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A split second.

That’s exactly how long it takes for everything to go to shit.

The thing is, Dante knows he’s not perfect, but he’s good at what he does; he lives for the hunt, lives for the thrill of a strong opponent, someone who can challenge him properly. He enjoys fighting demons more than he should, probably, and he takes pride in his own strength when he goes toe-to-toe with a high-caliber demon; one that makes him work for the victory, because in the end, he’s still the best of the best, and his track record shows it.

This fight, however…

It is far from enjoyable.

The way this demon, his brother just sits there, eyes piercing Dante as he watches him desperately struggle to land a hit, to destroy the barrier that protects the foul creature, the devil that rose from the dead and cast aside his humanity. The way he doesn’t even spare a glance at Trish and Lady, absolutely unconcerned about either of them. The way he looks almost bored, yet oh-so very pleased, like he knows something Dante doesn’t.

It’s infuriating.

He feels himself growing slower, weaker, the damage racking up too rapidly for his demonic side to heal in a way that would normally get him pumped for a good fight, confident in his ability to pull off the victory either way. This isn’t like that.

This isn’t like that at all.

This is a losing battle, and they both know it.

Not like Dante can just admit defeat like that; whatever Vergil (or Urizen, as he’d agreed to call him) is doing is without a doubt catastrophic. If he were to give up now, nobody would be able to stop Vergil anymore; Trish and Lady are down for the count, V already admitted he wasn’t powerful enough to take on Vergil, and Nero

Well, the kid’s come far. He’s stronger than Dante ever could have imagined, and he’s proud of him for that. It makes his heart warm in a way he hasn’t felt in ages, in a way he never thought he’d feel again, after Vergil died.

But Vergil isn’t dead, and Nero, even at his best, would not stand a chance against him.

Again, it’s up to Dante to stop this apocalypse instigated by his brother, so even if this is a losing battle, even if every bone in his body has been broken and mended at least 15 times in the past few minutes alone, even if his head is pounding with a headache caused both by memories and head trauma, all he can do is grit his teeth and keep. Pushing. On.

He screams as Rebellion ricochets off of the barrier once more, using Ebony and Ivory to shoot at the incoming tentacles before they can reach him, yet failing to avoid the purple beam that shoots over the battlefield, noticing it just barely too late as it sweeps towards him. It burns as it hits him, searing through his clothes, his skin, drawing a pained cry from his lips as his body tries its best to mend him immediately, but it is still catching up with all the other hits he’s taken; there’s not a single part of him that isn’t in fucking pain, and he’s genuinely reaching his limit in how much more he can take.

He can feel something in his arm crack (again) as he hits the ground with a thud, and he grinds his teeth together, forcing himself not to drop Ivory as he scrambles upright once more, readying himself for the next incoming attack. He can feel the tremble in the rest of his limbs, and he’s slow, so, so slow.

Another tentacle comes his way, but this time his aim is off, his still-healing arm causing him to miss pathetically with Ivory, and Ebony alone isn’t enough to stop the gigantic thing shooting towards him. He tries to dodge, a last ditch effort when he realizes what’s happening, but it’s too late; the tentacle slams into him, knocking the wind out of him as he’s once more catapulted into the air, before another one snatches him. It curls around him tightly enough that he can feel his ribs break, bone fragments stabbing into his lungs until he’s coughing up blood, gurgling and choking.

He barely even realizes it when Vergil starts speaking.

“I grow tired of this.” The demon says, his rumbling, multilayered voice echoing through the chamber as Dante forces himself to glare at him, mustering all the fury, pain, and hatred he can. If he weren’t choking on his own blood right now, he’d probably try to say something back, but as it stands, he can barely hear himself think over everything else that’s happening. Instead, he snarls, fueled by an instinct he so often tries to suppress, blood flying from his mouth and dripping onto the tentacle holding him.

Vergil narrows his eyes (his many, many eyes), and sighs, getting up from his throne for the first time since Dante got here, reaching for the crystal that perpetually hovers near him. It’s almost a surprise when it transforms into Yamato, yet at the same time not really.

