A/N: Yes, I'm back! Having re-played the game and read me a lot of fanfiction, I have returned! I really hope my writing hasn't been flushed down the drain by the evil influence of school…anyway sorry for the wait, enjoy! Oh, and a shiny gold star for anyone who spots the Barney reference.

Chapter 8

Dante tapped his foot slowly, waiting impatiently for the awkward silence to lift and Virgil to rejoin the land of the…well, the land of the dead and damned. Wow, that was a depressing thought. And to think, he could totally be in Hawaii or some other more interesting place right now. Or trying his luck with that Lady chick. On second thought, NO. Pleat skirts weren't his thing, and besides, that oversized phallic missile launcher had to say something about her expectations. He shuddered. Well, at least hell was hotter than Hawaii. Crappy weather though, and no beaches or topless women. Or maybe there were. Crazy vampire lady had been topless…

A soft ripping sound, and Dante was jolted away from the cleavage and pina colada's and back to reality. Through the shadows, he could just make out Vergil fumbling with the silken scarf at his neck.

"What are you doing?" he asked, dumbly, still slightly in shock with the heavy knowledge of guilt, and the revelation that Vergil, Vergil, his unflappable invulnerable twin brother was…flapping and vulnerable. Well, maybe not flapping. But certainly getting in a flap. Wait, what?

"Fashioning a bandage." His brother muttered curtly, turning his back and continuing to struggle with the infernal necktie. The silk was slippery and cool in his hands, and he shivered, forcing images of blood soaked palms and spattered soil from his mind. It was likely he would not see his hands again for a long time.

"That's it?" Dante asked, incredulous "You've just found out you could possibly be stone blind for life, which for us is a looooooooong time you may recall, never see food, women, or anything else at all forever and ever and ever and all you do is tie a piece of cloth around your head?"

Vergil, back still turned, simply growled "That particular comment was neither helpful nor necessary." With rigid efficiency, he wrapped the material tightly around the still excruciatingly painful affliction and tied the scarf into a neat knot "I'm confident they will eventually heal."

This was lie of epic proportions, and they both knew it. As…unconventional beings, they were neither accustomed nor comfortable with the prospect of pain or injury. Vergil recalled with a grimace a time when they were young when some local demon-hunting fanatic had somehow managed to get hold of a curse that actually worked. He had only vague memories of that time, of he and Dante writhing in agony on sweat soaked sheets, the curse's fire wracking their thin frames until they had begun stabbing themselves just for distraction. Caught in the throes of the holy fever they had clung to each other, lashing out at any other, gripped in the terror of human pain.

Needless to say, Vergil was far from a fan of masochism.

Meanwhile, Dante was still incredulous "You're such an emotionless freak." Vergil glared. The 'freak' comment almost stung "We don't know when 'eventually' is!" Vergil turned, and Dante forcibly stopped himself from sucking in a breath. The once cornflower blue scarf was already soaked in blood, dripping mournfully down his twin's usually immaculate coat. His chest constricted painfully "And it must hurt like a bitch too." He murmured softly, averting his gaze. It was somehow…uncomfortable to look at Vergil when he could not look back.

"Pain is nothing to be feared, Dante. It is merely a distraction. An irritation." Vergil said, as coolly as he could.

"Beneath you, is it, Mr Superior?" Dante snapped in reply, the comfortable scathing returning to his tone "Why are your hands shaking, then?"

Vergil jerked as if his brother had struck him, and clenched his fists to quell their shameful quaking "You're mistaken." He stated, forcing his breathing to remain even "They are NOT shaking."

Dante did not reply. Vergil fumed, locked away in utter blackness, the pain still unbearable, temper rising. He could practically smell Dante's stream of emotions, hear his thought processes, see in his mind's eye every possible expression crossing his features. Shame, guilt, hatred, frustration, confusion. Pity. He growled, more to break the silence than anything, and the makeshift bandage became dislodged.

Without thinking, Dante reached out.

"Unhand me!" Vergil snarled viciously, slapping at where he perceived the outstretched hand to be and almost choking when his fist met empty air "I don't need your help!"

"And just how do you expect to survive down here, huh?" His twin exploded, Dante's fragile patience finally shattering "Slash Yamato wildly and hope you land a hit? You'll get creamed in seconds!"

