'l sol tace

Chapter IX

Yamato (part I)

A/N: Seraph, this one is for you ;)

"For hell's sake," Dante growled, as the phone kept ringing. It had done so for the last half an hour, and who ever wanted to speak to him, wouldn't give up so easily as it seemed. First, the half demon had ignored it, a skill he had attained a long time ago during his countless naps, but right now the sound pierced through his carefully built up mental walls of phlegm and was demanding his attention. But Dante couldn't afford that right now. Nero needed his help with Yamato, everything else could wait. That brought his thoughts back to… "Nero! Hey, kid! Answer the god dammed phone already! It's not gonna bite you!" Nothing, not even a movement downstairs. "Nero?" Even if the younger man had fallen asleep, the phone or Dante's voice would have woken him up by now. But that would mean… "Shit!" Now suddenly in a hurry, Dante left his place on the dusty floor of the attic, and came down the stairs, pounding. His long legs took several steps at the same time until his boots came crashing into contact with the wooden floor downstairs. He had been right. No sight of Nero anywhere. The young man must have left earlier.

The phone was still ringing, and as Dante made his way over to the desk, he saw the note his roommate had left for him. Grabbing the receiver in his usual way, he reached for the piece of paper with his other hand. "Devil May Cry." His eyes scanned the note. There were just two short lines in Nero's handwriting.

Taking care of a job. Won't take long.
52th Avenue – Jane Connor

And without a doubt, it was the voice of the same Jane Connor at the other end of the line. "Dante! Where the hell have you been?"

"Sorry, have been busy, old lady. Tell me what happened." He had great sympathy for the middle aged women. Sometimes, he even considered her a friend, and free drinks were something, he never would say no to.

"It's the boy you sent over. He's in trouble." Well, no shit. Nero could brace himself for some telling-off as soon as he got his hands on the ex-knight. Taking care of a job, right. In his condition, Nero shouldn't even be out there alone. What was he thinking?

"What happened, Jane?" Dante crushed the note in his hand.

"I don't know. He went to kill the demon, but now the entire house is on fire and when the fire department found him, he was laying on the street. It was terrible, Dante. There was so much blood, they thought he was dead, but when they saw his right arm, everything went out of control. I told them why he was here, but they wouldn't let me near him. We thought he was dead," she repeated, clearly shaken by what she had seen and Dante felt his rage coming back.

"Where is he now?" He had to find Nero – fast.

"I don't know. He woke up suddenly, like someone risen from the dead. I don't think he could hear me. He just kept going, and with the way he looked, no one dared to hold him back. I tried to call you, but…"

"I know you tried," Dante cut her short. He had to go, there was no time. He had to search for Nero. "Listen, Jane, I have to go. I must find the boy."

"Yes, you better hurry." She was right about that. The receiver hit the vintage phone, and he was already on his way out, only stopping to grab Ebony and Ivory.

52th Avenue wasn't far enough to take the bike. If Nero was conscious enough to know what he was doing, the young man would already be on his way back to the shop. Dante would be better off on foot, so he wouldn't miss the injured half-breed accidentally. The last drizzle outside stopped after Dante turned around the first corner. It left behind chilly, moist air that smelled intensely like everything the city had to offer at a night like this. Long since accustomed to the smell of this neighborhood, he ignored it and moved on.

The sound of heavy breathing and dragged steps let Dante halt his feet. He listened for a moment and changed his direction. The smell of blood became more prominent. He had to jump a chain-link fence that divided the narrow alley into two parking areas. Dante performed the movement with almost playful ease. He could hear the source of the sound getting closer, but wasn't prepared for the sight that greeted him as he rounded the next corner. Red, gleaming eyes, which indicated a nearing Devil Trigger, parted lips that were looking too pale underneath, but were covered in bright, red blood. They were pulled back into a grimace of strained exhaustion and pain. Nero's skin was ghostly pale and stood in harsh contrast to his right arm. The young man's Devil Bringer was pulsing with cool blue light that was more intense than Dante could remember. It pulsed in synch with Nero's rapid heartbeat. The youth's clothes were drenched in blood, water and dirt and torn at several places. Underneath laid bruised, ripped skin that hadn't healed yet. There was no trace of the ex-knights weapons.

