The Angelo soldier staggered from the hard-won blow he endured from Dante. By the sound of cracking ringing out in his ears, he knew that the helmet was ruined, so he removed it.
"Vergil?!" The gasp from Dante, the name he had called out as his face was revealed was intriguing.
He'd heard it before.
Mundus would use it on occasion when speaking about him to others, but it was a name he never truly recognized it as his own.
He had but the title of Nelo Angelo to hold as his name.
So it was strange that Dante knew of the pet name.
Yet, he was not here to entertain such curiosities.
Capitalizing on the man's shock, he charged forward, intent on making his foe regret that moment of hesitation. Nelo would succeed this time, he will strike this man down as Mundus bid of him. Only then, he knew, the throb of growing agony would end, and he would once again be given peace.
The man's block was sloppy, it left him open. Good. Nelo kept up the pressure, nearly staggering the Devil Hunter with each blow. Nearly there, he was so close to his victory. So close to glory. So close to peace.
Just stay down.
It would be quick if he would just stay down.
Dante crashed onto his back into the stairs, blocking in just enough time to prevent Nelo's blade from sinking into him. Still, he was pinned down now, with little leverage against the Angelo. Nelo pressed his blade down toward him, using one armored hand on the blade. Caring not as the edge dug into the chitin.
"Vergil, it's me," He would try to beseech the Angelo by calling him by the pet name? Did he truly think that would work?
Well, of course, it was Dante. Dante was his target.
Nelo watched the man move one of his hands away from his own blade, giving the Angelo's blade more leverage to press into his shoulder.
What was he planning?
His gaze followed the spare hand as he pulled something from under the confines of his clothing; A pendant identical to his only possessions, but with a silver chain.
The same pendant he'd seen earlier; the same pendant that caused the fugue and hesitation. The hesitation that disappointed Mundus, that earned him punishment from his patron.
So, he was trying to use his earlier shock against him, was he?
It won't work this time.
Shifting the grip of his blade, he gave a hard shove down, causing the claymore to cut through the cloth and into Dante's shoulder. Earning a sound of pain and agony from the man; it was a sweet sound, Nelo could not help but smile.
"Damn it. I guess I should have expected that." Dante gasped, grasping one of his arms, "look, I know we never got along, but I really need to come through for me right now, buddy."
Nelo was not stirred by his weak appeal, the smell of blood filled his senses as he pressed the claymore deeper, intent on breaking the man's bone. The pained gasp earned a weakly placed kick, it wasn't enough to force him off.
What a fool. Why was Mundus so intent on setting a trap for this creature? Was it simply for entertainment? He hardly seemed worth the effort.
Dante reached up toward him, his teeth gritting against the pain as his collarbone snapped, "Vergil!"
What was he doing?
"If you can hear me in there," The outstretched hand cupped the side of his face, "it's alright," caressing the pale, cracked skin with his thumb.
"I get it. And, you know what?" The feel of the calloused thumb, the gentleness of his touch bewildered Nelo, why was he doing this?
"I always wanted to go out gun's blazing," Why was he giving him this speech?
"Heh, well not in this case, but that's okay. Could be figurative," Dante gasped, smiling up at him.
Though his smile faded, his eyes looked strange. Were those tears? "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry."
"Sorry I let you fall," Why was he crying?
Why was he apologizing?
"I'm sorry I couldn't save you, brother."
In his mind he saw the man's hand again, outstretched, but unable to reach him. He'd sliced that hand.
(/Someone like Dante, who wore his heart on his sleeve, shouldn't go to the underworld.
Hell wasn't a place for someone like his brother./)
Vergil gasped, eyes widening. He felt like he had been drowning, that finally as if for the first time, took air into his lungs. His eyes searching the figure before him, the man who was in shocked tears below him.
Dante? Was that Dante?
His head was reeling, he turned his gaze away. It had to be an illusion. Another figment of his delirious mind coming to taunt him again. He was back in his cell, on the edge of bleeding to death again, wasn't he?
As his gaze swept around the room, taking in the smell of blood from the battle, the sound of waves crashing into the ridge outside, the distant call of birds, the fresh scent of the sea.
This wasn't his cell.
"Vergil?" A shiver washed over him at the sound of the voice.
His gaze returned to the man below him, taking in his features once more.
"D...Da-" His words trailed off, as if he was afraid that if he called out his name it would prove to be just an illusion.
"That's right," Dante smiled up at him, grunting, he pushed the claymore out from his shoulder, moving the blades to the side as he sat up.
"It's me, Vergil."
An anguished gasp escaped him when he confirmed it really was him, that this wasn't some fantasy or illusion. Lifting a shaky hand, he hesitated to touch Dante. This was too good to be real, but...
Dante's hand returned to the side of his face, "Whoa... Hey, you're alright?"
Even... Even as he could believe this was actually happening, that Dante was actually here, doubt echoed through him. Would he deserve this? The last he saw him, he was full of pride and hungry for power. It seemed so long ago...
"I guess this is that heartwarming reunion we talked about," Dante murmured, stroking his fingers through his hair.
That was when proverbial damn broke, and Vergil gasped, clasping his hand over his mouth to stifle a sob, doubled over himself he tried to hide his face as he became inconsolable.
"Let it out, Verge. I gotcha, Brother. I'm here." Dante's hushed words and soft tone didn't help stop the tearful cries, and as he was pulled into his embrace Vergil clung to his brother desperately.
Dante was here. He was real. This was real.
