A/N:Well, it took over two years, but here it is…the final chapter. I can't help but feel a little sad. I posted the first chapter of this story in April of 2008, and when I think of how many significant things have happened in my life since then it's almost mind-boggling. Needless to say, this project has been with me a long time and through a lot of stuff, so it's a bit sad to see it end. At the same time, though, it feels really good to complete it.
I've said it before, but I'll say it one last time: a big, huge, gigantic THANK YOU to everyone who read this, reviewed it, faved, whatever. I write first and foremost because I enjoy doing it, but to know that other people out there enjoy my writing too means the world to me, and I appreciate all the feedback I get. So one last time: thanks. =)
This epilogue is rather short and simple, but I don't think there is anything more that needs to be said. I'm happy with the way it turned out, and I hope you are, too. So with that, I leave you. Thanks for reading this story, and I hope you enjoy the final chapter.
Chapter Thirty – Heal
Four Years Later
Lady watched as the street lights lining the road came to life, the bulbs flickering a few times before giving off a steady glow. In the distance she could see the main road, crowded, surrounded by buildings and life. That area didn't really need street lights, seeing as the buildings and neon signs provided plenty of illumination, but where she stood it was less crowded, and the lights nearby didn't seem quite so superfluous. The lamps were a bit of a formality, anyway, lighting up to inform the world that the sun had almost set. Dusk surrounded her, the dark blue of the sky looming up ahead. Somewhere out there, a small but glorious strip of pink lined the bottom of the horizon, the last sign of the nearly set sun, but from where she stood all she could see were buildings. As she leaned against the garage, arms folded, she visualized the scene in her mind. It would be nice someday, she thought, to be out of the city by this time and be able to watch a real sunset, something she hadn't seen in God only knew how long. But for now she simply gazed at the industrial landscape, scraping her boots absentmindedly against the gritty pavement.
She was waiting for her bike to get out of the shop. Normally she could handle repairs herself, but every now and then she brought it in to be fixed by professionals, just to be safe. Last thing she needed was for the bike to malfunction while she was in the middle of a high-speed chase, and though she was good at fixing it, she was no expert. She liked this shop; the guys in it were nice enough, and it was on the edge of town, a bit isolated from the rest of the city. She'd been having difficulty with the bike earlier that day, and since she had the night off, decided to get it checked out. She usually watched them as they worked – she was too defensive of the vehicle to leave it out of her sight while in the hands of others – but they were almost ready to send it back to her, so she had left, opting instead to stand in the fresh air and watch night begin to fall.
As it turned out, she wasn't alone for very long. After a few minutes of standing there, a figure riding a bike of his own began to come down the path leading to the auto shop. She knew it was Dante the second he entered her line of vision, his white hair seeming to reflect the flickering lights from the street lamps. She didn't change her position, though she raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
He rode down the path, skidding to a halt only once he was right in front of her, the sudden screech of the tires sending up tiny dust clouds.
"Hey. Your bike almost done?"
She had told him she'd be here, which explained how he knew where to find her; what he wanted, though, she didn't know.
"Should be ready in a few minutes. What's up?"
"Got a call. Bunch of demons congregating way at the edge of town. Sounds like basic Hells, but a lot of them. You wanna tag along? It'll be fun."
She glanced at the front doors of the garage. "Sure, but you don't have to wait. Head off without me."
"No way, babe. You're gonna race me there."
She smirked. Whenever they were both headed on a mission that was in a relatively uncrowded place, what started as a simple drive inevitably turned into a contest to see who could get there faster. It had become a sort of tradition.
"Still bitter about last time?"
"It's not my fault you didn't know about the short cut."
He shook his head, but grinned. "Not this time, woman. There's no short cuts where we're going. Nothing but open road."
She couldn't help but grin at the look on his face, mischievous with almost childlike glee at the prospect of the two of them speeding down the road at top speed. She did love to drive fast – the exhilaration was unmatchable – and their little friendly competitions always involved plenty of that.
"Fine. But you have to wait for my bike to be ready."
