NOTE, added April 15, 2008: I am now open as a beta reader, thanks to FFnet's new beta feature. Fun.
A few of my more observant readers may have noticed that three chapters—the ones concerning Jira's acquisition of her ensorcelled arm guards—are missing. Yes, I have deleted them. The act was intentional, as they were never supposed to be a part of this fan fiction in the first place. They were meant to be the opening chapters of "By Blood Connected"'s sequel, "Sentient," but luckily for you I jumped the gun and posted them early. Now you know how Jira acquired them, and won't read a certain part of the epilogue and go: "Huh?"
Which brings me to this: this is BBC's last chapter. The Epilogue. Before you read it, however, please re-read BBC's very first chapter, the prologue. The epilogue will make more sense if you do.
Be sure to read my note at the end of this chapter, as well. But I'm stalling. Please enjoy the last chapter of BBC.
By Blood Connected
A Fan-Fiction by Vir M.
"The Prisoner & The Guard"
The monitor glowed in the dim room, bathing the space pale blue. A light, round and red, blinked on and off as a camera connected to it recorded movement, staining the blue room purple in regular intervals.
Credo, oblivious to this, snored quietly, chin resting on his chest. He'd not been getting much sleep lately, and found the security monitor room a good place to sit, not to mention think. Credo had not meant to fall asleep this night, however, but it wasn't as if the girl on the security screen was doing anything interesting, so he'd had no qualms about letting himself lapse out of wakefulness.
He was not, however, entirely oblivious, for when the red light stopped blinking he snapped awake. Leaning forward in his leather chair, he stared intently at the screen and at the girl it displayed.
She wasn't doing much, as always. A leather-bound book whose pages had once been blank (though they were now covered back-and-front with spidery script) lay open in front of her; she had a pen poised thoughtfully over the last few pages. She did not move, and the red light stayed dim.
Credo watched, interested. She'd been writing for days now, pausing only to eat and, occasionally, when she got too tired, nap. She had never once paused in her writing, never once lapsed in her concentration. But now she looked lost, her child's face drawn and uncertain. This hesitation wasn't like her.
Credo noticed that she was nearing the end of the book. There were only a few pages left.
The red light began to blink again as she put the pen down and stared at the page. Slowly, very slowly, she rifled through the book, eyes fixed on her work. Her chest rose and fell in even breaths, and her hair—so short and uneven after what she'd done to it the first day of her captivity—brushed the tips of her cheekbones. With impatient fingers she smoothed the strands away.
She closed the book with contemplative hands and stared at it. Was that wonder on her face, or fear? Resignation? Doubt? Credo couldn't tell, but he knew something was happening in the girl's room. Something… significant, though you wouldn't have been able to tell by merely glancing at her quiet home. The large bed, the lofty ceiling, the elaborate dresser—all lay covered with a fine film of dust; only the bed and desk she sat at had been touched.
She'd been there for ten days.
Credo leaned forward in his seat as the girl—young woman, really, though her figure and face weren't exactly evocative of maturity—unhurriedly extended one pale finger and stroked her book's plain leather cover. Then a fever took her. Her eyes blazed and her hand shot out; the red light blinked again; she took up the pen, threw open the book to the first page—
Dumfounded, she stared at the blank page.
Credo frowned at the anticlimactic resolution, but the lines soon melted from his brow as the young woman arched forward, put pen to page, and wrote something about a third of the way down the page. It was a single word, a short one, possibly only three letters or so long. Then, beneath that, she wrote another, longer word, and beneath that one, the longest word of all. The process of writing those three words took her the better half of five minutes, but her penmanship sped up as she scribbled something else hurriedly beneath all three.
Credo narrowed his eyes. Why had those three words been so difficult to write? Better yet, what were they?
She stared at the words for a moment more, then turned the page. The next three or so were blank; she had left herself a few before writing the bulk of the book. With aching slowness, she began to laboriously pen more words in spiky chicken-scratch.
It took her a long time to write another half-page of text—a half hour, perhaps? Credo didn't keep time; he was too busy watching her. Her face was telling: emotions flashed across it like images on a television screen, and their range of feeling confused him. She looked sad, angry, calm—all at once. Credo wondered, and not for the first time, what she was writing. He'd been wondering about it for days.
Ten, in fact.
