Note to Readers: Thanks so much for the feedback! J Chaos & I are really glad you're enjoying this. ^_^ Anyhow, here's the final chapter. Sorry it took longer than I expected to get it compiled; Real Life kinda interfered for a bit. Bleh. And a quick explanation on something; this was originally supposed to be part of an RPG we're involved in, but so much of it was not connected that we felt it worthwhile to convert to a canon 'fic. There, the demon lawyer Silas did show up in relation to a storyline with a character named Shara; I kept that basic information, but changed certain things and aspects. She does not make any kind of appearance, save by name, and if anything, is just a background character for a bit of depth, giving a glimpse into their lives beyond the scope of this one particular job.
~ Zanne

Just a Simple Haunting

Chapter Six

Dante opened his eyes as he heard the shower shut off, and looked over to the open doorway, casting a quick glance to the cheap digital clock on the motel's nightstand as he did. It was almost time for lunch.

He smirked slightly in amusement over the thought that they hadn't even slept yet. Well, it wasn't as if a demon and half-demon needed anywhere near as much rest as a human.

Trish stepped out of the bathroom, clad in only a small, white towel which was currently occupied with soaking excess water out of her long blonde hair. He watched her, a faint smile tugging at his lips. She was beautiful, in more ways than just one. It was almost funny, the realization that it was a demon which kept him in touch with his more human side.

Dante knew he wouldn't have anywhere near as many reasons to smile, let alone laugh, not without her.

Trish looked out from under the towel and caught his gaze, giving him a slow, warm smile. Her lips parted as if to speak, but before she could, the stillness of the room was interrupted by a startlingly loud crackle of a powerful electric surge.

He immediately sat up as his gaze snapped to Alastor. The sword was going positively nuts, blue-white bolts arcing up and down the length of the blade. A split second later, he was on his feet, wrapping his hand around Alastor's handle. Dante moved into a crouch, reaching into his bag for a pair of briefs, staying alert as he pulled them on.

Behind him, Trish hastily dropped her towel and pulled on an oversized jersey, and under that, a pair of panties, then grabbed Sparda. They both exchanged glances, and Trish stepped up on the bed, walking over it and hopping down on the other side, using the tip of her blade to part the curtains enough to see out.

There was a sharp rap at the door, and Dante tightened his grip on Alastor. "Babe?" he asked softly.

Trish canted her head, trying to see more out of the narrow opening in the curtain, then stiffened. "It's our little lawyer buddy," she growled, backing away from the window to step up on the bed again, keeping Sparda trained at the door.

Dante scowled. Deep down, he wasn't all that surprised Silas showed up, not after they had messed up whatever little plan he had been putting into motion. Nevertheless, as Shara put it once, it was lawyers like him that gave demons a bad name. "Swell."

"I assure you, Dante," Silas said through the closed door, his voice clipped and polite, "had I wished to fight, I would not have bothered to knock."

"If you can hear us, then you don't need me to open that door," Dante snapped.

"Ah, but if you do not open the door, people may notice my pets, and around other demons, I fear they aren't the most well-behaved..."

"I hear black fur's in style for winter fashions this year," Trish sneered, referring to his so-called pets, the two demons in panther form which were always with the high-level demon.

"How quaint," Silas retorted dryly.

Dante jerked the door open, pointing Alastor at Silas. "Get in and make it quick."

When Silas gave him a little polite smile, Dante remembered just how much he loathed the other demon. The only saving grace of ever having crossed his path was the knowledge that two humans had beat him at his own game. That was a satisfying feeling.

"Oh, I will not take up your time," Silas said as he stepped in, the panthers staying near him. "I merely wished to congratulate you over your recent victory, and we have things to discuss now, I fear."

"Yeah. We figured out that little haunt was your doing. The girl, anyway," Dante replied.

"Ah, Sarah, yes. Such a promising young woman." Silas tsked. "Shame she was hit by a truck this morning." His smile grew brighter. "Her dog survived, though."

Dante couldn't help but twitch inwardly. He didn't have anything against dogs, but that particular little mutt led Trish straight into getting shot.

"Yeah. Shame," Trish said dryly. "Cut to the chase."

"Of course, of course." Silas was quiet for a moment. "You two did a fine job of clearing the lodge of the influence of her newfound power. The kitchen will require cleaning, naturally, but other than that, your job was a thundering success. With any luck, it will be the last time our paths need to cross."

