Okay, everyone...first and foremost, I apologize for taking so long with this chapter. I want to thank each one of you for sticking with me to the very end with this. I mean that from the bottom of my heart; thank you, so very much.
Yes, this is the final chapter, and as such, it is the longest one of all (not by design, but for the simple fact that it covers everyone's point of view). I made the theme Halloween, since it's only a couple of weeks away, but otherwise the main focus is on the characters perspectives of Dante, closing with his.
I really, really hope I did well with this; also, though I read it over a few times while writing it still, I apologize in the event that I missed any errors. If you find any, please let me know what they are, and where.
Again, thank you all so much for reading this word-prompt series. :) It's been an honour.
Disclaimer: I don't own Devil May Cry, or the characters; they are the property of Capcom. This is non-profit, and purely for entertainment.
Patty couldn't help but giggle at the dumbfounded expression on the devil hunter's face; one eyebrow was quirked upward, his lip twisting slightly as he peered down at the teenaged girl through a fringe of silvery-white hair.
"Okay, I give up; who are you supposed to be?" Dante finally asked her after a moment, shoving his hands into his pants' pockets.
"I'm Alice." Patty answered, grinning smugly.
"Alice? Alice who?"
Patty narrowed her eyes at him, and heaved a sigh. "Alice, as in 'Alice in Wonderland'," She gestured grandly at the powder blue dress adorned with frilly lace and ribbon, along with the ribbon that tied her hair back. "Honestly Dante, how did you not get that?"
"Well excuse me for not being versed in your girly fairy tales." The half devil snorted, crossing his arms over his chest in his typical cocky stance.
Seeing his grin, Patty was unable to keep a straight face, and opted to change the subject; if she laughed, she'd only encourage him more...
"Anyway, I brought the pumpkins for us to carve." She cast her gaze back toward the six large, orange fruit sitting on the second step leading up to the Devil May Cry building.
"How the hell did you get them here?" Dante asked her, his expression becoming puzzled once again.
"My mom dropped me off with them," Patty snickered, "What, did you think I carried them here all by myself?"
"I think you've been spending too much time around me," Dante stated wryly, "it looks like some of my sarcastic charm is finally starting to rub off on you."
Patty stuck her tongue out at him playfully, and hefted one of them pumpkins up, balancing it against her hip. "And Nero's…and Lady's…" She declared as she passed him to enter the building.
She could hear him chuckle softly behind her, as he gathered up the rest of the pumpkins in an impressive show of skill, looking like he was performing a balancing and juggling act, all at once.
"Be careful with those." Patty warned with a backward glance, her eyes widening slightly when one of the pumpkins started teetering forward slightly.
Dante scoffed in reply, his voice muffled by the burden he carried in front of him, his face hidden from view. "Please, I slay demons for a living. I think I can handle a few Jack-O-Lanterns."
Just as he said this, the pumpkin in question plummeted toward the floor, Patty lurching forward to catch it just before it hit.
"You were saying?" She ground out between clenched teeth, her muscles straining under the weight of the pumpkin. Tucking it under one arm, she bent over to pick up the one she'd set down quickly in order to catch it, carefully rolling it up her side with one hand until it was tucked securely under her other arm.
"Impressive." Dante murmured from around his batch, his wide eyes betraying his astonishment.
Patty grinned at this. "Why, thank you. And by the way, they're not Jack-O-Lanterns; at least not yet."
"Yeah yeah, whatever…" Dante mumbled, beginning his slow, cautious journey toward the kitchenette.
Patty followed along behind him, stifling a giggle at the obvious embarrassment in the half devil's tone; a lack of coordination was rare in his case, and by god, she wasn't about to let him forget about it. After all, it wasn't often she had ammunition to use against the half devil; it tended to be the opposite in fact, resulting in him mercilessly teasing her.
Well, now it's his turn to feel my wrath. She thought to herself, grinning wickedly. She would just have to wait for the perfect moment.
Dante set the pumpkins down on the counter with a grunt, and cast a glance at Patty, his mouth twisting into an uncertain frown. "What's so funny?" He asked her.
"Nothing!" Patty widened her eyes, attempting to feign innocence, though she couldn't quite hide her grin.
"Uh-huh…" Dante narrowed his eyes suspiciously, continuing to stare at the blonde girl until she felt a slight shiver go up her spine.
"Well anyway," she hastily changed the subject, and began rooting through various utensil drawers, her back turned to the half devil, "we'll need a good, sharp knife to carve these pumpkins."
As she inspected each knife closely, Patty felt a blush creep into her cheeks, her face becoming hot; she could almost feel Dante's gaze boring into the back of her head.
"Nice try little lady," Dante's voice came from directly behind her, making her jump slightly. "If you think I'm going to drop the subject that easily, you're sadly mistaken…"
"I swear to god, Dante…" Patty whirled around, meeting the half devil's devious gaze with a fierce one of her own, "if you even think of trying to get the info out of me in a way that winds up messing up my hair or my costume, I'll use the Alan's Tear against you!"
Several seconds ticked by, as Patty maintained her stern expression; Dante stared at her, his pale blue eyes blinking rapidly, before he succumbed to laughter.
"Okay, okay!" The half devil chuckled, grabbing hold of the knife that Patty had just been about to take from the drawer. "I'll let it go…for now."
Patty let out a sigh of relief, and picked out a similar knife to the one Dante was currently using. She watched him as he cut open the top of the biggest pumpkin on the counter, his tongue slightly tucked between his teeth while his eyebrows drew together with concentration.
