I remember God; his face was broad and insincere.
In his house, we were like children, unable to reach the table. We sat at his feet, and awaited his crumbs. He patted our heads and murmured vague endearments that had no affiliation with love.
His radiance was blinding, as you might expect, his manner serene and aloof. In his face were three eyes that looked straight ahead. We did not displease him, for he was monolithic. When he sat, his head touched the white vaults of the ceiling. When he walked, his shoulders dusted the sky.
Once, he whispered in my ear and I forgot your name.
And it was not Good.
It sounds like a fable, Brother, I admit. Something we were told when we were young, perhaps- a macabre little anecdote to buy Mother a moment of peace.
Indeed, as I stand here now and watch the liquid sky, I am tempted to believe it was little more than a coma dream. But self-deception is an indulgence I have always disdained, and I will not deign to employ it now.
Little of that reality remains in me, truth to tell; I cannot map the days and nights I passed, ensconced in the exoskeleton that Mundus created to hold me.
It was not merely containment he sought, but transcendence. I have gained a new empathy for women, brother, as it was little more than a corporeal corset, in a sense, the device that distorted and reformed my essence into a new shape, hailed only as Nero Angelo.
Mundus did not wish for me to come unwillingly. His ego demanded me whole and traitorous. He caged me in a room, o my brother, that was a flawless replica of my own as I knew it in Mother's house, each lavish detail present and accounted for. He practiced persuasion, at first- even going so far as to make that woman out of ashes and oblivion- as if all I wanted for was the substance of an ersatz mother.
It was a miscalculation on his part, brother, but not so ill-conceived as you might think. Given the state I was in, he might have had me after all, had he but chosen the right relative.
However, he was guilty of the one of the most basic fallacies of logic; he drew the wrong conclusions about what he saw when he raped my mind, seeking to elicit and interpret my primal screams.
You have suffered loss, Vergil, he told me, and even in my battered condition, it amused me to hear a God so obviously pleased with himself, as if he'd won at charades.
Estranged from a love that began in utero.
His words hurt me physically, like a bolt from the blue, blunt with unspoken truth, plucked from my innermost sanctum of self. Green sickness welled in my stomach, brother, upon being forced to consume them, for those thoughts were not yet ripe.
You cry out for the womb, as all men do. But you have lost more than that. You have lost the tie that binds. The cord has been irretrievably cut by Fate.
"Not Fate." Softly spoken, almost not sounded. Betrayed by disorientation, and my own subconscious. "Pride." I remember the chill of fear that came over me, then, at the thought that his words would compel me to acknowledge what would surely be my devastation.
It is fortunate that Mundus did not hear my mindless whispers, absorbed as he was in fellating himself.
To merely mend such a bond would be unworthy of my powers, Vergil. It would still bear the marks of imperfection. I will forge you a new one from wholecloth, unflawed and pristine.
Mundus may well have been a God, o my brother, and capable of making mothers from celestial scratch, but he was obviously not immune to the dangers of flawed assumption. Context is everything, as I so often told you, and Occam's Razor is not as sharp as it looks.
Perhaps I should phrase that as if you could truly hear me, Dante.
Though I did not know it at the time, Mundus had backed the wrong horse.
I see the fount of your suffering.
At that moment I was still in the grip of unkindest apprehension, however, dreading what agonizing epiphanies might come upon me as a result of God's presents.
I have done. It is Good. I see all.
And lo, there was Tricia, resplendent in our mother's body, and little else.
Vergil, I give you your mother.
You'd remember her, Dante, though at the time she had no name, as she had only just stepped out of nether-ether. In any case, I believe you knew her by the snappier appellation of 'Trish'. Mundus always played to his house, o my brother.
"My mother never worked at Love Planet," I said, coolly. I felt my arrogance returning to serve me once more, as I realized Mundus had misfired badly.
Tricia looked confused, but continued to smile hopefully.
Behold, for she is your mother in every aspect.
"Indeed, I'm seeing aspects of my mother I never cared to imagine," I replied, eyeing her scant ensemble with undisguised scorn.
"Is something wrong?" Tricia exclaimed, clearly distressed. Her arms shot out, as if to hold me. I gave her a withering look and circled back toward the other side of the room.
You are in withdrawal. Your soul shudders from the affliction. I see all.