The emotions faded when she finally put her pen away. Sighing, she gave the words one last, lingering look, and closed the book for good. Her fingers hovered over the cover, and her eyes were bleak. A small white hand went to her eyes as her lips twisted. Her shoulders shook. Credo realized she was crying.
He tore his attention away, so he did not see the tears pouring from her eyes or the set of her anguished mouth. Nor did he see her get up, tears still flowing, and collapse on her bed. He looked back only after she covered herself with the fine linen sheets and turned away from the security camera to face the wall.
Credo watched her until the covers stopped trembling from the force of her sobs. Then he waited another hour, just to be sure. When he was at last certain she had fallen asleep, he stole out of the security room and down the hall, where he stopped before a set of high wooden doors.
He stared at them for a moment, face set and eyes fixed on the huge lock securing them closed, then pulled a key from his pocket and fitted it to the catch, feeling the tumblers and bolts glide smoothly out of the way as he rotated the shaft.
All was quiet in the gloomy room. She had forgotten to turn off the desk lamp, so Credo did it himself. The knob clicked, and he held his breath. Had she heard, and woken up? Credo relaxed when she did not move for some time, then turned his attention to the book.
The leather felt cool beneath his hands. Quietly, so as not to wake the girl, he plucked the tome off the desk and tucked it securely in his jacket. Then he left as quietly as he had come, the book riding like a weight over his heart.
When he got back to the control room, he sat down heavily at his desk and removed the book from its hiding place. The red light by the girl's monitor was dim; she did not move or toss in her sleep, despite her obviously heavy heart. He wondered what she dreamt of, or if she even dreamed at all.
Credo's fingers passed slowly over the leather cover, idly contemplating the book's contents. Would it contain a condemnation of the Order? He thought so. In fact, he hoped so. They—he and the Order—were keeping her prisoner, after all. She deserved a right to rant and rave at the injustice of being locked in an obscure tower—
Credo began to feel familiar feelings of regret well up, but he banished them. It was not cruel what he was doing, he insisted to himself, but right and just. This was for her own good. The monster had already corrupted her flesh—that wretched mark on her back was proof enough of that—but the Order still had a chance to save her soul.
Not wanting to wait any longer, Credo flipped the book open to the title page and learned that the three words the girl had been hard-pressed to pen were actually a title.
"By Blood Connected," they read, and beneath that: "the story of Jira Lancaster."
Credo frowned at the enigmatic title. He turned the page. The last, hurried part she had written before going to bed ran like a prologue:
"It began in my junior year of high school," she'd written, then gone on to correct herself. "No, wait, that statement is incorrect…"
Credo read onward, at times struggling through the author's chaotic scrawl, feeling conflicting sensations rise within him as he read about her first meeting with the monster who had corrupted her poor body and mind.
He did not seem evil in the narrative, though he was annoyingly mysterious. He treated Jira alternately like a younger sister, then like a friend as time progressed. Credo knew that the demon's soul was nothing but darkness, and yet… here he was in an environment full of humans, coexisting with them in peace.
It made no sense.
Why would Vergil—the son of Sparda with a malignant soul—be teaching at a boarding school?
Ten days ago, when Credo had ordered Jira's recovery from the clutches of the rogue half demon, he had assumed that Vergil was using Jira and that the affair had begun only recently; by Jira's account, however, she had known Vergil for well over a year. And even more disturbingly, he had come to her, not the other way around. He had sought her out, an anonymous teenager with nothing to offer but curses and headaches, of his own obscure volition!
Credo read quickly, up until the point of Jira's inexplicable fear-born collapse in the middle of her school hallway. Something about the incident nagged at Credo; he was missing a bigger picture, of that he was sure. So he put the book down and thought on it, hard. A mere minute of racking his brains made everything click into place.
He'd read about it before; demons mating based on an instinct that caused them to gravitate towards an individual member of their species. But he'd never seen it in action.
The alleged emotion sharing, Vergil's sudden appearance, Jira's title—they all made sense. "By Blood Connected?" A blood tie? Was that even possible between different species?
"Blasphemous," Credo whispered to the dim control room. The red light was still dark, the girl's monitor silent. "Foul. Perverted." He passed a hand over his face, mouth frozen in a grimace of equal parts horror and frustration.
A few scant chapters later, Credo's suspicions were confirmed when Vergil explained to Jira the presence of the infamous Blood Tie. It nearly killed him to read about the tender way Vergil broke it to her, and the feeling of despair was made even worse when Jira accepted the Tie without remorse or noteworthy hesitation.