The blonde girl shook her head, smiling slightly at the devil hunter's expression. Letting her gaze drift over the rest of the orange fruit, she sidled up to the one that caught her eye, standing just to the left of Dante. With her own knife, she sliced into the top of the pumpkin, sawing in a circular motion around the stem, creating an opening big enough for a grown man to stick his hand in.
Hmm, I should probably put an apron on. She mused. After all, pumpkin guts are pretty messy.
Grabbing the apron that hung just on the back of the kitchenette door, she returned to her pumpkin, grinning as she listened to Dante humming to himself. She doubted that he even realized he was doing it.
As she started removing the innards from her pumpkin, tossing them into the plastic bag Dante had set on the counter, she glanced at him with her peripherals. "Hey Dante…do you remember when we first met?"
She couldn't help smiling when she heard him chuckle in response, all the while both of them carving their pumpkins.
"I try not to." Was his smart-assed reply, his eyes twinkling mischievously as he looked over at her.
Patty knew Dante was only kidding, but she couldn't stop herself from retorting, "Nearly seven years later, and you're still a broke, strawberry sundae-loving jerk."
"And you're still a brat." He teased back, laughing as Patty playfully punched him in the shoulder.
Returning to her pumpkin carving, Patty popped out two triangular pieces, and tossed them into the trash bag.
She remembered their first meeting well; the half devil had complained to Morrison that he wasn't interested in babysitting some brat. He had then insulted her further, when he said that maybe in ten years or so, he'd ask her out on a date. Even at such a young age, Patty had been quick to the draw, returning with her own scathing remark that she'd say no in ten seconds.
"We've come a long way since then." She stated softly, her eyes never straying from her work.
Indeed, they had; while they continued to bicker just as they had back then, there was an undeniable bond between them. In truth, that bond had germinated the moment Dante had taken up the task of being her bodyguard; the only difference was that the bond had grown, and become a lush forest.
As she reminisced, Patty could feel herself blushing, and blushed even deeper when she caught Dante look at her out of the corner of his eye.
"Heh, I suppose you're right." He declared with a wry grin, "You're not nearly as irritating as you were back then."
Patty stopped partway through cutting the Jack-O-Lanterns nose, and glared at the devil hunter half-heartedly.
"You say that, as if you were perfection itself." She countered, and continued carving the pumpkin.
"Am I not?"
Patty rolled her eyes heavenward and met the hunter's playful smile with her own, giggling at how boyish he could appear when he wanted to.
Leave it to Dante to disarm me by making me laugh. She thought with a groan. Knowing that further talk of their first meeting was doomed to failure, the blonde teenager tried a different tactic.
"Hey, do you think we could get in a little sparring practice tomorrow?" She asked him, casting a hopeful glance his way.
"Have you been taking proper care of that new weapon that Nero made for you, just like we taught you?" Dante asked her, continuing with the carving his own Jack-O-Lantern.
"Of course," Patty declared, "I take it apart and clean it every day, and I keep the blade well oiled."
She smiled faintly, her vision becoming hazy as she recalled the day both white-haired men had presented the weapon to her. It was a gun-blade, made of carbon-steel. Nero had crafted it himself, when he noticed the teen had trouble switching back and forth from blade to firearm. And so, he had created a custom, one-of-a-kind weapon for her. While gun-blades weren't a new concept, this particular one was meant for Patty, alone.
Years earlier, after Dante had defeated Sid in Abigail's form, the young girl had taken a shard of the original Alan's Tear pendant as a memento, despite having her own, slightly-less-powerful version of it.
Nero had taken this shard, and infused it into the gun-blade's handgrip; that way, Patty's attacks would be amplified by the small amount of magic still present in the shard.
"Have you gotten used to the revolver's kickback, yet?" Dante's voice brought her out of her reverie, the teen blinking several times until her vision refocused.
"Yeah, it's not as bad anymore." She nodded, smiling wistfully. "Karma works perfectly."
The teen had christened the gun-blade herself, seeing her weapon as karmic retribution against all the devils she fought while alongside the more experienced hunters. Though she knew she had a lot more training to go, Patty was pleased with herself; in the last year, she had come a long way, her talent truly manifesting itself through her custom weapon.
"Damn it…" Dante muttered, glaring at his Jack-O-Lantern.
Patty looked at him in confusion, her gaze shifting to the carved pumpkin-only to immediately burst out laughing. "Dante, what did you do?" She snickered, her eyes watering as she took in the Jack-O-Lantern's crooked facial features, one eye much smaller than the other, with the mouth askew, giving the impression the Halloween lantern was grimacing painfully.
"Shut up…" He groaned, his shoulders slumping as he hung his head.
This only caused Patty to laugh harder, the teenager gripping her sides as she doubled over.
"You did so badly, even the Jack-O-Lantern is upset with you." She giggled, trying to ignore the laughter-induced stitch in her side.
The next thing she knew, something slimy hit her right in the face, causing her to yelp in surprise.
Is that…what I think it is?
"Gah!" Patty howled her protest. "Pumpkin guts? Oh, you're so going to get it now, Dante!"
Patty scowled at the devil hunter, as she wiped the slimy pumpkin innards from her face. Something about her expression must have amused him, for Dante gave in to riotous laughter, the devil hunter gripping the countertop for support.
"You think it's funny, do you?" Patty scooped up a big glob of pumpkin guts, and strode toward the still laughing half devil. Before he could raise a hand in self defense, the teen shoved the glob right into his face.
Patty couldn't keep herself from laughing loudly, as the pumpkin guts slid down the devil hunter's nose. He wore a mock glare on his face, though his eyes were alight with amusement. He started advancing on her, his steps slow and deliberate.
Patty felt a prickle at the back of her neck, causing her to shudder involuntarily. She retreated a few paces, her hands held in front of her in an attempt to ward the half devil off.