Dante opened his mouth, but his charming voice failed him for the first time. If Nero was aware of his presence, he didn't let it show. Instead, the young ex-knight presumed unsteadily in the direction of the shop; feet dragging across the ground. When he was only two steps away from Dante, the older found his voice again. "Nero." The sound of his name seemed to reach the young man. The blue of his eyes was still lost in demonic red but his breath hitched a bit and Nero paused his steps, right next to Dante. The older male followed the traces of blood his young companion had left behind on the street with his eyes.

Nero didn't recognize his partner, was still too far gone to know what was happening. It was sheer will that kept him going, further and further. He couldn't stop, he couldn't rest; he had to make it back. Home, Nero thought, safe. His thoughts were reduced to the absolute minimum, limited to single words and emotions by his clouded mind. He would be there and then Nero could rest – finally. His own name tore through his thoughts, spoken in a familiar voice he had longed to hear. It sounded like an unspoken promise of safeness. His feet refused to take another step; his will to carry on wiped out from the sound.

"It's okay." He knew that was an absurd lie. Nothing was okay. Nero felt terrible. Everything just ached, and the demonic energy inside him had build up too much and was close to overpowering him any moment now. He would lose control. But the lie sounded too good to resist. He wanted to believe in those simple words desperately, and the next line crushed his resistance. "I'm here now." There was nothing alarming behind those words, no trace of worry, anger or sadness. The familiar voice sounded calm, as if spoken to a confused child after a nightmare. And Nero let go, simple as that. Darkness came in a swift, engulfing motion; covering him like a blanket.

"Dan–te …" The name escaped the young man's parted lips in an exhausted exhale, and in the same moment, Nero's legs gave way underneath him. He fell forward, and only Dante's strong arm kept him from crushing face first into the ground. The older hunter adjusted the deadweight in his arms, until he could carry his fallen friend, one arm slung around Nero's back and one supporting his legs under Nero's knees. The young man offered neither help nor resistance, but lay unconscious in Dante's arms and left it up to the older man to carry him back to the shop. Not being one to disappoint, Dante hurried his steps and pressed Nero's body closer to his chest. The ex-knight reeked of blood; both his own and that of a demon. The smell of smoke was mingled with it and he could make out faint trances of burned flesh underneath all that, betraying the absence of burns on the pale skin. They had been there, Dante was sure about it. It gave him an idea of how serious the fight between Nero and the demon had been. Exhaling deeply, Dante forced himself to calm down. Nero was here now, alive. He would make sure to keep it that way.

The double doors gave way to the hunter's heavy boot kicking them open. Concern had contorted Dante's face into a grim grimace. The older hunter had feared so before, but by now he was sure that Nero was far from okay. The young man's heart was beating furiously and his demonic arm was still pulsing with unreleased energy. The ex-knight was frighteningly pale. He had lost a lot of blood but that should be fixed by his demon abilities. Yet, Nero's wounds wouldn't heal. The slick feeling of fresh, warm blood on Dante's hand was proof enough for that. The smell of it stirred Dante's anger inside again. How could Nero have been so careless?

He made his way over to the sofa. There was no time to lose. He left the young man there and hurried to the bathroom to get the first aid kit. Nero was shivering by the time he came back. The young man's clothes had to go first. Dante fumbled with the buckles of Nero's boots. At first he couldn't understand why such a simple task could cause him such problems, but then he realized that his own hands had started to tremble. Calm down, he scolded himself. He tore at the laces but they were impossible to untangle. The material was swollen from the rain water. As thin as Dante's patience ran by now, he simply made use of his strength and ripped them apart with a snapping sound. Nero's boots were tossed aside carelessly. His jeans followed shortly after and landed unceremoniously on the floor with a wet sounding thud. Next came Nero's hoody and shirt. Both items were ripped open so Dante wouldn't have to move Nero too much to remove them. For the first time, Dante had no eyes for the beauty of the younger man's body. His gaze scanned the pale skin for injuries and was soon fixed on the bloody gash on Nero's abdomen. Dante tore off his gloves with his teeth and tossed them aside to push one hand underneath his roommate. He could feel the exit wound mirroring the gash in front and cursed under his breath. "What have you been doing, kid?"

