Fuyuko: Despite its excessive length, I generally love this chapter. It's, well, it surprised me when I was done with it.

Dante: That doesn't sound like a good thing, actually.

Fuyuko: Oh, but it is. Because if what I wrote surprises me with its twists and quality of content, then it is truly good, it is something that can hopefully be read again and again.

Dante: Right. You're a strange one, you know that? You and that robot.

Disclaimer-bot: I profess that the author chick is indeed quite weird. She obsesses over not real men and women and ignores those that are tangible near her. However, focusing on her oddity is not my business, as I am instead merely here to disclaim that Capcom owns Devil May Cry, Dante, and Lady, and that the author is merely borrowing them to babysit her own character Giselle.


Devil in the Cradle – Chapter Eleven


In the cool, if smoggy and grey, pre-dawn that arose over New York nearly a month later, Dante had just picked Giselle up for her morning meal when he got that sensation in the back of his neck. He'd call it something like having the hairs on your neck raise up, except that usually constituted fear, rather than the triggering of one's urge to fight. Kissing her forehead, the half-devil placed the curious little girl back in her crib.

"Stay here, nestling. Be quiet, father-demon has to hunt in quiet."

Quieting his devil powers so that he could hopefully have some element of surprise, Dante proceeded towards the front of the shop, grabbing Ebony and Ivory along the way, holstering them in the waistband of his tight red pants. It was awkward and the muzzles dug into his hips, but it was the only option he had when he was still barely dressed for the day other than going unarmed, and he'd be damned if that was going to happen. He left Lady asleep, too, not out of arrogance, but because of a foreboding sense that she was better off as far away from whatever was going to happen as possible. 'Probably just paranoia, D, just your head messin' with you over the past.'

Still, even though things were quiet in coming down the main hallway from the back rooms, it didn't mean he could relax. The half-devil knew better than to ignore the continuing tingle in the back of his neck in favor of his own self-assurances. His instincts had never led him wrong when it came to demons, while his head on the other hand…well, he was half-human too, and the human mind was constantly playing the fool when it came to demons. He'd never forget the only time he tried to rely on his human mind instead of his devil's instincts when fighting a horde of demons. Sure, they had been higher levels, smarter and with more tricks than the usual culprits, but it had still been a rotten idea to take them on without at least acknowledging his demonic instincts.

Reaching the front of the office, the half-devil's blue eyes tracked around the wood-paneled room slowly, his head remaining focused on the front door. It was really unlikely that what had sent his nerves jangling was going to come in that way, but it didn't really help him focus if he was jerking his head around wildly looking for something he didn't even know was there. He had long ago found that he was more sensitive to sudden changes if he kept his body stationary and let his ears and eyes sense around him as they were capable of doing. There were no funny sights he could see, even with his infrared vision, no weird influxes of heat showed up. The lamp overhead flickering didn't count, as its now lone bulb had been ready to go since its twin had a few days before. There were no odd sounds that he could hear, just a pipe dripping in the kitchen and the toilet gurgling in the back, the sewer's backed up plumbing from last evening's downpour echoing through the old bathroom fixture. He'd told Lady he would get both toilet and lamp fixed, but neither had happened yet.

Still, he couldn't shake the nagging tingle in the back of his neck, and he half-turned to go ask the Devil Arms if they had also sensed something out of place. Not that he was really sure something was even out of place, although he was sure his instincts were not giving him a useless warning – demons didn't do paranoia, and he didn't get the willies for no damn reason. His feet were silent as they crossed back by his desk, walking quietly no large feat for him, even with his heavy boots covering them. Big freakin' feet for stomping big freakin' demons in their faces, he thought laughingly, recalling what Lady had said about him and being a possible cause for Bigfoot rumors when they'd decided to give each other foot massages just a few days ago. It had been deliciously good fun, especially getting her to moan softly and just about purr into the massage he had given to her ankles. Who knew something so simple could be so damn erotic?

They'd gone from massaging feet to massaging each other's lips gently, then she'd straddled him and they'd started to rub together lower down. He'd been surprised when she ground the split center of her legs against the bump centered in between his own, but pleasantly so, and he'd responded well. Dante recalled the sensation of his hips jerking up under hers, the sliding friction that had built between them, and the other things that had come into play as they heated up, licking his lips as he stalked closer to the room where his Devil Arms laid. They'd stopped, of course, neither he nor Lady quite ready to jump each other yet, not when they had only been on a handful of normal dates and not when she had only just begun to get used to touching and kissing his devil form.

He shook his white-haired head, having other things to focus on, and he was glad he had focused back in as a whirling whistle sped closer to him. He jumped straight up, grabbing the ceiling and digging in with nails that he lengthened temporarily for the extra grip. His toes had become the three full talons, he noted mildly, grinning down at the revealed demon. An Enigma, staked out over by his drum kit, already reloading to fire at him again, even as he scrambled across the ceiling and launched himself down on top of its single eye. He blasted the extra large peeper open with Ebony and Ivory, triumphant grin slipping when he heard sand pouring out and demons groaning behind him. More demons?