"So you hired me a stripper? To take the edge off?" I laughed bitterly. "I think you've got the wrong son of Sparda."
Your mother cries out to you.
It was true. Tricia was crying, her hands outstretched, tears burning from the corners of her eyes. I turned away.
Embrace your mother, Vergil.
"That isn't a mother," I said, darkly. "It's a weeping statue. You've performed a miracle. Now show me a card trick."
Just then the creature that favored our mother gave a ragged sob and threw herself toward me. My hand met her advance before she could even begin to react, and she crumpled at my feet, weeping most unattractively- not the false tears of artful pretense, but the unpretty and wracking sobs of real despair.
"Vergil," she moaned, her fingers blindly seeking the hem of my coat. "Please don't do this. Please, let me-"
I rejected her outright, although she begged me to at least pretend, for her sake, for mine. At the time I assumed that she feared being sent back to oblivion.
She needn't have worried. As it was, he found another use for her, did he not.
I wonder, my brother, if Tricia ever told you any of this. If she did, I am almost certain she did not tell you everything that transpired, and if by some small chance she did, I hope you understand the context in which I acted. In my cold rage, I knew no reason beyond defiance.
Mundus seemed to have fallen silent for the time, perhaps to see if I would warm to the sounds of her suffering, like a dutiful son.
Indeed, it was the only sound for several moments, and I felt no more endeared.
"Now then," I said, taking hold of her hair, which was long and golden, and straight as a stick. Pressing my lips together, I clearly remembered Eva, cheerfully lamenting how she could never convince it to curl, no matter what implement of torture she employed in the task.
This demon made of silica and sulfur-dust was not Eva, but she was afflicted with the same fashion limitations. I wondered how deep the deception ran. Would she have our Mother's ridiculous fear of spiders? Would she know the same songs?
She looked up at me, bewildered, but unflinching. Her eyes were red and swollen, but in them lay fierce adoration, a determined seed, no doubt planted by Mundus.
"What about you?" I sneered. "How thorough was he in his work?"
"What do you mean?"
"Were you created with the inherent need to love me?" I demanded in a whisper. "A wanting for a son?"
"Yes," she said, helplessly. "Yes, for you, Vergil. It's my only thought."
"I see," I said, coldly.
Mundus was back, his tone more insistent.
A mother needs the love of her son.
I narrowed my eyes.
This was not my mother, not yours, this demon who came out of oblivion just this hour. I would come to know her as Tricia, but at that moment she was an unformed pawn, tossed into my gilded cage like emotional chum. I felt nothing for his organic piecework.
I heard my own voice, brother, harsh and sibilant.
"Very well. Embrace me, if you must. It is what you want, isn't it?"
"Yes," she said softly, "Yes."
"Or…must I embrace you? Is that what you require?"
The look on Tricia's face was blissful as any chapel Madonna's, but I felt no compassion for anything in that moment, only a vast and arctic hatred for Mundus, and his twisted parlor tricks.
"Or perhaps you'd prefer a nice kiss," I hissed.
She nodded quickly, raising her face to mine, expectant and naïve, and I seized her with vicious precision, pressing my mouth roughly against hers.
A moan escaped her, and I felt the sting of the wintry smile that touched my lips. My cynical suspicion was confirmed; Mundus' creation knew nothing of what constituted maternal affection.
"My touch? Is that what you want?"
"Yes," she gasped. Her cheeks were flushed, her hands clutching me instinctively, for though she was not my mother, or anyone else's, Mundus had made her a woman.
My hands roamed her brutally, my motions coldly efficacious, calculated to evoke arousal. She arched into my hands, breathing heavily. Expertise did not fail me, o my brother, even if compassion did.
I tilted my head.
"You like that, mother? Does that suffice?"
Tricia was making inarticulate noises of what I presumed to be innocent delight.
My smile was bitterly amused as I spun her bodily around, so that her palms braced against the stone of the wall. She was utterly tractable, falling into position without question, her body imbued with ancient physical knowledge beyond her brief existence.
"Please," she crooned. "Please."
"Hear that, Mundus?" I muttered. "Of course you do."
Tight black leather, easing swiftly down over her hips- and I, freeing myself and entering her without preamble, shoving my cock deep and angling up as I began to thrust.
I was hard, yes, but not for any great want of the act, for the act was nothing but a means to vindication, o my brother.
