Chapter 5

Eighty-two minutes. That's how long Nero waited at the train station for Dante to show up. It was longer than his patience could stand and longer than the devil hunter deserved. In the end, Nero had been forced to ask three people for directions to the oddly named business before finally receiving a vague description of Devil May Cry's location.

So it was as he pushed through the masses of people within the city that Nero's eyes spotted the irritatingly familiar blonde hair of that blood sucker wench that had threatened Kyrie a block ahead of him. At first he thought it was just his imagination. But when her lips curled in that sly smile, there was no doubt that it was her. Nero quickened his pace, pushing by the form an unhappy man who issued a verbal assault at Nero's back. The blonde vanished as he got closer. Nero looked around noticing an abandoned alley to his right and cautiously turned down it while drawing Blue Rose.

The vampire stood at a dead end and Nero grinned.

"Looks like you're trapped, blood sucker," he said, fixing his gun's barrels on her forehead.

She smiled at him. "Am I?"

With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Nero spun toward the mouth of the alley, dropping his duffel bag to the ground. The vampire that had closed in behind him quickly relieved him of his weapon. In a second he felt a grip like iron twist his left arm and pin it behind him so that he was unable to go for his sword. Nero was pushed to his knees and he felt the unquestionable beckon of the power within his demonic arm. He suppressed the urge, wanting only to use it as a last resort.

"Looks like you're the one who's trapped, slayer," the new arrival chided in a sweet voice. Nero stared up at her. Her young features were set in a lethal expression of playfulness. Dark hair framed her oval face, as she gazed at him with striking green eyes.

Nero forced a sneer and felt the calling of Yamato grow stronger. "Don't bet on it," he retorted.

The blonde gripped a fistful of his white hair and Nero pursed his lips to keep from crying out. "Kill him, Becca," she ordered.

The green eyes of the vampire before Nero lost some of their amusement and flashed with regret at having been reprimanded for her games. Then with a last smile, she trailed a finger down Nero's face from temple to jaw. His bravado faltered. Her touch burned his skin, but not in an unpleasant way. He continued to stare at her, but more with fascination than hatred. His mind suddenly registered her scent as intoxicating and he drunkenly wondered what it would feel like to kiss her.

Nero jerked at the sound of a gunshot and came back to reality with a crash. The hands holding him let go. Becca stood stunned with a bullet sized hole in the center of her forehead. Nero didn't have time to react as his upturned face was splattered with dark, partially congealed blood. Becca's head detached from her body and – by some force for which Nero was thankful – fell to the left with a soft thud.

As her body fell to the opposite side as her head, Nero's eyes met with the familiar red coat of Dante. He forced himself to gain control of his thoughts as the demon hunter took steady strides closer and eyed the boy while returning his massive sword to it's sheath and his dark gun to it's holster.

"Sorry to crash the party, kid," Dante said with a lopsided grin, "but I thought you could use a hand."

Nero got to his feet and looked around for Blue Rose while trying to hide his relief at the older man's arrival. He walked by Dante and bent to retrieve his gun with his left hand and his luggage with his right.

"That suppose to be a joke?" he asked unamused.

Dante laughed. "Now that you mention it, it was kinda funny."

Nero shook his head. He looked around the alley and suddenly realized that there was only one corpse present.

"Where's the other one?" he asked the hunter.

Dante jerked a thumb over his shoulder to indicate the direction behind him. "The blonde took off."

Nero waited. When the other man didn't move he asked, "Aren't you goin' after her?"

Dante shook his head, his platinum hair played at his eyebrows. "Nah. I'm not really in the mood for a chase right now."

Nero shot him a glare. It was one thing to make jokes about a dangerous situation, but to take a serious threat so lightly was stupidity. He huffed and started an irritated pace out of the alley.

"Where ya going?" Dante called after him.

"To look for the blood sucker," Nero called behind him.

"Might as well forget it, kid." The youth stopped and turned back to look at Dante. "She's long gone and I doubt she'll be back."

Letting some of his rage dissipate, Nero stared at him. "How do you know?"

"Leeches are territorial," the hunter responded. "And this ain't her territory."

Nero gave a dry laugh. "You think they're scared of ya," he observed.

Dante gave him a sadistic smile. "I sure as hell hope so."

The older man moved by Nero and turned right to rejoin the crowds of civilians milling about the city. The young man followed hoping that the devil hunter knew what he was doing. He was still irritated at being stood up, but thankful for the assistance.

"I thought you were meeting me at the station," he stated.

"Guess it slipped my mind," Dante told him.

Nero grinned. "Maybe you're getting old."

Dante chuckled. He gave the boy a sideways glance. "It's not the years, it's the mileage."

They continued in silence for a few blocks, and Nero looked ahead to see the pink neon sign that read the name of Dante's office. The hunter led Nero through the door and the boy looked around struggling to pick an adjective that suited the disastrous interior. Disgusting was the first one that came to his mind. Nero was fairly certain that the room had never seen a mop, much less a damp one.

