It was a hot and sunny day; the kind that spoke of ice creams and sparkling pools and fun. I'd just won a hotdog eating contest at school. I'd just made plans to meet up with my friends, Lorry and Roman, later that afternoon to catch a cab to the beach for an illegal bonfire party. It was that sort of day, or at least it was meant to be.
Instead I found my face pressed up against the glass at the local community centre, watching in disbelief and listening with a strange, tinny ring in my ears as my father and uncle paraded in front of a seated mob. I'd just happened to notice my dad's car parked on the street. All I'd wanted was to beg a ride back home because as you'd imagine, I was pretty stuffed and most certainly didn't feel like walking. As I approached the hall, where the receptionist said I could find my father, I just happened to catch the words "Sparda" and "fortnight" and "captive" from the glass-lined door.
As I watched them discuss strategies and roles that everyone would play in 'ambushing' Sparda - was that my third grade math's teacher in the crowd? - my disbelief gradually churned into concern for Eva. What was Eva going to say about this? She was like the Princess Diana of Metropolis, were they going to crucify her for being in love with Sparda, too? They wouldn't, would they?
And then it hit me: I didn't have to worry for Eva. I had to worry about my dad, and all the other familiar and unfamiliar faces in the crowd. They didn't know, they couldn't know, who Sparda really was. Demons were a taboo in this county. I couldn't warn them. I wasn't entirely sure what they were planning to do once they've 'caught' Sparda, but I had a strong inkling that Sparda wasn't going to be impressed.
I had to tell him.
I fought with myself on the long, brisk walk there. I wasn't being a tattle-tale. I wasn't trying to cause trouble, I was trying to prevent it. There were a lot more people who disliked Sparda's authority over the city than I'd previously thought. Sure, kids moaned and scorned at the Redgrave family at school, but I'd assumed it was more because that's what everybody else liked to whine about.
I was so deep in thought that when I eventually pushed the doors to the Redgrave's enormous sound-proof ballroom open, I couldn't remember how I'd gotten there so fast.
Sparda has always had a daunting appearance; he was muscular and towered over the majority of people, and he had the face of a strict aristocratic teacher. A harder, fiercer and older version of Dante, whom was just as tall, but looked far more like a pale and skinny angel who had his wings clipped. Sparda was sparring with Dante, and I almost turned around and ran with my tail between my legs when Dante chanced a cool, calculated glare at me. His eyes always freaked me out - it was the equivalent of having a bucket of ice water splashed in my face.
It wasn't the sight of genuine swords slashing through the air, however intimidating, that scared me. There was something about Sparda... it was the same something about Dante that scared me. Like, what you see isn't really what you get.
I stood rigidly in the doorway. Sparda swung a lethal looking sword with ferocious force – it would have made anybody twitch with tension. The only reason I didn't turn around and leave right away was because Dante is dazzling at sword play; blocking the hits swiftly and launching his own attacks. It was magnetic yet harrowing to watch. Captivating and terrifying.
Dante glanced at me again, this time far more irately. Sparda spotted me then and stopped mid-attack to flick his sword up into the air and rest it over his shoulder, like it couldn't cut his head off if he slipped.
"Cora, I didn't know you were coming by," he said in mock-apology. "Eva isn't home."
Sparda liked to make himself scarce when his wife had people over. Eva was the only one in their household who would invite guests. She's human, and needed that interaction. Her sons, like their father, preferred not to mingle with society... or maybe it's because society didn't want to mingle with them. I know I definitely wasn't going over to their house to visit them.
"My dad's planning on attacking you," I blurted out. This is stupid, Cora. It seemed so harmless and insignificant, saying it out loud, and Sparda's expression reflected it.
"What?" Dante straightened up, alert, his grip on the sword shifting.
Sparda let out a short chuckle and put a large hand on my shoulder to steer me from the room.
"Thanks for telling me, Cora. But you don't need to worry, I'll take care of it."
"But... no, I don't want you to do anything to him!" I protested in a panic.
"Then why did you tell me?"
"Because I don't want you to hurt him! He's just a man," I pleaded. In that moment, I slipped up my secret; that I knew Sparda was more than human, and that I had sacrificed my blissfully fake ignorance for the terrifying truth. Sparda's smirk disappeared, and he looked pensive. "You're right. He is just a man. I won't hurt your father, Cora."
