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Blazing Tempest

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Vergil would never admit it, but sometimes if he let his thoughts wander too far, he could hear Griffon laughing at him.

He thought he should consider himself lucky. After everything he had gone through and done, only a moderately annoying stray voice and an ever present feeling of guilt bothered him now. Both were easy to ignore if he tried hard enough, but the empty silence of the Underworld offered many unwanted moments of reflection. Dante had once called Vergil a survivor of his own stupidity and, even though Vergil was tempted to agree, they had fought over that for many days before their duel ended in another draw.

He never told Dante how he felt, and likely never would. After all this time in their self-imposed exile, Vergil didn’t even know who he was anymore. The eldest Son of Sparda, yes, except Dante looked their age and Vergil hadn’t changed in twenty years. Darkslayer was a title he tried not to think about anymore, as it was a piece of himself lost in his separation from his familiars. He was a father who had abandoned his son twice. Though he tried to give himself some credit. He hadn’t exactly known about Nero the first time, and staying the second time would have required sending Dante into the Underworld alone with Yamato to fix Vergil’s mistake. Considering that the Yamato was all Vergil really had left that was purely his own, letting it go again - and willingly - would have been nigh impossible.

Besides, Vergil hadn’t known at the time what he could have possibly done if he stayed in that other world. Nero was a grown man now, arguably even more so than Vergil himself. Twenty years in Hell had messed with him much more than he cared to admit. It was easy for him to hide his emotions in endless duels with Dante. Not so easy when faced with an actual family or undoubtedly repercussions from the few people that knew of his involvement in the Qliphoth incident.

Scared, V? You probably should be. I don’t know why the world keeps giving your dumb ass second chances.

His fingers twitched as he kept his grip on Yamato to avoid swatting at the bird that didn’t exist. The phantom voice wasn’t exactly wrong, but he couldn’t impale it like he couldn’t Dante. His subconscious had been surprisingly annoying since they had returned to the Underworld. His nightmares - as Dante lovely told him numerous times - had been destroyed on Dante’s way up the Qliphoth tree. When he was fighting, his mind was silent, but his duels with Dante had become increasingly more frustrating the longer they stayed here. As much as Vergil loathed to admit it, neither of them could honestly say they were the strongest of the pair. Their duels had ended in draws so often that even Dante had grown tired of it. They still spared, but Dante often wandered off to take his boredom out on whatever demons got within a mile of their makeshift shelter. Vergil had fallen back on searching for high places to think.Spots where his brother couldn’t find him, just to get some quiet. He had hoped he could untangle the odd mess in his brain that had yet to understand. “You’re feeling normal, human emotions”, Dante had said. Vergil preferred the term “mild confusion”.

“Hey Verge!”

Vergil’s frown deepened as Dante’s voice echoed from far below him. Reliable hiding spots were becoming more sparse by the day. “Yes, Dante?” He said. There was a slight edge to his tone that he was trying to keep in check. Not for Dante’s sake - Vergil found mild amusement in subtly provoking Dante in ways that he wouldn’t notice until hours later - but for himself. Old Vergil snapped at everything. Old Vergil blamed Dante for everything. New Vergil…

He hadn’t figured that part out yet.

“I found something I think you’d be interested in.” Dante said.

“And if I say no?”

“Then I’ll just have to fly up there and knock you out of that tree myself.”

Sadly, Vergil knew he would do it. He was more surprised that Dante hadn’t tried it already. Not in the mood to fight over another demon tree, Vergil sighed and teleported down. He smiled slightly in amusement when Dante jumped when he appeared. “Good!” Dante said as he recovered with a grin. “You’re being reasonable.” Vergil raised any eyebrow, but said nothing. While their time in the Underworld hadn’t changed them much physically, it had taken a significant toll on Dante’s clothing. Almost everything had at least a few tears in it from overuse, and his jacket and turned an ugly mix of black and red as the blood of messily killed demons splashed on it every time Dante went out. Vergil,on the other hand, had avoided bloody kills, but the wear,tear, and inevitable grime had begun to fray the edges of every piece of clothing he had. Even with a river nearby, it was impossible to feel clean, a fact that started bothering Vergil much more than he thought it should.

And to think he had once planned on living here alone.

“What is it.” He said.

“Dead demons.” Dante said.

Vergil blinked. “You can’t be serious.”

“Fresh kills, Verge. I didn’t do it,and I know you’ve been up there moping in that tree all day.

“Even if that were true,” Vergil said (he never “moped”. Only “reminisced” or “pondered”). “Demons are more than capable of killing each other.”

“But they were burned to a crisp.”

“We’re in Hell, Dante.” Vergil said dryly.

“And impaled by awfully familiar swords.” Vergil raised any eyebrow. “I’m serious.” Dante said. “Almost all of them had these blue swords in their chest. I thought they were yours at first, but these are a lot brighter. More of a silvery blue. I tried to grab one and it shattered in my hand. I left the others for you to see.”

“How thoughtful.” Despite his sardonic tone, Vergil was genuinely interested. Summoning swords was always a Sparda kin thing. Even Nero had managed to create some after his trigger. But Nero wasn’t here. Both of the brothers would have sensed that arrival from miles away. They hadn’t fought any other demon that came even close to Sparda’s power, but Vergil knew from his teenage years that they did exist. But swords like his… too oddly specific.

“You don’t have another child running around do you?” Dante said as he slapped Vergil’s shoulder.

Vergil scowled. “Impossible, unless Nero has a twin you don’t know about.”

Dante feigned a look of mock disappointment. “So only one poor soul in the universe has been graced with your charm. Impressive.” A blue sword embedded into Dante’s chest. The younger twin laughed heartily as he yanked it out and tossed it away. “Humor me.” He said as he tapped a finger to Vergil’s forehead. The elder twin glared at him. “ Put all those textbooks you’ve got floating around in your head to good use.”

“I haven’t read anything in twenty-five years.” Vergil said somewhat bitterly. If there was anything he actually missed from the other world, that was it.

“You have photographic memory I’m sure you’ll be fine.” Dante waved him off dismissively as he started walking back down the path toward their makeshift camp. While Vergil rarely gave into Dante’s ides, he couldn’t deny that the presence of something new - demonic or otherwise - was enticing. His mind had become increasingly idle as of late, and Dante didn’t provide the type of intellectual conversations Vergil needed to sustain it. His brother wasn’t stupid - another fact Vergil had begrudgingly come to accept - but he didn’t appreciate the same things.

“How far?

“Walking distance.”

Vergil scowled. “Helpful.”

“Always am!”

A distant roar stopped them both in their tracks. Vergil’s eyes flickered to the sky. Many miles away, a white dot sailed across the red sky. While it was too far away to tell for certain what it was, it was descending toward them, and fast. Behind it was a horde of black, like a sentient storm cloud . Demons, he assumed, though he had never seen such a large group chase anything. Especially not as well coordinated as that. He triggered slightly, empowering his eyesight without transforming completely. The white blob came into focus. “A dragon?” Dante said in bewilderment. Vergil’s trigger snapped off, surprised that Dante had done the same thing. “There’s something on it.” He started a brisk jog down the pathway, eyes glued on the sight above them.

Vergil refocused his vision, not following his brother. The blob, which he realized was more silver than white, was indeed a dragon. A rather normal looking creature for the demon world. Most “dragons” he had seen were deformed, covered in horns, barbs, blood or really anything else. He had never seen one with silver scales, or even one with four legs not attached to its’ wings. As the demons behind it came into focus, Vergil realized they were a mixture of bats. Some black, some red, a couple of green ones. Their shrieks began echoing across the sky as two of the bats separated from the pack. The dragon dipped down, dodging them both. There was a slight flash of blue, and both bats dropped out of the sky.

“There’s a person on there!” Dante shouted.

Indeed, when Vergil squinted just right, he could see something on the back of the dragon. A human? Maybe. It was impossible to tell. Though he couldn’t imagine any of the demons he had Dante encountered riding a dragon. Most wouldn’t be able to mount the thing, let alone stay there. As it flew down closer to them, however, Vergil knew Dante was right. A female, he assumed by the long black hair whipping around her head. Two red bats darted forward, biting down on the dragon’s wings. It dropped slightly, but the woman was already moving. She snapped over the demon, slicing through it so quickly that Vergil couldn’t even tell what weapon she was using. She appeared on the other side, kicking that demon off before phasing back onto the dragon’s back. It swung back upwards, but clearly injured. The woman glanced back at the bats. He heard a small, pained roar from the dragon.

“Come on Verge!” Dante was running now, but Vergil’s eyes were glued to the sight flying past him. Suddenly, the dragon closed its wings and plummeted. The woman, however, shot upward. She spun in mid-air to face the bats before swinging her weapon out in a horizontal arc. A blast of blue fire shot out from her, striking every bat on the way. The red bats exploded on impact, taking down the entire horde with them. The woman flipped over again as the dragon swooped back up to catch her. She landed awkwardly, but straightened herself before she fell off. The dragon kept flying away from them, but was descending rapidly. It crashed into a series of trees, and Vergil heard a panicked yelp as the woman was flung forward deeper into the forest.

He glanced at Dante whose eyes and mouth were about as wide as they could go. “Dante.” He said sharply, snapping the younger twin out of his trance.

“Right let’s go.” Dante said, but Vergil took off before Dante had a chance to trigger.


 

It was quiet at the park as Nero lay next to Kyrie on her homemade blanket. Neither had said much in the past hour, but Nero didn’t mind. With all the demon killing, loud mouthed Nico, and that damn van that Nero was certain had a few screws loose, he rarely got time to relax.

“I wish we had more moments like this.” He murmured as he pulled his hands up to rest behind his head. His Devil Breaker- which Nico insisted on him keeping despite his far superior human and and Devil Trigger - sat in the grass beside them.

Kyrie chuckled. “Things have gotten better.” Nero glanced toward her in admiration. The sun framed her face like a golden angel, lighting her subtle makeup in a way that made her glisten. She had kept her hair down today, a rare treat as she usually had to wear a tight bun to keep the children from ripping it all out. She was even in leisure wear today - a tank top and cargo shorts gifted by Nico a few weeks ago - and looked more content than he thought she could. Without thinking, he pushed himself up and leaned in toward Kyrie. “Only took a couple of years.”

She smiled back and gently kissed him. Nero caressed her cheek feeling a small flush of heat on his cheeks. They had been together so long that Nero could barely remember a life without her. Sometimes he had to remind himself how lucky he was that she had stayed. Through the fall of Fortuna’s church. His demon arm appearing and subsequently being torn off. The years after he watched his only, living family plunge into the Underworld, likely forever, Kyrie had always been there. His rock in the never ending storm that was the life of Sparda’s kin.

“I love you.” He said. She kissed him again, no response needed. “You know, Kyrie.” He said as he reached toward his coat pocket. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you…”

A loud screeching of tires interrupted them. In the distance, a brown van whipped off the main road, driving straight through a wooden bench across the grass where it had no business being. It barreled toward them as a squeal of rusted brakes echoed throughout the park. Nero grabbed Kyrie with his demon arms and leapt out of the way. The van stopped inches from their blanket, rocking slightly before rebounding back onto all four tires. “Perfect timing.” Nero said with as much sarcasm as he could muster as he sat Kyrie down. If it had been just him he would have let Nico do whatever she wanted. But he would never, in a million years, trust Nico with Kyrie’s life.

“If you would answer your damn phone.” Nico, Nero’s slightly younger business partner with curly brown hair and an attitude that Nero still couldn’t ignore, looked furious.

“This was supposed to be my day off.”

“We’ve got demon sightings downtown and I ain’t got nobody to deal with it but you.” She smiled at Kyrie. “Hope I didn’t interrupt anything.”

“Not at all.” Kyrie said with a smile. There wasn’t a hint of disappointment in her voice. “Go ahead, Nero.” She said. “I need to start dinner anyway.”

Swallowing his frustration, Nero grabbed his Devil Breaker and helped Kyrie fold the blanket. “We were going to plan the festival.” He said.

“We’ve got a few weeks still don’t worry about it.” She kissed his cheek and be blushed as Nico whistled in the background. “Be safe.” Kyrie said.

Honk! The van’s horn startled them both. “Come on Lover Boy!” Nico said. “The faster we go the faster I’ll be able to fix the Sweet…”

“Shut up.” He said. Kyrie waved him off as he opened the passenger door. Nero watched her leave, hesitant to let her go. Their house was only a few blocks away, but he always worried for her. The demons hadn’t shown any ability to track her down yet, but he could never be certain.

He caught his sword, Red Queen, out of the air instinctively seconds before it smacked him in the head. It took a few extra seconds to realize that Nico had thrown it. “Are you trying to take my head off?” He snapped as he strapped the sword to his back.

“Just checking your reflexes.” Nico said as she put a cigarette in her mouth. “She’ll be fine.”

“Yeah.” He said. “I know.” He hopped into the van and lit it for her. As she drove away, Nero pulled the box out of his pocket and gazed at the diamond ring.

Next time. He thought. I promise.

Chapter Text

When Vergil landed outside the forest, the dragon was already gone. If it wasn't for the numerous scattered trees, clear skid marks, and the fact that Dante had seen it too, Vergil might have assumed it had never been there to begin with.

He let his trigger go and caught Yamato as he moved through the carnage. He tried to pick up on any unusual smell or sound, but the Underworld was as quiet and demon scented as usual. He could feel the aura of something. A strong demon, certainly, but it was impossible to distinguish what exactly it was. Further along, he found a dead empusa, it's insect body sliced in two. He was almost impressed. The cut was nearly as clean as one Yamato would have made.

He heard a demon shriek nearby, but it was silenced almost instantly. A second body - another empusa - shot past Vergil and was pinned to a tree with a silver sword. Dante had been right. This sword was nearly identical to Vergil's summon swords, albeit a bit smaller. It was more like a dagger, but clearly just as deadly. He teleported up into the trees and phased forward until he perched above a clearing. The woman stood below, back to him, but her hair was different now. A silvery blue tied back into a ponytail. Three silver daggers hovered around her as she held a long, black and white katana in her right hand. She looked almost regal with an open, midnight blue coat, high collar, and long sleeves. It flared out at her hips, stopping behind her knees. White pants were tucked into knee high, dark blue boots. A black belt sat askew upon her waist over everything. A circle of demon bodies lay around her, many stabbed clean through.

"Calcifer." She said. "Eat up."

A much smaller white and blue dragon bounded out from the trees like an excited puppy. On all fours, it was just taller than the woman's ankle. "Fresh meat!" The dragon chirped in a distinctly young male voice. It hopped over her foot and bit down on a dead empusa's neck. The woman dropped her sword, but it vanished before it hit the ground, her hair turned a blue so dark it was almost black. A staff appeared on her back, both sides shaped like a crescent moon. She sighed softly. "Eat quickly." She said. "We can't stay long."

The dragon tried to talk, but its' voice was muffled by the food in its' mouth. "Yes, I know you can't fly." The woman said. "Nor do I have the energy to make you." Another muffled noise."No you will not have to walk the rest of the way." He could hear the eye roll in her tone.

A new sound, a mix between a howl and a grunt, drew her attention. Though she didn't look up at Vergil, he could see her face clearly. Slightly pale skin, sharp features and bi chromatic eyes - one black and one white. "We are very far from home." She said.

The dragon swallowed, satisfied. "You really should tell that guy to stop staring."

In the half second it took Vergil to realize what the dragon said, the woman was already flying straight at him. He phased instinctively forward, narrowly dodging her. She grabbed the tree branch and flipped back over to land opposite of him. The staff hovered inches away from her. As their eyes met, however, a look of shock crossed her features.

"Vergil?"

Her voice was a whisper, but he heard it like a thunderous shout. Certain that his face was as stoic as he could make it, he said, "I have no recollection of you."

There was a flash of painful disappointment in her eyes before her stoic gaze returned. "I apologize." She said. "Wrong person." She said it in a way that told him she didn't quite believe it. "If you wished to speak to me, it would have been preferable to ask rather than rudely stare."

"You could have attempted a greeting rather than attacking me." He replied flatly.

The woman smirked. "One should always be ready for a fight." The staff snapped to her back in a rush of white light. She was only slightly shorter than him, but her confident stature might have unnerved anyone that wasn't him. He could feel her demon half as he did Dante's. A natural kinship between half-breeds. Humans would feel an endless barrage of mild discomfort or - for the weaker ones - a sense of terror or a need to run. Dante had his other half relatively constricted, preferring "hospitality" and "friendliness". This woman either didn't know, or - more likely - didn't care.

It was very possible, he realized in slight amusement, that she might be trying to intimidate him. Or, at the very least, subtly show that she wasn't the least bit afraid. It was smart of her to do so. While Vergil was far beyond giving into his demonic instincts, female demons - half-breed or otherwise - were a rarity in the Underworld. He wondered if that's why so many demons were after her in the first place.

"Corrin!" The dragon whined as he paced at her feet. She glanced down at him. "I'm still hungry."

She scowled. "There's five demons. Pick one."

"Can't you roast one of them?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because I used it all making sure you weren't torn apart by flaming bats." She said. The dragon grumbled as it slunk away to another body. It reminded Vergil slightly too much of Griffon for his liking.

"Familiar?" He asked nodding toward Calcifer.

"Dragon." She said. "My companion, if you will."

That didn't really answer the question, but a demonic laugh pulled his attention to the sky. A still triggered Dante barrelled through a rather large bat before smacking it away like a baseball with his devil sword. Then, he plummeted. Vergil snapped backwards. He heard the dragon's cry of terror somewhere over the chaos as Corrin vanished. A small earthquake burst out from Dante's feet before he swapped back to his human self with a wild grin. "Feels good to stretch the old wings, eh Verge?"

Corrin's staff, seemingly from nowhere, slammed into the back of Dante's knees. He toppled backwards with a startled yelp. Corrin reappeared in front of Vergil, catching the staff seconds before he sliced it in half with Yamato. "Are you an imbecile?" She snapped, cradling her dragon in her free hand. It curled up against her, whimpering slightly.

"I'm assuming that's a fancy way of saying moron?" Dante said as he pushed himself to his feet.

"You could have killed him!"

"So you're a half-demon like us, yeah?"

She blinked. Vergil almost rolled his eyes. Unlike him, this woman was not prepared for Dante's antics. "Excuse me?" She said finally.

"You're not a daughter of Sparda are you? Because that would be disappointing."

"No." She said. "But that still doesn't…"

"I just dropped out of the sky as a rather menacing looking demon, if I do say so myself. And not only are you yelling at me, but you have your back to my much more naturally intimidating brother. Which means you aren't scared of either of us."

"Idiocy does not a threat make." She muttered.

Dante groaned. "You talk like Vergil."

"Educated?" She said.

"Pretentious." Dante said. "No offense, bro."

Vergil knew full well that Dante meant it, but didn't dignify his brother's cheeky grin with a response. Corrin huffed in irritation as she walked away from them both and pet the top of the dragon's head. "Are you hurt?" She asked.

"No more than before, I think." He said. "A little dizzy." She lifted him to her shoulder and he hopped on, standing back on two legs as his tail flickered behind her shoulder. His little head stretched just taller than her ear. His tongue flicked at Dante. "No thanks to red-guy."

"That's Dante to you, little guy."

The dragon roared, but its voice was deep and aggressive like it had sounded when it was much larger. Dante nearly jumped out of his skin, and even Vergil took a small step backwards in surprise. Corrin glanced between them, unbothered. "You broke the first rule." She said.

"Don't try to kill him?"

"A dragon is never small."

"Anything else I need to know, sweetheart?"

Vergil felt her energy spike long before the silver dagger appeared, but he made no effort to stop it as it careened into Dante's shoulder. Once again, it knocked him off his feet, though Vergil wasn't certain if it was because of her strength, or the fact that she had caught his brother completely off guard. "Do not call me that." She said. "Ever."

"Rule number two," Dante said as he yanked the sword out. It shattered the second he did. "I'll keep that in mind."

A loud, guttural roar echoed behind her as a massive black axe sliced through the trees where Corrin had been. She appeared beside Vergil as a large, deformed bull demon lumbered toward them. It stood on two, hooved legs, but held its' weapon with only a single massive arm. Both of its' shoulders were covered in large, spiky, metal plates, but there was nothing but bone jutting out of rotten flesh on the right. It's massive jaw could easily eat two of them at once, but it hung open as if the beast couldn't control it. Inside were three rows of sharp, shark like teeth. Four horns protruded straight forward from above its eyes and ears. "That's a new one." Dante said.

"Second one today." Corrin said. It was the first time that she actually sounded tired. Vergil wondered how much she had been fighting today. Without knowledge of her power, ancestry, or really anything, Vergil couldn't guess what she was capable of.

"Leave this to us." Dante said. She glared at him, but Calcifer headbutted her cheek just enough that she didn't respond.

"Rest." The dragon said. "Blue-man will protect you."

He glanced back at them, but Corrin didn't meet his gaze. "I'm perfectly capable of fighting." She said.

"Your magic is low." He said. "Why risk hurting yourself more."

It's what I do." She said, but she took a step back regardless."

Dante frowned. "Why does he get to be blue-man but I have to be red-guy?"

"Because I like him more than you." Calcifer said.

Dante held his chest in mock pain. "You wound me."

The demon's eyes shifted to Corrin. Vergil moved slightly in front of her, hand on Yamato's hilt. The creature was large, and he knew Yamato would not be able to slice through it completely without multiple cuts. The demon grunted in a demon language Vergil had not heard in many years. "Moon-child." It said. "Master is looking for you."

"I haven't been a child since your master was Mundus' pet." She said, icily.

Vergil glanced at Dante. Though he knew his younger brother did not know what was being said, the name Mundus was the same in every language. Dante was frowning now, glancing between Vergil and Corrin. Clearly, she knew more than they did, but now was not the time to question her. The demon laughed, pulling Vergil's attention back to it. "You risk your life out here."

"Didn't have much of a choice." Corrin said.

"Thanks to your stupid, ugly sister." Calcifer hissed.

The creature huffed as it stamped its' foot. A puff of smoke erupted from its' nostrils. Dante whistled. "I don't know what either of you are saying, but it's not gonna to prevent an ass-kicking."

The demon glared at him. "Spawns of Sparda… my Master would love you too." He charged then, but both brothers lurched forward without fear. Yamato sliced through the beast's arm with a hundred, lightning fast strikes. Dante's sword plunged straight into its chest. Vergil phased backwards as blood splattered everywhere, but Dante pushed down harder until the beast's body slammed into the ground. Dante jumped backwards as he aimed a pair of finger guns in the monster's direction. "Easy." He said.

Black tendrils shot out of the monster's shoulder and attached to the severed arm like a series of webs. It snapped back to him, pulling together the shattered bones and flayed skin. The hole in its chest filled in as the creature rose back to his feet. It howled in rage and swung its axe with a speed Vergil didn't expect. Dante stopped it with the Devil Sword, but it still pushed him to the side, even as he dug his feet into the dirt. Dante triggered to push it away before diving back into the creatures body. He tore through it a second time, separating its torso from its legs. However,the demon's eyes turned bloodshot red as it reformed again. It swung at Dante, but Vergil caught the strike with Yamato as Dante dashed out of the way. "What the hell is this thing!" Dante shouted.

"It's corrupted!" Calcifer shouted.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Dante yelled.

"It gets stronger every time it dies!"

"Helpful information, please!"

"You have to sever the soul." Corrin said. The soul? Vergil couldn't see anything that could be a soul. He had read descriptions of it in some books, but the ability to see them was rare, usually left to certain types of demons. At this moment, however, he couldn't remember which ones. Instead, Vergil shot a series of swords into the creature's neck, avoiding severing it completely.

"Distract it." He said to Dante before teleporting to Corrin. His brother spurred into action, drawing the creature's attention away.

"You can see it's soul?" Vergil said.

She nodded. "Normally I could deal with it, but I used too much when I killed his sister this morning. It would be impossible for me to sever it fast enough." She glanced down at Yamato. "That could. I'm certain." The sound of a revving motorcycle echoed in the background. Corrin's eyes snapped over Vergil's shoulder. "He's using that as a weapon?"

"How do I see it?" He said, ignoring his brother's excited cheering behind him.

"Let Calcifer resonate with you." She said.

"What is…"

"We don't have time." She said as she held her hand out to him. Calcifer skittered down her arm and sat on her palm.

"You're going to have to trust me." Calcifer chirped.

Vergil didn't trust anyone. He barely trusted Dante. But looking her directly in the eyes, he realized that she was trusting him. Why? Why did she have faith in someone she didn't know? If she really could see souls, then surely she could see all the sins that weighed his down."Please." She said. "Saina."

Dear friend. His eyes snapped wider when he realized she had spoken in a new, melodic language that he should never have understood. But he did. Nothing made sense, but he didn't have time. "Quick." He said to Calcifer. The dragon hopped onto Vergil's arm and scrambled onto his shoulder. A flash of white light disoriented him for a brief moment. When he blinked it away, he saw a silver and blue light like a flickering flame appear on Corrin's chest. A smaller, blue one, hovered in front of Calcifer, and a red one clung to Dante as his brother drove circles around the very confused demon. The bull's soul, however, was a complete mess. Instead of a single, flame, its grey soul was stretched out between the various parts of its body, connected to a spiky, chaotic mass in the center. With every blow Dante struck, the soul grew more erratic. "Clean slice." Corrin said. "Or it will replicate."

Vergil launched forward without hesitation, ignoring Calcifer's startled cry as his claws dug into Vergil's shoulder. Dante leapt out of the way as Vergil cut diagonally through the ruined soul. The demon howled as it went limp. The soul scrambled to reform, but a blast of silver fire consumed the body. The soul vanished in the smoke as the demon's body burned within seconds. The brothers glanced back as Calcifer leapt off Vergil's shoulder. The souls vanished, but Corrin crumbled before the dragon got to her. Her staff hit the ground, and she looked paler than before as her eyes turned an unsettling gray. "You overdid it!" Calcifer roared angrily.

"I had to." Corrin mumbled as she tried to stand up. She stumbled backwards, but Vergil caught her, cutting off Dante who had moved to do the same. His brother didn't argue.

"Take her to our place." Dante said. "The demons won't bother her there."

"I can't fly." Calcifer said.

"Don't worry about that." Dante said with a small smile. "If she wants, I could carry her myself."

"As enticing as that sounds." Corrin muttered. "I'd rather walk off a cliff."

"Ouch," Dante said with a chuckle. "You may want to reconsider your choice in men."

"Shut up, red-guy." Calcifer scowled as he hopped onto Corrin's chest.

Vergil smirked despite himself. It wasn't often that other people took his side over Dante's, not that he had ever done anything in particular to warrant such a reaction. Although, he wasn't certain that was a good thing quite yet. Dante just shrugged. "Lucky me." He said. "I'm off babysitting duty."

The other three stared at him in varying levels of irritation. However, Corrin's weakening demonic aura concerned Vergil more than his brother. "I can carry you." He said. "But don't make a habit of it."

Corrin smiled so slightly that he almost missed it. "I promise to take better care of my dragon."

"What do you need?"

"Time, rest, demon blood. You've got a lot of options."

Vergil triggered, but waited a moment as she stared at him. He and Dante always argued over who's devil form looked more menacing than the other. Dante always argued that his was, as his took after their father and flames were "much more terrifying than arm swords". But Vergil's demon form was different. Blue. Draconic. Much more his own. There were traces of Sparda's influence, but it was clear that Vergil had developed much more in isolation than Dante; still similar, but ultimately his.

It was Calcifer who responded first. "I'm jealous."

Corrin chuckled. "I'd have to agree. He does seem quite a bit more menacing than you in that form."

"And that tail!" Calcifer said. "That's just not fair."

He heard Dante burst into laughter behind him. Vergil growled, but said nothing as he picked Corrin and her companion up with ease. She fell somewhat limply in his grasp for a moment, but she took a deep breath and pulled herself up to wrap her arms around his neck. As he unfurled his wings, she stared at him with a look of wonder. He growled again, only somewhat surprised when not a single part of her, not even her aura, flinched. She wasn't afraid of him, or his demon form.

He hadn't decided if that was a good thing either.

"She interests you." Griffon cackled in his head. "Or you've just gone soft. Either way, what do you have left to live for but temporary distractions?"

"A woman who isn't afraid of you." Dante said. "This will be entertaining."

Vergil leapt into the air without a response. Within seconds, Corrin was asleep against his chest as Calcifer watched him with a look somewhere between amazement, hesitation, and sheer jealousy. "Yes?" Vergil said, his demon voice much deeper than his regular one.

"It suits you." Calcifer said begrudgingly.

Vergil was silent as he realized, with a small amount of irritation, that he didn't have a clue what to say to that.

Chapter Text

Kyrie had learned and done many things over the last few years. Her time with Nero, especially after the Qliphoth incident, had taught her to be more proactive. To learn how to treat superficial wounds and stitch certain jackets torn nearly to shreds by demons. How to take off Devil Breakers when she wanted his real arm back, or put them on when Nero was stumbling around too early in the morning with Nico honking obsessively outside. She’d learned how to make meals for a demon appetite- something she’d already picked up by working at the orphanage - and how to tell when Nero needed meat or coffee to cure his aggression fueled jitters.

All the simple stuff, really.

The last few days, however, Nero’s agitation had gotten so high that she hadn’t quite known how to help. She knew he wasn’t angry at her, or really anything in particular. When he first awakened his devil form - trigger, she remembered him calling it idly once - his energy had been through the roof. He’d tried to fight with almost everything that breathed, albeit playfully when it came to the kids, but had gone on numerous jobs to try and curb it. Kyrie had had to cook nearly twice as much as usual to keep up with him. Trish had told her once that it was normal, that Nero was reacting to a spike in demon energy that he wasn’t used to and that it would all go away. And most days it did.

Kyrie sat at the kitchen table, sipping her tea as Nero paced back and forth between the kitchen and the living room like a man on a mission. She had put the kids to bed hours ago while he was still out with Nico, so she was really the only one awake. “I can go to the store.” She said.

“It’s midnight.” Nero said. He flinched, as his voice was often harsher in this state than usual, but she didn’t mind. Whatever he was dealing with in his head was clearly beyond her understanding and needed her forgiveness. “I’ll be fine.” He said. Kyrie watched him as she sipped her tea. He stopped suddenly and sighed. “Something's wrong.” He muttered.

“What are you feeling?” She asked quietly.

“Like there’s this massive weight on my shoulders everywhere I go.” He said. Kyrie knew he meant that literally. Nero wasn’t one to stress out over anything except maybe planning events at the orphanage. “It’s almost worse than when I intercepted Dante and…” He paused. “Vergil.”

He never did quite know what to call his father. Kyrie hadn’t met this Vergil person as he had gone into the Underworld to tear down the Qliphoth tree (which Nero said that Vergil had raised in the first place). Nero didn’t talk much about his father- or Dante for that matter - but he always hesitated when he did. Like a part of him wished he was actually here and not trapped in the Underworld for the foreseeable future. Lady and Trish kept telling him it was better off this way. Lady had told Nero once that Vergil and the human world didn’t get along, but Kyrie only saw hesitant resignation in Nero’s eyes.

Both of them had known V and, despite some questionable decisions, V was a good guy as far as Kyrie was concerned. And if V was a part of Vergil, then Kyrie believed he could be good too. It was that kind of thinking that others considered naive or too good for this world. But Kyrie worked with orphans for a living. Second chances was what she was best at giving.

“So... demonic?” Kyrie said pulling her thoughts back to the conversation at hand. “Have they come back?”

He shook his head. “They felt… different. Trish said I’d be able to sense them from a million miles away if they showed back up. Part of being Sparda’s kin or something.” He started pacing again, albeit a bit slower and stopped in the kitchen doorway rather than wandering completely out of the room. Kyrie always wondered why he trusted her more than everyone else. She was close to the last person in the universe who could tell him the first thing about demons or half-breed problems or anything not human. But, he always came to her first, and she never minded it.

“Maybe another demon then?” She said.

“It’s possible.” He said. “Though I’ve fought some pretty big ones before and none of them have led to this.”

“Did something happen on a mission?”

He shook his head. “I haven’t had any injuries, so no weird demon poison or whatever. I’m not even sure if that’s a thing.”

“Maybe it really is just stress.”

“Maybe.” He said, but his voice was hollow. Neither of them believed it. Suddenly, he spun around in the doorway, walked over to her, and pressed his lips firmly against her own. She squeaked slightly in surprise, but melted against him almost immediately. When he pulled away a few seconds, maybe a minute later, his cheeks were tinged a dark red. She giggled. Even in private, Nero always got a little embarrassed. She thought it was endearing. “Maybe we need a getaway.” He murmured.

“I wouldn't mind.” She said. “But it will take a few weeks to set everything up at the orphanage, find the kids a babysitter, and make sure Nico doesn’t burn down the house while we’re gone.” She smiled as she brushed his cheek. “I’ll start making the plans.”

“Do you think they’ll ever come back?”

She paused. He looked so vulnerable for that brief moment. It was a side of him that no one else saw. Nero was more than capable of taking care of himself, and had done so for many years. But she remembered the hope in his voice when he told her he had a family. She recalled the torment behind his eyes when they left, even when he convinced everyone else that he was okay. He had cried once or twice to her and her alone. Kyrie knew that deep down, no matter what anyone else said, Nero wanted a chance to get to know the demon half of his family because - as much as she was pained to admit it - there might be a time when they would be all he had left.

“Both of them have been to the Underworld before, right?” She said. “And they both got out?”

“From what I’ve been told but…”

“And Dante doesn’t seem like the kind of person to resign himself to the Underworld with no pizza or anyone but his brother for an eternity.” Kyrie said trying to keep her tone lighthearted. Nero smiled gently, but said nothing. “And when they come back, we’ll have a nice big party with lots of friends and the kids and cake and all the pizza anyone could ever want.”

“I’m not sure Vergil would appreciate that.”

“If he’s half the father you think he might be, then he would deal with it for you.”

He blushed. “Maybe.”

The door to the garage burst open. “Nero!” Nico shouted. Kyrie heard one of the children yelp in freight upstairs. Clearly they had not all been asleep.

“It’s the middle of the night!” Nero hissed.

“I know. I’m sorry.” Kyrie’s heart sunk. It was very rare for Nico to apologize for anything, especially not to Nero. He seemed to notice this too, for his expression changed immediately.

“What’s wrong?”

“There’s been sightings of demons but…” She took a deep breath, clearly panicked. “They’re people, Nero. Missing people turned into these… dead zombie looking things. And there’s this thing, possibly human, maybe not, that people have seen with them. Whatever it is has killed people, Nero. A lot of them.”

“Where?”

“On the other side of Redgrave.”

“Show me.” He moved to Kyrie and kissed her on the cheek. “I’ll be back soon.”

“I’ll be here.” She said. “Be careful.”

He nodded and left. Kyrie rushed upstairs to the children, trying to distract her mind from the brief moment of terror she felt as Nero walked out that door. “Keep him safe.” She prayed quietly. “Or send someone that can.”


 

Vergil was never the type of person to stare at anything, much less a woman. But after Dante had gone to clear out a few demons, he found his thoughts drifting back to her more than he cared to admit. He had always prided himself on knowing everything he could about a situation. Even his human half, V, had gone to great lengths to figure out whatever he could despite his weaknesses. He had only begrudgingly gone to Dante because he was too human to do anything about the demon he unleashed.

This woman - Corrin, he reminded himself - was an enigma. Half-breeds were rare enough, though Vergil had always assumed there were others. But he couldn’t fathom whose descendant she could be. He tried to remember if he had met any of his father’s associates. There had been many, but, if he was honest with himself, tracking down his father’s demon friends hadn’t been high on his priority list. A list of names would not do him any good now.

He frowned. Her dragon, Calcifer, had been eerily and unexpectedly quiet since they had gotten back. After Vergil laid her on their makeshift bed of chopped wood and whatever sticks Dante had found lying around, the little dragon had jumped onto her chest and sat there, staring down at her with a glazed over look in his eyes. Vergil had expected him to talk nonstop as Griffon did. But Calcifer had said and done nothing but wait for his mistress to wake back up. Granted, Vergil hadn’t tried talking to the dragon either, but he wasn’t certain if Calcifer’s mind was even in the same universe. He looked more like a statue than a living creature.

Was he even a dragon? A demon? That seemed like the easiest answer to find, but Vergil didn’t have a clue.

“Verge!” Dante yelled as he climbed up into the encampment with a small bundle of splintered wood and some chopped logs. “This should be enough for the night,  yeah?” He dropped the entire pile to the side where their dwindling storage of firewood usually sat.

“Likely.” He said. There were many nights when the Underworld got cold enough to freeze a human being to death. While it was more of a minor discomfort for the twins, there was no reason not to try and combat the frigidity. Rather than use up the unfortunately finite energy of their devil forms, the two had decided lighting a fire was much more convenient. Vergil never slept, so the fire never went out, and their little hovel in the middle of Hell stayed as comfortable as they could get it.

Dante plopped down beside Vergil in his usual laid back stance. “Still not up?” Vergil shook his head. Dante hummed slightly. “I wonder how far they flew. There’s no way we would have missed a demoness and her giant dragon wandering around here.”

Vergil had considered something similar. She had mentioned being “far from home”, but it seemed unlikely that they wouldn’t have crossed paths at least once over their time here. In fact, Vergil was confident he would have sensed her demonic aura on his own, as she hadn’t been trying to hide it.  “You could try asking the dragon.” He said with a slight smirk.

Dante winced. “I don’t think he likes me.”

“Whatever gave you that idea?”

“I broke nearly every rule before I knew they existed.” He said, but then paused, tilted his head and grinned. “Actually, that’s pretty impressive.”

Vergil rolled his eyes. “You’re too impulsive.”

“Clearly I tried too hard.” Dante said. “All I needed to do was stand there brooding for awhile and she’d had jumped right into my arms.”

“She did not jump into my arms.”

“Oh right, my mistake. You actually, for some insane reason I’m sure, humored her and carried her all the way back here. So really, if I was honest with myself, I wasn’t in the race to begin with.”

Vergil scowled. “What are you rambling about?”

“Nothing important.” Dante said. “Feel free to take the bed. You’d probably keep her warmer than a measly fire ever could.”

“And why, pray tell, would I ever do that?”

Dante chuckled, but didn’t respond. Vergil resisted the urge to impale him as he didn’t feel like cleaning Yamato again. He did, however, send a blue sword into Dante’s thigh. The twin barely even flinched as he yanked it out. “You’re losing your touch.”

“I’m still up one.”

“Oh who's counting now?”

“I am, obviously, because your ability to remember simple numbers is abysmal.”

“Alright walking dictionary,” Dante said as he slapped at Vergil’s shoulder. The older brother shifted just slightly to dodge it. “Cool it with the vocab dump.”

“As you wish.”

Dante scowled, but a small yawn from Corrin’s direction stopped whatever response he had in mind. Calcifer was staring at them now, head tilted. His eyes were blue now, where they had been white earlier. “Are you brothers?”

“Of course we are.” Dante said. “We were twins at some point, but I grew up and Vergil got to keep all the good looks.”

Unable to decide if that was a strange backhanded compliment or a flat out insult, Vergil ignored him completely. “How is Corrin?”

Calcifer’s tail flicked to the side. “She’ll be waking up soon.”

“How do you know that?” Dante said.

“I resonated with her.”

“Which means…”

“I connected her soul to mine.” The dragon said cheerfully. “It lets her replenish her energy faster.”

“And how does it do that?”

Calcifer’s tongue flicked at Dante in slight annoyance. “I don’t think you’d understand.”

“Humor me.”

The dragon hesitated as he glanced at Corrin. When she didn’t respond, he sighed and looked to Vergil. “Corrin has the ability to see and interact with souls in exchange for the power of her own. Her magic - the fire you saw - is drawn from that same power. Normally, she replenishes quickly, but it hasn’t been a good week.”

“Why not?” Vergil asked.

Calcifer hummed slightly, as if uncertain. “Well...” He trailed off as his head turned to Corrin. “Hey sleepyhead!” He said gently poking at her cheek with his snout. Corrin stirred, but her eyes didn’t open. Calcifer stopped and tilted his head. “Corrin?”

Her eyes snapped open. Calcifer yelped as he fell off of her. She didn’t move, and Vergil realized she wasn’t actually breathing. “Corrin!” Calcifer leapt back onto her and prodded at her chest. “It’s okay! You’re okay!”

“What’s wrong?” Dante said as Vergil knelt beside her.

“She’s stuck!” Calcifer said.

“Stuck in what?”

“A memory.” Calcifer said miserably. “I resonated too much.”

Dante appeared beside him and pushed his palm to the back of Corrin’s forehead. “She’s burning up.” He said.

“Go to the river.” Vergil said. “Bring back whatever you can.”

“I can help!” Calcifer said. He hopped to Dante’s shoulder, clearly too panicked to care who it was. Dante nodded to Vergil and flew away with the dragon in tow. Vergil looked back at Corrin. Her empty gaze was unsettling. White eyes with no pupils. It was like staring at a broken woman, or a ghost.

That’s what you looked like.  Griffon said.  When you were falling apart.

Vergil bristled at the voice, but knew it was right. He glanced at the skin on her hands and neck. She wasn’t crumbling at least. If she really was caught in a memory, could he pull her out of it?

“What are you going to do?” Griffin’s voice whispered in his head. “You risked the end of the world to forget your pain. How can someone as selfish and stupid as you help someone like her?”

Vergil held back a growl. For a dead nightmare, Griffin was awfully annoying. It was unfortunate that his subconscious hadn’t retained something quieter. Or, preferably, nothing at all. His increasingly human emotions were a problem he couldn’t - didn’t - want to deal with. “Corrin.” He said as clearly as possible. Her fingers twitched, but she didn’t move. “Corrin.” He said, louder this time, ignoring the twinge of foolishness echoing in the back of his head. “Wake up.”

Her head fell to the side as her eyes stared directly at him. “Vergil?” She murmured. Her voice sounded distant, like she was speaking to him from deep within her subconscious. Her fingers twitched again before he realized she was reaching for him. He hesitated as he shifted away from her. “Wait…” She said. Was she delusional? She had to be. If Calcifer had been her only companion, then it was natural she would feel drawn to another half-breed. At least, that’s what he tried telling himself, but it felt wrong. Vergil was not one to let anyone get the better of him but right now, she was. She knew more than him. She knew something he did not. It bothered him immensely. He could feel his demon half bristle in pure annoyance. Leave her, she’s not worth your time. She is a weakling, you are not.

Sure. Griffon said . Just walk away like you always do. I’m sure your brother would be so proud.

This time, Vergil launched an energy sword over his shoulder. It pierced through multiple roots before digging itself into a tree many feet away. Griffon’s laugh only got louder. “Why.” Vergil said through clenched teeth. “Must you torture me so?”

Corrin’s fingers grabbed his own and the world went silent.

Vergil blinked. Once. Twice. Griffon’s voice was gone. His demon half was silent. His eyes snapped back to her, but he didn’t move. It was the first time in a very, very long time that his mind was actually quiet . No absent chatter. No resurfacing memories. Nothing. Absolute peace.

He stared at her, dumbfounded for the first time in his life. Who are you?

Calcifer swooped down in front of Vergil, landing beside Corrin’s head. He placed his jaw on her forehead and released all the water he was holding in his cheeks. It drizzled down the sides of her head and between her eyes. Dante landed shortly after, but hung back as Calcifer finished and took a step away.

Corrin’s eyes snapped back to normal as she shot upright, gasping for air. The second her hand slipped from Vergil’s, the mutterings of Griffon returned. Calcifer hopped back and forth over Corrin’s legs. “It’s okay!” He said. “You’re okay. We’re okay. Nobody can hurt you. Nobody will hurt you. It’s all okay.”

“Verge?” Dante said quietly. Vergil twitched slightly and avoided his brother’s gaze. It would be impossible for the time being to hide the turmoil within himself. “Are you okay?”

“I don’t know.” Vergil snapped. Dante said nothing, but the concern in his eyes was too painful to look at. Vergil didn’t want his pity. He didn’t need his pity. He didn’t need anything. He was seconds from triggering and flying very far away.

But you’re not going to. Griffon murmured. Are you?

He met Corrin’s gaze. Her breathing slowed somewhat as she stared back at him. “Who are you?” He said as evenly as he could.

“Corrin.” She said. Why was she looking at him like he was a wounded animal? Why did everyone pity him so? “My mother’s name was Celeste. My father was a human named Adrian. My brother’s name was Leo, and his wife was Helen.” He kept her gaze and wondered if he had it wrong. She wasn’t pitying him. No, she seemed almost ashamed. Calcifer rubbed his snout on her arm, but said nothing. “I’m the only one left.”

He felt a large lump in his throat, but he swallowed it down. He had so many questions, but didn’t know how to ask any of them. He felt Dante’s hand on his shoulder. For once, he didn’t bat it away. “Let’s all take a breath.” Dante said. He squeezed Vergil’s shoulder extra tightly. Vergil glared at him but let it slide. “It’s been a long day, and I find conversation is always easier once you have some time to think about it.”

Corrin looked up at him. “I shouldn’t be here.” She said. “I should be…” She trailed off as she looked away.

“She won’t admit it.” Calcifer said quietly. “But we have nowhere to go. We’ve been fighting demons and flying nonstop for at least a week now. It will take nearly that long for me to transform safely again.”

“So stay with us.” Dante said. “We’re all residents on this joy ride through hell.”

“I can get us out.” Corrin said.

Dante’s mouth dropped. “Out where, exactly.”

“Your world, I assume.” She said. “I don’t have the… tools necessary to take us anywhere else.”

Vergil felt himself calm somewhat, even if he knew it was temporary. “When we closed off the portal the first time,” He said. “The barrier between worlds became too strong for Yamato to cut through.”

“I can weaken it.” She said. “But we need memories of where you want to go and a catalyst for me to resonate with.”

“What do you need?”

“I usually use crystals.” She said. “But I haven’t seen any since Calcifer and I flew in this direction.”

“She could use a really smooth rock.” Calcifer said. “But it has to be perfect.”

“There were quite a few by the river.” Dante said. “Think you could point some out?”

Calcifer glanced at Corrin. She nodded, but Vergil didn’t miss the slight sway. Her exhaustion hadn’t gone away completely. Calcifer turned back to Dante. “I can try my best.”

“That’s all we can really do.” Dante winked as he held his hand out to the dragon. “Rest up, Cor.” He said as Calcifer climbed slowly into his palm. “Verge will take care of you, right?”

Vergil nodded once. Satisfied, Dante wandered back down the pathway. He was speaking to Calcifer, but Vergil wasn’t listening. Instead, he watched Corrin whose eyes fluttered a few times as she tried to keep herself upright. “I’m not usually like this.” She muttered glancing at him with a hint of embarrassment in her cheeks. “I promise.” She tried to stand, but stumbled straight into him. He caught her with a grunt. Everything went blissfully silent again. If it were anyone else, he would have shoved them back to their side. Assert whatever dominance he had left. Instead, he let her put her hands on his shoulders and push herself upright. Her eyes looked terribly dull.

“Sleep.” He said. “You’ll be useless in this state.”

“Yes…” She said. How was this woman not even slightly bothered by what he just said? “That’s… a good idea.” She pulled herself away and tried to wander back to the bed in some kind of dignified manner. She made it, barely, and lay on her side toward him. “Did I do something wrong?”

“No.” He muttered. No point in lying.

“That’s good.” She said. “You seem nice.”

“Sleep.” He said again. She nodded once and closed her eyes. Within a few minutes, she was asleep again.

A beautiful woman with power over you? What a conundrum. Griffon cackled. You’re one lucky guy, V!

Against his better judgement, Vergil reached for Corrin’s hand. Griffon went quiet again, leaving Vergil to wander through his own restless thoughts. He wanted to be angry. He fought desperately to find that annoyance, that frustration. To be degraded to this- a weak man forced to rely on someone he barely knew for any sense of peace - should have ignited every sense of demon pride left within him. But nothing came. Not the rage. Not the irritation. Not even the deep rooted guilt and shame that had plagued him since his time as V.

“Infuriating.” He muttered as he turned to lean his back against the makeshift bed so her fingers could rest against his shoulder. He sat like that for a long time, staring up at the red moon as he processed everything he could without the nagging voices dragging him down. He only moved, albeit unwillingly, when he heard Dante’s voice echo into their shelter.

This woman is going to be the death of you. Griffon said. For once, Vergil didn’t disagree, and the fleeting voice in his head said nothing more.

Chapter Text

 

Vergil woke up without realizing he had been tired in the first place.

He stared blankly at the sky for a moment trying to remember the last time he had truly slept. It had been years, easily. He didn’t even think it was a requirement anymore. His fingers twitched and as he felt a slight weight on them. He almost tossed it away before he saw that it was Calcifer’s head, faintly snoring. Another moment passed before Vergil realized he was on the bed, alone in the shelter, with a quiet mind once again.

He grunted slightly as he pushed himself up. Calcifer lifted his little head and yawned. “Good morning, Mr. Vergil.”

He supposed that was an upgrade from blue-man, but didn’t know why the dragon was being so formal. “Where are they?” He picked up Yamato which had been laid right beside him. Calcifer hopped onto Vergil’s shoulder without asking.

“Corrin woke up a few hours ago.” Calcifer said. “So Dante challenged her to a duel.”

“What?” Vergil said. Startled, Calcifer fell off his shoulder. A hint of Griffon’s laughter echoed back at him. So the dragon quiets him too. Vergil thought. He figured it wasn’t in his best interest to antagonize the companion of someone he still wanted answers from. “I apologize.” He said as he held his hand out to Calcifer. The dragon’s eyes glittered as he hopped on and made his way back up to Vergil’s shoulder. “Did you find a catalyst?”

“I think so.” Calcifer said. “Corrin messed around with it a bit this morning, but she needed a break.”

“And Dante presumed that fighting was a suitable break?”

Calcifer gave him a look that could almost be described as disbelief. “She’s a demon, Mr. Vergil. She hasn’t fought anything even remotely worthy in years.” He huffed. “And you weren’t available.”

“Endearing.” Vergil said dryly, though he didn’t miss the small drop of pride he felt - unwillingly - at the compliment. Vergil could never compare his own demonic aura to Dante’s. Clearly Corrin - or Calcifer at the very least - had. “I know where they are.”

Calcifer’s tail flicked lightly against Vergil’s back. “Good.” He said, his voice tinged with glee. “I want to see her knock red-guy around.”

“Your confidence in her is admirable.” Vergil said. “But I'm afraid my brother, despite his mannerisms, is no pushover.”

Calcifer snorted with a puff of harmless smoke. “Neither is she.”


 

Vergil heard the duel long before he saw it. The clattering of swords echoed beyond their dueling pit. The occasional gunshot from one of Dante’s demonically charged pistols was like an explosion through a quiet pasture. Vergil hopped onto a tree to survey the scene. Dante and Corrin were opposite of each other, with Corrin’s staff floating right in front of her and Dante holding both Ebony and Ivory. “You’re not half bad, Cor.” Dante said. “But I'm afraid I’m up one.”

Corrin frowned. “This point system of yours is trite and purposefully misleading.”

“My rules this time.” He said with a wink. “So two to one.” He fired his guns multiple times. The staff spun, slapping the bullets away. Corrin looked almost bored.

“Do I get a point for all the wasted ammunition?”

Dante laughed as he spun the pistols back into their holsters and summoned his devil sword. “I’ll make a deal with you then.” He said. “Last one. Winner take all.”

Corrin raised an eyebrow. “Confident of you.”

“I’m not worried.”

“Then you have a deal.”

Dante charged first, leaping into the air with the Devil Sword pulled back. A familiar, albeit impulsive strike. One of the more difficult ones for Vergil to successfully block without being thrown backwards. Clearly, Corrin knew this, for she flipped to the side and cracked her staff on the back of Dante’s head. He recovered without hesitation and swung the sword back at her. She flipped backwards over it, and pushed the staff towards the ground. A burst of black fire disoriented Dante as she darted up into the air. She spun sideways and pulled her staff toward her left hand. It changed to her katana as her hair turned white. As if pushing off an invisible wall, Corrin shot at Dante. The two collided, but Corrin appeared behind him and swung her katana up. A burst of flames knocked Dante off balance. She slammed the katana into his back and a burst of white flames sent him flying. He flipped mid-air, and landed with ease. However, instead of charging again, he stood up straight with a hearty laugh and de-summoned his sword.

“Point for you.” He said.

Corrin frowned. “Why?”

Dante waved his hand dismissively. “You knocked me away. I’ll count it this time.” He looked up at Vergil. “Mornin’, Verge.” He said. “Like what you see?”

“It was adequate.” He said as he hopped down.

“Adequate?” Calcifer hopped off of his shoulder and hovered directly in front of his face. “She kicked red-guy’s…”

“Calcifer.” Corrin said. The dragon gulped back what he was about to say and flew to her. He licked her twice on the cheek before settling on her shoulder. “He was holding back.”

“She’s pretty good.” Dante said, ignoring her. “Might even give you a run for your money.”

Vergil very much doubted that. Speed and evasiveness were Dante’s worst enemies, skills that Vergil had come to understand very well. “Another time.” He said. “Did you discover how to get us out?”

Corrin nodded as she reached into her pocket. “Spent all morning refining it.” She said. The stone in her hand was murky white and perfectly round. “Next time we need interworld travel, I’ll look for a crystal.” She said as she looked to Dante. “You said your memories of this Redgrave are clearer than Vergil’s, yes?”

“Absolutely.”

She tossed the stone to him. “Then go daydream about it for awhile. The more detailed memories, the better.” She scratched Calcifer’s head. “You’re hungry, yes?”

“Always.” He purred.

“Go with her, Verge.” Dante said. “Unless you want to try distracting me.”

“Your inability to focus will be a large enough obstacle, I assure you.” Vergil said.

“Yep.” Dante said. “So don’t make it any worse.” He waved the two off as he wandered back toward their camp. Vergil huffed slightly, but Corrin was already walking away.

“Can we find something that isn’t an ugly bug?” Calcifer said.

“Maybe.” Corrin said. She stopped and glanced back at Vergil. “Wonder how Dante would feel if I got lost.”

That smug grin she gave him made him twitch. He wasn’t sure if it was discomfort or frustration. She was too confident for her own good.  “ Or, hear me out.” Griffon said. “You like it.”

Vergil ignored him. “That would be impossible.” He said to her.

“Of course.” She said. “You know the area too well for that.”

“Presumptuous to assume I’d actually go with you.”

“Realistic.” She said.

Griffon cackled as she moved away. Maybe she does know what power she has over you.

Vergil teleported forward and plucked Calcifer from Corrin’s shoulder. While the dragon looked mildly irritated, Corrin just gave him an amused smile. “You could just ask.” She said. “He’d probably prefer that.”

He ignored her. “You know.”

“I know many things, Vergil.” She said. “Be more specific.”

He scowled. Was she taunting him? He wasn’t certain. He thought sarcasm would be more obvious, but her voice was very sincere. “About the…” he almost said voices, but realized that wasn’t exactly a sane sentence to speak to anyone. Vergil hoped he could keep some of his dignity in tact.

Corrin, however, nodded as if he had finished the sentence. “Your soul is very loud.” She said.

“Can you put me down, Mr. Vergil.” Calcifer whined as Vergil was still holding him with one hand. The dejected look on the dragon’s face might have been hilarious if Dante were there. But it only deepend Vergil’s scowl. The dragon huffed. A small ball of fire hit Vergil’s other hand. The blue-devil didn’t flinch.

“You are something to me.” He said to Corrin.

“A friend I hope.” Corrin said. “Or at least an acquaintance.”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know.” He said. “You have no power over me.”

“I don’t want to.” She said. “I work with souls. I break them. Burn them. Shield them. Heal them. It’s my specialty.”

“What does that have to do with me?”

Her eyes flickered blue for a brief second. “I recognize a struggling soul when I see one.”

Vergil stared at her as he snapped his mouth shut. He would not, under any circumstances, be caught with that slack-jawed, deer-in-headlights look that he always saw on Dante’s face. “I am not struggling.” He said. Her intense gaze, however, ended any other response he might have had. Perplexing, he thought. Usually he was the one to glare people to silence. But her calm stare did much more than that. It disarmed him completely. Stubbornly, Vergil put Calcifer back on her shoulder, ignoring the dragon’s annoyed hiss. “I don’t need your help.” Vergil said.

She smiled. “I’ll be here if you do.” She teleported a good distance forward before he could retort. Vergil made no move to follow. In less than a minute, she hopped off a small cliff and out of sight.

“Good one, moron.” Griffon said. “You’re certainly no casanova.”

He growled at nothing and moved in the opposite direction. He wouldn’t bother Dante, but demon killing sounded incredibly appealing. He could handle his own emotions. Cut out whatever was bothering him on his own. He didn’t need some cocky, infuriating woman to…

A shriek echoed in the direction Corrin had gone. Not an empusa or a queen. Something much bigger. He swallowed an unwanted urge to go after her. “She doesn't need me. I don’t need her.” He gripped Yamato’s scabbard so tightly that his knuckles turned white. He forced his feet to move in the other direction. His chest prickled in discomfort, as if his soul itself was furious at his decision.

For all Vergil knew, it was.

Two more shrieks - different pitches - echoed across the field. “Keep walking, Romeo.” Griffon said. “It’s not like she’s your only ticket out of Hell or anything.”

Vergil swore to himself, spun around, and stormed after Corrin.


 

Corrin knew her limits better than anyone. Even in an unfamiliar part of the Underworld, a few stray demons were child’s play. Even when Vergil didn’t follow - which she both expected and yet, was disappointed by - she was confident she could defeat even a small horde if necessary. And she had been right. The few nameless demons she came across only needed a couple of daggers to kill.

However, what she hadn’t expected was to find a cave filled with tattered human souls.

She yanked her katana out of a squealing rose demon, grimacing when it released half a dozen corrupted souls with its dying shriek. “We really shouldn’t be doing this alone.” Calcifer said. Corrin knew he trusted her, but Calcifer was naturally nervous, especially when he was stuck in his child form. An unfortunate necessity, as she couldn’t rely on the extra energy she should be getting from Vergil’s soul.

“If only you remembered.” She thought

Her Vergil would have helped immediately, because her Vergil always kept his promises. But this Vergil didn’t know her. This Vergil had almost completely reverted to the state he had been when she first met him. At least this version of him could talk. It made it much simpler for him to reject her outright.

“Stop it.” Calcifer said. “You’re already spending all of your energy keeping him sane. Don’t let him drive you crazy too.”

“He already does.” She said. “By existing.”

“He does seem rather maddening.” Calcifer said as he hopped off of her shoulder and sniffed around the base of the cave.

“Well I’m stuck with him.” She muttered. “Whether he knows it or not.”

Because the tether never broke.

A part of her had been relieved, excited even, when she saw it after she and Calcifer first left their home. That feeling had quickly turned to bitter disappointment when she realized he had, in fact, lost his memory of her. She had resolved then not to tell him the truth, because she knew how this Vergil would react. Even if he believed her, he would resent her for it to the end of time. She couldn’t do that. Wouldn’t do that. Not to him, and certainly not to herself.

“We’ll help however we can.” She said. “For now, we need to focus on whatever this is.” She pointed into the cave. Large vines grew out of the walls. Dirt turned to trampled grass. Even flowers bloomed in random places. Roses dripping with blood hung on the ceiling. Dead petunias snuggled up with Venus fly traps that snapped at her as she walked by. She could feel the remnants of a soul methodically moving around what Corrin assumed was open space. Her ears pricked up at the sound of a voice, but it was too far down for her to hear it.

She snapped to Calcifer who hopped onto her shoulder as she moved forward. As the tunnel widened, the plants became bigger. Some of them towered over her. Eventually, she found a second hole leading further downward into a circular room. It was covered in braided vines of various colors, all branching out from the center. The walls were filled with monster flowers, many of which contained long dead human souls. On the far side of the arena was a massive humanoid figure nested in a giant, blood red rose. The creature stood on eight legs made of braided, red vines. Corrin could see three souls of human women nestled in its’ chest. Even worse, the demon - or whatever it was - was tethered to every single dying soul in the room.

Corrin had seen things like this before, but usually it took months of negligence and mass murder to get this far. This was an infestation. How could this thing have harvested so many souls between worlds without anyone noticing?

“This is really bad.” Calcifer said.

“Understatement of the century.” Corrin took many slow steps back as she knew very quickly that this was beyond her power. Even if she killed the demon, dispelling all of the souls would drain her too quickly.

A shriek of fury echoed below her. “Intruder?” The demon howled. “Someone dare disrupts my precious children?”

The vines beneath Corrin retreated into the walls. She plunged into the pit with a yelp of surprise, using her staff to slow her descent just enough that she could roll on impact without breaking her legs. Calcifer was thrown from her shoulder. She teleported and yanked him away from a vine that nearly impaled him. She burned two fly traps behind her before releasing the souls.

The demon’s face twisted with rage as its’ eyes bulged unnaturally out of the sockets. “You should be dead.” It hissed as it leaned towards her.

“No more than you.” She said.

“I was given this.” The demon said. “For serving my master so well.” She chuckled with twisted delight as she made her way toward Corrin.

“And who might that be?” Corrin said as she sidestepped another vine.

“Like I would tell you, half-breed.”

“That is not as condescending as you think it is.” Corrin said. Vines shot out of the walls. Corrin flipped over them, slicing two before burning the third.

The creature shrieked. Flowers bloomed all around Corrin, many of them hiding fly traps under their petals. She flipped backwards as Calcifer launched himself safely into the air. Corrin burned through one before swapping to her katana and making quick work of the others. The larger demon leapt forward. Corrin teleported away as it slammed down with enough force to shake the world itself. “We’re in trouble!” Calcifer called from above.

“Confidence, Calcifer.” Corrin hissed. “Find some.”

“Right, right, sorry!” The dragon shot fire at another flower as Corrin tumbled out of another set of vines. “Go Corrin! You can do it. I believe in you!”

“Better than nothing.” Corrin muttered. The demon howled as it charged forward again. Corrin dashed beneath it, slicing two of the legs before teleporting out. While it was a clean slice, the vines regrew almost immediately. The demon slammed its legs down. Corrin threw herself into the air, throwing daggers at every vine that erupted beneath her. A mass of pollen smacked into her. She skidded back into the wall, stabbing through another plant. She darted away from another blast, leaping over vines and diving under creatures on the wall. She launched at the creature and stabbed her sword through the demon’s humanesque body. Two souls burned, but the third retreated into the flower. She would have to carve the thing to bits in seconds to have any hope of reaching it, a feat she wasn't certain she could pull off.

“You wound me?” The demon said. Massive flowers tumbled off of the walls. Corrin dashed between them, vaguely aware that her own magic was dwindling. As she dodged the last flower, the demon was already flying, legs ready to skewer her.

A blue light shot through the room, slicing clean through the demon. A second later, demonic energy pulsed from it, shredding every last vine and flower in the room. The creature scrambled backwards, soul exposed, as demon Vergil hovered in front of Corrin. She didn’t have time to thank him. “Calcifer!” She teleported forward and threw a dagger with as much force as she could. Calcifer fired a small blast, igniting the dagger as it pierced the corrupted soul. Corrin phased upward to catch Calcifer, but an explosion at the demon’s core threw her backwards before she could stop it. Vergil yanked her out of her spiral. The demon screamed in agony as its’ body crumbled to dust. Every soul it awakened fell with it, collapsing in heaps on the ground.

She felt Vergil transform back. She looked up to see a pair of fierce blue eyes glaring at her. “What was your plan?” He said sharply.

“Kill the demon.” She said.

She couldn’t tell if he was mildly amused or greatly annoyed. Her gut said the latter. “And if I hadn’t shown up?”

“You wouldn’t have left me to die.”

She saw a brief second of surprise flicker on both his soul and face before it twisted back into a scowl. “Foolish woman.” He muttered.

“Maybe.” She said. “But, here we are.”

She knew it was dangerous to tease him. Every version of Vergil she had ever interacted with was more than capable of killing her within seconds if he wanted to. Even without the Yamato, he had been a nearly unbeatable opponent. With it, he was a literal force of nature. She wasn’t afraid of him, and the flickers of humanity she saw in his soul were a welcome change. But she couldn’t predict what he would do anymore. As well as she knew the man he had been, she didn’t know the man he had become.

But he was humoring her. Already an improvement.

So, she smiled at him. “I thought we weren’t making a habit of this.”

After a brief pause, he dropped her. She landed with a thud, wincing as she rubbed at her likely bruised tailbone. “I suppose I deserved that.” She muttered. And you haven’t changed a bit. She rolled back to her feet, holding out her arm so Calcifer could land on it. Vergil watched her, face devoid of any emotion. His soul, however, flickered obsessively. The remnants of their tether shimmered between them. It was weak. So terribly weak. Three years apart had that effect on bonds like theirs. Corrin desperately wanted to fix it, but doing so without his permission would be both difficult and likely suicidal. She wanted him to like her company. At least a little bit.

I promised that I would show you what you were. She thought. But I can’t do that if you hate me.

“The pseudo-crystal I made is likely ready by now.” She said. Vergil watched her, but said nothing. If the tether were stronger, she would know exactly what he was thinking. But she didn’t, and it was borderline maddening. A flicker of black cut through his blue soul, a sign that something was speaking to him. Or, at the very least, he thought something was speaking to him. It was impossible to know the difference. She held out Calcifer to him. “You can carry him if you want.” She said. “He won’t mind."

Vergil hesitated. Corrin sighed. Life with you will never be easy, will it. “I know you don’t trust me.” She said. “I get it. You really don’t know anything about me.” She saw his soul flicker slightly. Understanding, maybe. It had been too long since she had resonated with him to tell for certain. “But I’m being honest.” She said. As honest as I can be. “I just want to help.”

“I am not so weak that I cannot handle myself.” He said.

