[A/N: Sorry it took me so long to start this chapter! I just started school again and I was flooded with assignments; but no time for excuses… I have to write this!]
6:00 in the morning, and still, nothing. Of course, when Dante woke up three hours earlier to keep his eye on the kid, he didn't expect that he'd sleep this long. Dante's hot flashes were still very prominent. Every time they came, he ran into the bathroom, threw the faucet to cold and just sat in the heavenly down pour. Dante got slightly lazy, however, after the third wave of heat, and decided to leave just a towel around his waist. He didn't need to keep changing into clean clothes.
Dante began to doubt his own suspicions; Nero wasn't showing any signs of being in demonic heat yet. His only proof was communication, which, he remembered Trish telling him, was the sure-fire way of knowing. He also knew the hellish heat was a symptom; although he knew this among other things, Dante kept uncharacteristically doubting himself. What if I'm wrong? He continuously asked himself, What if the kid is just messin' with me? No, he realized. Nero probably wouldn't take it this far. The kid was too serious.
However, Dante started to get worried when he saw beads of sweat forming on Nero's face. Dante furrowed his brow, leaning closer to get a better look. His breath hitched, Dante noticed, and his breathing got heavier. It was another symptom, no doubt. Nero was definitely in heat. He was rather proud of himself for his 'remarkable abilities of restraint', when Nero suddenly sighed Dante's name in his sleep... only, it wasn't Nero's voice. Dante inwardly cursed and backed away from the kid; he was starting to heat up again. If Dante didn't leave now...
Stay and take him. He'll thank you.
I have to go; I have to leave... Dante thought, running into the bathroom, closing the door and locking it, "A shower; a cold shower'll help..." he told himself, twisting the shower handles swiftly. Sighing, he stepped into the shower, his head in his hands as he thought through his sustained heat.
He knew the kid was going to wake up any minute. He also knew he was going to wake up burning just as Dante did the first time. What if the kid couldn't control his demonic urges? What if Nero forced himself on Dante and Dante lost control? Demons mated for life; he couldn't let that happen. He couldn't ruin the kid's life. After all, Dante was an 'arrogant ass', he recalled. A 'lethargic dope'. He could never live with himself if he let that happen.
"Dante!" he heard the kid shout from his bedroom. He woke up, Dante concluded. He needs help.
Dante turned off the shower, despite still feeling the suffocating heat. He needed to help Nero. I need to keep him at a distance, he reminded himself. No close contact. He repeated these thoughts in his head as he approached Nero, gasping for air and sweating, laying limply on the floor. Dante lifted him gently and carried him off into the bathroom, setting him onto the bottom of the tub, clothes on, and turning on the shower, just as he'd done with himself. He left Nero for a moment to get a bucket of ice.
Nero, still gasping in the cold, refreshing rain, began to attempt to think for a second. Dante was right, he knew. He wouldn't be motionless and burning up in a tub full of freezing water if he wasn't right. I'm in heat, he thought to himself, I'm in heat, and so is Dante.
You know what to do, don't you?
Nero shook his head. No matter how much he denied his feelings for the ass hole, he could never keep them quiet for long. He remembered reading a book from the order on demons when he was still serving them. He recalled the section on mating seasons; some demons stayed in heat for only days, some for months, some for years, and some... forever. Nero could never stand this heat for years, much less forever. He also knew that the type of demon that he and Dante was not only just mated, but mated for life; eternally and chemically bonded with each other, unable to stray from one another, no matter the circumstance. It sounded romantic the first time Nero read it, and he wondered why humans weren't like that. Now he knew.
Dante wouldn't want a weak, unskilled, novice demon hunter like himself for eternity. He'd only be a burden; an annoyance. Having to protect him on missions he was too weak to complete on his own... he could already see the disappointment in the older hunter's eyes. It made his heart throb and his eyes burn at the thought. Or was that the water getting in his eyes?
Dante returned with the bucket of ice and poured it on Nero. Nero sighed, "You don't have to do this,"
"You've already done the same for me," Dante told Nero, smirking, "Why wouldn't I returned the favor?"
Nero paused, smiled, and said, "I love your smile..." before abruptly letting the heat take over him and passing out.
Dante wondered if that statement was true, or if it was Nero's demon talking.
The fan was turning off-balance, Nero noticed. It wobbled slightly before it slowly rounded its clockwise destination. Three times, Nero thought about getting up and fixing it. It was making a certain noise that seemed to annoy Dante. A slow, hesitant creaking that made him cringe slightly. Nero wondered if the fan could possibly be set on high speed, then wondered how it would look like, how it would sound, how it would fall.
Dante cleared his throat, pulling Nero out of his distraction. When his eyes met Dante's, he blushed, then looked down at his hands that were folded in his lap. The silence tormented them both, Nero knew, but every time Nero opened his mouth, his voice caught in his throat.