"No prob. These demons aren't in a residential area, anyway. I'm in no rush."
She didn't say anything then, smirking slightly, excited at the prospect of actually getting some action tonight. Soon enough, a sweaty mechanic left the garage to inform her that her bike was ready. After testing it out she agreed to follow him, both of them driving up the path, through the city, and beginning to speed up once they reached the more rural roads with no one around to see them breaking traffic laws. One of them occasionally shot ahead of the other, but for the most part they ended up driving side by side.
Within a few months after that night she embraced his demon form, Lady made the move down to Dante's city. Well, it was her city now, too. At first she had considered moving into Devil May Cry – and she did live there awhile while she was getting settled in – but ultimately the two had decided to keep their businesses running independently. They joined forces often – so often, in fact, sometimes it felt like they were running one organization – but they were still two separate entities, so Lady had her own place. At first she hadn't liked the idea of abandoning the area her house had been in, but after that night, the idea of always having to travel so far to see Dante had been an idea she liked even less. Not to mention, selling her house had been a big help in paying off her medical bills. She had always been one to choose practicality over luxury, so the transition from quaint house in the neighborhood to cramped city apartment hadn't phased her.
To keep things balanced, they tended to cover separate areas, Lady sometimes traveling all the way back to her former hometown for a mission. Sometimes, those really in the know would request both of them to handle a case. Other times, if Lady got something really heavy, she'd ask Dante to come along. Most of the time, however, they simply ended up in the same place at the same time. Sometimes they ran across demons no one had reported yet, and since they weren't getting paid anyway, the job got finished faster if the two of them were involved. And sometimes – like tonight – they simply worked together for the hell of it.
In the past four years or so, she had seen many things and many types of demons, all shapes, sizes, and equipped with strange abilities. Time and experience had only made her a better and more confident fighter. She enjoyed challenges, though now she was better at recognizing her limits, and less ashamed to ask for help when she needed it. Still, sometimes there was nothing better than a fight that was easy and predictable; while anxious tension fueled a harder fight, sometimes it was nice to be able to feel nothing but pure enjoyment.
Dante knew this; that was why, for these little fights that hardly paid as it was (and sometimes didn't pay at all) he usually invited Lady to come along, and vice versa. Fighting the Hells was almost nostalgic now. They were the first demons Lady had ever killed, and the first time she had fought alongside Dante without totally despising him had been against a group of them, that night after Temen-ni-gru. Fighting them – especially with the white-haired demon hunter by her side – was something very familiar, something that brought about old memories and created new ones.
So she sped after him as the night began to fall, the dark blue of dusk slowly turning black. Soon they had left the busy city behind, speeding away until there was green grass at their sides and stars twinkling up above. They didn't stop to admire them, however, focusing on the pavement flashing by, moving too quickly to appreciate the scenery. Dante stood up on his bike, gripping the handlebars and shouting excitedly into the night. Lady remained much more reserved, but was traveling at the same exhilarating speed. He looked like a young boy riding a dirt bike down a hill; his childish antics sometimes made her roll her eyes, but with the rush of wind making her heart feel full, it only made her grin.
Soon enough she started to see a few Hells straggling along the side of the road. Finally, she thought. She used one hand to pull out a pistol and fired a barrage of bullets at the demon bodies as they flew by, Dante doing the same with his handguns. There were only a few stray Hells here and there, but the area was unpopulated enough that they could fire freely without fear of harming anything except their intended targets.
"Yeah, baby!" Dante yelled, sending a scythe-wielding demon off its feet as it burst into a cloud of sand.
Soon they reached an area that was crowded with the demons, and Dante began to slow down, pulling his bike over to the side of the road. Lady did the same, parking behind him. No one else was around; just the two hunters, the swarm of demons, and the open field. Dante holstered his guns and opted to whip out Rebellion instead. He turned to look at his partner, who was arming herself.
She glanced over at him. "Please. I could do this blindfolded."
He grinned. "But that wouldn't be nearly as fun, would it?"