“I never said you were.” She said. You’re one of the strongest people I know. “But even the strongest need a break sometimes, right?”

That seemed to work. He sighed and reached out for Calcifer. Her companion jumped up onto his shoulder immediately. A small, white shield flickered around Vergil’s soul. It was weaker than Corrin wanted, but it would do for now. “Do not.” He said. “Tell Dante.”

“Of course not.” She said. “Your brother does not need to be involved in our arrangements.”

Vergil grunted as he teleported up to the cave opening. “Make haste.” He said.

“Yes.” Corrin pulled herself to Calcifer’s side, but let Vergil lead the way. Between him and the increase in corrupted souls, Corrin wasn’t sure what to tackle first.

“One day at a time.” Calcifer said. Corrin hummed in response, for Calcifer did not need words to understand the turmoil in her head. “We’re going somewhere new!” The dragon chirped. “Aren’t you excited, Corrin?”

“Indeed.” She said scratching Calcifer’s neck. Vergil glanced at her but, again, said nothing as they continued on the pathway back to his makeshift home.  

Chapter Text

Nero never felt nervous when dealing with demons. Not ones he fought on missions, or his family’s triggers, or any other random one he met while wandering around Redgrave. But he couldn’t escape the feeling of dread that plagued him, even after he left Nico three blocks from their destination. Maybe it was because they rarely went out in the middle of the night. Or maybe it was because he had gone into the part of Redgrave that hadn’t recovered from the Qliphoth incident. But Nero felt like he was wandering to his doom.

He revved Red Queen on his back to try and distract himself. A couple of stray animals burst out of the shadows, but they didn’t bother him. He tried to sense if there were any demons around, a skill he had struggled with since losing his Devil Bringer. He felt nothing, but knew that they had to be somewhere. The only people that came this far into Redgrave were soldiers or other Devil Hunters. If they were calling him, then the problem was much bigger then they could handle.

He peered into alleyways as he passed them, stepping over piles of rubble and various, abandoned items. He was getting closer to where the Qliphoth had erupted from three years ago. After the portal had been closed, it had left behind an empty space, devoid of all previous buildings, concrete, and life. While some plants had started to regrow, no one had ever tried to repopulate the area. Most everyone who survived the incident didn’t even come back to town. Those who did, however, only did so because they had no other choice.

A low moan echoed from an abandoned building. Nero grabbed Blue Rose as two gloops of black shadows dropped off of the wall. They rose from the ground, transforming into humanoid creatures. Two men, skin gray, with beady red eyes. One’s jaw was permanently broken open with a body so skinny Nero could see the bones under his tight skin. The other one was malformed with a massive arm on the left and two tree-trunk sized legs. Both had various, infected cuts everywhere on their bodies. Nero felt a bit of demonic energy, but it felt wrong. At the very least, he knew they weren’t human anymore.

As the large man stepped forward, a whoop of delight echoed from the sky. A red demon slammed down, crushing both creatures beneath him. Nero launched backwards, disgusted as demon blood hit his pants. The red demon spun around and phased to his human form. “Hey, kiddo!” Dante said with a grin. “What a coincidence!”

Nero stared at his Uncle. Before he could speak, however, Vergil dropped down behind Dante and caught a third person; a woman Nero didn’t recognize. She slipped out of Vergil’s arms immediately with a very quiet “thank you”. A little white dragon landed on Vergil’s shoulder and the portal Nero hadn’t seen open snapped shut above them. Nero’s eyes shifted between Dante and Vergil, but he found he couldn’t hold the latter’s gaze for longer than a second. “When did you… how…” Nero’s mind raced. “I thought you couldn’t come back.”

“Yeah well,” Dante rubbed the back of his neck. “We almost didn’t. But then we ran into…” His voice trailed off as he pointed toward the woman. White eyes stared above Nero’s head. He glanced back, but saw nothing. “Everything okay, Cor?” Dante said.

“Nope.” The dragon said. “It is most certainly not okay.”

“Did that… thing just talk?” Nero said.

It growled at him. “I am a dragon, younger blue-man.”

“Oh you call him man too?” Dante said putting his finger out at the dragon’s head. The creature nipped at it before Dante could pull it away. “Someday.” Dante said. “You will like me.”

“There’s so many.” The woman mumbled. She swayed slightly. “Why are there so many?”

Uncertain how to respond to that, Nero glanced at Dante. “Is she a relative?”

“Nope.” Dante said but his eyes didn’t leave her. “Verge…”

Nero’s eyes widened as Vergil put his hand against the woman’s back to steady her. Was this the same man? The evil demon that had raised a demonic tree that killed thousands of people? The person had been more keen on murdering Dante or stabbing Nero than giving either of them a friendly greeting? Was he actually looking at this woman in concern? “Who is she?” Nero sputtered out finally.

Before Dante could answer, the woman spun around and grabbed Vergil’s shoulders. The blue-devil stared at her, but her fingers tightened when he tried to pull away. “What did you do?” She said.

“Nothing.” He said.

“Vergil.”

“I’ve been in hell for three years.” He said. “I haven’t done…”

“Before that.” She said. “What did you do?”

Nero could feel the discomfort radiating off of his father even as he narrowed his eyes at the woman. She didn’t let go. “It’s complicated.”

“It’s not to them.”

“To who?” Nero said. “There’s nobody here.”

“There’s plenty of people here.” She said glancing back at him. “You just can’t see them.”

“What is she talking about?” Nero asked. Dante still didn’t answer. “Dammit Dante. What is…”

“This is where the Qliphoth was.” Dante said quietly. Vergil’s eyes snapped to his brother as the woman holding him seemed to stop breathing.

“You did not.” She said, her voice low. Dangerous. Nero could hear a hint of demon in it. Another half-breed? “Please tell me. That you did not. Raise. The Qliphoth Tree.” Vergil’s eyes flickered to her, but he said nothing. Her head fell with a quiet groan. “Of all of the things you could’ve done, you just had to do that.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” Vergil said, his voice sharp. Nero saw him try to pull away again, but she had latched onto his jacket.

“It’s not important.” She said.

“Your vagueness is infuriating.”

“You ate the fruit, didn’t you.”

Vergil growled at her. “Yes, my demon-half ate the fruit.”

She exhaled a long, annoyed breath. “I appreciate the honesty.”

Nero glanced between the two, uncertain of what to think. He had no doubt that Vergil could escape her grasp if he really wanted to. She seemed only mildly upset to learn about the Qliphoth. In fact, he thought she sounded more resigned to accept it, as if she didn’t have much of a choice. Dante sighed dramatically. “It seems,” He said.“That I went to hell, and brought my brother back with a wife.”

Vergil glared at Dante. “I have known her for a week.” He said. Nero thought he saw her flinch, but Vergil didn’t react to it, so he assumed it was just his imagination.

“That’s practically a lifetime.”

“We are not romantically involved.”

Dante rolled his eyes. “You’re both a couple of hard-asses with limited sense of humor, and you’re putting up with her about as much as she is you. It’s a match made in Hell.” A silver dagger and a blue sword stabbed into Dante’s chest in perfect sync. “See?” He said with a cheeky grin. “Perfect for each other.”

Suddenly, the woman stood up straighter and gazed at Vergil with a calmness that hadn’t existed five seconds prior. “Unless you wish to die.” She said, her voice even. “I suggest that you do not move.”

Die. Nero felt his heart catch in his throat. The roller coaster of emotions in his head only got worse. He thought he should be happy at their return. Relieved. Maybe a little bit angry. Enough to take some frustration out on Vergil until they could all go home. But instead, he felt that same dread from before. “Calm down.” The woman said, glancing at him.

“Calm down?” Nero said. “I don’t even know who you are and you are telling me…”

“My name is Corrin.” She said. After a brief pause, her eyes flickered with understanding. “You are his son.”

Nero felt his jaw go slack for the second time that night. “How did you…”

“There are souls here.” She said. “Thousands of them. And every single one of them is angry at him.” She said jostling Vergil about half an inch; as much as he would let her. “If I let go, they will swarm and kill him.”

“Are they corrupted?” Dante said.

“No, not yet.” She said. “You can kill them.”

“If I could see them.”

Another series of moans echoed around them. Corrin flinched as her eyes snapped upward. She pulled Vergil closer to her as another humanoid demon fell from the rooftop above. Vergil stabbed Yamato behind him without looking, slicing the demon clean in two before he sheathed it. Nero fired at another demon that crawled out of the ground as Dante tore through a few that tried to grab at his feet. “Impossible.” Corrin said. “Something’s transforming them.”

Nero turned to his father as the dragon landed on Vergil’s shoulder. He blinked once, and a streak of white appeared across the center of both eyes. Corrin still hadn’t let him go. Nero swore he heard Vergil’s breath catch in his throat. “I see.” Vergil said. His voice was much calmer than Nero thought it should have been. More demons appeared in every direction imaginable. Nero stabbed through what he could as Dante dove toward the others. Familiar, blue swords shot beside Nero, killing a set of demons he hadn’t turned on yet.

“They won’t be able to kill them all.” The dragon said.

“No.” Corrin muttered. “And I can’t either.” Suddenly, Vergil pulled her back, teleporting just slightly to keep the two from tripping. A silver dagger shot out from Corrin, hitting nothing. As it collided with the building, however, another demon appeared, howled, and vanished. “I can’t use any magic without burning you alive.” She said.

“That might be preferable to having my soul torn to shreds.” Vergil said

“Neither is an acceptable option.” Corrin said. “But they can’t see the ones you can.”

“Then I suggest you stay still.” Vergil said as he unsheathed Yamato again.

“You are both way too calm about this!” Nero shouted. The demons were multiplying now. Dozens of them phased into existence almost too fast for him to cut through.

“Birds of a feather flock together!” Dante shouted back as he swapped to Cavaliere and buried the revving wheels into a dozen demons that all ran straight into them.

“What the hell does that mean?” Nero said.

“Hey Cor!” Dante yelled, ignoring him. “Got a plan?”

Corrin looked up at him as Vergil slashed in the air behind her. Three more demon bodies appeared where he had swung, all sliced in two. “They won’t stop until he’s dead.” She said.

“Well that ain’t an option.” Dante said.

“I know.” She said. “But I can't dispel this many."

“You have to tether, Corrin.” The dragon said before shooting a small blast of fire at Corrin’s feet. Another demon appeared before burning to ash. “It’s your only chance.”

“Tether to what?” Vergil said.

Nero saw Corrin hesitate. “To you.” She said to Vergil. “If I tether your soul to mine, then I can transfer a very small portion of your strength to take these out and hopefully stop the others.”

“You think there will be more?” Nero said.

“He raised the Qliphoth tree.” She said dryly. “I highly doubt everyone who died because of it conglomerated in this one spot.”

“Do that then.” Dante yelled. Nero triggered long enough to blast away the crowd of demons that had surrounded him, but phased back almost immediately.

“It’s not a temporary thing.” Corrin whispered, so quietly that Nero could barely hear her. He realized a moment later that maybe he wasn’t supposed to.

“If it’s the only way to get us out of this mess then he can deal with it.” Dante said. Demons leapt up on either side of Vergil. Nero jumped to his side, slicing through one group as Vergil cut through the other. Nero saw a nod of approval, and he was almost impressed at how composed Vergil looked despite the chaos.

The woman holding him, however, was shaking terribly. Was she scared? Nero didn’t know. “Listen to me.” Nero said to her, shooting down another set of demons. She looked up at him the same time Vergil did. “I don’t know what’s going on here, or between you two, but if you can save my father then…” He trailed off not missing the flicker of surprise on Vergil’s face. “Just do it.” Nero said.

Vergil and Corrin’s eyes met for a long moment. Nero wished he could read either of their minds. He wondered how they were possibly communicating, as he never thought blank stares could convey anything. But the quiet moment clearly worked, for Corrin sighed and said, “With your permission.”

A series of blue swords shot by her, impaling another set of demons. “Quickly.” Vergil said.

She nodded. “Hold them off a little longer.” She said to Nero.

“You’ve got it.” He launched back into the demons, not hearing anything else between the two. The sounds around him were maddening. He triggered again, slamming demons together as he tore through every one he could. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dante do the same. The fight seemed to last forever. He had plenty of energy, but he wasn’t certain how long that would last. The sheer number of demons was overwhelming, and Nero wondered if his family had brought all of Hell back with them.

Suddenly, the demons froze. Nero stopped as a blue light appeared on their faces. He spun around to see that Corrin was glowing. The hand she had on Vergil's chest was a sapphire blue as the light advanced up her skin and towards her eyes. A black fire erupted on her other hand. The colors spread across her body, each stopping exactly halfway.

Her eyes snapped open. Blue and black fire surged outward, blinding Nero as the demonic energy knocked him clean off his feet. He heard various cries of the demons around him. A second later, the world went silent. Stunned, Nero scrambled to his feet. Every demon had vanished, as if they never existed. He heard Dante whistle, but neither said anything. Vergil had dropped to one knee, holding an exhausted Corrin. The dragon landed on Corrin’s chest and licked her chin. The woman shuddered. As Nero approached, he saw that her eyes had turned completely gray.

“Are you okay?” He said, kneeling beside Vergil.

“I’ll be fine.” She mumbled. “Just need some rest.”

“Nico’s a few blocks away.” Nero said. He hesitated as he glanced at Vergil. “Can you carry her?” Without a response, Vergil stood up with Corrin in his arms. Nero heard Dante snort somewhere behind them. “I’ll take that as a yes.” Nero said, embarrassed.

Vergil looked at Nero. “I am assuming this Nico woman is the one with that infernal van?”

“You remember?” Nero said.

“Vaguely.” Vergil said. “Your partner, yes?”

“For demon hunting only.” Nero said quickly.

Vergil tilted his head. “I’m afraid I do not remember the name of your romantic companion.”

“Romantic…” Nero said. “You mean, my girlfriend?”

Vergil hummed slightly. “So you are unmarried?”

Nero stared at him. Was this Vergil’s attempt at small talk? Was he trying to be casual or just saying the first thing that came to him? Did he even realize how strange this was? They had known each other all of twenty minutes out of almost thirty years and that’s the first thing Vergil thought to ask him? “Not yet.” Nero said. The ring in his pocket felt even heavier then it did a week ago. He still hadn’t found a good time to propose, though Nico had asked him more than once what he was waiting for. “It’s… planned.” He said, finally.

Vergil nodded once. Nero couldn’t tell if it was out of approval, disappointment, or something else entirely. Maybe he wasn’t ready to have his father back yet. Or maybe Vergil wasn’t ready to be human, or a father at all. Maybe that wouldn’t be the type of relationship he and Vergil would have.

But at least we get to try something. He thought.

“You can stay at my house for now.” Nero said. “Until we figure something else out.”

“That would be fantastic!” Dante said. “How are the kids doing?”

Vergil raised an eyebrow. “Foster kids.” Nero said quickly. “We help run the orphanage in Fortuna.” Why did he feel the need to explain himself? It's not like he and Kyrie were doing anything illegal. If anything, his father should be proud of him.

Then he realized that Vergil was actually smiling. It was slight, but it was there. Nero felt himself relax and smiled back. “It’s good to have you back.” He said sincerely.

“I know you missed me, kiddo.” Dante said as he moved to drape his arm over Nero. “You might even get used to your pops someday.”

Nero scowled.”You’ll need a good apology.” He said. “Lady and Trish weren’t very happy to lose the shop to Morrison.”

The color drained from Dante’s face. “I’ll get right on that.” He said with an awkward chuckle. “Maybe the pizza guy still remembers me.”

“Nero…” Corrin said quietly. He had almost forgotten she was there. “I apologize for intruding on your… family.” She winced. Vergil adjusted his grip on her slightly as the dragon licked her cheek. “But I hope you will grant me a room temporarily while I sort out my affairs.”

Nero stared at her. Dante laughed. “See?” He said. “Perfect for each other.”

Nero ignored him. “Of course.” He said. “ You took care of my family, so we’ll take care of you.”

She smiled as her eyes closed. “You’re going to have to stay near me for a bit.” She said to Vergil. 

“Wait!” The dragon said. “I’m still hungry.” Corrin mumbled something Nero couldn’t understand. The dragon sniffled. “Those demons weren’t edible.”

“Can you eat chicken?” Nero said.

The dragon tilted his head. “What’s chicken?”

“Turkey?”

“Never heard of it.”

“Pork?”

“Not a clue.” The dragon said. “Can I just try them all?”

“He can eat anything.” Corrin said. “Roasted or charred meat is his favorite.”

“I’ll have Kyrie heat up some leftovers.” He said. He saw Vergil shift again, wincing slightly. If he was tired, that was all he showed of it. “Let’s go home.” He said. “We can sort it all out in the morning.”

Chapter Text

Nero’s home was half a mile outside of Fortuna, secluded from the rest of the world. It was a gift from the city for all he and Kyrie- Nero’s romantic partner, Vergil concluded- had done for the city. When Vergil asked why Nero didn’t live in the city itself, all he got was “it isn’t the same as you probably remember”. And he had been right, to some degree. Even though the drive to Nero’s house kept them out of Fortuna, Vergil saw that it had been completely rebuilt. The church was much smaller than Vergil remembered, barely noticeable if he hadn’t been looking for it. The other buildings looked more modern. The streets were actually wide enough for cars. On the farthest side from Redgrave, a large amount of identical houses had been built in rows. It was too late to see anyone outside, but Nero had assured him that everyone had moved passed their fanatic devotion.

“The entire city was destroyed by the Savior they all prayed to.” Nero told them as they drove past it. “Once Redgrave was evacuated, the two just blended together.”

Another consequence of the Qliphoth. Redgrave was virtually desolate. Fortuna was the new, growing metropolis, and many other people had moved even farther than that. He wondered how many, beyond those that died, had lost everything. It was impossible to think about. Impossible to know for certain. He knew if he thought about it too much, that unwanted feeling Dante called “guilt” would return. For a moment, Vergil waited for Griffin’s voice to mock him, but his subconscious said nothing.

Of course it was silent. Between Corrin and Calcifer both sleeping on his shoulder, the unwanted voices didn’t stand a chance.

He sighed and swallowed the discomfort of being this close to someone else. She had fallen asleep almost immediately after they had settled in the van. And Vergil, for some reason he hadn’t figured out yet, hesitated to move her. Dante had tried to tease him over it, but a swift kick by Nero and Nico’s excited squeals had distracted Dante long enough that he forgot Vergil entirely.

Vergil could not, however, escape Nero’s stare. He normally didn’t have a problem meeting people’s gazes, but he felt a strange discomfort when he tried to do the same with Nero. Vergil was acutely aware that Nero looked about the same age as he did. And, if his limited knowledge of aging in the Underworld compared to the human world was true, they were virtually the same. Vergil had escaped when Nero was 22, three years older than when Vergil had gone into the Underworld in the first place.

Not only had his younger brother matured beyond him, Vergil’s own son had as well. He had a family. A girlfriend that might as well be his wife. Adopted children that might as well be his own. A house. A profitable job. Respect from the community. He was successful. Vergil would never admit it, but he almost felt inadequate. You’ve accomplished so much in this world. He thought. And all I’ve done is try to destroy it.

It was a rather sobering thought. A small part of him was glad for Corrin’s existence, as she was someone he wasn’t supposed to comprehend yet. The others he simply didn’t understand, and wasn’t certain if he ever really could. But he had to try. It was bad enough that the city itself was trying to kill him.  He didn’t want to alienate the people that still tolerated him.

Maybe I shouldn’t have come back.

He winced at the thought, but couldn’t compose himself before Nero noticed. “You alright?” He said.

“Fine.” Vergil said. What else could he say? He didn’t want to lie to him, but Vergil himself wasn’t sure what the truth was.

“Father.” Nero said. Vergil forced himself to look up. Hearing Nero say that word brought everything crashing down. Father. He was a father. He was this man’s father.

Why did that feel so wrong?

“Are you happy to be back?”

Strange question to ask, Vergil thought. He had half expected Nero to launch into a speech about how he didn’t need his help or how they would deal with him. Vergil would have done that, but it was very clear that Nero was, in every sense of the word, nothing like his father.

“My memories of this world are hazy.” Vergil said honestly. “So, I’m uncertain.”

“Well now you can make some good ones.”

Yes, Vergil decided. Nero is a much better person than I will ever be.   “You are… different than I expected.” Vergil said finally.

Nero’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “Is that a good thing?”

“I expected you to be angry.”

Nero rubbed the back of his neck. “A part of me is.” He said. “You’re still an asshole.”

Vergil was surprised that he had to stop himself from laughing. “Dante would agree.” He said, glancing at his brother. Dante was asleep in the front seat, snoring just enough that Nico had finally stopped talking to him.

“You have a lot to make up.” Nero said. Vergil hummed slightly, but said nothing. That was more along the lines of what he expected. “But,” Nero said hesitantly as he glanced down at Corrin. “I have a feeling you’re dealing with that already.” Vergil felt Corrin stir slightly, but her breathing didn’t change. “Who is she, really?” Nero said.

“There’s a lot I don’t know.” Vergil said.

“But you agreed to that… tether thing?”

Tether. That’s what she had told Nero and Dante. But, while the others had been distracted, she had asked Vergil again if he was certain. It’s very personal. She had said. Your soul will be bound to mine. Completely. You won’t feel right if we’re too far apart. But he was the reason his family had been caught up in that mess in the first place. Turning her down would have likely meant killing them, or letting himself go.

Family . He actually had a family . It was his responsibility, and burden, to keep them safe. He had resolved then to handle the consequences of his decisions as they came. “I was given a second chance.” He said. “It would be foolish of me to waste it.”

“So you’re okay with it?”

“She is a capable half-demon.” Vergil said. “She will make a suitable partner.”

Nero blinked. “I thought you were just friends.”

Vergil tilted his head, confused. “We are.”

“Oh.” Nero chuckled. “Maybe just call her that then.”

Vergil stared at him. “I assume that you will need my help fighting demons and, since I am now bound to her, she is my partner.”

Nero shook his head with a small, tired smile. “Nevermind.” He said with a shrug. “You do you, V.”

V. That name had sounded more natural than anything else Nero had called him. It was logical, Vergil supposed, for Nero to think of him like that. V was the man he had gotten to know, after all. Nero, however, seemed to realize the mistake for his face turned blazing red as he quickly said. “Vergil. I meant… Vergil.”

“Call me whatever you wish.” Vergil said. “I am not so conceited that I won’t acknowledge V as a part of myself.”

Nero blinked in that way Dante did when Vergil’s manner of speaking confused him. “Right.” Nero said finally. “V it is then.”

Silence fell between them. Nero leaned back in his seat. “Don’t worry too much.” He said after a moment. “Enjoy whatever life you can, yeah?”

Vergil let his eyes drift away. “I will try my best.”

“Hey lover boy!” Nico called back.

Nero scowled. “Stop calling me that.” He said as he stood up. “What is it?” Nico nodded her head once as they approached the house. It was decent sized and, true to Nero’s word, stood completely on its own. Vergil wouldn’t call it a mansion. More like a country home. Two stories with a wrap around porch and massive windows. There were at least four rooms upstairs, with the lights on in two of them. Standing out front was a red haired, somewhat petite woman in a silver nightgown and a blue jacket that matched Nero’s. Kyrie, Vergil assumed. He was impressed by how poised and calm she looked despite the late hour. Her face lit up when Nero leapt out of the van seconds after it stopped. He rushed over and pulled her into a hug before she could move.

“Welcome home.” Kyrie said before kissing his cheek. “The guest room is ready.”

Nero nodded, returned to the van and kicked the passenger side door. Dante jolted awake. “Go take a shower.” Nero said.

“I can do that in the morning.”

“Hell no.” Nero said. “We just bought new furniture and you smell like a sewer.”

“Afraid this is all I got, champ.” Dante said, gesturing to his clothes.

“It’s taken care of now go.” Nero said. Dante raised his hands in surrender as he hopped out of the van. “And don’t try to hug Kyrie!” Nero yelled.

“Of course not.” Dante said with a grin. Kyrie stepped to the side with a slight bow. “No need to be so formal.” Dante said.

“Welcome to our home.” Kyrie said. “I have some clothes laid out for you in the bathroom.”

“As prepared as always.” Dante gave her a curt nod before disappearing into the house.

Nero hopped into the back with Vergil. “Take her upstairs.” He said as he held Corrin’s head long enough for Vergil to pick her up. Calcifer yawned, but said nothing as he hopped off Vergil’s shoulder and lay back down on Corrin’s stomach. “Second door on the left.” Nero said before he hopped back out. “Yes, Nico, you can spend the night.”

“Sweet!” The woman said. “I’ll be there in a minute.”

Vergil hopped down, convinced that Corrin wouldn’t wake up even if he tossed her all the way to the front door. He felt his cheeks flush when Kyrie bowed to him the same way she had to Dante. “You must be Vergil.” She said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Likewise.” He said. “I apologize for the commotion at such a late hour.”

Kyrie giggled. “I’m used to it.”

Behind him, Nero and Nico had begun arguing. “Just put it in the garage!” Nero said.

“Or,” Nico said. “I can just leave it here and deal with it in the morning.”

“Then give me the keys.” Nero said.

“Absolutely not.” Nico said.

“Then take it to the damn garage.”

“See?” Kyrie said. “Totally normal.”

Vergil decided that he liked this woman. Nero was lucky to have her. “Upstairs?” He said.

“To the left.”Kyrie said. “Make yourself at home. I’ll clean up in the morning.”

Very, very lucky. Vergil thought. He gave her a brief nod and headed upstairs.

The guest room was a decent size with a Queen-sized bed in front of a set of mahogany drawers. Across from the door were two large shelves filled with books and various trinkets. A large windowsill overlooked the backyard with a set of pillows and a knitted blanket. Vergil propped up the pillows on the bed, and lay Corrin down gently before covering her with the quilt. He heard Calcifer groan. The dragon moved up until his head poked out close to Corrin’s neck. “Are you trying to suffocate me?” He said.

“You moved, didn’t you?” Vergil said.

Calcifer stuck his tongue out as he slithered the rest of his way out and sat beside Corrin’s arm. “Where are you going to sleep?”

“I don’t need any.” Vergil said as he teleported to the book shelf. The collection was rather impressive. A lot of classics bound in unique ways and poetry books from almost every century. The other shelf was filled with literature he didn’t recognize. All fiction, he assumed, though he didn’t miss the pile of medical textbooks at the very bottom. He pulled out one of the books simply titled Shakespeare I .

“You could help Corrin wake up faster.” Calcifer said.

Vergil glanced at him. “Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do?”

“My tether to her isn’t as strong as yours.”

Vergil flicked through the opening pages of his book. “Are you sure it won’t harm her?” He said.

Calcifer snorted. “Just don’t rip her soul out and you’ll be fine.”

Vergil snapped the book shut with a low growl. Calcifer vanished as he tumbled off of the bed with a thud. A moment later, Nero appeared in the doorway. “Everything okay?”

“Mr. Vergil is being mean to me.” Calcifer whined.

“I am doing nothing of the sort.” Vergil said.

Nero glanced between them. “Of all the things I expected to happen this year, stopping my old man from arguing with a talking lizard was absolutely not on the list.” He swooped in and plucked Calcifer off the floor. “What’s your name, little guy?”

Calcifer growled at him. “I am not little, smaller blue-guy.”

“And I’m not a smaller blue-guy.” Nero said. “And you better be nice to me or I can’t give you the chicken Kyrie’s cooking up for you.”

Calcifer’s head perked up. “I’m sorry!” He said quickly. “I didn’t mean it. My name is Calcifer. And you’re not smaller blue-guy.”

“It’s Nero.” He said “The kids are going to love you.”

“Human kids?”

“What other kinds of kids would they be?”

“Dragons?”

Nero shook his head with a slight eye roll. “Afraid not.” He lifted Calcifer to his shoulder as he looked to Vergil. “If she asks, he’s with me.” Vergil nodded and Nero left, closing the door behind him. Vergil returned to his book, skimming through familiar scripts he had read at least half a dozen times before. He didn’t really care what he was reading. It felt right to just hold a book again. I wonder if Nero kept mine. He thought glancing through all of the books. It wasn’t in this room, but he decided not to go looking for it. Nero could do with it what he wanted, assuming he kept it at all.

He felt a twinge of panic in his chest. He blinked, glancing out of the window. There was nothing around. No other demons but the four currently in the house. No portals in the distance. What was there to panic about?

Another emotion hit him. Fear. He heard Corrin’s heartbeat speed up. Her hands clenched the blanket so tightly that she had started to pull it off of her. Vergil put the book back where he found it and phased to her side. He pulled off his glove and pressed the back of his hand to her forehead as Dante had. She felt warm, but not abnormally. After another twinge of panic hit him, he realized it was hers, not his own. Curious. He hadn’t felt anything like this since she had tethered to him. Nothing after she dispelled the souls. No exhaustion when he carried her back to the van. Was she having a nightmare? This wasn’t the same as the “memory” she had been stuck in back in the Underworld. He was uncertain if he could wake her from this one.

Calcifer had said he could help her. Vergil assumed the dragon wanted him to “resonate”, whatever that was. No matter the number of times either Corrin or her companion said it, Vergil didn’t have a clue what it entailed. It was possible that Corrin resonated with him the second she put the tether on him, but that brief second had felt uncomfortably intimate. Not that he hadn’t expected it. Connecting on a soul level seemed like something reserved for mates, another thing Vergil never intended on having. He most certainly could not replicate that moment on his own. He didn’t even know how she had managed it.

He really did not like the number of questions bouncing around in his head.

Vergil sighed. He had agreed to the tether. Dealing with her was part of it. A consequence. Or a perk. Griffin said. Vergil frowned. Apparently the tether hadn’t removed that part of him. At least the bird’s voice was quieter now. Much easier to ignore.

He teleported downstairs, startling both Kyrie and Nero who were sitting awfully close at the kitchen table. Calcifer raised his head from the bowl of chicken and licked some juice off his scales. “Calcifer.” Vergil said. The dragon flicked his tongue at him in response. “How do I…” He trailed off feeling suddenly self-conscious as Kyrie and Nero stared at him. “Come upstairs.” He said finally.

“But I’m not done with my chicken!”

Vergil snatched the bowl away from him. “You can finish it upstairs.”

Calcifer grumbled. “Thank you for dinner, Ms. Kyrie.” He said as he hopped to Vergil’s arm. “I’ll happily take all your chicken.”

Kyrie smiled. “I’ll buy some more tomorrow.”

Vergil nodded to them awkwardly. “Good night.” He said, but teleported away before either of them could respond. He put the chicken down on the open side of the bed. Calcifer hopped off and pranced straight to it, resuming his meal within seconds.

“Teach me.” Vergil said.

“Apparently you can heat this stuff up in a thing called a microwave.” Calcifer said between mouthfuls. “Really handy.”

Vergil’s eyebrows twitched. “To resonate, Calcifer.”

“Ooooh.” The dragon said. “Well that’s easy.” He moved back onto Corrin’s stomach and stared at Vergil. “Put your hand up there.” He said stretching his neck towards Corrin’s chest.

Vergil glanced at her, then back to the dragon. “What?”

“Like she did with you.” He said.

“I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Calcifer huffed. “Do you want to help her or not?”

Vergil glared at him. Calcifer stared back. Unwilling to waste time on a fruitless staring contest, Vergil looked away and slowly placed his hand on Corrin’s sternum. “Now what.” He said trying to bury the surprising amount of embarrassment creeping up in his mind. He could just imagine Dante’s cheeky grin if he walked in right now with a confident “I always knew you were shy”.

Vergil shook his head. No. There was nothing to be self-conscious about. She had saved his life. He was just repaying part of the debt.

“Can you feel her soul?”

“...No.”

“Then you’re not trying hard enough.” Calcifer said. “Focus on her. Feel for the fire that you saw when I resonated with you.”

Vergil felt like a fool, but he wasn’t one to give up. He had a feeling that Calcifer would never let him live it down. He took a deep breath. He needed to be calm. Composed. Collected. Just like he always was. If resonating was a personal affair, then he needed to act like it. He teleported to the other side of the bed and sat beside her. Calcifer squeaked, but didn’t fall off this time. “Any better?”

Not wanting to break the limited concentration he had managed to retain, Vergil didn’t respond. After a long, quiet moment, he saw it. Her soul, hovering right above his hand as if he had blinked it into existence. Half black, half white. A perfect duality. He wondered if it was always like this or changed like she did.  “Go on.” He heard Calcifer say. “Grab it so I can finish my chicken.”

“Grab it.” Vergil said, dryly. That sounded much more vulgar  and dangerous than the dragon probably intended.

“Just do it, blue-man.” Calcifer huffed as he buried his face back in the chicken.

Finally, Vergil reached out with his left hand. The moment his fingers touched her soul, the world went black.

Chapter Text

 Corrin dreamed of her family.

It was a common occurrence for her to relive her memories while she slept. Years ago, she would rest constantly, desperate to recall the faces that she would never see again. The dreams were always the same. They always started and ended exactly where she expected them too. An unhappy ending, to be certain, but she had grown to accept it.

She could stop dreaming again, now that she had fixed the tether. But that would take a lot of trust from Vergil, a commodity she was not willing to risk.

“Come on, Cor.” She opened her eyes at the sound of Leo’s voice. She and her brother stood in a field of cut grass. Outside of their makeshift, dueling circle were various black and white roses, a beautiful creation only her mother could maintain. There were dirt pathways on both sides of the arena. One led back to the house, the other to a cave half a mile away where her family’s greatest artifact, the Lunar Stone, hid. “We have to get back home before dinner.” Leo said. Her brother was six years older than her and nearly a foot taller. He took after their mother more than Corrin did. He had dark skin, silver eyes, and a proficiency for weaponry that put the greatest warriors to shame. Right now, he had curly black hair and a large sword strapped to his back. She knew if he shifted to his other half, his sword would turn into a white, two sided scythe.

That was the weapon she was supposed to have. But Corrin knew how this dream ended.

“You think I’m ready?” Corrin couldn’t change the words that came out of her mouth. She had tried at first. But she was less of an actor and more of an observer. If she tried hard enough, she could watch it all unfold from a distance. But her mind was tired tonight, and she was hesitant to overwork it. The more power she used, the longer it would take to wake up. Then, her dreams would go to places she wasn’t ready to remember yet.

“Of course you are.” He said, ruffling her hair. She grimaced and pulled her hair from the rubber band just to fix it. Leo laughed, but refrained from doing it again. How different she had been then. Nineteen; and already carrying the weight of the world. Whenever she saw this memory, the eighteen years between her old life and the new one felt like an eternity. And to her, it had been. Only the stray four years near the end had any kind of meaning now.

No, she thought. Don’t think about that.

“What are you going to do when I get my scythe and run circles around you?” She said with a teasing grin.

“Never going to happen.” Leo said.

“I already do, though.”

“With your magic.” He said tapping the staff on her back. That, at the very least, hadn’t changed. “But in a physical contest? I’ve got you hands down.”

“I think grace and style beats a grunting brute any day.” Corrin said as she walked past him.

“Hey. I do not grunt.” He said.

“Yes you do.” She called back.

“It’s called a battle cry.” He said as he darted past her and began walking backwards.

“Is that what you tell Helen?” She said.

“Hey now.” He said with a hint of embarrassment. “We don’t talk about that.”

“Then stop being so loud.”

“You’re just jealous.” He said.

Corrin stopped and stared at him incredulously. “Of your wife? Now that’s just wrong.”

Leo’s mouth went slack jawed. “You know what I meant.” Corrin grinned at him with silent triumph and he grunted with a slight smile of his own. “You’ll meet your soulmate soon.” He said. “I’m certain of it.”

“I’m about a year too late on that.” Corrin said as she walked past him.

“And how many people have you seen since you were born?” Leo said.

She stopped. Corrin remembered how life was then. Her mother had created a type of bubble in the underworld. A safe haven where Corrin could leave, kill demons, and walk back into with ease. But, while Corrin had learned to fight demons, Leo had jumped back and forth between all three worlds. He met his wife Helen in a city called Carthage before bringing her back here. Corrin had wanted to go with him, but Celeste had always stopped her. Apparently, no matter how much training Corrin went through, she was never ready.

“Very few.” She said finally, her voice sour.

Leo caught up to her. “Hey sis.” He said. “Don’t let it bother you. I didn’t leave this place until I was seventeen.”

“You had your full powers by then.” She said.

“Exactly.” He said. “Which is what we’re going to get for you today.”

“When will I meet my dragon?”

Leo laughed. “You know your companion could be anything, right?” She had known that. Leo’s was a black wolf he named Lydia.  Her mother’s had been a beautiful rainbow bird. Her father’s had been a similar white bird, and Helen was taking care of a baby snow wolf of her own. It was tradition for those brought into the family to get a companion similar to the one they were bound to.

“I’m certain.” She said. “I’ve seen it.”

Leo shook his head. “I wish I had as much foresight as you do.”

Corrin shrugged. “Our powers are different.” They were, fundamentally. While both could see souls, Leo was more likely to see what something had been, while Corrin could predict what they were going to become. This made her more susceptible to people’s emotions, while Leo was more aware of what they were capable of. This distinction even applied to their fighting styles. Leo was more up close and personal. A younger Corrin kept things at a distance. He was a better fighter by far, but Corrin had never been a pushover.

If you could see me now, Leo. Corrin thought. Would you be proud of what I’ve become?

The sound of rumbling thunder echoed in the distance. Leo froze as his eyes flickered behind her. Celeste’s world had no storms. Only light rain to keep the plants healthy. Not once, in nineteen years, had Corrin ever heard thunder. Now it was one of the few sounds that bothered her. “Someone’s here.” Leo said.

“Here?” Corrin said. “Mother never said…” Leo sprinted past her before she could finish. “Leo!” She yelled.

“We’ll come back later!” He yelled back as he picked up his pace. Corrin had hesitated then, glancing back toward the cave they had almost gotten to. She wondered how different life would have been had she gone there on her own. Would she have gotten her blessing then? Could she have saved her family?

Corrin didn’t know, and dream Corrin never found out.


 

Vergil was vaguely aware that he had somehow slipped directly into Corrin’s memories. The change had been instant. He was in darkness one second, and in front of a cottage in another. But he didn’t exist in this world. He could wander anywhere he wanted without any repercussions.

However, he learned quickly that this dream world didn’t function without Corrin either. He could go anywhere, but nothing moved. He found people he didn’t recognize, frozen in various states. He had located her mother rather quickly, standing outside of a cottage and gazing at the sky. This woman was most certainly a demon and did very little to hide it. While she was still in a human like form, her skin was divided into a midnight blue and silver. Her eyes were pure silver, much brighter than Corrin’s exhausted grey. She was not bichromatic, and he wondered if that was something Corrin needed to grow into.

But she was close to his age, right? He wondered why she hadn’t developed it yet.

As he was about to walk away, he heard thunder in the distance. Corrin’s mother sprang to life and her eyes fell directly on him. “Son of Sparda.” She said with a tired smile. Vergil stared at her. “Don’t worry.” She said. “You are still in her dream.”

“How can you…”

“I am a demon, dear.” She said. “And I have been waiting for you.”

He heard Corrin shout in the distance, but he didn’t move. “For me?”

She chuckled. "I had no doubt she'd find you."

"What do you know?"

Her eyes were sad. "More than I can tell you. I knew your father long ago. He was a good demon.”

“He is gone.” Vergil said unable to stop the slight bitterness in his tone.

“I know.” She said.

Another boom of thunder echoed across the sky. Vergil looked back to see three figures of various sizes - demons- approaching in the distance. “Promise me.” The woman said. “That you will protect her.”

“I am bound to her.” He said.

“A tether means nothing if only one side cares about it.” She said. “But death is coming, Vergil, and I’m afraid I never got the chance to show Corrin who she really is.” Her eyes met his again. “Protect her, and she will protect you.” Suddenly, she snapped past him. The rest of the world burst to life as another man sprinted into the area. Vergil took many steps back, recognizing that whatever magic Celeste had put on Corrin’s dream was long gone.

“Mother!” The man said as he reached for Celeste’s arm. He froze when his eyes found the three men. “No.”

“You need to go.” She said. “Now.”

“But Helen…”

“She is safe.” Celeste said. “Take Corrin and run.”

“I can’t…”

“Listen to me.” Celeste said, her voice shifting to lower, demonic version. The man’s mouth closed immediately. “You cannot, under any circumstances, let them take Corrin.”

“They don’t know who…”

She doesn’t know.” Celeste said. “We cannot risk it.”

“Leo!” Corrin yelled in the distance. Leo glanced back toward her. “Take her to the waterfall.” Celeste said. “She’ll be safe there.”

“I cannot follow her.” He said.

“I know.” She said as she placed a hand on his shoulder. “I will always be proud of you, Leo.”

Leo hugged his mother. “I love you.” He said. Corrin appeared around the house, but Leo turned quickly and grabbed her hand. “We’re leaving.”

“What?” Corrin said as he yanked her back where she came. “But mother…”

“No time!”

Everything stilled again. This time, Celeste did not come back to life. Vergil followed Leo, as his aetherial body moved much quicker than the other two did. A much younger Corrin stumbled behind him, her dark blue eyes glancing wildly between him and the house. “We have to go back!” She yelled.

Leo stopped and spun around. Corrin flinched as he yanked her arm.“Did you ever wonder why our mother made this world?”

“For protection.” She said.

“Exactly.” He said. “From demons like them.” He pointed toward the house.  “If they have found us here, then nobody is safe.”

“But we can fight…”

“No.” He snapped. “You cannot.”

She pulled her arm out of his hand. “Take me to the stone!” She said. “Give me my other half.”

“Getting the rest of your power means nothing.” He sid. “You have no practice with it. No experience. We don’t even know what it will be.”

“But if I don’t get it now…”

“You will get it.” He said. “You will find a way.”

A roar echoed in the distance, followed by a bird-like shriek. Leo grabbed Corrin’s arm and started running again. Vergil could see the tears in the corners of her eyes, but she held them back. They sprinted through the field, cutting straight through the flowers as Leo pulled her to the left. At some point, Leo let her go, and Vergil saw the black flames flickering on her skin. Her eyes turned demonic as she kept pace with her brother. The sound of roaring water echoed in the distance. “The waterfall?” Corrin said. “There’s nothing there.”

Suddenly, a demon slammed down in front of them. Leo grabbed Corrin and yanked her backwards, snapping his sword out a massive beam of light shot straight at them. He cut through it as Corrin hung tightly to his back. “Well, well.” A new voice said as the demon stepped out of the shadows. “If it isn’t Leo.” The new demon was a blonde human, but had the horns, claws, and slight armor of a demon half, as if he was caught somewhere in the middle. He smirked as his eyes landed on Corrin. “And you. The love of my life.” His voice dripped with sarcasm.

She flinched. Leo’s grip on his sword tightened. “What do you want, Gaius?”

“Her, obviously.” He said. “But she had the audacity to turn me down.”

“You let them in.” Leo said.

“And your sister told me no.” Gaius launched himself forward, summoning a yellow sword. He collided with Leo who pushed him back with ease.

“Corrin!” He yelled. “Run!”

“I can’t leave you.” She said.

“Yes, yes.” Gaius said. “Whatever shall your big brother do without you?” He charged at her this time, but Leo intervened. Their swords collided, but neither moved.

“Corrin.” Leo said, his language slipped into one Vergil had only heard one other time. Don’t be afraid, little sister. Go to the waterfall, and live.

As Leo pushed back, Corrin ignited her body and darted forward with lightning speed. Gaius tried to stop her, but Leo intercepted him. She didn’t look back, and the battle between the two froze for Vergil as she got further away. She landed a good distance away and stumbled slightly before returning to her normal sprint. The sky got darker almost immediately after Corrin reached the cliff. She stopped at an impossible waterfall that tumbled into nothingness. There was no river behind it, and no lake or ocean beneath it. It was as if it existed in a world of its own. Corrin stared down with clear terror on her face. “I can’t.” She said. “I can’t do this. I have to go back.” The rain started then, downpouring so hard that she was drenched within seconds.

A surge of yellow light pierced the ground behind her. She yelped and stumbled backwards inches from the edge. Gaius walked into her view, his skin soaked in so much blood that the rain struggled to clean it off. “Why must you be so difficult?” He said. She threw a ball of black fire at him, but he batted it away. “How many people have to die before you get it?” He said.

“What did you do?” She said. Her voice broke.

“Your brother has always been a weakling.” Gaius said as he stopped a short distance from her. “You shouldn’t be surprised.”

Corrin was shaking now. “You monster.” She said.

“We have covered that already, my dear.” He said with a mocking bow. “Now come with me and I might be able to save your mother.”

She launched at him, slamming her staff into his torso. A burst of fire sent him flying, but he landed quickly with growl. He charged at her. She leapt out of the way and blasted him again. He stopped inches from the cliff. She threw another fireball, but he dodged it and tackled her. Her staff rose just in time to stop the likely fatal swipe of his sword. Corrin kicked him in the stomach and rolled out from under him. Gaius rolled to his feet as Corrin scrambled backwards. In the end, the two ended up in the same places they had started.

“Come on, sweetheart.” Gaius said.

“Don’t call me that.”

“I never understood what you fight for.” He said. “You are weak. Half the demon you should be. You have no soulmate to help you, so you’ll live… what… another ten years? Give or take?”

She took another step back. “It doesn’t matter.” She said. “You will never have me.”

Gaius rolled his eyes. “You honestly think you can fight me? Like that? You couldn’t even fight me off before I had half of my power.” He took a step toward her, but a tower of flames burst between them. His eyes flickered with a mixture of surprise and rage. “You are nothing without me.” He said.

“No.” Corrin said as her staff phased onto her back. “ You are nothing without me .”

Then she jumped. Vergil lurched downward with her against his will, plummeting into an abyss of water and air. A black portal appeared beneath her. She dropped straight through it and landed with a sharp crack in a pool of water. She sunk, eyes closed, for a long moment as the portal vanished. Her eyes opened slowly before the panic set in. She scrambled for the top, gasping for air the second she hit the surface. The water rushed forward, dunking her underneath again. It washed her ashore, before retreating. Corrin coughed up a mixture of blood and water as her wet hair clumped all around her. Choked sobs echoed from her shaking body before she crumbled into the grass, unconscious.

Vergil jolted out of the dream seconds before Corrin did. She lurched forward so quickly that Calcifer, who had moved to her chest at some point in the night, was thrown to the foot of the bed. Vergil grabbed her hand without thinking and pushed her shoulders down against the pillows. She fought him for a moment, white eyes darting in every direction. “Stop.” He said.

Corrin froze. Her eyes returned to normal as she met his. “You were there.” She said, her voice cracking. “You saw.”

He nodded. Her body sunk into the bed as she closed her eyes. After many, slow breaths, she opened them again. “I’m alright.” She said, her voice back to normal.

“If I didn’t know any better,” The dragon said. “I’d say you two were trying to kill me.”

“I apologize.” Corrin said as she sat up. She looked more alert than she had since they met. Her demonic aura even felt stronger. Was it the tether? Maybe.

Calcifer huffed. “Get me more chicken and I’ll forgive you.”

A knock on the door caught them both off guard, and Vergil realized that the sun had already come up. “Breakfast is ready!” Nero yelled. “Better hurry or Dante’s going to eat it all.”

Vergil heard him leave before Corrin spoke. “I’m impressed.” She said.

“That I intruded on your memory?”

“You resonated with me.” She said. “How?”

Vergil didn’t know how. “Calcifer.” He said finally.

“I didn’t do anything.” Calcifer said. Vergil glared at him, but the dragon didn't notice. 

“It’s alright.” Corrin said. “That’s a good thing.” She moved slowly out of bed, cracking her neck and back before she stood up. “Hungry?

No. Vergil thought. “I suppose.” He said.

Corrin chuckled. “Let’s go, then.” She said. “I’d like to formally meet your family.”

“Me too.” Vergil said. She stared at him for a moment before a quiet laughter took over. He smiled despite himself, especially when he felt her genuine happiness in his own chest. Once he caught it, he pushed his smile back down. He was Vergil . The calm one. The stoic one. The no nonsense one. His return to the human world shouldn’t change that.

“Yes, yes.” Griffon said. “Heaven forbid you enjoy yourself, right V?”

Vergil hoisted Calcifer onto his shoulder without asking. “Hey!” The dragon whined.

“That will get better.” Corrin said. “The tether just needs more time.”

“What else should I be expecting?” He said.

Corrin let out a breath Vergil hadn’t noticed she was holding. “You’re not upset.”

Celeste’s words echoed back in his head. Protect her and she will protect you. “What’s done is done.” He said. “To quote my loving brother, I will deal with it.”

She nodded. Dante’s loud voice echoed up the stairs, and Vergil heard Nero shouting for him to “put those pancakes down” and “walk away from the bacon”. The laughter of children echoed after him, followed by Kyrie promising to make more.

“Let’s talk later.” She said. “I haven’t eaten in.” She paused. “Awhile.”

“I don’t know how you do it.” Calcifer said. “I’m hungry all the time.”

Corrin shrugged. “Just don’t feel the need anymore.”

“Demonic energy,” Vergil said as he opened the door. “provides more than enough sustenance.”

Calcifer snorted. “I see now what red-guy meant.”

Vergil and Corrin glanced at each other. Calcifer’s tail slapped against Vergil’s back. “Take me to the chicken.”

Vergil rolled his shoulders, knocking Calcifer onto the bed. The dragon yelped as he straightened himself. He stared at Vergil in shock, but it was Corrin who spoke first. “I have taught you better than that, Calcifer.”

His eyes fell like a chastised child. “I’m sorry, Mr. Vergil.” He said. “Will you please take me to the chicken?”

“Better.” Corrin said. Vergil held his hand back out and Calcifer moved, much slower this time, back to his shoulder. “Dragons.” Corrin teased as she scratched Calcifer’s head. “So temperamental.” He flicked his tongue at her, but Vergil felt him relax.

Nero’s voice echoed up the stairs. “You drank all the orange juice?”

“It’s not my fault those two slow pokes haven’t come down yet.” Dante said.

“They’ve asleep for two days, you asshole.” Two days? It had felt like thirty minutes, tops. Even Corrin looked surprised.

“Then it's more food for me!” Dante said.

“Go.” Vergil said.

Corrin hesitated. “I haven’t been around this many people in a very long time.” She said, her voice low enough that no one else, demon or otherwise, could hear her.

Vergil hadn’t either, but he didn’t tell her that. “Go.” He said again. “Unless you’d rather I teleport you straight on top of the table.”

She snorted.  “Oddly specific threat.” She said, but backed out of the door regardless.

“I prefer the term efficient.” He said.

“Duly noted.”

Chapter Text

Kyrie always made it her mission to make everyone as comfortable as possible. No matter who they were, what they were doing, or how everyone else felt about them. Even if they never smiled, she wanted to see that her guests were, at the very least, relaxed.

Vergil alone might break her perfect record.

When he and Corrin came down the stairs, he had looked so stiff and uncomfortable. At first, she thought it was because he hadn’t got to change his clothes or shower like Dante. He didn’t smell nearly as bad, which Kyrie thought was some kind of miracle considering they had been in the Underworld together. But she quickly understood that Vergil was naturally tense. When Dante half dragged him to a seat between himself and Nero, Vergil had sat down with dignity, even moving his coat tails out of the way. His back was stiff as a board, even when Dante announced to the kids that Vergil was their “grandpops”. They all swarmed him with numerous questions, Vergil had not said anything more than a calm “good morning” after that. Kyrie had considered sending the kids away, but decided against it. She figured Vergil was more than capable of escaping excited children if he wanted to.

So, Kyrie turned her attention to Corrin instead.

The woman had hovered in the dining room for just a few minutes before quietly disappearing into another part of the house. Between all the loud voices and the cooking, Kyrie hadn’t been able to invite Corrin to the table. No one else did either, something she would have to bring up to Nero later. She was their guest just as much as his family. She didn’t blame him, though. He was overwhelmed for certain, but trying his best to hide it.

After making sure everyone was fed, Kyrie excused herself and found Corrin in the living room, staring out of the front window. She wondered what the half-demoness was thinking. Dante had said this was Corrin’s first time in “the area”, but Kyrie wasn’t certain if he meant the Fortuna area or the human world in general. But, Kyrie was curious. Over the years, the stories of the demon world had begun to interest her. She had learned everything she could about Sparda, much more than the church had ever told her. The connection between demons and humans always started with him. But, she never imagined she would speak to one unrelated. And another woman. She was almost ashamed at how excited she was.

“Hello.” Kyrie said. Corrin smiled, but didn’t move. “I realized I haven’t had the chance to introduce myself yet.”

“Kyrie, right?” She said. “Nero spoke of you once or twice.”

Kyrie was surprised. As far as she knew, Corrin had been sleeping since Nero loaded them all up in the van. Maybe she had managed to fool everyone else after all. “Good things, I hope.”

“He loves you.” Corrin said.

Kyrie blushed. “He is very dear to me.” She almost laughed at herself. Why was she acting so formal? Maybe she was a bit more intimidated than she realized. “I’ll be heading out later to buy some food for everyone. Would you like to join me?” If she hadn’t been in the human world before, maybe she’d like to see more of it.

“I’ll have to ask Vergil.” She said.

“Oh?”

“The tether,” She said, somewhat hesitantly. “It doesn’t stretch very far.”

Nero had mentioned something like that. A supernatural connection Kyrie didn’t understand. She figured this wasn’t the right time to ask about that. “I’m sure he won’t mind.” She said.

She heard the kids start arguing in the kitchen. This was quickly followed by a loud debate between Nero and Nico on the proper size of pancakes with Dante laughing in the background. She even heard Calcifer begging someone for chicken, but everyone seemed to be ignoring him. “It is very loud.” Corrin said.

“I can take you to my practice room if you’d like.” Corrin looked at her for the first time. “It’s downstairs. Nero and I soundproofed it about a year ago. I always go there when I need a getaway.”

“Music?” Kyrie saw genuine excitement in Corrin’s face.

“There’s not much, but we just bought a piano last week.”

Corrin appeared two steps from Kyrie so quickly that she hadn’t seen her move. “I’d love to see it.” She said.

Kyrie’s “practice room” as she called it had been the last room in the house for them to deal with and the only one that wasn’t done. Nero had spent a week between jobs to rebuild all of the walls on his own, a feat that would have been easier if he had asked for help. But he had figured it out, and even painted the walls a lovely aquamarine color. Kyrie had put up some of her singing accolades on the wall after Nero had found them in a box she had forgotten about. But there was no other artwork yet. Kyrie had planned on finding some flower stencils for the back wall to add some color, but she hadn’t gotten around to it. So, with only a keyboard and a file cabinet with sheets of music and old programs, the room felt empty.

But Corrin didn’t seem to mind, as her eyes fixated immediately on the keyboard. “I’ve never seen a piano like that.” Corrin said.

“You play?” Kyrie said.

Corrin nodded. “I’ve had a lot of time to learn.” She sat down at the piano as if she were being asked to settle into the most precious and fragile throne in the universe. She tapped at the keys a few times, but frowned when they made no sound. “Strange.”

“You have to turn it on.”

“Turn on the piano?” Corrin said incredulously.

Kyrie tapped the power button. “I haven’t had time to mess around with it, but apparently you can play some pretty impressive songs on this thing.” Corrin tapped a key and tilted her head at the sound. She mumbled something to herself so quietly that Kyrie didn’t understand her. She tapped a couple more keys slowly. “I know it's not a grand piano or anything but…”

“It’s better than nothing.” Corrin said with a smile. “Thank you.”

Although it took some time, the second Corrin started playing an actual song, Kyrie was mesmerized. Her fingers moved effortlessly between the keys, hitting notes with incredible speed and accuracy. Kyrie had seen many successful human pianists, but Corrin was on a whole different level. She moved between notes as if she had two extra hands. If she made any mistakes, Kyrie didn’t hear them. The song sounded aetherial, and the closest description Kyrie could reach was a song for a choir of angels. It wasn’t until Corrin stopped playing that Kyrie realized she had been holding her breath. “Wow.” She said. “What song was that?”

“It doesn’t have a name.” Corrin said. Kyrie saw a hint of red on her cheeks. Was she embarrassed by that? Kyrie couldn’t imagine why. “I just… play.”

“Do you know how to read music?”

“It’s been a long time.” Corrin said. “But I believe so, yes.”

Kyrie almost tripped over herself as she scrambled to the file cabinet. There were so many songs she had wanted to work on. She sang often, both at church and the orphanage, but without a dedicated pianist, she struggled to practice anything new. Singing along with a CD didn’t feel the same. “If it’s not too much to ask,” She said. “Could you look through these for me?” She handed Corrin a folder of songs that the children at the orphanage had requested of her. She knew there was a large variety of pieces, many of which weren’t meant to be played on a piano in the first place. But Kyrie wanted to make them happy however she could.

Corrin looked through the first few pages with interest. “You wrote these yourself?” She said as she pulled one out.

“Not exactly.” Kyrie said. “I sing a lot of covers.” Corrin raised a quizzical eyebrow. “Basically, I take a popular song and try to sing it in my own style. The children love it, but it can be difficult to adjust the pitch since I don’t play any instruments.” It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. They had bought the piano in the first place so Kyrie could at least hear the notes. But her hand-eye coordination left a lot to be desired.

“I can help as long as you don’t ask me to sing.” Corrin said.

Kyrie couldn’t contain her excitement. “Deal.”

The two women spent nearly half an hour practicing before Nero found them, sheepishly admitting that he hadn’t noticed them leave in the chaos. Upstairs, however, Kyrie didn’t miss the interested look in Vergil’s eyes when Corrin sat down next to him. He looked away the second she greeted him, likely trying to hide it. It was a move that Nero often tried, unsuccessfully, to pull on Kyrie when he didn’t want to admit something. She couldn’t help but chuckle as she made a new batch of pancakes.

Maybe the estranged father and son had more in common than they thought.

 


 

Nero never thought he’d see the day where he’d be shopping with his old man.

He hadn’t even planned on going out today. But it felt weird sending Vergil alone with Corrin and Kyrie. And then, of course, Dante had to come, which Vergil hadn’t been too thrilled about either. But, the elder Son of Sparda hadn’t argued over the matter. The only time he showed mild discomfort was after the girls had gone to the grocery store and Nero had taken his demon family to a shop about two blocks away. Even then, Vergil didn’t say anything against it. He just let the tailors do what they wanted and disappeared into the back room while Dante, who had gotten clothing from this store many times in the past, bought a fresh set within minutes and waited with Nero outside.

“Relax, kiddo.” Dante said. Nero didn’t know why Dante insisted on calling him that. But he had enough to worry about. “Vergil’s always been particular about his looks. Twenty years ain’t changing that.”

Nero didn’t doubt him. “But we have things to do.” Nero said. That wasn’t entirely true, but he had hoped to catch Morrison before he left the office. With so many mouths to feed, he would need to take a lot more missions.

“Cut him some slack.” Dante said. “He’s never had anyone to impress but himself.”

“He made it pretty clear that he doesn’t like Corrin.”

“And he’s a lying asshat.” Dante said as he leaned back on the bench as relaxed as ever. Nero knew his Uncle had no real sense of urgency unless demons were involved. But he thought Dante would have a bit more concern over his brother. Dante seemed to notice Nero’s hesitation, for he continued. “I know you don’t know a lot about demon psychology, but let's just say Vergil is a bit past his prime, and his demon half is not happy about it.”

“But he had me.”

“Yeah but…” Dante trailed off. “It’s not really the same.”

Nero decided if he wanted to know that truth, he’d have to ask his father himself. “But you’re as old as he is.”

“But I ignored my demon side for a very long time.” Dante said. “Just because he’s trying to be some kind of human now doesn’t mean the demon instincts are going away.”

“Isn’t it a little… soon?” Nero said.

“Oh he won’t admit it for a long time.” Dante said. “He’s more stubborn than I am.”

“Well,” Nero said. “Corrin seems trustworthy.”

“If not, she can’t fight all three of us.” Dante said. “Besides, I’m keeping a close eye on them.”

His voice was entirely serious for the first time since he came back. Nero wondered if he hadn’t given his Uncle enough credit. He knew Vergil better than anyone. “For now,” Dante said. “I’m going to let them do whatever it is they’re going to do and go from there.”

The door opened and Vergil stepped out, buttoning his cuff. His black coat was gone, replaced by a brand new, midnight blue one with the same three coattails. The serpent like patterns on his sleeves were stitched in silver, but more detailed than before. The buttons and embellishments around the coat’s edges were all the same, shimmering silver. The outfit underneath was almost identical, except his vest was much smoother, his pants fit better, and his shoes and gloves matched the jacket. “You took an eternity for that?” Dante said.

“Someone had the audacity to tell them that I prefered the color red.” Vergil said as he adjusted his gloves. “Then they got distracted by Calcifer.”

The dragon in question pranced out of the door which closed behind him. He was covered in multicolored glitter, and his scales had been painted with a host of blue and pink swirls. “They gave me chicken!” Calcifer said as he hopped onto Nero’s lap. Glitter went everywhere, clinging to Nero’s clothes. Even Dante shifted away slightly, but couldn’t avoid the shower of glitter that landed on his boots. He wasn’t even supposed to come with them, but Corrin had insisted. She mentioned something about the tether, but Nero hadn’t given it much thought.

He groaned. “Kyrie is going to love this.”

Vergil pushed his hair back absentmindedly. He looked relaxed at least, as far as Nero could tell. No twitchier than he had been at breakfast. “Any messages?” He said.

“What?” Dante said. “Dying to get back to your partner?”

Vergil frowned. “I’m sure Nero has better things to do than sit idly at this place.”

“Right. Right. You’re worried about Nero .”

Vergil’s eyes narrowed, but he said nothing. Nero didn’t know why Dante teased his brother so much. It seemed like a recipe for disaster. But Vergil hadn’t reacted yet, so maybe it was Nero who had the situation all wrong.

Or maybe, it was Nero who didn’t trust Vergil at all.

He swallowed his guilt and changed the conversation. “They’re at the grocery story. Kyrie wanted to shop for the party this weekend.”

Vergil’s face soured even more. “Party.”

“Of course!” Dante said. “The welcoming party.”

“We’ve been sufficiently welcomed.”

Nero heard the slight click of the Yamato. As expected, Vergil was not happy about the idea. But Nero couldn’t change the plans. “Cheer up, sourpuss.” Dante said. “There will be pizza and everything.”

Before Vergil could respond, he vanished in a puff of black smoke.

Both men leapt up from the bench before Nero instinctively dipped down to catch Calcifer. “What happened?” Dante said.

“I think Corrin pulled him.” Calcifer said.

“She did what?”

The faint sound of screaming echoed in the distance. Dante was at the stairs at once. “Call Kyrie.” He said as he rushed down two at a time.

“On it.” Nero said.

Chapter Text

 Corrin had never seen so much food in her life.

This grocery store as Kyrie called it was nonsensical. Why did they have fruit and vegetables stacked in pyramids when there were so many people yanking haphazardly from it? Why was there an entire corner dedicated to various sizes and colors of bread? Then they had gone to the meat section which had enough food to feed a small family for at least a century. Corrin didn’t even want to think about the food in the aisles. It all seemed rather excessive, if she was honest. Even the smells were overwhelming, a mix of a million different things that she didn’t recognize. She had considered waiting outside, but Kyrie had insisted, and Corrin figured it wasn’t right to leave her alone.

“I appreciate it.” Kyrie said as she tossed some seasonings into the cart. “I promise it won’t take too long.”

The lights flickered before going out. Corrin’s demon eyesight kicked in instantly. Thunder echoed in the distance. She froze, but Kyrie was unfazed. “Must be a storm coming.” She said as she pulled out her phone for a flashlight. Corrin, however, felt the spike in demonic energy.

“We have to go.” She grabbed Kyrie’s hand and the woman didn’t argue as they left the cart behind. Glass shattered at the front of the store outside of Corrin’s vision. The souls of everyone around her spiked with dark red fear and anxiety. Demon roars, shrieks, and moans echoed throughout the store. The humans around her rushed for the back exit, forcing Corrin to pull Kyrie away before she got trampled. Even if she could teleport with a second person, she couldn’t go anywhere she couldn’t see. Instead, she veered to the left and ripped open a second locked door. They sprinted down the hallway, but Corrin flinched as she felt a wave of death. She tried to ignore it, but it was difficult. With both Calcifer and Vergil so far away, she could feel her soul being dragged down into everyone else’s despair.

As they hurried to the exit, a strange web of red energy rose from the floor. She jumped back and shoved Kyrie outside of it before it closed around her. “Are you alright?” Corrin yelled

“Yes!” She said. A gurgling sound echoed behind Corrin as demons began to form from nothingness.

“Run!” Corrin said.

“I’ll get help!” Kyrie pushed herself out of the door into the wave of panicked humans outside. Corrin could only hope she escaped as the first demon attacked. She flipped out of the way, summoning her katana to slice through it before throwing a dagger at another one. She teleported to its corpse before slicing through a third. A larger demon with two cleavers swung wildly in her direction. Corrin warped through its blades and buried her katana into its head before launching backwards with it still wedged inside. She summoned two daggers and quickly sliced through another pack of demons before throwing both into a larger bug queen. She pulled her sword back to her, pinning the queen to the wall before she forced the sword down through its chest. It exploded as she teleported away.

More human souls turned black. She felt each one like a stab to her heart. I need Calcifer. She thought. While the dragon’s tether was minuscule compared to Vergil’s, he could sustain her long enough to escape. She searched desperately for it in the chaos, killing every demon she came across. With the sheer number of souls around her, it was difficult to pinpoint where he was. When she finally saw it, the light blue line between her and the vast unknown, she grabbed it and pulled as hard as she could.

She nearly toppled over when it was Vergil, not Calcifer, who appeared. They both stared at each other, him with a mild scowl and her in pure shock. “I’ve never done that before.” She mumbled. She had actually thought it impossible to pull him to her. Maybe she had underestimated his own ability to teleport.

