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Forever and A Day

Chapter Text

"Do you think it's true?" She'd asked him one late afternoon.

Dante couldn't be bothered to open his eyes, "Hmm?"

"That we're all made of the same matter as everything else in the world. If not- then what are we made of. What am I made of?"

She had been reading lately, Dante knew. More for her own personal gain, entertainment than to learn new spells or charms as she usually did. The young man was unsure if he agreed with such a drastic thing. Kat had been having different thoughts as of late, her eyes always glistened in a way he believed she had fallen in love with her texts. He thought she looked beautiful. Innocent, with no marks of pain on her face.

"Oh, Kat...," his voice rumbled deeply.

Stars he wanted to tell her. She was made of billions of stars all within her soul. Her eye's the color of a galaxy being born, breathing life into everything they touched. Her strength that of a million planets. Her heart the size of an entire universe if not bigger. She was the stars in the midnight sky, blanketing over all that was bad in the world and making it right. She made him feel at peace with how brightly she shone. Her shy smile reminiscent of a beautiful constellation all in itself.

Dante was just a black hole. He did not display as much beauty as she did. Not as much light. But that was okay. Kat was the stars and the planets, she was his galaxy and universe. She was the sun. Yes, the sun. She was the strongest light source into Dante's own black hole of a life.

He wanted to tell her all those things and more. Instead he told her, "You're whatever you want to be."

Because it was all so true. If someone would have told him three years prior that he would be at peace with such a girl as Kat, Dante would have slapped them silly. What crooked thoughts. And yet there he lay, an arm over his eye's as the two basked in the warmth of dusk, the setting sun. She'd grown on him. Dante had long since forgotten his youthful times of one night stands and reckless fights. He was no longer a child to behave in such an immature manner. 

Her soft chuckle brought Dante out of his thoughts, a light gift of serenity to his ears, "I'd like to be sunshine."

"You already are sunshine," he let his eyes open. Mouth parted, a sigh escaped his lips.

"If I'm the sun, you're the moon," she dared, her eyes glistening up into the blackness of night slowly covering the sky.

What a silly, stupid thing to say. 

"It's a failed romance. A tragic ending to a tragic beginning. They never touch. Never meet. They were born from the chaos that created them."

"So were we. They're just like us. And besides... they compliment each other so well."

And the sun shines warmth upon the moon, unlike any other.

Yes it does, yes it does. They'd forged a sort of life together. The two had no one else other than themselves, their own company. Closeness came easily. Friendship wasn't even a start as to what had sparked between them. Three years together, battling demons and living off scraps. Yet they persisted, never losing hope. 

She was unlike the previous women in his life. All flaunting their bodies, large breasts and thighs to die for. His good looks were useful only to leave the club with the most attractive, busty and wanted dame. After being pulled into such a shit storm with his brother, Dante knew he could no longer return to his previous life no matter how hard he tried. And he had tried, truthfully. Yet his thoughts always returned to the same bright eye's, breathing life into him. Kat was different. Strange, even if just at first. Dante respected the witch. Her skills and knowledge had only grown through the years as his own as well. 

Even as they lay beside one another, neither dared turn their head. Their shoulders barely touching, they had a sort of comradery. A comradery, Dante hoped, one which would last. Although, perhaps they were beyond that point. The tender bruises left on her neck spoke a different story, hidden only by her hair which had grown longer. Even Dante could still feel the warmth upon his lips of when she had bitten and drawn blood. Just thinking back on their heated morning made his chest tighten. 

It had been a passionate escape. It loomed over their heads. For weeks, the unspoken attraction. Possibly even months, years if Dante dared to be bold. Her thick, makeup rimmed eye's had caught him in the early morning hours and the hunter was unable to control himself any longer. She was captivating, her hair a ruffled mess of knots, her pink nose and the glossy look in her eyes. As he drew away, regret filling his belly, intent on apologizing and retreating outdoors... she'd grabbed him by the back of the neck and kissed him in return. Really kissed him. 

Her shy demeanor was nothing but a front for what truly lived within her. Dante felt prideful of the fact that he'd been the one to release the beast living inside. Vented anger and frustration all finally being released. 

"I could stare at the sky forever," she smiled beside him.

Sex didn't matter before he met her. Such a fact made goosebumps crawl on his skin. Without a second thought of what he was doing, Dante had taken her hand in his, breathing out, "With you, forever isn't long enough."

Saying those words, Dante might as well have professed his entire love for the woman. They both knew it. He'd been caught off guard as much as she had but the words had simply escaped Dante's mouth. He almost began to regret it. He'd been the one who spoke the words and he would be the one to receive the blow no matter how hard of a hit it would be.