"I promise. Just..." Sparda leaned in closer, and smiled disconcertingly. "Next time you warn me about any threats, make sure you don't do it in front of Dante."
I glanced past him at Dante, who looked like he was going to spontaneously erupt into a hail of bullets. I could see the silver glint of a pistol protruding from the pocket of a red coat hanging near the door. Whoops, my bad.
"Sorry," I mumbled as the blood rushed down to my feet.
"Eva is at the library, if you'd like to speak to her."
There's something you should know.
I hated being in the loop when nobody else was in it with me. You may not want to know, but I don't care. Ever since the veil had been lifted from my eyes, it's been killing me that I had no one to talk to about it. Brace yourself because it's terrifying. It makes my heart scamper up into my head and scream through my ears whenever I think about it. It gives my stomach weird butterflies and it makes me feel like I'm going to pass out. Almost like... like being in love, but more sickening and crippling.
Here it is: demons are real.
The reality was a crushing one that weighed down my shoulders as I walked through the quiet Victorian neighbourhood. I passed naked wickers and sycamores all lined up like the skeletons of winter. A footpath to my right led by a little mailbox with Evans sprawled across it, and I followed it up to the double story, red brick house.
I fished through a pocket for my house key, and glanced over the waist high wall and into our neighbour's yard. Resonating thumps echoed from the open windows of their house. There was always some ominous sound coming from there. I never knew what exactly caused the noise, but I could make a couple of guesses.
The Redgrave's house was the only one in the suburb that didn't have a mailbox. It was also the last house on the street; the last house in Metropolis, in fact - although rumour had it that it was actually the first building to have risen on this land. It looked the part anyway – an ancient gothic palace that stood two stories high and spread across acres of land. The bay windows reflected the opaque winter sky like watching, blind eyes. It was creepy. No one ever ventured past those heavy black gates, except for me and, occasionally, my mother.
I unlocked our front door and dropped my schoolbag against the wall before doing a quick survey of my home. My brother was in the kitchen with my mother. His ash blonde head was bent over his homework and he was stuffing his face with blueberry muffins. Mom was carefully cutting open a packet with a pair of scissors, and she tipped about a dozen more muffins into a large wooden bowl. Her cinnamon brown hair was taken back in a tight bun, and her green eyes were scrutinizing when she noticed me. She was average in appearance; didn't have the features that would win a second glance or tickle anyone's fancy. I inherited most of my looks from my mother – except for my eyes, which is a combination of amber and brown, like old gold, as my dad called it. It is by deliberate choice that I try and do exactly the opposite of what my mother constantly does. I don't want to be her clone; the more she tries to mould me into her ways, the more I rebel. I already had a role model I was striving to duplicate, and my mother was certainly not her.
"Hi, Cora!" Jason quipped from the table when he spotted me. I offered him my usual I-don't-have-time-to-hang-with-you smile.
"Cora, you're home! I was beginning to worry,"Mom said distractedly. She barely spared me another glance, and shoved the bowl across the marble counter at me.
"Why were you wor-" I cut myself off and watched her bustle about unpacking grocery bags. Of course she wasn't worried; if she'd truly been, she would be climbing down my throat, I reasoned. Instead, I picked up a muffin and bit into it. I wrinkled my nose and put it back in the bowl. I let out a disgruntled sigh. "I thought you said you were going to bake us a treat, not go to the baker and buy pre-packaged stuff, Mom."
"I don't bake, dear, you know that,"she said with an incredulous twitch of a groomed eyebrow. "I have no time! I have far more important tasks I need to contend with."
"Right," I muttered, rounding the counter to pull out a pair of deep ice cream cups from the cupboard.
"Who's that for?" Jason asked, perking up.
"Not you," I replied curtly, and Jason mumbled something I couldn't decipher.
"Have you got any homework, dear?"Mom asked.
"You'd best not be lying to me, Cora."
"I've done all my homework while I was at school already!" I retorted at her warning tone, and crouched down to open the freezer.
"How did you manage that?"