Not just a few rogue ones, he saw, spinning to focus on their approaching forms. It wasn't right, it was just not possible for this many to be inside Devil May Cry with the wards up on it these days, the half-devil hadn't left the defenses down or let them get shoddy at all since Lady and Giselle had been staying here, not once. So how was this large of an attack group inside his office, his nest? His lips twisted in a snarl, holstering ivory to cast a few spells. There was no reason to worry over this, no matter what his nerves and his gut told him, and he didn't need to get Lady involved at all, period. He cast the spell as delicately as he could, wrapping it around her room like cotton balls as he fired off precision shots at the oncoming demons. One of them tried to lunge forward and swipe his head off his shoulders, but that would never work on him, and he punched its stupid masked face right in.

The body flew back as it burst into sand, layering its fellows with the shower and knocking them a little off balance. It was enough for him to complete his first spell and hide it, then move on to another one. Barring that the sound barrier didn't quite work out, he still wanted Giselle to sleep through this peacefully and not feel the innate terror a helpless nestling had of attacking demons. Even more carefully, he cast a simple spell that he knew by heart from having to cast it on himself with a modified wake-up call in its workings on those days he knew he would have otherwise tossed and turned with nightmares of his past. No wake-up call for the magic sleep this time, because he could handle this and go wake her up himself in no time.

Dante grinned, pulling out his guns again and targeting his opponents with his usual cocky flare. So what if his gut told him this was no joke, no game? He could still take these small-time punks out, no problem. His babe and their baby would never even know anything had gone down, which was just fine. He had it under control, and he launched himself at his foes, determined to keep them from causing his family grief.


When the first few had broken past him and headed for the back rooms, he'd freaked out and jumped after them, lunging forward and silently screaming for Rebellion to come to his hand as it stretched toward them. It had come, and he'd cut them down ruthlessly, but there were more, and they were piling up at his back, and he couldn't fight them off all on his own. Or he didn't think he could. He'd failed them before, failed to protect his loved ones from demons before, fallen like a useless child under a scythe while his mother's scream faded to black…He grit his teeth against the insidious memory as it crept up in his mind like primeval ooze, hacking and firing his guns with renewed vigor. He wasn't a child anymore, and he was more than capable of taking on small fry, he knew that, so why did he think differently now?

Still, more had managed to slip around him, and try as he might to corral this himself, it would be better if he just undid the spell that was keeping the sounds of the fight out of her room and let her help him. She would be livid if he didn't let her help out, and still furious that he had kept it from her this far, but that was nothing compared to what he would feel if one of them did manage to get back far enough to butcher her. He swung Rebellion in a wide arc, cutting up the few in front of him, switching to hold it with one hand and whirled it effortlessly next to his side, the long blade cutting into those nearest his body, including another back sneaker. He snarled at another one, blasting it with Ebony and Ivory until its corpse-like visage burst open into sand.

The frustrating part now was, even if he wanted to drop the spell, he couldn't; his hands were tied just taking out this huge lot of crazy partiers. 'Where the hell are Nevan and the others?! Damnit, I can't do two things at once here!' And waking Lady was certainly looking like it was a much better idea than he'd first figured it would be. If only his Devil Arms were here, he could actually get the spell unwoven, and with all this racket there'd be no need to wake his partner up, she'd hear it and be out here in minutes, seconds even. Dante blasted another demon in the face, shoving Rebellion into its guts repeatedly until it split in a dozen places, liquid oozing on the floor as it died. But it was replaced almost instantly by another, summoned by one of the Greed's that had popped up near the back. The devil hunter rapid-fired Ebony at the summoning demon but his open area for placing the shots was soon covered by the encroaching horde of the rest of the demons, and he was forced to deal with his closer enemies.

Desperate to kill off one of the roots of his problems with the increasing numbers of demons present in the office, he holstered Ebony and Ivory and went straight for the throats before him with his sword. He uppercut the one nearest to him, slicing it in half and moving forward over its remains, stomping on the split halves of its head to make sure it didn't get back up. He hadn't bothered to see what type it was, and an Envy would only regenerate itself from that kind of cut – it hadn't been a clean split, some of the inner torso muscles clinging to each other and the spine still in one piece. It was dead now, that he was sure of, nothing much survived having its head crushed like an overripe melon, and he had moved on to the ones behind it.

The trio of Prides organized themselves around him, blocking with their scythes irritatingly and he only managed to nick the one in its bony upper shoulder. The two on his sides swung at once, and he instinctively knew that jumping up would only get him hacked by a downward slash from the middle attacker – so he jumped for it instead, Rebellion's tip going first, gouging into its stomach and out its back with a crunch. He'd severed the spine that time. 'Good,' he thought with a twisted grin, 'Maybe I'll get somewhere with the trash out of the way.' He spun swiftly, sword chopping into the two he'd had to avoid earlier, the demonic blade slicing through their dark clothes with loud ripping noises, then through their tissue and organs and bones with an even louder squelch and scraping of steel on almost steel-like demon bone.