"Now, now, Dante; you brought it on yourself, remember? I was only getting you back for what you did to me…"
The blonde teen gulped as Dante let loose with a sinister chuckle, feeling a bead of sweat rolling down her temple.
"Oh, but didn't you know, Patty?" Though his tone was playful, there was no mistaking the underlying current containing the promise of retribution. "Revenge only begets more revenge!"
With that, the duo entered a full-out pumpkin gut flinging war, Patty laughing and shrieking as she desperately tried to dodge the slimy substance.
Dante laughed maniacally along with her, the half devil ducking and weaving as Patty barraged him with pumpkin innards. It got to the point that she didn't know what made her laugh more; their little game, or the half devil's infectious laughter.
Just as Dante was about to fling more pumpkin guts her way, he stopped dead in his tracks, his pale blue eyes wide with surprise as the pumpkin guts slid from his fingers onto the floor. Lowering her defensive stance, Patty cocked an eyebrow at him.
What's gotten into him, all of a…
Patty let out a groan, as a metaphorical light bulb blinked to life in her head. "Trish is standing in the doorway, isn't she?" She murmured, her fearful gaze meeting his.
Seeing that Dante wasn't going to answer, and knowing what the answer would be anyway, Patty turned around, her eyes meeting Trish's smirk of mild amusement.
Grinning sheepishly at the she-devil, Patty slowly wiggled the fingers of one hand in greeting. "Hi, Trish…"
"Ooh, nice cat costume, Trish." Dante joked, his eyes roving appreciatively over the demoness' form; from the black cat ears on top of her head, to the fluffy tail positioned at the small of her back. The she-devil had opted to stick to her regular leather pants and bustier, figuring it would add to what little she had in regards to the costume she'd thrown together at the last minute. She'd also seen fit to paint whiskers and a pink circle on the tip of her nose, her blue-green eyes accented with a light dusting of black eye shadow.
At Dante's wolf whistle, Trish let out a groan, shaking her head at both the half devil and the disastrous state of the kitchenette. Before she could admonish either of the culprits, Lady came to join her, the brunette clad in a cliché witch's costume; silver buckled boots, black robe, and of course, a pointy black hat.
"And Lady, it looks like you're finally getting in touch with the real you." Dante's eyes shone playfully as he said this, but Trish knew Lady wouldn't let it slide, either way.
"Dumbass," Lady muttered in reply, her eyes narrowing when she took in his appearance, "and just where is your costume?"
"Oh don't worry babe." Dante winked at Lady, the brunette exchanging a look with the demoness that just screamed, 'How do you do it?' The half devil continued, "You'll see it soon enough."
"Given the mess you and Patty made," Trish cleared her throat, glaring meaningfully at Dante, "I'd say it's a good thing you haven't put your costume on, yet."
Dante only shrugged in response, wearing his customary casual grin; no matter how hard she tried, Trish couldn't help smiling back. The half devil always seemed to know what buttons to push, but more importantly, he always knew how to diffuse a situation-particularly one he had caused.
Damn him. Trish mentally cursed, attempting to maintain her severe demeanor, and failing.
"And luckily for me," Patty chimed in, glancing down at herself, "I was wearing an apron. Honestly Dante, I would have killed you, if you got any of that stuff on me!"
"Hey, you started it." The half devil protested, "And besides, I made sure not to hit your costume; I am a nice guy, after all."
At this, Trish started to laugh, the blonde teenager and brunette devil hunter laughing along with her. Dante frowned at all three of them, but the she-devil knew he was faking it; he had fully intended on making them laugh, even if it was at his expense.
"Okay, that's enough now." The demoness declared, grinning warmly at the half devil and adolescent girl. "You two should clean this mess up before the others arrive; Lady and I will finish carving the other pumpkins."
Once both the demoness and female hunter had donned aprons of their own, they set to work on the remaining four Jack-O-Lanterns, making short work of it compared to Dante and Patty.
Of course, that's probably because we're not throwing pumpkin meat around… The she-devil concluded, smiling faintly as she continued her meticulous carving of the last pumpkin.
"There, all done." She declared, nodding in approval at her work. Lady, Dante, and Patty all crowded behind her, eyeing her handiwork.
"Wow! How did you do that?" Patty asked her, blue eyes wide with astonishment.
"Lots-and I mean lots-of practice." Trish answered easily with a casual shrug.
"That is pretty intricate," Lady remarked, her heterochromatic eyes meeting Trish's with a hint of good-natured envy, "but just how did you do a portrait of all of us like that, exactly?"
"I did it from memory." Trish explained, "I've always had an eye for details."
"I'd say." The female hunter replied, nodding appreciatively, the brim of her witch's hat slipping lower over her eyes with the movement.
"Why don't you and Patty start decorating the office?" Trish suggested, "Dante and I will find a good place for all of the Jack-O-Lanterns."
Lady nodded her understanding and headed out of the kitchenette, the teenaged girl on her heels.
"Well, wherever we put the rest of them," Dante said to her with a smile, "this one is definitely going out on the front steps. None of the punks in this neighbourhood would dare smash it."
Trish cocked an eyebrow at this, genuinely curious by what he had meant by that statement.
"Dante, you didn't…?"
The half devil waved a hand dismissively at the she-devil, grinning. "Don't worry; I didn't do anything…the devils haunting the office, however…" He let out a sinister chuckle, and picked up one of the Jack-O-Lanterns, taking quick strides out into the office area.
Trish let out a laugh of her own, following the half devil out with a Jack-O-Lantern under each arm. "I thought you were going to try and banish them?"
"Who said I didn't?" He countered with a wry grin. "They're more stubborn than you think. And I can't release them, either. If I did, they would bring hell down on this city."