Intoxicating. That was the only word in existence that could explain what he was feeling beside her. She was intoxicating. Intoxicating and dangerous. With a flick of her wrist, she could be deadly to him and only him. Her power over his soul was alarming. Yet he belonged to her, thoroughly until the end of time. 

But she would never hurt him. She was Kat after all. No matter what he did, what he said, the young woman would never harm him in any way. Dante could only wish he could do the same. He would never bring harm to the girl, the same who'd saved him countless of times before. 

Kat's smile fell from her face, she bit her lip in thought, "How about forever and a day?"

The young hunter couldn't help but smirk as he brought up her hand and kissed her henna painted knuckles, "Forever and a day, angel."

Chapter Text

Nero is startled when the hunter arrives. He’s quick in wiping his tears with his sleeve. His small arms are wet from resting them on the windowsill, letting the rain splash on him. The water was cold, but the young boy felt it wash away the harsh events he’d endured not just a few hours before. The pain. The agony. He keeps his right hand in the pocket of his damp sweatshirt when he turns to look up.

The hunter seemed different suddenly, yet just as hostile. Rough around the edges, as she use to say. Dante stood in the doorway, his shaking hands at his sides, catching his breath. His hair stuck to his damp face and he seemed confused but no less alert. The two stared at one another. Nero would normally have been intimidated, but he was too numb to feel any such emotion.

“Where is she?” Dante finally breathed out.

He didn’t know he was too late. The tragedy was that there was no hope in his saving her if he’d left just a few minutes earlier. He would have needed a few hours’ head start. It was half a days drive, if he was lucky. Luck didn’t seem to find Dante favorable very much those days.

Ten years. It was just over ten years since their involuntary split. Both he and Kat splitting ways after five years sticking together through it all. Partners. Possibly the closest thing to family he had left, even after…

But that all seemed like ages ago.

Sure, they had their moments of closeness. The attraction was obviously there, among other things. But it was dangerous. Impossible. They were running on borrowed time, nothing was set in stone. Neither of them were safe. Dante couldn't stand to think what would happen to the young woman if he were near or if he couldn’t be there to keep her safe. They were after him anyway. It would make sense to keep her out of it.

He and Kat decided that going their separate ways would be the safest route after a severe close call. He’d made a childish mistake he could no longer take back yet ultimately it was her who made the decision.

“Dante. We should split .”

He didn’t mean for her to get injured. Her bad arm always being the one to get hurt. But they were a team. They were all they had left in the world. She was his stars in the crisp night sky after a day full of rain. And it seemed that most of his days were ultimately filled with rain. But sooner or later everything needed to come to an end.

“I know. You’ve been thinking of running for some time already.”

Dante never commented on the fact that she kept a packed bag near her bed, covered in unused blankets. She did her best to keep it hidden right in plain sight. Anyone else would have been fooled, they wouldn’t have noticed. But Dante knew her too well. She grew distant. Afraid. He couldn’t blame her. The witch had good reason to be afraid.

“Dante-”

To think, Dante had actually believed for a time that he had been given the chance to live freely. Peacefully in such a rundown world. With her. Those meager two years of absolute bliss, after having realized the spark that seemed oh so clear after their previous three years together. Something so apparent and yet they had never acted on it until one fateful morning.

“Don’t. It’s alright, it really is. Who were we fooling other than ourselves? We were running on borrowed time…”

An accident. A mistake. And yet if that was all it was, Dante would make the same choices all over again. Each incident, each accident and mistake . He would go down the same path all over again, as many times as it took, as long as he’d get to spend that time with her once more. Time, it seemed, was never in their favor.

“… Borrowed time, Kat. My only regret is not having realized it sooner.”

It was for the best. The only way to keep her safe, not that she wasn’t a good fighter. She was a great fighter, one of the best out there with her skills. But it just wasn’t meant to be. It was just that simple and just that complicated. Not in such a fucked up universe… maybe in a different world. A different life.

They may have been meant to fall for one another but they certainly were not meant to be together. Only few things in life were meant to happen but that didn’t signify they were meant to be.

Nero, the young boy who belonged to her, who’d been gifted as her son. Dante never asked about the kid or where he’d come from but now it seemed too late to ask any of those questions. Dante had done the math. Two years apart, her insistence of separating in the first place. Yet if not his, Nero could only belong to one other…

He didn’t even want to think of such a possibility. And so he never asked. But… she would have told him, wouldn’t she?