As if Vergil would ever leave it out of his sight willingly.

“Dante.” Vergil rumbles, and maybe Dante is just imagining it, but there’s some kind of emotion in the way Vergil says his name, even under the echo in his voice. His face doesn’t betray anything, but then, Dante doesn’t really feel up to deciphering the small nuances in his brother’s demonic features.

The many eyes blink slowly as Vergil’s claws curl around the Yamato, and Dante’s inner demon snarls at the blatant display of disrespect, of just how little he considers Dante a threat, forcing itself to the surface briefly in a flash of power, but he’s too hurt, too exhausted from the fight, and his Devil Trigger barely holds for less than a second before Dante slumps in the tentacle’s grip, body finally giving out.

“You are weak,” Vergil says, judgingly, tauntingly, “but do not worry. I will rid you of that weakness, Dante.”

Dante wants nothing more than to tell him to shut the fuck up, but all that comes out of his mouth are bloodied, indecipherable gurgles. Once more, he tries to call upon his Devil Trigger, tries to struggle, something, anything-

His eyes zero in on the Yamato, suddenly being unsheathed in front of his helpless body, the tip pointed straight to his heart. It wouldn’t be lethal under normal circumstances, but his body is already struggling to catch up with the rest of his wounds, his lungs constantly being punctured and re-punctured by his broken ribs with how tight Vergil’s tentacle squeezes him on top of the rest of the beating he’s taken.

He’s not sure he would survive being stabbed through the heart at this point. His blood feels like it turns into ice, cold dread filling his entire being.

Is this it, then? After everything?

Is this the end?

He doesn’t have time to wonder. Between one second and the next, Vergil lances the Yamato forward, not even a moment of hesitation as it’s pushed through his ribs.

Dante screams.

The agony is sudden and intense, worse than whatever he could have possibly imagined. No amount of stabbing in the past could have prepared him for this kind of pain; every fiber of his being is shrieking in distress, spreading from his very core to the tips of his fingers and toes. It’s torture, he feels like he’s being split apart in ways that should not be possible, reality rippling and bending and protesting around him, inside him. It’s like every horrible thing that’s ever happened to him is being dredged up to the surface, pushing at his skin and clawing, ripping, tearing him apart-

There’s the sensation of something snapping inside of him.

And then, just as suddenly as it started, it’s gone.

He barely even feels it when the Yamato slides out of his body, when the tentacle drops him to the ground. He doesn’t notice the other body, the smaller, weaker, frailer body, that lays behind him, trembling as it watches the spectacle before it. He barely even realizes when his own body starts morphing, mutating into something… different.

A clawed, obsidian scaled hand comes into focus, his own hand, holding it up for himself to observe. Veins of lava run through it, flaring up with every breath he takes. He smacks his lips on sharpened teeth, feeling appendages- wings on his back as he stands up, flaring with fire as they flap to help him upright. He finds his balance, a long, pointed tail lazily waving from side to side in the corner of his eyes.

His eyes meet Vergil’s, closer to his height now, not having to crane his neck as far. There’s something like satisfaction inside of them when he observes Dante.

He doesn’t know what it exactly is he should be feeling. If memory serves right, he probably should be upset about something. Furious even, maybe, but for all that he thinks that’s what he should feel, he can’t even recall why.

All he can feel is absolute, unrelenting euphoria.

It’s like all of a sudden whatever it was that’s been holding him back for all these years has been cast off, like the shackles holding him down have been broken. A weight has been lifted, he feels lighter than he has in ages, power flowing through his body without restraint. It’s a high he can’t describe, almost dizzying in its intensity as he lets out an unrestrained roar of delight, fire flaring around him as he lets loose.

There’s a smirk filled with gratification on Vergil’s demonic face, the Yamato returning to its crystalline form, and Dante can’t even remember why he was upset with him in the first place. Not when he feels so wonderful, not when Dante can practically taste the power rippling off him in waves in a way he’s sure he couldn’t before. Not when Vergil looks so beautiful, in this infernal, demonic form, moreso than he ever has, than Dante had ever been able to appreciate.