Knowing him, he means that literally. Trish thought to herself with a smile.
Out loud, she said, "Maybe I can help."
As she positioned one of the Jack-O-Lanterns on the coffee table in the sitting area, Dante set another next to the jukebox. "Care to elaborate?" He asked with a glance at her over his shoulder.
"Well, if they can't be exorcised, at the very least I can bind them for a few hours tonight." Trish replied, putting her second Jack-O-Lantern beside the stairs. "It should at least be long enough to keep them from scaring away any of the children trick-or-treating tonight."
"Well, if you can pull it off, I guess I'll owe you my thanks." Dante winked at her, before slipping back into the kitchenette for the other Jack-O-Lanterns.
Trish smiled at his retreating back. The demoness was sure that if they had had this conversation several years earlier, the half devil would have made some snide comment about not giving a damn whether the devils scared trick-or-treaters, or not. In fact, he probably would have personally made sure there were no trick-or-treaters at his door.
Or he would make sure he wasn't home, and drink himself into a stupor at the nearest bar until every last kid was in bed with a candy-induced stomach ache. She mused, giggling.
From the time they had first become devil hunting partners to now, Trish couldn't deny; Dante had done a lot of maturing over the years. She knew that everyone had done their part, in bringing out the best in the half devil, and she was given to wonder just how much of that she had contributed to.
Of course, it wasn't as though Dante didn't share in some of that, himself; the demoness would never discredit him for the transformation he'd undergone over the years. After all, he had learned some hard life lessons, and despite some of his rougher periods of growth, he had managed to transcend all of it, becoming the charismatic, powerful, good-humoured man he was today.
She watched as the half devil strategically placed the other Jack-O-Lanterns around the room, his gaze meeting hers as he held the last one-the one with the portrait she had carved. He beckoned her over with a finger, smiling at her in that way he had that, if not for how proud she was, would have made her swoon.
"Since this one is yours, you should do the honours." He told her, guiding her out into the chilly evening air.
As the door snapped shut behind them, Trish reached out, and took the Jack-O-Lantern from him, her eyes scanning for the perfect spot. Deciding the edge of the top step was as a good spot as any, she gingerly put it down, and pulled the top off. Dante had already placed a simple candle on the inside, so all she had to do was light it. Casting a glance up at him, her lips pulled into a slight grin, noting the match he held out to her.
"You didn't think I'd forget it, did you?" He admonished her good-naturedly, his pale blue eyes dancing as he looked at her.
Trish took the match, and struck it against the concrete step, carefully lowering the flame into the Jack-O-Lantern. Once the candle was lit, she straightened, waving the match until only a wisp of smoke curled up from the blackened match head. The demoness was caught off-guard, when Dante's arm encircled her waist, and he pulled her close against him, his lips pressing against hers.
Trish gasped slightly, her blue-green eyes widening until she relaxed, and melted into his embrace. She didn't know what had brought it on, but she wasn't about to complain, either. When they finally parted, she found herself panting slightly.
Catching sight of Dante's somewhat smug expression, she narrowed her eyes at him, smacking his chest lightly in rebuke. This elicited a chuckle from the half devil, followed by a gentle peck on the cheek that left her feeling quite warm despite the crisp autumn air.
"So, what d'ya say," His voice came out gruff, his gaze becoming tender, "should we head back inside, and help them with the decorating?"
Trish laced the fingers of her right hand with his left, silently leading the half devil back inside, no longer trying to conceal her smile.
Lady glanced back from her position atop the step ladder, as the double doors to the Devil May Cry office opened. "You guys sure took your sweet time." She smirked back at her friends, Trish returning it with one of her own while Dante feigned nonchalance.
The female hunter had just finished hanging black and orange streamers on either side of the weapons' placards, while Patty festooned random spots around the room with balloons of the same colour. Casting a glance around at the mostly barren walls, she concluded there was still a lot more to do.
Removing her witch's hat, she wiped a light sheen of perspiration from her brow, and turned her attention to Dante. "Hey, do you have any other Halloween decorations? There's still a lot of wall that needs covering."
The half devil held up his index finger, and exited the room, indicating that he would retrieve the rest of the decorations.
The storage room; of course, Lady mentally chided herself, Why didn't I think of that?
She climbed down from the step ladder just as Dante came back into the room, and relieved him of one of the three boxes he was carrying. Setting it down, Lady began rummaging through it while Patty and Trish rifled through the other two.
Spying the corny, yet still comical decoration that looked like a witch crashing into a wall on her broom, the female hunter reached forward. Just as her hand clamped down on it, a familiar gloved hand did the same; Dante had been reaching for it at the same time as the female hunter.
The half devil let go, and politely gestured with his hand, "After you."
Seeing the coy smile on his face, Lady let out a scoff, and stood with the decoration in hand. Looking around the room, she murmured aloud, "Now, where to put this…"
"How about on the outside of the office door?" Dante suggested as he rummaged through the box yet again, this time pulling out a cackling, red-eyed skeleton.
"How about you put that one on the outside," Lady replied, "and I put this one on the inside of the door opposite?"
Both hunters set about fulfilling their tasks, Dante finishing his before Lady had even carried the step ladder across the room.
"Here, I'll take care of it." The half devil offered, holding out his hand for the witch decoration, "Wouldn't want you to have to hang one of your own, after all."
He chuckled at his own lame joke, not appearing to notice that Lady had just stifled a giggle. The last thing she needed was for him to think he'd won; as far as she was concerned, his ego was already inflated enough.
No…that's not right. She could admit it to herself, at least, if to no one else.
