"Bored, bored, I'm so bor-" Trish's hand clamped over Dante's mouth as he began chanting the third line of the jolly tune that boredom inspired. It had been the twelfth shoe pavilion he waited through and number thirteen he was about to walk into. His heavy boots, however, had other plans and stopped moving. His patience had extended an extra half hour over the two hours he could tolerate, and he considered it very generous since shopping ranked as low as cleaning DNC's office. So he settled on a most disturbing method of manipulation which would no doubt catch Trish's attention and hopefully cut the trip short. He had followed behind the woman at a lagging pace, hoping that by the time he walked past the shoe store Trish browsed in, she would be done and move on to the next shop. It surprised him when that actually happened the first couple shops, but as luck had it, most of the browsing sprees hadn't been so short and comfortable. And he had gotten hungry along the route, so after getting unresponsive replies from her, he did the only thing that would snap her out of the trying-and-possibly-buying reverie: near yodeling.

"Hush, Dante. You're embarrassing Trish," the said girl spoke in a chiding manner, as a mother would to their child.

"Mmmpha mmmhph hmmph?" The blocking hand lowered. He held back grinning as he whined, "But I'm hungry! It's been 40 minutes since we had anything! Plus you promised to treat me."

Pulling Dante aside, the devil-girl soothed, "Just a little longer. Ten more minutes, then we'll eat."

In a much louder voice, he said, "But now, Trishy! I can't wait!" The grown man became fully aware of the eyes that befell them, but ignored it. In truth, he wasn't starving, and he in fact could wait the ten minutes, but for once today he wanted something to go right. An extreme, sadistic smile spread on his face and he continued breathy, "Oh, I can't stand it anymore. I need you now! You know that! How can you deny me like this?"

The red fires of the Underworld didn't come close in comparison as the blond flushed the deepest scarlet Dante had ever witnessed from her. Shoppers now gaped at the "couple", and though his face felt a few degrees warmer due to the daring stunt, he knew it didn't match Trish's boiling point temperature. Valiant resistance to smirk was truly proving difficult as his lower lip twitched so he bit down on it.

The young woman glared with such intense fury and humiliation that he had to look away in case he got burned. She growled very low and muttered through clenched teeth, "Fine. You win. Get moving."

"Delightful." The half-demon man tossed a carefree arm around her shoulders and as she shuffled out, he added an octave higher, "I'm so glad you changed your mind. I don't know how much longer I could have restrained myself." They had gone only about two feet out of the shop when burning pain radiated from his side and he jumped away with a sharp gasp, realizing her quivering hand was its source.

"Damn you, Dante!" Trish hissed venom into his glowering expression, her face rosy with anger. "Why the hell did you do that? You couldn't have the patience to wait another ten minutes??" Dante dodged a furious kick to his shin then replied calmly, "Don't make such a huge deal out of it. Everyone gets embarrassed now and then."

"You're such an idiot!" She sniffed hard, clutching her purse, refusing to glance his direction as she walked faster.

"Look, you weren't listening to me so I had to get your attention somehow." Dante had to take longer strides to keep up. "It worked, didn't it? You're with me now."

Almost stumbling over her feet, she stopped and stared into his crystal eyes in bewilderment at the change in mood. "What?"

The adrenaline flowing through his veins began thinning and Dante suddenly felt awkwardness mixing in. Why did he just say that? A sudden surge of ineptness punched him right in the solar plexus as he stated. "You said you wanted to be with me today."


"Shoe shopping by yourself didn't include me. Can you say 'bored out of my mind'? "

"Sure you were part of it! There were lots of opportunities you could have given your opinions! That store with the drawing of the shoe as the sign, and that other shop with the cute knee-high boots. Like-" Trish cut herself off, thinking over her words. A sheepish smile soon formed on her lips . "All right, so perhaps I got overexcited and forgot about you. It's my first shoe shopping experience after all."

Dante stared, awaiting the proper reply.

Trish frowned. "What?"

"Say it."

"What? Say what?"

"You're apologizing, right?"


"So, apologize. You were getting to it."

The kick from earlier connected to his shin and Dante doubled over, clutching the injury. Trish gloated in unabashed glee. "You get that first."