The wound wasn't clean enough to patch it up right away, and for the first time, Dante was grateful that Nero had lost consciousness so he could spare him some of the pain. The ex-knight's organs had been injured and Dante could see traces of demonic healing. It must have kicked in before it stopped and Nero's wounds had reopened. He was no physician, and frankly, Dante had no profound knowledge when it came down to this. He had relied on his demonic abilities his whole life and it had kept him alive. Being impaled with a broadsword was nothing you could get up and walk away from. But he could. And so could Nero, if the young man could use his Trigger. But one look at the ex-knight's right arm made clear that Yamato was acting different now, in the worst of possible moments. At this rate, Nero could die.

This was no time to hesitate. If Dante couldn't rely on demon blood, he would have to use alchemy. He hurried over to his desk and went through the drawers until he found the items he would need. Eying them first and then Nero's Devil Bringer, Dante got a bad feeling about it. There was no way to tell, how Yamato would react to any alchemical tampering right now. But what other choice did he have? Returning to the young man's side, Dante crouched down right next to him. He took the Vital Star and fixed his eyes on Nero as he used it on his fallen roommate. "C'mon, kid."

He could see the alchemical power seeping into Nero's body without any rejection. The older hunter released the breath he had been holding. Nero's skin regained a bit of its usual color and the young man took a deeper, calmer breath. "That was a close call," Dante sighed and ran a hand through his hair. The bleeding from Nero's wound lessened but didn't stop. Dante waited a few more minutes. Nothing. "Aren't you just greedy now?" There were only two Vital Stars left, and at this pace, there was a chance they wouldn't be enough. Clicking his tongue in annoyance, Dante used the second one on his injured friend. It seemed to work at first, but after a few moments, Nero became even paler than before and started to shiver again. Only his Devil Bringer glowed brighter, bathing the room in blue, radiating light. It seemed like the demonic body part was sucking Nero's vital energy away – or more likely, it was Yamato's doing. "As power-hungry as its former master," Dante uttered his thoughts.

Then it hit him. If it was power Yamato sought, maybe he should give it to the katana. The hunter went trough his drawers again until he came up with a Devil Star. He rarely used them these days. There had been no need until now. Without allowing himself any second thoughts, Dante unleashed the item's power upon Nero. The energy inside the Devil Bringer appeared to be close to its peek, whatever that would cause. Dante's only hope was that by achieving that, he could save Nero the same time. The alchemical energy was absorbed like the Vital Star, and the pulsing light became a steady glow that didn't react to the young man's heartbeat anymore. Dante could feel the energy building up until it was almost overflowing. "Still not enough?" But Nero's wounds were closing already and Dante watched them intently until there was only smooth skin left. He placed an arm around Nero's shoulders and lifted the young man up a bit, to have a look at his back. There were no wounds left; only the blood sullied sofa reminded of the extent of Nero's injuries anymore.

"Let's get you cleaned up." Dante had no idea how long it would take for Nero to regain consciousness again. He lifted the ex-knight up into his arms again and carried him upstairs. Carefully, so the young man's feet or head wouldn't hit the door frame, Dante brought his friend inside Nero's bedroom and placed him onto the bed. He left him there to get a few needed things, and returned shortly after with a bowl filled with warm water and two towels. Placing everything beside him, Dante began to clean Nero's skin, to get rid of all the dirt and also, the disturbing smell of blood and sweat.