Not interested in watching the pair fall apart as dust motes, he drove forward again, whipping out Ivory and blasting the Sloth that had tried to literally get the drop on him by teleporting in. It moaned and he slashed it diagonally across the chest with Rebellion single-handed, light-bulb clicking on in his head as it fell back fully onto the floor. Tossing his sword up across his broad shoulders, he pounced on the Sloth's prone form, not caring that his steel-toed boots left more than petty dents in it already cut up body, and kicked off roughly, pulling out Ebony as he rocketed forward on his demon skateboard. The guns blared to life in his hands, staccato sounds of bullets ripping from the barrels accompanied by duller thuds of the shells pounding demon hide and even wetter sounds of tearing flesh. He grinned wildly as he came closer to his target, but kept firing, never missing a shot and more than pleased to see a good number of the weaker hells crumbling under the assault.

Finally he was within range of the Greed and he blasted his ride with both guns in the head, its momentum only increasing on the blood slick its ruined head spilled forth. The deathly jailor was on the brink of its own death, though, and he rocketed forward off of its form, sure to plant his launching foot on it throat and condemning it utterly. Dante holstered his guns as his form barreled through the air towards the Greed, hand reaching up to grasp the hilt of his sword – he could take it in one swing with this momentum. The sword arced over its master's head, biting into the top of the jailor's right shoulder and continuing smoothly downward as though through hot butter. Its arm severed, the jailor screeched, the agonized sound sandy and guttural, before the sword veered to the left and its cry was split short by the splitting of its body into two halves.

"Nice kill, Sugar. We're sorry we're late for the party – there were some bad customers we had to bounce off from the entrance out back."

"Master, please leave these to us and defend your nestling and mate!"

"Yes, Master, we are more than a match for these weak excuses!"

The half-devil didn't bother to lecture Agni and Rudra about silence in battle as he took in the relieving sight of his Devil Arms. Beowulf and Cerberus, in their office-sized human and dog forms, launched at a fresh wave of the Seven Hells, white light and bright ice tearing into their foes. The forms were designed to be smaller and more capable of fitting in with the human world. They were not for holding back or restraining any of the raw power that the two demons were known to possess, and while Dante was usually a little upset with that fact when he had to take them on missions that way, he was more than glad of it now. Nevan's bats swirled around another foe, taking tiny bites out of it and driving it mad with the repeated sharp pangs of piercing fangs. It flailed against them, but the numbers were indisputable and the little monsters had soon ripped away the outermost flesh and were now devouring their prey whole-heartedly as it weakened under their assault. The succubus herself had dropped her human visage and was attacking at her own full strength, electric orbs smacking into enemies and turning into ensnaring lines that shocked the life right out of the demons.

As for Agni and Rudra, the pair of swords had called up simple ogre bodies to wield themselves, and each twin was whirling through opponents rapidly. Fire swirled on the red blade, streaming from the head's mouth and then ran along the floor, burning a line towards the bedroom door Dante had been defending earlier. The demons in the way fell aside, shrieking as their bodies were swallowed by the flame and devoured in its hot hunger, but the floorboards and walls remained untouched by the demonic flame, for which Dante was thankful. It was okay to hack things up in his office, since he broke a lot of things up himself, but burning the place down, swathing it in ice, or blasting it apart with wind, light, or lightning was not okay. And the Devil Arms control over their own abilities meant he never had to worry about losing that control when he used them. Not like Rebellion and Force Edge, where he had to struggle not to envelope everything around him in his own fire and electricity, even though it would certainly have torn through his opponents.

"Good to know! I'm lowering the sound block I put over Lady's room, so she can get her share of demon ass to kick!"

Vaulting over Agni's burned out path, the white-haired man landed cat-like in front of his hunting partner's bedroom door. The same head bowed in concentration as he looked for the thin thread of power he'd left to signal the spell, the one that he could pick up to begin tugging at the whole thing. Usually when he did a spell, he just left the whole thing open because he wasn't worried about anyone picking at them. Most of the demons that lurked around the city regularly didn't have the ability to undo demon magic and the ones that could weren't interested in it. He wasn't broadcasting his presence through his own demonic aura, but it was no secret either that there were powerful devils around his office, and besides, the demons probably talked too and so word had probably gotten around that there were two devil hunters in this town. Even if they didn't know exactly who or what he was, they still were smart enough to figure out that this place belonged to a hunter and to stay the hell away if they didn't want to get ruined faster.