She smiled and then, without looking, aimed a gun over her shoulder and fired, sensing the presence behind her and sending it spiraling towards the ground with a howl.
"No, it wouldn't."
The two proceeded to fight off the hoard, as they had done countless times before. These demons were the most common and the easiest to destroy, but they also tended to appear in large numbers, so the fights took some time. Of course, with the two of them working together, it was significantly lessened. They had worked well together from the start, before they even knew each other well. Now, after years of working together, they were like two gears in the same machine. They had grown to understand each others' fighting styles, their strengths and weaknesses. They focused on their targets but kept their eyes on one another. Their bodies seemed to move together, dancing to the same rhythm, pushing and pulling until there were no gaps, no hidden weaknesses in their battle.
Lady had grown to love watching him fight. No matter how many times she had seen it, his ability would always be a marvel. His movements were quick, violent, erratic; but at the same everything was precise, deliberate, amazingly skilled. He could fight for hours and hardly work up a sweat, and it was very rare that he actually looked as though he was being challenged. He flowed through the motions with the greatest of ease, and there was something poetic about the way he moved, effortlessly and with clear passion for what he was doing. Sometimes she envied him, but then she remembered the price he paid to receive those gifts; most of the time, she was simply happy he was on humanity's side. Her side.
The demons dropped like flies around them, coating the ground with dust and blood, filling the night air with shrieks of rage and pain. Dante glanced over at his partner. "How's it going, Lady?"
She ripped the blade of her rocket launcher out of the nearest demon, which disappeared with an agonized cry. "How does it look?"
Dante blew another couple away casually with Ebony. "How many have you killed?"
Her brow furrowed. "I don't know…twenty?"
"Wanna make this interesting?"
She smirked slightly. He just loved challenging her. "What did you have in mind?"
"Let's see who can kill the most by the end of the night."
She looked over at him finally. "What do we win?"
"Bragging rights, of course." He decapitated a nearby demon with Rebellion before it even had a chance to howl at him. "I'm on twenty-six."
She shook her head at him slightly, smiling, but didn't say anything more, resuming her fight. God, he loved to watch her fight. Her movements were almost graceful, the execution with which she used her weapons flawless. She looked somehow strong and soft at the same time, hard muscles tensing, clothes clinging to her feminine form like a second skin. He liked seeing her sweaty, hair matted to her forehead, skin and clothes stained with dirt. To him, it was then that she was most beautiful.
They continued taking on the hoard, slowly whittling down its numbers. Dante counted silently to himself, keeping score, occasionally yelling out what number he was on proudly. Lady seemed to ignore his little game, keeping her effort focused on her opponents, though he saw her glancing at him every now and then. She seemed to be smirking slightly throughout the entire battle, clearly enjoying herself, and he couldn't keep the grin off his own face. Destroying demons under an uncrowded night sky alongside his Lady – right now, as far as he was concerned, there was nothing wrong with the world.
The hoard began to grow slimmer after awhile until finally the end was in sight. That was when the competition really began to increase, the two devil hunters racing to see who could reach the final few stragglers first. Soon enough, the night was silent once again; the grass was sticky with blood, the hunters covered in sweat and dust, but there was no noise except the occasional whispering breeze. They stood there, looking around for any last demons.
"Looks like that's the last of them," Dante spoke up finally. His senses were informing him that he was the only demon around for miles. Lady nodded, sighing and wiping her forehead with the back of her arm.
"So." He flicked his sword, clearing the shiny surface of demon blood, and then sheathed it before turning to look at her. "How many?"
"Um…" She looked off into the distance, thinking. "Fifty-six, I think."
"Ha! I got sixty-three exactly."
She rolled her eyes. "I don't know, I didn't even really count. It could have been more."
"No good trying to make excuses, babe."
She looked over at him. "Well, how was I supposed to concentrate when you kept distracting me?"
He grinned, folding his arms and taking a step closer to her. "Distracting you, huh? How so?"
She didn't play along. "By constantly shouting out numbers. It threw me off."
