darkened corridor, unaware of how his footsteps were falling harsher, Nero readied his revolver. He spot-checked the rounds in the chambers. "Kyrie?"

Nothing in the sitting room. A tea set in the parlour. A television set buzzing white noise.

Nero had reached the dining when he heard a sound originating from the kitchen.

"Kyrie!"

Kyrie - beautiful, beloved Kyrie - was curled against the oven, weeping into a tea towel. Her white dress caught around her ankles, twisting her legs. The brown hair which always caught his eye when she brushed it back from her face lay mussed and undone.

Nero glanced around at the entrance he'd used and the door which led out the back. Judging that any threat was gone, he set Blue Rose back in its holster and leaned down to meet her.

She looked at him dazedly. "Nero?"

"It's me." Nero hugged her. "Are you alright?"

"I'm ... Yes."

"Can you stand?"

Kyrie tried. Her legs wobbled and caught in her dress and she sprawled down. A stove-shaped burn mark glared at Nero from her palm.

Nero thanked his lucky stars he was close enough to catch her. "What happened? You were going to meet your friend today. Err, what's her name. Ann. Annie. What happened?"

"She's gone." She tightened her hold around his neck, burying her head in his shoulder. "She's dead." She swallowed. "Nero ... My brother, my family, all my friends. Demons, Nero. They're all dead now."

 


 

"Don't you remember a time when you had to be a loony who breathed the occult, or with too much time on your hands to have the pieces, to know that demons were real?"

"No." These were life questions that Morrison cared about, not Dante. A man became self-absorbed like that, forgetting how to live in the moment. And at this moment, Dante was bored, wanting to know one good reason why he was listening to this associate. He tapped a rhythm with his fingers on the table.

Morrison dropped a booklet onto it, followed by an envelope. "New job. Half payment in advance."

Apparently, the big hell tree gave some more legitimacy to Devil May Cry's business and more people were happy to pay their fees. The new job was one of Nero's types, just a couple of demons haunting the edge of Red Grave City. Leaning forwards, slowly sliding the items to his chest, Dante found his reason.

Dante commented, "You'd've thought closing Hell's giant asscrack would've stopped 'em from getting out."

"Clearly, they were opened when you and your brother came back together."

"Well they're sealed now. Tighter than a —"

"Where is he?"

"Vergil?" Dante started counting the money. "No clue."

He felt Morrison raising his eyebrows. "No?"

"Good luck holding his hand." Four hundred for a job like this? He tucked it into his pocket. That was a lot of pizzas. "Don't worry. I flung the demon tracker you got me onto him. How did you breed that? Shit's so strong it almost ate my —"

The phone rang. Dante kicked it into his hand.

"Oi, Nero!" he hollered back to god-knew-where, "get over here, phone's yours!"

Nero had been filing some jobs in the office, because someone - either Dante or one of his lady friends - had set up a record-keeping system which still found some decent use, and it was effectively one of the last demon encyclopaedias in the world. Very handy for someone who hadn't actually made a stop-over in Hell. On the other hand, it had nothing to say about Dante's debts. He heard the shout and entered Dante's vision in a sweep of silver and blue, catching the handset because Dante threw everything but his mother. "Hello?"

It was Kyrie. "Nero ..." Her voice wavered, sounding ill.

Dante interrupted, "Hurry up, I want to order pizza."

Nero gave Dante the finger. "Kyrie. What's up babe?"

"I need help," said Kyrie. "I need you."

 


 

As he opened the door to his home, he smelled the blood first. This was sweet blood, sharp copper, non-acidic; human. His insides recoiled.

"Kyrie!"

He knew Kyrie's smell, knew to look for the hint of fragrance which clung to her cells. He couldn't see any blood, so he followed the scent. It took him into their rooms - empty - and then to the bathroom.

Kyrie was seated at the edge of the bath, wearing only a towel, clumsily attaching a bandage to her arm.

Nero hurriedly took the clips from her shaking fingers. "Was there an attack?"

Kyrie startled from the suddenness of his presence. She threw herself sideways into the sink, bumping her head. "No! ... No." Kyrie tilted her head, not looking at him. "No."

