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Family Reunion

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    It’s easy to find Dante again, once Vergil knows he’s alive.  All Vergil has to do is follow the trail of bodies.

    The newspapers call him “The Heartbreak Killer.”  Plenty of descriptions; he’s sloppy, or more likely he just doesn’t care if the humans see him at work.  White male late teens or early twenties.  Approximate six feet, approximate 180 pounds, most of it muscle.  White hair, frequently obscuring gray/blue eyes; possible albinism.  Red trenchcoat, black pants, no shirt.  Big sword.  Vergil’s read the internal department reports, too – the stuff the police haven’t released to the press.  Witnesses, few as they are, also frequently report seeing a large, red-skinned, winged apparition with very large, very sharp teeth.  The police have discounted this as some sort of drug-induced mass hallucination, even though the reports are consistent enough that it should concern them.  (It does. One of the smarter junior detectives on the case has been talking to a devil hunter about the situation.  The devil hunter warned the detective to stay the hell away, then called Vergil.  Vergil paid her well for the information.  She doesn’t know that she’s found his brother, but he does.  Good work should always be rewarded.)

    Vergil settles to the ground and resumes his human form in an industrial district.  It’s night-time; the streets are empty because even among humans this place is a hunting and killing ground.  High violent crime rate, lots of gang activity.  The gangs won’t be a problem for a while; they’re not stupid, and cleared out as soon as a few of their toughest enforcers died with their chests wrenched open and hearts torn out.  What’s left are solitary monsters, quite a few of whom are brave or crazy enough to resent the intrusion upon their territory.  Vergil finds the first lying in the trash, sprawled among stinking garbage bags, his own switchblade buried in his eye.  Heartless.  The next is draped over power lines near a meatpacking plant, dripping.  Inside the plant, it stinks of offal and singed hair, along with animal blood – but the piquant aroma of slaughtered human always has a particular perfume, to the nose of a man born half demon.  Vergil follows this around stainless steel cutting tables and silent machine-saws to find, at one end of a long room lined with hooks, a small pile of dead people.  Red bootprints leading away – ah, yes, and now Vergil smells something other than dead human.  This scent makes his skin prickle and his demon growl in silent anticipation. Danger.  Oh, yes.  Danger that smells of kin.

    He’s perched on a bookshelf in what must be the slaughterhouse boss’s office.  In the swivel-chair, behind the desk, some suit burning the midnight oil sits with eyes staring and mouth open, his chest a ruin.  As Vergil enters the room, the creature atop the bookshelf sighs and throws a half-chewed heart to the floor in obvious disgust.

    “The brave ones never taste as good as you hope they will,” Vergil says.  He keeps his gaze on the heart, at first.  "Do they?“

    There’s a momentary pause. The demon in Vergil hisses in soft warning.  We have never been human, it reminds him, And this one is more beast than demon. Beware sentimentality.

    Of course, Vergil replies, lifting his gaze at last to behold his little brother for the first time since That Day.  Beasts can be put down.  But if this one can be tamed…

    Dante gazes down at him from beneath a fringe of ragged, blood-soaked white hair, his silver eyes gleaming as if lit from within.  "Well, well,” he says, grinning down at Vergil.  There’s meat in his teeth.  "As I live and breathe.  Big brother, still alive.“ 

    What’s in his eyes isn’t madness, not quite – just a savagery so deep that the sight of it makes Vergil’s blood race.  Little Dante, the laughing one, sweet annoying baby brother, has become one with his demon, and it’s clear that Dante’s demon has no interest in power for power’s sake. It wants what power allows: wanton, hedonistic destruction.

    God, Vergil thinks, grinning up at Dante because he cannot help himself.  If Father could see us now, he would strangle us both.  But Sparda was fool enough to make them, and unfortunate enough to die too soon, so now the world must find a way to survive Sparda’s monstrous sons.  Just as Vergil must find a way to survive his brother, if he can.

    Dante lifts his head, nostrils flaring just a little.  "You smell good, Verg.  Strong. Healthy.”