He found the thread, finally, latching on to it and beginning to pull at the spell it was connected to, like picking the knots out of a string in the physical world. It was slow work and painstaking in the amount of focus it required him to use, but he'd felt it was the best course when the attack had first begun and he'd been…sure he could handle things, but unable to shake the nagging fear that he wanted Lady to stay out of the fight. It had been stupid, he knew that, but it hadn't stopped him then and if he was honest with himself, a part of him wanted to keep her out of things still. It had to be his demon instincts, had to be some urge to protect his mate and nestling like Rudra had referred to. 'Not that we're mates exactly or anything,' he scrambled to escape the ideas that brought up in denial, 'I mean, okay, so we almost screwed, almost. But that still doesn't make her my mate! That's not something she should be, or well, she should be mine, but not like that, not…' the half-devil young man dropped the thread in distraction, swearing out loud when he did.

"Sugar, you fight, I'll untangle this messy thing you've set up. I can see Beowulf and I still have plenty of work to do with you on demon magic."

"…Yeah, sure. When this is over, then you can lecture me. It's not my fault I suck even worse at laying down spells when I'm trying to fight back a pack of demons."

"That is a poor excuse for a Dark Knight. Your traitorous sire could weave the most complex of demon magic in battle. You will learn to do this as well, Master."

Beowulf pummeled a demon into the floorboards that had been sneaking up on Nevan and she idly continued to hammer it with a powerful blast of purple lightning until it died, writhing in agony and the electric spasms her attack wracked its body with. Dante merely grunted, not wanting to discuss his father with either of his senior Devil Arms at the moment. He wasn't Sparda, he was Dante, and he would never be what his legendary sire had been, one because he didn't want to be, and two because he knew somewhere that he couldn't be. It was why Vergil fell, why he failed so damn often when he tried to save someone. If he was Sparda, he would have caught his brother, not just stood around gaping at his sliced open palm, and if he was Sparda, he would be able to save the world, not just struggle to save only the people in New York and the upper northeast.

But then, hadn't Sparda failed to save his own wife and sons? He didn't want that either, he grimaced darkly, crushing the head of the demon he'd punched out at bare-fisted. His hand came back to his side bloody and he avoided looking at it, not wanting to see what his inheritance made him, not wanting to wrestle with issues he kept telling himself should be dead and buried. His teeth flashed as he laughed brazenly at a swarm of Bloodgoyles flying straight for him, the pearly whites too numerous all of a sudden and the canines too sharp. Cerberus's left head sunk its fangs into a Greed, the right frosting over its coffin and the middle one snatching the demon souls it had called forth out of the air like a hungry animal. Snapping the body into shards, the icy hell-hound watched his master flash with wild red and orange electricity and flames. The wall at the half-devil's side began to smoulder, and the hell-hound bounded past the young man to blast it with his cooling frost. The heat of his master's strength seared him as well, but it was not something he could not stand yet, and he would not want the devil-triggering young man to burn down his own house. Agni and Rudra saw too, directing their bodies to maneuver the hilts so that they could see with their own eyes what he had leaped for. The pair of demon sword brothers were for once shocked silent as they too watched their master's control slip down the slope.

Dante didn't care, didn't even really notice the three stares, only was glad that Cerberus had served him well and was defending the nest itself. Weak, if it could not stand up to him, but then, wasn't everything here weak compared to him? He danced nimbly away from the Prides advancing on his position near the hell-hound, fire trailing in his path and they stupidly walked into it, burning in the unnatural heat. His flesh hardened, and red veins appeared along its blackened toughness, chasing down in erratic patterns as his legs and arms bulged and lengthened, giving him extra height. And range, as his right arm whipped out to strangle a Lust that had been chasing him, the black and clawed hand clamping down mercilessly and claws cutting into the back of its neck. It had been pursuing him, true, but it had also been out of his usual reach. He swung it around as more of the low-level jailors crossed his path, smacking them with their fellow's body, breaking both his makeshift hammer and the anvils he had swung it at with the sheer force.

Nevan looked up to see the half-devil she worked for disappear down the hall, berserk laughter following his form, almost wishing she hadn't just finished undoing the spell that was keeping the sounds of battle from his human partner. There were some things that she was certain the young woman didn't need to see about him, and this was definitely on the list. The young man had lost control around Lady before, but never like this, and the succubus wasn't too sure their relationship was solid enough yet to stay alive through the half-devil's insane rampage. Too late now, though, she knew, sending an electric arc through the ranks of demons behind her, doing her job in defending the nest of the devil she served.

Beowulf stood off to her right, pummeling the stronger demons without mercy and swatting the weak ones aside into oblivion effortlessly. He might gripe about having to work for the son of the traitorous Sparda, but he would never not do his sworn duty to his master either. And if the truth was to be told, he wanted to help Dante become a true Dark Knight and wanted to see if what his former comrade had seen in humanity was something real and not the delusion Mundus had tried to make them believe it was. It was one thing to be betrayed by your top general, but to be betrayed out of honor and a desire to preserve strength rather than out of insanity, well, that was a shame the former Prince of Darkness had not wanted to hassle with. Light flared from Beowulf's fist as he pounded in a one-two combo on a Hell Vanguard before smashing its skull in his left hand.