Later, after dozens more pages, Credo's teeth clenched harder when Jira gave herself up to the monster Merhusame, surrendered her body to the debilitating side effects of an anti-aging spell, and experienced pain of unrivaled intensity… and all for that wretched half demon, Vergil.
Still, Credo could not deny his more clinical side's interest in the process. Demon blood and an object of power, saturated with the souls of two intertwined beings, used to bind the livelihood of one person's flesh to another's? That was almost as interesting as the prospects of angelic fusion with—
Credo stopped himself from thinking about that. Though Nero, after the incident, had spared his life and allowed the newly reformed Credo to take leadership of the Order of the Sword, Credo had not been able to stop thinking about—and secretly mourning over—his loss of power when his angelic side was forcibly exorcised by Nero's possessed arm.
Credo, tired of the manuscript and of where it was leading his thoughts, set the book down on his lap and pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers. Though the story had been interesting, some parts of it seemed… inconsequential to the whole. Questions were posed, problems established, but answers and solutions withheld (how Jira had acquired the demonic bracers on her forearms and near-mastery of the gravitational abilities that had given his cadets so much trouble when they caught her had, regrettably, not been covered by the text).
Noticing that the book was not over, however—far from it, in fact—Credo wearily forced himself to pick it up again. The constant reminders of Vergil's physical and emotional appeal were grating on his nerves.
Credo's reading did not last long. He had to throw the book away from him in disgust less than an hour later when he read of Jira's last recorded moments alongside her demonic partner. The dress. The beach. The kiss. It was enough to make Credo's hands clench with uncontrollable abandon; he had to consciously check himself to keep his straining fingers from punching the arm of his chair. It was revolting, the connection they had! Unnatural and wrong! Any and all reservations Credo had had about keeping Jira prisoner evaporated the moment the book ended.
But… one thing had been made clear by the narrative. Vergil was not bloodthirsty. Evil, yes, undoubtedly, his actions with the girl were certainly impure, but the devil was not excessively vicious (though Credo had noticed several moments of tension that could have escalated into violence, had Vergil not reined in at the last second for his partner's sake).
Still, evil was evil. I made the right choice, Credo thought.
Credo skimmed the rest of that last chapter, and thought it to be the end until he saw words bleeding through the final leaf of paper from the other side. Jira had used a low-grade pen, it seemed, and as Credo turned the page he noticed that the narrative had changed in style. It did not continue the beach scene, nor did it break for the next chapter (the girl had a habit on naming the chapters before beginning them, as if she were writing a novel).
Instead, it was addressed to Credo.
He was certain his heart stopped for a moment when he saw the words "Are you reading, Credo?" He drew in a breath and released it slowly, dragging the exhalation long as his eyes lingered over the words, then continued down the page.
Are you reading, Credo? it ran. I hope you are. I wrote this for you. Did you enjoy it?
Why did I even ask that? If I know you, you thought it was a chore to read, and I'm pretty sure I do know you —at least, as well as I could know someone over the course of ten days. Less, really, because half the time I didn't talk to you, nor you to me. Those first days, though, the ones I spent in a holding cell—those taught me a lot. About you, about the Order—everything. Especially about why you chose to take me from Vergil.
I hate the fact that you took me away, and I won't deny that I find myself wanting to hate you, too. But I can't. Though I hate your opinions, your hardheadedness, your unwavering surety in something based on nothing but speculation and prejudice—I can't hate you as a person. Why? Because all you want is what's best for me, even if we disagree on what that exactly is, and I respect you for it. You've treated me kindly, and for that, I thank you.
But I can't stay here.
Credo, I know you want me to never go back to him—to Vergil. I know you'd rather me stay here forever and join the Order as a reformed soul, but I just can't! I have to go back to him! He's as much a part of me as breathing is, and without him here I feel… lost. That, and alone. Now, knowing you, you'd say that the Savior—the demon Sparda, the very father
—she had viciously underlined the word, for emphasis—
—of the man you stole me from—could fill the gap in my heart if only I'd accept him, but it's just not that simple. I need Vergil. And that's 'Need' with a capital 'N'.
There. I said it. I need him. What makes me mad is that I never even got to tell him that. It takes a week and a half of separation for me to sort out my feelings for him. I guess being around him every day made me take him for granted.