During this task, Dante resumed his inner monologue. Now, that Nero's life wasn't in acute danger anymore, the older hunter could calm down somewhat. Being too agitated reminded him of the past. Back when he was nineteen, he had been notorious for his exceptional short temper and rashness. It had rarely done him any good and looking back at these days brought up many regrets. If he should describe the change age had brought, he would say it had made him calmer. Maybe it would be the same with Nero. The young man sure could use it.

Warm, damp fabric smoothed over the human looking arm, leaving nothing behind except clean skin. He continued along the young hunter's shoulder, up his throat, after a quick detour along his nape. Folding the cloth in half, Dante wiped the blood off the pale face, being more careful here. Following the bridge of Nero's nose, the older male noticed once again, how similar they both looked. He couldn't deny that it adulated his narcissism. Who wouldn't have such issues after staring into a living mirror, also known as twin brother, to remind himself, of how good looking they were. After Vergil was gone, it had already been too late to correct that particular characteristic flaw. Truth been told, he didn't mind too much.

As Dante finished with Nero's face his sky blue eyes remained closed. He wiped down the other side of his roommate's neck until he reached his right shoulder, where human and demonic skin merged with each other. Dante still was fascinated with the young man's Devil Bringer. He ran bare fingers down the arm to the point where skin turned to blue scales; a strange texture, but not unpleasant at all. If he hadn't seen it before, Dante wouldn't believe how much power Nero's arm possessed. Thinking back of encountering the fierceness of the young man for the first time, Dante felt himself grinning. Thinking about those memories, he kept his hands busy with cleaning up Nero's right arm. It took more time as blood had dried between the scales and wasn't so easy to get rid of. As he was taking care of fingers and claws, Nero's hand twitched. A quick glance up to the youth's face told Dante, that he hadn't woken up yet, but it wouldn't take long anymore.

Not wanting to alarm the ex-knight during his awakening, Dante began to talk to Nero in a low voice. "You really did a number on yourself this time, hm kid?" Since Nero seemed especially sensitive here, Dante entwined his fingers with Nero's, caressing the back of his hand with his thumb as he continued to clean the half-breed's chest. "You shouldn't have left alone. Knowing you, you won't admit it, but it was a stupid idea in your condition." Eying the younger male's boxer shorts, the last clothing item he had left him, Dante considered to get rid of it since it still wasn't dry. However, he had the feeling, that it would be the particular moment, Nero would choose to wake up, and then, the still idle Devil Bringer would once again make acquaintance with his face. He had no doubt about that. Better to let Nero know what he was about to do beforehand. "C'mon, kid. Wake up." As he wiped down Nero's stomach, he noticed the renewed twitch of fingers as he came across the healed wound. Taking a closer look, he could make out a familiar discoloration in that area. The flesh must have healed with some foreign fragments still embedded. Annoyed, that he hadn't noticed before, Dante clicked his tongue again. He would have to take care of that. "This could get nasty," he sighed.

"What could?" came the hoarse reply. Dante's thumb kept stroking along his friend's hand, unruffled. Nero's eyes were still closed, his features still relaxed, but they contorted with pain as warm fingers pressed gingerly onto the smooth skin above his hip.

"Welcome back. Although it would have been a far more pleasant welcome if you'd have let me take care of this first." The younger male hissed, as probing fingers continued to press against his skin.

"Stop that!" Nero's left hand reached out to take hold of Dante.

"I'm afraid this has to come out first."

The answer was a low groan as Nero wasn't too hell-bent on more pain right now. His whole body still remembered the extent of this sensation. Dante's hands left him, and he could hear the older hunter getting up from the bed, doubtlessly to get something to cause him more misery. Cumbersomely, Nero got himself into a half-sitting position. He felt strange. Even without the pain, he just didn't feel right. His right arm tingled and as he opened his eyes, he was greeted by intense blue light. He tested his luck with Yamato again, but the feeling became only more unpleasant and the voice inside his mind had an unknown dark edge to it. How much more power could it possibly need? Nero was sure he couldn't take much more of it.