Backing up to give her some space, Nero couldn't help but notice that a bottle of baby oil was out on the counter next to the first-aid kit. It had always been an accidental purchase, something they kept deep in the cupboard. He didn't think too much about being able to smell her blood from inside the front door. Nor did he think about how the blood he'd smelled was still fresh, not stale and reeking of death. Nero just added together the pieces he had and guessed she was looking for some pads.

She had acquiesced to giving him her arm. He unwound the fabric and assessed the damage. Three parallel gashes rose up at him, dark red and bumpy, glistening as they began to scab. The edges of her skin were slightly rough, like ripped fabric. They looked like something had hooked into her arms and pulled until below her thumb. A cat? Did their neighbours have cats?

"Kyrie —" he began. Unconsciously, he brought her arm close to his nose.

Her hand on his cheek stopped him. "Nero."

She stared at him like she had stared at Credo's body. Nero realised he was about to sniff the wound like a dog and felt his insides clench again. What was he doing?

He didn't have long to dwell on it. Her fingertips brushed across his cheekbone, then rested beside his eye. She said, "Do what you — Can you do what you did last time, Nero?"

Nero thought of that day he found her in the kitchen with a burn on her hand. He didn't know what had taken over him that time, but both of them saw what had happened. Nero made the mistake of glancing at her face again, saw her eyes dark and full of trust, and his breath hitched.

He swapped his hesitation for the love he held towards her and bent down to her palm.

His lips should not have fit so well atop the bump at her thumb, and her scent should not have driven fuzziness into his brains. He was floating, rising out of himself. Fire rushed through him when he smelled metal and cheap aftershave around the injury. His Devil Trigger washed over him in an instant; long hair fell over his shoulders; one wing cradled her to his chest; the other transformed into a claw, darted out to the dulled razor he meant to throw out, smashing its existence into dust.

He breathed over the wound and licked it. She shivered, her boyfriend's warmth replaced by cold, hard scales, as his rigid tongue slid from her wrist up to the crook of her arm. Nero held her closer possessively and reached for the rest of his power. The bruises from the morning's devil hunt tingled, healed. He pushed more power into the air and her skin started stitching itself together.

She fell into him as his Devil Trigger evaporated. "Love you, Kyrie."

Kyrie sniffled. She hugged him back, the wetness on her cheeks falling into his collar. At some point, between finding her and now, Nero had made her cry.

"I'm scared," she whispered, "I don't want to die."

Nero tightened his hold around her bare shoulders. "You won't. Not while I'm here. I promise you."

"Nero —" her breasts heaved heavily into his chest, "are you scared of dying?"

"I don't know." He somehow managed to remove his jacket even with her weight against him and he draped it over her. Her entire body sighed into its warmth. "I don't know, Kyrie, but — I won't let anyone kill you."

 


 

Nero found Dante at the end of the month, thinking it would be good to spend a weekend cuddling his girlfriend on the couch. "I'm taking some time off."

Technically, he didn't have to mention it to anyone except Nico, since she drove him around all day. But Nero thought of himself a bit better than Dante's special brand of flaky.

Dante flipped the page of his magazine. "You do you, little man."

... Yeah.

Trish waved. She liked him a little for some weird reason he didn't pretend to understand. "You'll still be called in if something big comes up, you know that right?"

Nero wondered why he even tried.

 


 

Third time around, Nero was kind of expecting oddness when the door closed and he was alone.

"Nero!" Kyrie exclaimed. She was just leaving the sitting room, a tray with the remains of a tea set-up in her hands.

Nero blinked. The hallway was full of light, as it should have been. All the curtains were drawn back in the adjoining rooms. It smelled like vanilla. She'd lit a branch of candles in front of a wall mirror.

"You're, home early," she said, glancing at him oddly.

Nero realised he was staring. "Yeah. Yeah, I, I am. Did you have someone over?"

Kyrie's lips pulled together and her eyes crinkled like she was suppressing a laugh. "Yes! Just the landlord. He wanted to check up on me. Us. See how we were doing." And then she was in front of him, fussing with his clothes. She tugged at his lapels and brushed her fingers over his sweater, her hands lingering at the holes like she wanted to ask if she could mend them. He swallowed. She was so close, and she smelled like tea, and holy fuck, Nero never realised. Tea smelled wonderful. "Come on, Nero. Get your weapons off. Have a seat, please."