Dammit, Dante thought frantically, they were wasting time. This was possibly their one and only chance of getting out of this hellhole, and they were squandering it bitching about emotional issues! For fuck's sake if he had to employ a demonic marriage counselor he would do it, but first they had to GET OUT! Plus, it was sort of scaring him that Vergil was shaken. Sort of. Not really though. He was not that pathetic little brother who hid behind his bigger bolder twin's back anymore.

Somewhere in Dante's subconscious, a little voice accused him of having issues. Meanwhile, Vergil was (as per usual) infuriated "I don't need to see to fight, you ignorant-"

Dante cut across him, starting forward "Oh, yeah, right, suuuuuure." He spat, grabbing the lapels of his twin's coat and wrenching him up so they were face to face…or face to scarf, anyway "I don't think it's your eyes that need checking, it's your brain. Just what are you trying to pull!"

There was a moment of silence, then Vergil's head abruptly snapped to the side and Dante nearly dropped him as his twin shoved his hand into Dante's coat and reach around his back with lightning speed.

OhmyGODI'mbeinggropedbymytwin "What the f-"

Five gunshots.

From Ebony. Which was now in Vergil's hand and pointed down some random corridor.

Which Vergil had grabbed.

From his holster.

His holster strapped to the base of his back.

Oh. Right. Okay. AWKWARD.

"I'm proving a point." Vergil said coldly, completely oblivious, easily pulling free of Dante's stunned grip and shoving Ebony forcibly into his twin's slack palm "There were three Reaper Demons approaching from the third passage to your left."

"Watch the personal space!" Dante managed to splutter, refusing to admit he was pleased to see that Vergil's hands had stopped shaking and the good ol' smugness was back "Show off."

"Demonic instinct goes further than you'd think, Dante." Vergil's tone grew slightly awe-filled as he spoke, and Dante began to feel slightly sick "Never forget, almost the entirety of the Demon population live in complete darkness, and we are half Demon. Humanity's pitiful weakness of relying almost entirely on a single sense is pathetic. Do you really think I would allow myself to maintain such a weakness? I-"

Something cold and metallic pressed painfully into the base of Vergil's skull, and he froze. Yet somehow, he felt no apprehension, no threat. It was as though the gun itself emanated its intentions. The presence that was Dante was no longer in front of him.

"Dante, what are you doing?" He said, warningly, and he could sense Dante grinning "Proving a point." He parroted mockingly "While you've been talking I've managed to move all the way around you and point both my guns at the back of your head."

Vergil's lip curled; his pride had taken more knocks than a whac-a-mole in the past few hours alone, and Dante certainly was not helping "It is simple enough to track your movements." He sneered, managing to retain his cool, just barely "You just follow the stench of pizza and mouldy leather."

Vergil whipped around with inhuman speed and struck a sweeping blow with a sheathed Yamato at…empty air. His stomach plummeted when he felt the mocking pressure of a gun in his back.

"Do NOT insult the leather." Dante prodded him hard for emphasis "Oh, and I lied. I'm actually now standing slightly to the left of you. But you see what I'm getting at, right? So you can beat up a bunch of smelly flunkies, big freakin' deal. Reaper Demons are about as stealthy as a stoned squirrel on rollerblades."

"Interesting analogy." Vergil answered, for lack of anything else to say.

"Vergil, this is serious!" The ironic voice in Vergil's head decided it was time to chip into the conversation: My God, is that the nine horsemen of the apocalypse? Dante thinks something is serious! "We're in deepest Hell; we're dealing with the small fry now, but how long do you think that'll last? More importantly, how long do you think you will last?"

Vergil was finding it increasingly difficult to comprehend that Dante was speaking sense. Making a constructive argument. With little to no abusive language involved. It was easy to mock his brother when he was being the annoying self-righteous epitome of arrogance he usually was, but-

"What would you have me do?" Vergil replied, his tone far less defensive than he had intended it to be "I don't have any choice but to fight." Wasn't that just the story of his life.

"Sure you do." Two loud clicks nearly made Vergil flinch as the guns were removed from his lower back; the rustle of leather and the groaning creak of holsters informed his blind brain that Dante had (praise the Lord) put his guns away "Just keep your whiny self out of the fighting from here on out. I'll watch your back. Seeing as 'watching' is a bit of a no-brainer for you right now."

There was a long moment of quiet. Vergil could hear Dante shifting impatiently, but ignored it. He hated to admit it, but his twin really had him guessing. What had happened to the comfortable 'I hate you, you hate me, let's beat each other up for eternity' arrangement? Why was Dante suddenly acting like he cared? "If I did that, I would truly be a coward." Vergil said, guardedly "I've already told you, Dante: I don't need you. I didn't need you then, and I don't need you now. I never will."