"Just for my own curiosity," Trish said, interrupting, "what the hell was that stuff?"

"Human entrails complete with the waste left over after digestion," Silas replied, sounding bored. "I had no idea you found our decorating habits so intriguing."

"The point, demon," Dante snapped, glaring at Silas through narrowed eyes.

"My point, yes. I had no idea that you would bother with such insignificant points of corruption, I really had not planned on your involvement," Silas said. "Her corruption could have been so much more drawn out, but alas." He mimicked a sigh and shrugged his shoulders. "However, I seem to have been mistaken. No shame in that, it happens to the best of us."

Dante could hear a rhythmic tapping as Trish drummed her nails against Sparda's hilt in irritation.

"What this has shown me, though, is that you will continue to make nuisances of yourself in all demonic affairs," Silas continued, ignoring Trish. "Not that it makes much difference to me, how you handle my brethren. I am another matter entirely."

"It's all part of the job," Dante retorted, his voice just dripping sarcasm. "No hard feelings."

"In case you have forgotten, I do have a contract with your...friend, Shara," Silas said. Dante growled slightly at the implied slur. "You really must exercise more care for all of our sakes."

"What's her contract gotta do with us?" Trish demanded. "She won the fight. The point of it is, you're to leave her and hers the fuck alone."

"Yes, unless she meddles in our affairs by her own volition once again," Silas said patiently. "My contract is with her. It has no influence whatsoever, direct or otherwise, on the two of you. If I so desired, I could assault you where you stand" -- Dante heard Trish snort softly in disdain at that -- "without any immediate legal repercussions. However, our contract is very clear, as you so graciously pointed out. We are to all leave her and her family alone, and she must avoid making trouble for our kind as well, unless looking for a fight." Silas paused to scowl slightly. "That woman has given me the mother of all headaches."

Dante smirked inwardly. When he had wasted a demon posing as a librarian at a Massachusetts university library, he had not expected to encounter a student who was quite willing to lob a bottle of holy water she had just happened to be carrying in her bag. After the demon was dispatched, he found out that the girl wasn't just an average student majoring in teaching. She was a former Novice, having left the convent before taking her vows after deciding that life wasn't meant for her. But in her time there, she had become aware of the spiritual world, and the hazards it posed, and left to practice white magic.

"And this has what to do with us?" Dante demanded.

"Why, my dear devil child," Silas said, and Dante gritted his teeth, "you are Miss Shara's friends. The farther you intrude into my business, the more I will have to respond. Without doubt, that wretched woman shall hear about it and temporarily nullify her contract to come to your aid however she can, and all that will do is pose as a pain in our collective ass."

It gave Dante some measure of satisfaction, knowing how much trouble Shara caused him. They had sent a Phantom after her in retribution for her interference, and Silas had used that attack as a way to try and corrupt the white mage and onetime nun-to-be. No one had expected the girl to be smart enough to figure out a way to use it to her own advantage, right down to bringing in her older brother, who was also an attorney. Trish and Dante had trained her the best they could when they heard the result of the contract, and Shara went into a one-on-one battle to the death with a Phantom. It was a narrow victory, but a victory nevertheless, and the contract had been formed in such a way that she was untouchable from that day forward.

"So," Trish drawled in a tone that asked Silas what the hell he had been drinking, "you want us to play nice in your sandbox to make things easier for you?"

"You're every lick as stupid as Shara's said," Dante goaded.

"I'll ignore such an obvious case of slander," Silas said tersely, "and continue with the point that you both claim to desire. So long as Shara's contract has been nullified, she is fair game, and my superiors would just love to get another shot at her. Thanks to the incompetence of that worthless Phantom, she has been viewed as a threat."

Dante just smirked.

"Therefore, not only will any engagements we have continue to be a drain on all of us, but you will have to worry for your friend's safety as well, and I cannot be totally certain who or what will be sent after her if she should choose to violate the terms of our contract," Silas said. "As far as I care, I am glad to leave her alone, She has been infinitely more trouble than she is worth, I am still dealing with the aftermath and paperwork of her case."

"Then you'll just have to take greater care to keep your affairs concealed. I don't do demons any favors," Dante said.

Silas shut his eyes briefly, an annoyed expression on his face. "Is it possible that either of you have any realization that I wish to avoid trouble?"