"Hmm." He made a noise of disapproval at her seriousness, but dropped the subject. He glanced around. The sudden stillness was almost shocking, his body tingling slightly from being at ease after so much constant movement. Lady seemed to feel the effect, too, pacing slightly and stretching, looking up toward the sky. He looked back toward their bikes, parked on the side of the road. The world was empty. No one was driving down the road, and there were no people or demons around. They had a beautiful view of the stars – something they didn't have very often – and the crisp night air was invigorating. He didn't really feel like heading back to the city just yet.
Lady walked towards the bikes, glancing backwards once she reached them and realized she wasn't being followed.
"Dante?" He glanced back at her. "You coming?"
"I don't know, babe."
She raised an eyebrow. "You don't know?"
"Yeah." He turned his body to face her. "I don't feel like going back to the city just yet."
She paused, hands gripping her bike's handlebars but not mounting it yet. "Where do you want to go?"
He shrugged. "What's wrong with here?"
"Uh, there's demon blood all over the ground here."
"So let's walk a few yards away, then."
"And do what?"
He walked towards her. "Oh, I don't know. Be away from people? Look at the stars?" He stood next to her, slinking an arm out and around her waist, casually drawing her closer to him, though she was looking off into the distance. "Take a break for once?"
She didn't really react to his arm, neither pulling away nor drawing closer, as if she was making up her mind. The quiet wilderness did fill her with a sense of peace, one that she would have liked to linger in, but she had never been very good at doing nothing. "I've been on break most of the day."
He chuckled. "Did you just kill fifty-six demons or not?" He reached forward then, smoothing aside hair that was matted to her forehead with demonic blood, as if taking it as evidence of her hard work.
She looked up at him finally. Dante was always looking for opportunities to relax; she, on the other hand, seemed to always be looking for something to do. He was right; she had nowhere to be that night. This place – this quiet, uncrowded, beautiful place – was as good as any.
"Fine," she agreed finally, and when they turned to walk away from the bikes, his arm still around her, he felt her body sink slightly into his. Even such a small, subtle movement sent a certain kind of thrill through both of them, one that was different from the thrill of demon hunting and couldn't be found anywhere else.
She followed as he walked away, their boots sloshing through blood-covered blades of grass. They walked silently until the grass became increasingly green. At first Lady wasn't sure if they were just going to continue walking, but after a moment, without warning, Dante stopped and sat in the field with a sigh. He removed his sword, laying it next to him so he could lean back, hands behind his head, one ankle stacked on top of the other. Lady smirked at him, but took a seat on the wet grass beside him, a bit hesitantly. For a moment she simply sat there, feeling the soft, slightly prickly grass beneath her hands. When was the last time she had actually sat down in the grass? She couldn't remember.
For a while he simply looked up at the sky, an infinite black expanse with millions of glittering dots. They could never see the stars in the city, and lying here like this, feeling as if he was about to be engulfed and swallowed whole by the endless void, was almost like being in a different universe. A much more peaceful and quiet universe, one in which, for a little while, they could pretend they were free from the constraints of society. No demons to fight. No ringing phone. No loud traffic and annoying customers and hard concrete. Just the grass, the stars, and the one person he truly cared about.
He glanced over at her. She was sitting, knees bent, staring up at the sky. One hand rested on the ground for support, the other picking absentmindedly at the grass. She was tensed slightly. He suddenly felt cold as he thought of her warm body lying next to his, and decided to remedy that situation.
"Hey." He spoke up. She looked down at him. "You need to relax, Lady."
"I am relaxing."
He chuckled. "Sometimes I think you don't know how to relax."
She looked away then, undoubtedly finding some truth in his words.
"Come on." He said, patting the ground next to him. "Lay down."
She looked at the ground next to him uncertainly. "I don't want to get my shirt wet."
He laughed. "Since when do you care about getting your clothes dirty?"
"I said wet, not dirty. I don't want it sticking to me the whole ride back."
He grinned. "Well, you could always take it off after. At my place."
She gave him a pointed look, but smirked, shaking her head at him lightly.