The blade of Yamato shot by her head, cutting through a red lizard looking demon she hadn’t noticed appear. “Before?” Vergil said.

Three more lizards materialized, diving toward them. Both she and Vergil leapt in opposite directions, with him killing two and her barely grazing one. He appeared at her side before it vanished and killed it. “You’ll have to be much faster than that.” He said.

“I’m afraid I am unfamiliar with these teleporting lizard demons.” Corrin said. He stabbed through another demon behind her, but she quickly did the same for one that materialized behind him. He smirked, as they both knew he could have done that easily on his own, but it was gone as fast as it appeared.

“Where’s Kyrie?”

“As safe as I could get her.” She said. More demons appeared and they split up again. Corrin launched at a pile of scythe wielders, dashing between each one with perfect strikes to the chest. When she teleported back, Vergil had killed twice as many and a brute with enough time to watch her. “You know I could do that if I wanted to” Corrin said.  

“No you couldn’t.” He said.

“Oh ye of little faith.” She said.

“Yamato’s power depends on the user,” He said as he reached for it. If Corrin weren’t a demon, she wouldn’t have seen the sword leave the scabbard. Behind her, two demons were sliced to pieces. “Not on the sword itself.”

“Your ego is showing.”

“I am merely telling the truth.”

She tossed a dagger over his shoulder into a pack of demons. As it hit the first one, she phased forward, ignited the dagger, and kicked him into the rest of his kin. The fire burst outward, consuming each one as she phased back in front of Vergil.

She snapped her fingers and the fire returned to her. “No sword needed.” She said.

“And yet,” he said as a wave of blue swords stabbed through another pack. The red webbing that had trapped her before disappeared as those died. “Here I am.”

Well that was for a different reason entirely. She thought. “I called for Calcifer.” She said under her breath.

The peak of his eyebrows as he stared at her could have rivaled the greatest mountains. She felt a prickle of annoyance through the tether. “I was unaware you could call either of us.” His tone was very clear. Don’t do it again. His eyes flickered downward for a moment so brief that Corrin almost missed it. “Kyrie didn’t buy you anything new?”

“I made this, thank you.” Corrin said. “You don’t like it?”

His eyes snapped back to hers. “What?” He sounded baffled, as if the question itself was the stupidest thing she could have asked.

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Well you look presentable.” She said with a dismissive wave before wandering back toward the inner part of the grocery store.

“Where are you going?”

“A horde of demons just invaded a store and killed a dozen people.” Corrin said. “Where do you think I’m going?”

She heard him growl in quiet irritation. “Are you not concerned for Kyrie’s safety?”

Corrin paused as she reached out for Kyrie’s soul. It was a good distance away, but easy to find now that everything had calmed down. Dante’s naturally red soul and Nero’s bluish orange were right beside her. “She’s fine.” Corrin said. “I have to deal with these souls.” She walked down the hallway, trying her best to keep her head level. The world felt so heavy. Corrin had been around death before, but passing demon souls were easy to ignore. These humans died violently, many of them in terror. She remembered what her mother always told her. Those who die unjustly are easy to corrupt. With the number of Qliphoth souls floating around Redgrave, Corrin couldn’t take any chances.

She almost knocked into Vergil as he appeared in front of her. “Do I need Calcifer to see them?”

She blinked. While she had wanted to teach him some things - particularly how to guard his soul on his own - she hadn’t imagined he would want to see them himself. He had done so once before, but he had called it a distraction and refused to use it. Why did it interest him now? “No.” She said, finally. If he was curious, she wasn’t going to stop him. “I can teach you.”

He watched her in silence. Corrin was starting to loathe that blank expression. How she wished she could just finish the tether now and be done with it. But she hadn’t done that even when he was receptive to the idea. Thankfully, she thought, or I’d be dead. “We don’t have a lot of time.” She said. While he still did not respond - say something, dammit - he did step to the side so she could get by, and even followed when she went back into the store.

She was grateful, as the destruction was worse than she expected. Shelves were ruined, their contents scattered in every direction. The lights were all broken. Glass was shattered, the food behind it torn to shreds. The death toll was higher than she thought. She focused on the souls, unsettled by the bodies. She hadn’t expected to feel this way. The souls in the cavern had been dead for awhile. They didn’t have anything to say to her. These were fresh. Dangerous. Celeste always emphasised how vital it was to separate one’s feelings from their mission. Protecting life is always more important than mourning the dead.

But Corrin didn’t have the kind of experience her mother or even Leo had. She knew what she needed to do, but felt numb as she stared at each soul. The world closed in. Dizziness swept over her. She tried to shake it off, but her anxiety only grew. She could hear the screams of those left behind. She could feel their terror and despair. Their emotions were attempting to drown her, but she couldn’t look away.

A hand touched her back. The emotions of the dead retreated. It took her a second to realize it was Vergil who steadied her. His expression still hadn’t changed, and she didn’t feel any pity or concern in the tether. He was perfectly still, and his calmness swept right through her. Did he know what he was doing? The slight nod he gave her said he did. She took a long, slow breath and moved toward the first soul. It tried to latch on, to speak to her, but she forced herself to ignore it and used a small flame to dispel it. She did the same with each soul. Whenever she almost caved to one, she focused on Vergil’s soul instead. He hadn’t moved, and she knew he couldn’t see more than her fire disappearing into the aether. But, she knew he could feel a part of what she did. She was not strong enough to block it from him completely. But he didn’t move. Not even a twitch. His soul was steady.

She would never understand how he did it.

As the last soul vanished, she let her power go and dropped to her knees. Curse this exhaustion. Physically, she was fine. Better than ever, if she was honest. But mentally…

I can’t stay here.

She pushed herself to her feet. “We need to go.” She said. “Before…”

Thunder burst above her. Her body froze. Three, large demon souls appeared outside of the building, one she recognized immediately. No. No. No.  She scrambled backwards toward the exit. Vergil appeared, wrapped his arm around her waist, and teleported upward into a small alcove in the rafters Corrin hadn’t noticed. He pushed her slightly behind him as he crouched, eyes narrowing as the demons came into the building. Corrin pushed herself as far back as she could, focusing on building a shield around Vergil’s soul. If they couldn’t see his, then they likely couldn’t see hers.

If only it was easier to work while terrified.

“Calm.” Vergil said. Not trusting herself to respond as quietly as him, she only nodded.

“Impressive.” A deep voice said in his rough demon tongue. It was one she didn’t recognize, but it was certainly demonic. She didn’t dare risk revealing herself to see who it was.

“Unlucky.” Another voice said. A woman this time. “It seems there were some unexpected devil hunters around.”

“I’m not surprised.” Corrin’s heart stopped. Her mind raced. Even twenty years later, Gaius’ voice was unmistakable. Vergil’s hand grabbed her wrist roughly enough to pull her mind back. He watched her until she met his gaze, and shook his head before letting her go. “There was a reaver here, after all.”

Corrin hadn’t heard that title in a long time. Celeste said there used to be more families like them. Demons who could interact with souls. As far as Corrin knew, only she and Gaius were left. His vagueness, however, made her wonder if there were others. If he was anything like he used to be, he would stop at nothing if he knew she was alive.

“So you’re useless.” The first voice said.

“For the moment.” She could hear the amusement in his voice. “While the soul trail is gone, I should be able to track down their companion.”

At the very least, Corrin was confident he could not do that while they were still here. Even if he tried, Vergil could teleport them away. He still hadn’t moved. Corrin half expected him to jump down and challenge the three. He could probably fight them off, kill at least two. Especially Gaius. But, even though she couldn’t see the main demon’s body, she knew he was powerful. Information was infinitely more valuable than murder.

“Must be exciting.” The woman said. “How long has it been since you’ve had someone to contend with?”

“Too long.” Gaius said. Corrin heard the woman giggle, followed by the uncomfortable sound of lips smacking against each other. “Don’t worry. I’ll protect you” Gaius said, his voice laced with false romance. This woman was likely his partner, but their souls were not connected. Corrin wondered how he had survived so long without his own soulmate.

“Leave.” The demon said as he moved further into the room. Vergil shifted backwards his hand brushing Corrin’s arm. Had the demon seen him? His soul hadn’t changed, but full demons were more difficult to read. “Do not let this reaver interrupt our experiment.”

“As you wish.”   Gaius said. His soul vanished.

“There may not be any souls,” The woman said. “But this is still quite the treat.”

“It is a start.” The demon said. “But not enough.”

We will find him.” The woman said as her soul flickered with excitement. Corrin flinched as she heard the cracking of bones. “He cannot avoid all of this death forever.”

“The old one, maybe.” The demon said. “The new one has been rather… elusive.”

The woman cackled. “That just makes his inevitable capture all the sweeter.” Her soul moved quickly to the other’s side. “Just imagine, master. You with the powers of the immortal Phoenix. Unstoppable.”

Vergil grabbed Corrin’s arm. They teleported to the parking lot, and Corrin swallowed a hint of nausea. He helped her to her feet, but held onto her arm longer than she expected. “That was him, wasn’t it?” He said.

Corrin nodded. “If he learns I’m here…” Her mouth went dry. What could she do? Staying with Nero and Kyrie suddenly felt like a terrible idea. Maybe she could find her own place, but it would be selfish of her to force Vergil to leave with her. But she couldn’t…

“Stop.” He said. “We will deal with it.”

We. If she wasn’t so tired, she might have smiled. It was a small thing. One he likely didn’t notice. But it meant the world to her. I’m not alone.  

“Verge! Cor!” Dante yelled as he waved them down. Nero ran with Kyrie on his back. After a quick glance at the woman’s soul, Corrin knew she would be alright with some rest. Calcifer leapt off of Nero’s shoulder and landed on Corrin’s, licking her multiple times. She pet him back, surprised when glitter broke off into her hands. “What happened?” Dante said.

She didn’t know what to say. There were too many places to start. Too many pieces to decipher. She was grateful when Vergil spoke instead. “You have a contact for your missions, yes?”

“Morrison?” Nero said. Vergil nodded. “I can call him, but what should we be looking for?”

“Anything.” Vergil said. “Portals. Strange demon sightings. Unusual deaths. Whatever he thinks is important.” Nero looked confused, but nodded. He put Kyrie in the front seat of the car and walked around to the other side.

“How much help are we going to need?” Dante said.

“I need more information.”

“I’ll call Lady and Trish.” Dante said. Vergil twitched, but nodded. “What are you going to do?”

“I am going to the library. Assuming it’s still accessible.”

“It was when I was here last.” Dante said. “But I doubt he’ll want to see you.”

Vergil turned to Corrin. “Will you accompany me?”

She nodded, trying to compose herself. Everything had shaken her more than she cared to admit. “That sounds lovely.”

“You won’t think that once you meet the librarian.” Dante said.

“I’ve lived in Hell my entire life.” Corrin said flatly. “I think I’ll manage.”

Dante shrugged. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Nero came back around, phone in his hand. “Morrison’s gotten an abnormal number of calls in the past few weeks.” He said. “But many of them weren’t demon related, so he forwarded everything to the cops. I told him I’d come check it out.”

“Take Dante.” Vergil said.

Nero looked like he was about to protest, but succumbed quickly to Vergil’s overpowering death glare. Instead, the younger devil-hunter opened the door and mumbled something to Kyrie. A moment later, he held out her phone. “Then you take this.”

Vergil glanced at it. “I’ve never used one.”

Nero tapped the screen a few times, swapping between various things that Corrin didn’t understand. Finally, he hit a button at the bottom and turned the screen toward them. “Don’t worry about the rest.” He said. “If you need anything, tap this green button,” He did so, and a list of names popped up. “And tap my name.” He pointed at it. “The button on the side will turn the phone on when you need it. But please try to not break it. I really can’t afford another one right now.”

Vergil nodded and put the phone in his pocket without looking at it. “Go.” He said.

Nero hesitated. “Be safe.”

The blue-devil gave Nero a quick nod, and walked away. Nero’s weary gaze followed his father. Corrin put a hand on his shoulder without thinking. “Don’t worry.” She said. “I’ll take care of him.”

Nero snorted, but relaxed nonetheless. “I’m sure he is thrilled to hear you say that.” He said.

She could feel Vergil’s eyes boring into her. She felt lucky that he didn’t react to her the same he did Dante, as she didn’t think she’d survive being impaled. “It’s what I do.” She said.

Chapter Text

They walked for almost half and hour before Vergil tried talking to Corrin.

Casual conversation was a foreign concept. He had attempted it with Nero, but hadn’t missed the uncomfortable look that overtook his son’s face on both occasions. He didn’t know what to talk to Nero about, whereas he had a lot of questions for Corrin. But his mind was too fragmented. His questions too scattered. Even with Calcifer silencing Griffin, Vergil struggled piecing everything together. He felt like he should have more answers, but he had none. It was as curious as it was infuriating, and the only reason he hadn’t portaled them to the library entrance right away. 

To Corrin’s credit, she hadn’t bothered him during the walk. With Calcifer asleep in Vergil's pocket, he too was silent. He found it ironic that Dante, who had known Vergil longer than anybody, never let him walk in peace. But Corrin, who had known him all of two weeks, understood his need for silence. Though, Vergil recognized that the respect she gave to him was beneficial to her as well. When she did speak, he actually listened. Even her teasing didn’t bother him as much as Dante’s did. Another conundrum Vergil didn’t understand. Was it because she seemed unbothered by him? That was an easy way to earn his respect, he supposed, though Dante hadn’t managed the same thing. 

Maybe that was less Dante’s fault and more attributed to Vergil’s stubbornness.

They were on the other side of Fortuna now, as Vergil was doing what he could to avoid the city. It was a risk going to the library. He assumed by Dante’s comment that the same demon was in charge, but Vergil had been a very different man last time he visited. Aggressive. Less willing to compromise. He could pretend to be the same, though Corrin’s existence would likely give him away. Leaving her outside wasn’t an option. His only other choice was to knock and hope for the best. 

He stopped suddenly. Corrin phased to the side to avoid him. “Is everything alright?” She said.

“I know what I saw in your memory.” He said. “But who is Gaius, really?”

She looked uncomfortable, but seemed to understand. “He is the son of a demon named Helios. Celeste’s brother. I’m not certain how much you know of demon affairs but...”

“I know enough.”

She nodded. “Helios hoped to marry Celeste, but she turned him down when she met my father. He was furious, but there was nothing he could do about it. Her ability to control souls was stronger than his, so it was never a fair fight. But he always felt entitled to something. So, when I turned thirteen, he told Celeste that Gaius was to marry me.”

Vergil felt his demon side bristle. He ignored it. “And you turned him down?”

“I was too young to do so at the time.” She said. “But eventually yes. Celeste did what she could. I was supposed to get my blessing and leave.” She summoned a flicker of fire on her fingertips. He felt a brief wave of sadness through the tether, but she kept her composure. Vergil continued forward. She followed. “He should be dead.” She said. “Reavers who give into their madness rarely survive this long.”

“Why not?”

“There comes a point where distinguishing between the living and the dead becomes an impossible challenge. Most would choose to take their own life.”

“Are there other reavers?”

“Besides myself?” She said. “There used to be more. But the ability to control souls is as dangerous as it is powerful. Mundus made a great effort to wipe out whomever he could, as he believed it was in his best interest to remove the threat entirely.”

There was a long pause before Vergil asked, “And are you going mad?”

She hesitated. “Not yet, no.”

He glanced back at her. “Why not?”

“I’m well anchored, for the moment.” 

Her cryptic answer didn’t satisfy him, but he let it go. “What happened to the souls you burned?”

“They were removed from this world.” She said. “Sent off to whatever afterlife they are meant to be in.” She paused. “That was the first time I’ve actually been… that close to the tragedy.”

Vergil had felt it too, though he assumed not as strongly as she did. He wasn’t certain if he could say anything to help her. Deaths of others had never bothered him before he reunited with V. Even then, he did his best to tune the guilt out rather than acknowledge it. He was the last person capable of helping someone through their own emotions. 

“Don’t worry.” She said. 

“Are you certain you are not reading my thoughts?” He said. 

“Only if you wanted me to.” She said. 

“No.” He’d only recently silenced Griffin . (Thanks to her, he could imagine the bird saying.) Another person poking around in his head was the last thing he wanted. 

“There are some things, though.” She said. “That I need to teach you.” He glanced back at her. She looked almost embarrassed to be asking him. Maybe nervous. Vergil struggled often to tell the difference. “It isn’t much.” She continued. “But it’s important.”

He didn’t want to admit that the idea enticed him. While he no longer felt the obsessive desire for power, the ability to see souls alone would offer many advantages. But Vergil had a feeling that the more he learned, the more painful everything would be. Dealing with his own infuriating emotions was difficult enough. He couldn’t imagine trying to handle the dead too. “We’ll talk about it later.” He said as they turned into an alleyway. 

“Library first.” She said with a smile. “I’ve never been to a real one.”

“You may not today either.” Vergil said. He tapped Yamato against the wall. To his surprise, a door appeared immediately. It opened, and a puppet looking woman in a maid outfit bowed to him. “Lady Corrin.” She said. “My master is expecting you.” Vergil glanced back at Corrin. She stared at the woman, dumbstruck. 

“Who are you?”

“Your companion is welcome as well.” The puppet said as she took a step back. 

Clearly, the librarian was not happy to see him. “No use standing out here.” Vergil said. 

A ripple of thunder echoed in the distance. Corrin flinched and pushed him toward the door. He stopped himself and glared at her. She threw her hands up almost immediately. “Force of habit.” She said. 

“Shoving people into buildings?” 

“Getting out of the storm.” 

He frowned. “Learn to control your fear.” 

“I'm still with you, aren't I?”  

Vergil blinked, but she walked past him without another word. The language swap had almost fooled him, and he wondered if she had meant to say it at all. 


 

The Kaleidoscope, as the demon librarian lovingly called it, was the largest and most inaccessible library in the world. It lay at the center of everything, with easy access to every part of human society and a single door into the Underworld. Almost everything could be found  here if one knew where to look. But Vergil had heard stories of visitors dying on their pursuit of knowledge, lost in the endless rows of bookcases. Very few knew how to find it, and those that did rarely made repeat trips. Vergil was an exception, but that wasn't necessarily a good thing. The librarian did not like visitors, especially those that never seemed to go away. 

So he didn't know what to expect when he and Corrin walked alone into the Grand Hall. 

She, however, was clearly entranced. Vergil didn't blame her. This library was a curious mind's paradise. Not only did it hold more information than every human facility combined, but it was an impressive work of art. Almost gaudily so. The five sets of stairs leading off in every direction were made of pure gold, with carvings of various demons and animals on each. The ceiling was impossibly tall, and it was easy to think it opened directly into a perfect starry sky. That too was a magic-laced piece, capable of showing any sky in the world in the blink of an eye. In the very middle of the room, raised off the marbled flooring, was the librarian's chair. A golden throne decorated with gemstones; human-made or otherwise. Behind that was a small couch area in front of a fireplace. It was a false sense of welcoming at best, but lit the room in a soft, orange glow. 

“This feels like a trap.” Corrin said.

“It very well could be, my dear.” Came the reply from a disembodied voice. 

A demon appeared in the chair in a puff of black smoke. He was a grotesque thing, his head reaching only to Vergil's waist. His body was much larger than Vergil remembered with a belly twice the size of everything else. The demon's green tinted skin was covered in brown marks and misshapen fur. Yet, he still carried himself with an air of superiority, wearing a purple fur robe that was four sizes too big and a golden crown that hung limply off one of his very large, pointy ears. He looked between Vergil and Corrin, his expression a mix of distaste and interest. His beady, yellow eyes finally landed on her. “Vergil is a very lucky man.” The demon said, wagging his finger at her. “I should never have opened that door, but he has brought me something far more interesting than he himself could ever be.” 

Vergil forced down his annoyance. A four thousand year old demon could say whatever it wanted if it had the answers he was in search of. “I need…” 

“I am not talking to you.” The demon snapped. “You should be grateful that I let you come inside with her at all.” 

“I wouldn't have come in without him.” Corrin said. Though her eyes betrayed her shock, her voice was poised and professional. 

The demon grunted. “I am Pythagoras.” He said. “And I have everything you could possibly wish to know, moon-child.” He said the title with a hint of sarcasm. “But only for a price.” 

This is where aggressive Vergil would have come in handy. But Corrin took to the negotiating role well. “What kind of price?” She said. 

“Depends on the information.”

She looked to Vergil. The demon grunted. “What do you want, Spawn of Sparda?”

“Information on the Phoenix.” He said. 

Pythagoras looked surprised. “The Phoenix has been dead for over a century.” 

“We have reason to believe it's not.” 

The demon grunted. “That stubborn bastard may have found a way.” He paused for a long moment before returning his attention to Corrin. “I have a mission for you, then.” He snapped his fingers and the puppet woman from before dropped from the ceiling and appeared by his side with a piece of paper. “Do you recognize this?” He held it out to Corrin. It was an intricately drawn circle with slithering snakes on the outside. Inside was a raven with many of its feathers at its feet and the bones of its wings exposed. 

“It’s a ritual symbol.” She said. 

“For what, exactly?” 

“It's a mix of things.” She said. “The circle is a soul. The raven is death, but the snakes…” she trailed off. “It's an adaptation of a demon summoning ritual.” 

“Your mother taught you well.” He said with a nod of approval. 

“Where did you find this?” 

“A few weeks ago, a mansion in Redgrave started receiving many visitors. Curious, as it’s been abandoned for three years. My servant returned with this, and others. All similar, but adapted. It seems whoever is using that house is trying to perfect a new ritual, but I cannot be certain for what.” 

“The snakes could represent a barrier.” She said thoughtfully. 

“The animal on the outside was the most frequent change.” He said. “But without the ability to see the souls, I cannot say for certain.” 

“Where do we need to go?” 

Pythagoras frowned. “He does not need to be involved.” 

“I go where he does.” Corrin said, calmly. 

The demon narrowed his eyes. “He is your tether.” Then, he sighed. “Fine, but I demand collateral to ensure you will return.” 

“Why would we not? We need the information.” 

“Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe what you find in that building will be more than enough.” 

Corrin smiled. “I see.” She said “You're worried I'd keep it from you.” She was smart. Vergil was grateful for that at least.  Pythagoras could easily manipulate people if they weren't aware of it. That may have been why he insisted on speaking to Corrin in the first place. “Then here is my deal.” She said. “I will give you the collateral you want, and everything I find. In return, you will provide Vergil with any information he asks for. Agreed?” 

The demon twitched. “Lucky for you.” He said, glancing at Vergil. “You found a clever one.” The demon grunted as he hopped down the steps. His robe trailed behind him, hanging on the stairs even as he stood in front of her. “What is your collateral?” 

She summoned her katana. His eyes widened instantly as he reached for it. She pulled it away. “Do we have a deal?” 

He muttered various words in an old demon language before he spoke again. “A reaver formed weapon…” he purred. “One created by memories and not a blessing. This is a true gift.” 

Vergil glanced at Corrin, but she kept her eyes on the demon. “You will return it, unharmed and untainted. I will know.” 

“Deal.” He said. “You will have the best luck if you visit after midnight on friday. That is when these rituals seem to take place.” He snapped again and his servant handed Vergil a small book. Then, the demon delicately took Corrin's sword. “I will learn much from you.” He said with a grin before vanishing in another cloud. 

“You will be weaker without it.” Vergil said. 

When she looked at him, he realized  her white eye had turned the same color as the darker one. “But I have you.” She said with a teasing smirk. “Much better alternative, if I do say so myself.” 

He scowled. His demon, however, was more than pleased with the compliment. If she knew how to get to that side of him so easily, his flimsy human half didn't stand a chance. “We won't get anything else here” He said. 

“I don't think I can go back to their home.” She said. 

Although Vergil guessed what she would say, he humored her. “Why not?” 

“The longer people are around each other, the more their souls start to connect. Not like a tether, but obvious enough.” She said. “A trained reaver can see these connections, especially if they're familiar with the souls involved.” She looked away. “I'm already putting one person at risk.”

My own choices have put me at risk. He thought. “I'll speak to Dante.” He said. 

“I'm sorry.” She said. 

“For what?” 

“You just got home and…” 

“My family has been fine without me.” He said. “And they will continue to do so even if I'm gone.” 

She sighed. “I'll fix this.” She said. “I promise.” 

He watched her for a long moment. He didn't know how she could honestly promise that. It was clear she felt lost. Likely terrified. But she looked at him with sincerity. She certainly knew how to put on a brave face; one almost as convincing as his constant stoicism. He realized then that he didn’t really know what Corrin had been through. She had been young when her brother died. No older than he had been when he jumped into the Underworld. Her powers had been weaker. Calcifer didn’t exist. Yet, here she was now. At least fifteen years later - maybe more - alive and strong enough to tether to him of all people. How had she gone from one to the other? Would she be willing to tell him if he asked? 

If she did, would he be willing to tell her about himself?

He looked away. “We have a few days.” He said, reaching for Kyrie's phone. “It's best we do not waste it.”

Chapter Text

 The last place Vergil wanted to go was Devil May Cry. But, they didn't have a lot of options.

The old building looked much better than it had three years prior. Morrison, or, more likely, the women working for him, had managed to clean it up. The furniture in the lobby was new, aside from the pool table. The desk was larger with numerous folders and papers in organized piles and color coded sticky notes. The new couch was a bright red, and Vergil didn’t notice any bugs trying to bury their way into the cushions. The lights were all working, and the smell of alcohol was only a minor annoyance than a crippling stench. 

Nero and Dante were waiting for them. “Glad you could make it.” Dante said. “Was worried Pythy had eaten you.”

“There were a few angry souls on the way home.” Corrin said wearily. Vergil was learning that her stamina did not compare to his. While this didn’t surprise him, it was a weakness she needed to overcome. Though, he couldn’t be certain if she was drained more by the battle or with everything that had happened that day.

“Even with you there?”

“My shield isn’t perfect.” She said. “But at least we didn’t bring any back here.” She sat on the couch beside Nero who handed her a bright red apple. She eyed it for a moment, but her face lit up when she bit into it. “This is divine.” She said before taking another bite. 

“Honeycrisp.” Nero said. “Kyrie’s favorite.”

“How is she?”

“A little bruised, but fine. Nico and the kids made dinner and Trish and Lady are spending the night.” He leaned forward as he looked to Vergil. “What happened?”

He told him what he could, with Corrin filling in some minor details here and there. They left out her personal relationship with Gaius - it didn’t seem particularly relevant - and Vergil decided not to mention the Phoenix. Without more information, it would be impossible to explain. “It is possible that demon was the same one the bull called Master in the Underworld.” He said. 

“I didn’t recognize his soul,” Corrin said. “But I’ve never seen him in a human form.”

“Then who might it be?” Dante said.

“His name is Samael.” She said. Vergil recognized that name. Even Dante frowned. “He was one of Mundus’ generals before Sparda defeated him, and one of the few to stay by his side while he tried to rebuild.”

“The Dragon of the Dead.” Vergil said.

“My mother never understand why he gave himself that title.” Corrin said. “Samael had an army, yes, but he wasn’t a reaver, so truly controlling the dead would have been impossible. Apparently, even his true form is a mockery of what a dragon should be.”

“So what’s Samael’s goal?” Dante said. “Even Mundus couldn’t leave the demon world in his true form, and that ugly asshole had the Qliphoth fruit running through him.”

“It is impossible to know how much of the Qliphoth’s power Mundus had in him when you defeated him.” Vergil said. “Considering our father sealed most of it away.”

“Regardless, unless this new guy wants to wait thousands of years, he ain’t getting his real self out any time soon.”

“I suppose that’s one benefit to having the man who ate that fruit on our side.” Nero muttered. “No other demon can get to it.” Vergil glanced at him, but said nothing. Even he wasn’t entirely sure what the Qliphoth fruit had done for him. It had given him his full trigger, but he was still on equal footing with Dante. Ironic, to say the least. But not entirely unexpected after Dante absorbed the Sparda. Vergil didn’t feel particularly different, but that may be more due to the resurgence of his human side than the increased power from the fruit. 

“If Pythagoras gives us what we’re looking for, we might be able to guess what Samael is after.” Vergil said. 

“You should ask for a book on him too.” Corrin said.

“Already planned.”

“He agreed to give you more than one?” Dante whistled. “Must have offered him something pretty good.”

“Information.” Vergil said.

“I have an address here.” Corrin said as she glanced through Pythagoras’ book. “5783 Northeast Williamson Boulevard.” 

“That’s a mansion in the old, rich man’s district.” Nero said. “What are you going there for?”

“Information.” Corrin said as she turned the page. Her frown deepened. 

“Morrison gave me back the deed.” Dante said. “But I owe him for most of the repairs.” He grinned. “Good thing there’s a lot of jobs and a lot of us.”

“Our priority is Samael and his companions. “Vergil said.

“But you and Cor can take care of that, right?”

“Of course.” He said. Vergil could guess why the women weren’t at Devil May Cry right now. And, despite Dante’s laid back attitude, Vergil knew he had been keeping his older brother awfully close. Vergil had been surprised he’d been allowed to go alone with Corrin anywhere, much less to the Kaleidoscope. “But will your “friends” stay out of my way?”

Dante’s smile didn’t waver, but Vergil saw his red demon eyes flicker. “That depends,” Dante said. “Does my dear brother believe he’s on a tight enough leash?”

Vergil glared at him. “Watch what you say, little brother.” Vergil said. “And do not trouble yourself with my affairs.”

Dante shrugged. “You’ll have to convince Lady of that one.”

“It is none of her business.”

“Look,” Nero cut them both off. “Whatever happened in the past, and however the others might feel, we all need to move past it. We have to work together, not spend our time wondering if we’re all going to betray each other.” Vergil thought he was being generous with the word “all”, but he appreciated what his son was trying to say. “You want him to have a second chance?” Nero said as he looked to Dante. “Then you’re just going to have to trust him.”

Silence for a moment. Then Dante’s smile widened. “And that.” Dante said as he pointed to Nero. “Is why he is better than the both of us.” He stood up from the desk. “Stay here until Friday. The ladies have agreed to stay away until then. I’m taking Nero home.”

“I don’t need…”

“Nope.” Dante said. “Not worth the risk.” He stretched as he wandered to the front door. “Pick whatever room you want, Cor. Verge and I can fight over the couch later.”

“That isn’t necessary.” She said, but she sounded distracted. 

“Come on, kiddo.” Dante said as he kicked open the front door. 

As he left, Vergil stepped slightly in front of Nero. They both stared at each other for a moment as Vergil forced his mouth to say the words his brain had already decided he needed to say.  “Thank you.” 

Nero looked embarrassed. “Just don’t let me down.” He said. “Or I’ll have to kick your ass again.”

Vergil narrowed his eyes, but felt himself smirk regardless. “I would have won had I not just defeated Dante.”

“I knocked him out.” Nero said. “And then proceeded to knock you around.” He grinned. “I’d be happy to do it again.”

Vergil clicked Yamato as Nero reached for Red Queen. Corrin looked between them, but didn’t move. It was a yawn in Vergil’s pocket that stopped them both. Calcifer’s head popped out as he looked up at Vergil. “Is it dinner time?” He said. 

“We’ll settle this later.” Nero said with a quiet laugh. “Keep the phone. Visit when you can… and call if you need anything.” He waved as he left, not waiting for a response. 

Calcifer crawled out of Vergil’s pocket and hopped to the floor. “You look sleepy.” He said as he pranced to Corrin.

“Just have a lot on my mind.” She said as she turned another page. “I see now why Pythagoras wanted my help. Though I wonder what he would have done without me.”

“He would have let the rituals happen and make notes for later.” Vergil said.

“Yes…” She said. “He doesn’t seem like the helpful type.” She stopped on a page in the middle. “This is my mother’s work.” She said as she turned the book toward him. Various sketches of souls with demonic marks filled the pages. Only one was the flame Vergil recognized, while the others were different shapes and sizes with different marks and colors. Each one had an animal drawn either right outside or within them. “Same concept, at least.” She said. “Whoever made these likely has pieces of her old work, but not everything.”

“What was she trying to do?”

“My mother’s greatest power was her ability to shield souls. It’s something that I was learning before she passed away.” She pulled the book back and started leafing through it again. “After hundreds of years, she learned she could weave a veil that could fool the person’s soul itself. If successful, she could change their entire perspective on life.”

Vergil frowned. “What does that mean?” 

“The soul is the center of a person.” She says. “It shows everything. Emotions, previous trauma, illnesses, and so on. My mother believed that if you could convince the soul of something that isn’t true, theoretically the body and mind would believe it. She wanted to use it to heal people, but it was risky. I don’t think she ever tried it on humans.”

“But if you could convince a human that it’s a demon…”

She nodded with a slight smile. “And Pythagoras thinks I’m the smart one.” Vergil rolled his eyes, but said nothing. “I can’t say for certain with the drawings we have, but I think that’s what they’re trying to do. Instead of “summoning” demons in the traditional way, they’re trying to build them from dead human souls.” She frowned. “A reaver alone couldn’t do that.”

“A demon prince could.”

“Maybe.” She sighed as she sat the book down beside her. “My lack of experience in the human world is becoming a detriment.” 

Vergil raised an eyebrow. “How so?”

“I can still hear them.” She muttered. “Screaming.” She tilted her head back slightly. “I can ignore the souls somewhat, but they’re very loud and distracting. I should have learned to deal with this twenty years ago.”

“But you couldn’t escape on your own?”

“Without my second half.” She said. “No.”

“How did you get it?”

“I had a good teacher.” She said. “It took a few years, though. And a lot of bruises.” 

“What happened to him?”

“He left.” She said. “We figured out how to open a portal between the worlds, but Calcifer was too young to leave. We weren’t certain what would happen to me on the other side. So he went alone, and promised he would come back.”

“But he didn’t.”

“Not exactly, no.”

Vergil paused. “Do you miss him?”

Her eyes met his, and he swore he saw a flicker of amusement in them. “I used to.” She said. “But not lately.”

“Why not?”

Calcifer snorted. “Why do you think, blue-man?” 

Vergil forced down the sudden, curious lump in his throat. Corrin glared at the dragon. Calcifer licked her face with what could qualify as a cheeky grin. She sighed. “It’s not important.” She said. “Will you be able to fly soon, Calcifer?”

“I think so.” Calcifer chirped. 

“Good.” She said. “We’ll stretch your wings before our mission.”

“Will Mr. Vergil come?”

“You can’t carry two people.” Corrin said.

“He’s a dragon too, silly.”

“Not exactly.” Vergil said. 

Calcifer stuck his tongue out at him. “Still counts.”

Corrin’s eyes fluttered as she pet Calcifer’s head. Vergil frowned. He had no need for sleep, so he had assumed other half-demons were the same. Clearly, he was wrong. Or there’s something else going on. He thought, mildly surprised when it was his own voice, and not Griffin’s, that posed the question. “Are you certain you can handle this?”

She tilted her head slightly. “What do you mean?”

“This Samael isn’t as strong as Mundus.” Vergil said. “But I doubt he or Gaius will be defeated so quickly. There will be more deaths.”

She closed her eyes for a moment. “I know.” She said. “But this is who I am. If I don’t learn now, then I may as well go back to my solitude in the Underworld.” She looked out of the window with a solemn expression on her face. “I would rather face the pain out here than feel nothing at all.”

Vergil, to some degree, understood that feeling too. Emptiness had always been something he had tried to avoid, but a feeling that had always come back to him. Every time he lost or failed. Even with his nightmares destroyed, his memories of his time under Mundus’ control were still there. Still a haunting reminder of how painful and lonely life could be. At least, now he could relate to her somewhat. His human half made certain of that. She was more intuned with her human emotions than he was, but lacked experience. And she needed to be strong. He could kill any demon that crossed them, but handling their souls was another matter entirely. 

“You need more practice.” He said as he glanced to the desk. 

“Wouldn’t hurt to take some of those missions Dante mentioned.” Corrin said. 

Vergil grimaced. Dante would like that idea a little too much. But it was the best option they had. “Tomorrow, then.” He said finally. “Now sleep.”

Chapter Text

The week went by much faster than Vergil expected. Blissfully so, as the mundane missions were becoming quite tedious the more he did them. It didn’t help that Dante was incessant on following Vergil around wherever he went and always seemed to know if he did manage to slip out without him. It was almost like handling a really excited dog, except this one could crack "jokes", drive demon motorcycles, and pestered Vergil relentlessly.

As Dante killed a pack of demons that Vergil could have easily dispatched on his own, the elder twin growled as he sheathed Yamato. “Your meddling is growing tiresome.” His voice was nearly drowned out by the engine of Dante's infernal motorcycle. Vergil didn’t understand why his brother bothered with that thing. It wasn’t nearly as good as his Devil Sword. It killed things both slower and left an excessive amount of blood. Half the time, Dante just used it to knock small demons around until he eventually ran them over. And it was so loud. Always as much as Dante himself. At least here he could take a shower, if he remembered.

Dante hopped off the bike with a flourish. It vanished as he grinned at Vergil.” I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He said. “Just keeping an eye on my little brother.”

Vergil’s eyes narrowed, but Dante had already walked away with his hands behind his head. That, too, was becoming a favorite joke of Dante’s. Easy to throw Vergil’s own insult back at him, and he cared little for logical explanations. “You know?” Dante said. “I’ve always imagined this.”

“Annoying me to death?”

“Well that’s inevitable.” Dante said. “You always did have a stick up your ass.” That earned him an energy sword through the chest. Dante put his hands on his hips and sighed dramatically without removing it. “V didn’t though. So there’s hope for you yet.”

Dante had only spoke of V a few times over the years. While Vergil never denied his human half, he didn’t like talking about him either. V had done things Vergil would never dream of. Especially not in front of other people. And his memories, while there, felt disconnected. He barely remembered what Urizen thought, as that mindless demon’s one track mind barely acknowledged the destruction he caused. But V…

Everyone else liked V, to some degree. They trusted him. Not Vergil.

A blue sword shot at Vergil, but he dissipated it before it hit. “Dropping it would have been sufficient.” He said.

“Had to check those reflexes.”

“Unnecessary.”

“I saw that distracted look.” Dante said. “I might have gotten lucky.”

“Cheap shots are beneath you.”

“Easy points.”

“Clearly not.” Vergil said.

“Is that a challenge?” Dante said. “Cuz I’d be down for that.”

Dante had been “down for that” every day since they’d come back. Vergil, while never opposed to it, didn’t really know why. Dante had progressively gotten bored in the Underworld where they had limitless time, space, and other things to kill. Now that they didn’t, and there were less places they would be seen, Dante was more energized than ever “As easy as it would be to defeat you here,” Vergil said. “I believe we had other plans.”

“Ah yes,” Dante said. “The kid’s probably bored out of his mind just waiting around in Morrison’s office, and I’d like to keep my two point lead for now.”

“Our last duel ended in a draw.”

“But I bought the piano.” Dante said with a wink.

Vergil scowled. It had been a day after their meeting with Pythagoras that Vergil returned from some solitary demon killing to find Dante carrying an entire Grand Piano into Devil May Cry. “A welcoming gift for our newest partner!” He had shouted before unceremoniously dropping it in the middle of the lobby. The piano hadn’t broken, but the floor did. Corrin, who had taken to studying history and science books in her spare time, just stared at him blankly. Dante, then tapped the piano so hard it pushed it deeper into the floor and said, “You’re welcome.”

Corrin had blushed before mumbling a thank you. And while she had tried to hide her excitement, Vergil had felt it- a growing side effect of the tether - and Corrin had played it every night since. Never when Dante was home, but often enough. Then, Dante had teased Vergil about it for twelve hours straight until the two fought it out.

“I do not care what furniture you fill that deplorable place with.” Vergil said.

“You just wish you’d done it first”

“I thought no such thing.”

“Keep telling yourself that.” Dante summoned his motorcycle beneath him and revved it for good measure. “Meet at Morrison’s or that mansion that definitely isn’t a trap?”

“The latter.” Vergil said as he reached for Yamato. He didn’t dislike Morrison, but he wasn’t in the mood to meet with really any one he didn’t have to.

“Perfect.” Dante said. “You go pick up your girl, and I’ll get the kid.” He took off with a whoop of delight before Vergil could respond.

“She is not my girl.” he muttered, tether technicalities aside. He swore he could hear Dante laughing somewhere in the distance.

As he moved to cut open the portal, he felt something behind him. Not a demon, per say, but a nagging feeling that tugged on what he was coming to learn was his soul. Not as strongly as Corrin or even Calcifer could, but perplexing regardless. He glanced behind him, unwilling to give away that he had felt it at all. There, in the entrance to another alleyway, sat a gray wolf. It was as still as a statue with only the small movements of its breathing giving it away. And it was watching him, clearly aware that it had caught Vergil’s attention.

“I pray I did not startle you.” It said, its voice distinctly female. An older, more mature sound than anyone else he’d heard.

Nothing startled Vergil, but he didn’t say it. “What do you want?”

The wolf chuckled slightly as she bowed her head. “I had heard rumors, Son of Sparda, but you are much more intimidating in person.”

“If you have something to say…”

“Gaius is here.” She said. “And you cannot kill him.”

“Is that so?”

The wolf nodded. “He has warped his own soul to match the monsters he creates. And you do not have the training necessary to harm it.”

“I am more than capable of killing anything I wish.” Vergil said icily.

“The body does not matter if the soul survives.”

“What “training” do you speak of?”

The wolf paused for a moment. “I am surprised your mate has not shown you yet.”

“My what?” Vergil said with a slight snarl.

Her head snapped up to meet his. “You are only her tether?”

“Yes.” Had Corrin intended on them being anything else? She had never brought it up. From what little Vergil know of demonesses, many were intrinsically bound to the mates they chose. Some to the point of madness if they weren’t claimed. She had yet to show any symptoms of that. Or any real desire, as caught up in the endless stream of library books that she was.

“.... I see.” She sounded unconvinced, but resumed her respectful bow. “It will be less efficient, but she can still teach you.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Vergil opened a portal. This conversation was going nowhere quickly, and he had what he needed.

“Please protect her.” The wolf said softly. Vergil glanced behind him again. The voice was slightly different this time. Lower. “Death is coming, and I cannot save her again.” As another howl echoed in the distance, the wolf turned and left. Vergil watched it for a moment before stepping through the portal back to Devil May Cry.


 

“So this is where Pythy sent you?” Dante said.

“That’s right.” Vergil said.

“Why this place?” Nero said with a frown.

“Where better to hold a party?” Dante said. “Maybe Vergil will actually bring the drinks this time.”

“.... Are you still going on about that?”

“Until you throw a good one, yes.”

Vergil resisted the urge to roll his eyes. That would be beneath him. Instead, he focused on the scene, if only to distract himself from Dante and Nero’s incessant chatter. The address the librarian had given them was to a mansion in an area Nero called “the old, rich man’s district” in Redgrave. The place sat on a hilltop, overlooking dozens of other, equally lavish homes. But it, and all the others, were dilapidated at best. Most had been destroyed, and Vergil assumed this three story behemoth had only escaped total annihilation because of its location. Even so, all of the windows were broken. The door that was much too tall for its’ own good had been battered inward and barely holding on by a single, golden hinge. The second half was missing completely. Broken furniture laid scattered on the front lawn, and the fountain outside had been shoved over at some point over the years. Only a small, marble wing told Vergil what it might have been.

“Cor find anything?” Dante said.

“I’m not a mind reader.” Vergil said. Calcifer was a mile up in the sky, hovering just outside of the estate.

“Tether doesn't clue you in?” Nero said. At least he sounded somewhat interested.

“It doesn’t work that way.”

“A pity.” Dante said. “Imagine how useful that would be.”

“It would be a distraction.” Vergil muttered. Calcifer swooped down toward them. As he approached, Corrin hopped off his back and landed with a light thud.

Dante gave her a thumbs up. “I’d give that landing a seven.”

“I’ll be sure to give you a good twirl next time.” Corrin said.

“Don’t forget the dramatic timing.” Dante said. “Crack a smile and pose for the camera. That’ll do the trick.”

Nero scoffed. “Were you watching our movies again?”

“Absolutely.” Dante said. “Maybe I’ll try “get help” with Vergil someday...”

Vergil had no idea what that meant, but he was determined in that moment to never let it happen. “Did you find anything.” He said.

“A lot of souls.” She said. “Fifty, easily. All human except for three.”

“The three you met before?” Nero said.

Corrin shook her head. “One of them is for certain, though something is more wrong with him than usual. The other two, however, are demons of some kind. Neither are corrupted, but I have a feeling that won’t last forever.”

“That place is awfully quiet for fifty humans.” Dante said. Vergil had to agree. Despite the mansion’s size, it was impossible for a quantity of anything - especially humans - to be so quiet. His sensitive demon hearing could pick up on breathing from a mile away if he wanted to. But he heard nothing but the soft growls of the demons inside.

“Then what are we waiting out here for?” Nero said. He was itching for a fight. Vergil could feel it in his demonic aura. That and the younger devil-hunter had been pacing relentlessly behind them for the last five minutes. “I’ll handle the humans. You two one shot the bad guys. Simple.”

Too simple, Vergil thought. “Let us…”

Suddenly, Corrin grabbed at her chest with a sharp cry somewhere between surprise and pain. Vergil flinched as a wave of panic rushed through him, followed by a feeling he couldn’t identify. It was Dante who caught her. “Corrin, what's wrong?” He said as a hand wrapped around her waist. Vergil felt his demon half bristle, but he ignored it.

“They just…” Her breathing was heavy and irregular. The same symptoms from the grocery store. “They just died. All of them in an instant.” She looked like she was seconds from vomiting or passing out. “I don’t understand…”

The wolf’s words came back to him. She can still teach you. Vergil had avoided it since their visit to Pythagoras, but he couldn’t ignore the overwhelming pain through their tether. It was as if all the souls, every death, had dropped squarely on her shoulders, and she wasn’t strong enough to carry it.

Against his better judgment, he phased in front of her and knelt to meet her eyes. He ignored the quizzical eyebrow from Dante. “Show me.” He said as he held his hand out. Corrin eyed it somewhat wearily. “Now.” He said. Slowly, she pressed her fingers against his. The world changed in an instant. As expected, an invisible, overwhelming weight dropped straight on top of him. Countless prickles of discomfort swarmed his chest, but they were nothing like the pain he had experienced in the Underworld. Corrin, however, seemed to relax a little, as if he had taken some of the pain from her instead of simply feeling all that she did. Curious.

“Look.” She said. Vergil glanced behind him. In the base of the mansion, below the earth itself, was a cluster of gray souls. If Vergil listened hard enough, he could hear the echoes of voices. Some were screaming. Others chanted words of denial. Even more were crying. Then, one by one, they started to disappear. He heard Corrin gasp somewhere over everything else. “We have to get in there.”

“Dante.” Vergil said.

“On it.” Dante dashed off the rooftop and sprinted at demon speed toward the door. Nero followed after, revving Red Queen on his back.

“Can you maintain this,” Vergil said gesturing toward his hand. “If I let go?”

“Theoretically.” She said. “But I’ve never tried it. I doubt I’ll be able to fight much on a first attempt.”

“You have no need to.” Even if it was just him she wouldn’t have to. Three heirs of Sparda was overkill.

“One moment.” She said. Her fingers gripped his a little tighter. Her eyes flickered blue for half a second. Vergil felt a small tug on his chest, but nothing else happened. “That should do it, I think.” She said. “Lets go.”

He nodded and teleported to the front door, but pulled her aside as Dante and Nero barreled through. The final piece of the door snapped off of its hinges and slammed into the wall across from them. “Basement!” Dante called when they didn’t see anyone. Instead of going for the stairs, however, he summoned his devil sword and sliced the floor itself. He and Nero dropped, the latter with some kind of excited battle cry. Vergil was half surprised when that wasn’t followed by Cavaliere ramming into whatever they saw.

Corrin’s eyes, however, had drifted toward the ceiling. “He’s up there.” Vergil followed her gaze to a single soul. Half orange, half yellow. Perfectly divided like Corrin’s own.

“Gaius?” He said.

Corrin nodded. Beneath them, two demons shrieked so loudly that the foundation itself shuddered in annoyance. He could hear the second Dante engaged whatever it was, as a series of short shouts and nonsensical noises followed. Lightning crackled against the ceiling. “Be careful with that thing!” Nero shouted.

“Go.” Corrin said. “I can deal with him.”

Whether it was due to her body shaking, or the dread through the tether, Vergil didn’t believe her. Instead, he left her there and purposely walked up the steps until she got the hint. “You said something was wrong with him.” Vergil said as she caught up. He kept his voice low. Even though Gaius was another floor up, Vergil couldn’t be certain how good his hearing was.

“Look at his soul.” Corrin said.

“Its split, like yours.”

“It is corrupted.”

Vergil glanced at it again. “How do you know?”

“Look between the colors.” She said. “They’re bound by corruption.”

Vergil narrowed his eyes. Gaius’ soul was muddy to him. The colors themselves seemed to blend together. But, finally, he saw a dark shadow somewhere in the middle. “They look like threads.” Corrin said. “Like someone stitched him together.”

Vergil couldn’t see that, but he had no reason to doubt her. Suddenly, Gaius’ soul started moving to the left. Vergil teleported through the floor directly in front of it. A body slammed into him, rocketting backwards much further than Vergil expected. The blonde demon rolled over his shoulder and leapt to his feet. When his red eyes met Vergil’s he grinned. “What a treat!” He said. “Not one, but three descendants of Sparda in my own home?” He cackled like a madman, the veins in his face bulging to an unnatural degree. This time, Vergil saw the flashes of black around his soul. Like an internal fork of lightning striking him over and over.

Then he stopped, very suddenly as his eyes flickered to Vergil’s chest. Gaius’ eyes narrowed as his lips turned into a snarl. “You.” He said. “You are hers?” He rocketed forward like a rabid beast attacking its prey. Vergil impaled him on Yamato. The man looked mildly stunned before his face twisted back into a callous grin. “You are going to be fun.” Gaius grabbed the blade and pushed himself off, slicing through both hands in the process. When he hit the ground, a burst of demonic energy swept around him, healing every wound. The blackness on his soul expanded as it wrapped around him like an elaborate cocoon. Vergil fought to keep himself composed, but didn’t resheathe Yamato.

“Gaius.”

Corrin, who he had left downstairs almost by accident, leapt up the final set of stairs across from him. Gaius whipped around, his head bending backwards like a strange, rubber doll. Vergil heard the bones snap back into place as he pulled his neck back to look at her. He laughed again as his knees fell inward. He reminded Vergil of one of Pythagoras’ puppets if they could move without their master.

“Corrin.” Gaius said. “Oh, sweetheart, how I’ve missed you.”

A series of silver swords buried themselves into Gaius’ shoulder. He fell backwards, pinned to the floor. But the half-demon merely laughed again as he methodically pulled each one out. “I was surprised, you know, when I realized it was you messing with everything. But I’m not anymore.” He yanked the last one out and rose from the floor, resuming the same position he had before. “You always were a stubborn bitch.”

He shot at her this time. Corrin side stepped him and smacked the blunt side of her katana against his back. She phased toward Vergil as Gaius stumbled and slammed unceremoniously into the wall. His laughter never stopped. Madness. Corrin had described him. Vergil wondered if the sheer amount of dead souls beneath them was pushing him even further from reality. “Not giving into you is more survival that stubbornness.” Corrin said. She sounded tense.

“You fought me for so long, too.” Gaius said as he spun around, arms flailing wildly in all directions. “I had no choice, really.” His giddy look turned to a dark snarl within seconds. “And, despite all I did for you, you’ve still managed to elude me.” His eyes flickered to Vergil. “Does he know?” He said as his head tilted, dangerously close to his neck snapping in two. “How you pleaded for someone to save you? So pathetic and wonderful all at once.”

Fury swept through her half of the tether, but Corrin charged before he could stop her. Her sword embedded fully into Gaius’ chest and a burst of flames shoved him backwards. He slammed into the wall again, his shirt burned to ashes. Beneath it were dark red marks. Previous burn wounds, unhealed despite his demon heritage. The second time Corrin charged, a yellow sword appeared between them. She grunted as they collided. Gaius leaned in with that same, sickening grin. “I still remember.” He said. “I will always remember that look on your face.”

He swiped his sword. Corrin flew backwards, but Vergil phased forward and caught her before she slammed into the ground. He spun to set her down before swinging Yamato to catch Gaius’ sword. The latter sliced clean in two, slamming into the walls beside them before shattering against the ground. Vergil heard Corrin hiss in pain as one hit her, but Gaius was already moving. He collided with Vergil who kicked him over both himself and Corrin. The darkness around Gaius’ soul moved erratically, branching out in all different directions. It was the bull all over again, but faster. Gaius lunged again, but a burst of flames erupted from the ground and knocked him onto his back. Corrin’s staff had appeared now, and she didn’t let the flames subside. “We can’t kill him.” She said, glancing at Vergil. The emotions in her eyes, however, was indescribable. A terrible agony mixed with painful sadness. She was remembering something, but he didn’t know what.

“That’s right!” Gaius said as he hopped to his feet. The flames expanded. He didn’t try crossing them. “It’s a pity, really, how hard you drag others down, sweetheart.” Corrin flinched, but didn’t move. “First your poor father. Then your brother. Now a Son of Sparda.” He leaned his face into the flames until his eyes were even with Corrin again. “And I will savor every second of it.”

The flames turned blue. Gaius lurched backwards with a surprised howl of pain. He slapped at his face as he stumbled backwards toward a broken window on the other side of the hallway. “Keep fighting.” Gaius snarled as his demon features formed again. “You’ll never be worth anything anyway.”

He jumped backwards, slicing his arms on the broken glass of the window. Vergil teleported forward, but restrained himself from chasing after him. He saw now what the wolf had been trying to tell him. And, as much as it frustrated him, he didn’t know how to overcome it.

But he was not one to back down from a challenge.

He phased back to Corrin’s side. “You will teach me.” He said. “Everything you know.”

She didn’t look at him. "There’s a lot to understand before you can actually kill a soul. Especially one as demented as that.”

“I learn quickly.”

“The more you learn, the more you will feel.” Beneath them, one - or both - of the demons died. Their souls screamed in agony, but vanished a moment later. Vergil twitched slightly. He understood now, to some degree, why she had been so tense since the previous incident. Every soul, every death, was like a knife to his chest. He could imagine, if he wasn’t as controlled as he was, crumbling under the immense strain of each one. How Corrin was still standing was beyond him.

“It helps you, does it not?”

She hesitated, but slowly nodded. “Balancing the tether is always in my favor.” She said. “But it is a risk, Vergil. Reavers, other demons, every soul we come into contact with will know who you are, whether they realize it or not. And many will hate you for it.”

Vergil didn’t care about that. “Gaius already knew.”

“Gaius would know my tether regardless of its strength.” She said bitterly. “I am not surprised.”

“Why?”

She flinched. The wave of fear he felt after almost made him regret asking. “I can’t.” She said quietly. “Not right now. Please…” her voice trailed off but she still didn’t look at him.

He let it go. “You will teach me.” He said again. “If you are going to use me as your tether, then I will learn everything you know. Understand?”

Her eyes met his for the first time. “Are you certain?”

It was difficult for him to not growl in annoyance. “When have I ever expressed uncertainty in any of my decisions?”

Her eyes looked away, but he felt a prickle of amusement."I need a crystal." She said finally. "After that, I can teach you."

“We need more information.” He said. “Or Pythagoras won’t help either of us.”

The rev of an engine was the only warning Vergil got. He yanked Corirn toward himself as Dante burst through the floor at her feet. Corrin’s face flushed as he pulled her against his chest, but Vergil didn’t stop to think about it. “Have you lost your mind?” Vergil said as he forced his temper down.

“Considering the family I have,” Dante said as he hopped off the bike. “Most likely.” His eyes flickered between Corrin and Vergil and he grinned. “You’re welcome.”

Vergil blinked as Corrin pulled herself away. “What are you talking about?”

But Dante just laughed as he put his hand on Corrin’s shoulder. “I think we found what you need.”

“What about the bodies?” She said, her voice quiet.

“Gone.” Dante said. “All of them. As if they weren’t there in the first place. But we found lots of information. All in that demon scrawl I’ve never been able to read.”

“You could if you tried.” Vergil said.

“Uninterested.” Dante said with a wave of his hand. “I’ll leave you two to deal with that. I’ve got a date with someone special.”

“It’s after midnight.” Vergil said.

“Yep.” Dante said. “And I have to smooth things over before you show up and ruin it all.” He saluted them both before he jumped down through the hole of his own creation. Vergil heard Cavaliere ram through at least two walls before Dante burst out onto the street.

“Your brother is…” Corrin trailed off. “Strange.”


“That is generous of you.” Vergil said dryly.

“Come on, old man!” Nero shouted from downstairs. “Some of us have people waiting at home.”

Vergil scowled, but it softened a bit when Corrin chuckled. “Hopefully it will be enough for our favorite librarian.”

Vergil didn’t know why the word “our” caught him off guard. Maybe it was because “our” implied they were a single unit. An actual team. Were they? They had only done a few things together and, despite the tether, Vergil didn’t feel particularly bound to her. She hadn’t pulled him since the grocery store, nor had she insisted on always being there. But she clearly trusted him, even though he had practically gone out of his way to be alone.

Did he even want a partner?

His eyes met hers. She held his gaze without hesitation. In fact, she smiled at him, not bothered in the slightest. Not even Nero had managed that yet. “Yes.” Vergil said, his voice as calm as ever despite the slight hesitance. “It should be.”

“Let me deal with the souls.” She said. “Then we can go.”

Chapter Text

 

Vergil wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Pythagoras waiting on his throne when they arrived. For all he knew he had sent one of his puppets out to watch them. “Welcome back.” Pythagoras said in a tone that was anything but welcoming. “Do you have the information?”

Corrin pulled a book out of her bag. One of four and an impressive amount of papers. It wasn’t everything, but Pythagoras’ eyes lit up regardless. “As much as I could get.” She said. “And everything up here.” She tapped her forehead. The demon jumped down from the throne, but Corrin pulled the book away. “My sword?”

The demon scowled. With a snap, the puppet woman appeared and handed the sword to Corrin. She inspected the weapon before taking it. The reaver-forged katana vanished the second it touched her hand, and her white eye returned. “The books.” Pythagoras said. 

“Vergil’s first.”

The demon growled, but Corrin didn’t move. “You are pushing your luck, moon-child.”

“I have more information here than you could ever have dreamed of.” She said. “It’s only fair.”

The demon sighed in annoyance. He snapped his fingers and a second, shorter puppet appeared in a suit. “Take the spawn wherever he asks.” Pythagoras said. “Three books.”

“Four.” Corrin said. The rage on the elder demon’s face should have terrified any lesser demons. Corrin didn’t even flinch. “Four.” She said again with a smile. Vergil might have snorted if his eyes weren’t already drifting toward the books above him. It had been so long since he’d had proper access to the library. He was determined to make the best of it. 

Pythagoras glared at Vergil. “I see why you tolerate her.” He said. “Four books. That is all.” He pointed to Corrin. “You come with me.” He spun around with an impressive flourish, tossing his robe out behind him. The taller puppet lifted it as they climbed the stairs to the right. 

Corrin glanced at him. “Will that be enough?” 

“If he doesn't kill you for your insolence.” Vergil said with a hint of amusement.

“Feel free to avenge me if he does.” She said. She took a step forward, but stumbled. He caught her arm without thinking. “I’m fine.” She said.

“No you’re not.”

“Just tired.”

“You’re always tired.”

“I’m working on it.” She pulled away from him and adjusted her sleeve. After they retrieved the books and papers from the hidden room Nero found in the basement, Corrin had been forced to burn all the remaining souls. Thirty-seven that had been left untouched by the demons Dante and Nero had killed. Each one had drained her terribly, and she had quietly admitted to Vergil that only his steady soul and the power she had leant him had kept her conscious at all. “If you're serious about learning, then I’ll have more energy to spare.” She brushed her hair over her shoulder and reached for Calcifer. “Go with him.” She said to the dragon. 

“But you…” Calcifer said.

“I’ll be fine.” She said. “Go.” The dragon huffed, but glided to Vergil’s hand anyway. Corrin turned toward the stairs where Pythagoras stood, watching both of them. Whatever energy Corrin had left, she channelled all of it to bound up the stairs after him, as if she wasn’t tired at all. 

“She’s so stubborn.” Calcifer said as the three disappeared from view. 

Vergil was inclined to agree. “Master Vergil.” The puppet said with a bow. “Where shall I take you?”

“I need information on the Phoenix, Samael…” He paused. Two books were expected, but four was a real gift. It was unlikely that Pythagoras would ever let him back in after this. “Souls and reavers.” He said. The puppet nodded and led him up the opposite set of stairs without another word. 

 


 

Corrin was more than happy to hand everything over to Pythagoras and let him deal with it. She had been more worried that her offering wasn’t sufficient. But the demon would likely have killed her by now if that was true. Besides, the way he excitedly poured through the notes told her he was more than delighted with what she had. “I see.” The demon muttered every once and awhile as he read through things faster than Corrin could dream of. His assistant was jotting notes down, but she couldn’t guess what they were. There was a slight tether between them, so it was possible the demon was feeding her information directly from his thoughts. 

“And the bodies were gone?”

Corrin nodded. “Vanished. May not have been there in the first place.”

“I see.” He said again. “And did any of these souls have a shield on them?”

“No.” She said. “There was a symbol on the floor, but it was incomplete.”

“The fools likely drew it wrong.” He said as he tossed one of the books to the floor. 

“I believe so.” She said. “They needed to draw the shield before completing the circle.” 

“Strange.” The demon said. “If this was a coordinated experiment, then someone should have been keeping a better eye on it.”

“There was someone there” She said. “But he was… distracted.” She tried not to think of Gaius too much. While she had been prepared to see him, his obsession with taunting her - of making her remember - had shaken her more than she cared to admit. And worse, he knew what Vergil was to her. Sure, Vergil would think he was referring to the tether, but Corrin knew it was much more than that. Gaius knew Vergil was her soulmate, which meant Gaius knew he had failed. “Have there been other rituals like this?”

“Plenty.” he said. “Redgrave is a haven for stupidity. Careless humans who think they can call on the devil to do their bidding. Most just end up killing themselves. This is the first I’ve seen of humans willingly turning their souls over to a demon.”

“It’s possible they didn’t know” Corrin said. Her vision became blurry as she tried to sit up straight. She blinked a few times to dispel it. Calling herself  “tired” was an understatement.

“What did they expect to happen?” Pythagoras said with a low snort. “The demon would protect them? Bring them back from the dead? Preposterous.”

It was entirely possible. Gaius was a master manipulator. Even in his madness, he had known exactly what to say to get to her. Exactly what to do to get both her and Vergil to try and kill him. A corrupted soul’s dream. He was stronger now, and Corrin was lucky that she had managed to realize it before making it worse. At least Vergil, somehow, recognized it before she did, as he would have been much more effective at “killing” Gaius than she ever would be. “Faith is a powerful thing.” She muttered.

He grunted. “Or blinding.” He snapped his fingers and a third puppet appeared with a goblet in her hand. “Drink.” He said. Corrin eyed it wearily. Pythagoras slammed his hand on the table. “If I wanted to kill you girl I would have done it sooner, and certainly not with your soulmate in my establishment.”

Corrin’s heart lurched into her chest. “What did you…”

“Don’t think I don’t know.” He said. “Now drink.” Corrin took the cup numbly and swallowed it in a single gulp. It burned her throat as it went down, and tasted terrible, but her exhaustion went away almost immediately. 

“Thank you.”

He grunted as he hopped down from his chair. “You haven’t told him. Do you not trust him?”

Deep shame filled Corrin’s heart. She swallowed it, praying that Vergil didn’t feel it. “He doesn’t remember.” She said. “Anything.”

“So that’s how you’ve survived this long.” Pythagoras said. “By my calculations, you should have died seven, maybe eight years ago.”

“I almost did.” She said. “But he saved me.”

The demon grunted. “And what did you do to convince him of that?”

Corrin narrowed her eyes. “I thought our deal was complete.”

After a long moment, Pythagoras burst into deep laughter. “Stupid, clever girl.” He said. He lifted the lid of a box from his desk and pulled out a thin silver chain. On the end was a perfectly crafted crystal in the shape of a diamond with a flat and smooth back. Corrin stared at it. She would not find a better specimen anywhere in this world. “A resonator.” The demon said as he waddled toward her. “But you knew that already.”

“What do you want for it?” She asked. 

“Answer my questions.”  He said. “And don’t worry. The Spawn of Sparda can’t hear you.”

Corrin thought it foolish to trust this demon, but he had no reason to lie to her. If Vergil could hear them, he already knew the truth. “He had been with me for a year at that time.” She said. “I was working on cleaning Mundus’ corruption from his soul.”

“Must have been a slow process.” The demon said. 

“Slower than I thought.”

“How long?”

“A year to remember who he was. Three more to remove the corruption entirely.” 

Pythagoras hummed in thought. “His soul should have been corrupted beyond repair. How did you avoid killing him?”

Corrin snorted. She was confident that she had no chance to even touch Vergil in a fair fight, much less kill him. Especially not the corrupted version of him. “As you said, he is my soulmate. That allowed me to resonate with the small pieces of his soul that Mundus hadn’t reached.”

“The clean pieces of his soul recognized you?”

“Yes.”

"But you never finished the tether?"

Corrin sighed. "No."

The demon grunted again. “That is very foolish of you.” He said. 

“I am aware.” Corrin said. “But I refuse to force him into anything he does not agree to.”

“He is your soulmate.” Pythagoras said. “He doesn’t have a choice.”

“But I am giving him one.” I promised. 

The demon’s frown deepened. “You are not your mother.” 

“No,” Corrin said quietly. “I’m not.”

“You have much to learn, moon-child.”