"That does it," he grumbled, caring less about unwanted attention, part two. Ignoring the pain, his arm shot out around her calves and he yanked hard, causing the woman to fall back with a short shriek. An adept sweep had his other arm supporting her upper back right before her head smacked on the tile floor. He set her down and leaned forward, grinning wickedly. Trish naturally looked annoyed and tried to aim a punch to his shoulder. Her eyes widened when she did this and Dante knew she understood her predicament. Her lying form was wedged between his knees and hands and he hovered above her face in a very predatory position. The half-demon could feel tidal waves of her discomfort and heat. He drank in this pure delight like fresh nectar.

"So," he whispered in sultry teasing, "where were we?"

He only smoothed away messy strands of her hair when Trish shifted in the very limited space she had. There was no answer, but her face began to turn tomato red as people stared at them. Again. She rolled her eyes, finally saying, "What do I do to get you the hell off me? This floor is freezing and it's numbing my back."

Silver-white hair touched her neck as Dante's mouth lingered precariously close to the skin of her bare shoulder. A field of tiny goosebumps blossomed down the girl's arms and then it registered in his brain that her halter top didn't cover that much of her back. Parts that weren't clothed was exposed to the cold linoleum. She probably was re-evaluating shirt choice right now. Halter tops weren't sweaters. But he did like the light blue. Her nervous heartbeat and shallow breathing turned his mouth upward and it curved up even more at her chill. This was too fun! He murmured, "Maybe I won't say."

"If you don't, I'll find my own way out." One of Trish's legs rose slightly, aligning with his crotch. Dante felt this and he shook his head in scolding intent before he sat all of his weight on her thighs. "Nuh-uh. You're not causing me any more bodily pain today."

Trish cried out at the sudden press of mass. She looked ready to kill with the daggers she glared at him with. Dante sighed in contentment at the feeling of stretched leather on leather. His body was responding with the proximity, heating up too, but he allowed it a wrestled moment's desire before he spoke up. "People are watching. All I need is that apology and I'll let you go. Simple."

Her embarrassment had spread down her neck, to her ears. The erratic fall and rise of her chest had Dante musing how good some cold water would taste. Heck, he was thirsty. He glanced over when a tinny boy's voice said, "Mommy, what are they doing?" The disgusted mother covered her son's eyes and dragged him away at breakneck speed. Trish's blush practically deepened to maroon. Dante straightened a little, wondering how long this would take. Feeling was diminishing in his legs. Trish suddenly blurted, "Fine! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm SORRY! I'll never take you out shopping again! You're killing me, you're so damn heavy!"

"Shall that be strike three for Trishy?" Pleasantly satisfied, Dante nodded and got up slow, brushing off his outfit while the glum girl gasped for air. She leaned into him with shaky bearings after he pulled her up. She rubbed at her arms to warm them. She mumbled, "So if I get three strikes, how am I out?"

He shrugged, feeling jaunty. "Dunno. No dessert after dinner?"

After a long bathroom stop for Trish, the crazy man decided to buy orange juice for the both of them. Something non-alcoholic, she insisted very strongly, so juice it was. At the counter, Trish attempted to stretch her arms a bit while Dante reached into his trench coat pocket for his wallet to pay for their drinks. He frowned when his fingers grasped air. "Damn it!"

"Hmm? What's the matter?"

"My wallet's missing!"

She sighed with irritating patience. "Don't go cussing now. You can find it in a minute." She extracted some change from her tiny purse for the guy behind the counter. Dante groaned as she handed him his drink. He was supposed to treat and couldn't. The one time he felt generous enough to part with some of his hard earned cash and he couldn't. His anger was mainly due to the very important piece of information had jotted down from an intriguing stripper he had eyed during his last trip to the local strip club. Not only had she been intriguing, but she made one hell of a cheesecake, as she proved when she offered some during her break. Dante fell in love. And he could fall in love a billion times again, if he still had the recipe that was tucked away in his wallet.