I choked for a split second. "We had a study period today," I lied. The truth was, I'd gotten held back for detention again, and as soon as I finished copying my homework from someone else and the teacher on duty was half dozing, I'd made my great escape. Yes, so I was going to probably get double detention for bailing on detention, who cared? Tomorrow was going to take care of itself. Right now I had bigger things to focus on. I felt my heart sink at the sight of frozen meats and vegetables.
"Oh, all right then, dear, but your friend..."
"Where's the ice cream?" I demanded quietly, turning to glare at my mother. "Did you forget to buy it?"
"It's right in front of you, stupid," my brother snapped from the table.
I turned back, blinking hard, and felt disbelief colour my face. So it was – it was bigger than I'd thought it would be. I tugged the three litre white tub from the freezer, sending ice crumbs scattering across the tiled floor, and put it on the counter with a relieved sigh. "Thank you, mommy! You're the best!" I said, giving her a brief hug before scavenging the drawer for spoons.
"Now, Cora, your friends can't stay too long. I have a tea party at four this afternoon," Mom drawled in that distant tone of voice of hers.
"My friends?" I asked, giving her a stumped look while I snatched the bowl of strawberries and a bottle of strawberry syrup from the fridge. My mind took a nose dive as I racked my memory. Did I have a date set with Lorry that I'd somehow forgotten about? "Mother, what are you talking about?"
I scooped my loot into my arms and hurried to the lounge, my mother in tow. She watched me disapprovingly set the treats out on the floor and prep my video game console.
"Those boys you're getting all excited about," Mom said pointedly.
A flash of relief made me nearly slump over - my friends would never let me live it down if I forgot that I'd invited them over - and then my mother's words registered in my head.
"Sheesh, Mom, are you delusional? Dante's not my friend, and his brother wouldn't come here because I don't even know him! I'm doing this because Eva asked me to," I added when my mother opened her mouth, probably to chastise me for calling her delusional, "she wanted Dante out of the house this afternoon because she's planning a surprise for his birthday. The only reason why he's coming over is because I promised him the freedom to eat as many sundaes as he wants."
"Right. Well." Mom said with a dainty sniff - a tell-tale sign that she had no interest in the subject - and left me in peace with my thoughts.
The doorbell rang way too soon, plucking me out of my musings. I wiped my hands on my skirts and climbed to my feet, drawing in deep breaths of air to brace myself. Yes, I was a little bit nervous since I've never actually talked to Dante unless Eva was present. I was also very pessimistic about how this afternoon was going to go down. Dante and I didn't talk much, for good reason. We didn't exactly get along. But mostly, I was afraid. If you met him in person, you'd be pretty scared, too. There was just...something about him.
I opened the front door and stepped aside at the surly look the tall blonde boy gave me. I gestured him inside in a 'let's get this over with' way. His cold blue eyes were alert and hard, darting around as I closed the front door. I straightened my shoulders and held my head high as I led the way to the lounge. So what if he was a giant compared to me? This was my house and I would walk tall, just to show him that I wasn't afraid of him. But I could feel his frigid gaze on my back. He must be made of ice or something, because I got chills every time he looked at me. When we got to the lounge, he looked more interested in the eccentric ornaments my mother used to decorate our home.
We settled on the floor in front of the television, and played a few games in semi-silence. There wasn't much conversation to be made aside from the occasional 'good game'. You see, I tried to be nice to Dante when we first moved into our house. That was a good few years ago, when I was a kid, so I can't remember exactly what was said. All I remember was how nasty Dante had been to me and how awful he'd made me feel for trying to be his friend. Vergil hadn't been welcoming to my friendship either and decided to ignore me, but at least he hadn't been as outright mean to me as Dante had been. The memory of my hurt feelings is what kept me from trying to meet him half-way.
I kept glancing at the clock on the wall, and Dante kept throwing random pauses into our game play to top up his ice cream. We were halfway through Fraxy, and the tub was starting to look close to empty, when Dante paused the game again. He turned to me, for the first time actually acknowledging my presence beside him, and gave me an unnerving grin.
"Your mom's not very fond of demons, is she?"
"Watcha mean?" I asked, glancing at him from the corner of my eye as I readjusted my grip on my controller. Shit...did he know that I knew?
"Protection charms," he nodded at the items hanging from the walls.