“I know.”

“And learn you shall.” The demon dropped the resonator into her hand. It reacted to her power instantly, sparkling a midnight blue before turning clear again. “And you will return here when you have more to say.”

He disappeared before Corrin could ask what that meant.

 


 

Dante tried his best to keep the peace, but he knew the second Vergil came back that everything was going to blow up in his face.

Lady, in particular, was not happy about his brother’s return. Dante didn’t blame her. Lady’s interactions with Vergil had been negative at best. She didn’t know him beyond what he had done with the Temen-ni-gru and the Qliphoth. She had been furious when Dante told her the news. She even demanded they send Vergil back or risk “making everything worse”. Dante, of course, had been against this. But Lady wasn’t having it. Only Nero had convinced her to at least try and accept that Vergil was back, but they all knew she didn’t like it.

Trish was more quiet about the whole thing. She had had some interactions with V, more than Lady. Trish told Dante that V had been stricken with guilt when he realized what he had done. After the last few years with Vergil, Dante believed it. While his human form had been more expressive, Dante still saw the guilt in Vergil’s eyes when he was quiet for too long. He still felt the stress Vergil was under whenever they tried to spar. Still noticed the frustration in his features when he was reminded of what he had done. 

Dante wanted desperately to believe in his brother. And he did, to some degree. His brother’s conversations with Nero were solid, if a bit awkward. He had nothing but respect for Kyrie, and hadn’t tried to murder anyone recently (as far as Dante knew). After the demon attack, it was Vergil who had started a plan first. Vergil who swallowed his pride and took Corrin to his special library knowing full well that Pythy would never listen to the blue-devil alone. To the others, it looked like a simple gesture, but Dante knew his brother was thinking much further ahead. 

For once, it seemed to be to the world’s benefit. 

Deep down, though, Dante was most grateful for Corrin’s existence. She was something new to his brother. An unexplainable part of the demon world that Vergil had never heard of. Something to focus on and learn from. A distraction, if he actually used it. While Vergil hadn’t spent too much time with her beyond a few missions - which Dante always went on with them - he had an obvious soft spot for her. Enough to critique her fighting and give his usual backhanded compliments. And Corrin had thanked him for each one, even though Dante thought she would be better off smacking his brother upside the head.

“Where are they?” Lady said. The sun was almost up now, and they had all stayed up overnight waiting. Dante had tried to tell them that the pair likely wouldn’t be home for awhile, especially if they were dealing with Pythagoras, but Lady wasn’t happy.

“Relax.” Dante said as he sipped a beer Trish had brought him. He hadn’t drank in such a long time, but he could feel that familiar, fuzzy feeling in his head. At least he didn’t feel the need to drink himself into oblivion. Thankfully, as his demon half absorbed alcohol even better than it had before. But it felt right. Sitting here in Devil May Cry with two of his favorite women in the world and a drink in his hand. Here, he was still old, goofy Dante. The man who could drink everyone under the table and still have enough energy to spare. 

The world didn’t feel as heavy when that Dante tried to carry it. 

“There’s a demon prince out there trying to cross into our world and your brother is missing.” Lady said with a scowl. She looked exhausted, but only the end of the world itself would convince her to sleep before Vergil came back. Dante knew she needed proof of his intentions. Anything to give her some hope. He wasn’t certain if Vergil walking into Devil May Cry would be enough. It would likely take months, maybe years, before she trusted him. 

“He’s not missing.” Dante said. “I guarantee he’s with Corrin.”

“And the fact that you trust him with her is another problem entirely.” Lady threw her hands up in the air. “If she’s the only person who can see these souls or whatever.”

“She trusts him.” Dante said. 

“She doesn’t know him.” Lady said. 

Dante shrugged. “It was her choice.” Dante didn’t understand the whole “soul tether” thing, but he had heard what she said before she made it. And Dante had seen that “bond” in Vergil himself. When they had gone shopping, Vergil had looked jittery and uncomfortable. He had managed to hide it from Nero, but not Dante. Even on Vergil’s “solo” missions - which Dante almost always followed him out on, much to his brother’s chagrin - he looked more distracted the further they got from Devil May Cry. Though it was impossible for Dante to know if that was simply a coincidence. 

“Dante!” Lady said, yanking him from his thoughts. 

“What’s up?” Dante said as he took another swig from the bottle.

She scowled. “Did you tell her what he did?”

“Oh she knows.” Maybe not about the Temen-ni-gru, but she certainly felt the Qliphoth problem. 

“You should have talked her out of it.”

“I’m not her father.” Dante said. Thank the devil for that. He would have been disappointed if they were related. “How would you feel if I tried to tell you what to do?”

“I’m not fraternizing with the devil.” Lady said.

“Well actually…” Dante said with a sly grin. 

“You know what I meant.”

“Feel free to fight with them about it.” Dante said as he tossed the bottle away. He missed the trash can and the bottle shattered into a mess of tiny shards. Nobody moved to clean it up. “I’d rather use my energy elsewhere.”

The door opened, and Dante wasn’t sure if this was the best time for Vergil to walk in or the worst. His brother's eyes shifted between Lady and Trish and, although he didn’t look particularly surprised, he wasn't happy either. Corrin was beside him, holding onto his arm. Dante almost smirked at the sight, except she looked exhausted. “Welcome home.” Dante said. 

“Thanks” Corrin said. Her gray eyes flickered between the women. “You must be Trish and Lady.”

"And you Corrin." Trish said with a curt nod.

"Sit." Vergil said calmly as he nudged Corrin toward the couch. 

"She's not a dog." Lady said, arms crossed as she glared at Vergil with everything she had. 

Vergil, however, didn't even flinch. "She is none of your concern, Mary." 

Dante sighed. It was very like Vergil to antagonize her, but Dante had really hoped he wouldn't. "Oh good." Lady said. "You're still an asshole. What a surprise." Lady jut her finger out toward him. “Don’t think I trust you, devil-boy.”

“I thought nothing of the sort.” 

"Please,” Corrin said. “Don’t start fighting.” She unceremoniously plopped on the couch. That wasn't like her. Dante glanced at Vergil, but he was watching her instead. Was that concern on his face? A brief flash, but something nonetheless. When Dante cracked a smile, however, Vergil seemed to notice and quickly averted his gaze to a spot past Dante’s head. Can’t fool me. Dante thought. 

Lady stood in front of Corrin, hands on her hips. "You don't have to listen to him." She said. Her voice was softer than Dante thought it would be. He knew that Lady, to some degree, thought that Corrin had been coerced or forced into this partnership with his brother. She hadn’t believed Dante when he told her otherwise. 

Corrin tilted her head back to meet the woman's gaze. "He has some very good ideas." She said. Dante was impressed at how strong she made her voice sound. It was very clear that she'd rather be sleeping. But she remained composed. Dante wondered what she was seeing right now. Could she sense the animosity in Lady’s soul or the hesitation in Trish’s? Could she feel his worry or whatever silent emotion Vergil was feeling? Or was she too tired and shooting answers into the dark and hoped one of them would calm Lady down?

"Listen to me." Lady said. "You have to give this tether thing to someone else." Vergil's eyes narrowed, but, to Dante's surprise, be said nothing. "Dante. Nero. Hell, give it to Trish if you want. But Vergil 's the last person who should have it. When he's involved in anything, people die." 

"People are already dying." Corrin said. "And I can assure you it’s not his fault." 

"You don't understand." 

"I do understand " Corrin said. "More than you know." 

"You don't know him." Lady said. 

"I know him better than you think." Corrin said. 

Vergil's face flickered with an emotion Dante couldn’t identify. Surprise, maybe. It seemed more like a brief moment of curiosity. He certainly hadn't expected her to say that. Lady took a step back. She wasn't defeated, no, but her passion was nearly gone. "And what will you do if you're wrong?" She said. "You can't fight him." She glanced at Dante. "At least take him with…" 

"Do you know what death feels like?" Corrin said suddenly. Lady blinked. Trish shifted uncomfortably behind her. Vergil’s eyes snapped back to Corrin almost immediately. 

“I don’t.”

“Because I do.” Corrin said as she forced herself off the couch. Lady took another small step back. It was clear that every step Corrin took was painful. But she moved with a purpose. “I feel everything.” She said. “Every single death, both human and demon, in…” She paused. “I couldn’t begin to tell you how far away.” 

Dante’s eyes met Vergil’s. The elder twin nodded. He already knew this. “But you know what bothers me the most?” Corrin said. Lady shook her head. “The ones right next to me. The ones I can’t hope to save. The souls who beg me to bring them back, and scream in agony when they realize I cannot. To them, I am death. The last thing they see before they go off into the unknown. Most of them hate me for it.”

Silence fell over the room. “So,” Corrin continued, her voice more tired than before. “I am choosing to tether to the one person that can get me through it.”

“Because he doesn't care.” Lady said, her voice quiet. Dante could see a hint of tears in her eyes. “He has killed thousands of people, and not once has he ever shown remorse. Not this version of him. Not Vergil.” That wasn’t true. At least, not to Dante. Sure, his brother had never outright said it, but he clearly understood what he had done. Dante knew that, deep down, Vergil had agreed to tether with Corrin because he felt obligated to. It was only a small, unexpected plus that they might be a decent team. But Vergil didn’t defend himself, and Dante didn’t dare try to do it for him. 

“He cares that I live.” Corrin said. “Right now, that’s enough.”

She phased back to the couch, closed her eyes, and said nothing more. After another moment of silence, Lady stormed out of the office, slamming the already broken front door behind her. Trish sighed. “I’ll talk to her.” She said. 

“Why bother," Vergil said. “If you feel the same?”

Trish flinched, unable to meet his gaze. “Because our feelings aren’t important right now.” Trish said. “And she needs to know that.” She nodded once to Dante and left. 

Dante sighed as he leaned back in his chair. “Well that went better than expected.” He said as he tried to give Vergil his normal, laid back smile. Either his twin didn’t notice, or didn’t believe it. He let the facade go. No use acting now. “Are you okay?” He said. 

“Her opinion is valid.” Vergil said curtly as he grabbed Corrin’s bag off her shoulders and moved toward the stairs.

“It doesn’t make it any easier.” Dante said. 

“I do not concern myself with how others feel about me.” Vergil said.

“You do a little bit.” Dante said. “Or you wouldn’t be tolerating Corrin.”

“If you are insinuating that…”

“Don’t.” Dante held up his hand. “I’m too tired for the dictionary right now.” Vergil scowled, but Dante started talking before he could. “You know you can trust me, right? With whatever’s going on in that head of yours?” 

Vergil watched him for a moment, but walked up the stairs without another word. Dante sighed. It would be unfair of him to assume Vergil could trust anyone as fast as Dante was willing to trust him. And Dante would be lying if he denied the creeping doubt in his own head. He wished he could cut it out of himself and be done with it. Nobody knew who to trust. Not even Vergil himself. 

But Dante did know how to push his brother’s buttons. And that was often better than nothing.

“Well now.” Dante said, a bit louder than usual as he moved to Corrin. She was asleep already, and didn’t stir even when he knelt in front of her. Calcifer, however, stared at him like he had grown a second head.

“What are you doing?” The dragon said. 

“I’m taking Corrin upstairs.” Dante said with a grin. “It would be rude of me to leave a beautiful woman sleeping in our lobby. Who knows what unsavory types might…”

Vergil appeared for half a second and glared at Dante, before disappearing with Corrin in tow. Dante chuckled. Oh brother. He thought. What am I gonna do with you?

Chapter Text

For the next two days, Vergil did nothing but read.

It was easier to focus once Dante left. Thankfully, as it had been about two decades since he had read anything in the demonic language. He could speak it fluently, but translating the mess that Pythagoras called “pristine handwriting” was another task entirely. It took almost six hours just to piece full paragraphs together, a slow crawl that frustrated him more than he cared to admit.

Surprisingly, it was Calcifer who came to his aid. The dragon was smarter than Vergil had given him credit for. Though, he suspected that Corrin was involved. Calcier’s speech was calmer, and his eyes flickered a familiar dark blue more than once. But Vergil wouldn’t turn down an extra pair of eyes. Demon books were always much larger and more condensed than they seemed. Especially ones written by Pythagoras. Lines didn’t exist in the demon world, and it was easy to lose track of a sentence when they started wrapping around each other.

“The Phoenix was the first of the reavers,” Calcifer read from the book Vergil had left open for him. He too had taken a good amount of time to piece anything together. But, it was clear that the dragon - or the women that may or may not be in his head - had read it more recently than Vergil had. “While other reavers have children that inherit their power, the Phoenix transfers their powers upon death, most often to their tether.” His little dragon eyes squinted as he peered closer at the writing. “This demon really needs to work on his letters.”

“What else does it say?” Vergil said.

Calcifer cleared his throat. “His attunement to life sets him apart from his brethren, as the way he sees souls is very different. Further information is needed.”

“Attunement to life.” Vergil repeated. That was a strange way to put it. He glanced through his own book - a history of reavers he’d managed to find - and looked for anything that might explain it. Pythagoras was smart, but frustrating. His books were insightful, but he tended to ramble. It had taken Vergil almost an hour to choose the four books he had, and there had been hundreds to choose from between “souls” and “reavers” alone.

“Celeste used that word once or twice.” Calcifer said. Vergil was certain now that Corrin was speaking through the dragon. Curious, as she was dueling Nero outside his window. “I’ve never heard it related to life or death though. Usually it’s an attunement to emotions or thoughts or guilt.”

“Which one is Corrin attuned with?” Vergil said.

Calcifer paused. “I don’t know.”

Vergil raised an eyebrow. “What does she see the most?”

“A little bit of everything.” Calcifer’s head tilted. “I suppose emotions are the strongest.”

Vergil turned the page of his own book. “Keep going.”

Calcifer buried his head in the pages again. “While the Phoenix is capable of dispelling and healing souls quickly, he is the most susceptible to madness. All previous Phoenixes have required a powerful demon soulmate to survive. Despite this, the Phoenix is the most sympathetic towards humans. The reason for this is unclear.”

Soulmate. Vergil had glossed over that word a few times now. He moved back to another page and found it as the title of its own section. Curious. He hadn’t realized it was that important. He marked it for later and moved on. Outside, the clanging of metal paused for a brief moment. “You’re not too bad.” Nero said. Vergil could hear the grin in this tone.

“I will admit,” Corrin said. “This is entertaining.”

Vergil set the book down and moved to the window. The back of Devil May Cry led to an empty street. Corrin, who had been bursting with newfound energy since her unusually brief rest, had been eager to fight more. Vergil had yet to indulge her, as he had other things to do, but Nero had been happy to help. This was the first time, as far as Vergil was aware, that they had actually sparred.

“I don’t know why you prefer that sword, though.” Nero said. “No offense, but you don’t seem all that comfortable with it.”

“I’m not.” Corrin admitted. “That is why I am practicing.” She tossed the sword to her other hand and it transformed back into her staff before it landed. “Magic is much easier though.”

Nero laughed, his eyes gleaming. “No holding back.”

“Just don’t impale me.” Corrin said. “I’ve heard that’s a… thing in your family.”

“It’s practically how we say hello to each other.” Nero snorted. “I’ll be careful.”

Corirn pulled her staff back and ignited a flame in her hand. Nero charged first, swiping Red Queen in a wide arch. Corrin shifted backwards with each swing, barely dodging out of the way. On the last one, where Nero went for a vertical strike, she twirled to the side. Flames followed her, smacking into his sword as if they were solid. She recovered as the flames cleanly struck Nero. He flew backwards, but so did Corrin.

They both landed on their feet and ran at each other again. Nero swung. Corrin phased to the right. He flipped over a swipe of flame and sliced upward. It caught Corrin’s staff, but she let it go and kicked his feet out from under him. Nero caught himself with one hand and flipped backwards before charging again. Corrin’s staff dropped down in front of her and the two collided again. Nero pushed down on the staff, but it remained steady on its own as Corrin took a few steps backwards. Nero finally pushed himself away with a laugh.

“That might be cheating.”

“You won’t see my sword doing that.”

“I have no doubt.” He charged again. But this time, he threw his spectral devil breaker and grabbed her staff and tossed it away. Momentarily surprised, Corrin barely leapt out of the way before his sword came crashing down. She flipped backwards when he swung up and pulled her staff back. Red Queen hit it, throwing the staff into her with a large amount of force. Corrin slammed into a nearby wall. Vergil both felt and heard the crack of her shoulder.

Nero froze, eyes wide. He put Red Queen on his back and rushed to her side. “Are you okay?”

Corrin winced as she forced herself up. “I may not be a descendant of Sparda.” She said as she grabbed her arm. “But I am not that fragile.” She yanked it forward, popping her bones back into place. “Don’t worry.” She said with a smile.

Nero rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s hard sometimes,” he said. “To remember that other people aren’t… like them.” He gestured toward Vergil’s window.

“I’m fine.” She said. “Again?”

Vergil heard the sound of paper tearing behind him. He whipped around as Calcifer stared at him with a small corner of paper in his mouth. “I’m sorry, Mr. Vergil.” He said, his voice muffled as the paper stuck to his tongue. “I just wanted to turn the page.”

Vergil growled at him. Calcifer squeaked and skittered from the room. Vergil heard the door open downstairs before Calcifer spoke again. “Red-guy!” He yelled. “Mr. Vergil’s mad at me!”

“Is that so?” Dante said. “Well we can’t have that, can we?”

Vergil disappeared through a portal long before his brother made it up the stairs.


 

It was four in the morning when Vergil returned to his room. Nero was gone, and he could hear Dante sleeping downstairs. Corrin, however, was eerily quiet. Only the slight interest he felt through the tether gave her away. He teleported to the stairs, but stopped as he gazed down into the lobby. Corrin was sitting at the desk, papers stacked to one side with Calcifer sleeping on top, as she flipped through the pages of one of Pythagoras’ books. She scribbled things down on a notepad, occasionally, and mumbled to herself in a familiar demonic language.

Vergil hesitated. He could go back to his room without acknowledging her. Portal out before Dante woke up. Keep doing whatever he wanted to do. But he was coming to understand - through Dante’s not so subtle hints - that Corrin felt guilty about giving him the tether. She had admitted to Dante only once that she felt that she had forced Vergil’s hand. A foolish notion, as the thousands of angry souls would have certainly done something to him. He doubted that avoiding her would do anything to remedy that problem. But Vergil himself didn’t really know what to do either.

“I know she’s giving you space,” Dante had said. “But would it kill you to take her along once and awhile?”

Vergil sighed and purposely walked down the last set of stairs. Corrin looked up from her book and smiled. “Welcome back.’ She said. He nodded to her, and her gaze shifted back to the book. That was the extent of their conversations since the mission, as that would require small talk. And while Nero and Dante would brute force a conversation, Corrin left him alone.

So, with great effort, he said, “I believe we had an agreement, did we not?”

Her eyes snapped up in surprise. Vergil swallowed the moment of uneasiness in his chest and held her gaze. “Yes.” She said with a hint of hesitation. “I haven’t forgotten.”

“Have you located a crystal?”

She nodded. “Pythagoras gave me one.”

Vergil’s eyebrow raised. “Is that so?”

She put a piece of paper into her book and gently closed it shut. “I thought you changed your mind.”

“And why would I do that?”

“I don’t know.” She said. “You’ve been avoiding me so… My apologies for assuming.”

“I have not been avoiding…” Vergil paused. “You, in particular.”

“That’s what Dante said.” Corrin said as she moved past the desk. “But I didn’t want to bother you.”

A part of him was annoyed. Things would have been simpler had she just said something. But the more rational side of him knew that he had also made no effort after his original declaration to talk to her about it either. It was very easy to fall into a pattern of solitude, as Vergil didn’t really need anyone else. But Corrin did. With Gaius’ whereabouts unknown, and an unfortunate increase in human deaths, she never went on missions alone. Nero had Nico. Dante had Lady and Trish. And Corrin had…

You, you dummy. Griffin whispered. Vergil scowled, resisting the urge to swipe at his shoulder. Corrin, however, took a long step back. Vergil hadn’t realized he was staring directly at her. “I wasn’t trying to…” She started.

“I know.” Vergil cut her off. She flinched away and he silently cursed himself. This was why he avoided small talk. It never ended favorably. Interrogations, at the very least, gave him information. He forced his hand out as her eyes met his again. “Let me see it.”

He was surprised when she gave him a small chain. He had expected a giant crystal like the one Dante had used to get them out of the Underworld. But this was a thin, silver creation a bit longer than the width of the palm of his hand. Small, clear crystals were woven into the metal itself, shaped into perfect circles and strands. “I’ve been working on it for the past few days.” Corrin said. “Nero helped me buy the chain, though I doubt he knew what it was for. Then Calcifer and I fused it all together.”

“And the point of that was…?”

“I figured you’d want something you could hide easily.“ Though she held his gaze, she rocked from one foot to the other. If he focused hard enough, he could feel her nerves, but he let it go. “Since you have to wear it, between your jacket and your gloves I just figured…” She trailed off. “I’m rambling.” She muttered to herself as she looked away. “My apologies.”

“Stop apologizing.” He said, not entirely sure why it bothered him. Corrin hummed, but said nothing otherwise. Vergil glanced at the chain again. “How does it work?”

“This will allow you to see souls without direct contact with me. With practice of course.” She said. He could feel the excitement in both her smile and the tether. “This will act as a buffer. We’ll both still feel it, but there’s no risk of your soul accidentally devouring mine.”

It took him a second to work through what she said. “Accidently what?”

“Your soul is significantly stronger.” She said. “Between Sparda’s blood, the Qliphoth, and your devil trigger, it would be very easy for you to smother mine. And, since I need to access your soul to actually teach you, this lowers the strain on my own.”

“The tether doesn’t do it?”

She shook her head. “The tether connects you to me, not the other way around.”

“Why?”

She looked at him in disbelief, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “If it went the other way then the angry souls would think there’s two of you. Right now, in theory they should “see” two of me.” She said with accompanying air quotes.

“Shouldn’t the strain on the tether be even?”

She was quiet for a moment. “Don’t worry about that.”

He let it go with a frown. “And you want me to wear this?”

She nodded. “It needs time to acclimate to your soul.” A blue glow appeared within the crystals, but flickered out a second later. “You’ll need about two weeks to build the connection. Though you might be able to speed that up.”

“How?”

“If you make good memories, your soul will generate more energy.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Good memories?”

“You could make terrible ones if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”

A pause, then, “I’ll keep that in mind.” Vergil hooked the chain onto his wrist with relative ease. He tucked it just barely under his gloves before hiding it with his sleeve. When he looked up, he realized that Corrin’s soul had blinked into existence, one half white, the other a dark blue just as he remembered. Calcifer’s little blue soul flickered on the desk. He glanced at Dante just long enough to confirm that his red soul was there too. “Interesting.” He said more to himself than her.

“It will take time to get used to it.” Corrin said. “If it gets overwhelming, you’ll have to take that off. I’m afraid “reaver vision” doesn’t have an built-in off switch.”

Vergil grunted, if only to hide the chuckle of amusement that almost made its way out of his composed expression. “I’ll manage.” When he looked at her again, her eyes were downcast. “What?”

“I’ve never had someone to actually teach.” She said.

“Don’t get too excited.”

Corrin giggled. Vergil didn’t know why. “Lucky for you,” She said. “I have a fantastic memory.”

He looked away just in time to see a flicker of a smile on Dante’s face. He ignored it. “Not even your teacher?”

She snorted. “A distracting waste of time I believe he called it. Though reading demon souls is significantly less useful than human ones.”

“And how many of those have you read?” Vergil said.

“I’ve seen humans before, Vergil.” She said. “Both living and dead. It was easy for Celeste to pretend that her home was in the human world if someone needed her help. I just haven’t seen them in the process of dying.” She winced. “Still getting used to that one.”

The phone on the desk rang. Both of them flinched as their eyes drifted to it. Neither moved. Vergil had yet to answer the phone in their two weeks here. Corrin simply looked uncomfortable. Two rings later, it was Dante who sighed dramatically as he pushed himself off of the couch. “Don’t everyone answer it all at once.” He said with a teasing grin as he plopped down in front of the desk, startling Calcifer awake. He kicked the phone up with his foot and caught it between his shoulder and ear. “Devil May Cry.” He said.

Vergil heard the panicked young voice on the other end of the line. “I need help.”

Dante’s feet dropped off the desk as his expression immediately hardened. “Where are you?”

“My mom and dad….” The child sobbed. “They’re gone… everyone’s gone.”

“Where are you?” Dante repeated.

“Oaksburgh.” She said. Vergil had heard of that once from Nero. One of the many small community of survivors who had chosen a more rural lifestyle after the destruction of Redgrave. More importantly, he knew where that one was.

Dante’s eyes met his, and Vergil nodded as he reached for Yamato. “Listen to me.” Dante said. “Help is coming, but I need you to stay where you are…”

A crash echoed from the other side of the line. The girl screamed, and silence followed. Dante cursed as he tossed the phone. “Now.” He said, but Vergil had already opened the portal. His brother shot through it, vanishing in the blackness faster than Vergil could blink. He sheathed Yamato and stepped toward it before glancing back at Corrin. She was looking toward him, but her eyes were glazed over. He glanced back at the portal. Flickers of gray souls hovered somewhere inside, with a single white flame. He was surprised he could pick them out from the darkness at all.

“What do you see?” He said.

“There’s a corrupted soul there.” She said. “As bad as Gaius… Or close enough.” Vergil frowned. They all looked the same to him. “Oh no.” Corrin whispered. Alarm swept through him before he could block her emotions out.

“What is it?” He said.

“The girl.” She said as Calcifer landed on her shoulder. “We have to find her. Now.” She leapt through the portal with a small yelp from Calcifer. Vergil followed after, and the portal snapped shut.

Chapter Text

The smell of smoke hit Vergil almost as hard as the stabbing pain of death in his chest. It might have overwhelmed him if he had not been through much worse. Every house in the small village that was Oaksburgh was on fire. Vergil could see faint, gray souls within each of them. He had no way of knowing anything about them, nor did he waste his time. He could hear the sounds of demons fighting beyond the flames, but Dante himself was eerily quiet. Vergil could feel his devil-form, and knew he’d be fine on his own. The frantic desperation in Corrin’s half of the tether was much more of a distraction.

“Vergil.” Corrin said. “Look.”

On the left side of town, out into the burning fields, were a host of white souls. All of them seemed identical. But, when Vergil narrowed his eyes, he could see a glass like shimmer on them. Behind them all, was a twisted, black soul. Like a storm cloud hovering close to the earth. The bodies of the souls were obscured by a single building. “What are they?” He said.

“It’s unlikely you could feel it already, but the amount of energy coming from that direction is in no way proportionate to the amount of souls.” Corrin said as she crossed her arms. Her expression and voice were much, much calmer than her soul. “It’s rather strange, actually. If someone were hoping to confuse a reaver, that is the least likely way to achieve it.”

“And the corrupted is making no effort to hide their own soul.” Vergil said. “Seems counterintuitive.”

Corrin nodded. “The girl is there, though. Alive. But I cannot be certain who is with her.”

“Nor do we have time to question it.” 

“No,” Corrin said, her voice quiet. “We do not.” She reached her hand out toward his arm, but hesitated. 

“What?” He said. 

“I’ll just… run.” She said. 

Vergil grabbed her arm and teleported them to the roof of the farmhouse. She stumbled, but he kept her from tumbling off. Her cheeks flushed for a brief moment, but her eyes fixated on the sight before them. In the center of the fake souls were two people. One a blonde girl in a white nightgown no older than eleven or twelve. Beside her was a tall, slender woman in a risque black outfit and high heels. It was the eight appendages on her back, however, that pulled Vergil’s attention. It was like a giant, crystal spider had been grafted into her skin, but each one of the legs had a small, gray soul in them. The demon’s corrupted soul moved in an octagon like pattern between them, like a spider’s web, before darting to the middle of her chest and starting over again. She looked down at the child, and either hadn’t noticed them, or didn’t care.

“Dead souls.” Corrin whispered. “That’s a level of corruption I’ve never seen before. A human soul could never survive that… I’m surprised even a demon can.”

Vergil clicked Yamato absentmindedly. “We won’t be able to kill her either, then.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this.” She said. “But if she’s taken the girl…”

The fake souls in front of them cracked. A second later, they burst into jagged shapes and shot toward them. Vergil summoned his own energy swords and sliced through any that slipped by them. With all of the ones he destroyed, however, more appeared. Corrin summoned a wall of flames to stop the onslaught. A dozen more appeared on both sides of them. Vergil yanked Corrin back as she redirected the flames to cut some off and he sliced through the rest. “How is she making so many?” Corrin said. 

Vergil teleported forward and knocked the woman’s feet out from under her with Yamato’s scabbard. As she hit the ground, she shattered into a thousand tiny crystal shards. Vergil reached for the girl, but she vanished before he did. Surprised, he teleported back to Corrin’s side and reached for Yamato. A near translucent white barrier appeared around him, incinerating the shards. He glanced back at Corrin as she tossed Calcifer into the air. "I can still sense them." She said. "Further on." She leapt up into the sky as a larger Calcifer swooped beneath her. She landed with ease. "He can carry two people." She said, but didn't stop. Vergil triggered and followed after them. 

"I figured he'd do that." Calcifer's voice echoed in his head.

"Focus." Corrin said. "He's not used to you in this form." 

"Wait." Calcifer said. "Mr. Vergil can hear me?" 

"Focus." Corrin said again. Calcifer growled, but beat his wings faster as he climbed further into the sky. "That demon must be a reaver." 

Why? Vergil thought. It came out as a low growl. 

"To replicate souls that accurately… she must know what they look like." She glanced toward him. "At least, I'm assuming that's what you wanted to know." 

“If only he had a human form that could speak directly to you.” Calcifer said. Vergil growled at him - purposefully this time - and the dragon squeaked. His large form twitched fiercely enough that Corrin almost slid off. 

“Don’t antagonize him.” She hissed. Vergil glared at her. She glared back at him. “I was talking to Calcifer.” 

“There!” Calcifer said. He swooped downward so suddenly that Corrin yelped in surprise. Crystal shards appeared around him. Vergil sliced through one side. Corrin burned the other. Calcifer swung back up to dodge a larger one that shattered against the ground behind them both. At the edge of the decimated cornfield, were the same two souls from earlier. This time, while Vergil couldn’t quite explain it, these souls felt more real. Their energy, however faint they felt to him, was stronger than before. 

A large crystal appeared in front of Calcifer. Vergil teleported past, and Yamato turned it to dust. Another one dropped from the sky, slamming into Calcifer’s back. Corrin jumped off and held her hand out. A white light appeared between her and Calcifer, enveloping the dragon. Seconds before he slammed into the ground, his little form appeared in her hand. She summoned her Katana and used her flame to flip herself over another set of crystals before destroying them. Vergil caught her, and transformed back before teleporting toward the other souls. 

A wall of crystal appeared in front of him. He slashed Yamato forward. It bounced off. Surprised, he tried a second time. It only went through a fraction of an inch, but the wall reformed seconds later. "Impossible." He said. "Yamato can cut through anything." 

"Not this time, Son of Sparda." The demon turned toward them, her face twisted into a sharp toothed grin. Her beady white eyes looked like a spider's, sculpted out of the same crystal on her back. Behind her, the girl was held up by strands of something. A near invisible web that wrapped around her arms, legs, and her neck. Not tight enough to kill, but enough to render her immobile. Her eyes were glazed over and pupiless. Some kind of trance Vergil had never seen before. Her soul flickered, its energy waning. 

"This wall is never-ending." Corrin said. A quick glance in both directions confirmed it, as Vergil could see glitters of crystal miles away. He frowned. This magic was impossible. No creature, demon or otherwise, could create something this vast from nothing so quickly. Especially not something Yamato was incapable of destroying. Something was off, but he wasn’t certain what. 

“It is good that you are here, though.” The woman said. “I was hoping someone would be present to witness my new experiment.” 

Corrin pressed her hand to the wall. Flames flickered across it, before bursting backwards toward them. She pulled it away seconds from burning through Vergil’s clothing. He scowled. “I’d prefer to not be burned alive.”

“You’d heal through it.” She said with a tense shrug. 

As long as you foot the clothing bill. He thought but didn’t say it, as Dante’s voice was the only thing echoing that sentiment. 

“Let her go.” Corrin said.

The demon rolled her eyes. “How quaint of you… and terribly boring.” She shrugged and the spider legs twitched behind her. “I will continue to wonder why Gaius is so fond of you.” She snapped her fingers and a light red soul appeared. Corrin’s eyes snapped to it, and Vergil felt an uninhibited wave of surprise sweep through him. He winced and glared at her, but Corrin wasn’t paying him any attention. 

“What is it?” He said. 

“A demon soul.” Corrin responded. “I can’t be certain what it came from, exactly, but it’s one of the weaker ones.”

“An Empusa Queen, to be exact.” The demon said. “Strong enough to hold its own, but not possessed of any thoughts beyond primal instincts. The perfect place to start.” She held the soul up above her head as she turned toward the girl. 

“Wait!” Corrin said. Her hand slammed against the glass, but it didn’t budge. “You don’t mean to put that soul in her body.”

“Yes, technically.” The demon said. “But if I told you everything that would spoil all the fun.” As she moved toward the girl, Corrin summoned her sword and sliced furiously against the wall. 

“If Yamato can’t break it,” Vergil said dryly. “What makes you think you can?”

Her sword vanished. “Calcifer.” She snapped her arm up. Calcifer grew slightly, but his head hit an invisible ceiling. “What is this?” Corrin said. Vergil didn’t know, and he didn’t want to express that fact. He took a few steps back, searching for any opening. His back hit another crystal two feet behind him. Corrin’s head snapped back to face him, eyes wide. “We’re trapped?” 

Vergil said nothing, but his mind raced for a solution. The energy of his trigger might destroy it, but it was also just as likely to kill Corrin. He hadn’t seen or felt the wall form behind them, so there had to be some kind of trick. An illusion wouldn’t feel this real or this perfect. Not that he had experience with similar magic to compare it to. There had to be something…

“Let my Mama go!” Calcifer said, his body growing ever so slightly. 

“Calcifer.” Corrin said, her voice weary. “Now is not the time to have a tantrum.”

He landed on the ground, but his body kept growing. “But that girl is scared!” Calcifer said. “And you’re sad. And it’s too much.” His tail smacked against the ground. It shuddered more violently than Vergil thought it should. A crack appeared in the bottom of the glass. He shot an energy sword at it, but it only went in a few inches further. 

“I know it is.” Corrin said. “But you have to calm…”

“I will not stay calm!” Calcifer said, his voice cracked in the middle and deepened suddenly. His eyes turned red as he thrashed about. Corrin jumped backwards, knocking into Vergil as Calcifer’s tail almost slammed into her. More cracks appeared. The demon’s eyes snapped back to them, distracted. The crystal’s flickered. Vergil swung Yamato at it again. This time, it shattered. Corrin sprinted forward. Calcifer roared and shot after her. The demon spun around and pushed the soul toward the girl’s chest. Corrin leapt into the air, reaching for the girl’s own soul. 

The demon soul hit seconds before she did. Energy pulsed from the child, throwing Corrin backwards. Vergil caught her, and absorbed the impact. The ground cracked beneath him. Corrin stared at him, clearly dazed. “Snap out of it.” He hissed, tempted to drop her. But she shook her head and slipped back to her feet before he needed to. Calcifer slammed into the demon, knocking her aside with his head. She shrieked as she was thrown backwards, but landed on her feet. A crystal sword appeared in her hand and she threw it at Calcifer. White light engulfed him, and his small form appeared on Corrin’s shoulder, confused. 

“What happened?” He said.

“Not the time.” Corrin said. 

Tendrils of black smoke erupted from the girl’s body, but no sound came out of her lips. The empusa’s soul began pushing into the center of the white one, like an insect burrowing its way into the ground. “We have to kill the soul.” Corrin said. “The girl is…” Her voice broke. “She can’t be saved like this.” A white, summoned sword appeared in front of her. “I have to kill the soul.” 

A streak of white flickered in the corner of Vergil’s eye. He swiped Yamato out, clanging against the sword of the demon. He flipped it in his hand and slammed the back end of the scabbard into her chest. The bones of her rib cage cracked as she flew backwards. “Unfortunate.” Vergil muttered as her corrupted soul moved to heal it. “I underestimated how fragile you are.”

The demon glared at him as she reached for her chest. She didn’t move like Gaius. While the injury was still clearly healing, it was much slower. A weakness, certainly. But Vergil couldn’t know what would happen if he actually killed her, as the dead souls were flickering much faster than they had been before. “Now, Corrin.” He said. Hesitation prickled through the tether. “Now.” He repeated as he glanced back at her. The girl’s body was surrounded by the black shadows now as they began molding into the shape of the empusa. Her skin began to turn gray. Her eyes black. The yellow soul was halfway into the white…

Vergil swept Yamato to the side again, knocking the demon away. “You’re wasting you time.” He said. 

“Are you not interested?” She said. “A soul within a soul. What a beautiful thing.” 

Sadness prickled at his soul. Corrin’s body was shaking, but she lifted her hand toward the child. “I’m sorry, little one.” She whispered. The demon tried to push by Vergil again. This time, he stabbed Yamato through her shoulder before pushing her away with two swords to the stomach. She howled as she was pinned to the ground. As Corrin’s sword reached the girl’s heart, Vergil grabbed her arm, and pulled her into his chest. It took him a moment to realize he had done it without thinking. She stared blankly at him. A scream echoed behind him. He didn’t look back, but the dread of the child’s death slammed into him much harder than he expected. The world spun, but he forced himself to stay upright as Corrin’s hands tightened on his jacket. Heat surged behind him - Corrin’s fire, he assumed - followed by a distinct thud. The flames darted back to Corrin’s body, snaking around him with perfect precision. After a long, slow breath, she let go of his jacket and lifted her eyes to the sight behind him. 

“No!” The demon shrieked. “Why couldn’t you have let it finish? She was already dead!”

“And force her to suffer for your own sick gain?” Corrin said. 

“Not my gain.” The demon said as she finally pushed herself to her feet. 

“Then whose…”

“Wouldn’t you love to know.” The demon moved toward the child’s body. Corrin cut her off, sweeping fire beneath the demon’s feet. She jumped over it, but Vergil smacked her away again. Corrin gathered the child up into her arms, her eyes glazed over. “Must be so frustrating.” The demon said as she pushed herself to her feet. Unlike Gaius, her body did not bend or break itself to move. Vergil wasn’t certain if it was due to inability, or unwillingness. “To be stuck batting me away like a fly rather than carving me to pieces.”

“Your half-hearted attempts to provoke me are laughable at best.” Vergil said. 

The demon chuckled. “For now, maybe. But all I need is a moment of weakness. A little crack that brings everything crashing down.”

Vergil’s eyes narrowed. “You won’t find it here.” 

Her eyes drifted to Corrin. “We shall see.” She snapped her fingers and vanished, leaving only a small pile of crystal dust as any sign she had been there at all. 

“I’m sorry, Corrin.” Calcifer said behind him. “Everything just… I just…”

“It’s ok.” Corrin said. Her shoulders sagged as she held the girl’s body only a few inches from the ground. She had yet to stand up herself. “You are still young. It would be foolish of me to assume you are more prepared for this than I am.”

Calcifer’s eyes fell. “Please, don’t be sad.”

“Celeste could have saved her.” She said. “Maybe even Leo.”

“But you are not them.” Vergil said. 

She didn’t look at him. “No… I’m not.” 

Dante appeared at Vergil’s side. “The other demons are gone.” He said. “Most of them dead… a few got away.” He sighed. “Found the survivors, but a lot of people are missing.”

“Missing?” Vergil said. He glanced back toward the town. A few dead souls hovered around, but nothing too egregious. “How many?”

“Five, I believe. But the survivors are a bit too traumatized to give me a concrete answer. I’ve called some other devil hunters to come help out, so you and Corrin are free to go.” His eyes moved to her for the first time. He frowned, glancing at Vergil. Dante seemed to be asking something of him, but he wasn’t certain what. Dante sighed again - stop being so useless, Vergil heard Griffin echo in his head - before kneeling in front of Corrin. “Hey, Cor.” He said, his voice gentle. When she said nothing, he put a hand on her shoulder. “I know this is tough for you.”

“I killed her.” Corrin said. “I… had…”

“Stop.” Dante said. “I’m certain you did what you had to do.”

Her eyes had yet to meet his. “If I were stronger, then she’d be alive.”

Dante’s eyes flickered to Vergil for a brief moment before looking to Corrin again. “Then you have to keep fighting.” He said. “You have a lot to catch up on, yes?” She nodded. “But I’m confident you can.” He tapped a finger to her forehead. “Celeste gave you everything you need to know, right? You just have to figure out how to use it.”

Vergil wasn’t aware that Dante knew about Celeste. He wondered what else Corrin had told his brother while he was away. “I’m twenty years too late.” Corrin said. 

“It’s never too late.” Dante said with a small, encouraging smile. “But you need to start using it. Every day. It doesn’t matter if Gaius or any other reaver is involved. What matters is that you are around as much action as possible. That your soul, or whatever, gains the experience it needs to find that strength you’re looking for. And if Mr. Hardass back there doesn't take you with him, then you’re welcome to come with me.” 

“The insults are not required or appreciated.” Vergil said. 

Dante ignored him. “Let me take her to the others.” He said. “Can you handle whatever souls are left?”

Corrin nodded as she shifted the girl to his arms. “I worry more for the one’s missing.”

“We can only work with what we’ve got.” He said. “Don’t forget that.” He lifted the girl with ease and glanced somewhat lazily at Vergil. His muscles were much stiffer than his expression. You’re trying to hide it. Vergil thought. A much younger Dante wouldn’t have bothered. Was it for Corrin’s sake, or his own? 

“Ball’s in your court, Verge.” Dante said much louder than Vergil thought he needed to. “Just let me know if I need to catch it.” He vanished, appearing a good twenty feet away. Another group met him, and Vergil turned his attention back to Corrin as Dante started ordering them around. She was on her feet now, scratching absentmindedly at Calcifer’s scales as she stared off into the distance. The dragon licked her cheek, pulling her out of her thoughts long enough to chuckle at him. 

“I’m alright.” She said. Calcifer huffed, but said nothing. “I’m sorry.” She said as she turned back to Vergil. 

“For what?” He didn’t understand her seemingly obsessive need to apologize for everything. What had she done wrong besides letting her emotions show? The girl’s death was likely inevitable in her current state. Neither of them knew how to kill a nine-souled, corrupted demon. And when she didn’t give him an answer, he knew she had only done so out of habit. 

But she looked so… vulnerable. Her eyes were downcast and tired. Her shoulders still sagged. Her fists were still clenched. The tether was a mess of emotions that Vergil didn’t have a hope of picking apart in her current state. A part of him thought he should be annoyed with her. If she wanted to be stronger, then what good were these emotions? 

“At least she understands them.” Griffin said with a mocking laugh. This time, Vergil managed to look away before inadvertently glaring at her. 

“If you want to be stronger,” He said, ignoring the uneasiness he felt in his chest. “Then my brother’s advice is sound.” That sentence was a lot more difficult to say than he thought it would be. “You have to be out here. Fighting demons. Learning how to deal with souls in this world. How to overcome the emotions they give you.” He crossed his arms as he met her gaze again. She was watching him now. Not wearily or confused. But waiting for something. 

“I can’t do it alone.” She said. 

Of course she was leaving the decision to him. It wasn’t as if she could force him to do anything. And Dante had very clearly told her she had another way if Vergil declined. What he didn’t understand was why she was giving him this choice. It would be much easier for her if she just followed Dante. “ Much easier for you.” Griffin said. 

“If you are willing to push yourself beyond whatever limits you think you have,” He said. “Then I will accompany you.”

The sudden excitement in her eyes caught him off guard. “I won’t let you down.”

It took a great deal of effort to keep the surprise off of his face. “Good.” Was all he said. “Now deal with the souls here so we can leave.”

Corrin’s eyes flickered past him. “They’re gone.” She said. 

“What?” Vergil glanced behind him. While she was correct, he didn’t quite believe it. “Another reaver?” 

“Remember the souls without bodies in the mansion?” She said. “Someone might be collecting them.”

“Surely Dante would have noticed.”

“Not if they looked like a normal devil hunter.” She said. “I should have sensed it, but whoever it was must have hidden their soul from me.”

“They knew you were here.”

“That demon’s experiment may not have been the real goal at all.” She said with a hint of bitterness. “A suitable distraction.”

Vergil reached for Yamato. “Back to…” He paused. Home didn’t feel like the right word. 

“I wouldn’t mind moving out.” She said. “As much as I love the existential dread of a million dead souls all around me, I find it rather difficult to focus.”

Vergil paused. “You feel them?”

Corrin looked away. He wasn’t sure if it was out of embarrassment or if she had merely forgotten to tell him. “Of course I do.” She said. 

“And I don’t?”

“You have a shield.” She said. “It redirects everything they feel to me.”

“Why?”

“Would you like them to swarm you every time you step foot outside of that building?” She said. “Because that’s how you get them to swarm you every time you step foot outside of that building.”

Vergil paused. He hadn’t known what she was really feeling, nor had he bothered asking. He had assumed - admittedly rather selfishly - that the tether was enough. That she had dispelled them all with whatever energy she had generated that day. Clearly, he was incorrect. “I’ll speak with Morrison.” He said. “But…” He trailed off again before sighing to himself. “We’ll have to work for it.” He cut a portal open before she could respond. “Go.”

Chapter Text

“I found it!” Corrin exclaimed as she dropped the open book unceremoniously onto Vergil’s desk. He glanced up at her, suppressing his brief annoyance at the intrusion. It was the first time since their return from the Underworld that he had attempted reading something enjoyable, so of course Corrin would find something now. But her relieved expression softened his own reaction. 

“Good evening to you too.” He said with a hint of sarcasm. Secretly, he was pleased. After the Oaksburgh incident, Corrin had torn through Pythagoras’ books with a fervor close to madness. But frequent calls to Devil May Cry and music practice with Kyrie had interrupted her too many times to count. Vergil had been more surprised that life had maintained some type of normalcy over the last two weeks, chaos included. Gaius and the other demon woman had been eerily quiet as of late, but it didn’t stop the demon sightings. While he didn’t like the silence - as they had to be planning something - it had given them both time to start figuring things out on their own.

“Fifteen client calls.” Corrin said. “And here I thought Dante ran this place.”

“That would require basic management skills.” Vergil said. The lights flickered before going out completely. He frowned. Dante had asked for money a few days prior to keep the power running. But, considering that he, Lady, and Trish had mysteriously vanished within twenty-four hours of Vergil’s loan, the elder twin had a feeling that money was beyond his reach. “A talent my brother clearly does not possess.” He finished. 

“Should’ve bought some candles.” Corrin said. 

“Or just burned the place down.” Vergil said dryly. 

She chuckled. “I don’t think he’d be too happy about that.”

“He might have better luck starting over.” Vergil said as he tossed his book to the side and reached for Yamato. “What did you find?”

“Remember what I told you about soul flexibility?” She said. He glanced at her incredulously. Vergil didn’t forget many things, and she knew that. Though, he supposed that was a decent way to start a conversation. Before he answered, however, she continued. “I kept wondering why that demon would try and put a demonic soul inside of a human one, as human souls are both less flexible and prone to breaking if inflicted with too much trauma. Just introducing the demon soul to that host killed her, and she wouldn’t be making anything new, so what was the goal?”

“To distract you.” Vergil said. 

“Well, yes.” She said somewhat awkwardly as her eyes flickered away. “But I think there’s more to it.” She pointed at a particularly complex section in the center of Pythagoras’ book. That alone likely took her hours to translate, and it wasn’t even half a page. “For the record,” She said. “Pythy is the worst demon writer in the history of the universe itself. There are hundreds of different ways to express these same ideas and, frankly, it’s absurd that a demon of his caliber would spend so much time writing absolute nonsense.”

“True knowledge requires tender care and sacrifice.” Vergil said. Pythagoras had told him that the first time he appeared at fifteen years old, demanding information on his father. It had been less of an insightful message and more prattle to spite him for daring to enter the library at all. 

“Prudence is a rich, ugly, old maid courted by incapacity.” Corrin said. Vergil blinked twice, surprised. He had mentioned Blake in one of the few rare instances that she got a casual conversation out of him. But he hadn’t expected her to show any interest, much less memorize it. Clearly his expression had betrayed him, for hers turned into embarrassment. “Reading was one of the few comforts I had in my isolated home, so memorizing things became a rather natural habit.”

“How much have you read?”

“One of the books Nero gave you, and a couple of other poetry books.” She said. “It was a nice break from that mess when there were too many people around to play the piano.” She waved her hand as if redirecting herself back to the previous conversation. “Anyway, to loosely translate, many reavers believe that flexibility is actually a greater detriment. It is more difficult to heal a soul that doesn’t have a defined shape. Theoretically, if you were to put a flexible soul in a rigid one in just the right way, you could create a fake half-breed. The demon inside can use the dead body without needing basic functions and might even be able to shift between forms with enough practice.”

“Theoretically?” Vergil said. 

“Well, putting aside the sheer amount of risks involved in such a process, it’s terribly unethical.” She said. “This writing along is all conjecture based on conversations with other reavers, but actually doing it requires a severe level of detachment from what makes a reaver… well, a reaver.”

“Like madness.” Vergil said. 

She nodded. “When you no longer see the difference between life and death…”

“Then neither mean anything at all.” He finished. That had been one of the first things he had asked about after formally committing to learn what she knew. He had hoped that understanding Gaius’ madness might help the attempt to kill him. And, while it had been insightful, and better explained why he cared so little for anything, it did little to explain how one might destroy such a corrupted entity. At least now you know what to look for. Corrin had said, partially in jest. But Vergil had understood her meaning. Don’t let me turn into him.

“What about the Spider?” He said. They had taken to calling the demon that since the name “demon” could apply to about a thousand other things. 

“There wasn’t anything on her powers in particular,” Corrin said. “But I did find a chapter on ways reavers handle dead souls. While it’s a lot of what I already know, he did mention something called the “multi-soul phenomena”. But I started getting a headache when I found that so…” She sighed and rubbed at her temples. “It’s something, I suppose.”

“It’s more than we had before.” He said with an approving nod. Over the last few days, Vergil was attempting to be “kinder” as Dante had put it. Say more “nice” things. Show more “appreciation”. Whatever else his brother deemed important to “being a human”. It wasn’t terribly easy or natural for Vergil, and he always felt awkward when trying to express anything directly. But it always surprised him how a simple nod or extra word eased Corrin’s tension every time. She would never admit it helped, and he would never tell her that was actively trying , but they made it work. As Dante put it, they were slowly becoming “weird friendly acquaintances”.

Perplexingly, his personal apprehension aside, that didn’t bother Vergil as much as he expected it to. 

"If we see another one," Corrin said. "I may be able to resonate with it." 

"Is that wise?" Vergil said. 

"Probably not." Corrin said. "Reavers generally don't want to resonate with anyone but their tether or companion but..." 

"How would it help?"

"I could walk through the soul’s memories. Maybe even see the process that turned them. The information gained would heavily outweigh the risk." Corrin said. "Theoretically." 

"And if you failed?" 

"I'd probably get lost in the memories." She said. "Turn into a husk or something. maybe go crazy. I've only heard about it, so can't say for certain." 

Vergil frowned. High risk, but she wasn't wrong. Information directly from a source could prove invaluable. But they would have to find an eligible soul first. "Could I pull you out of it?" He said.

"I think so." Corrin said. "You know how I accidentally pulled you to me?" He nodded. "I think you could do the same thing… just use the tether to pull my soul instead of my body." She tilted her head. "I wouldn't mind trying it."

"I don't see a tether." 

He heard a soft click of her tongue. "Unfortunate." 

"Could I?" 

"Of course. It's always there." 

"How?" 

She looked perplexed. "I… don't know how to explain it. I believe Celeste once said the tether is stronger and more visible the more one cares about it. But I've seen it constantly for months so…" 

A tether means nothing if only one side cares about it. Had Celeste been trying to tell him then? But what did it mean? It could be a useful tool, so clearly he cared about it. But nothing was there between them. Just her soul floating on its own. "What do you see?" He said. 

"It's like a wispy, blue rope." She said thoughtfully. "Easy to ignore if I'm not expressly looking for it, but really bright and obvious if I am." She shrugged. "I've just been ignoring it for the most part." 

The door opened behind her. “I see Dante neglected the power bill again.” Morrison said as he took off his hat. He was dressed as nicely as usual, but in a blue suit this time instead of green. He smiled warmly to the both of them. “I hope you don’t mind the intrusion. I’ve got a gig that might be right up your alley.” He stopped a few feet away and bowed just slightly to Corrin. “You must be Corrin. Dante has spoken quite highly of you.”

Corrin leaned back on the desk, clearly embarrassed. “I couldn’t fathom why.”

Morrison chuckled as he put his hat back on and handed a white envelope to Vergil. He opened it, surprised to find not only a detailed map, but a stack of cash and a key. “Dante mentioned that you were looking for a place of your own,.” Morrison said. “So, I took the liberty of finding one I think you’ll like. Took it out of his next paycheck and everything.”

“Is he aware?” Vergil said.

“‘Course he is.” Morrison said. “Told me he’s kicking you both out for the good of everyone, and that you are welcome to take the piano with you.”

Corrin snorted quietly. “You mentioned a… gig, yes?”

“One of my other demon hunters called.” Morrison said. “A horde of demons appeared a few days ago while he was on patrol, and they all seemed drawn to one location. When he tried to engage one, it transformed into a human, of all things. He barely survived to tell me about it.”

Corrin and Vergil’s eyes flickered to each other for a brief moment. “Where?” Vergil said. 

“Right where that demon tree sprouted.” Morrison said. “No one can get close enough to fight them off, much less see what they’re drawn to.”

“We’ll deal with it.” Vergil said as he tucked the money away. 

“Good luck.” Morrison said. “But I doubt you’ll need it.”


 

Kyrie always tried her best to stay positive. But as she sat in the darkness of her bathroom, trying to fight off the last remnants of pain, she found herself desperate for that same confidence. It was the fourth time in two years she had ended up like this. Collapsed on the bathroom floor. Seconds from passing out. Coughing up blood as the pain in her stomach became almost too much to bear. Every time she had gotten through it, and every time she was left wondering what she was doing wrong, or if she was meant to survive at all.

Get ahold of yourself. She thought. This is not the time

The door opened and Nico stepped in with a glass of water. Kyrie could hear Nero’s frantic voice from somewhere downstairs, but it was too muffled to know exactly what he was saying. “Dante showed up to take the kids out. I still don’t know where he came from.” Nico said with a tired smile as she knelt beside Kyrie. “Called it a camping trip.” Kyrie could see the sadness in her eyes. Nico had been by her side during these moments. It didn’t make the pain any easier, but it always gave Kyrie some relief. “Drink.” Nico said.

Kyrie took the glass with a nod, but could only take a sip before coughing again. Nico grabbed a towel, but both were relieved to see that no blood had come out. “It’s over.” Kyrie said. 

“Nero’s talking to Kai.” Nico said. 

Kyrie winced. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Kai, as the demon healer was more than capable and willing to help. But Kyrie didn’t know what to say this time. She and Nero had done everything right . She had given up on her dream of having her own child. Taken every pill Kai had made for her. Thrown herself into her work at the orphanage. Nero was more than happy to be a foster parent for as long as she wanted them to be. And it had been almost eight months since the last incident. She thought she was okay. That she wouldn’t experience this pain again. But the symptoms were too similar to be anything else. What could she do now that she hadn’t already done?

Nico’s hand rested on Kyrie’s shoulder. “You’ll be okay.” She said. 

“I know.” Kyrie tried to smile, but she felt hollow and exhausted. Believing her own words was becoming more difficult every time.

The door opened again and Nero appeared. Nico quickly left the restroom, as he didn’t even spare her a glance. Kyrie wasn’t certain if he even realized the other woman was in the room. “He’s on his way.” He said as he knelt in front of her and reached for her cheek. He looked as tired as she felt and hadn’t bothered to put anything on over his boxers. Kyrie brushed through his hair in a futile attempt to fix it. A frequent habit of hers, and a small comfort. Nero reached for her hand and nuzzled it against his cheek. 

“I’m fine. He doesn’t have to come.” Kyrie said. 

“Hell no.” Nero said, but his soft voice cracked. It was rare that he cursed at her, but she paid it no mind. The red in his eyes told her he wasn’t entirely himself. She wasn’t in any danger, as she knew every trick in the book to calm his devil-half, but she would cross that bridge if they got to it. “We can’t risk it, Kyrie.” He lowered his forehead to meet hers as his hand wrapped further around the back of her head. She heard a very quiet, choked sob as a single tear ran down his cheek. 

“Nero.” She whispered as she brushed the tear away. 

He shook his head. “I’m sorry.” Nero kissed her forehead. “You need me to be stronger than this.”

Kyrie took a deep breath. She wanted so desperately to be strong for him too. To maintain her confidence when they were both on the verge of falling apart. But she found it difficult as she stared into his misery filled eyes. “Stop blaming yourself.” She said. When he said nothing, she kissed him, but both were too tired to enjoy it. His breathing did slow somewhat. A small victory for Kyrie. “We’ll get through this.”

Nero pulled her into a tight hug. A moment later, she felt his spectral arms wrap around her shoulders. The warm, demonic feathers soothed her, pushing away her latent pain and gnawing anxiety. “I can’t lose you.” Nero said, his voice tinged with a hint of his demon form. 

“You won’t.” She said. 

“I don’t know what to do.”

“You’re doing everything you can.”

“What if it’s not enough?” Nero’s whisper was so soft that she almost didn’t hear it. Maybe he didn’t want her to.

“I love you.” She said. 

He kissed her again. “I love you too.”

Downstairs, she heard Nico greet the new arrival. Seconds later, a golden haired, middle-aged man in a black coat, jeans, and a polo appeared outside of the bathroom. “The worst has passed, I assume?” He said. While Kai’s voice was quieter than usual, it still reverberated with the melodic ring of his true voice. A reminder of the devil side he was suppressing for Kyrie’s sake. She had almost seen it once, but the sheer power of it had overwhelmed her so quickly she had passed out within seconds. He had apologized profusely afterwards, as Kyrie had never been exposed to an actual demon. Nero’s trigger, as powerful as it was, had never caused such a shock to her system. But it had been a necessity. Even Nero, who had been by her side when it happened, admitted that he didn’t remember anything. Kai hadn’t transformed since, nor did he ever tell them what his true form actually was. But Nero still trusted him. And for Kyrie, that was enough. 

“I think so.” Kyrie said. 

“Bring her.” Kai said to Nero. “It will be easier to examine her out here.”

Nero let his demonic arms fade as he lifted Kyrie into his arms. “Why is this happening again?” Nero said as he followed Kai into the living room. “We’ve done everything you said to.”

“I’m certain you have.” Kai said. Kyrie felt her eyes flutter as Nero lowered her onto the couch. The pain of everything had worn off, but she had hoped to stay awake while the healer was here. “You’ve got about two weeks left on her medicine I gave you, right?” Nero nodded. “Might need something new.” Kai murmured, more to himself than either of them. He pressed the back of his hand to Kyrie’s forehead and his brown eyes shifted to a demonic red. She never knew what he was looking at or looking for, nor did she understand how a single touch could tell him everything he needed to know. But, a few minutes later, he pulled his hand away and sighed. “It is as I expected.” 

“Another miscarriage?” Nero said. “But how? I thought her body couldn’t…”

“It shouldn’t be able to.” Kai said. “Her body is perfectly healthy aside from what happened tonight. There are only lingering signs that the child was within her at all.”

Kyrie closed her eyes in an attempt to stop her tears. Nero’s fingers intertwined with hers. “What can we do?” He said. 

“Continue taking the medication.” He said. “I have some theories I can look into, but I’ll need some time.” He paused for a long moment. “Have you met anyone new since my last visit?”

“My uncle and father came back.” Nero said. 

Kai hummed softly to himself. “Their energy is easy to track… its very similar to yours so that is expected. But there is another, yes? Another… half-demon?”

Nero hesitated. Kyrie opened her eyes, perplexed. How did he know that? Nero’s eyes flickered to hers. “We can tell him.” Kyrie said gently. “If it will help.”

Nero nodded. “Her name is Corrin.” He said. Kai’s head tilted just slightly. “And she’s a…” Nero paused. “Well, I don’t totally understand it, but she calls herself a reaver.”

Surprise flickered across Kai’s face. “Really?” He said. Nero nodded. “Is she with her soulmate?”

Now it was Nero’s turn to look confused. “Not that I’m… aware of.” He said. “I’ve never heard that mentioned, anyway.”

“Is she tethered to someone?”

“Yes.” Nero said. “My father.”

“And his name?”

“Vergil.”

Kyrie swore she heard Kai’s breath catch in his throat. “I will be back on Saturday.” He said. “If you could invite her over as well, she might be able to help me. Has she, perchance, mentioned how well she can see souls?”

“Not to me.” Nero said. “But I think she’s teaching Vergil some things. It’d be better to ask him.”

“If she’s able to teach another,” Kai said. “Then her power will be sufficient.” 

“You think this is a problem with Kyrie’s soul?”

“I think we should explore every possibility available to us.” Kai said. “Rest for now, Kyrie. You shouldn’t have another incident before I return, but do be careful.”

Kyrie nodded numbly as her eyes fluttered closed again. Kai wished Nero a goodbye and left. A moment later, Nero lifted her up to slide into the seat and the end of the couch before laying her head back on his knee. “It’s going to be okay.” He whispered as he brushed through her hair. Kyrie smiled to herself, but said nothing as she let herself drift into a peaceful sleep.

Chapter Text

Corrin was slowly getting used to the dread in her chest every time they went on a mission, and she had yet to decide if that was a good thing. 

Vergil created a portal for them both to a rooftop just outside the perimeter of their destination. Since coming to the human world, Corrin wondered why nobody had attempted to use this empty space. It didn’t have a name as far as she was aware, or a true purpose. It was just a desolate space left to grow in whatever direction it wanted. However, with at least four dozen demons prowling around with confusing souls, it was clear that someone unsavory had found a use for it.

It was the souls below ground that caught her attention though. They were faint, likely hidden by reaver magic, but she could still see flickers of something. Human souls caught somewhere between life and death. The demons up top weren’t wandering for no reason. They were guarding something, but Corrin wasn’t sure what, or where the entrance even was. 

“I know you could charge in and murder everything in about two seconds.” Corrin said as she glanced at Vergil. “But, I’d recommend something a bit more subtle.” His eyes didn’t move, but his frown deepened. Corrin was coming to learn that this Vergil did have some similarities to the one she knew. While slightly more talkative - which, given Dante’s descriptions of him was slightly unusual- she had yet to see a genuine smile since they had reunited, and she didn’t expect one.  

Sometimes, she wished she could just make him remember. But, even if that were possible, she didn’t want to imagine the complications it would cause. Recalling their life together wouldn’t guarantee that he’d feel the same emotions, nor did she know how he would respond to it. 

“Corrin.” He said. She blinked. His eyes narrowed just slightly. “It is unwise to ignore me.”

As direct as usual. She almost smiled, but caught herself. “I apologize.” She said. “And humbly ask that you repeat whatever it was that I missed.”

There was a brief moment of confusion on his face, before he scowled at her and looked away again. At least she still knew how to make him tolerate her, even if the formal speech was a little overkill. “It would be best if we can find an entrance and kill these demons after.” He said.

“No point in raising an alarm if we can help it.” She said with a nod. “I don’t see Gaius or the Spider right now.” She tilted her head, trying to focus more on the souls underground. They were so far away. Likely much deeper than she had originally thought. “Could we use a portal to get in?”

“And risk being buried alive?” He asked. When she stared at him, he clarified. “Without knowing the exact location, I’d be more likely to trap us in a mound of dirt than actually make it inside.”

“Maybe you could go off of the location of the souls?” She said. 

“They could be stored anywhere.” He said. “Again, too many variables.” He crossed his arms, clearly unhappy with his own conclusion. “There must be an entrance somewhere, or these demons wouldn’t be here.”

“Unless it’s a trick.” Corrin said. “It seems strange that they would just appear like this for no reason. It’s not like we were investigating this place.” 

“Another trap.” Vergil said. 

“Maybe.” Corrin said. “But those souls underground.” She couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off about them. Trap or not, she wanted to see them up close. “I agree it’s risky. However, with you here, I doubt our friends down there would present much of an obstacle.”

She noticed him smile subtly. For once, he didn’t try to hide it. Was it because they were alone? “Your flattery is unnecessary.” He said. “But you are correct.”

“Of course I am, Vergil.” She said with a wave of her hand. “When it comes to you, nothing is a challenge.”

He blushed at that, but he couldn’t hide his appreciation through the tether. “An entrance out there would be too obvious.” He said with a slight nod to the demons. “It could be in one of these buildings.” He glanced at her. “If this is Gaius’ experiment, could you guess where we should begin searching?”

Corrin paused. It was easy to predict a younger Gaius. One track mind. Never did anything that didn’t benefit himself. Not the brightest star in the sky, but clever enough to manipulate people with false promises and clever words. While he was much crazier now, she was certain some pieces of his personality survived. “I can’t say for certain,” She said finally. “But he was always very proud of his magic. There may be some kind of sigil hiding an entrance.”

“Sigil?”

She nodded. “Do you remember the portal that appeared when I jumped off that waterfall?” He nodded. “That one was made to trigger when someone with the right soul fell through it. I can’t be certain if it was meant for just me, but Gaius was clearly unable to follow. His sigils were always the same, but who knows what he has learned over the years.”

“Even in his madness?”

“That may be our one saving grace.” She said. “I believe he was going mad around the same time he attacked my home, which may have stunted his magic.” 

“How would we go about finding it?” He said. 