Dante sighed, "You know why I called you down here." Nero nodded weakly, still desperately trying to avoid eye contact. Dante leaned into the palm of his hand; "Either we need to figure a way out of this, or..." he trailed off. They both knew where that statement was going.
Nero sighed, "Can't we just take a potion; a pill?"
Dante shook his head, "This isn't something you can just simply avoid."
Nero huffed, and crossed his arms. "Is there any other way?" he asked, glaring at anything but Dante's face; he chose the wobbly fan. His leg started shaking, and his OCD started kicking in. God, he wanted to fix that fan.
"Kid, you don't understand this at all." Dante stood up abruptly and walked towards Nero, "Kid, look at me." Nero kept his eyes to the fan. Dante crouched down to eye level with Nero and grabbed his chin, "Look at me, Nero."
Nero, when forced to look at Dante, tried his best to muster his best glare. It faltered, and faltered badly behind his very prominent blush. At this point, Nero was already held by Dante's smoldering gaze. He couldn't speak.
Dante gave a cocky smirk, "That's why you aren't looking at me?" he removed his hand from Nero's chin, "You're shy?"
Nero couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't take looking at him so closely; couldn't take the look Dante gave him, when he quirked that eyebrow and smirked like the cock-sure bastard he was. He took Dante's face in his hands and, without hesitation, pressed his lips against his.
Dante froze. He kept asking himself if it were really the kid doing this, or his demon taking control. Or maybe I'm dreaming, he thought, grabbing Nero's shoulders and hesitantly pushing Nero off of him. This couldn't be the kid acting on his own, he told himself.
Nero pursed his lips and looked down at his feet, disappointed in himself for acting on impulse. He took a step back, intent on retreating swiftly into the kitchen, when a long ring interrupted the smooth, awkward silence. Dante looked over Nero's dissatisfied expression, wishing he could kiss away his sadness, before timidly pacing into the kitchen. He picked up the phone and told the caller, "Devil May Cry. This is Dante."
"You sent her back, didn't you?" The voice was raspy, slurred and unfamiliar.
Dante furrowed his brow, "Who is this and what're you talking about?" Nero heard this question, and looked up at Dante with a puzzled expression.
The voice audibly grimaced and muttered, "Damn demon-handed hell spawn," before hanging up.
Dante took a deep, collective breath, calmly set the phone down, and gently took Nero's chin in his hand. He looked him in the eyes and murmured, "You're beautiful. Don't you ever forget that," and with that, he turned and calmly trekked up the stairs to his room.
Nero, confused and slightly flushed at that last comment, yelled after him, "Who was on the phone?"
Dante set his hand on the railing and paused, "Forget it. It was no one." Nero followed Dante to his room and asked again; Dante stayed silent. Nero groaned and sat on his makeshift bed on the floor. Dante sighed and put his head in his hands, "It was a Fortuna nut."
Nero huffed, "That's it? Just a Fortuna nut?" he glared at the ceiling, "That wasn't all that bad…"
"I wish they wouldn't call," he leaned back, crossing his arms behind his head.
Nero scowled, "They can bite me."
The phone rang again. Dante was determined to let it ring, but didn't stop Nero when he stood up and went downstairs. He closed his eyes and sighed, deciding to let the kid handle it.
Nero, half expecting a mission, and half expecting another Fortuna nut, picked up the phone and answered the way Dante did, "Devil May Cry, this is Dante's assistant." What he heard wasn't what he expected.
There was a sobbing gentleman on the other line. It sounded like he could barely manage a word. Nero calmly asked the man what was wrong, and what he heard may have sounded indecipherable to a human ear. To Nero's ear, it was louder than the sound of the earth splitting. He dropped the phone on the receiver, calmly stepped up the stairs and walked into Dante's room with no expression whatsoever. He sat on the foot of Dante's bed, and faced the wall. He thought. He put his chin in his hand... and really thought. Should I be sad? He asked himself. Should I be curling up in Dante's lap and bawling my eyes out?The news he received was staggeringly awful. It was ground breaking. Nero should be on his knees with his face in his hands screaming out to the heavens, how could this happen? But he wasn't. He was in no state of shock, his face wasn't wet with tears, Dante's lap wasn't a safe haven, and he wasn't asking God why. He was in this arctic zone of some kind of acceptance. It was like his mind left earth. He couldn't speak. He couldn't feel. He was... numb.
Dante sat up in his bed, feeling the tension grow. He put a hand on Nero's shoulder and asked, "What'd they say, Kid?"
Nero jumped at the contact, and realized he came back to reality. He looked at Dante's concerned face, then continued his lengthy stare at the wall. He opened his mouth to speak, but what came out was as audible as a whisper, "Kyrie."
Dante rolled his eyes, "What about her?" Dante could hear his inner devil starting to growl with a sound dripping with jealousy.
Nero swallowed. "She's dead."