"Oh, I realize it just fine," Trish said sardonically. "If you wanted to avoid trouble, get the hell off the planet and stay gone. It's that simple. Really. Hm. 'Demons in Space'. Sounds like a Mel Brooks movie."

"You are such a simple girl," he sneered. "Does it not occur to you that I am on this planet because I choose to be?"

"Watch it!" Dante snarled. "That girl helped send your lord back to the Underworld."

"Oh, I am well aware of the fact. I just don't care," Silas retorted.

"If you wanted to avoid trouble, then why the fuck are you stirring up little hornet nests that make people feel inclined to hire us to clean up your shit?" Trish added.

"The insufferable entity known as the Quota, of course," Silas said, his tone suggesting he was explaining things to a very slow-witted child. "You know, a job? A requirement for employment? So long as I do my job well, I have no need to return to the Underworld."

Trish rolled her eyes, and Dante kept silent, glaring at him coldly.

"I do not have to remind you both of the thoroughly unpleasant nature of that realm. Given the choice, I vastly prefer it up here. Fast food, air conditioning, street crime, it is such a lovely little world."

"Is that all?" Dante growled.

Silas stared at him, then sighed, giving his head a little shake. "I suppose it will have to be. I will sum up my position for both of you. You stay out of my business, I stay out of yours, we never have to cross paths again, and we all live in some degree of comfort. The son of Sparda, and Mundus' creation are opponents that are simply more than I care to trifle with, when it is so simple for me to complete my duties elsewhere."

"Can you believe this guy?" Trish asked, her tone incredulous.

"Whether you believe me or not makes no difference to me. I've said my piece, and I will leave you to enjoy the rewards of your completed mission." He tipped his hat. "Good day.

Dante snorted. "Don't let the door nail you in the ass as you go."

"Yeah, your pussies might get jealous," Trish sneered.

The two panthers snarled at her, starting to turn, and Dante tensed up, holding Alastor at the ready.

"Heel!" Silas snapped.

Trish cheerfully gave the trio the bird as the panthers turned away, and Dante slammed the door behind him.

"What a colossal ass," Trish said.

"He's a demon, and a lawyer. You expected anything more?" Dante asked, watching Alastor, waiting for the crackling to die down.

"Whaddya think of what he was saying?" Trish asked.

"I have no idea." He walked to the window, looking out, watching as the demon lawyer vanished into a portal of hellfire with the panthers. "I don't believe a word out of any demon's mouth. If they're telling the truth, I never benefit from it."

"Well, it's not our problem, at any rate," Trish said.

"We should consider the merits of what he told us, though," Dante pointed out. "The only thing I believe out of a demon's mouth is talk of contracts, and I take that with a grain of salt. Bastard's still got something on his mind about Shara." He set Alastor down and walked over to Trish.

"If she stays outta our business, he's got no choice but to stay outta hers," Trish pointed out.

"Babe, she's a friend," Dante said patiently. "I hope she does keep out of demon-related matters, but friends step in when push comes to shove. That's what friends do." He sat down on the bed beside her. "What're you thinking?"

"I think he's afraid of getting saddled with more Shara-related paperwork," Trish replied, smirking at him.

"Heh." Dante looked to the door, thinking. "I wonder what he's up to. We'll have to pay attention to anything going on in this area."

"You mean, we won't stay outta his business?" Trish asked in mock astonishment.

Dante smirked. "Not if he keeps this shit up. It sounded like he was just trying to corrupt that one girl. Seems like he succeeded, if she's dead now. That place didn't seem to have any other purpose. Nothing appeared outta place, well, anything natural. Everything we saw were recent changes."

"No big underlying mystery maze of trouble," Trish agreed.

Dante considered that. "I'm almost more comfortable with a giant mystery maze, rather than with a few small haunts. At least then, I know there's some sick shit going on."

"Want to stick around here a few more days, then?"

"I don't think we'll find anything, we'll have more luck getting leads on IRC than around this little podunk hole in the wall," he replied, standing and reaching for his pants. "I say we saddle up and get the hell outta Dodge."

"Sounds like a plan," Trish agreed.

"At any rate, this is one case closed," Dante said, "and might I add, at a rather lovely little tune of seventy-five grand."

"What a bargain for just a simple haunting," Trish said, smirking a bit as she kissed him.

-= THE END =-

Thanks for coming along for the ride.