“Calcifer.” Corrin said. She heard the dragon snoring from her pocket. She reached in and scratched his head. A few seconds later, the dragon yawned and popped his head out to look at her. “I need your help.”

His blue eyes lit up in excitement. “Of course, Mama!” He said. She didn’t know why Calcifer had started calling her that again. He had done so the first year they were together, but she thought he had grown out of it. Regardless, she didn’t bother correcting him. Companions were meant to experience life alongside their reavers. And, much like her, he hadn’t needed to process the range of emotions they were dealing with now. She was older and had Vergil to pull off of, if needed. Calcifer was young and only had her.  

“I need you to find any traces of other reavers that you can.” She said. 

Calcifer tilted his head. “I’ve only done that with corrupted souls.” 

“It’s the same process.” She said. “Just look for something similar to my magic instead.” She snapped her fingers and summoned a small flame. Calcifer gulped it down and his eyes turned white. “Avoid any demons, and come right back to me if anything happens, understood?”

The dragon nodded eagerly. “I’ll do what I can!” He said as he crawled out of his pocket, onto her arm, and leapt into the sky. He dropped down from the roof, and Corrin watched as he glided to the bottom and disappeared around the other side of the building. 

“It may be a stretch.” She said when he turned back to Vergil. “But it's worth a shot.”

Suddenly, the ground shuddered beneath them. Corrin leapt back from the edge, but stumbled backwards as the building jerked the opposite way she landed. She lost sight of the demons, but heard many screech in something close to terror. Vergil vanished as a crack appeared in the rooftop. Corrin swung around and teleported toward the second building. Her hand grabbed the edge, jarring her shoulder. She winced. Forgot how low my range is compared to him. When she moved to pull herself up, another quake hit. The ledge cracked before the entire half of the building started falling. She rushed to find a new spot to land, but her vision blurred the faster she fell. She threw fire up above her, smashing through whatever debris might crush her and braced for impact. 

A pair of hands yanked her out of the sky. Vergil teleported them beyond the two buildings as they collapsed inward. “Must I always save you?” Vergil said with a very slight snarl of his demon half. 

“I would have survived.” She said. How long it might have taken to heal after the fact, she kept to herself. “You could have just grabbed me the first time.”

“I assumed you would follow me.”

“To where, exactly?” She said. “I’m not a mind reader.”

Vergil frowned. “The ground. Away from the collapsing buildings.”

“I can’t teleport to where I can’t see.” She said.

He returned a small grunt of annoyance. “A rather profound weakness.” He said, but let her slide back to her feet. She hoped the days of him dropping her outright were far, far behind them. 

She brushed the dirt off her sleeves trying to ignore the tatters it was turning into. “Forgive me for not learning what I was never taught.” She said. The younger him had tried to teach her, yes, but she had spent more time smacking into the thing she was trying to get through than ending up on the other side. The logistics behind it always baffled her, and he wasn’t the best at explaining it. Eventually, they abandoned it all together, as getting him out of the Underworld was much more important than her skipping through a few trees. 

“You needed a better teacher then.” Vergil said. Corrin could not contain her laughter. He glared at her, oblivious to the irony of that statement. 

Before she could try and explain herself - a task that was certain to end in failure - the earth shook again. This time, however, the buildings began to sink. A hole opened beneath each one, widening to accommodate more of the structures. Corrin stared at it, flabbergasted. She barely noticed when Vergil pulled her back from the ever widening edge. “I didn’t know Redgrave was prone to random sinkholes.” She said. 

“It’s not.” Vergil said. “Look beneath it.”

Corrin’s eyes flickered to the hole itself. Deep within it, an immeasurable amount of distance from the surface, was a cluster of souls. They were clumped together in a disoriented shape. A manufactured conglomeration that she couldn’t pick apart from each other. Some demon, others human. As the cluster started to rise, Corrin could hear the faint screams and screeches of whatever was caught inside. “They’re alive.” She said. Or they were. She wasn’t certain she could call being trapped in that mess living by any means. 

As the two buildings vanished completely, the hole stopped growing. All was silent for one, excruciating moment. Corrin watched as the souls twisted around each other, struggling to break free. A dark color branched out from the middle, ensuring all of them in its grasp. Corruption. She thought. But there was no other souls around it. No one to corrupt them. 

The souls shot for the surface. A hulking beast of metal, earth, and bricks sprang out of the hole much faster than a creature of its size should have. As it landed, a wave of rock shot at them, pulled up from the ground itself. Corrin phased to one side, half surprised when Vergil appeared next to her rather than going somewhere else entirely. The thing was monstrous, half as tall as the buildings it came from, but significantly wider with arms and legs the size of multiple, giant tree trunks. The creature’s spider-like face turned toward them, and pieces of rock fell to the ground as eight eyes of various sizes opened. When it opened its sharp toothed mouth, a shrill cry echoed so loudly that Corrin instinctively grabbed at her ears. She only felt minor displeasure from Vergil. “Interesting.” He said. 

“Interesting?” She said. “That thing just magically popped out of the ground and that’s all you have to say?”

He looked at her, his expression blank. “Yes.”

She groaned quietly to herself. “Typical.” She muttered. The creature pulled its arms together and slammed into the ground. While it was slow, the line of rocks pulsing out of the ground was not. Both were thrown into the air, but Vergil simply flipped forward, triggered, and shot at the creature. Corrin summoned her staff, surrounded herself in flames, and landed with an audible thud as the rocks retreated back into the ground. 

What I wouldn’t give for an actual, flying devil form. She thought as she rolled herself to her feet and popped her shoulder back into place. Her back ached, but it wasn’t broken. A small victory. She watched as the creature tried to swipe at Vergil. But it was much too slow, and he much to fast. Vergil wasn’t trying to fight it yet, however, and Corrin knew he could see the budding corruption within the creature soul. Corrin couldn’t imagine the kind of damage this thing could do if allowed to heal from even the smallest of injuries. But the corruption was contained within at least a dozen other souls. If Vergil made a path to it, could she burn them all fast enough to reach it?

Using her flames, Corrin catapulted herself to the roof of the next closest building. This time, she was able to teleport back down out of her frantic jump and land in relative safety. If only I had finished my reading. She thought dryly. Though she couldn’t be certain Pythagoras’ multi-soul theory would apply here, it might have given her something. She racked her brain for anything that might help. 

She looked back at the creature. It was much different than the other corrupted souls they fought. Those had moved freely throughout the body, capable of pulling limbs back together or spiking to any injury within seconds. This one, however, seemed to be floating. The corruption almost seemed trapped within the souls themselves. They were propelling the body, but acting more like a battery than an actual soul. Could she stop the flow of energy between them? Celeste had taught her how to do so long ago, but those were small souls whose emotions could be ignored. Even then, the resonating would only last a couple of seconds, long enough to heal the soul before putting it back in. Corrin didn’t have a clue what that would be like with so many souls. But if she could hold onto it long enough, then Vergil could destroy the body. 

It was a terrible risk, but she had to try. 

She sprinted forward, leaping off of the building “Vergil!” She yelled, aware that he could hear her even if he didn’t react. “I need you to get me to that soul.”

She felt a wave of something between them, but his demon half was making emotions difficult. “Just trust me!” She said trying to push down her own uncertainty. As she got closer, half of the creature’s eyes flickered toward her. It slammed its fist down, but Corrin twirled out of the way of the attack. The creature screamed again, but a slash from Vergil across its chest distracted it again. Rocks crumbled to the ground. The rocks around the wound began to fill in, but the corruption didn’t move. 

Another set of rocks shot out of the ground. Corrin pushed off of one as it reached its’ peak and rocketed straight for the creature’s chest. A series of blue lines appeared in front of her, dicing the creature’s chest to dust that fell harmlessly around her. The corruption within the creature’s soul was bouncing wildly around, but the souls around it kept it contained. Rocks around the creature’s body rushed to heal the wound, and it began to shrink. Corrin redirected herself at the last second and reached for the souls. “Destroy it quickly!” She yelled. 

Her mind slipped into darkness the second her fingers touched the soul. For a brief moment, she floated in nothingness. Then, a new world careened into view. She stumbled backwards, momentarily surprised to find herself standing on solid ground. She was in a metal room with no doors and no windows. A mess of hexagons fashioned into a sphere. In front of her sat a young man, early twenties if she had to guess, staring at the ground with that same glazed over expression from the girl at Oaksburgh. His arms hung limply at his sides, twisted almost unnaturally against the ground. His legs were stretched out, and if Corrin couldn’t see the white soul in his chest, she might have thought he was dead. 

An opening appeared in the wall beside him. She swallowed the unwanted panic as Gaius stepped in. “Well, well.” He said as he leaned over and peered into the boy’s eyes. “It seems our guest is ready for his party.” He grabbed the man and tossed him over his shoulder. The body flopped in whatever direction it wanted and Gaius left the room, humming something to himself. Corrin quickly followed. It’s just a memory. She told herself. He can’t hurt you here. 

She tried to reach out for Vergil. To see if their tether had followed her into the memory. While she felt something, it was small. A minuscule comfort drowned out by her own anxiety. But she pushed forward, determined to see the memory to its’ end. To find any information that would make risking her life and his anger worth it. 

The three walked down a long hallway for what felt like an eternity until Gaius arrived at a small door. He reached his hand out, encasing it in yellow magic as he drew the symbol of a sun where the handle should be. The door snapped open the second it was done. You really should change your sigils. Corrin thought with a satisfied smirk. 

It disappeared the second they walked into the other room. It was an operating room of sorts, with a bed that Gaius quickly deposited the body into. Opposite the door, however, was a wall of windows that looked over a vast facility filled with human and demon souls. Hundreds of pods stretched out in two long lines; humans on the right, demons on the left. There were a few humans walking between them, but Corrin could see that their souls had been infused with that of a demon. The Spider’s experiment on a massive scale. 

A door to the side opened and the spider walked in. While her appearance was the same, her eyes were downcast. She looked tired and unwilling. There was no corruption around her reaver soul, but Corrin didn’t recognize the purple and silver combination. “He is ready, I assume?” The Spider said. Her voice was even more exhausted, coming out as barely more than a whisper. 

Gaius grabbed her chin and yanked her closer to him. The Spider hissed in pain, but didn’t move. He brushed through her hair with a small smile that made Corrin shiver. “My dear, sweet Mira.” He said. “Are you having doubts again?”

The Spider - Mira’s - eyes widened. “No.” She said quickly as she smiled back at him. “Of course not.”

Gaius smile turned to a scowl. He let go of her chin and slapped her across the face. She launched backwards, slamming into the all. Corrin heard a crack of something breaking. The corruption in her soul appeared, rushing to heal whatever wound Gaius had caused. “That should help your enthusiasm.” Gaius said with a sickly grin. 

Mira winced as she pushed herself back to her feet. “The other souls are ready.” She said curtly. “Let me…”

“No.” Gaius said. “This man lives.”

Mira froze. “That is…” She swallowed whatever she was going to say. “An angle I had not considered. How do you think it will affect the soul?”

“He will remember.” Gaius said. “And so will anyone else that tries to mess with it.” Corrin’s heart stopped, but Gaius continued. His head tilted backward at an impossible angle. “A beautiful plan, right Mira?” He whipped his neck back up and hit a button on the console. The door opened and one of the artificial half-breed stepped into the room holding a silent cluster of souls. Corrin could see a small piece of corruption within it, waiting. 

She had to get out. If she stayed until the end of this experiment…

She scrambled backwards, but her body wouldn’t go past the door. “Vergil!” She yelled. As Gaius reached for the soul, Corrin began to feel panic in her chest. While the man hadn’t moved, his soul was feeling everything. He knew what was happening, and his emotions would drag her right down with him. Why hadn’t she thought of this? 

Because no sane reaver would ever dream of it. 

“Vergil!” She yelled again, praying to whoever would listen that his soul could hear her. If he could see the tether, she might survive. If he didn’t find it in time… 

Gaius reached his hand into the man’s chest. Pain shot through Corrin, followed by the man’s internal screaming. She collapsed to the floor as dizziness overwhelmed her. Pain pulsed in her head, threatening to explode. As the soul left the body, she began to hear voices. The girl she had failed to save. The Qliphoth victims screaming for justice. The noises of demon souls that she had burned through. Her vision turned black as she reached for something, anything. 

“Saina.” She said. My Soulmate. “Please.” She felt the tears on her cheeks. Felt her soul threatening to pull herself apart. “I’m sorry.”

Suddenly, the world around her changed as she was yanked back into reality. She gasped for air, tumbling backwards as she tossed the souls away in a powerful blaze. They hit the ground and shattered, each one burning before they had a chance to reform. The corruption dissipated. She felt the tears on her cheeks, but didn’t hear herself cry. She felt her heart pounding against her rib cage as her lungs struggled to find any air it could. The voices got louder. The world around her flickered a sickly gray. She felt like she was drowning. Even out of the memory, she was unable to pull herself back. Madness. She thought. He succeeded… and I let him. 

A hand grabbed her wrist as the other wrapped around her shoulder. Vergil pulled her to him, pressing her ear against his chest. She blinked, confused. She could hear him speaking, but the words sounded so far away. Was he even talking to her?

Focus. An almost familiar voice whispered in her ears. Vergil? Maybe. It sounded so close. Like a sultry, more emotional version of himself. But it wasn’t quite right, and he didn’t have access to her mind. Focus on the heartbeat. The soul. The man trying to bring you back. 

Of course. She closed her eyes. The voices began to retreat, replaced by his somewhat erratic heartbeat. The pain in her head subsided as she felt the heat of his soul radiating through their tether. Her body practically melted as the weight of everything vanished. When she opened her eyes again, the world had returned to normal. Calcifer landed on her arm, licking at any part of her face that he could reach. “Mama!” He squeaked as her eyes finally met his. “I did it, Mama.” His voice caught in his throat. She wanted to reach out to him. Promise him that she was okay. But her arms didn’t move. 

“I believe we agreed to not try that.” Vergil said. She hesitated to look up, expected to see burning anger within his eyes. When she finally found the courage, however, he was surprised to see are more subdued, almost concerned expression. At least his scowl hadn’t changed. 

“Not explicitly.” She said. His eyes narrowed, and she hastily finished her thought. “I knew you could pull me back.” She winced as he helped her sit up. Bits of rock and metal surrounded them in clumps. None of them moved, and she felt no residual soul energy. “At least it worked.” She said as she pushed herself to her feet. Vergil’s hand brushed her back, but he pulled it away so quickly she wasn’t quite sure she had felt it at all. 

“And I found a door!” Calcifer said bouncing around at her feet. “I tried to get inside, but I didn’t understand it.”

“That I can help with.” She said. 

Calcifer’s head tilted, but it was Vergil who spoke. “Is that wise?” 

“It is highly unlikely that destroying that thing didn’t draw some attention.” She said. “If we don’t go now, we might not be able to again.” 

Vergil was silent for a long moment, hand on Yamato. She half expected him to open a portal and toss her through it before going on his own. Instead, he sighed and gave her a curt nod. Corrin spun back around in an attempt to hide her exhaustion. It failed spectacularly when she stumbled forward a few feet before catching herself. She heard Vergil snort behind her. “Lead the way, Calcifer.” She muttered. The dragon shook his head with a look of disbelief, but did as she asked.

Chapter Text

It was a comfortable day in their circle of hell. Not an unusual occurrence, but one that drove Vergil outside all the same. There wasn’t much to do. Or, more accurately, much he wanted to do at the moment, and early morning was the best time for meditation. His gracious host slept in, something he knew she only started doing for his own benefit. Neither of them addressed it, nor did they need to. His quiet time was respected as much as her need for companionship. A need he was slowly growing to appreciate himself. An unspoken bond between them. 

So, when he felt a stab of immense pain in his chest, he knew something was wrong. His calm thoughts vanished with an intensity usually reserved for demons. His head snapped to the side, slightly tilted as he listened for something. The wind flowed through the tails of his black coat, bringing along the distinct scent of blood. Her blood. 

He vanished from his rock, determined to…

“Vergil?”

He opened his eyes at the sound of Corrin’s voice. A fitting interruption, as his vision, or whatever that had been, ended there as well. She stared at him with a soft look of confusion, and he knew he had failed at hiding his puzzlement. “Yes?” He said, hoping to pull her attention away from himself. 

“Are you okay?” She said. 

“Of course.” He said. Corrin raised a disbelieving eyebrow. Vergil shook his head as he pushed himself off the wall. “Did you find a way in?” He said. 

“Almost.” Corrin turned back toward the door. Calcifer had found an entrance in a warehouse a few blocks away, but Corrin had been forced to work through about five or six different sigils. He had watched her at first with interest as she traced sun symbols in different spots with her own magic, a process she said overrode Gaius’ magic. Vergil had let his mind wander as she worked, something he rarely had time to do. 

What did you show me? He thought as Corrin turned back to trace what he hoped was the last sigil. The vision- that was all he could describe it as for the moment - had felt real . Like a memory. Except the term “her” was much more vague than he thought it should be. No name came to him. Nothing before or after that moment. No sign that it was any more than Corrin’s fragmented mind bringing him into a vision of his own. The logical explanation was that this mysterious “her” was Corrin herself. But why would his mind leave it a mystery? And if it wasn’t, how could resonating with her show him a memory she wasn’t a part of? Sure, he’d only tried it once, but he should have seen what she was seeing… right? 

He frowned. His eyes shifted to the flicker of blue light between them. The tether, he assumed. It had appeared when he heard her calling for him. Not out loud, as her body had been frozen in a rather powerful trance, but in his mind. Her terror had momentarily been his own. An overwhelming emotion that had been about ten times stronger than he thought it should have been. And he didn’t understand it. Not yet. He had felt her emotions before, mostly when she was sleeping somewhere, blissfully unaware of the strain she was putting between them. But never like that. Never so paralyzing. But he didn’t tell her, and she didn’t ask about it. It was possible she hadn’t realized what had happened to him at all. 

“Finally.” Corrin said. She kicked at the door - likely more out of frustration than necessity, and it popped open. “Might have been easier to have you cut it down.” She muttered. 

“Was it not you who said Reaver sigils cannot broken by physical means?” Vergil said. He had considered it, of course, but Yamato’s power had been rather inconsistent when dealing with Reaver magic. He thought that his own unfamiliarity with these powers was preventing Yamato from doing what he expected it to do. But, unwilling to admit his potential inadequacy, he didn’t tell her that. 

“There has to be a way to fix that.” Corrin muttered as she pushed the door open. She peered inside and frowned. “That’s a drop… can’t tell how far. Much too small for Calcifer to carry me. Maybe if I used my fire…”

Without hesitation or much thought, Vergil lifted her and jumped. She squeaked, clearly an attempt to hide whatever other surprised noise had wanted to come out. Vergil smirked just slightly as Corrin frantically wrapped her arms around his neck. They landed a few seconds later, and he used his demon powers to ensure he absorbed the impact. Corrin didn’t move, her face buried in his chest. He could feel her panic slowly receding. “Did I frighten you?” He said, his voice calm as usual. 

She mumbled some combination of demon curses into the fabric of his vest before finally lifting her head. “Not at all.” She said dryly. “I live for the moments where I may be dropping to my death.”

“Oh ye of little faith.” 

She scowled. “Don’t start throwing my words back at me.” When their eyes met, however, her expression softened into a weary smile. Vergil raised an eyebrow. She blushed and looked away. “You have a nice smile.” She said. Vergil blinked. He thought he’d hidden his smirk before they landed. Unable to come up with an acceptable response, he sat her down and walked away. He heard her chuckle, but she was clearly trying to hide it. 

“Make haste.” He said. The hallway was about as long as the drop, and he wasn’t interested in wasting any more time. 

“You know,” Corrin said. “There are other ways to say that.”

It took a great amount of effort to keep his eyes from snapping back toward her in bewilderment. The comment did make him stop, though. “What?”

“Let’s go.” She said as she walked past him. “Hurry up. Let’s get a move on. Please follow me hastily wherever I wish to go before I stab you with my sword.” She shrugged as Calcifer landed on her shoulder. “You know… variety.” 

Vergil knew he was staring. Once again, he had no answer to her ramblings. What was she trying to get at, anyway? Was this some kind of strange small talk? How was he even supposed to respond to that?

Calcifer snorted. “I think you broke Mr. Vergil.”

He glared at the dragon, but Calcifer wasn’t looking. “Those all lack a certain… finesse.” Vergil said finally. “And frankly, I do not care for them.” He teleported past her, not waiting for a response. “I’m surprised your friend hasn’t shown up yet.”

He could feel the revulsion without seeing her expression. “Careful. You might end up summoning him.”

“Oh the horror.” Vergil said. 

“We still can’t kill him.” She said with a hint of bitterness. 

“Not yet.” Vergil still wasn’t entirely convinced he couldn’t just slice Gaius to minuscule pieces and be done with it. That, however, was a rather foolish risk to take. Gaius’ insane confidence had been the only reason he hadn’t tried it at the mansion in the first place. 

After a few moments of silence, they arrived at a metal slab. The only thing in the hallway that wasn’t made of compacted dirt. Corrin phased to it and immediately drew the same, sun pattern where a knob should have been. The door popped open on the first try and they both ducked in before it slammed shut behind them. “That wasn’t made for humans.” Corrin said. Vergil stepped up to the wall of glass overlooking a large warehouse underneath. On the right side were clusters of dead souls behind a clear wall, but Vergil couldn’t be certain if they were human or not. Down the middle were a dozen, glass pods with preserved bodies. Some human. Some demon. All soulless. “It’s the same.” Corrin said as she stepped up beside him.

“From the memory?”

She nodded and put her hand against the glass. Vergil felt a twinge of anger between them and Corrin winced. “No wonder they have so many souls to play with.” She said. 

“What do you mean?”

“Qliphoth victims.” She said. 

Vergil’s eyes drifted back to the souls. It would explain why they hadn’t seen as many since their arrival in Redgrave. Although he couldn’t shake the feeling that the sheer amount in the collection had been at least three years in the making. “All of them?” He said. 

“I can’t say for certain.” She said. “The composition of many of them match the ones from when we first arrived, and the size of all of them indicates a death sometime within the last five years.” She looked up at him in a brief moment of hesitation. “But I can’t disperse them all, and I doubt my shield will keep their emotions from you.”

“They are contained.”

“Won’t stop the voices.”

“But that is part of being a reaver, is it not?” While he had no trouble keeping his voice even, he couldn’t deny the unease in his chest. He had been exposed to plenty of souls over the last few weeks, but no Qliphoth victims as far as he was aware. To see so many again, trapped here by Gaius or someone just as insane, humbled Vergil just a bit. This was his fault, after all. They were dead because of him. Experimented on. Turned into hate-filled monstrosities… all because of him.

“Stop.” Corrin said quietly. He glanced at her, but she didn’t meet his gaze. “The guilt might never go away… but what’s done is done.” She shrugged ever so slightly. “The tree would have raised with or without you, and anyone else who wanted that fruit wouldn’t be here to regret it now.”

Because Dante would have killed them. Vergil thought. They were a breath away from possibly killing each other if Nero hadn’t intervened. Dante had admitted months later that he expected to find Vergil waiting at the top of the tree with the blind ambition of Urizen. If that had been the case, then Dante had been determined to put Vergil “out of his misery”. But, he realized he had found a more subdued Vergil instead. Changed by V’s memories, but still the same, stubborn brother Dante remembered. One that understood what he’d done, but didn’t relish in it. He’d accepted the burden, even if he tried not to think about it too much. 

He shouldn’t be too surprised that it was all coming back to haunt him now. 

“We came down here for a reason.” Vergil said. “Standing in this empty room reminiscing won’t get anything done.”

After a moment, she nodded. “Stay with him, Cal. Block out whatever you can.” The dragon nodded and silently floated to Vergil’s hand. Corrin turned toward the wall and sketched another sigil into it. The hidden door opened much slower than the first. A deep sense of dread washed over Vergil the second it did. The whispers of voices he didn’t recognize echoed in his head. “Ready?” Corrin said. With a curt nod, he walked past her and down the stairs into the warehouse. 

The moment he stepped into the basement, however, the voices got louder. The sounds turned into distinguishable words. Demon. Murderer. Monster. He tuned it out the best he could, but they were impossible to ignore completely. 

“Whenever I feel overwhelmed,” Corrin said gently behind him. “I try to focus on your soul instead. Though I will confess that mine is probably not as steady as yours, so I’m not sure how helpful that will be.”

I’m not overwhelmed. Was what he wanted to say, but the souls’ continued fury drowned out his own thoughts. Some of them were moving now. He could almost imagine the bodies they once belonged to pressing up against the glass as they tried to steal a look at the man that had caused their death. “How do they know?” He said in an attempt to distract himself. “Nobody saw me like this.”

“Souls are powerful things.” Corrin said. She had adopted her teaching tone, but he knew from the tether that it was taking a great deal of effort. “When one dies, regardless of reason, the soul always knows how it died and who’s at fault. If it was a natural death such as old age or sickness, then the souls move on peacefully. The same usually applies to accidental deaths. Violent deaths are a lot more complicated.”

Vergil closed his eyes for a brief moment and focused entirely on her voice. As she had predicted, the murmurs of the angry souls retreated to the back of his mind. Not gone, but much easier to ignore. He never thought he’d be grateful with someone so prone to rambling. “How so?” He said. 

“It’s a bit of a gray area.” Corrin said as her eyes drifted to the souls beside him. Vergil made it his mission to find another room, as it was unlikely she would at the moment. Unfortunately, nothing stood out to him yet. “Souls that are killed by others often cling to a desire for revenge that keeps them from passing on. In the case of, let’s say a murder, that soul often knows exactly who killed it. However, without a reaver nearby, they’re often left festering in their hatred until they become corrupted. In this case,” She waved her hand toward the souls. “I believe they could feel your demon’s power after their death, and your soul would feel the same to them now.”

Vergil stopped at an empty part of the wall at the end of the glass containers. The rest of the warehouse, however far it went, was empty aside from a few flickering lights. There was a slight shimmer a few feet in front of him, almost indistinguishable in the air. He reached out, and his fingers brushed a wall of invisible crystal, identical to the Spider’s magic. “If there is another room,” He said. “It has to be here.”

“I do sense something.” Calcifer said. “But its really faint.”

“I didn’t give you that much magic.” Corrin said as she tapped at the wall. “You’re probably running out of energy.”

“You could give me more.”

“Not at the moment.” It was the first time during their excursion that she sounded tired. Vergil hadn’t felt it, nor had the tether given her away. Though, with the scramble of voices in his head, he wasn’t particularly surprised. Corrin summoned a small flame and moved it up to the door. Nothing appeared and she frowned. “There is something here…” Her face lit up suddenly as she jumped back and looked to Vergil. “Try cutting it down.”

“Have you developed an affinity for watching Yamato destroy things?” He said. 

“The weapon is not what interests me.” She said.

"What are you implying?”

“Nothing, Vergil.” She said innocently. “Nothing at all.”

He scowled at her, as a small amount of heat rose in his cheeks. Vergil slashed Yamato out so quickly it was back in its scabbard before the sound of clanging metal echoed back. Corrin leapt backwards as the hidden door, cut clean in half, toppled to the floor with a loud thud. Her eyes glittered with strange excitement. “Told you.”

He clicked Yamato once, but she stepped past him into the newly revealed room. He heard her breath catch before he followed her. The walls were covered in various drawings, diagrams, and scribbles of notes in the demonic text. There were torn books scattered all over the floor, mixed with shredded papers, broken pens, and shattered glass. The distinct smell of blood permeated the air, but he couldn’t see any in the mess. Corrin picked up a large piece of paper off of the floor. In the middle was an intricately drawn flame, a soul with more detail than any of the ones Vergil had seen. Within it were three eyes in the shape of a triangle. “Mundus.” Vergil said. 

“The writing is almost illegible.” Corrin replied. She held it up to another similar picture on the wall. This time, however, the eye was more reptilian. “Samael.”

“They must be working together.”

“Or Gaius is playing them both.”

Vergil doubted that, but it was impossible to know for certain. They hadn’t seen Samael’s human form since the grocery store, and Vergil had thought Mundus too weak to try anything again. He shuffled through a few papers on the wall. Many of them were similar drawings with either Samael or Mundus’ eyes in different colors of souls. Around those were anatomical drawings of humans and various demons, each one with a detailed soul. He frowned as he pulled a drawing of a young child alongside an empusa queen off the wall. Clearly, the Spider’s target had not been as random as they had thought.

“Vergil look.” 

He glanced toward Corrin. Beneath a pile of papers that she had torn off was a slightly darker piece of metal. She tapped it, and it sounded hollow. She summoned another flame, and a flicker of magic appeared on the metal. “A sigil… but not Gaius’? I wonder if I can crack it.”

A low moan echoed in Vergil’s head. Corrin’s eyes jerked backwards. The human souls outside started bouncing around. Vergil heard a light thump in the distance as the Spider’s soul appeared. Corrin cursed softly as she started tapping on the metal. A second soul - Gaius - appeared. Vergil heard him laughing.

“I told you!” Gaius said, his voice reverberating off the walls. “If the reaver isn’t already dead, they’re not strong enough to escape.”

“I hope your right.” The woman said. “Samael won’t be happy if you’ve wasted our best experiment.”

“She’s here.” Gaius said. “With the Son of Sparda. I can feel it.”

Corrin winced. Vergil reached for Yamato. “We have to go.” He said as he folded up whatever papers he could reach. They would have to look through it later. Corrin continued sketching various shapes into the metal, but none of them opened it. “Corrin.”

“I know.” She said. “Last try.” She drew a half moon and the metal disappeared. Surprise flickered through the tether, but she didn’t stop to question it. She yanked out a brown, leather journal. “Time to go.” She said.

Crash! Glass shattered at the other side of the warehouse. The howls of the souls almost knocked Vergil off his feet. Corrin grabbed at his arm. “Open the portal.” She said. A wall of flame appeared in the doorway. Souls began to collide with it. Corrin flinched with each one, pushing back. Gaius and the Spider’s souls moved faster toward them. Vergil tried to pull himself back, but it was impossible to focus. Kill him! Voices yelled. 

Make him suffer.

Why does the monster get to live while I don’t?

You don’t deserve this life.

He felt Corrin’s fingers brush the skin of his wrist. “Focus on me.” She said. “Just like you did when you resonated with me.” He grabbed at his head, but sliced Yamato out. Frustratingly, a portal did not appear. It was impossible to focus. He could feel his energy slipping away and the souls hadn’t even reached him. “Please.” Corrin said, her voice desperate. “ Saina .”

That word again. Whatever it meant between them, it was enough to snap him back, if only for a moment. He slashed open the portal and grabbed Corrin’s arm. As he pulled, a single soul slipped through. It shifted into the shape of a human and swung at Vergil. He lurched backwards into the portal. 

He felt a sharp pain in his chest as they landed in the middle of Devil May Cry. His vision went blurry as the portal closed. He heard Corrin’s voice somewhere over the chaos. The voices pounded in his head. Louder and louder. A pair of strong hands grabbed at his shoulders. Not Corrin. He couldn’t see who. He heard the snapping of buttons before a pair of cold hands pressed against his chest. 

Pain shot through him. Memories flooded back. Mundus. He thrashed wildly, unable to tell himself he was safe. His connection to Corrin vanished as he fell into darkness. The voices changed. Mundus’ laughter echoed in his head. Flames burned against his chest. He fought against it, struggling for any control. The laughter increased. The smell of blood nearly overwhelmed him. 

Mundus’ laughter stopped suddenly. The voices changed. “ It’s okay.” It was Corrin’s voice. Why did it sound different? “ I know your scared. Please…”

He couldn’t stop the surge of fury that swept through him. He heard her scream, but it sounded so far away. Was it really her? He was certain it was her voice, but a touch unfamiliar. Younger, maybe? He couldn’t explain why, nor was he given the chance to. 

This isn’t you.” Her voice whispered, like she was trying to calm down a frightened animal. It might have offended him under any other circumstance. “ You’re someone different. Someone special, right? A Son of Sparda?”

Why was she questioning him so? He tried to slow his thoughts. Tried to understand. But the pain was too immense. The mumbling of other angry voices too loud. 

“It’s going to be okay.” She said again. “ I will protect you. I promise.” 

A power similar to an electrical current surged through every muscle in his body. His heart stopped. No air filled his lungs. He couldn’t move. Couldn’t breath. Couldn’t think. 

Then, everything relaxed. His arms hit the ground with an audible thud. Vergil tried to move his body. Open his eyes. Speak. Do anything. But his body was too heavy. Mundus’ voice - and all the others - subsided. The pain vanished, replaced by a soothing warmth in his chest that he couldn’t explain. The hands on his shoulders relaxed only slightly.

“What the hell happened?” Dante’s voice was distinctly demonic. He must have triggered. Vergil felt drops of something hitting his chest. It took him another moment to notice that Corrin was fighting back tears.

“I’m so sorry.” She said. He felt her head drop to his chest where her hands had yet to leave. “I couldn’t… I should’ve… I didn’t want to…” 

“Stop it Mama!” Calcifer said from somewhere next to Vergil’s ear. His voice broke before he could say anything else. 

Vergil felt his brother’s demonic power fade away. “Breath, Cor.” He said. “You have to tell me what happened.”

Vergil felt her head shake. “I need to burn away the corruption before he wakes up.”

Did she think him unconscious? Maybe he should be. His body was beyond his control, but his mind was still very active. How could she not know this? He tried to will anything through their tether, but he felt nothing from her. The warmth in his chest, however, slowly spread to the rest of him. It was soothing. Something to distract him. Corrin’s hands left his chest. A moment later, he felt them on both sides of his face. Her forehead pressed lightly against his, and he felt her warm breath against his lips. A part of him wished he could pull away, but the majority of him felt eerily calm. A strange sense of familiarity pricked in the back of his mind. Like a memory he couldn’t quite grasp. Again. 

After a long moment, he felt energy surge between them. Emotions flooded into him. Fear. Desperation. Relief. Affection. Within it all, he felt his consciousness slipping away. 

“Rest well, Saina.” Corrin whispered as her language slipped into the unfamiliar demonic one. She’d only used it twice, and Vergil still didn’t think he should understand it. But, in that moment, it was the most comforting sound he had ever heard. “I know I’ve failed you before, but I won’t this time.”

He passed out in a haze of jumbled questions, conflicting emotions, and the gentle embrace of her soul enveloping his own.

Chapter Text

Dante thought Corrin looked positively miserable. Not that he blamed her. The wound she sustained from healing Vergil was gruesome, to put it lightly. Three deep claw marks from the top of her shoulder to her chest, straight through her muscles and almost to the bone itself. Only Dante had been able to stop Vergil’s trigger from tearing right through her. But Corrin had continued healing him like nothing happened. Promised Dante that he was okay and almost cried when she had finished. 

That was when the reality of the situation had settled in. The poor woman had passed out within minutes. Trish and Lady had kept her stabilized while Dante had been forced to call Nico for a ride as Yamato stubbornly refused to open a portal for him. Nero had shown up, clearly exhausted, but more than willing to drag Vergil into the van. Dante had been more surprised to find Kyrie waiting in the backseat with a massive first aid kit and a smile that didn’t falter even as Dante carried Corrin inside. 

“She’s seen worse.” Nero had said. And, with the way Kyrie started giving orders to the two devils while Nico drove, Dante believed it. 

But now, hours later, Corrin was wide awake. Her shoulder and chest wrapped in layers of gauze as she waited somewhat impatiently for the actual healer to show up.

“He’ll take good care of you.” Kyrie said cheerfully. Corrin didn’t respond, but Dante didn’t expect her to. She looked exhausted, worried, and probably inches from a stress induced heart attack. The door opened behind him, and Nero stepped in. “On his way?” Kyrie said.

“He said he’ll be here on Saturday as planned.” Nero said. “Had some other business to take care of and trusts that you took care of the worst for now.” He handed her a pair of green pills. “He said she should take two of those and sleep it off.”

Corrin frowned. “I can’t sleep while Vergil is… I mean, what if something goes wrong?”

“Then I’ll wake you up.” Dante said with a shrug.

Her expression soured even more. “You won’t know if…”

“You said you burned away all the corruption, yes?” He said. Reluctantly, she nodded. “Then he’ll be fine.” He patted Nero on the shoulder. The younger devil stumbled just slightly and glared at Dante in a very Vergil-esque manner. Dante grinned at him, trying to hide how forced it actually was. “You two should get some sleep. I’ll make sure Corrin takes her medicine.”

“Are you sure?” Kyrie said. 

“Absolutely.” He said. “Now go before I carry you out myself.” Nero looked horrified, but Kyrie only chuckled as she rose from her seat, grabbed Nero’s hand, and led him out of the room. 

The door closed behind them, and Dante dropped his facade immediately. “What the hell happened?” He said as he leaned against the door, arms crossed. 

“A Qliphoth victim got to him.” Corrin said. “Slashed his soul.”

“Then why does he have a scar on his chest?”

“I can’t heal everything.”

“But he can.”

“Not that.” She said with a hint of bitterness. “It was my fault, Dante. I was too desperate for information... I stayed too long and he…”

Dante shook his head. “My brother could have thrown you through that portal at any point, so clearly he believed that information was important.”

“Or he didn’t realize the risk.” She said. 

“Did you?”

She shook her head. When her gray eyes met his, Dante could see the exhaustion threatening to overwhelm her. He grabbed a seat and plopped down in front of her. “You knew how to heal him.” It wasn’t a question.

“Yes.”

“But corrupted souls can only be killed.”

“Yes.”

“Then how could you heal my brother?”

She stared at him with a look of hesitation, but he could tell that she was desperate to get something off her chest. For awhile now, Dante had thought she was hiding something. Everything seemed just a little bit too perfect. She loved reading. Spoke the same demonic languages as Vergil. Listened to and played the exact music Vergil loved. Gave his brother all the space he wanted, even though it was clear by the gray in her eyes that it was a detriment to her. Was she hiding anything malicious? No, Dante told himself. That seemed impossible given the immense pressure it was putting on herself. “Corrin.” Dante said. “It’s okay to tell me . I promise.”

A small tear slipped down her cheek and she quickly looked away. “I’ve healed his soul before.” She said. “I’m the only one who can.”

That’s not what Dante expected to hear. “When?” He said. 

There was a long pause before she spoke again. While Dante was impatient by nature, he knew not to push something this important. It was clear through her defeated look that she wanted to tell him, even if she didn’t know how. At least he knew he would get an answer out of her eventually. Vergil would have walked away by now. “Seven years ago.” Corrin said finally. Dante couldn’t hide his shock, but she wasn’t looking at him. “I found him in one of Mundus’ prisons. His soul was more corrupt than anything I had seen… at least up until then.”

For a brief moment, Dante could only stare. But his thoughts were a whirlwind of everything all at once. “How?” Dante said. 

“His soul.” Corrin said. She was shaking now. “It called to me. And I was rather reckless at that time so…”

“His soul?” Dante said. “What about his soul?”

“Well…” Corrin trailed off. Dante reached out to her without thinking. 

“It’s okay.” Dante said. “Remember. You can trust me.”

“He’s my soulmate.”

Suddenly, everything clicked. If the moment weren’t so serious, Dante might have laughed. “I really did bring my brother back with a wife.” He muttered with a slight shake of his head.

Corrin glared at him, but it was soft. “We never married. Demonically or otherwise.”

“Wait.” Dante said. “You haven’t told Vergil.”

Corirn shook her head. “I can’t, Dante.”

“You have to.” Dante said. “Corrin you saved his life. Twice.”

“But I don’t want him to think he owes me anything.”

Foolish. Dante could hear Vergil saying. “So, what exactly does being a soulmate entail?”

Corrin sighed. “He would complete the tether.”

Dante hummed to himself. “And if he did?”

“Then it can’t be broken.” Corrin said. “Without sacrificing my own life.”

“Then tell him that.” 

Corrin snorted. “Could you imagine that conversation?” Corrin said, her voice sounding well above her normal tone. “Hey Vergil. I know you don’t remember me, and we’ve only really been “friends” for like a month, but you’re my soulmate and I need you to commit the rest of your life to me right now or I’m probably gonna to die.”

“Well when you put it that way.” Dante said. “Seems pretty straight forward. Should I go get him?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“What’s the worst that could happen?” Dante said. “It’s not like he’ll kill you over it.”

The misery returned to her face almost immediately. “You don’t understand.” She said. “To reavers… our soulmates are our life. They’re what grounds us in reality. Gives us the strength to keep going. The people that keep us from madness by reminding us how important life is. We pull energy off of them.” She shook her head. “I don’t want to drag him down.”

“What’s worse, Cor?” He twirled Ebony, almost unaware that he had grabbed it out of it’s holser in the first place. “A companion that he can’t abandon, or a reaver unable to fight because she’s pushing herself past her limit?” 

Corrin didn’t answer, and that told Dante enough. “Take your medicine.” He said. “Get some rest.”

“And then what?”

“I’m going to talk to Vergil.” He said as he rose from his seat. Her face twisted in alarm. “If anyone can get him to see reason, it’s probably me.” Dante said. “Worse case, we end up fighting it out in a field somewhere.”

“You don’t have to....”

“If he says no.” Dante said. “Can you pass the tether to someone else?”

She hesitated. “Yes, if I must but…”

“It won’t be ideal.”

“No… but I would live.”

“No matter what my brother says,” Dante said. “You will not sacrifice your life for him, understood?”

After a long moment of staring from both sides, Corrin looked down and nodded. 


 

The soft sound of a piano pulled Vergil out of his admittedly light slumber. He stared at the ceiling, swallowing a moment of panic as his mind remembered where he was. Home, he had come to call the little cabin. Safe he had come to believe. Alive… that was often as unbelievable as the other two. He had experienced a nightmare, of that he was certain, but no specific memory came to him. A small comfort he was certain she had been a part of. 

He sat up slowly, letting the light blue blanket slip off of him as he reached for his shirt. They didn’t have the largest variety of clothing. But she had taken great care to fashion him suitable clothing for demon fighting out of whatever poor creatures had dared to come close. The more comfortable clothes - which he had refused to wear for almost six months - had been in a box she hadn’t touched. She assumed her brother had left them many years prior, but didn’t know why. Vergil always felt exposed by the loose fitting clothing. But he had come to learn that he could let his guard down just a little bit here. A year with her had taught him that much at least. 

Safe. Alive. Home. He repeated the words to himself like a strange sort of prayer. A reminder that he was no longer the trapped, tortured puppet of a vengeful demon. But a Son of Sparda with his mind back in tact. Somehow. 

The song ended. He didn’t move. A few minutes later, as he expected, she appeared in the living room with his clothes folded in her hands.  “Good morning.” She said with a smile. “Washed and pressed. Just like I promised.” He took the pile from her with a nod. “Did you want to try making that sword again?”

“Yes.” He said without hesitation. While she couldn’t replicate Yamato, she could - with his memories - create a katana that could fill that void he felt every time he reached for his father’s sword. They had tried twice already, but she had difficulties explaining how resonating worked, and his mind struggled to hold onto the good memories long enough for it to matter. 

But he was determined. And a determined Vergil always got what he wanted. 

Corrin sat down beside him, cross-legged as she faced him. He watched her wearily for a moment - he still hadn’t gotten used to being around someone for prolonged periods of time - but eventually sat his clothes down on the table and turned to face her. “Focus on the memory.” She said as she held her hand out. He glared at her - why did she always need to repeat herself? - but his eyes softened when she met his gaze with a firm, but calm one of her own. Slowly, he reached for her hand. His fingers brushed against her palm and he stopped again. She didn’t move. A small blessing, he thought, that she understood how difficult just touching her was. “I feel the same.” She had said to him once. “Twenty years in isolation will do that to a person… and even then I can’t imagine what you’re going through.”

But he trusted her. At least, he thought he did. Vergil wasn’t entirely certain what “trusting someone” felt like after so many years. Emotions were still difficult for him to process after being numb to them for so long. But Corrin was patient. Quiet. Trustworthy. 

Finally, he wrapped his hand around hers and closed his eyes. Corrin remained perfectly still, never pulling for more than he was willing to give. He focused everything he had on memories of Yamato. The day his father handed it to him as a child and told him to take good care of it. The exact weight of the sword and the speed that it sliced through the air every time he used it. 

The sword shattering under Mundus’ power as he could only watch. His greatest keepsake, gone with his sanity. 

He flinched, but forced the painful memories away. “It’s alright.” Corrin said, her voice quiet. “You’re safe here, Vergil.”

He took a slow, deep breath. Determined, he refocused his mind to the first battle with Dante on the Temen-ni-gru. It was the easiest memory to recall. The beginning of his downfall, but the sharpest memory in his mind. The rain battering them both as they fought under the full moon. The feel of Yamato hitting Dante’s weapon over and over in perfect strikes. The satisfaction he felt when he finally knocked it away. His greatest triumph, if he ignored how the rest of that story played out. 

He felt a small heat in his chest. Vergil’s eyes snapped open, but Corrin’s did not. She was glowing just slightly as she held her second hand out to him. He waited, patient, hoping that his memories had finally been enough. Black and white fire gathered in her open palm, swirling together. A few minutes later, it shot out in a straight line and vanished. A katana appeared in its’ place, half black and half white. She opened her eyes with a triumphant smile as it dropped into her hand. “It’s not the same.” She said. “But I hope it’s sufficient.” 

Vergil took the sword. It wasn’t quite as heavy as Yamato, and a bit shorter than he had wanted. But the blade was sharp. The hilt was sturdy. He turned it slowly in its hand and felt his lips twitch it what was almost a smile. For now, he could make it work. 

Corrin swayed slightly in the corner of his eye. He looked back to her as her eyes fluttered, clearly against her will. “Rest.” He said as he reached for his clothes.

“I need to go with you.” She said.

He scoffed lightly at that. “You will be useless in this state.”

She chuckled, clearly unfazed by his brusque nature. “Don’t go too far.” 

“I will take care of myself.” He said. A promise hidden behind words of confidence. I will return. 

She nodded with another smile. “I’ll be here.” 

He watched her for a long moment, unable to identify the strange feeling in his chest. Recently, her smile had caused a flurry of curious feelings. A part of him wanted to understand it. The rest of him walked away without another word. 

A soft breeze pulled Vergil out of his dream. He opened his eyes slowly - a first for him, as dreams usually ended in nightmares - blinking away the haze of the bright sun mixed with his own confusion. A few seconds later, he realized he was in Nero’s guest room. Odd. Hadn’t he passed out in Devil May Cry?

I know I failed you before…

He sat up slowly, flinching at a strange pain in his chest. He grabbed at it instinctively, surprised to find that it was wrapped in bandages. Even more curious, he could feel the rough ridges of a scar under the wrappings. When had he gotten hit? Even if the angry soul had gotten to him, it should have healed immediately. He reached for Yamato to cut the bandages off, but froze when he realized the sword wasn’t anywhere near him. A very brief moment of panic over took him before he calmed himself. It was impossible that anyone had gotten Yamato out of Devil May Cry, especially with Dante there. It was more likely that his brother had it himself. A fact that didn’t make Vergil any happier. 

His dream, visions, memories - he didn’t have a clue what to call any of this any more - looped endlessly in his mind. He knew her before. He had to. He didn’t know how or why, but it was the only way any of this made sense. The reason she had said his name before he’d ever told her. Why the tether had been so easy to make. Why she knew when he wanted his space, and not to be bothered by anything he said. 

But when? Why? He had so many questions, none of them with satisfactory answers. 

Why would you keep that from me?

“Would you have believed her if she had told you?” Griffin whispered in a voice that wasn’t completely his own. 

He ran his hand through his hair and glanced out the window. The tether - slightly darker this time, he noted - drifted downstairs, but he couldn’t feel any particular emotions. She was either incredibly relaxed, or sleeping. The children were playing outside somewhere. Nero’s laughter echoed alongside their giggles. Lady, Trish, and Nico were talking about something in hushed whispers, but Vergil didn’t bother listening to them. 

He needed to talk to Corrin, but he wasn’t sure where to start. 

There was a knock at the door. “Verge?” Dante said. “You awake?”

He sighed. “It would appear so.”

The door opened and Dante walked in with a pile of clothes, a pair of scissors, and a tired look on his face. He was dressed more casually than Vergil had seen in a pair of cargo shorts and a blue t-shirt with the words “Fortuna Orphanage” across the logo of an angel. When he met Vergil’s eyes, however, he gave him that same, goofy grin that Vergil both loathed and appreciated all at once. Not that the red-twin would ever know that. “How long have I been unconscious?” Vergil said. 

“Two days.” He said. 

“Where’s Yamato?”

“Safe.” Dante said. 

“That’s not…”

“You’ll get it back once I decide you’ve earned it.” Dante said. Vergil was seconds from throwing a barrage of summoned swords at him, but refrained. There were more pressing matters to deal with.

“What happened?”

“You almost died. Corrin saved you. The end.” Dante said. He sat the clothes down and pulled up a chair. “I’m just here to deal with that.” He waved to the wrappings on Vergil’s chest. As he slid the scissors under the bandages at his stomach, Vergil watched his brother, unable to determine what he was thinking. The fact that he was actually using the scissors and not trying to slice it off with his Devil Sword was already a massive red flag. Something was very wrong. 

Just ask, you bird brain. Griffin said. 

“Is everything alright?” Vergil said. 

“Yep.” Dante said with a sickenly cheerful tone that told Vergil absolutely nothing. “Nero’s holding a barbeque for all the orphan kids today, so I’ve been asked to help.”

“That’s all?” Vergil said. 

“Kyrie is recovering from an illness. You’ve been unconscious for two days. Corrin’s eyes have turned gray and she isn’t healing right. Nico had to repair your coat and remake Corrin’s clothes from scratch, so I went with Nero on a supply run. “ He cut through the last of the bandages and pulled it away. “And the scar is still there.” 

Vergil glanced down. A thin, but jagged scar cut across his chest. It was just darker than his skin. The only blemish anywhere on him. He frowned. Why his body hadn’t healed it was beyond him. “At least it’s not as bad as Cor’s.” Dante said. 

Vergil’s eyes snapped back up. “What?”

“I’m not sure you want to know, Verge.” Dante said as he tossed the scissors away. They landed on the floor somewhere. Vergil knew he’d have to be the one to pick them up. 

Vergil scowled. “Don’t…”

“You got her pretty bad.” Dante said, his tone suddenly deadly serious. “You’re lucky you didn’t kill her outright.”

Vergil swallowed his words. That’s why he had smelled blood. He thought it was just his hallucination. “I triggered.” He said. 

“Yep.” Dante said as he leaned back in his chair. “Nero’s got a healer coming to see her tomorrow, but I think you may want to fix some things before that.”

An apology, Vergil assumed. But it was odd that Dante wouldn’t just say that. “What are you getting at?”

“You ever wondered how you got out of Hell in the first place?” Dante said. “Twenty years down there. Most of that enslaved to Mundus and you just… escaped one day? No problem?” Dante shook his head. “I don’t buy it.”

Vergil stared at him. He hadn’t really thought about it before, nor had he needed to. One day he had just woken up in Fortuna. Yamato had called for him. His body was crumbling. His mind slipping away. All he knew was that he needed to save himself. Vergil was honestly surprised he had managed to find his family home at all. “Does it really matter?” He said. 

“Tell me this Verge.” Dante said, ignoring the question. “When you made that tether with Corrin, was it really just guilt?”

“If I didn’t, I would be dead.”

“But you could break it at any time.” Dante said. “Just stay out of Redgrave, let me do all the work, and you’re good to go.”

“I was unaware that was an option.” Vergil said. The very idea of it, however, bothered him more than he wanted to admit. Corrin was decent company, and he hated the idea of staying out of a problem he caused. 

And she saved my life. 

He shook his head, earning an eyebrow raise from Dante. “Why are you telling me this?”

“Do you wish you could?”

“Break the tether?”

“Yep.” Dante leaned forward in his chair, elbows on his knees as he stared directly into Vergil’s eyes. “Cut all ties. Maybe stay out here with your son. Forget all that reaver crap and let someone else deal with it while you enjoy life for a change.” 

Vergil didn’t understand why his brother was so flippant about it. Surely he didn’t think that was the right thing to do. Vergil honestly expected his brother to be pushing him closer to Corrin, not away. She saved your life brother! He could imagine him saying . Now you’re really stuck with her. But he wasn’t. And Vergil didn’t know why. “I am enjoying life just fine.” He said diplomatically. 

“I could take it, you know.” Dante said. “The tether.” Vergil’s stare had to have widened by now, for Dante chuckled and leaned back in the same relaxed pose as earlier. “I asked her earlier if that was even a possibility. She said it was.”

“But.”

“It wouldn’t be ideal for her.” Dante said. “For a number of reasons. But she’s willing if you didn’t want it anymore.”

“Why did this conversation even come up?” Vergil said. “While I was asleep, no less.”

“I just asked a few questions.” Dante said. “And Corrin actually had a lot to say.”

“What’s your point, little brother?”

“She needs help.” Dante said. “Badly. And she’s too scared to admit it.”

“Of what?”

“Your reaction, among other things.”

“Foolish. I already agreed to be…”

“It’s more than that.” Dante said. “She needs your soul.”

Vergil blinked, expecting Dante to crack up in fits of laughter. But his brother didn’t move. Vergil wasn’t even sure if he was breathing. But his eyes had shifted a demonic red. He was deadly serious, more so than Vergil had seen him in a long time. “So, Verge” Dante said. “Ever heard of the term Soulmates?”

Something clicked in Vergil’s head. Everything suddenly made sense, and he wasn’t certain if that was a good thing. “In one of our books.” He said. “But I haven’t looked into it.”

“Well I’m glad I brought it with me then.” Dante said nodding behind Vergil. One of Pythagoras’ books, the exact one Vergil needed, sat on the bookcase with the torn paper bookmark he had thrown into it as an afterthought. How Dante knew which one to grab was another question entirely. “Those meds Nero gave Cor will probably keep her out for another few hours. Everyone else will be distracted with all the kids outside.” Dante said. “Good time for some light reading, don’t ya think?”

Chapter Text

Corrin jerked awake and toppled off the bed. Disoriented, she struggled to pull her arm out of the mass of sheets before finally crawling rather unceremoniously out of the cocoon of her own making. She winced as she put extra weight on her injured arm to sit upright. She was alone in Nero’s Master Bedroom. The clock beside her read 2:34 am. She frowned. Those green pills - whatever they were made of - had knocked her out for a lot longer than she had expected. She could hear Dante and Nero snoring outside the door, likely splayed out over the couch. Kyrie’s soul was upstairs with the children. Nico’s was in the garage, tired but still awake. Lady and Trish’s were nowhere to be seen. Vergil’s was above her in the guest room, distracted by something. With the tether weakened by her own lack of power, she couldn’t tell what he was doing. 

She sighed as she pulled absentmindedly on the messy braid of her hair. She was still tired. Her magic wasn't regenerating. Without Vergil, she was trapped and she knew it. But she had always prided herself on giving people a choice. Especially people she cared about. As much as her survival instincts were begging her to force the issue, her human side hesitated. 

Her mother would probably be disappointed.

A soft knock on the door drew her attention. Vergil. She wondered if Dante had spoken to him yet. His gentleman courtesy was promising, at least, nor did she feel any overwhelming anger. But she wouldn’t know if she sat there staring at the door until he inevitably walked away. She forced herself to her feet and pulled the door open. Vergil handed her his old black coat, clean and repaired. She stared at it for a moment. “Put it on.” He said. “And come with me.” 

She did so without a word as he cut a portal open behind him. 

Despite having no idea what to expect, she was still caught off guard when she stepped into an empty living room. She stood there for a long moment, dumbfounded. The entire wall was made of glass, overlooking a bustling city down below. Not Fortuna or Redgrave. Somewhere she had never been. Behind her was a kitchen with marble countertops, stainless steel appliances, and an island. To the left was a set of stairs leading up to the second floor. Under those was the piano from Devil May Cry with a new seat. Beside that was a small shelf filled with sheets of music and the folders Corrin had built over the weeks with Kyrie. She could hear the soft sounds of other souls, but nothing as distracting as the Qliphoth victims. Considering her demon senses, it was blissfully quiet. She wondered how it would be when the rest of the city woke up.

 “Where are we?” She said. 

“A newly built complex in a city named Corona.” Vergil said. “About an hour from Fortuna.” 

“This is what Dante bought us?” She moved toward the window, entranced by the lights of the city below her. This is what she imagined Redgrave was like before the Qliphoth incident, if a little more advanced. She had never considered living outside of the Fortuna area, especially not within a beautiful city like this. 

“Yes.” Vergil said. “It’s owned by Morrison, so we get a special rate, with some favors.” 

Corrin looked back to him, both surprised and embarrassed to find that he was staring directly at her. What she wouldn’t give to know what he was thinking. “You’re not upset?” She said quietly.

Vergil sat Yamato down on the counter-top, still not looking away from her. Despite being used to his gaze, Corrin still struggled to meet it for long periods of time. His demon side had always been stronger than hers, and in any type of relationship - or whatever they had been in the demon world - he was always the dominant one. While she didn’t mind that, it took a great deal of effort to keep her own demon side from overwhelming her human thoughts in situations where absolute compliance wasn’t really needed. She wasn’t certain how aware Vergil was of that dynamic between them, as he was always naturally imposing. She hoped his human half would value her more than her demon half’s submission. 

“I don’t like being lied to.” He said. 

Corrin flinched. “I never lied to you.”

“Withholding the truth is the same.” He said as he moved closer to her. Her demon-half bristled in slight fear, but she pushed it back down. There was no malice from his side of the tether, and she didn’t think she was weak enough for him to hide it from her completely. “However,” He said as he stopped just a few steps from her. “I am not unreasonable.” Corrin tilted her head slightly in confusion. “Had you told me before now, I would not have listened to you.”

She let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. “I wanted to tell you.” She said. “But I didn’t know how, or when, or even if I should at all.” She looked away, but knew he was still watching her. “I never wanted to deceive you.”

“I know.” 

Her eyes snapped back to him in surprise. There was a flash of amusement in his expression before his stoicism returned. “How long?” He said. 

“Seven years.” She said. 

“Four years together, then.”

“Give or take a few months, yes. Considering how fickle time can be in the Underworld, I kept track as best as I could.”

Vergil nodded a single time. That, at least, he understood. “Where did you find me?”

“In a Mundus prison.” She said. “I’m not entirely sure why, but he gave you over to Samael about six months before I was able to save you. He mentioned something about an immortal test subject, but I never saw what he was attempting to do myself.”

“How did you get me out?”

“Very carefully.” She said with a light sigh. “When I first sensed your soul, I couldn’t get anywhere near the prison. Samael’s security, for obvious reasons, included a number of archdemons and generals that I had no hope of killing all at once. It drove me crazy knowing that my soulmate was right there after sixteen years of isolation, and I couldn’t even get to you.”

“You knew what I was?”

“I didn’t know who you were in particular.” She said. “But every reaver knows when they’ve found their soulmate, especially ones as… emotionally starved as I was.” She shook her head. That was an explanation for another time. “And I was running out of time.”

“A reaver’s soul is strongest at 18 years old,” Vergil said, clearly quoting something. One of Pythagoras’ books maybe. She wasn’t surprised the old demon had written something on that. “But their power diminishes every year after without a tether or soulmate to sustain them. Very few last beyond their thirtieth birthday if left alone.” His head tilted very slightly. “How did you manage it?”

“I wish I knew.” She said. “I was on the edge of madness for years, trapped in my little bubble with no way to get to the human world. I wanted to die, Vergil. Every day.” She bit her lip at the memories. “I tried, once or twice… but I could never follow through with it. I desperately wanted to do something with my life, not just wilt away in Hell. Celeste saved me for a reason, right? That’s what I kept telling myself. And when I sensed your soul, and saw the corruption on it, I knew I had to save you.” She met his gaze again, fully aware that she was rambling. He didn’t stop her. “You had fought through years of isolation worse than mine. And sure, I didn’t know exactly what you had been through for a long time after that, but if you could fight through that mess, then I knew I could keep myself going until I saved you.”

His eyes closed for a brief moment as if pondering her words. “How did you get me out?”

“I can show you.”

His eyes snapped open this time. She felt his surprise. “Resonating?”

She nodded. “I don’t have a lot of energy left without…” She trailed off. “But I should have enough to show you at least that much.”

He paused for a long moment before shaking his head. “There is another memory I wish to see.”

"Which one?" 

"The day I left." 

Corrin paused. That wasn't a particularly difficult memory for her to conjure. It was one of her stronger ones for sure, she would just have to be careful to pull them out before her mind got caught up in everything after it. "Calcifer isn't here." She said. 

"He's asleep with Nero." Vergil said. "I didn't want any interruptions." 

"Why that memory, though?" She asked without thinking. "I could show you anything. The day I found you. The day you threw me in the lake because you didn't know how else to say hello." He scoffed at that. Funny how he didn't deny the possibility. She remembered those weeks with absolute clarity. "When you made the tether…" 

"I made it?" 

"Well, gave me permission to make it. Basically the same thing." 

"I made a promise to you, yes?” He said. 

Corrin froze. She had told him that, hadn't she. Indirectly. It was difficult sometimes to remember what she'd kept in her head and what she'd accidentally told him. "You did." She said finally. 

"And you trust the accuracy of your memory?" 

She scowled at him almost offended. "My memory is fantastic, thank you very much." 

He stepped closer. Her breath caught again. He was so close now. She could shift just slightly forward and be kissing him. Just like she had all those years ago. Maybe he would even enjoy it… 

She blushed at the thought and hastily looked away. If Vergil noticed her discomfort, he didn't say it. "Show me." He said. 

She swallowed the lump in her throat, took a deep breath, and turned back to him. His expression didn't change. "Are you afraid?" He said. 

No she wanted to say. "A little." Was what she actually said. 

His eyebrow raised. "Why?" 

"I don't want to be alone again." 

It came out before she thought about it. An honest truth she'd been trying to keep to herself. She rubbed at her arm absentmindedly, ignoring the painful jolt from her wound. Vergil's hand practically appeared on her shoulder, pulling away the collar of both the coat and her pajamas. The gauze was torn through by a summoned sword faster than she could blink and he pulled it away as if it offended him. His eyes, however, bore into her skin. She was almost surprised her shoulder didn't burst into flames. 

"I'm fine." She said gently. The wound actually looked better than she expected. A mix of Kyrie’s impressive stitches and her own natural healing. It wasn't as good as Vergil's, especially not in a weakened state, but it would be fine in a day or two. Just another scar. But she felt a strange sense of guilt from Vergil's side of the tether. "Vergil it's…" 

"I've hurt you before." His voice was calm. Much more so than his soul. 

"You weren't exactly yourself." She said. "Either time." 

His frown deepened. "Yet you stayed." 

"Of course." She said. "You're my soulmate." 

His eyes flickered up to hers. “But you waited for me to make the tether. Why?” He almost snarled the last word, but Corrin could feel the confusion within him, not anger.  “You need your soulmate to survive. To access your true power. On both occasions, you could have forced me to finish the tether. Or lied about it. But you didn’t.”

“A lot of reavers do that,” Corrin said quietly. “But even if I could overpower you.” She snorted at the thought. “I wanted you to like me.”

Vergil snorted so quietly she almost missed it. “Is that all?”

“It's always your choice.” She said. 

He grunted with a shake of his head. “Show me.” He said. Corrin nodded as she put her hand to his chest and closed her eyes. 

 


 

It was raining that day. A rarity in more ways than one. Corrin watched Vergil from the bed as he tugged on the sleeves of his coat. It was the day she had been dreading, and the one they couldn’t put off any longer. But she wished for one, long, painful moment that she could pull him back and forget all about it. But she had done that for a week now, and she knew he would not allow it another time. 

“I cannot stay.” He said as he glanced back at her. 

Corrin sighed. Of course he would know she was awake. “I know.” She sat up and forced a smile, but his frown told her she was unsuccessful. “Let me come with you.” She said. 

“No.” He was by her side in an instant, one knee beside her as he hovered over her. One hand brushed her cheek, the other held her hand down. Her breath caught in her throat, earning a very small smile from him. 

She scowled, but it was soft. “Don’t start teasing me now.” She muttered. 

“You make it very easy.”

“Or you’re just really good at it.” 

He shrugged noncommittally and pulled away. Pieces of his crumbling skin remained behind. She stared at it as sadness overtook her. She had healed his soul and his mind. Kept him together for years. But she hadn’t been able to stop the damage done to his body. She had slowed it, yes, but he was crumbling more by the day. He had to go. She knew it. But she had a deep, terrible feeling that she would never see him again. 

How long did she have left?

“Stop.” Vergil said. 

“Are my thoughts too loud?” She was trying to tease him, but it came out more bitter than she intended. 

“Yes.” He said. “I will not be gone long.”

“You don’t know that.” She said. 

“Do you have such little faith in me?”

It wasn’t him she was worried about. It was the hundreds of demons looking for him, likely with instructions to kill after being gone for so long. The demon princes who might notice his crumbling form. The other reavers who might recognize her tether. There were so many risks for him. 

But he was Vergil. A Son of Sparda. Her soulmate. If anyone could survive this mess, he would. 

Finally, she pulled herself out of bed. It was much more difficult than she thought it should have been. He watched her, but his expression was soft. “No.” She said. “I believe in you.”

“Good.” He said with a nod. 

“I will not live forever.” Corrin said. 

He was silent for a moment. “Come with me.” He said before turning around and leaving the room without a response. She didn’t bother to change, hopping down the stairs as he walked straight out the front door. She teleported to catch up to him, but stumbled slightly as it was just beyond her range. He stopped long enough to let her catch up, but kept going the second she did. 