"If this is what passes for a strong demon, then truly the Underworld has fallen. Perhaps…" he grunted and smacked aside a handful of Prides, shooting them with sharpened light feathers from his short wings and goring them, not bothering to look at his fellow Devil Arms as he continued speaking after his attack, "Perhaps there is good in the fact that we no longer are servants to it. Such weakness is repugnant."

"Agreed, Dark Knight. Pups of my kind could chew these down to nothing but bones for gnawing upon later without much trouble."

Cerberus's middle head growled in concurrence with his fellow, the other two snapping at a pair of Lusts that were desperately trying to evade getting eaten. The hell-hound lunged towards the left one, snapping it up and shaking it until there was a sick series of cracks and he dropped the broken creature in favor of hunting down its fellow. He never got to break its spine, however, as a rapid rat-a-tat burst out of the doorway Nevan had been guarding and busted it apart into sand, under the succubus' raised arm as she brought around more lightning on their foes.

"I wake up to demons for breakfast in bed. Pancakes would have been sweeter, but this is good too." Lady methodically loaded a new clip into her submachine gun, checked the one in her pistol and disgusted with it, switched it out with a stronger one from her belt of ammo cases.

"Cupcake. Don't go looking for Sugar."

"Don't worry, Nevan, he won't die if I shoot him a few times."

"It is not that you would reprimand him for letting the nest fall under attack. It is that you would not like to see how he has responded to the attack."

Lady almost asked Beowulf for a better explanation with less Demonese, but she blew it off muttering 'whatever' irritably, and pointed her guns at a new series of demons. Most of the Seven Hells had been falling like flies under the Devil Arms, and almost as if it had been expected that this would happen, stronger demons had begun to filter up. There were a few that Lady didn't recognize, but then, she was certain there were plenty of demons she had never seen before. A lizard-like beast with a metal shield on one arm approached her and she blasted it with her high-caliber pistol as rapidly as the shots would click off, because the submachine didn't have the power she needed to push it back. The thing hissed and growled something at her, and another of its fellows leapt over to join it in sibilant conversation from where it had popped up from the floor, the hissing almost mocking in their tone now.

Like she had time to ponder what demons could possibly be saying about her? 'Not like I care anyway,' she thought sourly as she tore a line of bullets across their matching forms with her submachine before placing shots that would slow them with the pistol again, 'I don't care about what humans say about me, and I certainly don't care about what demons say!' The stupid things still weren't dead yet, but they were pouring blood off their bodies, blood that she noticed sent up steam and hissed as it came in contact with the floorboards. Acid, just lovely. She had mopped yesterday too, damnit! The demon hunter fired off her last few pistol rounds, then switched out both her pistol and her submachine for the .50 caliber sniper rifle she had on her back. The armor piercing rounds she had put into it should do the trick on these demons, even with the thick plate armor over their heads, and she fired off two quick shots while the pair readied to lunge at her. The first shot tore through its intended target, and almost as if shocked, the demon dropped dead with a last enraged hiss emitting weakly from its fanged jaws.

The second shot, however, missed its actual target and only grazed the right side of the demon's face. Angry at its own hurt and the death of its comrade, it leapt to the side as Lady fired another round, hoping to catch it unawares. Again the shot missed, and angry herself, she quickly tossed the sniper up in the air, whipping out her submachine and spraying out a line of fire that the lizard-demon did not manage to dodge. The shots peppered its scaled hide and more of its acidic blood dripped down onto the floor, but it continued for the hunter, suddenly leaping at her and she saw that it was bringing around its unshielded arm and the jagged blade it held. Nimbly, she back-flipped away from the first swipe and kept moving backwards, cart-wheeling to the side when it tried to stab her outright. Her sniper gun was coming back to earth from where she'd tossed it, and if she could get to it, she was certain she could place a killing shot this time.

'Easy as 1-2-3,' she mused, crouching in both a feint of hurt and a preparatory spring, dark-haired head straight forward and mismatched eyes staring down her opponent's approach and timing her move, 'I do this for a living, I do it everyday, and this thing is just stupid enough to underestimate me…really too easy.' Hands that were planted firmly on the ground pushed up with all force she could muster into her wiry muscles and her legs flew up over her head, the combined act pushing her high up into the air over the demon's lunging head in a graceful arc. Her lithe body twisted in mid-air, and she landed more or less on her feet, planting one palm on the ground to steady herself, then sprang backwards in a flip and grabbed her gun when she landed this time. She brought the barrel up so fast the demon had barely turned before she was locked on to it, her red eye and blue eyes both hellish as she pulled the trigger and watched the demon's head spray out a stream of wine-red blood.