Dante had far too many questions and very few answers. Though the only question in his mind, as he raced to reach their home was what had happened. Why the witch had called him the night before, begging for him to go. She’d sworn to explain everything once he arrived. Yet now, before him, stood the young fresh ten year old in what was once a cleanly kept room. Toy cars, clothes and notebooks scattered all over the floor. His own gray colored bed sheets now crumpled into a corner and forgotten. No witch in sight.

The boy seemed frozen to the bone, his chest shaking from time to time until he finally answered the hunter in a low squeak, “She’s in the back…be careful with her. Please .”

He was too young to witness such things. Dante knew that much for sure, didn’t matter the blood flowing through his veins. A kid was a kid, he didn’t need tragedy in his young life. Dante was afraid of what he hoped he wouldn’t find. He wished so badly that what horrid feeling he felt within his chest hadn’t come true. The shed in the backyard had been disturbed, it’s doors either broken or hanging by a single hinge.

Nero had covered her with a blanket, the edges having been tucked in underneath her. Dante didn’t want to imagine what had happened. He didn’t want to think of the attack, he didn’t want to think of the young boy witnessing such bloody chaos. Nero, just a boy, laying her to rest. The pit in his stomach sunk deeper, his chest aching as he looked down at her blanketed form. A strand of her dark hair had escaped, losely having fallen on the cold, cracked concrete below. Dante wiped his face, not wanting to fall apart so suddenly.

If only they’d been given more time.

“I’m sorry,” croaked a small voice from behind him.

Dante turned, his hair pricking his eyes. There he stood, Nero, with a look of guilt. He bundled up in the warmth of his hoodie, arms closed into his torso with his hands in his pockets. Dante couldn’t help but think he looked almost… normal. Like a boy being scolded for playing out in the rain for too long, his voice on the edge of catching a cold.

The hunter shook his head, “What for?” he asked.

Nero narrowed his eyes, red and puffy from crying, “I couldn’t protect her.”

He knew exactly why the silver haired boy spoke such words and Dante felt far worse than he had just moments prior. He could only curse his past self for saying such a thing to a seven year-old.

“Take care of your mom. You only get one of her.”  

He had been leaving, as he always did after staying for a few hours to rest. Why he couldn’t have just gone out the door, no words like he always did, Dante would never know. It was such a long time ago, he didn’t think the boy would have remembered. But if Dante hadn’t wanted him to take the words to heart, if he didn’t want Nero to look out for her, then why say them in the first place?

Dante wanted to tell Nero it wasn’t his fault. It was the hunter himself who should not have dropped such responsibility on him. He was just a boy. Still, he is just a boy.

I’m sorry for putting such weight on your shoulders. I’m sorry for being so distant. I’m sorry for letting her leave. I’m sorry...

He wanted to take back all he hadn't done. The things he’d never said. All because he was in denial that a child such as Nero could exist in their world. He was in denial that Nero could possibly be the son of one who was still out there. Dante couldn’t wrap his head around it, or maybe he just refused to. A big mistake on his part.

Dante sighed, looked the boy in the eyes and swallowed his pride. With his silver tongue, all he was able to say was, “Take it easy, kid. None of this is on you.” 

It was all he could say. But it was the truth. 

They buried her in the backyard, right under the Poplar and near her garden. The dirt there was damp from the light drizzle of rain that continued to fall. Nero had busied himself elsewhere, Dante took advantage of the boy being occupied and now before them sat a path of soft dirt.

He appeared soon after Dante had finished. “Cosmos,” Nero explained once he was close enough, he held up the few colorful flowers in his hands, one wrapped over the other protectively, “Her favorite.” He didn’t comment on the fact that while digging, the older man seemed to wipe his eyes every so often, pretending to wipe the sweat from his forehead just as Dante didn’t comment on the boys hand. 

“I know,” Dante replied easily, nodding to the small flowers.

The hunter said nothing when the young boy arranged the many flowers around the softened dirt. His right hand close to his person, grasping the assortment of flowers as his left carefully placed them down. He didn’t rush the boy, instead he kept to himself, lost in his own thoughts.

Nero had always kept his own distance from Dante ever since he was a child. It didn’t matter how many times he saw the hunter which wasn’t much to begin with, Kat being the one he mainly spoke to the hours he was in their home while Nero hid behind a door or listened from a different room. Dante would always be a stranger. The stranger with hair like his own who occupied their sofa from time to time. The same stranger who arrived at any time during the day or night, randomly splattered in blood, at times with wounds that disappeared soon after.

For a time he’d let his mind wander when he was much younger, Nero was bold to consider the stranger may very well be his father. But those thoughts were always squashed. What silly, stupid ideas. No father could be so cruel to be absent when their kin was so near them.  