Trish suggested a search and he agreed to backtrack out of the food court and to the shoe shops which meant a second round of torture for Dante. Shoe store after shoe store they searched, finding nothing. He didn't actually step foot into any of the stores; he wasn't about to be tempted into buying any footwear. Trish had enough enthusiasm for the both of them. Searching went on for ten minutes before Dante lost patience. He just felt tired and cranky and uncaring and in no mood to look. He could always fall in love later. "Forget it, Trish. Let's go home."

"Damn it!" Dante yelled out in frustration as the office's door flung open for them. He slammed it just as forcefully after Trish stepped in. "I worked so hard for it too!" he growled, his mind spinning over the forlorn fact of his lost cheesecake recipe. Though evening darkened the sky, and it soon would turn into his favorite part of the day, he could have cared less right now. He slouched as a grump would on his beat-up couch, heavy and uncaring. A faint cloud of dust puffed out, evidence that he should buy a vacuum cleaner one of these days. Trish joined mutely beside him. She grinned and took his meaning the wrong way when she replied, "The money? C'mon, Dante, it's not like you had much to begin with. Was there even a single credit card in there? And even if there were, it's not like you had a million bucks stashed away."

"It was a great wallet too." He groaned, adding that admission as another reason why he should stay mad. He turned and prepared to bellow out the real reason for his craziness when he frowned. Trish was smiling oddly. Dante's jaw set. "Do you know something? Or am I too amusing for you?"

Avoiding his glare, she cleared her throat. "I was curious, that's all."

"Huh?" About to pounce, Dante's eyes narrowed more.

"I wanted to see how shallow you are. I wanted to see if you'd fuss like I thought you would." She opened her purse and pulled out a familiar looking piece of brown leather. He grabbed it away, hugged it briefly, then shoved it into his jacket. His beloved recipe was safe! His sanity would live on! He nearly yelled, "You are definitely evil!"

Trish laughed. "You are so shallow! I'm right! Look at the fuss you put up."

"I'm NOT shallow." She would never understand the rare gem of the perfect food.

"Sure you are. You pay so much attention to all these weapons of yours. You go on dates with all these other women and you don't commit. I mean, have you ever had a time when you saw a girl and the whole world stopped turning? That love at first sight thing? And not in a sex way."

One girl that did so much as stop Earth's pull of gravity... Dante hummed a little as the gears cranked on inside his head. Sure there were lots of girls that got his attention and once he gave it, they reciprocated by giving him a good time. But out of all those girls, just one? Then he remembered. There was a girl that sparked those buoyant qualities of himself that he hid. It was about three years ago. Oh, there were two lovely ladies in fact; their hair and eyes contrasted each other's as distinct as night sky to bright. One a brunette and the other a blond. Even attitudes differed: one was mysterious and the other unguarded.

He got to know one of those special girls, though he couldn't recall who came along first. Liking the lady very much, interest in her grew quick. Vibrant and willing to help him even during her low moods, Dante had never experienced the joy of being with such an amazing goddess in a way that went deeper than plain physical attraction. As he grew comfortable with her, the other female captured his attention. The events almost followed exactly the same way as it had with the first girl and it stunned him that two women could make a deep connection. The newcomer adored him too and didn't mind her own sacrifice as long as she guided him to the best of her abilities. Soon, both of them begged for his attention, his love. Caught inside a dilemma, Dante struggled with who would receive the boot. They knew he needed space, so they never said anything to put any pressure on. They were never clingy. Eventually he chose to have both of them in his life because the thought of losing one over the other was unspeakable. They cherished the demon hunter even more for making such a rational decision.

Yes, Ivory and Ebony were his true loves at first sight.

Dante told Trish exactly that. "See, I'm not as shallow as you think. Two women I've fallen in real love with," he finished proudly.

Her explosive laughter didn't stop for a good minute. When she caught her breath, she said half serious, "You're a hopeless cause! I'll bet you don't care for me at all, compared to those guns!" She gasped when her back swiftly pinned to the back of the musty couch and Dante's tranquil blue eyes leveled with her dazed ones. His mouth almost touched hers when his low voice murmured, "You sure about all that? I don't work my best charms on just any lady. They need to be special."

Trish's playful hands lay flat on his thighs, undecided on the path to roam. "Maybe we can argue that another time, hmm?"