Privately, he wonders if Vergil thinks him beautiful, too.

“Finally,” Vergil says after a moment, voice a low purr of satisfaction, “my favor towards you, Dante… I have made us equals once more. Your human weakness will no longer get in your way… my brother.”

Is that what it is?

Once again, there’s a nagging feeling in the back of his mind that he should be furious with Vergil, but he just can’t. Vergil’s right- he just feels so fucking good right now. He could kiss the guy, wants to fight him, fuck him, maybe both. Every little thing that had been holding him back is gone- all gone.

No sadness.

No guilt.

Nothing.

He is free.

“Well waddaya know!” His voice is foreign yet oh-so right as it leaves his mouth, echoing with demonic cadence in the same way Vergil’s does, the way he’s suddenly sure it was always meant to. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, Vergil, you sack of shit, but I feel pretty fuckin’ great right now- guess you do have good ideas for little bro every so often, eh?”

“Always.” Vergil nods. “I always do.”

Dante’s about to say something else, to quip back, to dance with words, but he’s interrupted by a familiar voice.

“Dante!” Nero’s shout echoes through the room, laced with confusion and anger and something else Dante can’t quite place right now. “What did you do to Dante, you bastard!

There’s the revving of an engine as Dante turns around, eyes falling on the boy standing at the entrance, hovering near the trembling, naked body of his discarded humanity as he fires up that ridiculous sword of his. He looks so furious.

So… desperate.

“Not gonna talk, huh?” Nero yells again, shifting forward, a familiar fighting stance, minus one arm. “Guess I’ll just have to make you.”

Nero launches himself forward in a split second- faster than any human should be able to, faster than most demons, even. His sword is alight with fire, poised to strike Dante with his much smaller body-

Laughable.

Dante shifts his tail, testing the movement, before whipping it out, dripping with liquid fire and heat as a chuckle starts building in his chest.

How laughable.

Red Queen crashes into the tail, and Dante doesn’t even feel it, the blade doing absolutely nothing to the momentum of his tail, and he’s almost careless in the way he slams it into Nero, smashing the boy away from him like a particularly lively baseball. Nero cries out as he’s launched into a wall, debris crumbling around him as he falls to the ground, coughing up blood.

How utterly laughable.

Dante can’t stop himself from bursting into a full-bellied laugh, bending over as he sees the pathetic human being get up, launch himself again, only to be batted away again by Dante’s tail. Oh, Nero looks so pissed off as he tries again and again and again, only to yield similar results.

It’s too fucking good, and Dante’s almost crying while laughing by the time Nero practically collapses into the ground, unable to go on.

“Is that all you got?” He taunts, crouching over the puny little human, giggles wracking his body. “You don’t even have two arms, you dumb baby! Pathetic little thing, did you really think you could beat me?

Nero growls at him, and Dante falls into a laugh again.

“Oooh, he’s growling at me now! I’m so scared!” He howls with mirth. “Oh, someone pleaaaasee help me, the little bitch is growling at me! Whatever shall I do!”

“Shut the FUCK UP!” Nero screams, launching himself forward once more, pulling all his strength into one last hurrah, sword revving and burning.

It’d almost be admirable if it weren’t so hilariously sad.

With an almost lazy wave of his hand, he slaps Nero away, sending him crashing into the wall once more, cries of pain echoing through the room. More debris crumbles around him.

This time, Nero doesn’t get up.

Dante’s chuckles die out as he gets up, and stretches, feeling wonderful. He can’t believe how great it is, to be so unrestrained, to just let his power flow. He can’t believe he willingly gave this up for so many years, that he willingly allowed himself to be weak. To be human.

Speaking of being human, he’d almost forgotten about that puny half of his in his fight with Nero (if one could even call it that), and he lets his gaze fall onto the naked body nearby.