    Vergil dips his head, amused. “My heart is very likely delicious,” he admits.  "But I’m surprised at you, Dante.  Humans will never be enough to satisfy the hunger within you; you know that. Powerful demons, however…“

    "Yeah, yeah.  But those are kind of hard to find.” Dante shifts again, blatantly gathering himself to lunge, now.  Over his shoulder, Vergil sees the hilt of Rebellion – ah, and the eyes of the tiny demon skull on its crosspiece have opened fully.  How magnificent Dante has become in the fullness of his power.  The urge to fight him is so strong that Vergil very nearly forgets himself, very nearly yields to temptation and gives Dante the battle to the death that his brother so obviously craves.  It will be exquisite.  He will drink Dante’s blood and devour his heart and claim his soul as a second sword, the better to carve their pain into Mundus when the time comes.

    But.  No.  He is not a beast.  He can wait, and only kill Dante once he’s no longer useful.

    “Who, then,” Vergil suggests, deliberately keeping his voice low because that is how one seduces a demon, “would taste better than the king of the demon world himself?”

    Dante tilts his head.  It puts his face into shadow, making it that much more obvious that his eyes have begun to glow a baleful, bloody red.  His voice is light as he speaks, however. “Ol’ Mundus, huh?  Ate a couple of his minions just last month.” His lip curls.  "Stringy.  Think you have a chance?“

    "Perhaps.  With the aid of Father’s power.  Or perhaps we have a chance, without that… together.”

    Dante regards him for a long moment – and then, in a flicker, he is on the ground in front of Vergil. Vergil doesn’t draw Yamato.  One tames a beast with reward, not threat.  Dante smells good, though.  Strong.  Healthy.

    “I thought you and Mother died,” Vergil says, to distract himself.

    “Mom did.  Looking for you.”  Vergil blinks in surprise, and Dante shrugs, looking away. For the first time, he resembles the boy Vergil remembers.  That shrug, that silent hurt.  "She always did love you best.“

    Vergil shakes his head. "She had no business loving either of us,” he says.  "Or Father.  Humans…“  He glances at the heart lying on the floor, and sighs.  "They have a purpose in our world, but for some things, only a demon will do.”

    “Some things?” It’s a dangerous question, given that Vergil has already acknowledged Dante’s interest in his heart.  The wrong answer, and Dante will indulge his curiosity – or attempt to.  Vergil grins at the naked bloodlust in his twin’s face, because he cannot help doing so. Dante is magnificent in his monstrousness.  He steps closer, and thrills in the sudden tension and the soft, bedrock-deep growl of warning that Dante utters.  Yes, little brother.  Remember that we are both beasts, here.

    In token of which, Vergil puts a hand on Yamato’s hilt.  Dante goes very still, keeping his gaze on Vergil’s eyes, not the sword.  Watching not for the weapon, but for the intent to kill that will drive it, should Vergil choose.  But Vergil only unsheathes the sword enough to cut his thumb deeply enough that it will not heal immediately.  Then he lifts his thumb, dripping, and draws it over his own lips.

    Dante’s gaze sharpens immediately.  His whole posture changes.  He is focused, fixated, on Vergil’s mouth.  And as Vergil steps forward, leans closer, and finally brushes Dante’s mouth with his own, Dante utters a soft, low sound of desire.  He does not attack, however.  Good.  Powerful, monstrous, but in control of himself.  He’d be no good at all to Vergil if he wasn’t.  (He is that much more dangerous because he is.  But Vergil will deal with that when the time comes.)

    Vergil backs off.  Only then does Dante lick his bloodied lips – and a moment later he shudders violently, eyes fluttering shut as the taste overwhelms him.  Yes, that’s it.  Nothing tastes as good as family.

    Dante’s eyes open again, and Vergil knows then that Dante is his.

    But Dante laughs suddenly, genuine good humor peeking out from under the looming threat.  "Oh, Verg.  I’ve been so bored, without you.“

    Vergil smiles too, feeling a surge of surprisingly powerful, almost human, warmth himself.  Greatly daring, he lifts a hand to cup his brother’s cheek.  "So have I.  But come, sweet brother.  We have much to do.  And don’t worry.  With me, you’ll never have to soil yourself with mere human blood again.”

    Dante grins.  Every one of his teeth have gone sharp as knives.  "Promises, promises,“ he says, in two voices. 

    But he comes along, and does as Vergil bids.  For now.