"Come on," he said again, returning his hand behind his head but nodding towards the ground next to him. With a sigh, she removed Kalina Ann and slowly lowered herself down until her back was flat against the ground, her head level with his. She wasn't pressed against him, but close enough that he could feel warmth coming from her body. Her head tilted back, looking up at the sky similar to the way he had been.
It had been a while since they'd had a moment like this, a moment where they were able to do nothing except be together. Dante sometimes wished Lady would move in with him so they could at least spend every night together, but he knew even if she did that wasn't a realistic desire. They often ran on different schedules. She travelled quite a bit more than he did. It seemed that most of the time when they saw each other, it was business-related (though fortunately, business and pleasure were often one and the same for the two of them). They didn't have a lot of moments like these, where they simply were. Still, just knowing she was there, just knowing she existed, even if she wasn't with him, made him feel a deep sort of satisfaction.
They had never given a name to their relationship, and he didn't think they needed to. Neither of them exactly liked to talk about their feelings, but they had grown to understand one another intimately, so a lot of things passed between them unspoken. The way they felt about each other was one of those things. She wasn't his "girlfriend" or his "lover." Such words felt too trivial to describe the deep bond that had formed between them over the years. Girlfriends could break up with you and be forgotten forever. Lady was always going to be part of his life; they had reached the point where you care too much about another person, have had too many experiences with them, to ever stop caring about them, no matter what they do, no matter how long you go without seeing them. She was just his Lady, and that was that.
And he didn't need to hear her say anything to know she felt the same way about him. It was a mutual understanding, confirmed by the little things, such as the way she would open herself up to him, or the fact that, unlike when they were first getting to know each other, he could confidently reach forward to touch her without worrying about her getting angry or not reciprocating.
Case in point, after a moment or two of silence, he snaked his arm out and under her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. The old Lady from years ago – the Lady that, perhaps, still had broken fragments of Mary resting inside – would have likely tried to pull away, or perhaps obliged but been stiff and self-conscious in his arms. This Lady felt warm and relaxed, and moved with him to bury herself into his side. They moved until the side of her head rested against his cheek, both of them, for the moment, still looking up at the sky. They stayed like that, simply feeling each other breathe.
After awhile, Lady turned her head to look up at him, and he did the same, their bodies moving apart slightly so that they could see the other. There was no light around except the gentle light of the moon, but beneath it they could still see each other clearly. She almost looked a bit sleepy, eyes half lidded. He smiled lightly, smoothing his hand up and down her shoulder.
"So. Have you given any more thought to my suggestion?"
Her brow furrowed in confusion. "What suggestion?"
His grin widened then. "Of taking your shirt off back at my place."
She gave him an exasperated look and closed her eyes, banging her forehead against his jaw line, sighing. "Dante, you ruined a perfectly good moment." She was chuckling, however, and the corners of her mouth were curving up against her will.
"What? We haven't in awhile."
She didn't respond, shaking her head at him, but she was smiling lightly. She kept her forehead pressed against the side of his face and closed her eyes.
After awhile, she felt like she was going to fall asleep. The darkness, the night air, the steady rise and fall of Dante's chest beside her. All of it lulled her into a deep sense of peace that made her drift further and further away. What Dante had said was true, though – she couldn't remember the last time she had gotten a chance to lie beside him like this. Doing so made her realize just how much she had missed feeling his body next to hers. Being next to him always filled her with a sense of security and peace she had never found anywhere else.
After awhile of silence, she felt him nudge her slightly. "Hey. Not falling asleep on me, are ya?"
She shook her head slightly. "No. Just resting."
He chuckled. "So much for not wanting to lay in the grass, huh?" She merely shrugged next to him.
Without warning, he suddenly wrapped both arms around her and maneuvered her until she was lying on top of him. She lifted her head up and looked down at him, surprised.
"You know, as nice as it is here, I suddenly have the urge to be back home in my warm bed. With you, of course."
She smirked. "Hmm, I don't know. I was just starting to like being here."
"Well, we gotta leave sometime."
She rolled off of him, sitting up. He sat up as well, leaning an arm across his knees. She looked back up at the sky again.