Another long silence. Vergil cleared his mind and sharpened his remaining senses, trying to gauge Dante's reaction through instinct alone. It proved impossible. There had been a time when Vergil would have been able to tell exactly what his twin was thinking without even being in the same room as him. It was probably an intrinsic demonic defense mechanism programmed into them to improve their chances of survival. But it seemed that connection had been severed long ago.

Dante snorted and Vergil resurfaced from his dark thoughts "Funny thing. 'Cause those guns that were sticking in your back? They say that you do."

"I don't need your permission to do anything!"

"Rebellion says you do." Dante's voice once again took on that infuriating gloating tone "Don't you Rebellion? Can't you hear him?" Vergil nearly blanched when Dante put on a childish falsetto voice "Yeah, Vergil, be a good boy and do what Dante says or I'll get shoved where the sun doesn't shine, and I'm sure neither of us wants that. Well, I don't, I don't know about you, though, kinky boy."

Vergil flushed hotly, his hatred for his twin returning full force "You're insane!"

"No, just a little twisted." Dante's disembodied voice said, smugly. Vergil turned his back on his twin, outraged and for once, speechless. This was why he hated being close to people, to humans. They were so confusing. He feared them, he supposed, because he did not understand them, and that in turn made him angry. Dante especially. His twin moved without warning from insulting him, to offering help, to acting concerned of all the ridiculous pathetic human expressions of emotion. Vergil was exhausted. The constant agony of the acidic poison eating away at his face was draining what little energy he had left, and his mind was not as sharp as it should be. It took all his determination to keep his limbs from shaking with fatigue.

Dante seemed to somehow sense Vergil's sudden change in mood, and suddenly became sober again "Look, I'm not doing this to spite you."

Vergil laughed bitterly "Somehow, I find that statement less than sincere."

"Okay, maybe it is a little for my own amusement, but seriously. It would reaaally screw up my psyche if you died now."

"Then consider your psyche screwed." Vergil snarled, seriously considered finding a way to kill himself right now just to spite his obnoxious and confusing twin.

"Look." His twin said forcefully, and Vergil could practically feel his temper rising "We're more likely to survive this together than apart, that's a statistical fact. So for once, just for ONCE in your ridiculous pride-orientated poncy pig-headed life will you just shut up and follow me!"

Vergil felt the ground sway sickeningly beneath his feet, and managed to grit out a sharp reply through clenched teeth "Fine."

"Huh?" Dante answered intelligently, and Vergil took some small pleasure as he tasted Dante's surprise in the air.

"I said fine. Go. We have little time." Then, to ward off suspicion "Ladies first."

"Dickhead." Dante muttered, his heavy steps sounding two metres to Vergil's right. Vergil managed a weak smile, forced his own legs to follow and swung Yamato in Dante's direction. He was rewarded by an indignant "OW!"

"I'm blind, not deaf."

"Bastard."

"If I am, so are you."

"Get bent."

"What does that even mean?" Vergil's mind was swimming, but thankfully it seemed the brotherly banter was on autopilot "Some kind of colloquialism?"

"Hey! Watch-"

Vergil felt that foreboding plummet in his stomach before the inevitable realization that the floor he was so sure his right foot was about to become in contact with proved to be nothing but empty air. He overbalanced and gravity pulled him gleefully downwards, and he braced himself for a long fall, only to crash unceremoniously headfirst into what he deduced was a pile of rubble mere seconds later.

'Well, there go the ribs again' he thought darkly, lying still and wincing slightly as the crushed mass of organs and bones in his chest began feverishly repairing itself. He did not even bother moving as he heard a pattern of thuds, some above and some very close to his ear that indicated Dante had jumped down beside him. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand on his shoulder and Dante's voice, quiet and free of insult "You alright?"

His evident pity drove Vergil close to the brink of despair "Stop it!" he hissed, his distress rising when it came out far weaker than he had intended "Stop talking to me like I'm some kind of useless weakling! I am not an invalid, and I certainly have no need for pity." He gripped the harsh edges of the rocks he lay on so hard he felt them break the skin and bleed "Especially from you."

There was no reply. Vergil could not even hear his twin breathing. Had he not still felt Dante's presence so strongly beside him, he would have sworn his brother had disappeared.