It was true that Dante could be genuinely cocky on occasion; but the female hunter had known him for a very long time, and in all of those years, she had learned a great deal about the half-breed. One of the things she had learned was that, when it came to Dante, not everything was always as it seemed. In those moments when he had come off cold and indifferent, she knew that deep down, he really cared. He had more emotional depth than most people, and far more than even he realized. The same held true for his cockiness; often times, it was a front, a cover. Other times, it was his way of simply making the best out of a bad situation.
It had taken seeing him cry for Vergil after their battle so many years ago, for Lady to realize that there was a lot more to him than just the appearance of some cocky, arrogant jerk. And even then, she was convinced she'd only begun to uncover the tip of the iceberg.
Suddenly becoming aware that the subject of her thoughts was staring at her in a curious manner, Lady cleared her throat and met his gaze, doing her best to ignore the heat creeping up the back of her neck and into her cheeks.
Dante smirked knowingly at her, but said nothing, and returned to his task of hanging up the witch as Lady stared after him, dumbstruck.
Wait a second… Lady narrowed her eyes at the half devil's back, her teeth clenching. Did he just insult me, and get away with it? What the hell is wrong with me?!
Lady crept closer to the half devil, making an attempt at nonchalance. "You're lucky I'm in such a good mood, otherwise you'd be eating lead for that little comment of yours." She growled, though she lacked any real conviction; she may threaten to do it a lot, but she seldom acted on it, anymore. Usually, the threat was more than sufficient, if only for the simple fact that Dante would rather not be spitting up bullet fragments for the next week or so.
The devil hunter only chuckled in response to her empty threat, his back still turned to her as he hung the witch on the back of the door.
Damn, he's catching on.
Pinching the bridge of her nose, Lady exhaled a breath. Deciding she was better off keeping busy with the rest of the decorating, she set to work, silently promising herself that she would get him back for his jibe, one way or another.
Pulling a hollow plastic ghost out of the box, she looked back at the half devil, surprised to see an almost apologetic smile on his face as he looked back at her. Lady groaned inwardly, as she felt her lips pulling involuntarily into a returning smile.
On second thought, maybe I'll cut him some slack-but just this once. Even Dante deserves a free pass, now and again…
Kyrie couldn't help but smile at the young white-haired man next to her, taking in his impressive hand-made costume with golden eyes. Nero had decided he would dress as the Grim Reaper, and so Kyrie had taken it upon herself to make the costume for him, since he had been so busy with his Knightly duties.
The black, hooded cloak was made of a simple cloth, and bore a simple design. However, Kyrie had ensured the robe would be form-fitting around Nero's waist, and had made sure the sleeves wouldn't be too baggy, since they were bound to be around candles and other sources of open flames during the course of the night.
She had stitched silver embroidery around the hood, cuffs of the sleeves, and the waist, adding a white skull made of felt to the left-hand side of the chest. Completing Nero's costume was a plastic scythe nearly as tall as he was, painted black and silver, with a hint of 'blood' along the edge of the blade.
The part devil glanced at Kyrie with his sapphire eyes, a soft smile on his lips; a smile that she knew was meant for her, alone.
Kyrie smiled back at him, before smoothing out the wrinkles of her own white robe; in stark contrast to Nero being Death, the auburn-haired woman had opted to be an angel. Much like Nero's costume, she had made hers, as well. It was form-fitting, covering her from collarbone to her ankles, with gold stitching criss-crossing at the front down to her waist, with a fine line at the bottom hem. On her back she wore white, feathered wings; a wired, golden halo atop her head.
Knocking on the double doors once again, Kyrie adjusted her hold on the wicker basket she was carrying, balancing it slightly on one hip.
When the door finally opened, the couple was greeted by the sight of Dante in a Dracula costume. It was a simple black suit with a red silk-lined cape, accented with a white collar and gloves. Kyrie beamed, and presented the basket of food to him.
"Greetings, Lord Dracula," She giggled, "I hope you will make an exception, and feast on more than blood, tonight."
Dante chuckled, revealing his own canine teeth when he smiled. As far as Kyrie was concerned, his teeth were much more impressive with the Dracula costume, than some cheaply molded plastic, anyway.
He motioned for them to come in, taking the basket from her as she and Nero crossed the threshold.
"Heh. You're looking sharp, old man." Nero declared, gesturing at the elder hunter's costume with his demonic arm.
"I can say the same about you, kid." Dante replied with a snicker. "It's quite the improvement from your usual, horrendous self."
The men bantered back and forth, Kyrie watching the exchange with utmost affection. She had come to realize long ago that they were very much alike; their bond was similar to that of a mentor and student, of a father and son, with a hint of sibling rivalry, all rolled into one.
As Kyrie smiled in remembrance, she laughed to herself; it was so strange to think that, once upon a time, she had been so intimidated by the half devil. Now, she held him in such high regard, viewing him as Nero's quirky 'uncle'. Given that they were both of Sparda's bloodline, she could only conclude that her impression wasn't necessarily wrong; after all, Dante had guided Nero, and helped him shape his skills until they had reached perfection-just as any older, male relative would.
She was brought out of her thoughts by Dante's joyful exclamations, as the half devil arranged the assorted food dishes on his large, mahogany desk.
"Did you make all of this yourself?" He asked her, his pale blue eyes bright as he smiled gleefully at her.
Kyrie laughed, and sidled over to the desk. "Yes, I did. Though Nero helped me with the deep dish pizza and the pumpkin pie."
"You really are an angel!" Dante declared, sweeping Kyrie up into an unexpected hug, and spinning her around. "You even made it without olives…"
At the nearly choked sound in his voice, Kyrie laughed, hugging the devil hunter back.
"It was nothing Dante, really. I just hope you like it." She stated shyly, as the half devil put her back down, her feet gently coming into contact with the hardwood floor.