"You ready, kid?" Dante asked when he returned to the room, a knife in hand. No, he wasn't, but he was as ready as he would get, so there was no point in stalling. He watched Dante sitting down next to him again, an alarming, playful smile on his lips. Leave it to the older hunter to seek some kind of twisted pleasure in such a task. Maybe the smile was meant to reassure his roommate, but it sure as hell didn't.

"What if I'd say no?" Nero felt himself skidding farther away.

"Lie back down. Trust me; it will be easier that way." Nero did as he was told, but not gladly. Trust him; he had to admit that he did trust the man, strangely enough. If he had the choice, there wouldn't be anyone else whose hands he would want on himself right now. Yet it was kind of unnerving.

Dante touched the skin with his left hand, keeping it taut. He had to be quick about it, or the cuts would start to heal again before he was done. Since Nero's wounds had just healed, the flesh was still tender and the younger hunter hissed as the knife made contact. Dante offered him a sympathetic smile but didn't hesitate. We wouldn't have to be too careful. Nero's renewed healing abilities seemed more powerful than before, and he assumed it had something to do with his still overreacting Devil Bringer. Any kind of infection wouldn't have the slightest chance right now. He just needed to get the foreign material out and the quickest way to do that was…

Nero's scream echoed inside the small room as two warm, but not so careful fingers pushed inside his skin and started to feel around. The younger male tried to lie still, but he didn't know how long he could control himself. His hands clawed at the bed sheets and his muscles went rigid under the sheer force to prevent himself from jerking away from the invasive touch. Teeth buried themselves into his bottom lip, and he sucked harsh breaths through his nose to prevent another scream, as those fingers got hold of the first fragment and pulled it out.

"Two more, kid," Dante announced as the bloody piece of metal was thrown carelessly over his shoulder. He pushed his fingers back inside to prevent the cut from closing. Nero pushed his head back against the pillow and bared his throat in the process, as two red lines of fresh blood ran down his pale cheeks. The sight of it made Dante hesitate and stirred his inner demon. It felt possessive and the same time protective towards the younger man. "You can scream if you want, kid. I don't mind."

"Who would, you sadistic idiot," Nero snarled at him, but had to bite down again, as those warm fingers started to feel around inside again. Tears started to well up and he screwed his eyes shut and hit his head back against the pillow again.

"Nero." The younger male didn't respond this time, too focused on the pain; he even held his breath. Gripping the next piece but not pulling it out just now, Dante waited for Nero to suck in some more oxygen. The ex-knight did just that and shot his roommate an angry glare through half-lidded, wet shining eyes, that seemed to threaten the older hunter to get it done or face a painful death later. The look made Dante's lips spread into a smile again. Instead of telling Nero to scream again, he lifted his left hand and pressed his wrist against the ex-knight's lips. "Want to return the favor?" And as soon as his fingers started to pull a piece of splintering wood out, the younger half-breed buried his teeth deep inside his arm and bit down as hard as he could. Lips still pulled taut into the smile, Dante's remaining face contorted in concentration again. He didn't hesitate again and got rid of the last fragment in a swift motion. After his fingers were pulled out, the cut closed almost immediately and Nero's muscled relaxed again. So did his jaws as he let go of Dante's wrist. His teeth had left bloody imprints that vanished, as soon as Dante smoothed his fingers over them. Same fingers buried themselves in Nero's snowy locks, ruffling them in a familiar motion. "That wasn't so bad, now was it?" he teased the younger hunter.

Nero opened his mouth for an angry protest, but was interrupted by Dante's tongue that used the opportunity to seek access. His mind was wiped clean from what he wanted to say and his hands took hold of Dante's shoulders. He pulled the older man closer to him, and as Dante refused mockingly, Nero arched up from the bed to deal with it himself. Tongues danced together and teeth bit down playfully, as both of them refused to let go so soon, unlike last time.

As he finally leaned back a bit, Dante let his eyes wander over Nero's body. "What a sight," he grinned and his eyes kept ravishing what he saw in front of him. The younger male became aware of his obvious lack of clothing. He hadn't minded before, but now, as Dante's gaze lay so intently on him, it made him blush.