Dante began to point out rooms and go over the rules he expected Nero to follow during his stay at Devil May Cry. "Bathroom's there. Fridge is over here, but it ain't got nothing in it. The bar is stocked if ya like whiskey. If not, yer outta luck. Pick a couch, cause that's where yer sleepin'. Don't go in the basement. And upstairs is off limits for everyone except babes."

Nero gave a slight shake of his head. "Trust me. I don't wanna see your bedroom. Down here is bad enough." He glanced at the overflowing trash bins. "Ever thought about hiring a maid?"

Dante hung his sword on the wall and lay his twin pistols on the desk. He sat in the high-backed chair facing Nero and reclined back, lifting the front legs off the floor and resting his feet on the desk. "Can't find one that'll work for free," he said.

Nero went to the couch closest to the jukebox and kicked a wadded up brown paper bag out of the way. He dropped his luggage on the floor and sat down. He glanced around while Dante leafed through a magazine.

"You wanna tell me why you were so hell bent on getting me here?" he spoke in the silence.

Dante didn't look up. "Wasn't my idea."

Nero narrowed his eyes at the hunter. "Care to explain?"

The other man finally turned his eyes to Nero seeming confused by the misunderstanding. "It was just a suggestion," he said. "Your boss sounded kinda worried about ya when he called. From what he said, I knew the leeches wouldn't quit til you were dead. That would cause me more problems than it's worth, so I figured you'd be safer here. Call me selfish, but I like to protect my investment."

Nero looked down at his devil arm wherein resided the potent form of Yamato and finally understood. It had never been about keeping him safe. Not to Dante. The youth accepted this with only a little disappointment.

"You think the vampires know I got Yamato?"

Dante shook his head. "Not unless you told 'em."

Nero shook his head in response. The only ones who knew that Dante had entrusted his brother's weapon to the young knight were himself, the hunter and Kyrie. Nero had been cautious with the sword. He never used it unless he had to and he rarely had to. His skills with Red Queen and Blue Rose were enough to handle most demons.

"Good," Dante stated. "But after what happened the last time that sword was in the hands of The Order, I ain't takin' a chance on an encore. That's why I invited ya. Well, that and I figured you could give me hand around here."

Dante gave him a small grin and Nero shook his head. "The hand jokes are lame."

The hunter chuckled. "I'm amused."

Nero thought it was time to turn the conversation back to more serious matters. "Have you been able to find out anything about the vampires? And what they're up to?"

The elder man lowered his legs and let the chair fall back to the floor. "Not really, kid. Those two today are the first I've seen in a while. They don't come around here."

"Cause this is your turf," Nero stated.

Dante shrugged. "I took care of the ones that lurked around here a long time ago. Not sure if you know this, but these blood suckers ain't demonic. I wish they were. It'd make 'em easier to deal with. But this kind, they've been around for a long time and they're...tougher. Not to mention they're manipulative and sneaky. Humans ain't got a chance against 'em. But they've always been scarce." He tossed the magazine onto the desk. "As to what they're planin', I ain't got a clue. But I'd really like to know why they got the sudden urge to reproduce."

"So would I," Nero sympathized. "But they don't seem too interested in tellin' us."

"Can't trust anything they say anyhow."

Dante was staring ahead at nothing and Nero wondered how much experience the man really had with vampires. He didn't seem as confident in his ability to eliminate the undead as he was in his skill with exterminating demons. Nero thought it odd to see the flippant Son of Sparda so morose.

"Word of advise, kid," Dante said turning his somber gaze to Nero. "Never let one of those leeches touch ya."

Nero nodded remembering Becca's caress and glad that Dante hadn't witnessed it.

The hunter stood up and took his broadsword from it's rack, muttering. "It just ain't right."

The youth watched Dante gather his weapons and prepare to leave wondering if he should be doing the same. The half demon stopped at the door and looked back at Nero as if remembering that the boy was there.

"I got somethin' I gotta do," he said. "Dunno when I'll be back. It's best if you just hang out here tonight. If ya get hungry, you can order a pizza – the number's by the phone. Tell 'em to put it on my tab and I'll pay when I get the money."

"Okay," Nero said quietly. The youth had a feeling that there was something the hunter wasn't telling him. But he thought it best to keep his misgivings to himself for the present. Dante's voice and body language said he wanted to be alone so Nero would respect that.

"Don't let anyone in and don't answer the phone," Dante further issued.

"What if Lady calls?" Nero asked.

Dante shrugged. "She'll call back."

"She said you owe her."

The hunter froze as he was about to pull the door closed behind him. He looked back at Nero with obvious annoyance. "So that's the thanks I get for givin' her a nice, easy job. Ha! Women!"

Nero smiled as the door slammed and speculated what the payback would involve.