Tricia was moaning, her body taut and responsive, pushing back against me wantonly as any whore, blissfully oblivious to the impropriety of our actions.
I looked up, turning my gaze toward the triumvirate of eyes that hovered in the sky, knowing they were there, though I could not see them through the ornate ceilings, knowing that Mundus knew no such limitations.
"Is this your idea of acting in loco parentis?" I demanded loudly. "I think you did not excel at Latin, despite your name."
Perhaps Mundus was too enraged to reply, or perhaps he was taken aback by my audacity. I cared nothing in the moment- I knew he was watching, and that was enough to drive my resolve.
Tricia was pleading, breathless and inaudible strings of syllables, her long fingers grasping the wall. She was begging in the broadest sense, the universal cry of an infant who knows not even what it needs. Desperate for what she was missing, no doubt, what this position, though compelling, did not afford.
"You don't know, do you?" I murmured. "Of course not."
Wordlessly I took her hand from the wall and placed it on her sex, holding it under my own as I pressed down in slow circles. She was slick with arousal. I could feel the marble intrusion of my own cock, relentlessly pushing into her from beneath.
Her thighs heaved outward at the touch, and she seemed to grasp the idea at once. I drew my hand away, as she began stroking herself with an enthusiasm that quite surpassed mine.
I wanted her to climax, o my brother, for nothing would speak louder than her pleasured convulsions at the end of my cock. Nothing else could possibly serve better to show Mundus how badly he had failed in his endeavor.
As her urgency grew, I increased my force. Now I was truly battering her, my hand braced against the wall beside her, my eyes fixed in concentration.
I knew I would not be able to come, Dante. Not like this, not here. Even considering the twisted cachet of fucking one's own mother in proxy, I was unmoved. Resentment and spite kept my cock stiff and willing, but they would not give me release.
It wouldn't have mattered to me, had it not been for the fact that circumstances demanded it. I knew all too well that Mundus would interpret any hesitation on my part as reluctance, as evidence that I, on some level, must be unsettled by this creature's resemblance to Eva, and I couldn't have that.
In the end, I turned to the only thing I knew of that had never failed to bring me to my knees. I thought of you, brother.
Culmination was swift and merciless.
Tricia screamed as she brought herself to orgasm, throwing her head back so that her long hair spilled over my flexing arms, and she tightened in her bliss, gripping me with intermittent ferocity, like the deadly pulse of electric current.
It was not bad, only lacking.
Lacking somehow, in something vital, but nevertheless I found myself at the peak seconds after, having coincided by chance and not design. It was a strange and brutal climax, brother, ripped from me in a sharp and cauterizing surge that was pleasurable but ultimately insignificant. It receded like tide, going out swiftly, and far more lamb-like than the transient bombast that announced it.
The demon beneath me was stunned and sweet, purring to herself- feeling, no doubt, that she had fulfilled all that she had been created for. Innocent, unknowing. Perhaps she thought like Eva, perhaps she even felt like Eva. Who knew what mannerisms had been plucked from my mind; which were pure extrapolation, which were colored by my interpretation, and which were veritable?
Perhaps she even screamed like Eva at the moment of sexual truth. I cannot say, and I had no real wish to contemplate.
In any case, with everything of Eva's that she had been given, there was nothing of Eva about her.
I pulled away from her without ceremony, and pulled myself together once more, running a hand back over the rough texture of my hair. I looked up slowly, seeking Mundus in the frescoed expanse of the ceiling.
"Next time you go minting mothers, you may want to fix that little…kink," I intoned, icily.
Tricia had turned around, and was leaning against the wall, clutching it with a flat palm, watching me with eyes wide and dazed, looking as if she wanted a cigarette badly, but of course she knew nothing of cigarettes.
All the better for me, as I find the habit repulsive.
Mundus chuckled, and it was the first mirth I'd ever heard from that stone idol.
You have a vivid way of illustrating your convictions, Son of Sparda.
I felt mildly surprised by his good humor, which seemed, at the very least, unusual, and at the worst, ill-omened.
"You have a funny concept of maternal instinct," I returned, evenly.
She was created to nurture you.
"That was more nature than nurture."
You impress me, hybrid, despite your intentions. You are colder than I anticipated. This bodes well for your future.
My eyes narrowed.