Trembling. Fearful. Incapable.

Pathetic.

Suddenly, he’s overcome with anger. This thing, this sorry little thing is what was able to keep him shackled for all those years? This is what was holding him back? This is what cursed him so, what made him weak?

No more.

No more.

“Don’t-“ His human half speaks for the first time, hoarse voice, scrambling backwards as Dante stalks towards it. “No- don’t-“

Vergil is silent in the background, but Dante can feel the satisfaction practically radiating off of him as his human half continues to try to put distance between them; a pathetic attempt, of course. Its tiny body couldn’t even hope to outrun him, especially not in such a sorry state.

“You are weak.” He growls at it as its back hits a wall, stopping it dead in its tracks. “You are useless.”

“Stop- you can’t-“

It’s miserable pleas only serve to fuel his fury, and he draws himself to his full height, towering over the little thing. He doesn’t even have to think about it, a fireball appearing in his hand, his wings flaring with power as he smirks down at it.

“I don’t need you anymore, deadweight.” He hisses, lava dripping from his orifices and leaving red-hot puddles around himself, just barely not burning the human before him. He raises his hand dramatically, finding it in himself to draw this out, to play with his prey for even just a moment before his final judgement.

The human pointlessly attempts to shield itself with its arms, and Dante laughs. How useless. How deplorable.

Time to end this.

“Now, die-“

“Incoming!”

There’s a loud crash, the walls exploding around him before something slams into him, sharp and spiky and more irritating than painful but nonetheless successful in distracting him. Snarling, he turns to face the black panther that forms a few meters away from him, hackles raised, before it shoots forward once more, transforming into a sawblade which he catches easily, now that he knows that it’s coming, but before he can even gloat about it, something else slams into him from the side, causing him to drop the panther, and allowing it to roll its shitty spiky body over him. It transforms again, scratching at him as he roars, finally getting himself together from the surprise and quickly grabbing it, slamming it into the ground below a few times before throwing it away, the pathetic whimper that comes from its maw music to his ears.

From the corner of his eyes, he notices the something else that had slammed into him flying away hastily, something big and pink and white haired in its claws. Griffon, he realizes, the useless blabbermouth bird that V can summon, a sorry excuse for a demon who obeys man-

And it’s getting away with his prey.

Dante roars, flaring his wings out to take off, to tear both of those puny things into the little pieces that they deserve to be, but just as he’s about to do so, something else slams into him.

Something big.

Something heavy.

Something powerful.

A giant of a demon, slimy and dark and unfathomable, holds on to him, its large hands crushing his body in a way that’s actually painful- and actively keeping him from going after his prey. V’s little bird pet gets further and further away from him, disappearing between the Qliphoth’s roots and the falling debris until Dante can no longer see them, and all he can do is yell in frustration, clawing at the giant’s body.

“Get. The fuck. OFF ME.” He snarls, a fiery aura flaring around him as two lava-covered arms burst forth from between the cracks in his obsidian armor, red-hot veins glowing brightly with his rage as he uses his newly formed arms to grab the large demon, concentrating all his power and burning, burning, burning-!

Finally, the large demon lets go of him, rumbling in a way that Dante can’t understand, before it staggers backwards, slamming into the wall behind them.

And then it simply disintegrates.

Like it never were there in the first place.

Dante huffs in frustration, kicking at some of the debris near him. His human half is gone now, and he’s not in the mood to chase after it anymore, pissed off that he allowed himself to be caught so off-guard. Though in his defense, he didn’t know V possessed the help of such a powerful demon. It has him itching for a fight, for blood, and briefly he wonders if that Nero kid is up and about again-

Only to find the boy has also vanished.

All that is left in the room is him, the destruction around them, and, of course, Vergil. Briefly, he wonders what happened to the two women whom Vergil had struck down, but in his rage, it’s no more than a passing thought.