"I wouldn't worry," Patty piped up from the other side of the desk, where she had just finished up with the decorating, "Dante would eat pizza-flavoured cardboard if we let him. Besides, I bet your pizza is amazing, anyway."
Kyrie smiled gratefully at the blonde teenager, giggling slightly when Dante shot her a playful scowl. She couldn't help but take notice of the bonds he shared with everyone, and just how relaxed he was, even while bickering with them. It had surprised her to learn that there was a time when Dante was not as charismatic and warm to all of those around him-but also having knowledge of his painful past, she could hardly blame him.
After Credo died, even I wasn't myself. She thought sadly to herself. While many people had often declared that she was still the same, warm, caring person she'd always been, she knew she had been a great deal more withdrawn, each smile feeling forced for several months after the fact.
Eventually though, she had come back around, and made peace with the loss of her brother, finding solace in the fact that his final acts had been to save both her and Nero. Like Dante, she had also lost both her parents at a young age, so she could only conclude that if she eventually had come to terms with it, so had he. Despite them being two very different people, they really did share a lot in common; the one thing she was certain of was that the half devil was stronger than she had been. At least she'd had Credo looking out for her while she was growing up; she had been well cared for, and had felt quite secure in that knowledge. Dante hadn't had any of that security, and so, Kyrie couldn't help but admire him; despite the darkness of his past, he truly was a strong person.
Kyrie shook her head, her gaze refocusing on the devil hunter. She blushed when she realized this was the second time she'd spaced out on him.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I was just lost in thought. What were you saying, Dante?" She smiled at him bashfully, feeling somewhat ashamed for not being more aware of her surroundings.
Dante gave her a reassuring grin, and held a circular pizza cutter out to her.
"I just wanted to know, since you made this, if you'd do the honours?" His smile reached his eyes, genuine; Kyrie smiled back at him, and gently took the pizza cutter in hand.
"Of course," she replied with a slight laugh, "it would be my pleasure."
As he strode through the double doors, Morrison was met with various shouted greetings of everyone inside of the Devil May Cry building. Shrugging out of his long coat, he nodded to Nero as he passed by, the younger man clad in a Grim Reaper robe.
"I hope you haven't come for me," the older man joked, "I still have a lot of unfinished business to attend to; such as bailing a certain devil hunter we both know out of more debt."
Nero stopped in his tracks, chuckling. As his gaze met Morrison's, he frowned slightly. "Hey, how come you're not in a costume?"
Morrison removed his fedora, hanging it at the top of the coat rack.
"That's kid stuff." He grumbled, lighting a cigarette. "Come on, you don't mean to tell me everyone else is wearing costumes, too?"
"Morrison, you made it!" Patty strode over to the moustached man, relieving him of the box of pastries and sweets he'd brought. "Hey, where's your costume?"
Morrison exhaled the smoke from his nostrils, his gaze meeting hers. "I'm not wearing one."
"Well, I can see that." Patty retorted, rolling her eyes. "So, why not?"
"Well according to the old, old man," Nero laughed when Morrison grumbled further, "Halloween costumes aren't for adults."
"Then he clearly hasn't been to any adult shops." Morrison turned at the familiar voice, and narrowed his eyes at the half devil, Dante clapping a hand on his shoulder in greeting with a wink and a grin.
Just as Morrison opened his mouth to make a comeback, Lady entered the room, coming to his defense.
"Morrison doesn't need a costume," Lady winked at the older gentleman, "he's perfect just the way he is."
"Ah, so you like them old and grumpy, do you?" Dante stroked the stubble on his chin, his gaze darting between the female hunter and agent, a playful glint in his eyes when he met Morrison's glower.
Lady merely scoffed, ignoring the half devil. Looking at Patty, Morrison could scarcely hold back the grin that threatened to form.
"Make sure everyone but Dante gets some of those pastries."
Dante's smile faded, the half devil glancing back at the box in the teenaged girl's hands.
"You brought pastries?"
"Yup, fresh from Nina's bakery." Morrison grinned, outing his cigarette by squeezing it between his fingers.
He burst out laughing then, as Dante made to lunge at the pastry box, Patty side-stepping him with a scowl. "You heard Morrison," she chided with a smirk, "no pastries for you!"
By this point, Trish and Kyrie had joined the group near Dante's desk, everyone laughing as Dante turned his puppy dog gaze on the teenaged girl.
"Aw, c'mon! Morrison wasn't serious," Dante objected, only to cast an uncertain look his way. "Right, Morrison?"
Morrison chuckled to himself, and cupped a hand over his ear. "What was that, Dante? I couldn't hear you; I'm old, remember?"
The older man was thoroughly enjoying the flicker that passed over the half devil's face, his emotions ranging from dumbfounded to rueful.
"Hey, Nero called you old too, remember?" The devil hunter finally sputtered, casting an accusing finger in Nero's direction.
"Hey, why did you drag me into this?" Nero protested, waving both of his hands in front of him with a sheepish grin.
Morrison's smile grew, the elder man crossing his arms over his chest. "Hmm, you're right; he did. I guess neither one of you will get to try out Nina's exclusive, Halloween-only pastries."
The two white-haired men glanced comically at one another, before turning their pleading gazes on him.
"Whoa, let's not be so hasty there, Morrison…" Nero cajoled, sidling up to the elder man and clapping a hand on his shoulder.
"The kid's right," Dante chimed in, "after all, he calls me old, too. To him, we're nothing but a couple of old geezers. So, why don't you forget all about what I said, and you and I can team up against him?"
The half devil clamped a hand on the opposite shoulder, smirking at Nero's sputtered protests on the other side.