"How'd you know?" I asked, eyeing the pointy silver wall ornaments and some super-special-salt-crystals that mom had all over the house.
"C'mon, Carry. How could I not know?" Dante's icy eyes flashed incredulously, and he dropped his controller on the carpet before climbing to his feet. "Tch, never mind. I don't wanna be where I'm not welcome anyway."
By the time I'd turned in his direction, he was already down the hallway. I heard him snort and mumble something inaudible. "It's Cora, by the way!" I called after him. The front door slammed shut loudly in reply.
It was just as well. Mom's entourage for her tea party was bound to start arriving any moment. I gathered the dishes and went to dump them in the kitchen sink. Mom was brewing something in a pot on the stove. The pungent odour reminded me of sweat and very nearly made me gag.
"What is that?" I asked.
"Sage," Mom said, and smiled at me.
"What are you boiling it for? It's stinking up the whole house."
"It chases away bad spirits, dear," Mom sighed, and added hastily, "I read it in the local newspaper. Has your friend gone home already?"
"It's four o'clock, so yeah. It's dinner time for them."
"How rude. He didn't even say goodbye."
"Would it have mattered?" I asked with a grunt. Dante wasn't exactly a pro in the manners forte. It made no difference to me, since I was subjected to it day after day and have come to not even notice it, but for those who didn't know the Redgrave family...yeah, Dante was one rude brat.
"I don't know what this world is coming to," Mom huffed to herself.
My mom was a witch; one who had quite a problem with anything and everything demonic. This unfortunately included my beloved cartoons such as Wile E. Coyote and He-Man, for reasons that still went beyond my logic. I still watched my shows whenever I went to visit Eva. Mom would lose her mind if she knew, but there were no hypocrites in the Redgrave household. I wasn't judged to hell for what I like to watch on telly.
See, Dante and Vergil are half-breeds; half-human, half-demon. I only know this because the target of my dad's organisation is Dante's father.
I knew what Dante and Vergil's secret was. Not the juicy details of the boys being trained and moulded into young warriors within the confines of the Redgrave fortress. That wasn't a secret, not to me at least. Living next door to them, it wasn't uncommon to hear gunshots and other mysterious noises very often. I'd get worried when it was too quiet for too long.
Their secret was that, at night, when everyone else was wrapped in dreamland, they'd hit the streets and take out the rogue demons still hanging around. The demons were too scared of Sparda to come out during the day, but they risked it at night, and the sons of Sparda would always be waiting for them.
Which is why I spent the next hour rushing through my chores at home; tidy my room, sweep the floor, do the dishes; the usual painful duties of any twelve year old. I helped my mother set the table, plunked down the knives and forks with hasty disregard. Jason gave me a look from his little peasant seat at the bottom of the table. My mother didn't seem happy with me either.
"I made Macaroni and cheese," she said coaxingly.
"Oh. That's nice," I said distractedly and went to fetch the jug of orange juice from the fridge. When I got back to the dining room, my father had appeared and was seated on his throne at the head of the table.
"I see you've finally found your way home," Dad said light-heartedly.
"Ha, very funny, Dad," I muttered, carefully placing the jug in the centre of the table. "That one never gets old."
"Heard your mother made your favourite dish for supper," he said, his black moustache twitching.
On cue, my mother materialized beside me with a large round casserole between her oven-gloved hands. She lifted off the lid, and the delicious aroma of melted cheese pulled my head into a cloud of hunger.
"Auw, mom, you shouldn't have," I said. My father's eyebrows arched in surprise, and my mother smiled triumphantly. "No, really, you shouldn't have. I'm having dinner next door."
"That's nothing new," Jason mumbled and I gave him an eat-death glare.
"Are they expecting you?"Mom asked with a slight scowl.
"Yeah! I'll see you guys later," I said, snatching one hot noodle from the casserole before making a break for it.
"You little devil..." Mom chided after me.
I glanced over my shoulder a couple of times as I practically skipped down our footpath, expecting one of them to follow me and call me back. They were getting fed up with not seeing me around the house much, I could tell. No one chased after me though, and I made it safely to the neighbour's front door. It was unlocked, as it always was. So, maybe they didn't exactly invite me over for dinner, but Eva might be expecting me. She'd always been very hospitable to me.