Yet now it seemed that they would need to look past all that.

They finished with their small ‘service’ once Nero had run out of flowers and gone back to the hunters side. He was so small, it pained him to think that the young boy could have so much power within him. So young having to have to bury family. To have such responsibility on his shoulders that Dante himself had put there.

He’s just a boy.

Dante ran a hand through his hair before wiping his nose, “Right. We’ll leave tomorrow morning. Take only what you need.”

He turned away, walking back into the house. His footsteps rang heavy going into the forgotten kitchen, his coat swaying with his movements. Dante wanted to be left alone. He felt nothing like himself. Not anymore. But he couldn’t let the kid see. Couldn’t let him down. She would never forgive him if he did. Dante never had to be strong for anyone other than himself for a long time already. What did he know about kids anyway? This one was different.

“We’re just gonna leave?” Nero spoke behind him, a hint of anger in his voice.

This one was a fighter.

Dante shook his head, turning around and sighing. He leaned back on the kitchen counter, the smell of different spices from the cabinets and outdoor rainwater all hitting him, “We did what we could. We can’t stay.”

An attack. It wasn’t safe. They’d return. It was risky enough staying the night.

He didn’t bother explaining anymore as he went into the other room, knocking over a few candles left on the floor and cursing under his breath. She always left candles lying around, luckily never lit. The bleak living room smelled of pine needles and lavender, Dante was followed by the boy, hot on his heels, not having finished his talk with the hunter.

Nero dashed to stand before him, spitting out, “We can’t just leave her. I won’t.”

His face was scrunched up, the hunter would have thought it adorable even, if it weren’t for the rage behind his words. It wasn’t a good day for either of them and it didn’t seem to be getting any better. 

“Kid...” Dante closed his eyes and ran his hand across his tired face.

“No,” the young boy stood his ground, brows furrowed. He would make the older man listen to him if it was the last thing he did. Nero couldn’t be expected to drop and leave everything just like that, “You know, it might be easy for you to leave people behind but she took care of me. She raised me! She may have meant little to you but-”

“What did you say?” Dante growled out in a low voice.

There were few things that triggered the hunter to his very core. He didn’t care if this was a ten year-old boy. How dare he speak such words. He knew nothing . Nero didn’t have a clue as to what sacrifices Dante had made. The pain he went through. The withdrawal. He knew little of what the witch meant to him. She’d intoxicated his very soul, through and through. Irreplaceable is what she was to him.  

She was strong. Beautifully so. Dante would march on bloody stumps if it meant seeing her one last time. They fought together. Hurt together. Yet this little pipsqueak dared say that the woman meant absolutely nothing to him? He had another thing coming.

Nero held his tongue, thinking over his next words. He brought his chin up high, tears of anger threatening to escape, “She protected me.”

“You may think you know the whole story. You don’t. You know nothing. But not for a second, think that I didn’t care about her. Cared for her. We were partners. She saved me,” he let out, his voice light yet still just as lethal.

She had done far more than just save him. She was afraid, of course she was. But not of him. Never of him. Dante could now only live with the question of ‘What if?’ It drove him insane. Yet as unavoidable as it may have seemed once, she was now gone. There was very little they could do.

Nero would never fully understand such weight in their history, but he did not like the idea of leaving her. Forgetting her. He couldn’t bring himself to just leave her behind. Not like that. It broke his heart to pieces. She’d told him long ago that if anything were to happen, Dante could be trusted.

Something did end up happening.

“I didn’t-,” he caught himself before shaking his head, giving in at last and becoming calmer, “I can't abandon her.”

I'm not abandoning her.

Dante could almost feel his past catching up to him as it always did, it seemed. No matter what he did, choices either of them made. Everything always returned to bite him in the ass.

“You won’t. But it isn’t safe here,” He couldn't do much. But one thing he could attempt to do was comfort the poor kid. Because after all, they would never be without her, “It isn’t easy for me either, kid. If that makes you feel any better.”

If they were hurting, at the least they’d do it together. But they would need to stay strong. Stay alert.

They would risk staying the night. The younger boy needed the rest, Dante knew that much. Nero had lit a few candles around the living room, blowing a few out at Dante’s insistence. Wouldn’t make sense to light the entire room up. Nero may not like the fact of leaving the only home he’d ever known, but he had little choice in the matter. Dante was right, they couldn’t stay. His words helped very little to reassure yet more so to understand as a matter of fact.

He accepted the fact that they would leave early morning. It hurt, of course it did. But at least the memories would always be there. She always knew just what to say, didn’t matter the situation.