A few minutes later, they were standing in a cave behind a waterfall. A small, impossible hot spring that had been Vergil’s favorite meditation spot. He had only invited Corrin there once or twice, usually when she was exhausted enough to sit silently in the water until he was done with his quiet time. However, he had been adamant that she stay away for the last few weeks. She assumed it had been to give himself more time to prepare for the journey. However, as he reached into the water, Corrin’s heart almost broke when he pulled out a small blue and white egg. “Where did you find it?” She said, her voice soft as he teleported back to her. 

“Nearby.” He said. “There was a rather… friendly demon there to bargain with.” He smirked at her - his version of a genuine smile - as he handed it to her. She slowly plucked it from his hand. A warm, blue soul appeared in the center and Corrin felt her own soul lurch at the connection. Her companion. He had actually found it. She had given up on the idea years ago. But here it was. A gift from her impossible soulmate. Corrin sniffled, but couldn’t hold back the tears. Vergil’s head tilted slightly, confused. 

“Happy tears.” She told him. “Honest.” His shoulders relaxed and he nodded. 

“That will help, yes?” 

Corrin nodded. “For a few years.” She hated that word. Years. She thought after so long alone that time wouldn’t mean much anymore. But it did. And it hurt to think about. 

“Train him.” Vergil said. “Focus your energy there until I return.”

Corrin met Vergil’s eyes. “And if you don’t?”

“I will.” He said. 

“What if you forget?”

He huffed slightly, but reached out to brush her cheek. She nuzzled his hand, unable to take her eyes off of him. He let her - a rare treat - and stepped closer as she cradled the egg against her chest. “When your companion is strong enough, if I have not returned, come find me.”

Corrin snorted. “Do you know who you’re talking about here? There’s no way you’ll believe me.”

“Then make me.” He said. “You’ll find a way.”

“Maybe you have too much faith in me.”

To her surprise, he leaned in and brushed his lips against her forehead. Not quite a kiss, but intimate enough. She blushed, feeling a wave of absolute trust between them. An emotion he felt strongly enough to let her feel. “I promise,” Vergil said. “When we meet again, whether you had to make me remember or not, I will finish this tether.”

She blinked in surprise. “But I never told you.”

“I’ve had a lot of reading time.”

“How did one of my books tell you that you’re my soulmate?”

She felt his eyebrows raise as his lips twitched in a small smirk. “Instinct is a powerful thing.”

Corrin groaned. “I just told you, didn’t I.”

He chuckled. “You merely confirmed my suspicions.” When he pulled away, his stoic expression was back. But his gaze was soft for her. Corrin shifted her egg to one hand and reached for the blue crystal hanging around her neck. She handed it to him. 

“Be careful.” She said. 

He nodded as he took it from her. A long, quiet moment passed between them. “I will take care of myself.” He said, his voice soft. 

Corrin smiled. “I’ll be here.”

He broke the crystal in his hand and vanished. Dizziness overwhelmed her as she felt the tether snap. She crumbled to her knees, barely holding onto the egg. She couldn’t stop the flood of tears that followed no matter how hard she tried. 

Crack.

Corrin lifted her eyes as the jagged line appeared on the side of the egg. Another crack expanded it. Moments later, a white dragon head popped upward, its own shell caught on its head. It chirped at her, tilting his head to the side just enough that the shell slid off. Sapphire eyes stared back at her, and Corrin couldn’t help but smile.

“Welcome home.” She whispered. “You have a lot to learn.”

Corrin stumbled forward as she pulled herself out of the memory. A hand grabbed her arm before she fell over completely. Her eyes met Vergil’s as her vision began to blur. “I may have reached my limit.” She murmured trying to shake the exhaustion away. It wasn’t working. Her knees buckled. He fell with her, shifting her to land rather gracefully in his arms. Vergil moved to prop her against his leg and grabbed her hand to press it against his chest. As spots filled Corrin’s vision, she felt his hand press against her. 

“Finish it.” He said. She couldn’t tell if his voice was soft or if her hearing was going away. 

“Are you…”

“Corrin.” He said. “Do not question me.”

She smiled weakly. “That’s the Vergil I know.” 

He growled at her, but she focused on his soul. “Feel for mine.” She murmured. “Like you did when you resonated with me.” He didn’t say anything, but she could feel him searching. She had hoped he would remember a bit more before trying this, but they didn’t have a lot of time. “Do you see the tether?”

“Barely.” 

She could feel herself shaking, but she focused everything she could onto his soul. A hint of panic pulsed in her heart. Celeste had told her how to make a soulmate tether, but she had never done it. Corrin could feel her power continue to wane, unable to draw off of him. She needed something, anything, to pull them together. She tried to speak, but no words came out of her mouth. I’m too late. She thought. I thought I had more time…

She felt Vergil’s lips brush her forehead. Corrin froze, confused. It wasn’t until she felt the swell of energy from his soul that she realized what he was doing. Souls build strength with happy memories. She had told him once before. Clever, and rather bold of him to assume that would work. But she missed this. Missed him. Missed being so close to someone who understood. And her soul listened.

When their souls connected, it was with an intensity she wasn’t expecting. Magic pulsed through her so quickly that she barely had time to stop her fire from burning the apartment down. Vergil triggered, but somehow managed to control it. A single crack appeared in glass across from them. He let it go immediately. Corrin’s muscles relaxed in a flood of exhaustion. Silence fell between them aside from her raspy breathing. Her skin tingled with new energy that her brain wasn’t ready to deal with.

“How long do you need?” Vergil said. 

“I have no idea.” Corrin said. “Haven‘t exactly done that before.”

“The healer will be at Nero’s house by noon tomorrow.” Vergil said, his calm voice back. Corrin preferred it over the annoying ringing in her ears. She hoped that would go away soon. “He wants to meet you.”

“Is he a reaver?”

“I have not met him.”

Corrin sighed. “We wouldn’t happen to have a bed here yet, do we?”

“Oddly enough,” Vergil said dryly. “That is the only piece of furniture Dante thought to buy.”

“How considerate of him.” Corrin let her eyes close as he lifted her. “How much do you remember?”

“Not as much as you’d like.” Vergil said. 

“More than I thought.” She said. For now, as she drifted off to sleep, that was more than enough.

Chapter Text

Soulmate.

Such a simple word. Yet, Vergil still wasn’t sure what to think about it. 

She’s my soulmate.

Vergil frowned as he glanced at Corrin. He wasn’t upset. More confused. Earlier when he was contemplating how to handle the revelation, he was convinced that her memory would be just like the ones he’d seen. A disconnected vision of someone else that just happened to have his face. A part of him didn’t believe that he would make such a promise to her, and he expected the memory to prove him right. 

And yet, perplexingly, he was actually relieved to be wrong. 

When she had shown him that memory, he had felt it as if it had been his own. Every emotion. Every decision. Years of companionship all culminating in that one moment. It was the first time he hadn’t felt like a bystander in the dream. He was doing things he couldn’t remember. Feeling the pain in his heart when he left her. Corrin’s memory had blended with his own. He was certain now that these visions weren’t just wishful constructs of Corrin’s mind. They were real. She had meant something to him. Still did, clearly. And he could feel the overwhelming affection she felt for him even as she slept. 

That was where his problems began. Despite believing the  memories, that was the first one he had felt. The only time he had any clue what his past self was thinking. It was clear that he had previous feelings for her, or he never would have made such a promise. But his current self…

Corrin curled up slightly, mumbling in her sleep. Her hair fell in front of her eyes as she cradled her pillow. Vergil brushed her hair behind her ear before he realized what he was doing. His frown deepened. It was impossible to deny the intensity of the tether, nor could he ignore the slight ache in his soul. It knew his feelings better than he did. You might as well just show me the rest. He thought. Unsurprisingly, nothing came to him. 

He looked back at the leather journal in his hand. Pythagoras’ book had clearly stated that soulmates healed better when in close proximity with each other. So, after he was certain she was asleep, Vergil had sat beside her with the journal and assumed he would get through it before she woke up. Instead, he had lost himself in his thoughts and only read the first page three separate times.

Corrin stirred. He felt her wake up in his soul - there was no explanation how, he just knew - but she didn’t open her eyes. Her breaths slowed, and he felt her uncertainty. Her fingers twitched as if she wanted to reach out to him, but she didn’t. “I’m still here.” He said. Corrin’s eyes fluttered open and Vergil’s widened slightly in surprise. Her dark blue eye was now a bright sapphire. A mirror image of his own. He didn’t remember Pythagoras’ book mentioning that. 

“What time is it?” She murmured. 

“Eight.”

“I could sleep for a bit longer then.”

“If you wish.”

“Was there something you wanted?”

There wasn’t, but now he felt a strange obligation to pretend that there was. “Tell me a story.” He said somewhat awkwardly. “Something you want me to remember.” Since he didn’t sleep much, his dreams were inconsistent. She could tell him much more.

She smiled. “I have plenty of those.” Vergil said nothing as his eyes drifted back to her. She was looking past him, lost in thought. “About a year after we met,” she started. “we realized that our nightmares went away when we were near each other.” 

Our? Vergil thought but he didn’t say it. 

Her smile widened as she looked up at him. “One day you brought in four, giant rocks, grabbed every pillow and blanket in the house, and lined them all up in the middle of the bed. You told me it was to keep me from “intruding in your space”, and insisted that I sleep on the left, and you on the right.” 

Vergil felt a slight tug on his mind. A flash of a small memory, possibly fueled by her soul. “And?”

“Three weeks later,” Corrin said as her smile faded a bit. “I had a particularly bad nightmare while you were out. When I woke up, you were there, curled up on my side with a pillow between us. The rocks all disappeared after that.”

Bam!

Corrin’s eyes snapped open as she jerked forward against him in a panic. Vergil grunted as he swallowed the explosive emotion surging between them. “ Emotions are often intense between soulmates in the early years,” Pythagoras had written. “And the more dominant soul may feel an obsessive need to protect the other.'' He didn’t expect it to be that intense. A strange, primal desire to confront whatever intruded on their abode. Only the bright red soul of his brother bounding up the stairs stopped him from doing so. 

The knock on their bedroom door was so loud that Vergil’s ears started ringing. “Let go.” He said as he pried himself out of Corrin’s panicked grasp. Her face flushed with embarrassment as she yanked herself away and mumbled a half-hearted apology. Vergil teleported into the hallway and nearly knocked Dante off of his feet. “What do you want?” 

Dante’s grin was as infuriating as always. “Hope I didn’t interrupt anything.”

“She was asleep.”

“Well now she’s not.” Dante said. “You’re welcome.”

“Why are you here?” Vergil said. 

“Well, Calcifer was so distraught…” Dante said.

“Shut up, red-guy!” Calcifer squeaked as his head popped out of Dante’s pocket. He leapt to Vergil’s hand, crawled up to his shoulder, and rubbed his nose against Vergil’s neck. “Your soul smells different.” He said. 

“Oh does it now?” Dante whistled. “You act quick, Verge. I expected at least a week of denial.”

Vergil scowled. “It’s pointless to waste time considering the severity of our problems.” He didn’t tell Dante how much effort it had actually taken to go to Corrin instead of avoiding her. Regretfully, that had been his initial instinct, but he had forced himself to at least read up on the subject. Pythagoras’ book had not helped much. If anything, it made the entire thing even less appealing. So much to figure out. So many uncomfortable feelings to confront. But Vergil couldn’t forget that she had saved him, or ignore the possibility that she had done it twice. So, he had given her a chance to show him the truth. 

Vergil honestly hadn’t expected to actually make the tether, but her memory had ignited his own. And Vergil knew himself better than anyone. He would never, under any circumstances, make a promise that he didn’t intend to keep. If his old self had committed to her, then his “new” self would keep that promise, even if he wasn’t quite ready for the implications. 

“Well I’m glad you figured it all out.” Dante said. “Now I need you two to leave for the rest of the day.”

While that was already planned, Vergil didn’t like the sound of it. “For what reason?”

“You’ll see.” Dante said. “Now go before I have to drag you out.”

“But I just got here.” Calcifer whined. 

“You’re welcome to stay with me.” Dante said. 

The dragon recoiled in horror. Vergil rolled his eyes as he teleported back to Corrin’s side. She was up, staring out of the window. “I heard.” She said. Calcifer leapt onto her shoulder and licked her cheek. She scratched at his head. “Everything’s… strange.” 

“Your soul needs time to adjust.” Vergil said.

“Pythagoras tell you that?” 

“Among other things.”

A moment of silence and then, “Thank you.” 

That baffled Vergil just a bit. “You were dying.” 

“But you didn’t have to save me.” She said.

“Foolishness.” Vergil muttered. 

When she smiled back at him, a strange feeling hit Vergil in the chest. Like his heart had forgotten what it was supposed to be doing. He didn’t think that was possible. If Corrin noticed, she didn’t react. “It’s difficult to express how wonderful this feels.” She said. “It’s like… I’m alive for the first time in decades.” 

Vergil understood that feeling more than he wanted to admit. He watched her for a long moment as she let Calcifer crawl over her fingers and to her other shoulder.  Her eyes were glistening, as if she was experiencing the world for the first time. When she met his gaze again, he reached for Yamato. “Time to go.”


 

Nero had warned Vergil that Kai was eccentric. But once he actually met the demon, Vergil thought that was a bit of an understatement. He looked human, but his demonic aura was strong and uncontrolled. Vergil was surprised that Kyrie could stand to be in the same room as him for too long. But she was chatting with Lady and Trish as if nothing was happening while Kai, in his plaid shirt and cargo pants, had turned all of his attention to Vergil. And he rambled. A lot. It reminded Vergil of Corrin, except she stopped herself when she realized she was talking too fast. Kai didn’t care in the slightest. 

“Your soul is remarkable.” He said. “You must have acclimated well to her power. How much has she taught you?  It couldn't be much. That soulmate tether is fresh.” Vergil raised an eyebrow, ignoring the questioning look from Nero. Vergil hadn’t intended on his son finding that out quite yet. But Kai didn’t give either of them the chance to discuss it. “She must be thrilled. I’m grateful you agreed to meet with me when you both have so much to learn. Has she pulled any magic from...”

Nero cleared his throat. Kai stopped mid sentence as he looked back at him. “Kyrie?” He said. “Her coworker will be here soon.”

“Right!” Kai said. “As soon as Corrin comes down, we’ll get started.” 

Vergil glanced at Kai’s soul. It was confusing, to say the least. A reaver one, he thought, but the orange and yellow blended together rather than a perfect split. But he spoke of souls in a very intimate way. Even more so than Corrin did. Clearly he knew what he was doing, and Vergil didn’t understand why he needed her help at all. 

Vergil sensed Dante’s soul seconds before the front door slammed open. Everyone else, except for Kai, Vergil noted, jumped as Dante sauntered into the building. “Everything’s good to go!” He exclaimed as he slapped Vergil’s shoulder with a strength that would have broken a human. Vergil stood perfectly still, but shot a summoned sword into Dante’s shoulder in a silent response. His brother removed it without a care. 

“Do I want to know?” Vergil said.

“Oh you’ll see.” Dante said. “You must be Kai.”

The man’s eyes went so wide that Vergil was almost surprised that they didn’t pop out of his head. “Both Sparda twins.” He said, his voice breathless as if he wasn’t talking to them at all. “And his grandson… I’m honored.” 

Dante rubbed at the back of his neck. “We’re not that special.” He said. Vergil scoffed, but said nothing. 

“Make way!” Nico shouted as she leapt down the stairs. How she didn’t tumble to her death was a miracle in itself. “Corrin’s ready to go.” She winked at Vergil and laughed when he only returned a blank stare. “You’re gonna love it.” 

“It’s clothing.” Vergil said. 

Nico waved her hand dismissively as she sat beside the other women. Dante snorted and Vergil glared at him. “What?” 

Vergil’s eyes locked on Corrin the second she came into view. He heard Dante whistle somewhere in the background. Her black and blue long sleeved jacket was form fitted and stopped just above her hips. It had a high collar, but low neckline that she had covered up with a silky, white turtleneck. The blue section in the middle was covered in silver lines, like scales. Her black leggings lead down to dark blue, knee high boots with silver swirls on the outside. She looked uncomfortable, but was clearly trying to hide it. “Don’t be shy!” Nico shouted from the living room. 

“Shut up.” Corrin muttered in a tone so low only the demons could hear her. She stopped in front of him and tugged awkwardly at the sleeves of her jacket. Vergil’s eyes drifted back to hers, unaware that they had gone anywhere else in the first place. She tugged at her hair, white and unbraided for the first time in awhile. “Do you like it?” She said. 

Vergi’s mouth went dry. His mind went blank. Everyone went silent as they stared at him. Anxiety washed over him harder than he had ever experienced before. It took a great deal of effort to keep himself from teleporting away. “It seems adequate,” He said. 

At least four different people groaned. “Dear God, V.” Nero said. 

“Adequate?” Nico said. “All my hard work and that’s all he says?”

“My brother isn’t exactly a charmer.” Dante said. 

“Apparently it runs in the family.” Nico said. 

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Nero snapped. 

“It means you’re lucky as hell that you have Kyrie or you’d be single, devil-boy.”

“Now, now.” Kyrie said. Everyone fell silent as they looked to her. “Some people aren’t as comfortable sharing their feelings with so many people around.” She smiled at Vergil. “Don’t worry about it, Vergil. I’m sure Corrin knows what you meant to say.”

He stared at her for a long moment, unwilling to admit that he hadn’t had another response. But everyone’s eyes turned to Corrin as she stepped closer to him. Despite her smile, she looked as embarrassed as Vergil felt. But she reached for the lapel of his jacket and adjusted it slightly. A nervous motion, maybe, but Vergil felt a slight heat in his face all the same. “I’m glad you like it.” Corrin said.  

Vergil heard at least three baffled gasps. Nero choked on his drink. Dante burst into laughter. “Perfect for each other.” 

Vergil noticed Kai twitching beside them as he stared at Corrin. Nero trusted this demon, but Vergil didn’t know what to think of him. They had yet to meet a good reaver, and he wasn’t willing to take any chances. Kai, however, seemed aware of Vergil’s hesitation for he moved slowly and looked to Vergil as if asking permission. Vergil didn’t move, surprised by the demon’s etiquette. He was much older, likely by thousands of years. But, it was difficult to tell with such a young, human face. “It is a pleasure to meet you.” Kai said as he held out his hand. “Sane reavers are such a rarity nowadays.”

Corrin hesitated before taking his hand. Vergil felt the intrusion on her soul immediately. She however, didn’t flinch. A long moment passed between them. Finally, Kai released Corrin’s hand. “Forty-three.” He said. 

“3,428.” Corrin replied. 

Kai’s smile widened. “Proficient in fire magic.”

“A medic,” Corrin said. 

“The wound Kyrie mentioned must have healed.” He said. “I don’t sense it.”

“Light scarring, but it doesn’t hurt.” Corrin’s head tilted slightly. “Your magic is… off”

“How so?” 

Corrin paused as her eyes flickered to Kai’s soul. “You can see souls, but not… like me.” She frowned. “No corruption… but the swirl would signify a loss of control.”

“I am an old man after all.” Kai said with a superfluous wave of his hand. “My powers are bound to fail eventually.”

“Even so,” Corrin said. “Surely the way you see souls is more complex than the way I do.”

“Many years ago, yes.” Kai said. “But I am color blind now.”  Understanding swept through the tether. “I fear there may be something wrong with Kyrie’s soul, but I cannot see any marks.”

“I cannot see her soul without getting caught in her memories.”

“You have a companion, yes?” On queue, Calcifer’s head popped out of Vergil’s pocket. He didn’t realize the dragon had been there in the first place. Kai smiled as he held his hand out. Calcifer sniffed at it hesitantly and glanced at Corrin. She nodded and Calcifer, with Vergil’s help, crawled onto Kai’s hand. “You are a beauty.” Kai said as he pet Calcifer’s head. The dragon purred as his tail flicked eagerly from side to side. “Has he resonated with another companion?”

“No.” Corrin said. “I haven’t seen another one in years.”

Kai nodded. “Kyrie first.” Lady, Trish, and Dante all left and Nico disappeared into the garage. Nero sat beside Kyrie and took her hand. He couldn’t hide the worry on his face, and Vergil wondered how bad everything was. Nero hadn’t told him that anything was wrong, but the two of them hadn’t spoken much in the last week. Kyrie looked as cheerful as always, but he could see the strain in her eyes.

“This won’t take long.” Kai said. “Just close your eyes, Kyrie, and think of happy memories.” The woman nodded as she lay her head back. Nero’s fingers brushed through her hair as his eyes remained glued to her face. The adoration on his son’s face was fascinating. Vergil knew Nero loved Kyrie, but he hadn’t seen them in moments like this. It was like they were the only two in the room, and there was only a small twinge of embarrassment on Nero’s cheeks. Kyrie was clearly more important than his discomfort. 

Vergil felt a tug on his soul. His eyes flickered to Corrin. She was nervous, but not looking at him. Vergil had the feeling that she didn’t really understand how easily emotions slipped through the new tether. Though, he supposed all the lessons and reading in the world couldn’t have prepared her for the real thing. 

“Your companion knows how to resonate, yes?” Kai said.

“Of course I do!” Clacifer chirped with pride. 

Kai grinned at him. “Then I need you to resonate with Kyrie.”

The dragon’s head tilted just slightly. “I can resonate with other people? I thought it was just Mama and Mr. Vergil.”

Kai shook his head. “You’re very special, little one.” Calfier’s eyes widened just slightly, but he didn’t lash out. He almost seemed embarrassed. “You are what allows your mother to heal people.”

“Heal people?” Corrin said. 

“That’s right.” Kai said. “You never knew?”

“I thought I could only heal my soulmate.” 

“That is true for most reavers.” He said. “But your soul is very different. And I don’t mean you can make veils like Celeste does. She gives them the tools to heal on their own. You can actually do it yourself.”

Corrin’s fists clenched in her lap. “But reavers of the moon are never healers…”

“Exceptions, while rare, can always be found if you look hard enough.” Kai said. “Now, I want your companion to resonate with Kyrie.” 

The dragon hesitated. “I won’t hurt her?”

“Not at all.” He said. He pulled on Nero’s arm without asking, and the later growled in slight annoyance. “Go on.” Kai said to Calcifer. “Don’t be afraid.”

The dragon crawled into Nero’s hand and reached his snout out toward her soul. When he touched it, his eyes turned white and his body went completely still. “Now reach for it.” Kai said to Corrin. “As long as your companion is resonating with her, you won’t.”

Corrin gently guided Kyrie’s soul a few inches from her chest. The white flame flickered above her hands, but Kyrie remained still. Corrin seemed to relax a little as she looked to Kai. “Do you see anything unusual?” He said. Mutely, Corrin used her second hand to gently move the soul around without touching it. But her movements were effortless, as if she were controlling her own fire. 

When she turned the soul completely over, Vergil felt a prickle of alarm. “There’s something there.” 

“What?” Nero said. Corrin flinched at the sound. Kai glared at him and shook his head. Nero’s mouth shut, despite his clear worry.

“What is it?” Kai said.

“I can’t tell.” Corrin said as she squinted. “It’s gray… and very small.” 

“No wonder I couldn’t see it.” Kai muttered. 

“Vergil.” Corrin said. “Is your eyesight better than mine?”

He didn’t know the answer to that, but knelt beside her nonetheless. There, on the base of Kyrie’s soul, was a tiny, gray mark. It was barely noticeable in the sea of white. But, to Vergil at least, the shape was unmistakable. “It’s a moon.” He said. 

Corrin frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense.” 

“Somebody is blocking Kyrie’s soul.” Kai said. The faraway look in his eyes suggested that he was talking more to himself than anyone in particular. “Why hadn’t I thought of that before… it’s terribly obvious in hindsight...”

“What do you mean blocking her soul?” Nero said, his voice a bit louder than before. 

Kai ignored him. “You can put the soul back now.” Corrin did so, turning it as she pushed it back at Kyrie. It returned to its spot and her eyes fluttered open. Calcifer’s head pulled back as he looked to Corrin in confusion. “How much did Celeste teach you?” Kai said. 

“Apparently not enough.” Corrin said dryly. 

“The base of the soul is incredibly important.” He said. “It is what determines one’s own growth, both physically and mentally. While demons, partial or otherwise, can heal any damage done to it, humans cannot. In this case, somebody - most likely a reaver - has placed a mark on Kyrie’s soul.”

Vergil could feel Nero’s anger long before his son spoke. A low ripple of uncontrolled demonic energy. Even Kyrie flinched slightly. “Calm yourself.” Vergil said sharply. “It will do you little good to trigger here.”

Nero glared at him. “I am in control, old man.”

“Your demon says otherwise.”

Kyrie put her hand on Nero’s shoulder and he calmed down almost immediately. “So someone put a mark on my soul?” Kyrie said. 

“Correct.”

“And that’s what’s making me sick?”

“That is my theory, yes.” Kai said. “If the situation weren’t so dire, I’d almost call it fascinating. Such a tiny mark, yet its blocking anything else from connecting with you. I couldn’t begin to tell you why somebody would do that. Your soul is clearly incapable of latching onto anybody else but Nero, so…”

Nero cut him off. “Is this why all of our…” He trailed off, his eyes flickering to Vergil in a self-conscious moment. He couldn’t imagine why his son was so nervous. 

Kai didn’t notice. “If nothing is able to connect with Kyrie’s soul, than she is incapable of having her own offspring.”

Silence fell over the room. Nero averted his gaze, absentmindedly nuzzling Kyrie’s shoulder instead. After a few, uncomfortable moments, Kyrie took a deep breath. “Can it be removed?” She said. Vergil was impressed by her calm demeanor. While he couldn’t read her soul, she seemed more relaxed than he thought she should be. Only the shaking of her hands in Nero’s gave any sort of tension away. 

“Possibly.” Kai said. “Though we have to find out who gave it to you.”

A car honked outside. “Your rides here!” Nico yelled from the garage. 

“Kyrie,” Nero said. “You don’t have to go.”

But Kyrie simply kissed him on the cheek, stood up, and smoothed out her dress. “Thank you for your help.” She said. “But I promised I would help with the children tonight.”

“Let me go with you.” Nero said as he jolted out of the chair. The worry on his face was insurmountable. “If somebody did this to you, then they might still be around.”

“That is highly likely.” Kai said. “Reavers don’t leave marks like that for no reason.”

“Please.” Nero said as he took Kyrie’s hand. “I can’t risk…” His voice cracked and he stopped speaking completely.

But Kyrie only smiled at him. “The orphanage could always use more help.”

Nero kissed Kyrie - clearly he no longer cared about the other people in the room - before taking her hand again. “Miranda today?” He said. Kyrie nodded. “We better hurry then.” He practically pulled Kyrie to the front door. “I’ll be back later, Nico!” 

“You better be!” She yelled back.

The front door closed behind them, leaving Vergil, Corrin, and Kai alone in the living room. Corrin, however, had a faraway look in her eyes and a frown on her face. “What is it?” Vergil said. 

“Miranda…” She said before shaking her head. “Did you bring that journal?” 

“No.”

“The moon was the same symbol I had to use to get it.” She said. “It can’t be a coincidence.”

“Actually…” Kai said. “I was hoping you two would humor me a bit longer.” Both Vergil and Corrin’s eyes snapped back to him. The demon took a few steps backwards, raising his hands up in mock surrender. “It won’t take long. Promise.”

“What do you want?” Vergil said. 

“Usually,” Kai said. “when a reaver connects with their soulmate, the reaver’s parent or guardian is responsible for mentoring them. There’s too much to learn otherwise. I doubt you two have years to figure it all out on your own.” 

Corrin glanced at Vergil. While she didn’t say anything, he could feel her sudden interest. As much as Vergil didn’t quite trust Kai, he couldn’t deny how valuable the information could be if he were telling the truth. Worst case scenario, Vergil was confident he could fight the demon himself. 

“Your companion can resonate with mine, and I can help you learn more about your powers.” Kai said. “It ‘ll be worth your while.”

Another glance at Vergil. He nodded. She relaxed and looked back to Kai. “Lead the way.”

Chapter Text

Vergil barely noticed the transition between the human and demon world. If he weren’t so attuned to his demon half, he might not have recognized it at all. Nothing changed. The trees were identical from one side to the other. He didn’t even feel himself step over the barrier. All that changed was the sound around him. The wind disappeared. The animals became more quiet. Only Kai’s soft humming echoed around them. Vergil reached back in curiosity, and his fingers brushed a strange, cold substance. It rippled, like water, but was otherwise invisible. “Interesting.” He muttered. 

Corrin, however, looked thrilled. “This is just like our home was.” She said. “With no access to the human world, of course.” She eyed Kai curiously. “Did Celeste help you make this?”

“I’m the one who taught her, actually.” Kai said with a proud smile. “I’m a bit of an inventor myself.” He whistled as they stepped into a clearing. In the distance, a low groan echoed. Through the trees a flock of birds scattered as a large, black creature burst into the sky. Calcifer’s and Corrin’s eyes went wide as a massive dragon - even bigger than Calcifer’s flying form - landed next to Kai. The scales were outlined in gold. The skeleton of its wings seemed to shimmer with magic. It had more horns than Calcifer, and a tail lined with golden spikes. Kai placed his hand on the dragon’s snout. “Thank you for coming, my friend.” He said.

“Of course.” The dragon’s voice was more feminine than Vergil expected. He heard Calcifer gasp as the dragon raised her head with an amused glint in her eyes. “Welcome to our domain, young ones.” Vergil’s demon bristled slightly. Of all the things it had been called, “young” felt completely wrong. Yet, to them, he was barely more than a child. “It has been a lifetime since we have had such distinguished visitors.”

Vergil could feel the turmoil in Corrin’s heart. A wave of a thousand questions with no real way to express them. The dragon stretched her head out toward her. Corrin reached back, entranced. A low rumble echoed from the dragon’s throat. Laughter? A purr? Vergil wasn’t sure which. Kai cleared his throat. “This is my companion.” The dragon pulled back and looked toward him. “Ajura,” he said softly. “I know it has been a long time, but Calcifer needs any guidance you can give him.”

The smaller dragon was frozen in awe. Vergil was surprised he didn’t topple off of Corrin’s shoulder. This time, Ajura chuckled. “Come with me, little one.”

It took Corrin nudging Calcifer for him to sputter to life again. “I can’t fly as fast as you.”

“There is no need.” The dragon extended her head again. Calcifer leapt onto her snout and looked back to Corrin. She nodded to him with a wide smile, and he relaxed before crawling down to a safe place on Ajura’s back. With a single beat of her massive wings, Ajura leapt into the sky and flew back the way she came. 

“He’ll be fine.” Kai said. “Come with me.”

Kai’s home was a medium sized building made of an unnaturally dark and clearly demonic wood. “Wait here.” Kai said as he ducked inside.”

“It’s so similar.” Corirn said.

“Missing a lake.”

She snorted. “Of course you’d remember that.”

“You said I threw you in it once?” He said as he raised an amused eyebrow. 

“More than once.” She said. “Every day, for two weeks.”

“Why?”

“You never told me.” She said with a shrug. “I’m guessing it was just some wires crossing between your corrupted soul, your real personality, and the fact that you didn’t have a clue who I was.” Her smile widened. “You know what got you to stop?”

“Enlighten me.”

“One day, I managed to bring you in with me.”

Kai returned before he could respond. In his hands was a small, unassuming box. “I have waited a long time to give this away.” He said. “It was meant for my heir but…” His eyes were sad for the first time since they met. “That isn’t a possibility anymore.” He shook his head and smiled again. “I would be honored if you accepted this in her stead.”

Corrin hesitated. “I don’t deserve....” She trailed off as he opened the box. Inside were two fans made of long, intricate, but grey feathers. Corrin stared at them in surprise. 

“My soulmate loved birds.” Kai said. “The more exotic, the better.” He chuckled as he held it out to her. “Go on.” He said. After a long moment of staring, Corrin reached inside. The second she touched one, they burst into flames. She yanked her hand back, but the fans followed her. The feathers broke apart and began swirling around her, chest high. Each one was outlined with blue flames. Veins of gold curled out from their centers. She held her hand out just below them. Her eyes fixed on the feathers with sharp focus. Vergil noticed thin tethers form between the feathers and Corrin’s soul.  As each tether formed, Vergil saw a spark of gold erupt from her soul, but it was gone as fast as it came. 

“I can feel them!” The feathers were orbiting Corrin. She tilted her hand toward herself and their movement slowed. She tapped one and the flames intensified. Her eyes lit up, and she started flicking her fingers in the air softly, as if playing the piano. The feathers moved slightly, a bit slower than her movements, but they responded to her nonetheless. 

“A weapon?” Vergil said. 

“Try throwing one!” Kai said. “Without touching them.” He added. After a moment, Corrin flicked her hand forward. Oddly, two feathers behind her launched at Vergil. He phased past them and glared at her as they plunged into a tree.

“Is there another target available, perhaps.” He said. 

“You dodged it.” She said sheepishly. She beckoned to the feathers, but one shot by both of them them and embedded itself firmly into Kai’s house. The demon burst into laughter. 

“That’s already better than I thought it would be.” He said. 

Corrin was baffled. She pulled the feather back with a more gentle movement. This time, it returned back to her circle. “I’m more likely to cut my limbs off than kill a demon.” She muttered.

“Practice makes perfect.” He said as he snapped his fingers. The feathers rushed back together, turning back into fans and dropped into her hand. “But you can do that on your own. I’ll even give you a book on the subject.”

She nodded as she put them back into the box. “You wanted something else then?”

“I want to see you fight each other.”

Corrin choked back something close to a laugh. Vergil raised an eyebrow. “Is it that terrible of a thought?” 

Her eyes snapped back to his. “Me? Fight you? I think I would have better luck teleporting myself to the moon.”

“You honestly think that I would hurt you?”

“Well… no…” She said. “But what’s the point if you have to hold back?”

Foolish woman. Vergil thought. “That is the nature of our situation.” He said. “My ability to fight is not the one in question.”

“I can fight.” Corrin said, but her eyes drifted away. 

“Without using all of your energy?” Vergil said. Corrin didn’t respond. They both knew the real truth. Every serious battle they’d been involved in, Corrin had ended exhausted with no power left to give. He still remembered how gray and close to death her eyes had been after he pulled her back from the amalgam of souls she resonated with. But their tether had been uneven then. Maybe now…

“Vergil has all the power in the world compared to you.” Kai said gently. “You have to learn how to use it.”

It took all of that power for Vergil to stop himself from glaring at him. “I don’t think she could handle it.” He said. 

“She has to.” Kai said without looking at it. “If she does it right, you won’t feel a thing.”

He could feel his demon growling somewhere within him. It hated the idea. All these years fighting for power of his own. Now he was expected to willingly give it up? For what reason? Even if it could help, the idea of someone else - someone as comparatively weak as her - controlling his power seemed like an impossibility.  Even Corrin looked uncertain, holding one arm as she stared distantly into the ground. It was Kai who spoke first. “This is the unfortunate reality of being the stronger soulmate. Or the highest honor, if it will help your ego.” This time, Vergil did glare at him, but the knowing grin the demon gave him was almost as infuriating as Dante’s. 

Vergil sighed to himself as his eyes flickered back to Corrin. She still didn’t meet his gaze. “If you don’t want…” she started. 

“This was expected.” Vergil said. That wasn’t entirely true, but he had already told himself he would deal with it. 

“But I don’t know…”

“Corrin.” He snapped. She flinched. Despite the slight guilt- why did his throat suddenly go so dry? - Vergil didn’t apologize. “We had an agreement, did we not?” Corrin’s head tilted slightly. Vergil continued. “If you are not willing to push yourself, then I am not willing to fight with you.” He didn’t tell her that Pythagras’ book had made it very clear that he no longer had a choice. “Are you giving up?”

“Why would I…”

“Just answer the question.” He said with a slight growl.

Her eyes narrowed in frustration. “Stop trying to intimidate me.” She snapped. “I am well aware that you are the dominant demon. You don’t have to shove it down my throat all the time.”

Vergil paused. He was unaware that he had been drawing on his demon at all. He supposed it was more of a natural instinct than purposeful. He always preferred keeping humans away by sheer intimidation, but he hadn’t exactly meant to use it on her. Once he realized it, it took a great deal of effort to pull it back. He took a deep breath to calm himself before speaking again. “I will deal with it.”

“Accepting the consequence?” She said.

“A test of my own power.” He responded. Her mouth dropped just slightly, caught in whatever she was going to say next. “If I can sustain both of us, then I doubt any other demon will be a problem.” Of course, he already felt that way. With the exception of the corrupted ones, but they weren’t exactly playing fair. And the gentle shake of Corrin’s head told him she knew that too. 

“The goal,” Kai said to Corrin, his voice was gentle. “Is to create a mutually beneficial exchange of power. But you have spent much of your own on him, and you have to practice balancing that. Taking as much as you are given.” The “same goes for Vergil” implication was left unsaid. “Over time, you will be able to give him the magic he needs to kill the corrupted souls alongside you.”

That piqued Vergil’s interest. He hadn’t even thought of that as a possibility. She had given him her energy many times, but it had never translated to his strikes. She had always been the one to burn corrupted souls. She had been the one forced to deal with the dead. Gaius and the others were still alive because she was incapable of fighting them on equal footing. If Vergil could do it, then nothing could stop him. 

He clicked Yamato slightly out of its scabbard. “Don’t hold back.” He said. While he had watched her fight demons and his own kin, they had never sparred with each other. Vergil had never bothered with it, as he doubted she could give him much of a challenge. But that was a selfish way of looking at it. The greater challenge was stopping himself from killing her outright. 

Her smile, however, surprised him. “Fighting is how demons get to know each other.”

“And who, pray tell, told you that?”

“You, I believe.” She said as she summoned her staff. Curious. He had expected her to use her Katana. Maybe she thought she stood a better chance with her magic. “Though you were rather condescending about it. Something about lowering yourself to humor such a depraved demon as I.”

Vergil scoffed. That did sound like a younger him. Why she put up with it for so long - or at all - was beyond him. He teleported back a good distance and waited. Kai stepped up beside her. “It will be difficult at first.” He said. “But try and pull on his soul from here. Just a small piece of the excess energy around it.” Corrin looked unconvinced as she stared past him. “Don’t doubt yourself.” Kai said. “Remember, you know his soul better than anyone.”

There was a long, silent moment before Vergil felt a hesitant tug on his soul. Instinctively, he pulled back. Corirn flinched, and he saw a flicker of fire in the tether as it came back to him. “If you want this to work,” Kai said. “You have to let her do it.”

Vergil didn’t want to admit that he didn’t know how. It felt wrong. Willingly giving a piece of himself - more than he already had to make the soulmate tether at all - went against everything he had fought for over the years. But, all the power at his fingertips; his true demon form and the power of the Qliphoth fruit still running through his veins… what had it done for him? He was stronger than everyone except Dante by far. No demon, prince or otherwise, was a challenge. He was confident he could go back to the Underworld, kill everything that breathed, and still have enough strength to spar Dante for the next few weeks. But, at the end of the day… did he really need it all? His stubborn demon said yes. His logical side…

“Try again.” He said. Corrin watched him for another long moment. He felt another tug. This time, he took another deep breath and focused entirely on her. It was difficult watching the small flicker of energy that surged back to her. Feeling the small prickle of loss within himself. It was miniscule, and he was certain that none of his powers, strength, or trigger were affected by it. And, while he didn’t like it, he made certain that his face didn’t betray his uneasiness. 

That was much easier to do once his power actually reached Corrin’s soul. It flared to life. A blue flame wrapping itself around her, encasing it with Vergil’s excess power. Her eyes snapped open, and he could feel a mixture of surprise and exhilaration from her half of the tether. He wondered if it felt similar to the day he discovered his demon form. It was impossible to tell, but her smile turned to a competitive smirk. “Don’t get cocky.” Vergil said. “You haven’t done anything yet.” Nor will you. He thought. 

A soft chuckle echoed in his head. “How very confident of you.”

Vergil’s eyes flickered backwards. There was nothing around him, but that voice hadn’t been Griffin’s. He felt a lurch in Corrin’s soul, and swung back toward her as blue arrows of flame rocketed towards him. Vergil teleported to the side, blocking a few with Yamato as the rest ignited the grass behind him. Corrin was in front of him in an instant. Faster than she had ever been. Staff met sword as Vergil forced himself back before Yamato cut straight through it. He felt another piece of energy leave him. An explosion of fire knocked him backwards, but Corrin landed ungracefully many more feet away. “It won’t do you any good if you can’t control it.” Vergil said. 

She threw her staff in front of her and a beam of liquid fire shot at him. He dodged to the side and dashed toward her. She tossed her staff one way and flipped the other. Her sword appeared and a dozen daggers landed in a circle around his feet. He phased forward, dodging each one as she pulled them back to herself. Yamato sliced through one. Two. The third ricocheted at her feet. The fourth he grabbed out of the air. Corrin flipped away before throwing her Katana between them. The two clashed again, but Vergil was surprised. It took a lot less effort to keep Yamato from breaking through. 

He saw her hand flick toward herself. He jumped over her staff before swinging a second time with the scabbard. She teleported past him. Another surge of energy crossed between them as the swords collided again. Vergil was no longer certain who was pulling off of whom. Had she ever had both weapons out at once before? He couldn’t remember. Her hair hadn’t changed. Her white eye had flickers of a familiar blue. It all felt wrong, but he couldn’t pinpoint why. 

He pushed against her, knocking her away with  a bit more effort than he expected. This time, she landed as smoothly as he would. He felt her pull on him again. Another, small surge of energy. How much was she holding now? Vergil couldn’t be certain. He didn’t feel any different, but she certainly did. When she charged back in, Vergil met her strike for strike. Summon swords pushed back against flames. Daggers parried by Yamato. She danced around him, but he kept up with ease.

He realized very quickly that fighting her was very different than spars with Dante or Nero. He had expected this, of course. If he used his full strength she would be dead. But she had a certain finesse to her. One that required perfect, calculated movements of his own. It was less about raw power and more about coordination. Movement. Flickers of memory almost distracted him. They had done this before. Numerous times in their own bubble. And he had enjoyed it. He still did. He barely noticed her pulling more from him. He realized then that her flames had engulfed Yamato because he wanted them to. They weren’t as refined as hers, and yet there they were. A small example of the power he could draw from her, if their balance was maintained to perfection.

It was oddly exhilarating. 

Then, her soul cracked. 

Corrin crumbled with a sharp cry. Her sword and staff burst into flames before vanishing. Panic swept through Vergil as she struggled to get up. He was by her side in an instant, with Kai following shortly behind. “You took too much.” The demon said, his voice calm. “You have to give it back.”

Corrin shuddered. Flames flickered out around her, but they vanished a second later. “I wasn’t trying to.” She said through clenched teeth. Her eyes were wild, and certainly not human. Her pupils were gone, leaving behind two blue spheres, their edges fading to gold. The fissure across her soul matched the color. If Kai saw it, he didn’t say anything. “You have to give it back.” He said. “But not too much. Maintain equilibrium.”

“I’m trying!” Corrin said, her voice an octave higher - and more inhuman - than Vergil had ever heard it before. Would she trigger? Could she trigger? He wasn’t certain. He had never seen it, and a part of him had considered that she might not have access to one. 

Very few can handle your demon. The voice said. Vergil recognized it this time, though he couldn’t quite believe it. “ Pull her back, or you’ll lose her forever.” 

“I can’t see.” Corrin said as her hand reached out in front of her. “Vergil? I can’t…” There were tears in the corners of her eyes. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice was quiet. He wasn’t sure if she realized she was still talking.

Vergil took her hand. She twitched slightly, but didn’t pull away. “I’m right here.” 

The voice spoke again. “ It’s alright, my little flame. You can trust me.”

Corrin’s eyes snapped up in pure shock. “What did you say?” 

Vergil stared at her, confused. He hadn’t said anything, had he? His mouth hadn’t moved, of that much he was certain. Could she really hear his thoughts? He hadn’t felt the intrusion. The crack in her soul expanded slightly, drawing his attention back. “Give it to me.” He said. “Whatever you can.”

Corrin’s grip tightened on his hand. A spark of flame erupted between them, but Vergil found it didn’t burn him. In fact it was almost… pleasurable. A soothing warmth like the one he had felt back in Devil May Cry. The tether flickered between them, but he didn’t give it much attention. He kept his eyes on her, realizing for the first time that the panic in his heart hadn’t entirely been her own. Her eyes returned to normal, but the crack in her soul didn’t fade. 

Kai sighed. “I was worried this might happen.” 

Vergil growled before he could stop himself. “And you didn’t think to warn either of us?”

“It shouldn’t have happened.” Kai clarified. “But she is much older than she should be.”

“I didn’t exactly choose to wait this long.” Corrin said, but she sounded tired. Her eyes weren’t gray at least. Vergil could still see a small shimmer of blue around her soul. 

“If you ever take too much, or hold it for too long, the damage may be irreversible.”

“Can I just give my power to him?” She said. “He was controlling some of it when…”

“That isn’t how it works.” Kai said. “He can only access your flames if you achieve equilibrium with his demon. Otherwise, you’re just fuel.”

Vergil felt her frustration. “Then what do I do?” She said. “If I can’t hold onto that for longer than a few minutes… then he can’t kill the corrupted souls…then I...” Her voice broke. She cleared her throat, but didn’t speak again. 

“Practice makes perfect.” Kai said. He sounded almost disappointed. Vergil’s fingers tightened on Corrin’s hand as he glared at the demon. Kai flinched away. “She has nothing to fear from me, Sparda-kin.” But his voice held no malice. He handed the box of feathers to Vergil. “This is a risk you will both have to face.” Kai said. “Find the delicate balance, however you can.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, golden jewel. “This will take you back to your home. If you need anything at all, break it, and you will be brought back here. Until then, keep it safe.” Vergil took it as Kai stood back up. “Let me grab a few things, then you’re free to go.”

As he walked away, Vergil turned his attention back to Corrin. She looked defeated. He wasn’t certain why. While it hadn’t gone exactly as planned, she had done what they wanted her to do. She had become stronger and faster. Sure, she couldn’t fight him if he used his full strength, but it was better than she had done in months. What was there to be ashamed of? Was she afraid?

No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. The voice said with a light chuckle. 

V? Vergil thought. But how? He had never heard his human half. Only Griffin squawking insults at every opportunity. While Vergil knew his human half was technically there, he didn’t think it sentient. 

Compliment her. V said either unaware or unconcerned about Vergil’s questions. 

Vergil hesitated. Hadn’t Dante said something similar? “She may even start opening up to you… if you can learn some respect.” But Vergil had never been particularly disrespectful to her. No more than he was in general, anyway. And she had been fine with that. But the pulsing in his ears at the mere thought of the compliment was very loud and awfully annoying. So, very slowly, he placed his hand on her shoulder. “You did well.” He said. 

Corrin looked up at him in confusion. Then, she relaxed and smiled with a light chuckle of her own. “Could’ve been better.” She said. 

“Practice makes perfect.”

She pushed at his shoulder with an eye roll. He let her, but only moved a few inches. “I’ll work on it.” She said. “If you let me.”

“Don’t overdo it.”

“As a wise man once said, I will deal with it.”

Vergil’s eyes narrowed just slightly, uncertain if it was a joke or an insult. Corrin laughed a bit harder this time. “Relax, Vergil.” She said. “I’m just trying to lighten the mood.”

“I’d say it is sufficiently lightened.”

She snorted at that. “Such a way with words.”

“I am a poet at heart.”  V said.

Her head tilted slightly. “How are you doing that?”

“Doing what?”

“Speaking without moving your mouth.” She shook her head. “I never knew you were a ventriloquist.”

“That… isn’t a talent I possess.” Vergil admitted. 

“Strange.” She said. “Unless your brain is entirely empty at the moment, I can't hear your thoughts. Just that voice once and awhile.”

“That is a good thing then.” V said.

“No.” Vergil said aloud almost out of instinct.

“Maybe.” Corrin said.

He stared at her. “I believe I told you not to get into my head.” 

“Technically,” She said. “It’s you projecting into mine. So not quite the same thing.” 

“It doesn’t matter.” Vergil said. 

“I can’t control what comes out of your mind.” She said. 

“Then don’t listen.”

“Oh sure,” Corrin said. “Would you like me to make myself go deaf? Unfortunately, that isn’t a talent I possess.”

Vergil scowled at her. But V chuckled. “This will be entertaining.”

Chapter Text

Dante whistled as a rocket flew past his head and slammed into a pack of demons. He propped his devil sword on his shoulder and grinned. “It’s been too long since we’ve got to fight together.”

Lady scowled at him. “If you would stop spending so much time with your brother.”

“Hey now,” Dante said. “It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve gone with him. You’ve just been busy.”

“Finishing your jobs.” She said. “Only for you to spend all of it on his furniture.” She threw one hand up in the air as Dante casually moved out of the way of the barrel of her rocket launcher. 

“Just tell yourself it was for Corrin.” Dante said. While Lady was still uncertain about Vergil, she had grown to like Corrin, at least a little bit. They hadn’t talked much, but the two were at least acquaintances. But Corrin rarely left Vergil’s side, so Lady hadn’t spent any time alone with the other woman. And Dante wasn’t certain they ever would. It wasn’t a huge deal. Dante liked, to some extent, having a separate life away from his brother. But he hoped they would get along well enough that they could stand to stay in the same room for a little bit of time. “Are you still going to the surprise party?”

“For Kyrie.” Lady said. 

Dante laughed. “Of course.” He said. When Kyrie had told them that she was finally planning an actual party for their return from Hell, nobody had been able to tell her no. As far as Dante knew, Vergil and Corrin didn’t know. Once Vergil showed up, Dante and Nero would be able to keep him there. And Corrin maybe. Dante wasn’t too sure how she felt about parties or large groups. But he was certain she would stay as long as Vergil did. Maybe Dante would even be able to loosen his brother up a bit. For his own good, of course. 

“Why are we here?” Lady said as she leaned on Kalina Ann. She had been thrilled to get that back when Dante returned, but had quickly battered him over taking it from her for so long. Nico had, of course, made her a new one, but that one meant something special to her. And Dante had felt bad that he hadn’t given it back to her before he left. 

“Morrison got a call about a large demon.” Dante said. “Vergil and Nero aren’t available, so here we are.” He also hadn’t tried calling them. It had been awhile since Dante had gone out on his own, and he missed being the only demon around. He didn’t mind when Trish joined him, as both she and Lady often left the bigger demons to him. Dante and Vergil used to have a competition when they fought demons. But lately, any mission Vergil went on without Corrin he would rush down as quickly as possible and disappear without more than a word. Dante didn’t particularly mind, but his demon was hungry for a real fight. He’d have to goad Vergil into sparring again sometime. Nero was good, much better than Dante used to give him credit for, but it wasn’t the same as battling his brother. 

“We’ve been walking around for almost an hour.” She said. “I haven’t seen anything even remotely terrifying.” 

“Well you’ve got me.” He teased.

Lady rolled her eyes. A growl from a nearby building stopped them both. Dante whistled when he saw the broken sign. “Club Nebula. Terrible name. Great alcohol.”

“You haven’t been there in almost twenty years.” Lady said. 

“How could you know that?”

“The manager changed the name after the Temen-ni-gru.” She said. “Called it “The Vortex.”

Dante snorted. “Could’ve at least chosen a better name.” 

“Brought in customers.”

“Never heard of it.”

“You also disappeared for awhile.” Lady said. “Twice, even.”

“Hell just kept calling my name.” He tried to play it cool, but that had been… a very different time in his life. He didn’t like talking about it too much. He’d never told Vergil about it, as Dante didn’t want to admit that he had been in Hell the same time Vergil was trapped and hadn’t bothered looking for him. Sure, he thought his brother was dead, but there wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t think about it. 

A shriek echoed from below the building. “Does it have a basement?” Dante said. 

“It didn’t.” Lady said. 

Demonic energy spiked beneath them. Dante leapt at Lady, yanking her out of the way as a large, worm demon burst out of the ground. He turned on it immediately, but stopped when he saw a person on top of it. Lady, however, fired without hesitation. The worm shrieked as two rockets slammed into it. It caught fire. The man yanked his sword out of the worm’s head and leapt off as the creature slammed into the ground. When he landed, he shot a bolt of silver light into the creature’s chest. It shuddered once before succumbing to its wounds.

Dante sighed dramatically. “You couldn’t have left something for me?”

The man turned toward them as he released the sword. It vanished before it hit the ground - just like Corrin, Dante thought - and he bowed just slightly. “I apologize for the inconvenience.” He said. “And thank you for the help.”

Dante raised an eyebrow. The man was a bit shorter than him with dark skin and short, curly black hair. He smelled like a demon, though Dante couldn’t quite separate the man’s scent from the worm he had just killed. There were very few demon hunters left in Redgrave, and Dante hadn’t seen this one. However, he hid his suspicion with a warm smile as he shrugged his shoulders. “Guess you win this one.”

 “You are Dante, yes?” The man said. 

“That’s right.” Dante said. “I’m afraid I can’t recall your name.”

“We’ve never met.” He said. “But I have heard a lot about you. It seems this world is forever in your debt.” The man’s formal speech was jarring. It was worse than Vergil’s, and clearly forced. His brother at least sounded natural in his condescending tone. This man seemed to be putting on a show, but had forgotten all the lines. “My name is Leo.”

“Leo?” Dante said. “Wait like… Celeste’s son?”

Leo looked surprised. “How do you know that name?”

“I know your sister!” Dante said with a grin. “Corrin?”

Leo stared at him, but Dante thought he looked much less surprised than he should have. “I’d heard there was a reaver around here… but I never guessed it was her.” He shook his head with a small smile. “No wonder Gaius came here.”

“You know him too?”

“I’ve been dealing with his monstrosities for a few months now.” He said. 

“So have we.” Lady said. Her voice was more clipped than normal. Nobody else would notice, but Dante knew she was suspicious. He was glad they were on the same page. 

“Unfortunately,” Leo said. “I don’t have much time.”

“Why the rush?” Dante said. 

“Gaius’ plan is almost complete.” Leo said. “I have to stop him.”

“Let us help.” Dante said. “Come back to my place. Trade notes. We can work together.”

Leo hesitated. “It would be a great risk if anyone were to see us together.”

Dante fought hard to hold back a frown. Something was off about this man. He was certain he was Corrin’s brother, but he sounded terribly uninterested in seeing his little sister again. Dante had been thrilled to see Vergil, even after twenty years and with the Qliphoth tree in the way. And Leo had saved Corrin, yes? Wouldn’t he want to know how she was? It was risky, but if there was something wrong, Corrin would be able to tell. If everything was fine, then Dante would feel guilty for not reuniting them. Worse case, Dante was confident that Vergil would protect her, and Dante would have no trouble confronting such a scrawny half-breed.

“Humor me.” Dante said. “I’ll have her and Verge there in a heartbeat.”

 


 

It was almost twelve hours before Corrin and Vergil spoke again. It wasn’t an unpleasant silence. More of a necessary one. When the two had come back from Kai’s house to a fully furnished apartment - which irritated Vergil more than it surprised him - they had silently agreed to grab their own books and learn any information the could. Vergil took the journal, which he had meant to read two weeks ago. Corrin took Kai’s book and her feathers. Despite the rather comfortable, and likely expensive couches, both settled on the floor, backs to the couch, and bodies much closer than Vergil had intended. It had bothered him at first when her leg lined up almost perfectly with his. Despite the fleeting memories of his time with her, close contact still felt foreign. Something he couldn’t really remember experiencing for a very long time. But, once he realized it wasn’t a distraction - and a clear comfort to her - he let it go. 

And they stayed that way, reading in almost complete silence. Calcifer had broken it once when his stomach rumbled and he sheepishly asked for chicken. Neither were surprised to find some pre-packaged in the fridge, alongside a host of other foods. Corrin had taken care of it, and Calcifer had both eaten and fallen asleep within a few minutes. Vergil had watched her, but made no effort to move himself. When she turned back toward him, he snapped his eyes back to the book.

Curiously, the feathers began to follow her every move, like curious bugs attracted to a bright light. At first, they had been rather wild, shooting around the room in erratic patterns as she struggled with whatever advice the book was giving her. Eventually, after a few hours, a lot of lucky dodges, and one rather fierce glare from Vergil, she started to get them under control. Now she was reading with one hand and guiding the feathers around her wrist with gentle twitches of her fingers. It was rather impressive, if Vergil was honest with himself, but he didn’t tell her that.

“Anything useful?” Corrin said finally. Vergil blinked, almost unaware that she had spoken, as absorbed in his book that he had been.

“Plenty.” He said. “Both of their experiments - the soul within a soul and the corruption - were tests for a much bigger plan.”

“Bringing Mundus and Samael’s souls over?”

“Yes, though it seems their attempts are unsuccessful at best.” He said. “You were right about a demon being able to use the human body as their own. However, it seemed all trials failed within a few weeks. The body would decay and give out with the demon’s soul trapped inside. All attempts to remove it after that failed.”

“What about the other tests?” She said. Her feathers moved in a bit of an arc as she gently moved her hand toward the ceiling. 

“Better results, but it takes a lot of time and resources to make bodies capable of sustaining so many souls. Any soul they placed inside went mad almost immediately.”

“Not a desirable outcome for a demon prince looking to take over the world.” She said as she pulled the feathers back to herself. A moment later, she beckoned them over her head and spun them slowly around the fan on the ceiling. Neither touched. “Did it mention anything on the Phoenix?”

“No.” He said as he tossed the journal aside. “And it is impossible to know how much more they have done beyond these observations.” There were no dates in the journal. No clear sign of who had written it. The penmanship was neat and orderly, so Vergil assumed that, at the very least, Gaius wasn’t involved. But he couldn’t imagine the Spider writing like that either. Could they get one of their corrupted humans to do it? It would probably take a lot of effort to keep one sustained for long enough. 

“You are learning quickly.” V’s voice said. Corrin’s eyes flickered to Vergil. V had been mostly silent since they returned, but clearly he was watching. Somehow. Vergil had yet to figure out if he was a construct of his mind or some kind of invisible entity that could wander the room without him noticing. “I’m impressed.” 

Corrin smiled, and Vergil stubbornly looked away. Of course his human half could make her smile so easily. This was a man willing to tap dance for demons, read poetry to anyone who would listen, and quote Blake like it was going out of style. V was not the kind of human Vergil ever imagined himself to be. Carefree. Uninhibited by the realities of life. Willing to act like a fool because he found it fun. 

“A fool?” V said with a soft chuckle. “He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence.”

“So what’s your desire?” Corrin said.

Vergil’s eyes snapped to her. V’s laughter echoed somewhere in the back of his mind. “What?” He said. 

The feathers transformed back as she closed her book and looked at him. “Well that voice I keep hearing is you, right?”

“That’s not…”

“That is rather accurate, my little flame.” V said. 

“Stop.” Vergil growled at nothing. V was much quieter than Griffin, but Vergil had yet to decide if he was more or less annoying. The fact that Corrin could hear him was another problem entirely. She didn’t know V. He hadn’t told her, nor did he know how to explain it without admitting exactly what he had done. And even then, the voice’s existence still didn’t make much sense. They were reunited, alongside Urizen. So why was V the only thing speaking? And why did he try so desperately to change Vergil’s thoughts?

“Our thoughts are the same.” V said. Corrin didn’t react this time. Vergil wasn’t certain if V could hide his own voice or if she was just giving him some semblance of privacy. “I am not afraid to express them.”

“I have no such fear.” Vergil thought.  

“Your mind says otherwise.”

“And a certain piece of my mind is becoming a nuisance.”

“And yet,” V said. “You do not deny the things I say.”

“Little flame.” Corrin murmured. “How long has it been since I’ve heard that?” Her eyes were distant. Her expression soft. Lost in a memory maybe. If it was of their time together, then Vergil had even more questions. He had no recollection of calling her anything but her name. And yet, V clearly did. “And here I thought you meant it in jest.” She chuckled as she shook her head. 

“I never was very good at expressing myself.” V said. 

Corrin laughed as she opened her book again. “And I loved you for it.”

Vergil stared at her. She didn’t look at him, and he felt no shame, surprise, or any other sign that she hadn’t meant to say it. Love? Was it really that surprising? Her affections were clear, but Vergil had thought - albeit selfishly - that it was more of a friendly affection. Of course, that was ignoring the countless memories and the ache within himself that proved otherwise. But calling it love… that was an emotion he didn’t understand. He loved his family, as infuriating as Dante could be. He might have loved Nero’s mother, though that memory was a hazy one. A moment of weakness, he kept telling himself. But moments rarely lasted a month. And true weakness was more akin to his time spent in the Underworld, not his somewhat foolish attempts to court a woman he barely knew. 

“She was a gentle soul.” V said, his voice soft. “But it was not destined to last.”

“Enough.” Vergil said aloud. There was no use dwelling on things that he barely remembered. 

“Did you love her?” Corrin said, her voice quiet. Vergil’s mind went blank again. A frustrating occurrence that had happened more in the last month than it has his entire life. He didn’t have an answer, but Corrin must have misunderstood his silence, for she said, “Nero’s mother.”

Why was she asking now? The way she said it made him think she had been thinking about it for awhile. But V had been the only one to even remotely bring up another women. Vergil himself had refused to think about it. It was almost twenty-five years ago. It was over. But the voice in his head just sighed. “It is difficult to say.”

Vergil growled in quiet frustration. “I was a very different person back then.” 

“That does not answer the question.” V said. 

“I never said I would.”

“She had a kind heart, if a bit naive.” 

Vergil’s annoyance shifted to slight anger. “She was an inconsequential memory that was lost before the years I’ve never truly forgotten. So no… I suppose I did not love her.” 

“Do you wish you could see her again?” Corrin said. 

“Why does it matter?” Vergil said. 

“If someone else has your heart… I’d hate to keep it from them.”

Vergil was silent for a long moment. Corrin started absentmindedly playing with the feathers again. They bobbed up and down at the twitch of her fingers. He could almost imagine the same tune she had played for Kyrie, the one from his memories, echoing in the room. Vergil had never truly confronted his feelings for Nero’s mother. He had been rather blind at the time. Almost desperate, though he didn’t want to admit it. He had been alone for so long. Wandering blindly from city to city looking for anything on his father or his power. He had stayed in Fortuna the most, as he was certain a city that worshiped Sparda had to have some kind of information. And it was the place he was most familiar with. The one he returned to time and time again after stumbling into Pythagoras’ domain when he was younger. But, by the time he was nineteen, his human self craved something. He had pretended it was nothing. An impulse that he would be better off ignoring. 

But that woman had caught his eye. He still didn’t know why, and he could barely remember what she looked like anymore. He hadn’t been seeking anyone out, nor did he have any interest in anything close to romance. He had intended on using her more than anything, as she had access to the church where he did not. 

But she had been there for him. Brought books back from the library he couldn’t access without breaking in. Fed him. Fixed his clothes. Talked to him in a way that no other person, human or demon, had in years. And he had given into it, as emotionally and physically starved as he was. But he regretted it almost immediately. He needed to find his father. Needed more power. He couldn’t protect her. He could barely save himself. 

So he left her that night, unknowingly with child. If he had known, he still wasn’t certain if he would, or could, have stayed. Fear. That was a feeling he didn’t ever want to admit to. But that’s all it could have been, really. And his concern had been justified. Not a month later, he was trapped in the Underworld, with everything else a distant memory. 

He sighed. “I did not truly love her.” He said finally. Corrin’s eyes drifted back to him as her feathers stopped moving. “I was…” He hesitated. Did he dare admit his weaknesses to her? She had shown him hers. Been there for him when he was much weaker and more volatile than he’d ever been. He was more surprised that she didn’t know this, as in tune with his memories as she had been. Maybe he had never shown her, and she had never forced him. 

“It’s okay.” She said gently. “You don’t have to tell me if…”

“I was desperate.” He said, cutting her off. “And I didn’t realize it until…” Now. He thought. “Much later.” He said. 

“I know the feeling.” She said. “After everything that happened with Gaius…” She trailed off. Her soul was suddenly very sad. Vergil had a feeling that she wasn’t talking about the dream he had seen, but something much worse. Gaius had mentioned something before. In the mansion. Does he know? How you pleaded for someone to save you? “I was terrified of being close to anyone.” Corrin continued. “But desperate for… something. A Soulmate, probably. Reavers don’t last too long without them. But I didn’t realize how… confusing it would all be.”

“What do you mean?”

She was silent for a moment. “We were both… very conflicted.” She said. “It became much more evident the more I healed you. Our souls drew us together, but our past traumas pushed us apart. It was agonizing, though I never knew how you felt about it.” She shook her head as her eyes drifted to the floor. “I gave you all the space you wanted, terrified of my own feelings. I couldn’t get what happened out of my head. Told myself I wasn’t worthy of you. That I’d heal you, find a way to get you back to this world, and finally let myself die.”

“Wasn’t worthy?” He said. 

“Your demon is significantly stronger than mine.” She said, but there was a strain in her voice, as if she was keeping herself from telling the truth. “I’ve never seen my demon form. If I didn’t have my magic, or the thing growling in my head sometimes, I would think myself human.”

Was now the right time to question her? If she was unwilling to tell him, was it fair to push the issue? But he had been honest with her… maybe that would be enough. V was silent now, but Vergil could feel him waiting for something. He would have to question how he could feel that another time. “That wasn’t the only reason though, was it.” He said. 

Corrin’s body stiffened. Her hands clenched so tightly Vergil almost thought they would break. Her eyes watered just slightly, but she blinked it away. “No… it wasn’t.”

“Comfort her.” V said. A part of Vergil wanted to snap at his other self - stop telling me what to do - but he knew, deep down, that V’s idea wasn’t wrong. He reached out slowly, hesitant to touch her without permission. He brushed his thumb along her cheek, wiping away the small tear that escaped when he did so. Her eyes flickered to him. Vergil cupped her cheek, trying to ignore the lump in his throat. She nuzzled against him, just as she had done in the memory. He didn’t move. She didn’t speak. They just stared at each other. 