Their dining room with the enormous mahogany table was void of life. This is what I liked about having dinner with the Redgrave family. If Eva knew for certain I was coming over, she would have had the table set out with their best silverware. When she wasn't sure, she didn't put in the effort, mostly because Sparda told her not to bother, I think.
Thus it wasn't all that surprising to find them unwound in the family den like every other ordinary family. The television was turned down and displayed a rerun of the History Channel. Eva and the boys were seated on the long plush couch; Vergil slouched to the side, elbow on the armrest and chin on his fist, half asleep; Eva doing golden embroidery work on a royal blue coat; Dante fast asleep with his head on Eva's lap and his long legs spread across Vergil's lap, feet dangling over the edge. Sparda was in his armchair, as always, with one leg up to balance his plate loaded with food. Possibly his third serving, if I had to guess. Just like every other ordinary family - only they were anything but ordinary. There were weird vibes from Dante and Vergil. Maybe it was their colouring; the too pale blonde hair, the sharp blue eyes... I've never seen anybody with eyes like theirs. Maybe it was the way they looked at a person, or... maybe it was just human intuition, knowing that what was looking back at you was of the supernatural sort. The vibes were stronger from Sparda. He had the face and dress of an aristocrat, but when he moved and when he spoke, you just knew there was something dangerous beneath the polished exterior.
"Hello," Sparda sighed without looking away from the television.
Vergil blinked and sent a funny look at Sparda before noticing me in the doorway. Eva looked up and smiled at me warmly. It was the only prompt I needed to relax.
"Your food is in the oven, sweetie."
"Thanks," I grinned and wandered down the hallway to the kitchen at the back of the house.
"You made it just in time," Sparda said behind me. I jumped at his voice, and tried to hide my fright by fussing with my dinner. "Another five minutes and you would have gone to bed hungry."
"You would have eaten my dinner?" I asked in disbelief, staring up at him with round eyes.
"First come first served, Cora," Sparda said with a wink. Okay, so as scary as Sparda was, he did have his charms. Every now and then.
He slipped his empty plate into the sink, and I followed him back to the family den. I made myself comfortable on the carpet next to the coffee table as Sparda leaned over to whisper something into Eva's ear. Eva smiled up at him, and Sparda sighed.
I stared when he picked Dante up with one hand, and carried him under his arm like a piece of limp baggage.
"Sparda, be careful!" Eva scolded, sitting up straight and dropping her embroidery on her lap.
"He's fine. The kid can sleep through the next apocalypse," Sparda waved her back dismissively and disappeared from the room.
"I'm going to bed, too," Vergil muttered. He pecked Eva on the cheek. "G'night."
"Goodnight, son," Eva said when he left the room, and she smiled at me warmly. "How was your day, Cora?"
"Fine. I got detention again."
"What for this time?"
"Nothing, I think they just like my company at school."
Eva shook her head worriedly. "What has your mother got to say about this?"
"I got my homework done, so she thinks it's good," I shrugged.
I shrugged again at her warning tone. "My mom's too busy with her own life to care what I do with mine."
"I'm sure that's not true."
"I'm sure it is. You make the best pumpkin fritters, Eva," I said, lifting one off my plate and biting into it.
Sparda returned to the room and reclined back in his armchair with a soft grunt. There was a tranquil silence in the room while we watched Captain Cook sailing the seas on screen. My thoughts were on how Dante had managed to pass out before everyone else with all that sugar from this afternoon loaded into his system. I'd seen Jason after a double scooped ice cream, and he always bounced off the walls for a good hour after.
Sparda cleared his throat. "Don't you have a family of your own to terrorize?"
I looked back at him, wide eyed. "Huh?" I choked out.
"Sparda," Eva fixed him with a strained look. "It's getting late, Cora. You should go home, you've got school in the morning."
"Yes, ma'am," I said quietly. I offered to stay and help with the dishes, but Eva steered me toward the front door with a firm hand and an even firmer 'goodnight, Cora'.
A glance at my wristwatch told me that it was nearing ten. There was no wind, and the silent darkness of the night was unnerving. My house was equally dark and quiet when I slipped inside and made my way to my room.