By the time Nero's conscious mind registered the request, he was already sitting in a slim chair in their sitting room, with Red Queen and Blue Rose gleaming at him near the phone at the other end. Kyrie was next to him, serving a new batch of tea. If the last batch smelled wonderful, this was liquid ambrosia. Nero looked at her and felt his eyes cross. Her necklace dipped over the collar of her more casual shirt.

She placed a dark cup of tea on the table and took a seat. "Try this."

He did.

So distracted by Kyrie, he didn't realise he'd gulped it. The burn hit his mouth, scalding hot—one was not meant to drink tea like Dante drank beer. But through the pain, he tasted the richness, a bloom of fragrance like he'd never witnessed. His mouth and mind lit alight. "Did you put an entire bottle of Tabasco in this?"

Kyrie closed her eyes and smiled. "How is it?"

"It's ..." Nero searched for all the words which vanished in that instant. "... Good."

"Really?" She leaned closer. "He said you would like it. He recommended it."

Something coiled uncomfortably, the strangest feeling. Nero stiffened. She should have been talking about the shop she'd bought it from, asked a clerk or some shit. But Kyrie would have mentioned that—mentioned the shop, and the people she met there. Did Kyrie have time to go shopping?

Kyrie picked up the teapot and refilled Nero's cup, which he'd drained completely.

"Hey, Kyrie, who —"

She put the teapot down. "Drink up."

Nero's gaze went from her slim hands and elegant wrists to the cup she'd set in front of herself.

She wasn't drinking.

It was empty.

The fragrance in the steam off Nero's cup drew him, alluring in that way he couldn't describe, and he downed it before he'd even had a chance to realise how hot it was. His throat started to pulse. He resisted the urge to scratch his neck.

Nero coughed and gathered enough of himself to avoid swearing. "What's in this?"

"Powdered demon heart, lungs, and brains," said Kyrie, her hands calmly tucked into her lap. She mistook his expression of shock. "They're preserved as soon as they're extracted, that's why they don't turn into ash. That way they keep their nutritional value for anyone with the right blood."

Nero closed his open mouth. He gulped for breath. "Kyrie — that's not ... that's not funn—"

The phone rang.

"God!" Nero rose so quickly his chair fell in a clatter that made him look around, checking the floorboards were still attached to the floor. Only a few people had their number, and none of them were anyone he wanted to talk to with his girlfriend watching him like everything was normal. Harvesting demon body parts. He was the crazy one here.

"What?" He yelled into the phone.

"What? That's my question, dipshit!" Lady yelled back. "Where the hell are you? We have a situation!"

Shit. Of course it was the person he'd forgotten. "Dante not enough, Lady?"

Lady growled. "Dante is not. Here." She broke off. He heard shouting and gunshots. "Nico's going to get you." She hung up without waiting for a reply.

Nero donned his weapons, trying to pretend he wasn't using it as an excuse not to look at Kyrie, afraid his will would crack.

"I have to go," he said, "Nico will be here soon."

"It's alright. I know you have to spend time with her."

Nero finally turned around to find her still sitting at the table. Don't think about it, he told himself, focusing on her face, trying to stop his head spinning. He took comfort in the steel at his back. That at least made sense. Kyrie ... of course she would make sense, too. Once he killed some demons.

He reached out to cup her cheek. "You know I'd prefer to be with you, right?"

Kyrie smiled.

 


 

Shooting at possibly the last random mafia gang in Red Grave City, Nero wondered if he had ever been angrier in his life. There was some bad blood between them and Dante, if their loud cursing and demands for the silver-haired fox was any significance. Nero had to help take care of it. And Dante didn't have the decency to be there.

"We should turn him over," Lady muttered, losing another clip of valuable bullets to these random humans they weren't even allowed to kill.

At least he knew why she was so angry now.

Finally it ended and Nero dragged himself and slightly-bloody Red Queen back inside—

—Only to find Dante sitting with his legs behind the desk, with a magazine and an olive-less salami pizza.

Nero stalked up to the reason he currently wasn't at home with his girlfriend. "You."

"Yes?" Dante had the gall to raise his eyebrows.