He expected to feel discomfort. Instead, he felt… protective. Concerned. Yearned for something he didn’t quite understand. He reached for Corrin’s hand without thinking and pulled her closer to him before he could second guess himself. His stomach twisted when she willingly turned to face him. They were so close now as he brought her hand to his face. Her breath was warm on his lips. When her fingers brushed lightly through his hair, he couldn’t suppress the shiver that followed. The corners of her lips twitched just slightly as she stared into his eyes. When he brushed a piece of her hair back, he felt a gentle touch on his own ear. His eyes widened just slightly. Aside from the fingers brushing endlessly through his hair, Corrin had stayed perfectly still. He let his hand drift down her side, and felt it on his own skin, as if ghostly hands were mirroring his every move. “Vergil.” She whispered. He didn’t respond. Only pulled her closer. He could feel her heart against his, beating in perfect sync. 

How long had it been since he had felt like this? At least three years, though flickers of memories didn’t confirm that. Usually, if fighting wasn’t involved, he hated the very idea of someone else touching him. But this moment with her… it felt right. Not instinct driven by the tether, but something within himself. A desire to protect her when he had failed so many others. He swallowed the doubt that flickered across his mind. He could protect her. There was no maybe involved any longer. He had his true form. His full power. A brother. A son. He understood himself better now than he had in decades. 

But even so, the thought concerned him. The same way it had with Nero’s mother so many years ago. Briefly, he thought about pulling away. That would be the easy answer. He could continue to act like he didn’t feel what he did. He could keep her alive. Maintain the tether. But it didn’t have to mean anything. But the thought of that alone made his heart clench in mix of anger and bitter disappointment. 

“How much longer will you keep pretending?” V’s voice whispered in his head. “As much as you try to deny it, you do not wish to be alone.”

Vergil’s lips brushed Corrin’s. Not a kiss, but something. His mouth went dry at the thought of telling her what he was thinking. But she didn’t push him, and he was certain she felt the whirlwind of emotions between them. Still, she didn’t move. Didn’t speak. Only watched him with a look of pure adoration in her eyes that her solemn expression was trying to hide. 

The entire moment was both surreal and intoxicating. He slowly moved his hand to the back of her head, caught somewhere between his sudden desire and paralyzing uncertainty. Her eyes fluttered closed with a gentle, content sigh. Vergil tilted his head just slightly. Their lips brushed again... 

A loud ring from the couch startled them both. Vergil’s head swiveled toward the offending noise so quickly that his neck popped. Corrin reached over his shoulder for the phone, and Vergil found himself wishing he had left it upstairs. Her voice was calm when she answered. “Yes, Dante?”

“Hey, Cor!” HIs brother’s voice was so loud Vergil was almost surprised he hadn’t just appeared in the center of their living room. “Think you could swing by my place? I’ve got a bit of a surprise for ya.”

“I… suppose?” Corrin said. “But what…”

“Come right away. I’d hate to keep your company waiting.” He hung up on her after that. Corrin pulled the phone away and glared at it. One of her feathers drifted awfully close to the screen, but she sighed and tossed the phone back on the couch. 

“Remind me to kill him later.” She said. 

“You are welcome to try.”

“I could use him as target practice.” 

“He is a rather useful dummy.”

She chuckled as her gentle smile returned. Her feathers turned back to fans as she got to her feet. Vergil’s eyes followed her as a strange feeling of emptiness tugged at his chest. She plucked Calcifer off the back of the couch. He groaned. “I was sleeping!” He whined as he gave her the fiercest glare a baby dragon possibly could. 

“We have somewhere to go.”

“If it involves red-guy I’d rather stay here and eat more chicken.”

“I’m afraid that’s not an option.” She plopped Calcifer on her shoulder and he lay there, two legs on each side, moping. She turned to Vergil.  “Ready to go?”

No, he really wasn’t. He wanted to forget Dante even existed. But, they couldn’t ignore such an incessant summon. If this call turned out to be something trivial, Vergil would be happy to pin his brother to a tree somewhere. Maybe let Corrin throw some feathers at him for awhile. Call it “practical training” or something. Then Dante wouldn’t be able to guess his reasoning. But he got up anyway, more determined to get this visit over with. “When we get back,” Vergil said. “You’re going to tell me what is bothering you.”

Corrin’s eyes drifted away from him as her smile faltered. He resisted the urge to reach for her again, as there would be no second call to stop him. But, she nodded. “It isn’t a pleasant story.” She said softly. 

“What is life if not unpleasant.” V said. 

“Brief moments of happiness in the chaos?” She said. 

V chuckled. Vergil ignored him as he grabbed Yamato. “Quickly.” He said as he opened a portal.

“That’s a new word.” Corrin said as she brushed a fake tear from her cheek. “I’m so proud.”

He glared at her. But she laughed and brushed his arm as she walked past. He stared at his arm for far too long. Her touch had never bothered him before. Why was it so overwhelming now?

A wave of surprise crashed into him, yanking him out of his thoughts as he followed after her.

Chapter Text

For a brief moment, Corrin thought she was looking at a ghost. Leo. It was impossible for him to be standing there. She thought Gaius had killed him. But here he was. Her older brother. His soul was in tact. His powers were all there. No corruption. No sign of any major injuries. He was older, yes, but hadn’t changed a bit. It wasn’t until he smiled that Corrin’s mind was able to accept it. “Hello, little sister.” He said. “It’s been too long.”

She held back her tears, but launched herself into his arms. He laughed as he hugged her in the same way that she remembered. Leo. Leo. Leo. No matter how many times she repeated it in her head, she didn’t quite believe it. And she might have let that moment go on forever if she didn’t feel the wave of suspicion from Vergil. It was enough to make her recoil in surprise. Leo’s expression shifted to confusion, but Corrin forced a smile. She heard Calcifer growl, but her dragon said nothing. “I’m just so overwhelmed.” She said. It wasn’t a complete lie. “You’re here. Alive. I thought Gaius…”

“We fought for awhile.” Leo said. “I almost killed him, but he got away. I was too injured to follow, and was terrified that he got to you.” He chuckled, but it sounded strange. Corrin couldn’t quite but her finger on why, but she took a small step back anyway. “But here you are. And with a soulmate no less.”

Corrin was surprised when Vergil stepped just slightly in front of her. She didn’t understand the hostility she could feel from him. He wasn’t jealous - how weird would that be if Vergil of all people was jealous of her brother - but he was not happy. Was he seeing something she couldn’t? She tried to look at Leo’s soul again, but nothing stuck out to her. Was Vergil simply being territorial? She would understand that if they were at home. But, by demon standards, Devil May Cry was Dante’s “domain”, and the red twin was leaning lazily against the wall. Right next to me . She thought. Corrin hadn’t seen him flank her. As much as she wanted to trust Leo, she would be a fool to ignore the twins’ clear concern, especially that of her own Soulmate. 

“What are you here for?” Vergil said. His voice was calm as usual. She felt his fingers brush hers, but it was so quick that she thought she imagined it. However, the same deep voice that spoke to her before echoed back in her head. Stay back. 

“I was invited.” Leo said, but his voice was clipped and deadpanned. The shift startled Corrin. She understood that decades might have changed him, but she never imagined he would be like this. Something was wrong, but she didn’t know if it was with him, his family, or something else entirely. Leo continued. “You have seen the demons around, yes?” 

“Plenty.” Vergil said. “But I haven’t seen you.”

“I’ve been mostly underground.” Leo said. “Dealing with his experiments.”

Corrin didn’t quite believe it. After she and Vergil had found the first laboratory, Dante, Lady, and Trish had made an extra effort to find anything else in Redgrave that might resemble it. And as much as Dante liked to joke around, Corrin knew he had been thorough. Even during the few times she and Vergil had come back to Redgrave, Corrin hadn’t seen anything unusual underground. But, Leo’s power had always been stronger than hers, and she had only had a true Soulmate tether for a few days. 

Soulmate…

She tried to make her voice as cheerful as Leo would expect it. “How’s Helen? Lydia? Remi?”

Leo shook his head. “I cannot tell you.” He said. “You never know who might be listening.”

That bothered her. “I understand.” She said. “Maybe I could see them when this is all over?”

The hesitation on his face was difficult to ignore. “Sure.” He said. “We’ll figure something out.”

“What is Gaius’ plan?” Vergil said. Straight to the point. That was probably for the best.

“He wants to bring over Samael and Mundus.”

“And how does he intend to do that?”

“He wants to use the power of the Phoenix.” Leo said. “Then, he’ll have more than enough souls to contain a demon prince.”

“Power of the Phoenix?” Dante said. “First time I’ve heard of it.”

“He wants its resurrection powers, more specifically.”

Vergil’s eyes narrowed, but Corrin spoke up first. “How does reviving people help Gaius?”

The look Leo gave her was a mixture of disappointment and frustration. Corrin wanted to believe that he felt uncomfortable in the presence of two half-demons that were much more powerful than he was. But she couldn’t. Not without a reasonable doubt. “The Phoenix does not revive other people.” He said. “It revives itself, by shedding its excess power to heal mortal blows. Depending on how long it has been since their last death, the explosion could kill a few people, or wipe out an entire city.” 

Corrin glanced at Vergil - he had read more about the Phoenix than her - but his face gave nothing away. “And when does he plan to do this?” He said. 

“Soon.” Leo said. “I believe he has already located the demon itself, and plans to bait it into the center of Fortuna.”

“And he honestly believes that such a powerful demon would blindly fall for a trap?”

“The Phoenix is drawn to life. If enough people die in one location, he will eventually come to their aid.”

He. Hadn’t Leo been saying “it” before? Maybe it was a coincidence. Or maybe he knew more than he was letting on. Before she could ask, Vergil’s hand brushed hers again. She could practically feel the resounding No from his side of the tether. “Patience, little flame.” The voice whispered in her ear. When no one reacted, Corrin realized what he was doing. While she still didn’t know what the voice exactly was, she had never considered they could use it like this. She wondered if Vergil thought of it, or if the voice was responding to his will. Regardless, she was uncertain if it could hear her own thoughts. Instead, she took a step closer to Vergil in hopes that he would understand. 

“Let us help.” Dante said. Vergil twitched slightly, but Corrin saw their eyes flicker to each other in a moment so fast that she wouldn’t have noticed if she wasn’t so in tune with him. 

“He is suspicious too.” The voice said. “He may have seen something we did not.”

“Call the other Devil Hunters.” Vergil said to Dante. “ Nero.” The voice whispered to her. If Leo didn’t know about Vergil’s son, now was not the time to tell him. “They can’t engage him, but they can keep an eye out.” Vergil said. 

The voice spoke again. “If we go along with it for now, we may learn what he knows.”

“I’ll make a few calls.” Dante said. “If you hear anything, Leo, just call this place.” He snapped his fingers with a cheesy grin. It would have been convincing if Vergil’s stray voice hadn’t told her he was faking it. It was becoming rather difficult for Corrin to focus on both him and everyone around her. But she needed to. This extra voice was invaluable. She’d have to complement Vergil for thinking of it so quickly. 

Leo nodded. “It was good to see you again, sister.” He said with a smile.

Fake. The voice said again. Corrin was so conflicted and terribly confused. Even though he was her brother, she knew from countless years with Celeste and on her own that her Soulmate always took priority. And Vergil’s instincts were rarely wrong. He had saved her numerous times from demons that she never would have seen if he wasn’t there. She trusted Vergil, but she wanted to believe in Leo. He had been there for her. Saved her life. Comforted her when Gaius...

She froze as Leo’s eyes met hers. Anxiety flooded into her faster than she was ready for. Remnants of a memory flickered back. One she thought she had suppressed. Yes, it was still there, but it hadn’t hit her like this in many, many years. She swallowed her fear as she tried to push it out of her mind. But it kept coming back. As if someone was calling for it. Was Leo doing something? He had never had that type of power. Maybe another demon? 

“Is everything alright, little sister?” 

“Breathe, my little flame.” The voice said. 

She forced herself to smile in an attempt to pretend that everything was okay. But the world was closing in on her. Her lungs screamed for air. Why here? Why now? Sure, it still hurt to think about it, but she thought she had accepted it and moved on. 

Gaius’ voice echoed in her head. “Come on, sweetheart… it will only take a moment.”

It took all of the strength she had to keep herself from passing out. She could feel her flames just underneath her skin, begging to come out. To fight back. But there was nothing here to fight. No Gaius. No one who could possibly hurt her. 

“You will make a wonderful soulmate.” Gaius whispered. 

She felt Vergil’s arm rest on her back. “I didn’t realize our training had left you so tired.” He said. Damn. He was smooth. And smart. She wished she could thank him, but her brain refused to get itself out of the endless cycle of anxiety. Leo’s eyes shifted back to Vergil. “I’m afraid my Soulmate needs some rest.” Vergil said. A warning. Corrin wanted to laugh. 

“Of course!” Dante said. “She’s been working so hard to take down all these demons. You should be proud.” He gave Leo a hearty laugh, but moved between them. 

Her brother looked uncomfortable. Corrin forced herself to speak. “It was good to see you brother.” She said. She felt Vergil’s approval. “I’m sorry we can’t talk longer.”

“Soon.” Leo said. He took a step toward her, but thought better of it and merely gave them a slight bow. “I hope we can work together, soon.” 

Corrin watched his soul as he left. The second it disappeared, her knees buckled. Vergil teleported upstairs before she crumbled completely. He sat her on the edge of the bed and knelt in front of her. Calcifer hopped off her shoulder. She felt him tugging at her soul. “I can’t resonate.” He said. Corrin tried to focus, but her panic was growing. She couldn’t breath. Couldn’t think. Unwanted images and voices flickered through her mind. She felt Vergil take her hand, but the room was spinning. 

“Look at me.” He commanded. How was he so calm? When he had been injured, it had taken all of Corrin’s mental strength to keep herself even to save him. But he was still steady, even as she was falling apart. That was the true miracle. She forced herself to look at him. 

“I don’t know why…”

“Don’t.” He said. “Breath. Focus on me. Nothing else matters.”

She wondered if his words were coming naturally, or if the voice in his head was guiding him. Regardless, it was working. She let herself get lost in his eyes. The memories of nights she spent with him. She reached for him, and he didn’t pull away as she brushed his cheek. “He’s here.” She thought. “Not Gaius. Vergil. My real Soulmate. I’ll be okay.”

Dante knocked on the door, despite it being open. He handed Vergil a wet towel. “Don’t have any ice.” He said. Vergil took it and pressed it gently against her face. The cool water calmed her almost immediately. Corrin took a deep breath. The walls of anxiety retreated. She was grateful that Dante didn’t start teasing them for such close contact. Instead, he leaned against the door frame with a frown on his face. “Did Leo do this?”

“I don’t know.” Corrin said. “He’s never had powers like that.”

“It’s too much of a coincidence.” Dante said.

“Trish is tracking him?” Vergil said. 

“Lady too.” Dante said. “He won’t be able to do anything we won’t know about.”

“He’s likely expecting it.” Vergil tossed the towel back to Dante. 

“Probably.” Dante shrugged. “He shouldn’t be getting into trouble, at the very least.”

“I don’t understand.” Corrin said. “He’s my brother…” A part of her wanted to cry in frustration, but she fought it back. She didn’t want to let Vergil down more than she already had. “What concerned you in the first place?”

“He was just… off.” Dante said. “I expected him to be happy to see you. But he almost seemed… upset. Angry even.” He sighed. “I’m sorry for putting you at risk. I needed to know if you could see something that I didn’t.”

“There wasn’t any corruption on his soul.” Corrin said.

“It doesn’t mean he has good intentions.” Vergil said. 

Corrin felt dizzy. “It’s possible I couldn’t sense it.” 

“I’ll call Nero.” Dante said. “Stay here for the night, just in case.” Vergil frowned at the suggestion, but he didn’t disagree. “I know you don’t like me, Cal, but I could really use your help.”

The dragon frowned. “I can’t use the phone thingy.”

“But you can sense reavers, right?” Dante said. “And see souls?” Calcifer nodded. “I want to go out for a bit, and I could really use that special sight of yours. It’ll really help your mom.”

Calcifer’s soul flickered with a moment of pride. “Fine.” He said. “I’ll help you.”

Dante chuckled as he held his hand out. Calcifer hopped into it, but flicked his tail in slight annoyance. When Dante left, Vergil sighed as he brushed back his hair. It hadn’t moved, so Corrin wasn’t certain why he did it. But she felt terrible. “I’m…”

“Do not apologize.” He said. “I grow tired of it.”

She chuckled weakly. “Force of habit.”

“You need to rest.”

Her eyes dropped to their hands. He hadn’t let go yet, but she wasn’t certain if that was a conscious decision. “I don’t want to sleep.” She said. “I don’t want to dream tonight.”

Vergil watched her for a moment. Then, he stood up and reached for Yamato. “Stay here.” He said. “I’ll only be a moment.” She watched him leave through a portal, confused. Less than two minutes later, another portal opened and he stepped back through, old jacket in one hand, and two books in the other. One was Pythagoras’ book on the Phoenix. The other was one she didn’t recognize. A small brown book with a golden “V” on the front. Without a word, Vergil gracefully sat in the corner of the bed, using a pillow to prop himself up. He handed her his jacket. “Put it on.”

She did so, but she wasn’t quite certain why. Once it was on, however, she realized that it was soothing, almost like a stress blanket. She stared at him as he held his hand out to her. “The nightmares go away if we’re close, yes?” He said. 

“Would you like me to go grab some rocks?” She said. 

He gave her a very slight eye roll, but his hand didn’t move. She took it and let him pull her close. At the last second, he turned her so her back pressed against his chest. Corrin blushed when she felt his breath on her ear as he opened the smaller book in front of her. He smirked. “I hope this isn’t so unpleasant that you can’t relax.”

She tried to suppress her laughter. “You never cease to surprise me.” She said. He shrugged, but said nothing. “What is this?” She said.

“A favorite of mine.” He said. “I found it in our home. Didn’t realize Nero had given it back to me.”

“Why did he have it?”

“I gave it to him.” He said. “As a gift.”

Corrin hummed in thought. “Must have meant a lot to you.”

“Yes.” Vergil said. “Now relax or I’m going to make you sleep by yourself.” 

She wanted to think that was a hollow threat, but she  wasn’t willing to risk it. Instead, she shifted slightly to the side so she could hear his heartbeat. She smiled when she felt it lurch a bit erratically before he calmed it back down. As she let her body sink comfortably into his, he started reading to her. Her eyes closed with a relaxed sigh. His voice was so entrancing. It had been so long since he had done something like this. And whether he remembered doing it or not, Corrin appreciated it. But as she started drifting off to sleep, her mind wandered back to Leo. 

“Vergil.” She murmured. 

“Yes?” 

“Is it wrong of me to want to trust him?”

A long pause followed. “No.” Vergil said. “But we cannot be certain.”

She hummed a quiet “I know”, but it didn’t sound anything like a word. “Sleep.” Vergil said. “No one will hurt you.”

“Of course not.” She said sleepily. “You’re here.”

She felt his smile before he returned to his reading. She let herself slip away into a peaceful sleep. 


 

When Dante returned to Devil May Cry, he wasn’t particularly surprised to find Corrin asleep in Vergil’s arms. Still, he couldn’t help but smile at the sight. It clearly wasn’t the most comfortable for his brother as he held a rather large book in a single hand to the side. But Corrin looked more peaceful than Dante had seen her in a long time, curled up against Vergil as she dozed in complete silence. Calcifer jumped off of Dante’s shoulder and glided to Corrin’s feet. He curled up there and closed his eyes. Dante chuckled. “What a small, happy family.” 

Vergil glared at him, but it was soft. He was tired. Dante wondered how long it had been since he had slept. Vergil often claimed that he didn’t require such mortal pleasantries, but Dante knew from experience that they were not as perfect as Vergil would like to believe, courtesy of their human halves. But his brother was stubborn, and it was normally up to Dante to knock him to exhaustion before he ever willingly fell asleep. “The Phoenix?” Dante said as he nodded to the book. 

Vergil’s mute stare made Dante chuckle. “I can read some of it.” He said with a slight shrug. He had plenty of time on his hands over the last twenty years. He hadn’t intended on telling Vergil that, as it was a well kept and rather useful secret, but they needed to work together, and Vergil needed to sleep. “Anything to back up Leo’s words?”

“Yes, unfortunately.” Vergil said. “The resurrection described here matches Leo’s description. And if the Phoenix has been missing for thousands of years, then I have no doubt his death would cause a catastrophe.”

“Worse than a city?”

“Possibly.” Vergil said. “Pythagoras describes the last Phoenix’ death at the hands of Mundus around 3,000 years ago. It wiped out almost his entire army and most of his domain in the blast.The body vanished without a trace. It took Mundus centuries to rebuild, and when he did, Sparda was quick to usurp him.” He sighed as he closed the book. “But Pythagoras does not know how many years the Phoenix had lived before that point.”

“Do you think Gaius has actually found the new one?”

“Leo said he .” Vergil said. “And the Phoenix has no clear gender in these writings.”

“You caught that too, huh.”

“Of course I did.” Vergil almost looked offended. “So did Corrin.”

Dante sighed as he sat on the edge of the bed. Vergil’s shoulder’s stiffened as he watched him, but Dante didn’t leave or apologize. “Don’t worry Verge. I won’t try to steal your mate.” He teased. Vergil scowled, but Dante kept talking before he could respond. “I know how she feels, though.” He leaned back against the wall and stared up at the ceiling. “Seeing her older brother after all this time, and not knowing what he’s thinking. At least she has you to help her through it.”

“Technically,” Vergil said, his voice slightly deadpanned. “You had me as well.”

Dante chuckled. “I never did tell you.” He said as he looked to his brother. Vergil raised an eyebrow, clearly not following his train of thought. “Why I named this place Devil May Cry.” Dante looked back up to the ceiling, remembering the day he opened this place so long ago. The memory was still fresh in his mind. The heartbreak he would never admit to as he imagined his brother alone in the Underworld. “I told myself that you were fine. Raising Hell in the Underworld.” He chuckled at his own joke, but it was strained. “But when I saw you again… as that…” He trailed off. Vergil’s frown deepened. They both knew what Dante was getting at. There was no reason to rub salt in the wound. “I felt like a failure.” 

“You defeated me.” Vergil said incredulously. “And Mundus, just like our father.”

“But I lost you.” Dante said. He promised himself he wasn’t going to cry, but he could feel his emotions bubbling somewhere within him. “Even worse, I assumed you were dead again. Didn’t even try to find you.” He closed his eyes to hide the pain he knew they were expressing. “What a damn idiot I was.”

“Why would you ever assume I was alive?” Vergil said. “I pushed you away the first time, and you destroyed me the second.” Dante flinched, but Vergil wasn’t speaking with malice. Just stating the facts. 

“I should have done something, Verge.” Dante said. “I should have jumped after you. Found a way in later. Anything. I abandoned you.” He kept his chin up, but let his eyes drift back to his brother. Vergil looked… confused. He wasn’t expecting this conversation, and Dante wondered what he was thinking. “You never did tell me what happened down there.” He said. “But I can’t imagine it was good.”

Vergil sighed. “My memories are hazy at best, and I’m numb to anything I do remember.”

“Good.” Dante said. “I kicked those familiar’s asses to make sure of it.” Vergil snorted quietly and Dante couldn’t help but laugh. He had brought that up many times over the years, but this was the first time he was doing more than teasing. But he went quiet pretty quickly as he sighed. “Does Nero know? Where you were all those years?”

“Not unless you’ve told him.”

“Have you considered it?”

“No.” Vergil said. “My circumstances do not forgive the years he spent alone.”

Dante suppressed his surprise. That was the first time Vergil had actually admitted his guilt over Nero. He was changing. More than Dante could have imagined. While it made him happy, he hoped that Vergil wouldn’t be consumed by his mistakes. Maybe if he remembered anything with Corrin…

“How have you two been?” He said, changing the subject as he nodded toward her.

“How do you think?”

Again, Dante laughed. His brother was so calm. So stoic. But Dante didn’t miss that slight smirk on his face, or the way his eyes flickered to Corrin sleeping against him. “I never thought I’d see the day.” He said with a grin. “You with a woman willingly in your lap. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were in love.”

Vergil scowled, but it was softer than usual. “I doubt you came here just to tease me.”

“No, but it’s still fun pushing your buttons.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Wanna fight over it?” Dante said. Vergil hesitated. That was a first. “After she wakes up, of course.” Dante finished. 

“It’s been awhile.”

“And I’m still winning.”

“I believe we agreed to clear the score.”

“You’re just saying that because you were losing.”

“Impossible.”

Dante cracked up in fits of laughter. A summoned sword embedded itself into his shoulder, but it was superficial. Not nearly as deep as Vergil normally stabbed him. He quieted himself immediately, realizing that Corrin had stirred at the sound. “So protective.” Dante said. Vergil grunted, but didn’t move. They were quiet for a moment. Corrin shifted more towards Vergil, but didn’t wake up. The blue-devil sighed, trying to hide the slight blush as he pushed his hair back. 

“I’m sorry, Vergil.” Dante said. His brother’s eyes flickered to his in surprise. “For failing you.” He hadn’t intended on apologizing today. But it felt right, and Dante always followed his instincts. Vergil’s eyes closed for a long moment, and Dante twitched impatiently. He didn’t know how Vergil would respond, but he didn’t expect an…

“Then I apologize as well.” Vergil said. Dante’s mouth dropped, and he made no effort to fix it. Vergil huffed as he looked away. “I’ve made many mistakes in my life, and I know I can never truly atone for them. But…”

“But you’re my older brother.” Dante said with a grin. “And I know you’ll find a way.”

Vergil shook his head in disbelief. “You will forever baffle me, brother.”

“That’s what I do best.” He said as he hopped off the bed and grabbed Vergil’s book. “You get some rest. Whether Leo is lying or not, we’ll need to be ready.”

“I do not need...”

“Nope.” Dante said as he flicked through the book. “You’re going to sleep.”

“And if I don’t?”

“I can go grab the sedatives if you’d like.” Dante said. “But then she’d wake up over that struggle, and that would just break my heart.”

Vergil glared at him, but Dante saw his shoulders shift back slightly. “If anything happens…”

“I’ll come and get you.” Dante said with a wave of his hand. “Wouldn’t dream of fighting these scumbags without ya.” Vergil nodded as he settled in. Dante paused at the doorway, his mind wandering to words he had yet to say. 

“I’m glad you’re back.” He said, but left before Vergil had a chance to respond. 

Chapter Text

A week went by without any sign of Gaius or any word from Leo, and Vergil was not happy about it. If he had his way, they would all be out in Fortuna. Looking for any clues, fighting demons, dispelling souls... anything at all, really. Instead, Vergil was trapped in a hotel room for over an hour while Dante sat against the door with Yamato way too close to his own chest as Nero paced by the window.

“You look good, Verge.” Dante said with a grin. Vergil growled at him, letting the voice of his demon break through just slightly. But Dante merely shrugged as he lazily dropped his arm over Yamato. Vergil stared at it for a long moment before forcing his eyes away. “It’s your own fault, you know.” Dante said.

Dante wasn’t entirely wrong, but the circumstances irked Vergil regardless. Nero had mentioned this “party” a few days prior. Vergil had been firmly against it, especially when Nero mentioned formal attire (much more formal than even his younger self had worn), dancing, and other things Vergil wasn’t interested in at all. Nero had challenged Vergil to a duel over it. And Vergil had won, of course, but he couldn't forget that smug smile on his son’s face when he shrugged and just said, “Checkmate.”

For in Vergil’s attempts to avoid socializing, he’d made one critical mistake.

He’d let Kyrie get to Corrin.

In hindsight, that was probably Nero’s plan from the beginning. Vergil wouldn’t be surprised if Dante and Kyrie were in on it as well. But Corrin, with all her infuriating naiveté, didn’t notice the trap. When she insisted that they go, mentioning something about relaxing for once, Vergil had started to say no, again. But then Kyrie started talking about enjoying a “women’s day out” before the party, and Vergil lost the battle to Corrin’s internal excitement almost immediately. Somehow, that had lead to Dante confiscating Yamato while Vergil had been resting (he was convinced sedatives were involved, but Dante never admitted to it), Nero forcing Vergil to rent a new suit. Then, just to top it all off, Kyrie made them flowers, one he was supposed to wear, and the other for Corrin. And nobody, not even Vergil, said no to Kyrie.

The whole thing was baffling. Vergil became even more confused when Dante and Nero arrived in suits as formal as his with homemade flowers of their own. Dante had shaved. Nero was wearing an over-abundance of hair gel. Unfortunately, Vergil noted that Nero’s hair was not as naturally perfect as his father’s. And both were holding presents that made Vergil think he had missed some kind of memo.

And Corrin - that insufferable woman - had been so sincere that morning. “If you don't want to go, it’s okay” she had said. “I’ve never experienced something like this, so I guess I got caught up in it all.” And he knew she was telling the truth. And, for the second time that week, Vergil lost the will to fight. Her enthusiasm and childlike wonder had seen to that. It didn’t help that V had been goading him over the event for the last few days. “Are you not the least bit intrigued? She’s getting all dressed up just for you.”

Vergil sighed as he brushed back his hair. He could hear the clatter of people in the ballroom downstairs. Kyrie and Nero had rented out the place with some help from members of the orphanage staff. The food had arrived, and the variety of aromas were an overwhelming nuisance to his senses. But still, he waited. Not just because he could feel Corrin’s growing anxiety from two floors up, but because his son looked so stressed that Vergil thought he might break-down at that very moment.

“Relax, kiddo.” Dante said. “Everything’s going to be just fine.”

Nero’s fingers twitched, but he didn’t stop pacing. Vergil had yet to figure out what was wrong. “Just ask.” V said. But Vergil hadn’t and he wasn’t certain why. “As long as Vergil plays nice for a few hours, that is.” Dante said.

Vergil glared at him. “I’m here, am I not?”

“But would it kill you to smile?”

“Yes.”

Dante laughed. Even Nero relaxed just a little. Again, Vergil didn’t know why.

The girl’s voices echoed from down the hallway. But Corrin’s tether was still upstairs. Why? It was odd that she wouldn’t stay with the others. “Don’t worry!” Nico said much too loudly. “He’s gonna love it.”

“Are you sure?” Kyrie said. She sounded nervous.

“Yeah! You look great. You could teach Lady a thing or two.”

“Oh hush.” Lady said.

There was a knock on the door. Nero was there so fast that Dante barely had time to roll out of the way. “Hey there, devil-boy!” Nico said as she put her hands on her hips and leaned in towards him. Gone was her mechanic outfit, replaced by a short, green dress. She hadn’t done much else, though. “Didn’t know you were so excited to see me.”

Nero scowled, but it softened when Kyrie stepped in front. Unlike Nico, Kyrie’s hair was tied back into a ponytail of curls. Her white dress was a ballroom gown with crystals of various colors. Nero took her hand and kissed the back of it, his eyes absorbed in Kyrie’s. Dante righted himself beside Vergil with a low whistle. “Looking good, Kyrie.”

The glare Nero gave him made Vergil proud. But Kyrie smiled. “Thank you.” She said. “I’m sorry to bother you all, but we need some help moving the tables around. It seems I miscounted the number of guests.”

“Of course.” Nero said. “I’ll be right down.”

“You too, Dante!” Lady yelled from the other side of the door. Vergil couldn’t see her, but Dante was grinning like a madman.

“Of course!” He said. “Here, Verge.” He tossed Vergil a small, black box. “Feel free to take a peak.” Dante winked in that overly dramatic way he did when he wanted Vergil to get the hint. “And, for the record, it was Corrin’s favorite.” He left with a grand flourish, tossing Yamato haphazardly back to Vergil before pulling what looked like a rose out of his pocket. The door slammed shut. Vergil stared at it, both confused and annoyed.

“It seems he was more prepared than we were.” V said.

“I am fine.” Vergil said.

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.”

“That does not apply to this situation.”

“So you say.”

Growing more irritated, Vergil almost considered tossing the box away. He hadn’t bought it, so he couldn’t say it was his. It was Corrin’s favorite, Dante had said. He scowled at the thought. When had Dante of all people learned what Corrin wanted. She had been with Vergil every day since…

“She went out with the other women yesterday.” V recalled.

Ah. While Dante was sparring with him. Another distraction. But Dante had given him back Yamato. He could leave at any time.

“But you won’t.”

A soft knock at the door pulled his attention. Vergil frowned. He hadn’t noticed the tether move at all, much less in front of the room. But there she was. And the more he focused on it, the more he felt her unbridled nervous energy. It was enough to make his own heart skip a beat, a sensation he was not well acquainted with. He scowled at the door. They would really need to talk about that. If she didn’t learn to control her own emotions then…

“Perhaps you should open the door?” V said. Vergil growled at his other half, who only chuckled before falling silent.

He froze when his eyes met hers. Unlike the other women, who had been practically drowning in makeup, Corrin wore very little. A few lines around her eyes and a small hint of glitter on her lips, but nothing else. It was her dress that drew his attention, and he realized he hadn’t actually seen her like this before. The royal blue fabric wrapped perfectly at her hips, flowing out with much more movement than Kyrie’s ballroom dress. Her thick shoulder straps covered any remaining scars with a modest, but slightly lower than usual neckline. Her hair, which had been highlighted a matching blue, he noted, was pulled back into an elaborate pattern of curls and bobby pins that reminded him of a flower. The sides of her hair were curled, framing her face. Have they always done that? She kept trying to pull it behind her ear with little success. “Hey.” She said, her voice weak. Anxiety surged between them again. Vergil didn’t understand it, but he also didn’t understand the strange sensation in the pit of his stomach.

V chuckled in the back of his mind, but said nothing. Of course not. The one time Vergil actually wanted him to offer up some poetic wisdom, he didn’t.

“I know it’s rather extravagant.” Corrin said. Her cheeks flushed red as she broke eye contact. “But don’t worry! If anything happens, I have clothes to change into. So it shouldn’t be…”

Vergil reached for her hand without thinking. She went silent immediately and met his gaze again. There was a long pause before Vergil found the words he wanted to say. “You are…” He trailed off, unable to finish that sentence. He half expected Dante to appear out of thin air and mock him. He took another deep breath and tried again. “That color looks good on… you.” He silently cursed himself. That wasn’t what he wanted to say at all.

However, Corrin’s smile was so genuine that he completely forgot his embarrassment. “You are rather dashing in that suit.” She said as she tugged at his tie. Not enough to ruin it. But enough to pull him closer. He found that he didn’t mind. “I know you weren’t too happy to be here…” She said.

“It’s fine.” He said. “I…” His mind drifted to the gift in his pocket. He still didn’t know what it was. Would Dante play a trick on him? He thought he might. But maybe not in this situation. His brother was often unpredictable.

“I have something for you.” Corrin said. He blinked. Another flare of nerves hit him. “But I was told to leave it in my room. Dante said you’d have the key.”

“Did he now.”

“I think we’ve been had.”

“Possibly.” He said.

“What if we walk downstairs and everyone is just… gone.” She waved her hands in the air with a small grin. “Like magic.”

“That would be a pretty terrible party.”

“Not if we got some interesting music.” She said thoughtfully. “I could play the piano.”

Vergil felt himself smile.“I suppose we’ll just have to endure it.”

“Oh the horror.” She said. “Whatever shall we do?”

He chuckled. Vergil hadn’t expected to feel relaxed at all tonight. It was easy to give into his more serious nature and just focus on getting through the “unpleasant” moments. But, as he stared at his Soulmate, he decided he could let all of that go, if only for tonight. For her, he could try. And he wanted to try. Because she had done all of this for him, and he’d be damned if he let her efforts go to waste.

“I have a gift for you.” He said as he opened the box. Inside was a silver chain with a V made of sapphires. Vergil hid his surprise - this was her favorite? - as Corrin’s eyes went wide.

“How did you know?”

He was seconds from telling her the truth, but V was quick to stop him. “Sometimes you don’t have to say anything.”

“Thank you.” She said. He nodded mutely, uncertain what to say as she pulled the necklace out of the box. When she went to fasten it herself, he found himself reaching for it. His fingers brushed her neck. They both stared at each other. Vergi’s mind raced. How could anyone possibly express such complicated emotions? He was starting to think it was impossible.

“Allow me.” He said finally. She nodded enthusiastically, and turned around. It took a great amount of effort to keep his eyes from drifting to the exposed skin of her back. It wasn’t much, but it was more than usual. After he fastened the chain, he stepped back. Music started downstairs. The hum of voices echoed after it. Vergil blinked forward to grab Yamato and jumped back before she had a chance to turn around. After hooking it to his belt, he took her hand again. “We shouldn’t keep them waiting.”

 


 

It was midnight when Vergil finally understood what this whole party was actually about.

In hindsight, it should have been obvious. But he wasn’t the best at picking up on social cues. He might not have noticed anything special happening if Corrin hadn’t practically dragged him to sit next to her at the piano. “Watch.” She said. When he raised an eyebrow in her direction, she chuckled and said, “the dance floor.”

His eyes drifted to the center of the ballroom. The tables had all been moved to the side an hour before, opening the golden floor up for anyone who wanted to dance. The lights had been dimmed, leaving the impression of glittering stars on a darkened ceiling. Dante, Trish, and Lady had been quick to start a dance, bringing along a vast majority of the orphanage kids. Some of the adults had joined in, if only to keep the kids from hurting each other. And the music had been loud and much different than Vergil expected it to be. He and Corrin had stayed off to the side, sipping on some wine to keep everyone else away.

Now, however, the kids were gone, shepherded back to the more kid friendly hotel across the street. Dante, Trish, and Lady had taken the spots at the bar. The music shifted to a quieter song, and Corrin began to play. Vergil recognized the song immediately. It was the one she had been playing almost every day with Kyrie for the last two weeks.

Vergil let his eyes drift away from her as Nero gently pulled Kyrie from her seat and onto the dance floor. He was shaking terribly, but Kyrie looked perfectly relaxed. She pulled herself slightly away from Nero. He stared at her, but his expression shifted the second she started to sing. Vergil didn’t know the words, as he hadn’t heard her actually singing it. But he understood why his son was practically melting in front of her. Everyone else was staring, entranced. Her voice was melodic. Despite her clear nervousness, she didn’t miss a single note. Nero’s face had turned an even brighter red than before. But he was grinning from ear to ear. When Nero took Kyrie’s hand, she froze in surprise, her voice stopping mid note. Corrin kept playing, albeit a bit quieter.

“I’ve been thinking about this for awhile.” Nero said. “But now seems like a better time than any.” He dropped to one knee so fast Vergil was surprised the floor didn’t shatter. Nero held a diamond ring to her, his nerves gone. “Will you marry me, Kyrie?”

Tears appeared in the corners of Kyrie’s eyes. She reached into her dress and held out a ring of her own. “I was going to ask you the same thing.”

Nero stared at her for a long moment. Then, as if out of nowhere the two started laughing. He leapt to his feet and pulled her into a spinning hug. The crowd cheered. Dante whistled much louder than the others. Vergil felt a well of pride within him. That was his son. Happy and in love with a woman who took good care of him. He’d turned out okay, even without him. And that’s all Vergil cared about.

“Y’all know what this means?” Nico yelled. “Dance party!”

Vergil rolled his eyes. The loud music returned as everyone surrounded the couple. Vergil heard them laughing from somewhere in the mess, and was content to stay far away from it. He was certain Nero wouldn’t mind.

“Hey Verge!” Dante appeared beside him so suddenly that Corrin nearly fell out of their seat. Vergil moved his hand a bit to catch her, but didn’t miss the cheeky grin Dante gave him for doing so. “Now you get to have a daughter-in-law.”

“For all intents and purposes.” Vergil said. “She already was.”

Dante laughed. Vergil could smell the alcohol on his breath, but he knew it would take many more hours and a lot more bottles of whatever he was drinking for him to become even slightly intoxicated. “Well,” He said. “I’d say your hours of service are up.” Dante said. Vergil stared at him and Dante continued. “You’re welcome to leave whenever you’d like. The kid won’t mind. Promise.”

“Are you… sure?” Corrin said. “This is their night.”

“We’ve got about thirty minutes left on this place.” Dante said. “Then, a lot of us were going to raid the bar downtown. And I’d suggest you disappear before Nico drags you along.” He waved as he pushed himself back into the crowd.

“You knew about this?” Vergil said.

Corrin shook her head. “Kyrie asked me about two hours ago to play for her. Funnily enough, Nero asked for the same thing this morning.” Her eyes snapped back to the crowd. Vergil followed them and grimaced when he saw Nico stomping across the dance floor with a smirk. He pushed himself out of his seat and took Corrin’s hand. She squeaked slightly when he pulled her away.

“Wait!” Nico said. “I’ve got room in the van for both of you!”

Not caring who was looking, Vergil teleported them to her room. They toppled forward onto the bed, though, as he had landed them just inches from it. Vergil made no effort to stop it, even as she landed on top of him. There was a moment of silence before Corrin broke into fits of laughter and buried her face into his chest. He smiled.

When she finally recovered, which took more than a few minutes, she lifted her head to grin at him. “Close call.” Vergil hummed in agreement, but said nothing. He absentmindedly trailed his fingers up her arm, leaving clear goosebumps behind. Silence fell between them, aside from a pair of heartbeats that were much too loud for their own good.

It was Corrin that moved first. “Your gift!” She said. He wrapped his arms around her back to stop her, smirking when she returned a lighthearted glare. “Please?” She said. “I’ve been waiting all week.”

He let her go. She reached off the side of the bed and grabbed a black case. She sat it down beside him and sat back with the dress spreading around her. “Back at our home,” She said. “I found one in a box with my piano music. I never bothered to learn it myself. But you started playing it one day.” She pulled at the ends of her dress as much of the fabric started sliding off the edges.

She’s very attractive.

It took Vergil way too long to realize it was his own thoughts and not V’s that proclaimed that sentiment. He reached for the case as Corrin kept talking. “I know you might not remember but…”

He opened the case and she fell silent. The violin was more beautiful than any he had played before. And probably expensive, if he had to guess. The wood was sturdy and lacquered with the same royal blue color as Corrin’s dress. The second his fingers touched it, memories flooded into him. Some from his childhood, when he had insisted on learning the violin so he could play alongside his mother. The night that Dante had begged to learn the guitar just so he could join Vergil during his practices. Then there were other memories from the ones he had forgotten. Improvising during Corrin’s practices. Flashes of nights he would play for her, if only to soothe her from her nightmares. He lifted it, pleased with the weight. “You chose well.”

Corrin’s face practically beamed with pride. “I tried to remember how the old one was… but that one just… felt right.”

Vergil sat it back in the case and closed it with the same tenderness with which he would sheathe Yamato. Satisfied, he set it aside. “We’ll have to play sometime.” He said. “I might even remember the songs.”

“Don’t worry,” she said. “I’ve got them all up there somewhere.” She paused for a moment and said, “I’m glad you like it.”

“It was very thoughtful.” He held his hand out, and pulled her to him the second he could. Her breath was warm against his neck as she tilted her head up to gaze at him. He let his mind wander. Twenty years ago - or however long it had truly been - he never would have imagined being in this position. His son was getting married. He was on good terms with his brother - as good as two half-demon twins could be- and he was here, close to someone he cared about.

Dante’s words came back to him. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’re in love.”

As infuriating as it was, Vergil wondered if he was right.

“Corrin.” He said. “Does being your Soulmate influence how I feel?”

She looked confused for a moment as she lifted her head. “Well, no.” She said. “I mean, not really. It does make you a bit… protective, I guess? But not in a romantic way. I know plenty of reavers who have platonic Soulmates, though there’s a lot of debate whether that’s…”

Vergil kissed her.

It was awkward at first. She clearly hadn’t been expecting it, and he couldn’t remember kissing anybody. But, eventually, she tilted her head until their lips molded together. A pleasant warmth surged between them. He leaned into her, appreciating the smoothness of her lips against his own. When her fingers ran through his hair, every nerve in his body seized with desire. Her tongue brushed his lips. He let her inside, but reclaimed the kiss for himself within seconds. A heartbeat thundered in his head, but he wasn’t certain if it was hers, his, or both. It didn’t matter. Corrin tugged at his sleeves as she shifted as far back as her dress would let her. After a brief moment of consideration, he finally obliged to her silent pleas. He sat himself up, cupping her cheek with one hand as he positioned himself above her. He kissed her again, tilting her chin up to meet him. It took some extra energy, but he earned a quiet moan for his efforts. They separated for a very brief moment, but he recaptured her lips before either really had a chance to breathe. She grabbed his tie, pulling them as close together as their rather cumbersome clothing would allow.

A long time later - or maybe just a few minutes, it was hard to tell - he pulled away. “Beautiful.” Was all he could murmur as he pressed his forehead to hers, but didn’t open his eyes.

He felt her smile as she brushed through his hair. “Maybe I should ramble more often.”

He growled, but it was soft. “Don’t push it.” She chuckled as his lips drifted to her neck. His demon growled somewhere deep within as she tilted her chin willingly for him. Maybe if he were younger, he would have bitten her already. Such a clear gesture of submission was difficult to ignore. But he found it much more appealing to feel her shiver as his lips grazed her skin. A small taste of her, mixed with the distinct smell he didn’t quite recognize...

He stopped for a moment. How had he not noticed that until now? Even her hair smelled different than normal, though he couldn’t seem to remember how he knew that. “Strawberries?” He said before he caught himself.

“Someone may have mentioned that you like them.” She said.

Vergil had an idea who that someone was, but he wasn’t about to acknowledge it. He pulled back and planted a small kiss on her lips again. She growled when he pulled away. Vergil smirked. “Don’t forget who’s in control, little flame.” He murmured, vaguely surprised how easy those words were compared to everything else he had failed to say.

She sighed dramatically. “I never do.” But she was so incredibly - irresistibly - relaxed. He almost couldn’t believe it. But she had never had trouble being around him. If anything, his own willingness to stay like this was much more surprising.

He felt a hint of hesitation through the tether. “Tell me.” He said.

After another moment, she said, “I love you.”

Vergil paused. He felt both her heart and the tether prickle with embarrassment. Their eyes met, and he knew that she meant it. His heart hammered against his chest. The kiss and been an instinct. But this… this was something else. A brief moment of thought was all he needed to understand the shift within himself. A fresh perspective he might have called it. But it was more of an acceptance of something he really should have already known. Vergil brushed his lips against hers and hoped she understood the words he was unable to say. She kissed him in response, but he knew that they both wanted so much more...

BOOM!

Corrin jumped so violently that, if not for Vergil towering over her, she would have fallen straight off the bed. The smell of smoke wafted from outside. Screams echoed below. Vergil phased to the window. “The church.” He said. “City center.” He turned back to Corrin, surprised to find that she was already buttoning up her jacket, dress discarded on the bed. How he hadn’t noticed the rest of her clothes -especially those boots - was beyond him. But the second she was done, she pulled at the air. Calcifer appeared in her hand, confused for a brief moment until she fed him a flame.

“The others…” She said.

“They’ll be there.” Vergil swung open the window. Calcifer leapt forward, transforming the second he got outside. Vergil grabbed Corrin’s hand and teleported them both onto the dragon’s back as he dove toward the ever rising flames.

Chapter Text

Nero had never been to the Underworld. But if he were ever to imagine it, this scene - impossible, blood red flames towering in all directions and people scrambling for their lives - is what he would envision. 

The Redgrave tragedy had been bad. But this… this was much worse. 

“Load as many children into the van as you can.” Nero said as he lowered the last child from a room on the first floor. Dante was higher up where the older kids were, making no effort to hide his supernatural abilities. He practically flew from window to window, jumping down with anywhere from two to four kids under his arms, before jumping back up. Nero didn’t want to think of those trapped further up. The orphanage kids were his top priority, but it took every ounce of his dwindling self control to remember that. 

“That’s all I can take!” Nico yelled as she slammed the van door closed. 

“The bus is down the street.” Kyrie said. “We can get the rest there.” She was a picture of calm, and Nero didn’t know how she was handling it. “How many more on this floor?”

“That should be the last of them.” Nero said. Dante hopped down with the last set of kids. “That’s all I could find.” He said as a few of the chaperones quickly herded the remaining kids down the street. Nero almost moved to help, but Dante stopped him. “Are we missing anyone?”

“Not any children.” Kyrie said. “But we’re missing chaperones.”

“Go with Nico.” Nero said. “Take everyone to our house for now. We’ll deal with it in the morning.” He didn’t want to say that there might not be anything to come back to. 

“Be safe.” Kyrie said as she kissed his cheek. 

“You too.” He helped her into the van. Seconds later, Nico spun it around, dodging around flames with incredible precision. Nero saw the bus follow after just a few minutes later. He turned to Dante. “What about the other guests?”

Dante shook his head. “Many on the top floors are already dead. And we have a lot bigger issues than this one hotel.”

Nero knew that, but he was overwhelmed just thinking about it. The first explosion had been small and right next to the church. While the building had caught fire, there were very few in that area, and it could have been dealt with. But then two more had gone off. One in the residential district across the city, and the other just outside their hotel. And it didn't take supernatural powers to know these were demonic. The flames were almost like demons themselves, twisting wildly in random directions to consume anything they could find. Water did very little, and Nero was certain the devastation would be catastrophic. “How do we stop it?”

A roar startled him, but Dante only glanced at the sky. Calcifer glided to the ground beside them. Nero met Vergil's eyes as his father slid off the dragon’s back. Corrin didn’t move as her eyes drifted to the sky. “The Devil Hunters in the city are working on evacuation.” Vergil said. “No portals are open, but we have to find the source.”

“A demon?” Nero said. 

“Guarantee it.” Dante said. “These kinds of flames can only be sustained by one. Find it, kill it, and the flames will go out.”

“But these people...”

“We can’t hope to save all of them.” Vergil said. Nero flinched at his father’s tone, swallowing the anger that lurched into his throat. They had to be calm. Methodical, even. Just because Vergil was good at it didn’t make him the bad guy. Vergil, however, seemed to notice Nero’s feelings, for he said, “The faster we kill the demon, the more lives we save.”

A gurgling roar echoed from beneath them. The ground shuddered. The flames burst upward before swirling around them. Calcifer lurched into the air, barely escaping the cyclone. Dante leapt backwards. Vergil vanished, and Nero felt a violent tug on his jacket before he was thrown very far out of the way. The ground lurched upward, spewing lava as if a volcano had risen from hell itself. A massive, clawed hand snapped upward before slamming against the ground. Nero trigger, throwing himself out of the way as cracks shot out in every direction. 

“Nero!” Dante yelled as he transformed. Nero leapt for him, his spectral hand grabbing onto Dante’s leg. The red-devil shot into the sky as the molten monster seemed to extend from the ground itself. Its clawed hand glowed with lava. Its other arm was a golden sword. Lava pooled in every crack and crevice, and Nero could almost see a smile on what he would consider the monster's stomach. Its chest was nothing but flames that might have stretched on into eternity. And its head - if it could even be called that - was reptilian with over a dozen horns. 

Dante dropped them both onto one of the few buildings that wasn’t on fire a safe distance away. The monster seemed to cackle as the lava burned it’s way toward them. Dante let his devil form go with an amused smirk. “Think we found our demon.” Dante said. Nero had no response for that. He understood why his Uncle looked so excited, as he felt it a little bit himself, but the gravity of the situation was enough to keep him in check. Maybe this was Dante’s way of coping with it. He hadn’t been exactly bothered by the Qliphoth rising either. 

The devastation had already struck. Killing the source of the destruction was all they could do now. So, instead of giving into his human despair, Nero let his anger fuel his demon. He could feel it bristling under his skin, begging for a fight. It had been a long time since he had given into such primal emotions, but he wanted to. He wanted to tear this demon apart. 

“Control yourself.” Nero’s eyes snapped back to Vergil as he landed behind them. Calcifer hovered just above them with Corrin still on his back. 

“This demon has killed hundreds of people.” Nero said, his demon leaking into his human voice. “And you want me to be calm.”

“Yes.” Vergil said. “Channel your anger into your strikes, but do not lose yourself, or it will overwhelm you.”

“I suppose you’d know something about that.” Nero hissed. 

Vergil’s eyes narrowed slightly, but he looked to Dante instead. “There are two conglomerations of corruption within this demon. One in its chest, the other in the sword. It will reform, but only with parts still attached to its’ body.”

“And how do we take down these conglomerations?” Dante said. 

“Corrin and I will deal with that.” He said. “You two destroy whatever you can.” He hopped onto Calcifer’s back with such ease that Nero might have thought he had been doing it forever. 

“Be careful.” Corrin said. 

“Always am.” Dante said with a cheeky grin. He launched off the rooftop, shifting to his demon form mid jump. A dozen, red swords shot at the demon as he careened at it’s chest, devil sword appearing in his hand. 

Nero glanced at Vergil again, only moderately surprised when his father met his gaze. There was a moment of silence between them. Corrin stared straight ahead, her eyes glazed over. Even Calcifer remained as still as a statue, waiting. “Your trigger is finite.” Vergil said, finally. Nero blinked, surprised. “It will not last as long as mine or Dante’s. Use it sparingly, if you can help it. Your wings will be more than enough.” 

Nero stared at him, bewildered. “I… Thanks?”

Vergil nodded once before averting his gaze. “Go.” Spurred to life, Calcifer leapt off the building and arced up higher than the monster who was well distracted by Dante. Nero summoned his wings and leapt forward, revving Red Queen as he hopped over the lava and into the fray. 

 


 

Corrin watched the fight with a strange mix of calm and dread. Nero and Dante were holding the demon off, destroying whatever parts of it they could reach. Dante had yet to drop his devil form (not that she expected him to) and was dealing with the sword. Nero had yet to trigger fully, but was running along the creatures second arm with barely any effort. The monster was slow, and both demons could dodge or jump out of any attacks. The conglomerations as Vergil had come to call them were stationary, but the corruption inside was worse than it had been before. It wasn’t just one soul, but a mixture of several dozens - maybe hundreds - that roiled around each other like liquid. This abomination was bizarre. It was much different than the previous demonic construct. She had already expressed this to Vergil, but he had told her to wait. Corrin couldn’t risk resonating with this creature after what happened last time, and she wasn’t certain she could destroy such a strange mess of souls. 

“Any ideas?” Corrin said.

“I may be able to destroy them.” Vergil said. “With your fire.”

“I’m not sure I can maintain any equilibrium like this.” Her eyes drifted back to the city. At first, she thought the church fire was an unfortunate accident. An attack at midnight in a place where there were very few, if any people to kill. They’d rescued the few priests that had been inside, shaken but unharmed. 

It was the second explosion - and the subsequent demon responsible for it - that sent everything to Hell. A concentrated attack in the middle of the residential district, with the demon itself erupting under the somewhat busy downtown area. Corrin could feel death pulling at her from all directions. Most had been instant. But some were still dying, and she could feel all of them. It was impossible to know how high the death toll was. Many souls tugged at her mind, begging for salvation. The strain threatened to pull her apart. If the demon wasn’t here, she would have helped with the evacuation effort. But the moment she had spotted the conglomerate under the chaos, both she and Vergil knew that was now their top priority. 

It wasn’t until Vergil’s hand pressed against her back that she realized that her mind had wandered too far. She shook her head in an attempt to pull herself back. “Sorry.” She said. “This is…”

“I know.” He said. 

“Why haven’t you triggered yet?” She said. 

“I can’t be certain you won’t fall if I do.” He said. “And even if I did, I cannot destroy those souls on my own.”

“Guess we should have practiced more.” 

He didn’t respond. Corrin closed her eyes, thinking back to their short fight with Kai. It had been exhilarating to pull off of Vergil, and she had always freely given her power to him. But the sensation of her soul cracking had been… excruciating. It had terrified her. And she didn’t know how much power she had actually taken before it happened. It seemed that they were balanced, but maybe she had been over eager in hopes of proving herself. 

But pulling off of his devil form… she hadn’t tried it. She wasn’t even sure she could. 

“You can’t be afraid.” Vergil said. 

She took a deep breath and opened her eyes again. “Go.” She said. “I’ll hold on.”

After a moment, she felt him nod. “Do not let her fall, Calcifer.” The dragon roared in response as Vergil disappeared. His devil form appeared seconds later, diving straight for the monster’s core. Dante swerved to the side, colliding with the demon’s sword. It cracked, but had yet to shatter. Yamato could do it, but he would need her flames. 

Corrin took a deep breath, pushing down the voices that kept trying to dig themselves into her consciousness. “We have to get closer, Calcifer.” She said, leaning forward to brace herself. “I’m trusting you.” Calcifer flapped his wings once before dipping down after Vergil. The construct, distracted by the other three devils, paid her no mind. Corrin focused on Vergil’s soul and pulled a miniscule piece. His demon growled somewhere in the back of her head. A small flame surged back at him. Dizziness swept over her, but she held on. 

Working with Vergil’s demon was going to be a lot more difficult than she thought. If he realized what had happened, he didn’t show it.

Instead, he was tearing through the rocks that rushed to cover the creature’s chest. Nero triggered, leaping onto its head. He slammed down with both feathered arms. Half of the skull shattered, with some crumbling to the ground. The creature recoiled. Fire burst from the wound. Nero leapt out of the way and stabbed Red Queen into the creature’s arm to keep from falling off. Dante finally broke through the sword. The bottom half crashed to the ground. A small piece of the souls stuck out. 

“Calcifer.” Corrin said. The dragon moved on instinct, diving under the broken weapon. Corrin channeled as much power into him as possible. The moon sigil appeared in front of Calcifer’s mouth as blue flames seeped in from every direction. He shot his head forward. The flames broke through the sigil, expanding in a mix of white and blue. It slammed further up the sword. Cracks appeared, and Dante dove through it as Calcifer’s flames stopped. The entire weapon hit the ground and shattered in all directions. The conglomerate of souls rolled away, engulfed in flames. The souls inside tried to scatter, but another quick fireball from Corrin stopped them. 

Vergil roared as Yamato cut through the last of the demon’s flimsy armor. Both he and Dante dove into the flames. Corrin tried pulling on his soul again. This time - whether he was distracted or aware of her - the energy made it back to her. Fire burned into her very soul. The explosion of power was similar to what she had felt last time, but much stronger. Her mind raced with thoughts she had never experienced before. A part of them were animalistic. The others were methodical as her senses enhanced far beyond her natural power. She could see everything. Feel the magic of the creature and the explosive energy of the descendants of Sparda. 

She had never been afraid of Vergil’s devil form, nor was she now. But she understood why it was so difficult for him to give any part of it to her. It was exhilarating. The first time she had ever felt like a true demon. She couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have an entire second form. 

Focus, little flame.” The voice - Vergil’s internal voice that he still hadn’t told her about - whispered in her head.  “Give back the same amount you take.”

“Right.” She said to herself. She focused back on her own soul, feeling for the pieces of power that were purely her own. She felt Vergil tugging on her, his demon impatient. Finally, she let a few of her flames go and prayed it was equivalent. 

Blue flames burst out of the creature’s core. Dante’s devil form shot out of the wound Nero made on the creature’s head, shattering both it and the shoulders. The rest of the body crumbled as Vergil reappeared outside of it, souls in one hand and a burning Yamato in the other. The creature crumbled. The lava within itself gushed out in all directions, but turned to stone the second it hit the ground. It was eerily quiet as it fell apart. The red hellfire throughout the city dissipated, leaving only earthly flames that devil hunters and firefighters rushed to put out. 

Corrin’s eyes drifted back to the souls. The other had burned faster than she expected, and the souls inside hadn’t been anything special. But the one Vergil had… something was off. She had no idea what it was. Were there more souls than the other? Why couldn’t she hear anything from them? She and Calcifer drifted closer. Vergil pulled Yamato back. 

A very small voice echoed in Corrin’s head. “Kill the monster.”

Alarm swept through her. “Vergil!” She yelled. But it was too late. The conglomerate shattered under the force of Yamato, burning the outside to ash. But the souls inside did not catch fire. Screams erupted in all directions as the Qliphoth souls rushed to him. Some latched on to his wings. Others wrapped around his arms and legs like slimy vines. Vergil fought back with a furious roar, but the weight pulled him down. The energy of his demon form burned away the more he fought. Halfway toward the ground, it vanished completely. Dante swooped down to catch him.  

A flash of white struck Dante, throwing him slightly off the path. Vergil slammed into the ground. The souls swarmed him. Corrin threw herself off Calcifer’s back the second he was in range and raced to Vergil’s side. “Hold on.” She said as she burned away the few souls that had moved in towards his chest. They shrieked in response. Some tried to latch onto her, but a quick pulse of fire dissuaded that. She pushed any energy she could back into him. A small shield surrounded his soul, but it was flimsy at best. Desperate, Corrin pressed her hand against his chest and burned any that dared come close. She could see the agony in his eyes. Dante cut through the few that had yet to reach them, but Corrin knew it wouldn’t be enough. 

“Corrin.” Vergil said, his voice barely audible as a few of the souls began wrapping around his neck. “Burn them.”

“I am.” She said, trying to keep the panic out of her voice.

“All of them.”

“But you...”

“Just do it.” He said before gritting his teeth in pain. His back arched as he tried his best to fight them off. But they weren’t backing down. Nero was there now, fighting souls on the opposite side. Tearfully, Corrin pulled all of the fire to her hands that she could muster. “I’m sorry.” She said. A sigil of the moon formed in her palm as she channelled all of her energy into one blast. 

A sharp pain shot through her shoulder. She shrieked, her sigil forgotten as the energy of the strike threw her backwards. She heard Vergil yell for her, but his voice was drowned out by the eagerness of the souls. Panicked, Corrin reached for her shoulder to find an arrow made of silver light embedded deep within the muscle, right over the tender scars of her previous wound. Desperately, she yanked it out, biting her lip to hide the pain as she tossed it away. Forcing herself upright, she rushed back to Vergil’s side. He had gone still, but the shield around his soul was untouched. She could feel the victim's pure anguish as they failed to pierce it. Another arrow shot at her. Dante dashed in front, slicing it out of the air. Corrin tried to summon her sigil again, but her power was unfocused. Vergil’s eyes were glazed over now. She wasn’t even certain he could see her anymore. 

“Saina.” She said. His soul flickered in response, but he didn’t move. More arrows rained from seemingly nowhere. Dante and Nero struck each one of them down as she pressed her hands back on Vergil’s chest. The souls hissed at her. A few wrapped around her wrists. She ignored their screams as she focused on pulling her power back together. 

Suddenly, two beams of white light shot down from the heavens. One struck Nero, who fell unconscious immediately, caught completely off guard. The second barrelled into Dante’s devil sword. His demon roared louder than she had ever heard it. Arrows rained down around him. One hit his arm. Another went into his leg. Three more pierced his chest. Corrin could see the energy from his soul draining into each one. “Dante!” She yelled. The souls crawled up her arms. Fire burst from her skin, pushing both them and some of the ones on Vergil away. One final arrow slammed into Dante’s shoulder. His demonic energy shifted, knocking him out of his devil form. He slammed into the ground, immobilized but awake. A paralyzer. Corrin thought. Not uncommon to the one she had used on Vergil. But much more brutal. 

“This is… unfortunate.” 

Corrin’s eyes snapped up as Leo landed a few feet away, lazily spinning an arrow between his fingers. Corrin’s eyes widened. “What have you done?” 

“Paralyzed him.” He said with a nudge toward Dante. “Knocked out the other. But you knew that already, so why bother asking?” He sighed as he dropped the bow. It vanished into thin air, much like Corrin’s own reaver weapons. A white and black scythe appeared on his back. “You, however, are much more… resilient.”

“Do you not feel it?” Corrin said. “The death in the air?”

“Not anymore.” Leo said. “I lost that ability after your Soulmate killed my family.”

Corrin’s heart dropped into the pit of her stomach. “What?”

“Not that he would remember it.” Leo said. Hatred began to burn into every word he said. For the first time, Corrin saw the corruption. A very small hint of black in the center of his soul. He had hidden it before, but he didn’t care any longer. “They were, after all, just nameless fuel for that fruit. Just like all the others.”

Corrin didn’t know the circumstances of the Qliphoth tree. Vergil had never directly told her what happened. But she knew, through some mentions by Dante, Nero, and the others, that the being that ate the fruit and Vergil were not quite the same. And she had never questioned it. He was her Soulmate, and his soul hadn’t maintained the level of corruption that a willingly malicious entity would have. But the reality of the situation filled her with dread. “Leo,” She said. “What have you done?”

His eyes narrowed. A tinge of red flared in from the outer edges. Madness, yes. But much more than Gaius. Corruption born of pure hatred, not simply an insane mind. “I made a deal.” He said. “I get the soul, and Gaius gets the body. My only regret is that you, dear sister, were caught in the middle.”

“How many have you killed?” She snapped. “Hundreds? Thousands? And for what?”

“He killed millions.”

“And you think that justifies this?” She swung one hand around, keeping her injured arm closer to Vergil. She could still hear the screams in the background. “Every life is important, Leo. None of these people deserve to die for your revenge.”

“I don’t expect you to understand.” Leo said. “But you didn’t get to choose your Soulmate. So drop your shield, and I’ll let you live.”

Corrin burst into bitter laughter. “You think Gaius will just give up? Samael? Mundus? You honestly think this will end well for anyone?” She said. “You’re a fool, Leo. Helen would be ashamed.”

His eyes seethed with hatred, but he didn’t move. “Drop your shield, Corrin.” 

Corrin’s eyes fell to Vergil’s soul. It was strong, and she was certain her shield would last. But how long would he survive if it didn’t? Leo would never let her burn them away, but fighting him would risk them both. And she would have to kill Leo, not just push him away. His corruption would see to that.

Dante’s soul twitched beside her. That’s what she needed. If she could distract Leo long enough for Dante’s soul to regain its energy, they could save Vergil.

Vergil’s fingers brushed her knee. The only thing he could reach. She met his gaze and felt a flicker of trust. “Fight, little flame.” The voice echoed in her head. “You’re stronger than he will ever be.”