Morrison laughed out loud at this, causing both of them to stare at him, perplexed.
"Nice try, you two." He declared, "But I'm still not convinced."
Everyone but Dante and Nero laughed at this, clearly amused at how the elder agent had gotten one over on the two overly proud devil hunters.
Another idea struck Morrison then, and he winked at the others. "Why don't you guys dig in? There's plenty for all of you."
The four women obliged, all giggling as they began snacking on the delicious pastries, making sure to convey their enjoyment of the treats with each bite.
It won't be long, now… Morrison mused, grinning.
He was right; within seconds, both Dante and Nero had resorted to bargaining. The idea of missing out on Nina's exclusive pastries was clearly too much for them to handle.
"Alright, alright! I'm sorry, Morrison!" Nero blurted out finally, his head bowed in contrition.
"Yeah, what the kid said." Dante added, casting a panicked glance back at the rapidly disappearing pastries.
"Hmm…" Morrison stroked his moustache, pretending to think it over. "Well, alright. I guess you can have some, Nero."
The younger white-haired man laughed gleefully, snatching up one of the pastries with his Devil Bringer and bringing it to his lips with a satisfied moan.
"Hey, what about me?" Dante asked, frowning.
"Nero apologized," Morrison declared, grinning at the devil hunter's look of dread. "You didn't."
As if on cue, everyone else immediately stopped what they were doing, and became engrossed with the exchange between the agent and devil hunter.
Morrison laughed softly. The only way this could have worked out better, is if I'd handed them all scripts beforehand.
It wasn't that he had actually taken offense to the old man jokes; he was used to it. In fact, he'd even become rather fond of it; the banter between the half devil and himself had been going on for years.
The fact that Dante had never stopped poking fun at Morrison as he got older himself, actually meant a great deal to the older man; it was a testament of their long-standing friendship and business partnership, the teasing being something he knew the half devil only reserved for those he cared about most.
Dante cleared his throat, mumbling as his gaze dropped to the floor.
"What was that?" Morrison asked, "I forgot to turn up my hearing aid."
Everyone laughed at this, Dante grinning sheepishly with his face turning red. Embarrassed as he was, he always managed to take it in stride; a fact that Morrison was grateful for, since he didn't intend on really making the half devil suffer. The elder agent just happened to be in a playful mood himself, and was enjoying the rare moment in which he found himself with the upper hand.
"I said…" Dante heaved a sigh, "I'm…sorry."
Morrison almost chuckled at the way the half devil seemed to choke on those words, but decided he'd tormented him enough. "Okay, I suppose I can forgive you this time."
With that, Dante snatched the pastry box from Patty, a sigh of relief escaping him upon managing to secure the last pastry for himself. As he shamelessly scarfed it down, Morrison began laughing, everyone else echoing his amusement with giggles of their own.
Wait until he finds out I have two more boxes full of pastry sitting in my car…
A couple of hours later, once the last of the trick-or-treaters had come to the door-in which Kyrie volunteered to hand out the candy-everyone decided to settle into the sitting room with a horror movie. The group had feasted enthusiastically between Kyrie's homemade dishes, and the pastries that Morrison had brought from Nina's bakery; now, everyone was full and somewhat sleepy, but unwilling to call it a night just yet.
As Patty set up the latest version of 'The Wolfman', everyone else got comfortable. Sitting on the left side of the couch, Nero nudged the half devil beside him with his elbow. When the elder hunter cast him a quizzical look, the part devil surreptitiously looked around at the others. Satisfied that they weren't paying either of them any mind, he tilted his head in the direction of the kitchenette, and held up two fingers as if to say, 'Meet me there in two minutes'.
Without a word, Nero got up from his seat, and headed to the kitchenette, no one else appearing to notice. Leaning against the counter, he pulled back the hood of his cloak, a wicked grin on his face as he pondered over the prank he had in mind.
Hearing the familiar, dull thud of approaching footsteps, the younger man looked at the kitchenette entrance, grinning as Dante sauntered in.
"Hmm…judging by that gleam in your eye, I'd say you're up to no good." Dante stated dryly, his lips quirking into a mischievous grin that matched Nero's.
"Feel like having a little fun at everyone else's expense?" Nero peered at the elder hunter through his bangs, idly tapping the claws of his Devil Bringer against the countertop.
Dante let out a dark chuckle, his response all-too-clear to the younger hunter.
"I thought you'd be up for it." Nero declared. "Okay, we gotta act fast before anyone notices we're gone; here's the plan."
Dante leaned up against the wall, and fixed his gaze on the younger hunter, a slight smirk on his lips.
Satisfied that the half devil was giving him his undivided attention, Nero continued.
"You head upstairs; if anyone asks where you're going, just tell them you're bringing down a case of pop you forgot about earlier. Once you're up in your room, climb out the window, and make your way to the front door. Ring the doorbell; I'll offer to answer it under the premise of allowing them to watch the movie in peace."
Dante nodded his head, his expression becoming thoughtful.
"Okay, so what happens next?" He asked.
"I'm glad you asked that." Nero reached beneath his robe, pulling several fireworks from his pocket, "We set these up over by the window nearest to the sitting room, and light them up. It takes these ones about twenty seconds to go off, so we'll have to move quickly."
"Lemme guess," Dante's eyes lit up, his grin becoming larger, "the fireworks are a decoy, right? They go off, and everyone runs out to investigate. While they're preoccupied, we pop out of nowhere, and scare them out of their wits. That sound about right?"
Nero nodded, chuckling softly. He's good; he sees right through my plan. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, given who I'm dealing with, here.
"Only one problem, kid; that little trick may work on the others, but Lady and Trish don't scare easily." Dante pointed out.