The two Blades fallen, Lady moved on to other demons, acknowledging with a grim smile Nevan's praise of her handling the two lizards. Cerberus finished mauling another Blade and tossed it aside, blasting its shredded corpse with ice to keep the acidic blood from pouring out everywhere and ruining the floors even further. It displeased the master's mate, he had seen, and so he would try to minimize it just like he tried to minimize the damage to the building for his master. Something about repairs being expensive, not that it meant anything to him. He leapt to the human woman's side, grabbing a Bloodgoyle and gulping it down as it appeared behind her. The dark-haired head half-whirled at the crunching, maintaining the other half of her focus on the Sargasso heads that had clumped up before her. Seeing it was only her hunting partner's massive demonic pet, because honestly even for all that Cerberus did talk and was intelligent like any other devil, he loved getting petted too much for her to think of him as anything besides a pet, she turned back to blasting her prey fully.

The heads shattered, and in their place a few more Blades popped up, accompanied by something dark, but whatever it was quickly disappeared, and she had her hands full with the lizard demons again anyway. It wasn't like her to let something slip her by, but she was well aware that the Devil Arms would never let her fall and they were surrounding her defensively. Agni and Rudra seemed to be enjoying themselves tearing into several Arachne with vigor, as the spider demonesses were inherently weak to the twin swords powers of wind and fire. Lady blasted away at the lizards, grinning when Cerberus' two left most heads froze their feet in place – how nice of him to set up the kill for her, she thought – and she blared two shots from the sniper into their heads, taking them out of the fight forever. Turning to focus on a pair of electric bats that she knew weren't Nevan's, the demon hunter was knocked off her feet by a rush of writhing darkness that went under her.

She recovered herself more than quickly, hopping up and cart-wheeling away from the inky blackness that she caught coming towards her in her peripheral vision, whipping out her Desert Eagle and firing blindly. Cerberus would dodge any shots that came his way, she knew the hell-hound was fast enough for it, and she wasn't about to let something attack her without firing back at it.

Beowulf came stomping over to her, grunting that she had best cover her puny human eyes unless she wanted to be blinded. She did it, grumbling about being called a puny human and seeing if he got any of the prime rib she had bought for later in the week, but glad that he had warned her when she heard a few of their opponents shriek in pain from the light show he had obviously put on. Opening them again at a grunt and the sounds of renewed attacks from the other Devil Arms, Lady found that Dante's senior Devil Arm was duking it out with some black cat-beast. The thing certainly seemed to be angry at him, lashing its tail and snarling viciously, so she could guess he'd forced it to expose itself with the light. She shot it a few times with the gun still in her hand, taking out one of its red eyes in a shower of dark ooze.

The thing snarled at her, and thinking it would lunge for her, she jumped and dodged to the side, only to realize too late that a series of dark spikes were following her. If she had run, she would be well away from them, but as it was, she was going to catch it straight up her body when she landed. Leaning to the side, she tried to kick her legs up and around her head, tried to use her falling momentum to flip to the side in mid-air, but there wasn't enough time, and she was falling fast towards the spikes. Nevan sent a flurry of bats after her, the dark swarm intended to catch the falling young woman but catching a swath of Sargasso instead as they materialized. The other Devil Arms watched helplessly as Lady fell, and she grit her teeth, glad that she had a gold orb. 'I'm going to need it bad, way too soon…'

Something hot and hard caught her instead of the sharp stab she had been expecting through her body, something that clutched her to a flat dark surface rife with red veins. It set her on her feet after a split second, but it refused to let her go, thick brackets of heat wrapped firmly around her torso. She looked up, up past the dark wall of its androgynous torso and broad armored shoulders to its head, angled away from her and snarling with an open mouth full of sharp white teeth. Horns curled back and around from the crown of its head, huge and solid black in color, ridged and tapering down to cruel points near its lower neck. Abruptly it broke off its sounds with a last harsh utterance, somewhere between a hiss and a growl, tugging her into towards it with one arm while the other yanked up as if not made of bone and muscle, sending a searing red-orange fireball out. She tracked the projectile's path, watching as it engulfed the shadowy cat and the thing yowled as it was burned, trying to escape the flames but they followed it, as if moved by some power, and she realized with sick fascination that they were being moved, her peripheral vision seeing the extended arm flick lazily after the thrashing demon.

It wasn't even watching the thing die, she realized, sensing eyes on her and moving her own gaze back to look up at a face she recognized, even though it was grayed out and the eyes had become red slits lacking pupils. It looked back at her, unblinking, the face perfectly calm as it continued to torment the doomed to die demon. It was so unlike him, so strange for her partner to torment something so cold-heartedly, that for a moment she wasn't sure, and she voiced her wonder.

"…Dante? …You…you're, you're not in control are you?"