Nero heard Lady swearing and decided he would be satisfied enough leaving her to get payback for him. He already had enough on his plate and he'd probably end up arguing about how dumb it was to not have olives on a pizza. He glanced at what Dante was reading. "A woman's mag? You'll read anything that takes three or less braincells."

"Cute. I've had pussies with more bite."

"Do I want to know where you get off fucking lady demons?"

"I'm irresistible, baby."

Dante winked, so he was probably joking.

Maybe.

Nero rested Red Queen on the table next to Dante's jacket. He jabbed a thumb back, indicating the random mafia gang, or what was left. "What was that?"

"Nothing you need to worry about."

Dante was in the middle of reaching for more pizza when Nero pointed Blue Rose at him. He'd heard that dismissive tone before. "Is it Vergil?"

"Vergil? Nah. He doesn't care about lowly random humans unless they suck up to him enough." Dante stopped and looked at Nero. "Or suck him. I guess."

Nero closed his eyes. He was going to get a headache.

Then he realised something.

"... Where's Vergil?"

"Somewhere." Dante shrugged. "I put a tracker on him before we separated. He's hard to kill for good right?" It was further proof that Dante was not stupid, and only liked deliberately being difficult, when he picked up Nero's rising impatience and flicked his magazine behind him. "Alright, alright. Hold on a sec, I'll put it on your screen there."

He reached across and fiddled with the device that Nico had made for each of them, the one that doubled as a map of the city, detailing all its winding roads and alleyways and everything.

"Here it is —"

Nero froze.

"Ah, isn't that ..." Dante squinted.

"That's my house."

"Yeah. Looks like it."

Nero heard his heartbeat in his ears. "He's at my house."

Dante glanced at Nero's face. He faltered, then snapped out to grab Nero's arms. Nero barely noticed the strength of Dante's grip. His head was so full of thunder, his chest burning like a furnace as he thought of Kyrie. "Hey, Nero—"

Nero jerked out of Dante's grip. The words broke through enough of his paralysis for him to re-arm his weapons. "That son of a bitch is at my house."

"Nero!"

Nobody touched Dante's beloved red jacket, which meant Nero managed to swipe it faster than Dante had been prepared to react. "Dante, I'm borrowing your motorcycle!"

 


 

Nero spent his days hunting devils as a way to earn cash and kill his boredom. So Nero knew blood, and violence, and how to match blood and violence with more blood and violence for the idiots in the back who spent their whole lives fighting.

"They're all dead now." Those words had spun around his head as he rode through the wind, his memory of Kyrie's desperate plea filling his blood with rage at how far he was. Sure — Vergil helped them save the world this last time. Just this last time. Maybe he did deserve a medal or a trophy just like any other guy. Only one. But Nero worried, because Kyrie's heart was huge and Kyrie always loved so much, and as Nero worried, his concern fuelled the rest of his anger. Vergil had the goddamn balls to show up without asking at Nero's house! If he had a lousy reason, Nero was going to make sure his anger would never be forgotten.

When Nero opened the door, he still didn't think he would find anything worse than drinking demons harvested for tea. Amateur mistake.

Kyrie and Vergil were kissing.

 


 

Vergil rose from his inspection of the runes. "It's done."

The warm vibrato vocalised behind him fell silent. Kyrie looked up at him from her sheet music. She smoothed out the petticoat which Vergil had been writing on and took the old text back when it was returned. She noticed another item inside the book at once.

"What's this?" she asked.

Vergil smiled at her. He had started smiling a lot more ever since he met this woman at the local mall. An ordinary person would have called his expression a blank stare, his mouth the shape of a slash, but he'd spent decades with his face in a frown. Several weeks was not going to undo that.

"It's for you," he said.

She looked, unsure of herself, and still beautiful. Removing it, she gasped. "This can't be ..."

"It is."

Brown eyes gazed up into his. "Vergil ...!" Her breath took the same hitch of surprise as it did when he told her he'd purchased her home after she shared concerns about staying. Those rosy lips formed the shape of his name like she was immortalising it. "This is the deed to the house!"

Well, for the Vergil who had been the V who'd had to pay Dante, it wasn't as if 'obtaining' money for his needs was beneath him. Beneath her radiance, silly things like accidentally angering the mafia and eventually telling Dante that some petty humans with guns had (somehow) mistaken him for his stupid brother just ... evaporated.