"Go on then, have your laugh." He murmured coldly, struggling upright, breathing hard, relying more on sheer willpower than physical strength. Without warning, a pair of strong hands grabbed his arms and hauled him upright, and Vergil felt shame overwhelm him as his head spun and his knees nearly buckled under his weight.

"I'm not laughing, Vergil." Dante said quietly, his tone unreadable. Vergil pressed his back against the stone wall and waited for his head to clear.

"Why are you even here?" He said, as the web of confusion slowly lifted. He heard Dante's intention to avoid the question with some insulting quip before his twin even opened his mouth, and he quickly added sternly "I want the truth."

For what felt like hours, Dante seemed to struggle with himself. Eventually, he began to speak, in a defeated tone which made him sound as exhausted as Vergil felt; world weary "You're my brother." He hesitated "My twin. You're-" the tension in the air was so thick it was suffocating "I hate it, but…that still means something to me. Even if it doesn't to you."

Vergil felt a cold dread pierce his heart, ruthlessly suppressing the oncoming rush of emotional turmoil, and simply said mechanically "Let's get moving." Dante silently began to walk, his thoughts a mystery.

Vergil allowed his mind to drift with some considerable effort. There was no immediate danger for now, just the uneven echo of Dante's feet followed by the almost inaudible tread of his own, and he desperately needed time to get his spinning head in order. Vergil noted that even after all these years, his twin still walked with a slightly lopsided way that led one foot to stomp more than the other. He swallowed, his chest feeling suddenly tight. He hated this. The comfortable cold, emotionless persona he had reinforced over years of struggling to survive in a world where he was met with nothing but hatred and fear was being torn away piece by piece. But this was what Dante did, what he always had done. Even in the early days his twin somehow made the world dance to his tune while Vergil could only shakily try to maintain his footing.

He had not wanted this. When he had realised for the first time after so long that Dante was still alive he had felt…nothing. No relief, no joy. Just…fear. Dante belonged to a different world now. He was no longer safe, no longer readable, and no longer trustworthy. He was not the brother Vergil had once known. He had suppressed his memories of that time for so long that he had almost convinced himself he WAS a demon. That he had never had a family, a Mother, Father…Brother. His first instinct was to push Dante away as much as humanely possible. Ha, humanely. He was not human. Not anymore. And yet…somewhere deep inside him, he still felt that terrible ache, a longing so deep and primal that it frightened him. Dante was the only remaining fragment of a time before this hateful existence, this loneliness. A time when life had been hard, but bearable. It had never been a fairytale; in all the old stories the demons and trolls and ogres were never the ones with the happy ending, but…

Vergil, why did the Prince kill the dragon?

Because he kidnapped the Princess, stupid.

Don't call me stupid! WHY did the dragon kidnap the Princess? And why would the stupid Prince want the smelly Princess if she's so useless she can't escape by herself?

It's just a story, idiot.

Yeah, but…what if the dragon was just lonely, Vergil?

Over time, Vergil had developed a fond affinity for said dragon. He certainly felt like the lumbering scaly generic 'bad guy' next to his fun-loving too 'cool' (was that the word they used nowadays?) gun-toting, devil may care (isn't that irony) twin. It seemed that their separation so long ago had been almost entirely beneficial for Dante, who had grown out of his older twin's shadow and transformed from a defensive, insecure and timid little boy into a confident (if slightly insane) man. Dante thrived on danger and developed an inner strength that Vergil had never had, and now it was he following his younger brother's footsteps, not vice versa. Vergil supposed the truth of the entire matter was that he was jealous. Perhaps he always had been.

He had seen too much. He had done too much. There was no salvation now.

"It's miiiiighty quiet back there, Vergil. You still alive?"

He had loved his twin, once. He had given everything he had to protect him that night, so very long ago: his innocence, pride…possibly his sanity. All in vain, or so he had thought. But even now, now he knew all he had given had saved a life, he wondered whether it was worth it.

&&&

A/N: Heee! Bet you all thought I was going yaoi on your asses when Vergil grabbed Dante's guns (snigger) I am so bad! I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself. Gun euphemisms are so fun! ^^ Fear not, dear readers; I may be a hardcore yaoi fan but this particular fic is all about the brotherly-twin love. Bless.

If your even one degree less than outraged with me, please review! Thanks for reading! Oh, and I'd like to ask you all a question: who here likes Nero?