She wanted it to be that way, but at the same time, it was a thrill to think of how powerful he had become, the kind of thrill she got from hunting demons only better because she knew that all his danger was on her side. It was delicious for some reason and she wanted it, wanted to be on the arm of such a powerful devil…Lady shook her head, sure she hadn't been seeing clearly there for moment or two. Red had blurred her eyes, and she never ever wanted to see that again.

"Sugar, you should un-trigger if you want to keep both of you sane and healthy."

Nevan and the Devil Arms came up slowly, not afraid of him, but not casual in their approach, instead almost reverent. Dante grumbled something, lowering his arm to ensnare Lady fully again, the searing warmth of his devil body surrounding her and lulling her…she blinked wearily, mind running like slow molasses, she wanted to just purr and curl up in that powerful heat. But at the same time, she couldn't, she didn't want that, really. He started to let her go, then tucked her in again, all six fully-formed wings flared at his back and emitting a low buzz as the hardened top two scraped gently together. The sound was actually quite nice, she thought, and it made her want him, want to be with him in his strength, the strength that was hers too now…

"If you do not un-trigger, you will lose the little human to that which sleeps in her blood, weak a remnant as it is, foolish young Dark Knight." Someone was speaking, but why should that matter, all she wanted was him, was his power, now if only he would lend some of it to her…a nip here, a bite there, perhaps something more wild and then they could share that power, share it with their bodies.

Lady's dark-haired head slumped to Dante's still triggered chest, red eye dimly glowing before the lids fluttered closed over both, her eyes moving wildly underneath. Dante's horned head bent over hers, clawed hand pressing it firmly into his chest as he hissed quietly at her form, himself lost in what his mind told him was natural, was right. For her to want his power, to be entranced by the strength of her mate…no, that wasn't right. Lady might understand that he was half-devil and she might not be terrified of his demon form, but she shouldn't be seduced by it like she was now, shouldn't be clinging to him like a life-source. He jerked, and the trigger fell away in a rush, flame and electricity sucking back into his body like a whirlpool.

"Lady? Lady!" He shook her, not hard, but hard enough that her head lolled a little, falling back and to the left side, eyelids slipping open as if pushed by invisible fingers.

Her eyes were both glowing now, like he knew Arkham's had, like he knew the eyes of those possessed by demons of their own making did. He cursed, wanted to push her away from him and what he had done to her, but he couldn't let her go like this and he pulled her head back under his chin, murmuring her name, the one he had given her like a mantra. Anything to reverse this, anything to bring her back unchanged…had he warped her mind permanently or had the exposure to the raw strength of Sparda's power and bloodline simply set her off kilter for a short while? He was afraid of the answer. But he couldn't avoid it, and he stayed put, unable to look at his Devil Arms in shame.

She stirred in his arms, hands fisting and raising to brace her position against his chest. The top of her head bumped his lower jaw jarringly as she pulled back with him still resting it where it had been, but it was nothing compared to the pain in his pounding heart, and he watched her hesitantly as she leaned back with her eyes closed. Lady's eyes opened finally, and he was relieved to see they were clear again, normal in their mismatched color and not glowing with rising demonic power, just shining with irritation. 'Wait, wait, she's mad? She's mad. Oh shit, I am a dead man now. Although I deserve it, I guess…' He cringed, readying for the verbal assault.

"What the hell was that? Did you do that on purpose, mister? Did you think it was fun or something, making me climb all over you like some demon…whore…" Lady's eyes had gone wide now, shock taking hold as she took better stock on what exactly had transpired.

"No! No, Lady, babe, I wasn't trying to make you…I wasn't…I didn't even know…I…"

"Sweets, just let me cut in and explain a few things here." Nevan had stepped up to their right sides, pressed close as they still were. The succubus did not look amused by the cuddling she would otherwise had been teasing them about, however, instead it was one of the few times both of them had seen her face all business.

"This idiot clearly didn't know his own full power would make you go nuts, but then, we never did explain to either of you about what really happened to the priestess. I guess no one told that part of the legend, which is a pity."

The pair of hunters stared at her, Dante's right hand slowly stroking Lady's slender back rhythmically. That, she thought, really was soothing and she really did want to melt into it. Try as he might, her half-devil love was almost never publicly gentle or affectionate, always wanting to play it under his tough-guy act. She leaned into him, taking advantage of the rare moment as they listened to Nevan continue to talk.

"Sparda's power went into her when she was sacrificed and revived, and it has been in her bloodline ever since. It's a tiny amount, but it is demon power and it is going to try to make itself stronger if it finds the same type of power again. Normal Devil Trigger didn't attract it, so it seemed it would be fine if you were exposed to a higher stage, and that was our fault, sweets."