“There is no doubt, the world is unfolding as it should, You’re life is just the same...”

The young boy couldn’t help but watch in awe that night as he lay in the sofa, covered with the usual scratchy blanket. He was suppose to be sleeping, but Nero couldn’t sleep. Not tonight. Dante fidgeted with one of her journals across the room, leaning forward in a chair he’d dragged to the front window. He said he would “stand watch” for the night. Yet there he sat, slowly flipping each page and every so often running a hand through his hair. He was exhausted, and it showed.

While watching the older man, Nero couldn’t help but think, all the signs were there, clear as day. It was obvious they were the same. It wasn’t just the physical, the hair, the looks. It was the strength, the rage. The power. Nero knew it well enough to spot it out. He’d known for years. His mother had known and so had Dante. Yet none of them ever spoke out about it.

It was the structure of his nose, his jaw, his eyes. All the evidence was as clear as day. Dante kept flipping the old, torn and soiled pages, every so often casting a glance at the young boy. Finally it seemed that enough was enough, “I’d pay you to stop staring but I’m a piece of work aren’t I? You should be sleeping.”

“We’re the same aren’t we?” Nero finally whispered, ignoring the question. He kept the old blanket over him, curling in on his side, “Mom said we were different. Special. She was right, wasn’t she?”

He knew exactly what the kid meant and what must have been crossing his mind. The only shame in the topic at hand was Nero had the wrong guy in mind. It wasn’t Dante’s own attributes that Nero found familiar. It was not his own features or characteristics that the boy identified with as much as it was his true fathers’.

The hunter sighed, closing the journal he held in his hands, “She was right about most everything but she shouldn’t have made you hide who you are, kid.”

His arm. Nero wasn’t very smart in hiding it. Old habits certainly died slow, the young boy had a tendency to always keep that arm closest to him. She certainly was wrong in having him hide it. Hide his true self. Dante could hardly remember a time when he’d seen the boy show it proudly.

“It wasn’t her decision. It was mine,” Nero was quick in speaking, his voice no longer tired. He’d been the one who willingly hid his arm. It may have been silly, but as a younger child he felt insecure. A monster. He did not want to be a monster. Yet if he and Dante were the same, perhaps it wasn’t the worst thing after all. Dante wasn’t a bad guy. And Nero wouldn’t feel bad to be like him, “I was...scared. I don’t know why. But I don’t want to be scared anymore.”

The hunter smirked, he nodded his head pleasantly, “I think I can help with that.”

Morning seemed to arrive too soon. They left just as the sun began to show its face. Nero’s shoulders were quite satisfied with the small weight of his backpack filled with few memories he couldn’t leave behind as well as certain objects Dante made him carry. Help an old man out, would ya’? Nero didn’t mind. He’d taken few of his own belongings. Easily overlooked, the young boy had taken a soft dark ribbon from Kat’s room. He fiddled with it, thinking over the other such things he’d found back in his home.

Normally, Dante would have left on his own. Nero peaking through a window at the stranger who rarely stayed longer than a day. Except today was no ordinary day. And Dante wasn’t leaving alone. That fact itself spread warmth into his chest and Nero couldn’t help but smile at the thought. She had been right after all.

"Dante?"

"Yeah?" he didn’t bother slowing down or turning his head, his footsteps lazy but just as strong and full of purpose

It would have irritated him, but Nero had no trouble in keeping up, "You're not my dad, are you?"

Dante scoffed. He wondered what had taken him so long to speak out such things, "Didn't your mom ever tell you about your dad?"

"No. She didn't talk about that very much. And who really knows if she was my mom anyway."

"What do you mean?" he asked, slightly offended. Kat was an admirable person. She was smart and skilled. A fit mother with a loving and strong nature. She knew what was best, no matter the cost or the pain. The pain, something both she and Dante were quite familiar with. Yet going back to Nero’s words, there had been pieces of writing in her notebooks. The hunter wouldn’t be surprised if the boy had found them himself.

"She may have raised me, protected me, but back at the house... I dunno,” Nero stopped to ponder, biting his lip until lastly making up his mind, “Forget it."

No matter what, the fact that she had always been there for him would always stand. No matter the time they had. She was always his guardian, always there to lend a helpful hand or offer kind words. Nero was thankful for at least that much while Dante had been gifted with less. Yet now he seemed to feel… happy.

He wouldn’t hide who he truly was, not with Dante around now, “We got one hell of a journey ahead of us, kid.”

The young boy curled his lips in a smirk and rolled up his sleeves, jogging to catch up to the hunter. It would be okay, everything would be okay. She was always right after all. The world would unfold as it should, no doubt about it.