I was going through my closet looking for my black sweater, trying to be as quiet as I possibly could, when a rustling right outside my open window caught my attention. Friggin' crazy squirrels, I thought, and snatched my jersey off the hanger. I bent down to scoop up my old black trainers, and in my mirror I caught a glimpse of something white right outside my window. I turned and hurled one of my trainers at it.
I tiptoed over to my window and frowned at the boy outside in complete disbelief. "What are you doing?"
"I'm making sure you're home." The curt response came. Vergil rubbed his head and picked my shoe up off the grass. He planted it on my windowsill. Or, at least I think it was Vergil. I saw no reason why Dante would want to come snoop around outside my house at night, considering how thrilled he was to be inside of it earlier. Still, seeing Vergil standing in the moonlight right outside my window was enough to make my stomach churn. He had even less reason to be here, unless, of course, he knew about my secret.
"Are you spying on me?" I accused.
"I'm making sure you're home," Vergil repeated flatly, and walked away.
He disappeared into the night, and I squirmed inwardly. He had to be on to me. Why else would he want to know where I was? I stood indecisively for a moment, then with quick resolve, I jerked on my sweater and slipped on my shoes. I snuck out of my window and headed into the heart of the city, taking the brightly lit main roads. They couldn't be on to me. They took the small dark alleys to get around, I took the main road – just because I was in the city at night didn't mean anything. It wasn't suspicious. Well, it wasn't that suspicious.
I slowed down when I approached the central courtyard of the city, and ducked into the undercover parking beneath one of the business buildings surrounding it. I hurried across the abandoned lot, glancing around, alert. My trainers were silent on the concrete.
I caught a whiff of strong sulphur, and crouched down beside a vent in the wall. The screws were lose and came out easily. I momentarily froze when I heard an ominous growl. Something was either in the lot with me, or it was right outside. I scuttled into the ventilation tunnel, scraping my legs and palms in my rush, and readjusted the vent cover behind me. I stayed rooted there for a moment and waited for my pulse to stop racing, before I scrambled along the tunnel. I reached the first vent that went straight up to the top of the building. I straightened to my feet in the narrow square, and hauled myself up into the next tunnel. I leopard crawled forward in the pitch blackness until a draft told me I was close to my favourite spot.
Then I was there. I pulled out my mobile phone wedged in my pocket, and turned on the camera. I found a good aim between the vent slots and zoomed in, and waited. Roman was going to freak out when I showed him this tomorrow. Stuff him for telling me demons weren't real – what did he know? He was going to have to cough up a hundred bucks for me, because he was so going to lose that bet. A hundred bucks! The things I could do with a hundred bucks...
My reverie was cut short when a loud howl outside made me start. A tall, ugly purple thing climbed from the well in the courtyard. I pushed the record button on my phone, and waited with bated breath. It looked like a man, or a very tall man, with no facial features. It stood for a moment, hunched forward, swinging its small head on its long neck from side to side, and then it exploded into tiny black things. Another howl rented the air, and a second purple man lifted out of the well. It melted into a large yellow pool the second it was on the ground, and the millions of tiny black things leapt into the gunk. I watched the two things start to do a spinning display, merging together and building into something bigger.
I would have thought the boys would be there by now. Sometimes they already were hanging around the well, waiting. Sometimes a couple of demon packs would have blundered into the city streets before they showed up.
The odour of sulphur became suffocating and made my eyes tear up like onions did. The gunk had shaped into what could have been a giant slug, or maybe a dragon – I couldn't tell which. It was hideous, all the same, and scary. This time when it howled, it made my teeth clatter together and poked into my ears like spikes.
My fear was short lived. The howling changed into a screech when two kids rounded the corner and came face to face with the enormous monster. There was an instant of hesitation; confusion on the demon's part because neither kid ran away screaming, and expectation on their part. One of them spoke, from this distance I couldn't hear or tell who it was, but the demon burst into maniacal laughter. Another word was spoken – I was pretty sure that this time it was Dante, because the demon retaliated and launched its attack on them with an aggravated roar.