"Shut up," he growled and sat up. Chuckling, Dante ruffled Nero's hair again and pulled the younger hunter closer, until their foreheads touched.

"Get some rest," he told the ex-knight and stood up from the bed.

"Where are you going?" Nero could imagine what Dante was about to do. It was what they had been doing a moment ago that caused him to ask.

"I might have an idea how to deal with this," Dante said and gave a nod in the direction of Nero's Devil Bringer, which was still glowing as brightly as before. "But I need some things first."

"Mind telling me what you're up to?" Nero couldn't help but get an uneasy feeling about the whole thing.

"I'll explain later," his roommate promised and picked up the blanket to drape it over the younger half-demon. "You hungry?"

"Nah, just beat." Nodding in understanding, Dante took the knife and the towels.

"I'll wake you later," he said and left the ex-knight alone.

A little trip was in order. It led him into the charred remains of the burned down building first. Ignoring the caution tape, Dante entered the partially collapsed building and took a look around. The stench of burned material of all kinds greeted him, and made him wrinkle his nose. Personally, he didn't mind the smell of charred wood or gunpowder, he even kind of liked it, but burned plastic and some chemicals were something, he couldn't get used to. Poking his boot underneath some fallen wooden bars, he kept looking for the two lost weapons of his younger partner. Most likely, Nero hadn't even noticed their absence yet, and Dante wanted to make sure to have them back by the time it would happen. It could take him some time to find anything in here, but he had to trust his luck this time. A satisfied grin spread across his face, as he finally found Blue Rose. Nero's beloved revolver was in desperate need of some serious cleaning, but looked fine otherwise. With his most difficult task out of the way, the hunter went through the burned ruins a last time, just to make sure, but by now he was certain that Red Queen wasn't here anymore. It didn't worry him too much; he had an idea where to look next.

After another short detour, Dante paid Trish a visit. He was lucky to find his ex-partner so quickly, without announcing his visit first. Trish rarely sat at home doing nothing, but the blond demoness said that something had told her that she would see him very soon.

"Unfortunately, we don't have time for fun. I need some Devil Stars," he told her and sat down cavalierly. He had been to her apartment before. It was located at a considerably nicer part of the city, but truth be told, Dante like his shop better. Trish's place was too tidy, too… girlish. You could tell that she had a passion for expensive furniture and clothes. If Dante had any money to waste, it wouldn't be on those things.

"Oh my, and I guess you don't plan on paying for them," she guessed and crossed her arms in front of her chest. He looked up to her standing in front of him and shrugged. No point in denying the obvious. "Fine," she agreed, "but I'll come by later. You got some things to explain." A curt nod of thanks was all he offered her as a good-bye. Getting up from the armchair, he made his way over to the dresser where he knew she kept these kinds of items. It was time to return to the shop. Most likely Nero was awake by now.

It wouldn't be before the next afternoon, as the police officer in charge of an unsettled case of arson and aggravated assault came into an old, dusty storage room inside the department building to collect a huge, ominously looking sword, that its absence was noticed for the first time. No one had seen anything, and the metal doors had been locked. There were no signs of break-in and no one had filed a request for the weapon, but it was indeed missing without a trace. How should he explain that to his chief? He had no idea; all he knew was that he would have to face some serious paper work later.

A/N: A quick note concerning my first "hater". I cherish all of my reviews, but since this was the first negative one, I guess it deserves to be addressed. - Dear Celty, I would've loved to replay to your 'kind' words but you didn't give me the chance by using your account. First of all, thx for reading my stories even though you didn't like them. I'm happy you reviewed them anyway. "Hochtrabend" … I kinda like that, even though it's not flattering. Thehe…. Also, I got the strange impression that you know me from somewhere. If that's the case, let me know so we can exchange a few more 'kind' words. :P schätze ich werd wieder von dir hören und verbleibe als dein Lieblingsautor ;}