It took Lady a moment to process those ideas, to realize what had just been told to her. The power her father had possessed hadn't solely been from his own acts then, it had been something he'd always had and perhaps it had driven him insane. It was a terrifying thought, that she really was going to be like him someday, that it was inevitable that the devilish power he'd passed on to her would overrun her and devour up Lady as she was now. She wanted to clap her hand over her left eye and rip it out. Dante must have been stunned too, because his face had gone statuesque, frozen as his mind worked on the information he'd been given.

"You mean to tell me…that there's a demon…no, demon power that has its own will, in Lady? That it's trying to survive and that my power…my full power, is, is feeding it?"

"That is close to the principle, yes. But you are thinking of it as corruption alone, and it is not that simple. The power has lived in her all her life, and it is a part of her. It would not seek to destroy that which has supported it for so long without a better cause than simply empowering itself. It can do that and her mind still live."

"Right, because how much of me would be me if I let demonic power overrun me? I know what happened to my father! I know what I felt, what I thought just now! I know what will happen to me!" The dark brown-haired head jerked back angrily, spittle flying as red-pink lips went on a tirade against Beowulf's calm assertion.

The white-haired head above her own hid its eyes behind thick snowy bangs, hand stilling on her back as more thoughts sprang into the half-devil's mind. If she was already holding demonic blood in her veins, did that mean she would have the increased abilities of a part-devil? It was watered down enough that he could not even smell the faintest trace of sulfur from her, but perhaps it wasn't watered down enough to leave her entirely unaffected. She healed easily, got over illness quickly, and did do some things that he often found surprising given that she was only human. Acrobatics was one thing, especially since she claimed to have taken gymnastics all her life, but surviving huge falls off towers and being fast enough to outrun Lusts? Dante wondered silently, and a part of him nagged that this was a blessing, that he should be grateful she wouldn't perish as easily or quickly as his own mother had, but was it worth it if her humanity was lost?

The answer to that wasn't his to give, but he wanted to talk to her, wanted to discuss his thoughts and do it privately, where they could let it out as they pleased. Talking wasn't something either of them did well at all, and they did it even more poorly when around others and the topic was sensitive enough that he just wanted it to be them alone going over it. His arms squeezed her gently, halting her argument with his senior Devil Arm as they both observed the movement. His Devil Arms understood the movement for the signal of desired privacy it was, and they prepared to go, a bit too formally for his taste, but he wasn't terribly interested in that right now.

"Babe. Let's go check on Giselle and…and talk. Really talk. About us, about this, about…"

"About everything that's happened today? About what could happen and what we want to have happen?" She shrugged, slipping out of his arms and moving down the hallway a little ways to the room she shared with their half-devil daughter. The child had slept through the attack, she saw, surprise and then suspicion lighting her features.

"You did this, didn't you? Just like you somehow kept me out of the loop at first." It wasn't an outright attack, but the accusatory tone was still there in the brunette's voice as her partner sank onto the bed.

"Yeah. I thought…thought I could handle it myself at first, and then when I couldn't I still just wanted you to stay out of harm's way, and I knew you wouldn't if you heard the crazy party."

"And you did what to her? A spell, I know, but it can't have been the same one on both of us, or she would have been awake and shrieking in fright."

"It was a sound block on your room, because you were still asleep when I came to get her at four, but she wasn't, and when they attacked I laid a sleep spell on her." His fingers wiggled, red sparks dancing across the tips of fingernails and he watched as their daughter blinked and yawned, coming slowly out of her spell-bound dreamland. Lady scooped her up gently, cuddling the young girl to her chest and watching as Dante smiled tiredly at the sight.

She was tired too, she realized as she stifled a yawn in response to her daughter's latest one. Dante couldn't do it, apparently, as his mouth flew open wide to reveal a dark red tongue and white teeth that were just a little odd in their shape and size. His blue eyes blinked blearily after the gum-stretcher, clearing themselves just slightly of the fatigue hiding in their recesses. Her body sank down next to his on the bed, and she scooted close to him, resting her head on his shoulder. It jostled a bit but didn't dislodge as he wrapped the arm connected to the shoulder around her own slackly, kissing her hair sloppily.

"Talk later?"


Today had been too close, and there were plenty of things they needed to sort out, but for now, this was all that either of them wanted, this peaceful rest with their little family. Tomorrow was another day, and they would meet it just like they had this one, although hopefully there would be less bloodshed involved so close to home. Killing demons was all well and good, but it was something else when they came to kill you, even if you smashed them up and sent them back to Hell while laughing. The attack on Devil May Cry wasn't something either hunter wanted to deal with again, but they pushed that particular fear to the backs of their minds as they laid down to sleep together, spooning and hugging their child with both their arms, a protective circle of family.


Fuyuko: Damn, but that was good to write. I loved doing it, even though looking for reference of the demon forms that weren't DMC3 was torment. Fun torment, but torment.

Dante: You like the newest one, though, right?

Fuyuko: I dunno. I like the overall, but I mourn the lack of awesome Sparda horns. Where is the DMC1 Dante love?