"Maybe not," Nero admitted. "But, there's a first time for everything. Besides, what harm could it do? It's Halloween; get into the spirit of things, old man."
Nero turned his head, carefully concealing his grin of triumph from the suddenly indignant half devil.
"I don't think you know just who you're dealing with," Dante growled in a playful tone, "sit back kid, and let the 'Trickster' show you how it's really done!"
Hook, line, and sinker…
Nero felt a little guilty for using the elder hunter's pride as a tool for manipulating him, but looking back over their numerous training sessions, he couldn't get too worked up about it. For one, he was certain the half devil had full awareness of what he was doing; for two, Nero was positive that Dante had employed the same method in order to push the younger hunter to his full potential in combat.
When he thought about it like that, Nero smiled; he wondered just how much of Dante's time with him had been spent as a conscious effort to help refine not only his skills, but his personality, too? He had to admit, he was far better at controlling his temper than he used to be-and he knew he owed a great deal of that to the elder hunter's patience and guidance.
"Hey kid, are we going to do this thing, or are you just going to stand there daydreaming?"
Nero gave a start at Dante's voice, feeling a blush rising in his cheeks at the smug expression on the half devil's face.
Rubbing the back of his neck, Nero nodded. "Yeah, let's do this."
Both white-haired men made their way out of the kitchenette, their steps faltering as they approached the sitting room.
Nero scanned the room, his eyes flicking over every darkened corner as he turned in a slow circle.
"Where is everyone?" He murmured, as a feeling of uneasiness washed over him. He cast a glance at Dante, the elder hunter looking around the room in much the same way he just had, a suspicious scowl on his face.
"We were only in the kitchen for a few minutes," the half devil declared, "they can't have gotten far."
Nero cast one last look around the room, his eyes falling on the television set, where the Wolfman movie was still playing.
What could have happened to them? Nero wondered. He hadn't heard any sounds of distress coming from the office while he and Dante had been plotting their Halloween prank. Was it possible that the others had gone out for some reason?
"Well, we won't get any answers just standing around here." Nero said it as much for his benefit, as he did for the elder hunter. "Let's check outside, see if we can find any clues."
Before either one of them took a single step forward, they fell under attack. Nero let out a pained yelp as he dove to the floor, shielding himself from the spray of ammunition stinging his back. He could hear Dante's muffled cry to his right, as the half devil hit the floor seconds after he did.
Wait a second, those don't sound like real guns…and these definitely don't feel like real bullets…
Hazarding a glance upward, Nero groaned, meeting the smug expressions of everyone else. Looking over at Dante, the younger hunter let out a sigh, and lightly tapped him on the shoulder.
The half devil looked up slowly, his eyes going from wide disbelief to a semi deadly scowl.
"Gotcha." Lady declared, lowering the airsoft gun in her hand. Trish smirked from just behind her, a sheepish-looking Kyrie at her side, casting Nero an apologetic look.
"You know, you guys should really plan your pranks more quietly." Patty chimed in, giggling. She turned her gaze on Dante, smirking. "Ha! 'Trickster', indeed."
When Dante let out a growl in response, Nero couldn't help what happened next; he didn't know what had come over him, but something in the way the elder hunter had growled came across as funny to him. Maybe it was the sugar high, or maybe it was the irony of the situation itself; either way, the younger hunter burst out laughing, clutching his sides as a fit of giggles took him over.
The next thing he knew, Dante started laughing along with him, the elder hunter sprawled out on his back as he surrendered to the deep, booming laughter that came from his belly, his shoulders shaking with each guffaw. This caused a chain reaction, everyone else joining them in their state of euphoria with laughter of their own.
Once his laughs died down to chuckles, Nero sat up, his gaze meeting Dante's as he wiped a tear from his eye. The grin on the elder hunter's face was nearly enough to send him into another fit of giggles, but he restrained himself, biting down painfully on his lip until he drew blood.
"If you children are quite done," Morrison's voice brought Nero's head up, meeting the older man's gaze, "perhaps we can get back to the movie?"
Nero exchanged a rueful smile with the half devil, the latter shaking his head.
"Alright, alright," Dante chuckled, getting to his feet. "It looks like you guys win this time around."
He extended a hand to Nero, the younger man taking it gratefully, and rising to his own feet.
Yes, they won this time…but next time will be different.
Noticing the playful glint in the half devil's eyes, Nero chuckled; evidently, he was thinking along the same lines.
The duo made their way over toward the sitting area, neither one paying any mind to the continued snickering behind them.
They can laugh all they want, Nero settled down onto the couch, sharing another conspiratorial grin with the elder hunter, it will just make our revenge that much sweeter…
Dante leaned back against the couch cushions, a contented sigh escaping his lips. Trish and Lady sat to his left, with Nero and Kyrie to his right, the red-head curled up against the younger hunter. Patty sat on the floor by Dante's feet, a habit she had gotten into a few years or so ago that he'd long since stopped trying to understand.
It's probably a teenager thing. He mused. Not that he minded; besides, there wasn't exactly anywhere else for the adolescent girl to sit.
Glancing toward the armchair, the half devil grinned; Morrison had nodded off shortly after the group had returned to watching the movie, the older man snoring softly with his head tilted back against the headrest.
The devil hunter thought back over the events of the day with a smile; he still didn't quite understand what was going on, but it seemed to him that he'd spent a lot of time snapping everyone out of thoughtful dazes this evening.
Really, what could they be thinking? He wondered.
He mentally shrugged, and returned his attention to the television set, wrapping an arm around Trish as she cuddled up to him. Casting one last look at the 'family' he'd built up over the years, the half devil smiled.
Oh well, I guess I'll never know.