Though it may have been rash to spill your seed inside her, Vergil.
My smile was unflinchingly contemptuous. For a moment I wished for nothing more than to have you there, brother, so that we might share the hilarity of those asinine words that dripped straight from the maw of a God. Of course, in the adjacent moment it occurred to me that discerning subtle irony had never been your forte.
"I'm not unduly worried over it."
If she should conceive, your son will be mine.
I shook my head, as if he were a disappointing child.
"You called me a hybrid yourself, Mundus. Do I need to spell it out for you? My brother and I are essentially mules."
You are sterile.
"Jackpot," I drawled.
No matter. I am eager to press you into service, Vergil. Perhaps more eager now than before.
"Non serviam," I hissed, succinctly.
…You favor Latin, it seems.
Something about his words filled me with bizarre unease. They seemed portentous, and not unfamiliar, as if I'd forgotten something very significant about the future, as laid out to me in fever dreams.
No more mothers, Vergil. I have a far better thought in mind.
Tricia struggled into the resulting pause, her knees still weak, her smile astronomically, hectically bright.
"Don't mind him," she murmured, touching my face. "It will be all right."
I drew back, giving her a look.
You may choose to reject her acquaintance, Vergil. But I will keep her on.
"She is not my mother. I have no affinity."
Even if she is not your mother, she will suffer as if she were.
"Let her angst." I regarded her through arctic eyes. "I want no part of it."
I lied, for I realized even then that I held no particular ill will toward Tricia, who was the unfortunate and clueless culmination of Mundus' alchemy in flesh. She seemed as much a prisoner as I, called into being for only one purpose, and once deprived of it, left to exist aimlessly and without boundary.
Neither did it escape my attention, brother, that her innate devotion would likely serve me well. It was reasonable to assume that should an opportune moment arise, her loyalties would ultimately lie with me, overriding those of Mundus.
It will not be long in coming, Son of Sparda. I leave you, to return.
"He's gone," Tricia said, hesitantly, and she was right. Mundus was absent, at least. I was not at all certain he could ever be gone in a world where he was nearly ubiquitous.
I turned to her.
"Listen to me. I have no ill will toward you, but you must understand that what you feel is not organic."
She nodded slowly, waiting for more.
"I am not your son," I continued, and rubbed my temples, feeling the siren call of an impending headache. I sighed. "In any case, what I did to you-"
"I liked it," she said, bluntly.
"Yes," I muttered. "I know that."
"You didn't like it?"
She looked genuinely curious.
"It was fine," I told her, calmly. "But that will not happen again, not between us."
Tricia seemed to be thinking. Her glance settled boldly on my loins.
"What was it?" she asked. "When you…"
"Sex," I told her. "Which was not part of Mundus' plan."
"Mundus doesn't like sex?"
I raised my eyebrows.
"That I really couldn't say," I replied obscurely.
"You like sex."
"But not with me."
I was silent.
"There's someone else," she said, with a moment of uncanny insight, and I wondered, brother, for half a moment, if she actually had inherited some form of maternal intuition.
I frowned, though she could not see it, brother, angled as she was.
"Mundus made a miscalculation. We're both lucky in that regard."
Tricia studied my profile. I could feel her eyes growing ever more sentient.
"Very well, Vergil. I understand."
I know that her instincts never truly changed. The nurturing impulse was still there, unnamed and urgent, and sometimes it would not be denied.
In the uneasy few days before Mundus enacted his final vengeance, I would spend my nights in the flawless prison he had recreated, forcing my mind to detach from the direness of my predicament- and from thoughts of you, o my brother, brash and carefree out in the world of mortals.
On one such blue evening, I was reading a book I had found in one of the neglected libraries, refreshing my slipped grasp of provincial demonic script, when I heard her come into the room.
"I know I'm not your mother," she began, and I saw that her hands trembled.
There was something she knew, or suspected. I was not surprised that something was imminent. Something is always imminent, o my brother, I suppose, and I had certainly invited Mundus' wrath in a hundred ways, not least of which by merely being who I was.
"Please, Vergil," she said, almost sobbing. "Can I hold you?"
I said nothing, but I let her sit down on my bed, and pull my head into her lap.
She calmed at once, as her fingers touched my brow.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered. "I can't help it."
There was silence as she stroked my hair.
"It's nothing," I said. "We are what we are."