"Ready to play?" Nero asked, glancing at the legendary devil hunter as he sank down on the cheap leather couch.
"That's what I'm here for." Dante responded tensely, wringing his hands together in anticipation.
"Good luck."
"Like I need it."

~..............~

His footsteps thudded across the scarlet carpeted floor, adrenaline still pumping through his veins from the fight he'd just ended. His mind was focussed on nothing but the memory of golden doe eyes and Kyrie's sweet voice. Nero stuck in his tracks when his gaze fixed on the red clad figure lazing against one of the elaborate columns centred in the room.

"What took you so long?" The flaxen haired man said casually, straightening up from his relaxed posture and slumping his sword over his back.

"You. What are you doing here?" Nero ground out when the man stepped directly into his path. This was the man the Order had commanded him to capture – it was ironic how the opportunity to do so would present itself when Nero could no longer give a damn.

Screw the Order, he was going to slaughter them one by one for dragging Kyrie into their demented scheme. "Forget it. I don't have time for this." Nero snapped and gave the man a light shove out of his way.

"And neither do I," Dante said, grabbing him by the shoulder.

That did it. Nero spun around and swung his devil arm, but Dante swiftly ducked the first blow, and caught the second in his fist. "So I'll cut to the chase."

Nero growled angrily when his arm throbbed a brighter blue, mounting up with power. Dante looked down at it too, and let go of his arm. The velocity of the power sent Nero staggering and spinning back, and he slammed into the wall. The force of the impact cracked the wall and sent a cloud of concrete dust bellowing around him.

"I'm here for the sword," Dante said matter-of-factly, walking closer.

"Your point being?" Nero demanded as the devil arm took him over in a blinding stroke of fiery blue power. It was a gesture of encouragement to him when Dante had to lift his arm to shield his eyes.

"Hmm." Dante muttered when his eye landed on the glowing sword grasped in Nero's hand, the blue demon apparition behind him moving in synch with him like a shadow. "It was originally my brothers'." Dante added, and nonchalantly pulled Rebellion from its position on his back. "Return it to me, and I'll let you go. Kid."

"Kid? Well," Nero said, wiping his mouth and readjusting his grip on Yamato. "If that's how you see me I think you'll blush a pretty pink when I kick your ass!" At the last, Nero sliced Yamato through the air, releasing a lethal sphere straight at his opponent.

Dante leapt out of the way and the sphere obliterated one of the columns instead. Nero turned to see the red devil perched above him on the platform suspended above the remaining pillars. His demeanour was almost playful – mocking.

"Ah," Dante said lightly, glancing from the destruction down to Nero. "Helpful hint. Take a tip from your elders," Dante said, gesturing to himself.

But Nero wasn't listening. He started toward the exit at a jog, and drew up short when Dante leapt in front of him and blocked his way. Nero backed away a few steps and let out a very disgruntled sigh.

All right. If this guy wanted a fight – he'll give him a damn fight.

Dante crossed the distance between them, sword extended and ready to deal a deadly blow. Nero barely had time to jump out of the way. He was mid-air when a powerful shot rocketed through the room and had him crash to the floor. He had no time to recover and retreat when the blade of Rebellion slammed down on him.

Half the green bars of life turned red before disappearing.

Nero leapt to his feet and fired off a shot from the Blue Rose. It struck Dante in the gut, evoking a 'damnit' in response. This was his chance. Nero streaked forward with Red Queen drawn, sliced a few blows at Dante before Rebellion came up and blocked each hit almost too easily. Nero reverted to his devil arm, picking Dante up and slamming him into the floor with a cry of 'get lost!'

Half of one yellow bar at the bottom of the screen turned red before fading into nothingness.

The victory was short lived when Dante taunted. "Come on!" His hands lifted as if he was childishly mocking Nero, and then Ebony and Ivory were emptying their barrels on him. Nero tried to dodge, but he wasn't fast enough.

Several more green bars faded.

Nero set the Blue Rose off, but Dante was quick on the draw and fired his own round back. The bullets exploded in little sparks in the air between them. Nero didn't ease up until he was within range of Dante and he struck out at him with Red Queen. He got a couple of blows in, winning another 'damnit' for his effort, and then Dante was unleashing his own deadly swings. Nero blocked the blows with his devil arm easily.

"Is that all you got?" Nero teased – and found himself at the mercy of Rebellion as it stabbed and sliced into him with surprising stamina and force.

There were two green bars left.

Time stood still when a list popped up, hiding the two wounded demons behind it. Items were selected, and every green vitality star present in the inventory was put to use. The display shut down, and the battle raged on full throttle. There were four extra green bars added.

Four bars that were very efficiently stolen, with some interest, when Dante pulled a trickster move and caught Nero in the death grip of a million stabs.

With only half a bar of green left, Nero turned around. And ran. It was pointless because there was nowhere he could run. There was no escape – death was inevitable. Dante chased after him, and they ran in circles around the room.

~............~

"You can have the sword! You can have it, just take it!" Dante cried out in anguish, kneeling in front of the screen and angrily toggling at his controller. "Does he see no reason? Hey, kid, what's the trick? Don't you have a cheat code for this thing?"

"C'mon, Dante. You're not that hard to beat." Nero said, sinking down beside him and looking at the screen curiously. "You can't outrun him."

"Shut up."

"You have to fight. Here, let me do it."

"No way," Dante said, holding the controller out of Nero's reach. "I got this."

"Sure looks like it." Nero commented with a snort.

"I got it!" Dante snapped through gritted teeth. The avatar on screen burst into blue demon form. "Ah, ha ha!"

Nero dropped his head into his hands and rubbed his sleep. "That wasn't such a good idea."

"Why –" Dante started, and fell silent. The avatar of Nero was lying flat on the ground, and the avatar of Dante was dusting off his hands and shrugging in a cocky 'is that it?' manner.

Nero strained to suppress a laugh. Dante narrowed his eyes at him. "I hate this game." Dante muttered solemnly.

~END~