Slowly, she nodded and reinforced the shield one last time. “Hold on.” She whispered as she ran her fingers through his hair. There was still no physical response, but his soul flickered back to her. A silent promise. Corrin stood, staff appearing in one hand, and a blue flame in the other. Her injured shoulder hissed in pain, but she ignored it. Calcifer landed beside her and roared, his soul bursting with furious energy. 

Leo’s eyes narrowed. “You’re defending a monster.”

“No.” She said, unable to hide her grief. “I’m fighting one.”

Chapter Text

The pain was so intense that he barely felt it anymore. A pitiful irony, he might have thought, but his mind was a hazes of nothingness. A few words flickered in his head, but nothing that made any sense. All he knew was pain and numbness. Endless torment that he believed he would never escape. 

How old was he now? Did it even matter? Time meant nothing. He meant nothing; just a shadow in a universe of endless darkness. 

A shimmer of light appeared somewhere in the nothingness. It shouldn’t exist, as he was certain he had lost his sight somewhere along the way. But there it was. A tiny, impossible light that flickered an unknown distance away. He swore he heard his heartbeat. But that was impossible. His tormentors had torn that out once before (or twice… or more… it was impossible to keep track, nor did he try). But there it was. A single beat that slammed against him like a hammer on his ribcage. He could feel the blood shooting through his veins. Another, almost painful sensation that he hadn’t noticed in a very long time.

The light came closer. It was a flame, shifting between colors. White. Blue. Occasionally, he saw a flicker of gold. He tried to move toward it, but his body didn’t respond. Of course not. He’d lost all feeling somewhere in the months - years? - that he had been in the darkness. Except for the blades piercing his muscles. Or the fire melting the rest of him away. 

Another heart beat. He hissed in pain. It hurt worse than before, but it was a different type of pain. A sign that he was still something. Someone. He did exist, no matter how many times he had been told otherwise. A gasp echoed around him. Not his own. A new demon? Another being sent to confuse him? He tried to move. Tried to fight. Anything. But only his heart continued beating, erratic. He could feel it in his ears. His head. Everywhere. He hated it. Emptiness was a mercy.

“Can you hear me?”

The voice wasn’t demonic, but he could feel a small presence of potential power. And it was female. At least, he thought it was. The only females he had heard were random mates of his captors and the succubi that he hated more than anything else. This voice was quiet. Maybe even scared. It could be an illusion. One to make him drop his guard before tearing him apart again.

He gnashed his teeth and forced a growl. It was pitiful, really. But he didn’t want to fall for the trick. Not again. Maybe he could scare them away. 

“It’s okay.” The voice said. “I know you’re scared.”

Rage flooded through him. How long had it been since he felt anything this strongly? It was primal. Irrational. But something different. More proof that he was more than an empty husk. He reached for whatever power he could. It wasn’t much, and he was certain he would pay for it, but he didn’t care. A single drop of his tormentor’s blood would satisfy him. 

A startled and pained scream gave him pause. The scent of blood filled his nostrils, a strange and almost sweet scent. His demon begged to taste it. Claim whoever it belonged to. But the flame moved closer. He could feel a strange warmth from it. It prickled at his mind, pulling back flashes of memories and thoughts. But they all jumbled together. An incomprehensible pile of mush. They meant nothing to him. He was nothing.

“This isn’t you.” The voice said. “You’re someone different. Someone special, right?”

Was he? He couldn’t remember. He didn’t exist. He was just a demon left to suffer for eternity for a reason he couldn’t remember. He had no sight. No feelings. Nothing but pain.

His heart beat again, as if berating him for having such thoughts.

“A Son of Sparda.”

That meant something to him, but he didn’t know what. A few of his tormentors had referred to him as such, long ago. But he could barely remember it. 

“It’s going to be okay.” The voice said. “I will protect you. I promise.”

He wanted to laugh, but he couldn’t. No one could protect him. No one could save him. He couldn’t even save himself. But the flame flickered with… something. His mind was too hazy, too broken, to give a name to the feeling. He felt a hand brush his wrist. He jerked forward. Metal held him back, and it was the first time he felt the cold, demonic steel against his skin. The flame flickered - hesitance, his mind said - but the hand returned to his. A sudden warmth erupted next to his wrist. The metal fell off his arm. He didn’t even hear it hit the ground. The entity did the same to every other chain. 

The second the last one broke, he lurched forward, reaching out in the dark. His claws - when did he summon those? - sliced through flesh. His other hand - human - wrapped around what he assumed was a neck. He pinned the unknown creature under him, his demon roaring within him. The flame flickered in fear. His demon cackled in the back of his mind. What a foolish creature. Freeing him. Trusting him. They would die for such insolence. And he would escape without them. Tear down the monsters that had dared to imprison him. 

Fingers brushed his cheek. A warmth that gave him pause. Even his demon recoiled in confusion. “It’s okay.” The voice said. “You’re going to be okay.”

A hand pressed against his chest. Electricity surged through him. His body went limp. Numbness filled his appendages, but it was a strange, almost comfortable tingle in muscles that he hadn’t used willingly in years. His vision surged to life. A disoriented mess of bright lights, metal, and glass. A pair of eyes - one blue, one white - stared at him. Not hatred or pity. Not malice or fear. But relief. 

“I hope you’ll forgive me.” Corrin said, tears in the corners of her eyes. A roar echoed in the distance. Her head snapped back as Vergil’s consciousness slipped away…

His eyes snapped open. He shot upright in confusion before he realized his body hadn’t moved. It was still there, lying in the gurgling piles of corrupted souls and only a single shield from death. Yet he - his soul? His mind? He didn’t know - was watching from beyond, as if he was already a ghost. Corrin stood in front of him, staff floating beside her. Leo was across from her, reaching for his scythe. But neither moved. Vergil could feel her sadness, and he could see a flicker of the same emotion in Leo’s own expression. Calcifer hovered over Vergil’s body, fighting off any stray souls with furious flames. 

Vergil hated it. Hated that he had fallen for such a trap. Despised that she was the one forced to fight for his life, while all of the other Sparda-kin - who should have killed this man a long time ago - were incapacitated. She was capable, yes. He knew this. But it should be him protecting her, not the other way around. 

I failed you.

“Believe in her.” V’s voice said. It took Vergil a second to realize that the voice sounded more real. His eyes flickered to the side to find V leaning against a building, arms crossed as he stared at Corrin. They were dressed the same, and V’s hair was white. But how was he here? Why? 

“I have yet to figure that out myself.” V said. “But I hope you will forgive me for pulling you here. I could not risk our soul getting lost in the memories with the Qliphoth souls so close.”

“How long was I…” Could he call it dreaming? 

“Not long.” V said. “This fight will only end in death.”

Vergil was certain Corrin knew that. But he didn’t know how she would accomplish it. The corruption on Leo’s soul was becoming more erratic by the second. She would need a perfect strike to his soul with just the right amount of flames to even have a chance. Leo only needed to outlast her. 

“Have faith.”

“I do.” Vergil said without hesitation. 

“But you are scared.”

Vergil said nothing. What was the point in hiding the truth from himself? And V didn’t mock him for it. He couldn’t. Their thoughts, after all, were the same. 

“Stay with him, Calcifer.” Corrin said. “No matter what happens.” 

Leo made the first move. He launched himself forward, yanking his scythe off his back. He swung forward in a wide and fast arch. Corrin flipped to the side and slammed a burst of flame into him. Leo stumbled backwards, but snapped the other side of his scythe toward her. She flipped over it and pulled her staff under his feet. He jumped it. She dodged another strike. Fire exploded between them. Both landed a few feet away, unfazed. “Twenty years.” Leo said. “And you haven’t changed one bit.”

Corrin’s eyes narrowed. “How would you know?”

“I had no access to your special home.” Leo said. He swung at her again. Her staff collided with his scythe with a flick of Corrin’s wrist. Leo grunted as he tried to push through it. Neither the staff nor Corrin moved, as if it wasn’t affecting her at all. “It seems Celeste cared more about your life than she did mine.”

“Imprisonment isn’t a life.” Corrin said. A sword appeared in her hand and she slammed it against the back of his knees. Half a dozen summoned daggers appeared in all directions. Leo lurched backwards, but a few of them dug into his chest as he was thrown off balance. Corrin snapped forward, swiping her sword at his chest while a column of fire erupted at his feet. Both collided, and he landed on his back a good distance away. The corruption on his soul healed his wounds almost as fast as Gaius. He charged forward, but Corrin dodged away with ease. Every time Leo swung, she avoided it. Sometimes she phased through his attacks. Other times she flipped and twirled as if attempting to confuse him. Her flames followed her hands in wide, unstoppable arcs. She was buying time, but Vergil wasn’t certain for what.

“Dante.” V said. Vergil looked to his brother. The power the arrows stole from him was starting to regenerate. If he was able to trigger, the arrows would be vaporized. If anyone could immobilize Leo, it would be him. But Vergil wasn’t certain how long that would take. He’d been paralyzed for an entire day by Corrin, and she hadn’t wanted to hurt him. 

“Your soul is weak.” Leo said. 

“And yours is broken.” She said. 

“You should have killed him when you had the chance.” 

“I would never harm my Soulmate.”

“The Qliphoth isn’t the only thing he’s raised.” Leo said. “Did you know that?”

Corrin hesitated. Leo acted on it, aiming his sword toward her neck. She lurched backwards. The blade grazed her shoulder. Hissing in pain, Corrin blinked away and pressed a small flame against the wound, cauterizing it. But Leo was already on top of her, swinging with reckless abandon. Corrin dodged the first few, blocked one with the katana, another with the staff. She reached for his chest as fire crackled on her skin. Leo tried to smack her away, but her flames slammed into him. He managed to land on his feet, but his shirt was destroyed. The burns on his skin turned a dark purple. The corruption tried to heal it, but failed. “The same as Gaius.” Vergil said to himself. 

“It hasn’t reached his soul.” V said. Vergil didn’t believe she was trying to. It was likely that Corrin wasn’t confident in her ability to cut through a body on her own. And if she had the power to burn through quickly, she would have already rescued Vergil. 

“Have you heard of the Temen-ni-gru?” Leo said. 

“Yes.” Corrin said. “I saw it.”

“How could you have seen it?” Leo said, his voice bitter. “You were in the Underworld.”

“His memories.” She said. 

Leo’s expression darkened even more than before. “You resonated with him. Saw his sins, and let him live?”

“Enough, Leo.” Corrin said. “He’s already paid for them.”

Bitter, crazed laughter erupted from Leo’s throat, clearly demonic. White light swept over his skin, as if the moon itself was rising within his soul. “You’re no better than him.” His human face shifted to a wolf’s snout with sharp teeth. Black ears appeared on top of his head, and his hair grew out in layers like thick fur. Corrin’s eyes went wide as she took a few steps back. His human legs cracked inward, growing into wolf legs. His back snapped forward and claws burst through his fingertips. But his transformation stopped, caught somewhere between human and demon. “I will kill you.” He said. “I will tear your flesh from your body and stab through your heart.” The corruption covered his entire soul, spiking out throughout his body like blood leaking out of his veins. His eyes turned red and wild. Whatever human emotions he had left within him vanished in an instant.

Leo launched himself into the air. Corrin jumped out of the way and threw her katana up to stop the scythe. Leo pushed down against it, reaching his claws toward her chest. She pushed him back just enough to roll out of the way. Vergil could feel her panic in his own chest as her brother swung his claws inches from her throat. She stumbled backwards, throwing her katana between them as her brother went for the kill. The sword embedded itself between the demon’s fingers. His claws were inches from her body. “I will kill you, little sister, and make him watch.” Corrin’s teeth clenched as her arms began to shake. “Then his victims will tear him apart from the inside as you bleed out, unable to save him.” He leaned his mouth in. “And I will enjoy every minute of it.”

Corrin screamed in fury, shoving him backwards with molten lava. Leo howled. She snapped to her feet and dove forward, katana pointed straight at his heart. He moved his scythe to intercept it. 

The katana shattered. 

Corrin snapped away, stunned as she stared at the scattered pieces of the weapon they had made together. Vergil could feel her despair. His mind flickered with old memories. He had taught her how to use it. Showed her how to summon the daggers she could now. That had been his gift to her, just before he left. A promise that he would return with Yamato. And he knew she treasured it. 

And it had broken, as if it were nothing at all. 

Leo cackled. “Is your soul truly so weak you can’t even maintain your weapons?”

Corrin’s staff shifted out in front of her, shooting fire with a furious intensity. Leo dodged out of the way and leapt at her again. She jumped away, throwing summoned swords, fireballs, and every other attack she could. He dodged through all of them, despite his size, and swiped at her again. She leapt backwards and moved her staff in the way. 

It cracked under Leo’s strike, and shattered as it hit the ground. This time, Corrin froze, paralyzed. “Corrin!” Vergil yelled as he tried to reach for her. He barely made it three steps before he was snapped back to himself. 

Corrin’s head rose, but it was slow. Leo backhanded her. She shot backwards before slamming into the ground, stopping inches from Vergil’s body. As she tried to get up, her arms gave out. Blood seeped from several wounds. Vergil could feel the dozens of bruises on his own soul. He knelt beside her, but his hand went right through. “Tell her to run.” He said to V. “I’m not worth…”

“I cannot speak to her like this.” V said. “Neither can you.” Leo stalked toward them, his face twisted into that of a predator. Corrin pulled herself back, but still couldn’t stand. Vergil saw her hand brush Yamato. She froze. He could feel the thoughts racing through her, but he couldn’t guess exactly what they were.

“Goodbye, Corrin.” Leo snarled. The sword arced toward her neck. 

It collided with Yamato. Vergil hadn’t seen her unsheathe it. Leo’s eyes widened slightly. “That sword will kill you.”

Corrin swung with all of her might. Vergil felt a surge of his power seep into her. Blue flames erupted along Yamato, throwing Leo back a near impossible distance. A dozen feathers shot after him, each one hitting every few seconds to keep him from getting back up. A crack appeared on Corrin’s soul. Her hand pressed against her chest, but she didn’t let the power go. Vergil tried pulling some back in an attempt to balance them out. Nothing happened. The tether flickered. He could barely feel their connection anymore. 

Fire swirled at her feet. A second later, before Leo had a chance to stand, Corrin shot at him with a speed Vergil had only used himself. Another crack appeared, fracturing in all directions. This time, she didn’t even flinch. The feathers snapped back to her as Leo moved to intercept her. She swung upwards, throwing him into the sky before teleporting and striking him with Yamato. He crashed into the ground, leaving a crater. The feathers snapped after him, pinning every part that hadn’t turned demonic. He howled as he tried to free himself. Fire burst from each feather, fueled by his own demonic power.

Another crack. 

Corrin spun in the air, propelled by her own flames, and dove at Leo. Yamato pierced his heart. Her flames buried themselves into his very soul. He screamed in pain as they lurched across the corruption. His demon half faded. Leo stared at her, open mouthed and glassy-eyed. Corrin dispelled the excess power, but the damage was already done. The white half of her soul had cracked almost completely. Tears streamed down her cheeks. 

“Goodbye, Leo.” She said. She yanked Yamato from his chest. His body surged one last time before going limp. Corrin stumbled back to Vergil’s side, collapsing inches from him. Yamato slipped from her hand. Her breaths were ragged as her heart beat out of control. Vergil reached for her again. This time, his ghostly fingers brushed her face. She smiled through her tears as she reached for his chest. “I’m not losing you again.” She said, exhausted. 

“I know.” Vergil said. He didn’t want to think what it had cost her. The cracks in her soul were extensive, but she seemed steady. He frowned as he inspected them. The injury she had sustained during their fight was a clear, jagged line on blue. The cracks on the other, however, seemed superficial. As if each one had struck some kind of shell. The gold beneath it looked pristine and uninjured. 

A spike of demonic energy swept through him. “Corrin!” He yelled. 

“Mama!” Calcifer cried. 

Corrin spun around, reaching for Yamato. Dante’s trigger swept through them both...

Leo’s greatsword pierced through her chest. Corrin’s mouth dropped, but no sound came out. Leo stared down at her, but his face was devoid of all emotions. A corpse acting on his instincts, fueled by a piece of corruption that had tucked itself away. Her body went limp as she stared up at him. “Your sacrifice will not be in vain.” He pulled the sword out and she crumbled to the ground. Her head landed on Vergil’s chest as blood pooled around them. Leo’s body snapped backwards as Calcifer threw every ounce of fire he had left. Dante drove his devil sword straight through, pinning him to a building. But the broken reaver only stared at them. The Qliphoth victims cackled in delight as they advanced closer to Vergil’s soul. The shield flickered. His consciousness snapped back into his body. He tried to reach for Corrin, but he was paralyzed. 

Maybe he did deserve to die. This was justice, after all, no matter the methods used to achieve it. But no one else deserved to suffer for him. Not Nero. Not Dante. Not the people of Fortuna. And least of all Corrin. Not at the hands of her own brother. Fighting for him. Not like this

He could feel the souls tugging on his mind, trying to pull him into the darkness again. Corrin’s hands reached for his, but her soul turned a sickly gray. Calcifer, back in his little form, was sobbing somewhere above it all, pushing his snout against Corrin’s head in a desperate attempt to revive her.

“I love you.” Vergil whispered. He should have said it sooner. But at least she knew. Maybe that would be enough to free her soul from this broken world. 

“I… love…” She said, but her voice gave out. Her body went completely still. Her breathing stopped. Her heart went silent. The furious souls rushed for Vergil’s own.  The world went silent for an agonizing moment. 

Then Corrin burst into flames. 

Sheer, demonic power swept through him. The souls shrieked as they disintegrated. Vergil heard Nero gasp for breath, yanked out of whatever spell Leo had put on him. Glass shattered in all directions. Buildings cracked. Fire spewed out over the ground, consuming Vergil and everything in its path. His devil power returned in a rush so fast he couldn’t stop his own trigger. There was no pain, and he felt Nero and Dante’s demonic halves burst with uncertain energy. “Impossible.” He heard Leo say somewhere over the chaos. “You can’t be…” 

Corrin’s body was pulled into the air, like an angel being drawn to the heavens. Fire engulfed her, burning away her clothing and her wounds. Her soul shattered, revealing a new one underneath; one half golden, the other blue. Her feathers snapped back to her, with more appearing around her body in some semblance of clothing. A crown appeared, with three more feathers on each side. Long tail feathers flowed off her back, draping out like exquisite jewelry. Her white hair turned blue with streaks of gold. A set of wings burst from her back. Her eyes snapped open. A shriek erupted from within her, shaking the earth itself. Dante barely got out of the way as she slammed into her brother, destroying the building. 

Agony slammed into Vergil’s chest. He crumbled, his trigger fading as she pulled it to herself. Nero caught him. “What’s going on?”

Corrin threw her brother back into the fray. He hit the ground for a moment before tendrils of fire tossed him again. His soul flickered. The corruption rushed to hide itself once more. A beam of fire struck him, knocking him out of the sky. Feathers rained down, shoving him back to the ground. “She’s… pulling off of me.” Vergil said. Another surge left him. Dizziness swept over him. He reached for the tether, but felt nothing. Her conscious thoughts were gone, replaced by primal rage. 

“Dante.” Vergil tried to yell, but his brother was already moving. The red-devil threw himself between Corrin and Leo. Anger swept through Vergil as her demon pulled on him again. Corrin’s fire pulsed off her body, knocking Dante back barely more than an inch. Feathers redirected into his chest. His demon howled, and Vergil could feel his brother’s attempts to hold it back. “Nero.” Vergil said. He tried to sound in control, but knew his body might give out at any moment. He had nothing left to give. Not to her. Not to himself. But he had to try. Or Dante would have no choice. “Get me to her.” 

Nero grabbed him without hesitation, leaping with his spectral arms before tossing Vergil forward. His devil form slammed into Corrin, knocking them both to the ground. His human form returned seconds later. “Listen to me.” He said. She fought against him. Her pupiless eyes became more wild by the second. “Corrin.” He said. “This isn’t you.”

She shrieked, but he felt the confusion through the tether. He pushed harder against her, both physically and emotionally. He poured whatever he could think of into her soul. Every memory of their time in the human world. Every moment he had recalled from their time in the Underworld. Her soul surged in recognition. 

“Vergil.” Her voice was barely more than a whisper, disguised by the shrill voice of her demon. “Help me.” A tear rolled down her cheek, but her demon took over again. She pushed back against him, flames consuming them both. Vergil could hear Dante and Nero as the fire rose in all directions. But Vergil felt no pain. Blue flames shifted to gold as they rolled along his skin. Energy pulsed back into him. It was barely enough, but he knew what she needed from him. 

“I’m sorry.” He whispered. Her soul pulsed in response. He triggered and bit down on her neck. Instantly, her demon went still. Submissive. Vergil pushed back the glee of his demon - Drink it all. It proclaimed. She is yours to do with as you please - as he pulled away. The flames dispersed. Her devil form faded, but her eyes remained the same. He forced his own demon down, somehow, and returned to his human self. The sweet taste of her blood remained on his tongue, and he didn’t want to admit that it was driving his senses wild. After covering her with whatever was left of his coat, he lifted her. His body screamed in pain, but he ignored it. Dante and Nero stood a few feet back, demon forms forgotten. Calcifer quickly hopped off Dante’s shoulder and onto Corrin. 

“I can’t see.” Corrin said. “Vergil I can’t…” Tears formed in her eyes. “It’s not coming back.”

Vergil said nothing. What could he say? Leo was dead. Fortuna was destroyed. Vergil could hear the cries of both the living and the dead from all directions. Their killer was dead, but none of them had moved on. Without Corrin’s power, they would become corrupted. And all of this destruction- pure devastation - was because one man wanted revenge on him. 

Dante’s eyes drifted to Corrin and sighed. “Seems we found our Phoenix.”

“She didn’t know.” Vergil said. 

“Leo didn’t either.”

“A set up?” Nero said. 

“Possibly.” Vergil didn’t want to think about anything at the moment. “Gaius wants…” His voice trailed off as the dryness in this throat caught him off guard. The world swayed, and he couldn’t remember ever feeling so off balance. Where was Gaius? The Spider? Samael? Vergil couldn’t believe that Leo was acting alone, as it was clear that Gaius wanted both Vergil and Corrin. Frustratingly, he didn’t know why. Nor did he know where to start. 

“Start with yourself.” V said. “You won’t be able to do anything like this.”

“Go home, Verge.” Dante said. “The kid and I will deal with this.” 

Dante held Yamato out, but Vergil shook his head. As much as he didn’t want to admit it, “I can’t make a portal in this state.”

“This thing never works for me.” Dante said. 

Nero snatched it out of his hand. Both Dante and Vergil blinked as the younger devil-hunter stepped by them both and swung the blade through the air. A portal appeared and he resheathed it before sliding it over Vergil’s arms. “Your home.” Nero said. He was exhausted. They all were. “Dante and I will come by later.” He walked away without another word, but Vergil didn’t miss the slight limp in his step.

“I’ll take care of the kid.” Dante said. “Go.”

Vergil only nodded before stepping through the portal. It snapped closed and Vergil crumbled to his knees. He pulled Corrin as close to him as possible, letting his head meet hers. There were no tears. Only the silent agony in his heart. Failure. The word crossed his mind a dozen times. He had failed. He hadn’t been able to protect her. Maybe this was his penance. To forever lose those he dared to get close to. Only divine intervention - a demon side even she hadn’t known about - had saved her, not him. 

All the power in the world pulsing through his veins, and still he had failed. 

He felt lost. Confused. Broken. Memories of his childhood tugged at his soul. The years he spent alone. The mistakes he had made. How could he ever hope to atone for them? How could he ever heal when everything he had done continued to haunt him so? His nightmares were dead, and still he felt them. A shadow encroaching on his mind.

Corrin’s fingers brushed his chin. Although it was tentative, it was enough to pull him back. No matter the means, she was still alive. They both were. He still had a chance. Vergil leaned in, guiding her towards his cheek. “Don’t blame yourself.” She whispered. “Please.” He said nothing. Tears formed in her eyes again. “Don’t leave me.” 

He gently kissed her palm. The negative thoughts receded somewhat. He could not - would not - fail again. She was his now… and he hers. She needed him. His family needed him. The world needed him. He would not let any of them down. Not again. “I’m right here.” He murmured. “And here I’ll stay.” 

She smiled, but it was weak. Her eyes fluttered, and her hand slipped as she fell asleep. With all the energy Vergil had left, he forced himself to his feet and carried them both to bed. 

Chapter Text

 Kyrie hated lying. But everytime someone asked how she was handling everything so well, all she could do was smile and say, “there is too much to do to waste time on sadness”. And that seemed to work. Only Nero (and probably Dante, but he was too busy to do anything about it) saw through her facade. But he knew as well as she did that they needed to keep morale up. Not just for the kids. But for the helpers, and the hundreds of other people that had joined their little haven.

“Miranda.” Kyrie said, touching her friend’s shoulder. The black haired woman spun around, clearly startled, but relaxed the second their eyes made contact. She looked about as weary as Kyrie felt, and her face was terribly pale. But she still found a way to smile as she adjusted her lopsided glasses. 

“Most of the kids ate lunch without complaint.” Miranda said. “There are a few that wouldn’t, but I sent our counselors to speak with them”

“Good.” Kyrie said. The orphanage staff had started a campout in her backyard as the orphanage had been caught in the blaze. A day later, however, it had turned into a haven for many other survivors. Kyrie was still amazed at how united everyone was despite the chaos. Tents had arrived from Corona, followed by thousands of cans of food and enough water bottles to fill a lake. Kyrie had no idea how long everything would last, and this was easily the greatest undertaking of her life, but the people had rallied together. And that was more than she could have hoped for. 

“Have you taken a break?” Miranda said. 

“A small one.” Kyrie said. She had tried to rest sometime in the middle of the night, but her mind never stopped. The few hours of sleep she did get were plagued with nightmares. Nero had been there for all of it, and only left her side to manage any disagreements.

“You should at least sit down.” Miranda said. 

“Don’t worry about me.” Kyrie said with her usual smile. Miranda looked unconvinced. 

“Just take care of yourself.” She said.

“Promise.”

“Kyrie.” Nero’s voice echoed behind her. When she turned to greet him, she was met with a phone. She raised an eyebrow, but he only nodded. They had taken great care not to say Vergil or Corrin’s names when they were around other people. It was impossible to know if anyone was listening, and, according to Dante at least, their home in Corona was as hidden as possible, purchased under Morrison’s name. And while Kyrie didn’t know the extent of their injuries, Nero had told her the prognosis wasn’t good. The last thing they needed was a demon on their doorstep.

“Excuse me.” She said to Miranda. “I trust you can handle things while I’m gone?”

Miranda looked disappointed. Kyrie wasn’t sure why. “Of course.” Miranda said. 

Nero followed her as she disappeared into the house. It was their best chance to not be overheard, but Nero wasn’t taking any chances. “Hello?” Kyrie said. 

She was only mildly surprised when it was Vergil who started speaking. “I understand that you are busy.” He said. “But I... require assistance.”

Business as usual. But his tone seemed too formal. Kyrie wondered if it was a way of handling his stress or if she just hadn’t talked to him enough to recognize it. “I can try my best.” She said. “But with what exactly?”

“Corrin and I are leaving tonight, and I am uncertain how long we will be gone.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Corrin needs…” He trailed off. 

“Supplies?” She said. “Clothes? Things you are uncertain of?”

There was a slight pause - Kyrie could practically hear his surprise - but his voice was still calm when he replied. “Yes. Nero and Dante are visiting tonight, and I was hoping you could find time to come with them.”

“Of course.” Kyrie said as she glanced at Nero. He nodded and mouthed the words Lady and Trish. “I’ve got enough people to handle things here.” 

“Good.” Another pause. “Thank you.”

Then he hung up. “Nico will be back in an hour.” Nero said before sighing. He brushed through his hair - a nervous tick - before he continued. “I know we’re asking a lot of you. 

Kyrie reached for his hand with a genuine smile. “I can rest on the drive at least.”

Nero snorted. “With Nico’s driving? We’ll be lucky to get there in one piece.”

Kyrie pulled him into a hug. “Are you okay?” Kyrie said. 

“Overwhelmed.” He admitted. “I hope Vergil knows what he’s doing.”

“I’m sure he does.” She said. “You just need a little faith.”

 


 

Corrin dreamed of nothingness. She could feel shadows crawling on her skin like snakes looking for prey. Pain radiated everywhere, like glass shards that dug themselves into every nerve imaginable. She could feel her brother’s blade piercing into her chest again and again. Stealing the air from her lungs, the blood from her heart, and the very life from her soul. 

“You are a monster.” His voice whispered. “No better than him.”

She couldn’t move, nor did she try. All she could do was stare blankly into the void. There were small pockets of light in the distance, but it was fading fast. She wanted to be happy. Accept the second chance she was given. But she felt numb. Tired. Confused. Alone. She knew she hadn’t had a choice. And Leo had killed her. He had won. Vergil would have died seconds later. But the souls lost in the chaos were trapped. Maybe even lost to Gaius and his experiments. Leo was dead, brutalized by a demon she didn’t understand. And she felt it all. Every life. Every death. All of it burned away by the flames. 

“And I am the Phoenix.” She thought bitterly. “Who couldn’t save anyone.”

“Of course not.” Leo’s voice snarled. “You are nothing more than a lie.”

Shadows snaked around her neck, slowly constricting her breaths. Images of Vergil, dying under the weight of all the souls, flickered in her mind. She was desperate to save him. She would have done anything for him. Risked her life for her soulmate. But now…

Leo cackled, his voice a cruel, mocking expression of the demon she never knew he had within him. “You are weaker than ever. Barely more than a spark to his inferno. You are a disgrace.”

A tear slipped down her cheek. The tendrils of shadows prickled at the edges of her eyes, swallowing the tears she couldn’t contain. “That’s not true.” She said. 

“Keep lying, sweetheart.” Gaius whispered, his voice sickeningly sweet. “Maybe one day, you’ll believe it.”

Desperation flooded into her. She tore at the shadows. Thrashed in every way imaginable. “Let me go!” She yelled into the void.The last of the light - as faint as it already was - faded as the shadows seeped into her eyes. She screamed. Liquid filled her lungs. Pressure caved in from every side. She was drowning in nothingness. The fragments of her mind began to slip away. “Please.” 

A smooth hand brushed against her cheek. Another wrapped around her waist. The weight on her body dispersed. She gasped for air. The shadows around her hissed as they slunk away. Only the ones in her eyes remained, a reminder of the damage she had done to herself. A familiar blue soul flickered to life. Vergil. Was he real? Or was this another nightmare? A reminder of what she had left to lose.

Chapped lips brushed the skin of her neck. The same place he had claimed her. “I’m here.” His breath was warm against her ears. She reached out into the void. A hand met hers somewhere along the way. Their fingers intertwined. 

The tears were flowing now. She hadn’t even felt herself start to cry. But she was scared. Uncertain. What would she do if she woke up like this? A broken soul buried in the darkness? Would she ever recover? “I don’t even know who I am.” She said. 

“You are my Soulmate.” Vergil said. “And I will not allow you to give up.”

“Vergil…”

“Come back to me.” 

Corrin jerked awake. A hand wrapped around her stomach as she nearly tumbled off the bed. Panic swept through her as her senses went wild. Every sound was like thunder. Cars, people, the wind. Everything was so loud, as if happening inches from her. A cool breeze chilled her to the bone, igniting her nerves with an intensity she’d never felt before. Even the smells were overwhelming. A mixture of a hundred different things crashing together in a nonsensical haze. 

But all she saw was nothingness, her sight lost to the void.

A hand took hers and firmly pulled her to face the other way. Her hand was quickly pressed against smooth skin, and she could feel a heart beating against her fingertips. Vergil’s soul flickered before her, and she could feel a staggering warmth against her palm. She had never noticed that before. 

“Breathe.” His voice was quiet. “You’re safe here.”

The panic retreated, albeit slowly. Vergil’s hand slid gently around her waist and pulled her to himself. She rested her head against his shoulder, focusing entirely on his heartbeat. She could sense the blood pumping through his veins. His scent was different now, but she couldn’t explain it over the sensory overload. “Talk to me.” Vergil said. “What do you feel?”

“Everything.” She said. 

“Describe what you can.”

So she did.The warmth of his soul, mixed with the strange, almost marble like smoothness of his skin. (She had felt a prickle of amusement from him at that one, but he stayed quiet). She tried to describe sounds she could pick out from the chaos of the city below. She even tried picking apart the numerous smells wafting into their apartment. But that was more frustrating than helpful, so she set it aside for another time.

And the process eased her mind somewhat, especially when he described a few of the things she hadn’t been able to put a name to. Someone playing a saxaphone on a street a few blocks away. A couple arguing in the park outside. The rays of sunlight seeping through the curtains. The scent of his demon, enhanced by the claim he had made. It was pleasant, though she had no hope of explaining it. 

“Your demon form just awakened.” He said. “It will take time to grow accustomed to it.” 

“A lot of good it’s doing me.” Corrin said, unable to hide the bitterness in her tone. Her memory of her trigger was hazy at best. She had died. Of that she was certain. But then she woke up. Her mind had been trapped in a form she didn’t recognize, lost in an uncontrollable rage, and bathed in a fire that was both familiar and foreign. 

And she could feel it now. Simmering somewhere within her. It was docile, for the moment, but more alert than she had ever felt it before. 

“I had a veil.” She said.

“That is my assumption, yes.” Vergil said. “It tore when you used my power, but your resurrection destroyed it.”

It was difficult to swallow the lump in her throat. Resurrection. All this time they’d been searching for any sign of the Phoenix, and it had been right here. In her. But why? How could she have had a veil and not known it? She had memories of her childhood. She had been raised right alongside Leo. Taught to use the two halves of the moon. She’d created weapons. Found a companion. But…

“My fire.” She said. “It was unusual magic for Celeste’s bloodline. I thought maybe I was just odd. It shifted colors whenever I used my weapons… it all seemed to make sense.”

“Until you finished the tether with me.” Vergil said. 

Honestly, Corrin hadn’t even considered that. Her fire had periodically turned blue at many points in her life. Usually when she was most in control or the most desperate. And she was about to express this to Vergil. But, when she glanced up toward his voice, expecting to gaze into the blue eyes she had come to adore, reality slapped her right back in the face.

I’ll never get to see his eyes again.

She tried swallowing her sadness. Tried remembering happier days. She even buried her face against him in a desperate attempt to push it all back. But once the first sob wracked her body, all hope of containing herself was lost. It was a bitter, empty sadness that she hadn’t expressed or experienced in a long time. And it tore at every fiber of her being. 

A deep feeling of shame mingled with her grief. She was a mess, breaking apart in front of the one person she wanted to be strong for. “I gave everything I had.” She said, her voice close to breaking. Her mind was a whirlwind of emotions that left her shaking and desperate for relief. “I lost everything. My treasured sword I made for you. The staff I’ve had since I was a child. Even my flames feel a lifetime away. And what was it for? My brother’s corpse burned to ash at my feet?” As she clenched her fists, she felt her nails digging into her skin. “My past is a lie. I’m...” She couldn’t finish her thought. 

“Corrin.”

Vergil’s voice was so calm. It might have been irritating, except Corrin could feel the pain in his soul. Guilt flooded into her. He had watched her die, unable to fight. He’d had to subdue her after she had pulled too much off of him. It had been him who had carried her home. And it was still him now, stuck by the side of a powerless, blind reaver with a demon she couldn’t control. “I’m useless to you like this.”

“No.”

“I can’t see, Vergil.” She sat herself up to try and face in the direction she thought he was. He tugged gently on her hand to help. “I can’t see you… and I’ll never be able to again.” Her anger turned to sadness. It was difficult enough dealing with the new sensations of her demon. Now she was lost in her own personal Hell. An endless void of nothing. 

His chapped lips brushed hers. She shivered as he put her hand on his shoulder. After another tentative moment, she kissed him fully. Desperately. And he fed into it, pulling her to himself.  When he licked at her bottom lip, she let him in and didn’t try to push back. He was an anchor. A reminder in the back of her mind that she still had something. She had him. She had time. She had her power somewhere within her, even if she didn’t know how to reach it. Her demon purred She reached into the darkness to brush through his hair. His own demon growled back, reverberating against her chest. 

And yet, despite the intensity, he still had the control to trail his fingers along the curves of her waist and up the length of her spine. The thin satin of her night gown was heaven against her overly sensitive skin. Everything else slipped away in a mix of gentle touches and soothing emotions. He nudged her back with a gentle push of his shoulders. She pulled him with her, wrapping her arms further around him as her back rested gently on the bed. His hands rubbed along her hips. Hers on his back. Eventually, he shifted from her lips to her neck. His teeth grazed her skin, sending an unprecedented shiver through every nerve in her body. She could feel her demon tugging on her again. Begging for him. How easy it would be to get lost in this moment. Forget the rest of the world, even if just for a little while. 

He pulled away just slightly before pressing his forehead to hers. She forced down her demon’s rather… annoyed reaction. If he noticed - of course he did. Who was she kidding? - he didn’t respond. They were quiet for a long time. He seemed content to hold her there. She was grateful for the distraction. Her senses were back in full force, but they seemed more manageable this time. For a long moment, with her eyes firmly closed, she could pretend that everything was back to normal. That they were home. Safe. Together. That she would open them again and see him staring back at her. But she was able to curb her wishes. Reality would never be that kind. 

She forced herself to open her eyes again, hoping that she wasn’t staring too awkwardly. “How many days has it been?”

“Three.”

“Did you get much sleep?”

“Enough.”

She scowled. “Vergil.”

He huffed in annoyance. “A couple of hours.”

“Total?”

“You got enough for the both of us.” 

“What about everyone else?” She said. 

“Dante, Nero, and Kyrie will be over soon.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re leaving.”

Corrin paused. In hindsight, that shouldn’t have surprised her. Now that Leo had turned on her, they couldn’t be certain who else was involved in Gaius’ plan. It would be impossible for her to fight like this. She knew her demon was there. She knew it was powerful. The thrill of the moment, right before her anger took over, had shown her that. But that same power wasn’t working for her human form. She couldn’t feel her flames dancing under her skin anymore. Couldn’t imagine giving Vergil anything, much less handling his own. And if they failed now...

“Where are we going?”

“To Kai.” 

Corrin stared at him. At least, she hoped she was. In all the chaos and death, she had forgotten about Kai. “The feathers he gave me.” She said.

“They were a perfect match for your demon form.”

“He knew.”

“I believe so.”

“Then why…” She felt the bitterness again. “Why didn’t he tell me? All of this could’ve been avoided.”

“That is highly unlikely.” Vergil said. “Leo was after me, not you. And you defeated him. Only his desire for revenge allowed him to survive for as long as he did.” He shifted away, but purposefully brushed along her arm until he took her hand. Corirn intertwined their fingers, realizing how long it had been since they had done that. Such a simple gesture. Maybe she had taken it for granted. He pulled her to her feet, guiding her perfectly off the bed. “I have a few things to do before we depart.” Vergil said. “If you would like to take a shower before they get here, I’ve set everything up as simply as I could.” 

Corrin sighed. Vergil’s thumb brushed just beneath her eye. She hadn’t realized the tear before he wiped it away. It was difficult to ignore the uncertainty gnawing at her insides. This was almost worse than the unknown. A set back far bigger than she ever expected. But she could only be honest with him. Pretending everything was fine would get them nowhere. 

“I’m scared.” She whispered, hating that she had to say it at all.

His lips pressed against her forehead. A hint of uncertainty echoed from his own soul. Corrin thought it would bother her. The impenetrable, stoic Vergil, unsure of their own future. But it... soothed her. Neither of them knew what to expect, or how to fix the mess Leo and her own surprise devil form had caused. Yet, Vergil was still here. Still by her side. Willing to figure it out. She just hoped she could be as strong at him.

“One thing at a time.” He said. 

 


 

It took half an hour of Corrin fumbling around in the bathroom before Vergil heard the shower turn off. And, despite his personal distractions, he kept the tether in the back of his mind, always aware of how she was feeling. But he tried his best to not smother her. It was incredibly difficult considering the circumstances. His desire to protect her was overwhelming. Instinctively, demon males were always ready to fight Hell itself to keep their mates. But, it was his distinctly human anxiety that made it so painful. Every step she took, including the two times he felt her trip on something, he’d swallowed the urge to blink to her side and help. He could feel her frustration, and didn’t want to make it any worse.

V was a welcome, but unexplainable distraction. His human side just existed now. A spirit without a body, forever hovering somewhere around him. Maybe, if Vergil didn’t have enough to worry about, he might have put more thought into it. But that was a waste of time, and V was becoming a rather… interesting ally. V had his own feelings on the manners, and could speak of things from an entirely different perspective. But he was still tied directly to Vergil’s own thoughts. Vergil couldn’t shake the feeling that Corrin’s resurrection might somehow be involved. But he didn’t have enough information, nor did he care at the moment. 

“Do you trust Kai?” V said. 

“I don’t know.” Vergil said. He tossed a few apples toward the bag of food he was packing. They landed in perfect slices as he resheathed Yamato and kept rummaging through their fridge. He knew that Corrin’s need for food was even less now than before. But he hoped to keep her life as stable as humanly possible. A few treats on hand might help cheer her up. At least, that’s what he hoped. 

“But you believe he is your only hope.”

“Her only hope.” Vergil corrected as he closed the fridge and made a mental note of what else they needed. “He is a reaver. He clearly knows her. Or, at the very least, he knows of the Phoenix. Maybe he could heal her.” Vergil tried to be rational about the whole thing, but it didn’t help his uneasiness. And he highly doubted Kai could actually heal Corrin. He had been very clear that her soul could break beyond repair if she overused Vergil’s power. And she had most certainly done that. Multiple times, as both a human and a demon. 

And, as much as he hated it, Vergil didn’t know how to help.

He had considered a multitude of things. Some were obvious. Stay by her side. Calm her when her human emotions clashed with the intensity of her new demon form. Subdue her demon if it ever got out of control again. Teach her how to at least defend herself, if not fight again. Stay nearby if she had any unwanted nightmares. That was all easy, if a bit time consuming. He had no doubts that he could handle that much.

It was the emotional things that Vergil didn’t quite understand. He could feel her sadness like a permanent tug on his soul. And of course he didn’t blame her. Leo’s death held some emotional weight that Vergil didn’t expect her to ever truly get over. Yet he knew what it was like to feel powerless. To have everything he knew about himself ripped away when he needed it the most. But he had been alone then. A prisoner of a demon emperor who was more interested in ripping him to shreds than keeping him alive. She had him. She loved him. And Vergil was certain now that he loved her. 

But, aside from the obvious, he wasn’t certain what that entailed. And he couldn’t escape the constant feeling that he wasn’t doing it right. Whatever “it” was. He had failed her once already by letting her die. Breaking her heart was the last thing he wanted. 

“You are overthinking it.” V said as he appeared directly in front of Vergil, his form slipping through the chairs of their dining room table. “She appreciates your company, you enjoy being around her, and you are her protector. Your concern is unwarranted.” 

“It’s not that simple.” Vergil said.

“Love seeketh not itself to please, nor for itself hath any care, but for another gives its ease, and builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.” 

Vergil hummed quietly to himself. It was funny how they knew all the same poems, yet V knew exactly which one he needed. Or at least, one he could ponder. “How am I supposed to make her happy after all of this?” He muttered more to himself than anyone. 

“You don’t need me to tell you that.” V said. 

No he probably didn’t. But there was a lot on his mind, and he didn’t have time to…

A jerk of panic on his soul yanked him out of his thoughts. Glass broke upstairs, followed by a loud thump. He was by her side in an instant. The bathroom mirror was broken. The steam from the shower had yet to fully disappear. Corrin was curled up against the wall. Her breathing was ragged. Her hand was bleeding, with numerous glass shards pushed deep into her skin. He could feel his demon grinning somewhere within him - drink it, she’s yours to take - and quickly swallowed it before kneeling beside her. She was pulling at her towel, but it was falling haphazardly in every direction. “No.” She said. “No. No. Leave me alone.” Panic was overwhelming her. Vergil could feel her demon bristling, fueling her emotions. He remembered those days, long ago. When he had first awakened his demon. Yes, he had wanted it. And he had accepted it every step of the way. But it was difficult to curb such strong feelings. Dante would probably argue that Vergil barely learned how until it was much too late. 

He pushed both hands against her shoulders. “I’m here.” He said. Loudly. Clearly. He hoped he wouldn’t have to subdue her again. Corrin’s eyes were wide and frantic. Her soul didn’t even react to him. “Corrin.” He said. “Listen to me.”

Tears welled in her eyes. “I saw him. He’s here. Why is he here?”

“It’s just us.” Vergil said as he gently wrapped the towel around her shivering form. “Just me.” 

Finally, she looked toward him. “Madness.” She said. “I’m going… I’m losing…” Another violent shiver stopped her mid sentence. 

“Shhh.” He said as he pulled her in. “Give me your hand.” She did so, resting it in his palm. He pulled each shard out as gently as he could. 

“I’m sorry.” She whispered. 

“We’re leaving tonight.” Vergil said. “No matter what.” 

He would not, under any circumstances, watch her fall apart now.

Chapter Text

It was an hour later when Dante knocked on the front door. Vergil left him there for a bit, adjusting the blanket around Corrin first. He had ensured she had eased into a peaceful sleep, and rested Calcifer on her chest in case she woke up. “Stay with her.” He said as he went for the door. The dragon nodded, curled into a ball, and didn’t move again. 

Dante was already smiling when Vergil opened the door, but it was strained. Vergil understood now why Dante always told him to get some sleep. He looked miserable, and Vergil wondered if he hadn’t slept since Fortuna. However, his attention was quickly shifted when Dante shoved a very familiar violin case into his hands. “You’re lucky I was there when Corrin bought it.” He said. “Found an exact match. The shopkeeper was very understanding.” Vergil took it without a word and peered inside. Dante chuckled. “Don’t believe me?”

Vergil closed the case before setting it on the counter. “I’m impressed.” 

“Just make sure you play it for her.” Dante said with a wink. 

“Where are the others?”

“In the car outside.” Dante shrugged as he pushed his way into the room. “I’ll stay with her. You go with them.”

Vergil frowned as Dante plopped on the opposite couch, as far away from Corrin as possible. Calcifer’s head tilted toward him, but the dragon just huffed quietly and resumed his sleeping position. “That is… all?” Vergil said. 

Dante sighed. “No. But I don’t feel like arguing with you right now.”

Vergil closed the door. “And if I agree not to?”

“I wouldn’t dare hold you to it.” 

“Dante.”

“I’m going with you.” He said in a very matter-of-fact way. Vergil bit back his initial response - You should be here - and Dante’s expression shifted to amusement. “I’m impressed, Verge. You really have mellowed out.”

“For what reason?” Vergil said.

“Probably for Corrin. I bet she likes you better when you’re mellow. Then again…”

“For what reason,” Vergil repeated. “Are you going to the Underworld?”

“Oh! I plan to make a new devil arm.” Dante said with a shrug. “And I think Kai can lead me in the right direction.”

“What good will that do?”

“You and Corrin can’t keep fighting this crap alone.” Dante said. “And I have a theory.” He propped his feet up on the coffee table. Vergil glared at him, but Dante didn’t even look at him, as lost in his thoughts as he was. “If tethering to a reaver gives you the ability to kill souls, then maybe turning one into a weapon will do the same.”

Vergil could only stare. It was a leap in logic, to be certain. But, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. Kind of. “You won’t be tethering to them.” Vergil said. “Conscripting them to your service, yes. But it won’t be the same.”

“That’s why I’m going to talk to Kai.” Dante said. “Not to become one. You and Corrin need him more than I do. But to send me in the right direction.”

“If there are any sane ones left.”

“I’ll find one, Verge.” Dante said. “Then Kai will send me back so Nero and I can hold out until you return.” His eyes drifted to Vergil’s with another, almost cocky grin. “I promise you that.”

Vergil heard a loud honk. It was most certainly Nico’s van, but the fact that she was willing to honk at him from twenty floors down was baffling. Dante only laughed. “Don’t worry about a thing.” Dante said. “Except for your son. Focus on him for a bit, capisce?”

Vergil glanced at Corrin again. “If she seems… upset...”

“I’ll call you.” Dante said with a dismissive wave. “Now go before Nico pisses off the neighbors.”

“I don’t believe we have neighbors.”

“Well you certainly won’t if she keeps that up.”

“Then I should leave her down there a little bit longer.”

“Woah, Verge!  A sense of humor?  What has Corrin done to you?” Dante said with a chuckle. Vergil scowled at him, but Dante ignored it. “Now go, before I push you off the balcony.”

 


 

As difficult as it was to leave Corrin in such a weakened state, Vergil knew he would be a fool to not spend some time with Nero before they left. Even if it was a relatively quick and somewhat awkward trip with Nico and Kyrie to an almost empty strip mall. He trusted Dante - more than he would have 20 years ago - but it was difficult to keep his mind from straying back to Corrin the further he got away. Dante wouldn’t be able to calm her, nor would he be able to stop her demon. 

“We won’t be gone long.” V said. “Focus on what’s right in front of you.”

Vergil glanced at Nero. Since the girls were handling all the shopping, Vergil and Nero waited outside, watching for demons, and fully aware that they would not see each other for some time. There wasn’t anyone else around that mattered, and they were more than capable of keeping their voices quiet. And yet, Vergil wasn’t certain what to say. In his haste to prepare for their trip, he hadn’t thought about the consequences. At least, not fully. He was aware that he was leaving Nero, for the third time, and in a much more volatile situation. Vergil and Corrin needed to leave. They all knew that. But Vergil didn’t understand or like the hardened look in his son’s eyes. He was exhausted, yes. Angry, maybe. Resentful... Vergil couldn’t be certain. But he refused to leave things as poorly as he did last time. 

So, once the girls were settled in the last store and Vergil was certain they were safe, he pulled Nero aside. “You are upset.” He didn’t add the ‘at me’ portion of that sentence, as a piece of him (selfishly) hoped that wasn’t the case. Nero met his gaze, but was silent. Vergil kept his expression composed - he always had been rather good at that - but swallowed a hint of anxiety that had come to haunt him over the last few days. While he didn’t like the feeling, he was coming to accept it. It was a decidedly human trait. One that reminded him of what he was protecting. Of who he could lose if he didn’t do it right. So he kept it under control, met Nero’s gaze, and waited. 

Finally, Nero broke eye contact and sighed. “I was mad at first.” He said. “But I was being unfair to you.” He brushed through his hair. A very Vergil thing to do. And Vergil might have smiled at that commonality if the situation wasn’t as serious. Nero continued. “You have to go. I know that. And I also know you’ll be back eventually.”

“Of course.” Vergil said as he leaned against the wall in an attempt to look more relaxed. It seemed to work, as Nero rolled his own shoulders back and did the same. 

“But I’m stressed. Overwhelmed. Hell, I might even be…” He trailed off and shook his head. “We won’t stand a chance against these assholes if we lose either of you. And clearly I am incapable of handling it myself.”

There it was. Bitterness; the root of the problem. Just like Dante had expressed before Vergil left. Neither of them could kill corrupted souls. They couldn’t even see them. But neither could Vergil at the moment except for Corrin’s. And using her fire was impossible when she couldn’t feel it herself. Their backs were against the wall in every way imaginable. If Gaius or anyone else attacked again, they’d all be powerless to stop them. 

“Leo said that Gaius wanted me.” Vergil said. “And if Corrin and I are no longer around…”

“It won’t stop him from killing people.”

“But you can.”

“How, V?” Nero said. His voice rose for a moment, but he caught himself and paused before speaking again. “If I hurt the guy, he gets stronger. If he summons another demon like that one, I can’t destroy the conglomerate inside, whatever that is. To be completely honest, I’m shocked he hasn’t tried something already.”

Vergil was as well. A part of him thought maybe these experiments took too long to feasibly use them in a short period of time. The one Leo used had been a clear attack on Vergil himself. Fortuna’s destruction had been the catalyst. The first one had been a trap for Corrin. And if Gaius had been working with these souls since the Qliphoth, Vergil was certain he had plenty to work with. So why wait so long? He had to know about Corrin’s resurrection. So, logically, he knew they were all too weak to stop him. 

“Unless he is more interested in people’s suffering than the plan.” 

“What?” Nero said.

It took Vergil a moment to realize he had said that out loud. He paused to finish his thought. “The one time I’ve interacted with him directly, he was focused more on upsetting Corrin than completing the experiment. Both of those… constructs,” Calling them demons felt wrong. “were traps. Easy to destroy, but holding something within that attacked the target’s mind.” 

“So like psychological warfare?”

“Possibly.” Vergil said. “I have no doubt that he enjoyed what happened in Fortuna, and he still plans to bring Mundus or Samael over. But he doesn’t seem to be doing it quickly. It’s very possible that he’s prioritizing his own desires over them.” A rather dangerous thing to do for a servant. But Gaius had free reign in the human world. The demon princes didn’t. And they needed him. For now at least. 

“There’s a second one though, right?” Nero said. “Another reaver?”

“The Spider.” Vergil said. “She is his partner, yes. But I am uncertain if it’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, nor have I seen her in quite some time.” Corrin had mentioned seeing the Spider in her vision when she touched the soul, but admitted, regretfully, that the terror of the trap had prevented her from remembering specific details. Vergil knew she had tried to recall it in her dreams once or twice, but those had often been overtaken by nightmares. “But she is nothing compared to him. She heals significantly slower. Doesn’t seem proficient in combat. The real danger is her power. Some kind of illusion magic.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Nero said. 

Silence fell between them again. Nero’s muscles tensed. He didn’t meet Vergil’s gaze. “Something else is on your mind.” Vergil said. 

“My mother.” Nero said. “Who was she, V?”

Vergil paused. He should have expected this. If Corrin of all people was going to ask him about Nero’s mother, of course Nero would. But he hesitated. What did Nero want to hear? The honest truth, or a more… modified version? “Do you remember?” Nero said. 

“Yes.” Vergil said. “Somewhat.” Nero watched him. His nervousness was clear in his eyes. But this time, it was Vergil who looked away. “Her name was Olivia, if I remember correctly.” 

“Olivia.” Nero repeated. 

Vergil nodded. “She was a good woman. Naive, maybe. But…”

“But what?”

Vergil closed his eyes. The memories were there somewhere, buried beneath everything else that had happened over the years. Recalling them was difficult, but he owed it to Nero to at least try. “She was… very kind.” He said. “And intelligent. Loved reading, music, and I believe she spoke several different languages when we met.”

Nero smiled, but it was slight. “How did you meet?”

“I broke into the church’s library.”

Nero’s mouth dropped. “Why the hell did you do that?”

“I needed books.” Vergil said simply.  

Nero stared at him for a moment. Then, he burst into laughter. It was the first time in a long time that Vergil had seen him genuinely happy. And he couldn’t deny the momentary pride he felt at accomplishing that on his own. Once he had calmed down, Nero asked, “She was there?”

Vergil nodded. “Caught me off guard, actually. I expected to find a couple of priests. But certainly not a human women. And it was her that found me.” He smiled at the memory. “Both of us, reading in the forbidden section of one of the most well guarded places in Fortuna, myself with Yamato clearly visible, and she had the audacity to scold me over it.” 

“And that’s what caught your attention, wasn’t it?”

“I made no effort to hide my demon side.” Vergil said. “Even in human form, anyone I interacted with always had some level of fear. And I preferred it that way.” He paused. How foolish he had been then. Neglecting such a big piece of himself in favor of intimidating people. On a pursuit for power, and ignoring his own pain. Vergil had already acknowledged this, of course. But now that he was actually saying it, to his son no less, he realized how… miserable it sounded. Childish, even. “She saw right through me.” 

“Did she know who you were?”

“She found out eventually.” Vergil said. “She was a young scholar of the church. Yamato alone likely gave it away. But she never brought it up. When I finally told her, all she said was, ‘I know’ and it never came up again.” 

“Did you love her?”

Again, Vergil hesitated. His answer to Corrin had been genuine. But could he say the same to Nero? “I… appreciated her company.” He said finally. “Maybe if we had more time…” Vergil shook his head. Dwelling on the ‘what if’s’ of his life had never been good for him. It wouldn’t change anything. Sure, he might have found a purpose with her if he had stayed. But he had been too young. Too focused on his own ambition. To wound up in his pride - and his fear - to try it. And he did regret it to some degree, but he couldn’t be certain if he regretted leaving her, or that doing so had led to his imprisonment. 

“You can tell me the truth.” Nero said. His voice was quiet, but honest. 

Vergil watched him for a long moment. Nero was much different than him. He knew that. Nero was much more brash and vulnerable with a big heart. Vergil was more calculative, guarded, and would rather avoid people whenever necessary. He had sought power to appease his own feelings of inadequacy. Nero wanted it to protect those he loved. 

How different would he be if Vergil had been there? Would he hate him? Dante? Would he have ever met Kyrie or grown into the powerful, sympathetic man he was today? Or would he have been lost in the power of his demon, driven by Vergil’s own ambition? 

He shook his head again. It didn’t matter. Nero was who he was, and Vergil was proud of him for it. Even if he didn’t have anything to do with it. “I did not truly love her.” He said. Nero didn’t even flinch. His expression actually softened, as if he was expecting it. “But the circumstances that led to…” 

“Me?” Nero said with a small, rather teasing smile. It caught Vergil off guard, but he recovered quickly. 

“That was a mutual agreement.” 

“Well that’s good to know.” Nero said. “My father’s a gentleman.”

Vergil scowled. “Did you expect otherwise?”

“Seeing the way you treat Corrin?” Nero said. “Hell, you treat Nico with more respect than I ever would. Though that’s probably because we work together.” He shrugged, but his expression hardened again. This time, he turned, pushed himself off the wall, and met Vergil’s gaze with full force. “Where were you all that time?” 

“While you were maturing?”

“Uh… sure.”

“In the Underworld.” Vergil said. “I had thrown myself in willingly, but the reason I stayed there was… less so.”

“Mundus?” Nero said. 

“Among other things.” Vergil said before tilting his head. “How did you know?”

There was a pause, then. “I asked Dante this morning.” Nero said. “Before we left.”

That surprised him. “Why?”

“I heard what that guy Leo said.” Nero said. “How he wanted you dead for your mistakes.”

“They were a lot more than…”

“And Corrin said you’d already paid for them.” Nero continued as if he hadn’t heard Vergil at all. “I didn’t understand that. I know you’re dealing with the Qliphoth now. That’s a whole different mess I’m not getting into right now. But she knew something about you. Something I didn’t.”

“It was never my intention to…”

“But I understand why now.” Nero interrupted. This time, Vergil was certain he had heard him. He moved quite a few steps closer. It took everything Vergil had to stay against the wall. Nero almost looked like a predator. An angry one at that. But Vergil didn’t think it was directed at him. Not fully.“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Or maybe he was wrong. “About my imprisonment?”

“How bad it was for you.” Nero said. 

Vergil sighed. “My choices have nothing to do with you. Leaving you alone was bad enough, and I know that.”

Nero scoffed. “You didn’t know I existed.”

“It doesn’t make it right.”

“But that’s not the point!” Nero snapped. 

Vergil stared at him. “I don’t understand.”

Nero was pacing now. “When I was 19,” He said, lowering his voice again. A couple of people glanced his way, but Vergil knew they couldn’t hear either of them now. “I didn’t give a damn about anyone except Kyrie and Credo. Especially with that devil arm. I fought practically everything that breathed. Risked my life a bunch of times. Hell, I only got through school because I didn’t want Kyrie to be disappointed in me. It wasn’t until I met Dante, someone who had powers like me, that I calmed down.” Vergil had a feeling he knew where this conversation was going, but he didn’t interrupt. “I made so many stupid mistakes, but I kept on living. And sure, I’m not going to pretend that my screw ups were anywhere near that stupid tower you rose.”

“Of course not.” Vergil said. “I’m well aware that…”

“But dammit!” Nero kept going. “How can anyone say you didn’t pay for it?”

Vergil stopped speaking immediately. He knew Nero wouldn’t hear him anyway. “For twenty-four years,” Nero said. “I hated you without knowing you. I hated the very idea of someone willing to abandon his own son. I told myself over and over that I would never seek you out. Never give you a chance. I had this image of some faceless asshole enjoying life without me.” He spun so quickly on his heels that Vergil was half surprised he didn’t fall over. “And that entire time… that fucking, demon asshole…” His voice actually broke. “Was torturing you.”

Vergil closed his eyes. Dante had known of Vergil’s former nightmares. He’d destroyed them, for all intents and purposes, but he didn’t know everything. Vergil had never told him, nor did he intend on telling Nero. Why put them through the same pain he’d felt so long ago? Why torture them with details of his own stupidity? What’s done was done.

But the pain in Nero’s eyes… Vergil didn’t understand it. “I made my choices.” Vergil said. “And I dealt with the consequences.”

“That’s more than a consequence.” Nero said. “That’s… Hell.”

“And I deserved it.”

“No you didn’t.” Nero said. “Nobody deserves that.”

Vergil didn’t have a response to that. Nero stopped pacing, hesitated, and then reached for Vergil’s shoulder. He didn’t move, but he wasn’t able to hide his surprise either. “I know you feel guilty.” He said. “And almost everyone in the universe would probably agree with that.” Vergil started to speak, but Nero’s hand tightened on his shoulder. “But dammit, Vergil… you deserve to be happy too.”

Did he? Vergil wasn’t so certain about that, nor had he truly considered it. His past was always there. His mistakes would always haunt him. All he could do was try to keep his family safe from them. And, if he was honest with himself, he was doing a terrible job at it. But Nero was so sincere. So determined. Maybe… just maybe… he was right. But Vergil couldn’t honestly express that. “I have killed many people, Nero.” He said. 

“You want to know something funny?” Nero said. Vergil raised an eyebrow. “I never blamed you for the Qliphoth.”

That was unexpected. But Nero seemed to be good at surprising him. “But I…”

“You did split yourself.” Nero said. “I get that. But you were dying and desperate. How could you have possibly known what your demon half would do? How could you have ever guessed that your human side would develop such emotion? You’d been in Hell for most of your life. I’d be surprised if you thought you were human at all.”

“I wanted to get rid of it.” Vergil said. “I thought it was a weakness.”

“Do you think that now?”

“No.” The answer was quick. “You all helped prove that to me. But you, more than anybody.”

Nero took a deep breath. “Do you love her?” 

A small pause. “Yes.” He said. “At least… I believe so.”

“Do you think about her all the time?”

“... Yes.”

“Do you wish you could be with her right now?”

“Where is this…”

“Do you?”

“... Yes.”

“Do you wish you could make her happy?” Nero was practically rambling now. “Are you disappointed in yourself when you can’t? Do you try to imagine life without her and realize that it’s impossible?” 

“I owe her my life.”

“But are you giving it to her willingly? Or because you think you have to?”

Vergil paused, his mind drifting to the memories of their time together. After her resurrection, a majority of them had returned. Right along with the emotions of each one. He hadn’t told her that yet, though, as there hadn’t exactly been a good time. But he had dreamed about them in the short hours he had allowed himself to sleep. Remembered the few kisses they had shared. The music they played together. The nights he slept beside her because, after a year with her, he’d begun to loathe the feeling of loneliness. The nightmares she had taken from him countless times without complaint. There were still a few gaps in his memory, but it was more of a gentle haze than anything that concerned him. Vergil knew how his old self felt now, but he hadn’t paused to think about it too much. 

It was a bit ironic that it was his son who forced him to ponder it for longer than a few seconds. And Nero waited, impressively patient. Dante would have tried to stab him by now. 

“I am, Nero.” He said. “Willingly.” And he meant it. 

Nero nodded and exhaled a rather large breath. When he began again, his voice was calm. “Because that’s how I feel about Kyrie every day of my life.” Nero said. “I love her with every fiber of my being. And I know I put her in danger every day just by existing. But that’s why I fight. Not just because my demon half would probably tear me to shreds if I didn’t, but because I want her to be happy. I want her to feel safe with me. I want her to know that I’m always there for her. Even when things look bleak. Even if she’s sick, or I’m injured, or the city we’ve always lived in burned to the ground… she knows I’ll be there. Because I love her. And I hope you can feel that same way… father.” 

Then, Nero hugged him. 

It took Vergil a very long moment to process what was happening. Sure, Corrin had hugged him numerous times. But this was family. His son. The man he abandoned more than once. The person he never thought he’d find such sympathy from. But, despite Vergil’s stiff posture and hesitation, Nero didn’t let go. “And I want to protect you.” Nero said. “And Dante, and all the kids… Damnit! I want my family.” 

Finally, Vergil’s brain reconnected with his body and he hugged him back. He felt Nero stifle a very quiet sob. “Don’t cry for this foolish old man.” Vergil whispered. 

“Then you better not give me a reason, asshole.” Nero pulled back, blinking fiercely in an attempt to hide his emotions. “Go over there. Figure all this shit out, and come back to us. And I promise there will be a world waiting for you, no matter what. Then maybe, when this is all over,” He gave Vergil a sort of lopsided grin. “We can all figure out how to be an actual family.”

Vergil smiled back. He couldn’t help it. “That may be more daunting than fighting demons.”

“Absolutely.” Nero said. “But it’ll be worth it.”

“Nero!” Kyrie waved to them, her eyes beaming as she held at least four bags of something in her hands. Nico had the rest of the stuff shoved into a bag that was much larger than herself. She dumped it on Nero the second they reached them, much to the latter’s annoyance. “Ready to go?” Kyrie said. 

“Actually,” Vergil said. “There is one more place I wish to visit. Feel free to leave without me, I’ll meet you at home.”

“Oh!.” Kyrie said. “Do you need any help?”

Vergil shook his head. “You’ve done more than enough.”