Vergil gulped as he pulled his head from his brother's chest, reaching to pull some of his brother's unruly hair from his face as if that would help him see him better. He stilled as he saw the chitin like armor on his hand, his gaze going down to himself. To the armor that he was wearing, to the weapon he'd been using.
Realizing all too soon that the nightmare was just as real. Oh, gods. "D-Dante," He gasped, his voice raw and hoarse either from unuse of his anguished cries, "Le-leave."
"G-go!" Vergil pulled away from Dante, stumbling on his feet, "Y-you have to run."
"No can do, brother," Dante sat up all the way, his hand resting on his injured shoulder. "Got unfinished business here."
"Unf-f..." Was he planning to fight Mundus? "N-no. No. No-no-no. You must leave."
"Can't do that, there's still an asshole that needs an ass-kicking."
Did his brother not realize? Did he not get it?
"Dante! You have to leave!" Nearly shouting, his voice cracking from the desperation in his voice, "Mundus is HERE!"
"Whoa, chill your horses, brother. I know."
Oh, gods, he was planning on fighting Mundus. The idiot doesn't get it, "You can't fight Mundus! You have to run! You have to leave!"
Dante stood from his spot on the stairs, determined, "Pretty sure that ship has sailed, brother. I came here to do a job, and that's exactly what-"
"Idiot! Just listen!" He could feel the agony start rolling through him, he spent too long not following his orders. "You can't stay, Dante. You can't fight M.. Mundus, he will kill you." Gasping through the pain, his head pounding with the words of Mundus' last order echoing over an over again.
"Get out of here, Dante," He gasped. "Leave Malet Island, Dante. While you still can."
Dante noticed the sudden change in him, and he began to approach him.
"What about you!?"
"Forget it! Forget you ever saw me!" His voice strained, his body felt like it was on fire.
"I can't do that, Vergil! You know I can't!" Dante's advance remained undeterred from his words, so he was forced to throw a volley of summoned swords in his path.
Vergil backed up, putting distance between the two, yanking his pendant from his neck, "Stubborn fool..."
The agony from the armor was becoming too much to bear as it glowed, trying to spur him into action. He refused, even as the armor began to glow white-hot, even as he could feel Mundus' anger roll over him.
Dante called for him, unable to get any closer as the energy from the armor ran rampant. Vergil howled in agony, yet still, he refused to act toward Dante. He was not going to be a pawn anymore, even if the armor killed him.
What happened next, he could not recall.
There was pain, light, and then he was numb.
Then there was darkness.
The sound of voices rang above him, growing in clarity as he woke. He tried to shift from his position, yet his body did not heed him. Notably, however, he no longer held his half of the pendant.
Perhaps he dropped it.
Good... Dante could make use of its power. He was sure of it.
"That went well, he almost spilled the beans," That voice belonged to Trish, he was sure.
"Yet he did not, the plan remains. Trish, you know what needs to be done." The booming voice was Mundus, he knew. He could never forget.
"Yes, Master." The echoes of her footsteps marked her retreat.
Vergil could feel the thick, moist tentacles wrap around his body, lifting him into the air. Opening his eyes he could see he was lifted high to be nearly level with Mundus' face.
"A truly pathetic attempt at rebellion, Vergil," The tentacles tightened around him until he was sure his body was beginning to break. "You gained nothing. Not freedom, not catharsis, not even the reconciliation that you so desire."
The crackling of electricity marked the Demon King's annoyance, and Vergil could only smile. "You take amusement in your failures? Perhaps you have finally gone mad.
"Your efforts were in vain, your brother is none the wiser. Trish will succeed where you have failed."
"Fret not, Son of Sparda," Vergil gasped as the tentacles snaked more delicately around his body. Slipping under the armor's chest plate, "You may still only have one use left to me. I might even keep you after I dispose of your brother."
"Though you fail as a soldier, I'm sure you'd make a fine pet." Vergil groaned in disgust as a tentacle wrapped around his neck, while other's slid against exposed skin, trapped between his body and the armor.
Please not again.
"Perhaps another time," The tentacles slipped out from under the confines of his armor and Vergil did not bother to stifle his relief as he was dropped to the floor.
He landed roughly on his feet, falling to his knees before Mundus.
"Take him away," Mundus spoke to a gaggle of lesser demons that lingered there, "Back to Hell. His rehabilitation awaits."
The demons dragged him back through the unsteady portal, back into that prison.
So this was it, this was his life now. His future but endless nights of torture and rape.
His brother... Dante.
He had to hope that he'd be alright, or alive, in the end, right?
It had to have been a few hours that he sat alone in his cell, waiting for when the jailers and torturers would address him when the entire prison began to quake. The distant sound of metal shattering, and the pained howl of anger and hate that echoed throughout.
Vergil sat up, listening intently.
He was sure that sound was Mundus, in the throes of defeat.
A new sound echoed through the cell. Laughter, a soft peal at first, but it soon became raw rancor, filled with relief, hope, and desperation.
The sound came from Vergil.
It continued until his voice was close to breaking; tears fell slowly down his face, stinging against the crevices of his cracked skin.
Vergil could barely believe it...He did it.
Stars above, Dante defeated Mundus.
Dante did it...
The cell fell silent as he smiled towards the ceiling, the clamor of panic and dissent in the prison caused by the power vacuum seemed distant and fleeting.
Dante did it.
As the prison grew silent, Vergil wondered when he would see his brother again.
He hoped it would be soon.