He's a good person, Credo, though I know you can't see it. You're blind to the fact that he's kind, empathetic, understanding—he's just like you and me, Credo! Get past his history; forget his demon side! He's as human as I am!
Credo felt a pang of remorse at that last part. How long ago had it been that his younger sister, Kyrie, had said as much about Nero, a man who Credo trusted implicitly?
That's why I wrote my story for you, Jira continued. From it, I hope you'll finally see things from my perspective—Vergil, like you, only wants what's best for me, and he knows better than anyone that the best thing in this world for me is him.
But that's not the point. The point, Credo, is that if Vergil needs me just as much as I need him—and I know he does; I've felt it myself—he will come for me. And I've seen him fight before. Not many times, but enough to know that even unarmed he's deadly.
He will come.
And when he gets here, nothing you can do will stop him from getting to me.
It took a long time for him to move, but when he did he was trembling. He didn't know how to feel. Rage, sadness, indignation... those were the emotions he could name, but there were many more he had no label for.
One in particular, however, he could identify, and it disturbed him. After seeing first hand how Jira's will had collapsed and how trusting she'd become towards that vile half-demon of hers, he felt an odd surge of protectiveness for the wayward child. He, like Jira, had once been seduced by the promise of power and eternal life, and understood her feelings, false as they were.
Just thinking about the book made his skin crawl. Jira had been so obviously led astray, so utterly fooled, so completely mislead by Vergil's act of kindness and compassion. He had brainwashed her into believing he was 'human'—the only thing human about him was his greed! Greed for companionship, trust, the girl… it was despicable. Her little ploy to persuade Credo to see Vergil's 'good side' had backfired—by reading the narrative, Credo had only become more sure in his conviction to keep the two blood-bound partners separated.
Credo's teeth ground together as his fingers tightened around the thick book. "I'll never let her go back to that beast," he vowed, then spat, "Never!"
Thousands of miles away, however, another man made a similar vow. His, however, was one of unification, not separation, and was made with an even deeper degree of indemnity. He would not fail. He would not let himself fail.
Neither, however, would Credo.
Time alone would see the victory of the triumphant vow, whichever it would end up being. The truth would out, but only after fate had run its course.
All Jira, the captive, had to do was wait.
To be continued in SENTIENT.
AUTHOR'S PARTING SHOT:
I am so sorry for leaving you like this; coming out of so long an absence with the words "this is the end" and nary a "hello" for your trouble. But the fic has dragged on long enough, and it should have ended long ago. I just abandoned my plan and found myself stuck. But I will not make any more excuses. Leaving you was irresponsible and wrong, and I am sorry.
But now you know the truth. By Blood Connected was not simply a story: it was a plea for release, and for freedom. Hopefully, now, you will see that there was more to the story than met the eye upon first reading. I reread the fic, myself, before penning this last chapter. Any and all questions you had about the contents of the epilogue (save for ones concerning Credo's presence and Jira's trip to Fortuna, which will be answered in Sentient) can be found in previous chapters. Still, I don't expect any of you to truly remember the nuances of Jira's story, since they happened so long ago. Forgive me, again.
Because I know someone will ask: I had plans to include Credo in this story since I knew of his existence, prior to the release of the Devil May Cry 4. I know he dies. But I've taken a little creative license and brought him back.
I don't want to drag this on much longer. Thank you, my readers, for supporting me, and special thanks go out to my patient, kind, supportive, and willing-to-put-up-with-my-bullshit beta, J. Without her, this last chapter would not be here. Likely, I would have never updated again.
I bid you all adieu, and well wishes for all of my reviewers, favoritiers, and alerters. You, like J, helped motivate me enough to get off my lazy butt and finish this. Thanks. You all mean the world. Can I leave ya'll with a cheesy little poem I learned at summer camp a few years ago? It's for good journeys and strong hearts. Here goes…
Take bread for the journey and strength for the fight
Comfort to sleep through the night
Wisdom to choose at the fork of the road
And a heart that knows the way home.
My home is at my keyboard, writing stories. I promise to never leave you hanging for months again. It didn't feel right, not being at 'home.' I don't plan on straying too far away again anytime soon.
And hopefully, you're as glad to have me back as I am to be here.
Until we meet again:
DEVIL MAY CRY © CAPCOM
BY BLOOD CONNECTED © VIR M.