“That fucking sucked.” Dante growls. “What the hell was that? Thought that bitch V was too much of a pussy to do anything, with how he ran off when things got too hot under his feet. Piece of shit, dammit-“

“Cursing will do you no good, brother.” Vergil says, and Dante’s eyes snap towards the throne, to his brother, a small smirk on the bastard’s face. “Though I must say, that display of yours was beyond dismal. Perhaps you are not as powerful as I thought.”

“Oh, shut your fucking mouth, Vergil.” Dante groans, stalking over towards his brother with an accusatory, pointed finger. “I didn’t see you getting off of your lazy ass. Seems you’re pretty cozy in that half-baked chair of yours, you dull son of a bitch.”

“Quaint, brother.”

“I’m right and you know it, bastard.”

“Ah, I simply had no need to act, Dante.” Vergil chuckles, lazily resting his head on his hand. “Even without your interference, none of those lesser creatures would have been able to touch me. The fact that you allowed yourself to get distracted…”

“A fluke.” Dante fires back, anger building. “It was nothing but a fluke. That miserable creature sucker-punched me!”

The thought alone sends his adrenaline pumping, the need to take revenge for such a transgression rising. It makes his blood boil, the need to sink his teeth and claws into something, to destroy, to maim and ravage and kill crawling under his skin, threatening to make him burst.

He roars again in fury, and Vergil huffs out a small laugh.

“So easily riled up, brother.” Vergil says, voice low and amused. “Perhaps if you had been more calm, your prey would not have escaped you… perhaps you still are weak, after all.”

That does it.

The words leave Vergil’s mouth, and Dante’s anger boils over, unrelenting as his vision clouds red. He wants to punish, to raze whatever unfortunate creature faces his wrath, to bleed and make bleed until his bloodlust is sated, his unfinished kill has been soothed. Demonic instincts take over completely, his higher thinking clouded over by the need to destroy.

There’s a satisfied gleam in Vergil’s eye as Dante descends upon him, a fiery blade meeting the crystalized Yamato and sending Dante skidding away, before Vergil gets up, transforming the crystal into his signature blade once more.

“Yes, brother.” He purrs, something low, something primal in his voice. “Fight me proper. Fight me with your true power.”

The octane smell of two powerful demons clashing fills the room shortly, Vergil and Dante dancing around each other in a haze of power, bloodlust, and rage; two halves of a whole, the only opponents truly worthy of one another. Demonic ichor splatters everywhere as they strike each other again and again, the scent of blood and sweat and arousal filling the air, a violent foreplay unable to be replicated by any other creature but them.

“I’ve missed seeing you like this, Dante.” Vergil growls as their swords clash once more. “I’ve missed fighting to make you submit.”

“Submit my ass.” Dante snarls right back, throwing a fireball in Vergil’s direction. “I’ll be the one to make you submit to me.”

“Ah, delicious.” Vergil smirks, and dodges the fireball, quickly retaliating, continuing their fight.

Even as the Qliphoth starts draining humans surrounding the infernal tree, even as V escapes with Dante’s human half and Nero. Even as the latter swears he’ll get stronger, that he’ll take them down, even as V and Dante’s human half stick together, wandering around the deserted Red Grave City. The two full-blooded demons take no heed of any of it, for the moment, wrapped up in their fight as they are.

There is no greater high to be obtained than when they face each other at full power. There is no greater pleasure than to be made to submit, and to make the other submit with a violent battle, violent sex that Dante now realizes he’s always wanted, always craved.

Yes, Dante realizes. This is absolutely the best, though he knows he’s already craving more, craving everything.

Perhaps Vergil won’t mind if he causes a little chaos for the remaining humans in Red Grave, if he bothers V and his human half. With his rage soothed by battle, by sex, he can think a little more clearly now, a little more… coherently. He doesn’t feel like killing his human half anymore.

After all, death would be too good for that pathetic parasite.

Wouldn’t it be that much more interesting to watch them struggle? To give them hope, only to break it down?

As he lays in the afterglow of their battle, blood and cum and debris covering their bodies, Dante grins.

Oh, he’s going to have fun.

And nobody is going to stand in his way.