Vergil's heart squeezed his lungs and left him breathless. "It is yours, Kyrie, as it should be."

"I — I can't possibly ..."

"What is power for, if not to protect?" Her eyes widened and so did his smile. "You helped me remember that. Now, you must get ready."

She must have accepted it, if her head bowed as she thanked him. Kyrie hurried to put the deed and her sheet music away. Vergil waited. He rested a gloved hand on Yamato and looked around. A set of too-large work boots sat on the shoe rack. The signs of a man living with her were obvious elsewhere as well. Razors in the bathroom, beside the two toothbrushes. Beer cans in the recycling when she didn't drink. And until seeing her book, he hadn't realised she had been more than a young woman 'originally from Fortuna'. She held a tie to the Order of the Sword which tried to create a god, a group he'd used to make his son. These were the reminders he used whenever he noticed his feelings getting too carried away.

The book. If he had found it twenty years ago, things would be very different.

Kyrie emerged from the rooms, in thin lace and gold embroidery, her shoulders and forearms exposed. Vergil shifted half a step back, keeping his distance. "That's wonderful."

"You think?" She adjusted her woven bracelets.

He did. So he told her. "Truly so. Show me your arms, Kyrie."

She stopped in front of him and held them out for inspection. He took her hands into his, checking her work. There were a few elements required for the ritual. She had been the one to ask him if he could help her do it right.

He brushed his thumb against the lines of scars. He thought of Hell, of three eyes, of angels in black armour, of fighting Dante, of looking for the power he needed to save his mother. He thought of ash, smoke, crackling fire, the Earth vibrating as the mansion collapsed—his mother's death, as Kyrie must have thought of all the deaths of her family and her friends as she carved into her skin.

He cast his mind to the ritual. Her arms spoke of her regrets. The ritual would hunger for her sorrow; turn her sadness into energy.

He thought the man who lived with her must have been someone to whom she had to wear a brave face.

Son of Sparda, you hold eternal life, and your eternity.

"Vergil," she said. "Can you do me one more favour?"

"Of course," he told her.

He thought he should have expected it.

Kyrie leaned into his lips and kissed him.

 


 

"What the ..."

They were in the hallway, next to the large mirror, their bodies pressed so closely that it was difficult to see where one started and the other ended. Vergil hand a hand on her waist. Nero could see Kyrie shifting her arms to Vergil's back. He clung to her like a lifeline and she reciprocated in kind. The mirror revealed her slim fingers twisting against the folds over his shoulders.

Nero found himself praying for something. Some sign this was still a joke. Some kind of miracle.

"You," Nero started, and his throat choked. Kyrie broke off like a lightning bolt. Nero ignored her, stalking to his target. This father who he'd gone to the effort of saving. He conveniently forgot through the blazing rage which filled the cells in his head and the cells in his veins that he'd never introduced Vergil to Kyrie before, so neither of them would have known who the other was. He stalked to Vergil, saying, "What the fuck, Vergil?"

Despite the sword hanging off his waist, Vergil made no efforts to move or block the punch which Nero sent him. Plates of skull shifted against the very human knuckles of Nero's right arm. It was disgustingly satisfying when Vergil slammed into the wall and bounced onto the floor then stopped moving.

Kyrie looked at Vergil, then at Nero. Her lips fell open in the shape of an 'o'. "You ... know Vergil, Nero?"

"Kyrie," how he managed to stay calm, still seeing the swordsman's hands on her slender sides, he would never know. "Vergil is my father."

Kyrie fell against the closest object, Nero. "Oh."

Then she gripped onto his collar and cried.

Nero stood in silence. He'd seen it in that instant - her face suddenly ashen and drawn, her gorgeous brown hair eating her face up. He loved her. She wept on him. He let her use him. The dull ache in his chest spread, growing larger.

He loved her too much.

"Why?" asked Nero. "Now what? You gonna ask him to stay for tea, or —"

Kyrie mumbled something into Nero's shirt. That wasn't what Nero thought she said. "What?"

"I didn't know he was your father."