They were an exhilarating spectacle to watch. Dante wielded two guns, and Vergil did closer combat with the katana. Under any other circumstances, if you saw two twelve year old kids walking around with dangerous weapons in the dead of night, you'd call the authorities and have them dragged to juvie. But they were flawless as a team, brandishing their weapons with brilliant expertise. Insanely good. They never got hurt by any of the demons from what I could tell. Well, I've never seen a scratch on them, at any rate.
The battle lasted under a minute, which was good for me because my phone's video time only allowed me to record for a maximum of two minutes anyway. Dante sent the demon sprawling backward with a few well planted bullets in its head, and Vergil streaked around the falling demon. There was a bright flash, and then he was walking up to join his brother's side. They were looking at each other indifferently, Dante still aiming his guns at the demon. They turned toward the demon in unison.
Dante fired another shot at the demon the instant Vergil sheathed his sword. Yellow slime exploded everywhere, even reaching as far up as to splatter against the vent I was hiding behind. A few tiny drops hit my phone, and my fingers, and I wiped the acidic gunk off frantically.
"I'll get more than you tonight," Dante's voice drifted up faintly.
"I don't keep count," Vergil said.
"Maybe you should. It'll make this more fun."
"I'm not here to have fun," Vergil said. "I just want to get this done and go home and sleep."
"We haven't even started yet," Dante said, leaning over the side of the well to peer down into it.
"Demons are so weak anyway," Dante said loudly. "Why should they scare us? Just because we're kids doesn't make us helpless."
"Dante," Vergil sighed.
"Besides, they're all losers. They were outwitted and outplayed by Sparda, what m-" Dante broke off when a flood of bright light suddenly erupted from the well. He smirked and stepped away from it, nodding happily. "Yeah, now this is more like it!"
"You," Vergil said with a shake of his head. He stepped forward, ready to draw the katana from its scabbard. "I wanted to call in an early night."
"You can sleep when you're dead," Dante said playfully, "'sides, Father will just send our butts back out here if we got home any earlier than dawn."
"Right," Vergil muttered under his breath. Dante's grin spread to Vergil's face. "Well, at least we'll be doing something fun."
"Now we're ready to party," Dante said, and levelled his guns at the overflow of demons bursting forth from the light.
How they could ever move that fast and stay in synch was beyond me. I was lucky to actually see them strike down a demon, but mostly all I saw was demons turning into dust all of a sudden or unexpectedly exploding into pieces. Vergil killed off the last cluster with a few accurate swipes of his sword.
Dante holstered his guns and let out a low whistle."I got twenty one. How many'd you get?"
"I don't keep count, I told you," Vergil said, sheathing the katana.
"Tch, what was the point then?" Dante said unhappily.
"To prove how dense you are?" Vergil suggested, and chuckled when Dante punched him in the gut."I'm kidding. I got forty two."
"Liar. There were only thirty."
"Only thirty you could see."
"So why could you see the others and I couldn't?"
"Because I killed them before you knew they were there."
Dante puckered his lips and arched an eyebrow, thinking it over. "Yeah, okay. I'll beat your score next time. Nice coat, by the way."
Vergil wiped the yellow ooze off the blue material in disgust.
"It matches your personality. Ice Cube Vergil."
"Flaming idiot," Vergil retorted.
If it hadn't been for the sulphur making me want to gag, I would have stayed longer. As it were, the time was going past midnight, I had to get up for school in another eight hours, and I had the teeny weeny little problem of getting out of this place without the boys spotting me. I crawled my way back through the darkness until I was finally back in the parking lot. And then I ran for all I was worth.
I wasn't completely stupid. I knew they could smell me, and I knew the faster I got away from this place, the less chance there was of them connecting my scent to my persona. Sparda had once told me he could smell me coming from a mile away, because his senses were more sensitive than the boys'. He could tell the difference between man and demon, boy and girl, going on his sense of smell alone. He also said I had distinct scent like wild berries.
Well, I was going to be one really dead wild berry if Dante or Vergil caught onto me. There was a curfew in place for the city residents, enforced by Sparda himself. Anyone who broke it was in deep trouble, if they lived to see the next day.
I made a clean getaway, at least. I climbed through my bedroom window and dropped onto my bed, completely exhausted – and completely content with the footage I'd caught on camera.
One hundred bucks was mine.
Credit and thanks to my betareaders deathofaraven and Rebeldynasty.