"It is beautiful though, isn't it?"
He looked up a final time at the stars, then back down at her. "Yeah. It is."
She turned her head to look at him then, smiling. Her eyes perfectly reflected her inner state, warm and full of peace, and he smiled back, feeling warmth radiating through his own core. She turned away then, beginning to stand.
"Come on, let's head back."
He stood as well, and the two re-equipped themselves and began the walk back toward their bikes. Dante walked beside her.
"Wanna race back?"
She smirked. "You know, we never even declared a winner last time."
He shrugged. "So? It's not about winning."
She smiled then. He was right. They loved to drive fast next to one another, sometimes one of them playfully jumping ahead. It was never really about who won.
They reached their bikes, untouched and not far away. The demon blood had already begun fading from the ground. Dante watched as she mounted her bike, adjusting her weapons and her rocket launcher. He climbed on his own. She revved the engine and turned to look back at him.
"So, are we doing this or what?"
"You're on, Lady. Finish line is the steps outside of Devil May Cry."
She smirked. "Who said I was going to your place?"
"No one, but you wouldn't turn down an offer from me, would ya?"
"Sometimes I think I should on occasion just to keep your ego in line."
He chuckled, scooting his bike forward until he was right next to her. "But then I wouldn't be able to do all those things you like. Like this."
He leaned forward then, kissing her before she had a chance to figure out what was going on. He did that sometimes, kissing her randomly when she least expected it. In the past he never would have dared such a thing, knowing it could result in her being angry and him being in pain, but now she rarely pulled away, and if she did, it wasn't because she didn't want to kiss him. No matter how many times they had kissed over the past few years, every time felt new to him, somehow containing the magic of the first time it had ever happened. He hoped desperately that kissing her would never grow routine; that seeing her would always make him feel the same way it did now.
Someday, he figured, he'd probably go the way of his father. Someday they might get married, and she might be mother to the next generation of Sparda children. They had never discussed such things, but he knew deep down that someday he would be responsible for carrying on his lineage, and he hoped desperately that when that day came, Lady would still be there. Of course, that was still far away. They were too young to think about settling down and having a family. They were only in their early twenties, after all. They had grown up considerably since that night at Temen-ni-gru, back when they had still technically been teenagers, but they still had a lot of growing up yet to do, and Dante was in no rush. For now, he didn't need to think about responsibility and children. For now they could still run wild and free. They could afford to be young and in love.
They pulled away after a moment, and Lady met his eyes, smiling. Her heart felt like it was too big for her, as though it was going to burst because it simply could not contain the feeling it held. Dante grinned at her, white hair falling into his eyes. She found something extremely comforting about the fact that Dante would always be Dante, that he would always be the same cocky, messy, obnoxious, loveable demon that he always had been. All the things she had once found annoying about him now brought her comfort. She almost wished, sometimes, that she could put into words just how grateful she was for him. He had given her life something deep and meaningful, far beyond anything she thought she could ever experience after the death of her mother. He had given her hope; he had helped her heal.
Dante smiled back at her, at her mismatched eyes and scarred, beautiful face. Lady had been the person that had made him begin to give a shit about the rest of the world, back on that night at the tower, and she was the reason he still did. She was the reason he wasn't simply living for revenge anymore. He was living because he had someone to live for.
"So." He said finally. "You still wanna reject my offer?"
She laughed lightly, then smirked. "Race you there."
He grinned. "Yeah, baby." He revved his own engine, then without warning she sped off into the night, and he followed close behind.
When the two first met, they had seemed like polar opposites, like ebony and ivory, night and day. Of course, the things in life that seem the most different are often the things that work best together. Maybe after awhile you'll discover they're not so different after all, and then you'll wonder how they ever survived apart in the first place.
The roar of engines filled the night air as the two devil hunters sped down the empty road, laughing and shouting at the sky. The future was unknown, as it always would be, but one thing was for certain; "apart" was something the ivory-haired demon and the ebony-haired huntress would never be. The two sped down the road, side by side, disappearing together into the endless night.