"No shit." That still didn't excuse her from reciprocating. If she wasn't apologising, had she been meaning to kiss a stranger this entire time? And — he could see there wasn't a bra under all that lace at her top. Her skin, for the briefest instant that he'd brushed his fingers against her shoulders, was also covered in a thin layer of oil. What the fuck was she wearing?

On his feet again, Vergil dusted off his coat. "Kyrie, you should go now."

Kyrie pulled her fingers free and squeezed sideways through the gap beside Nero, and was out of the door before he'd realised what was going on.

"Kyrie —" Nero's head whirled back towards the culprit. The only person who could have been the culprit. "You wait one moment," he hissed, darting out to grab Vergil by the collar as Vergil made to follow her. "What the fuck is going on, you fucking—"

Vergil knocked his hand away as if he were a fly. "You know nothing."

"And water is wet!"

When Vergil paused and turned, Nero smelled it. Vergil used the same brand of cheap aftershave that Nero did. Nero's memory told him that he'd noticed it before when Kyrie's wrists had been hurt and Kyrie had been naked. Nero stumbled as scenarios flashed through his head. Each made less sense than the last. His senses spiked into overdrive.

Their eyes met.

For one long moment, Vergil stared at Nero back. There was more to his expression than desire, or wanting power. It was too much like V for that. It was V's expression as he dragged himself to Urizen's side, his skin crumbling to pieces in the simulacrum world, the faltering of his will to destroy the part which he knew would come to destroy the world for himself ...

Nero blinked at the floor and realised that Vergil was gone and somebody was singing. They were melodies and phrases that joined together to become something else, powerful and resonant, haunting between death and life. It wasn't Latin, nor was it German, it was no language he could recognise but somehow it spoke of miracles he could understand. That weird-ass pinprick feeling he'd felt all those weeks ago, standing in the same spot, it returned full blast.

Nero leapt to his feet and dropped Red Queen into his hand. It seemed to be a lull in the moment, and he needed it more than he could question if it was wise to stop. He took a deep breath, letting the music fill him from his ears and into his brain then through all his nerves until he was calm.

He pulled the door open.

Kyrie—because of course it was Kyrie's singing—was standing on top of the cross in the garden where Credo's body had been put to rest. Tendrils of pulsing white light spread outwards from where her bare toes touched the earth, shining onto the oil on her skin in a manner that made her look like she stood ablaze. Nero's gaze swept the area and spotted Vergil within her arm's length and nobody else in sight. Red Queen's steel weighed oddly in his grip, suddenly unfamiliar. To the other side some ninety feet away was where Nero had parked Dante's tacky retro motorcycle.

Nero's moment to think finally ran out when Kyrie gave Vergil a nod. Nero burst forwards into a sprint, not knowing why himself. Perhaps it was the finality in her mannerisms that startled his legs to lunge and his breath to escape his throat, "No ..."

Vergil was still closer than Nero. He drew level to Kyrie, and said, "As is willed, it will be done."

Nero saw the Yamato being raised. The sword flashed quicker than he could reach them, slashing a line across her back parallel to the ground, then changed direction to drive through her heart.

"No!"

The blade came out, covered in blood. Just as quickly, Kyrie fell to her knees and onto the ground.

Nero's next yell turned into a cough. Nero coughed and thought he could hack up his heart. His chest constricted horribly, his head flying out of his mind. He unconsciously lifted a hand to his own heart like he could will her wound shut. It was a hopeless thought. While he could stitch her skin he couldn't regenerate her blood. He would have to take her blood and she would still die.

At some point he tripped, and he had to crawl to reach her. None of this was supposed to happen on his watch. "I won't let anyone kill you." He was supposed to protect her.

"Don't cry," whispered Kyrie.

He scrubbed at his eyes. "Why would I do that?" Nero asked as her breathing slowed and she reached for his chest. He clasped her hand in his. It was like she still loved him. That was what it felt like.

In his grip, she was cooling too fast, or he was running too hot. He leaned over to her face, where her hair was getting stuck. He looked down at her mouth, too-aware she'd been kissing another man.

Kyrie said, "I'm not - not scared anymore. To go, Nero. Will you listen if ... I say something?"

Nero wouldn't remember his nod.

"Please ... please hate me, Nero."

Nero wouldn't remember a lot about her final moments. By the time he understood what logic went into Kyrie betraying him for a total stranger, she'd gone still and her skin had collected a horrible gray pallor.

A loud scream ripped through the entire neighbourhood.

It was too late when Nero realised he was the person yelling.

 


 

Demon physiology was not made for comprehending certain emotions. Love was alien enough that it must have been a minor miracle that Nero managed it on a normal basis. But grief, betrayal, guilt, and sacrifice—these were emotions his demon couldn't accept. Nor were the emotions going through Nero's human side those it could entirely acknowledge; his feelings for Kyrie, this burning desire to hold his love in his arms, lift her up without warning, basking in her shrill surprise even as she broke out in laughter led by the smile on his face as he kissed her.

Her arm fell deafening in the silence between worlds. The sky wavered as his head lolled back. Something rose from within him, unwinding from his human shell. Nero's demon did its best to understand what it had.

She left us. SHE left us FIRST!

The ritual light on the ground bleeding into Vergil turned bright purple when it noticed Nero. Its currents split into veins which then entered Nero even as he watched himself biting into her mouth and drinking the blood up.

In his body, his pulse exploded. He twitched and felt his muscles jolting. Nero took into him her life, or whatever he could that his father hadn't taken first. He swallowed and absorbed whatever was left of the person he would care for until the end of time.

The demon looked to Vergil, whose eyes had become icy blue. The demon didn't know this 'V' person, not like Nero had. It was too bad that Kyrie's death and betrayal completely crushed Nero's very human patience not to let anybody die.

Nero roared into the atmosphere as an extra pair of wings unfurled behind him.

 


 

The main building of Devil May Cry was almost too large of an office for the few people who used it. When Nero entered, he heard Dante talking in the back rooms, along with wisps of ozone from Trish using her lightning.

"Bless your way ... don't be afraid ..."

That wasn't Dante's kind of music.

Nero closed the door, shucking off the feeling that the walls were closing in on him, and dropped a set of keys on the table. "Hey, I want to hire a clean-up crew."

Lady stopped polishing her pistol and looked at Nero. Her skeptical expression instantly transformed into seriousness. "Whereabouts?"

"You know where I live?" She reached for the keys and Nero stopped her. "You don't need those."

"I'll see it?"

Nero tried to smile. "It's out front. There's nothing left."

He wondered if it was his imagination that Lady flinched before going to the back, yelling that yes, it sounded like a shit one, and damn you we have a roster, it was Trish's turn.

Lady walked back out, followed by Trish. Trish only stared at Nero for two seconds. Nero handed her a golden necklace.

"Give her the ending she deserves."

The women were professionals, and thank god for that. They went off to do their job without needling him for information he currently was not in the mood to share.

Dante showed up like a punchline. "Give what?"

Unlike Trish, Dante goggled.

"... Nero? How do you have the Yamato?"

Nero handed the red jacket he was holding over to its owner. Part of him wondered why he'd made an effort to salvage it. "Found it at the fortnightly flea market."

"Uh."

Nero took a seat on the on the sofa and dropped his face in his arms.

Dante looked at him and noticed the scars on his neck, like Nero had been strangled. "I uh. I got a spare room if you ...?"

"Spit it out, Dante."

"He's gone?"

"Gone. He's not coming back." Nero rubbed his eyes. "Made sure of it."

"Right. Vergil's gone and not coming back."

There was the whispering of fabric that was Dante putting his coat back on, and a soft jingling as he checked his keys were still there. Dante was keeping his distance, wary. Nero wondered how much he understood instinctively just by being part-demon.

"So you know ..." Dante started awkwardly, "your hair is longer."

"I know."

"And your eyes are red?"

"I know, Dante."

Dante hovered. "What happened?"

Nero ran a hand through his long spikes. His joke about Dante's wariness not making him any younger fell flat before it even escaped his lips. A stubborn chunk of sinew refused to budge between his molars. He was tired and he'd lost everything at once. He was tired and he could not fucking fish between his goddamn molars.

Nero did his best to remind himself about patience, like they always tried to tell him in Fortuna as a child. Idly, he rubbed over his heart.

"Apparently," he replied in the end, "this is what happens when you eat another Sin Devil Trigger."