The armoured knight is unlike any other demon Dante has ever fought.
He’s stronger and faster; finally a worthy opponent giving Dante some trouble—but that’s not all. The way he parries some of Dante’s hits and dodges others, almost like he knows Dante, like their fight is a dance they’ve been practising for as long as they've been alive. Dante’s demon is appreciative. His human part wonders what it’d be like to fight with him, not against him.
Yeah, if only he weren’t Mundus’ servant. Dante has no idea where his earlier idle thought came from. His job here is clear: get to Mundus; kill everyone who stands in his way.
Time to finish this.
His next attack brings the demon to his knees. Dante raises his sword again, but his opponent is suddenly too fast; dropping his broadsword to evade and jump over Dante’s head. A powerful punch that follows knocks Dante down. Before he can recover, the demon pulls him back up by his neck, his hand hauled back, ready to hit again—and then he freezes.
Dante tries to break free, but the demon tightens his hand around Dante’s neck: a warning, even though he makes sure Dante can still breathe. And he doesn’t attack again.
That’s . . . more than weird, actually.
Dante follows the line of the demon’s sight to his own chest and sees that his amulet has slid free.
“Sorry, that’s mine.” Dante isn’t entirely sure why he's stopped struggling and just hangs in the demon’s grip like that’s a reasonable thing to do in his current situation—
Which suddenly is no longer a concern, because the demon lets him go and turns back. He lets out a soul-piercing scream, and he grabs at his head—his helmet, as Dante understands when the demon starts pulling it off, slowly as if there was something stopping him, with more of those pained grunts that seem to be the only way of communication he has.
Dante doesn’t attack again. He watches, intrigued, but he doesn’t have a chance to glimpse the face hiding underneath.
The demon throws his helmet away and is back on Dante in an instant, too quick, really too quick, Dante’s never met anyone moving that quick (not true, there was one person). His hand covers Dante’s eyes, and then, before Dante can react and push him away, because no way in hell is he letting any demon devoid him of vision, he kisses Dante.
Dante’s kissing him back before he even understands what’s happening.
The demon has a human face, clearly; his lips feel dry against Dante’s, but the way he licks into Dante’s mouth, hot, insistent, makes Dante wonder if it’s not a succubus for a wild moment. He kisses him just the way Dante likes it, the press of his lips firm and unyielding, and he tangles his free hand in Dante’s hair, his armoured thumb resting on Dante’s cheek. He bites on Dante’s lip, drawing blood, and the brief spike of pain somehow resembles a caress more than anything else. He immediately soothes the bite with his tongue, and keeps kissing Dante, claiming, rough but not violent, careful but not gentle.
There’s only one person who’s ever kissed him like that.
And only one person to whom Dante’s amulet would mean anything.
“Vergil,” he whispers against his brother’s lips.
And the demon knight crumbles.
He falls down in front of Dante, clawing at his face. Now able to see, Dante recognises his twin immediately for all that he looks nothing like he should: his face is white as snow, covered in a multitude of fine scars that look like cracks on porcelain. His eyes glow red; as red as his blood-covered lips.
And he’s still locked—for it cannot be by his own will—inside a giant black armour.
Who could’ve done that to him? A foolish question. Dante thought he couldn’t hate Mundus any more than he already does, but he was wrong. The hatred explodes in him like wildfire, scorching and all-consuming, powered by another question: just what could he have done to Vergil to reduce him to this?
Dante forces the fire inside him under a resemblance of control, only because deep down he realises that if he exploded now the way he wants to, he wouldn't hurt Mundus: he'd hurt Vergil. He exhales, steadying himself, until he’s able to kneel next to Vergil and touch his scarred cheek infinitely gently. Vergil flinches away.
It costs Dante everything to stop reaching for him again. He makes himself stay in place, not even breathing; waiting as Vergil seems to be finding his voice again.
“Nn—Nelo,” he lets out, pauses. “Nelo Angelo.” He points at himself. Like that’s what he is, whatever the words mean.
You left me for this? a part of Dante’s brain is screaming. You chose to let yourself fall, and you lost even yourself? Hope you're proud of your choices, brother.
He pushes those feelings aside, too. He’s spent so long pretending everything is okay; the mask is a familiar one.
And even at the worst of it, in the weeks following Vergil's fall, any hatred he felt for him had always been eclipsed by love.
“Vergil,” Dante insists, his pronunciation clear and loud. “Your name is Vergil.”
“Ver . . . gil . . .” His voice is hoarse, unused, or like he screamed too much. His expression is lost, like Dante had never seen on his face.
But if he'd forgotten his own name, what else has he lost? Can he ever get it back?
That, too, Dante pushes away: it is a concern for later; for when he—they?—kills Mundus, for when they make it back home, for when he has the time to process it all.
“Yeah,” Dante says for now. “And I’m Dante. Your brother.”
“Brother,” Vergil repeats, the word sounding more certain than his own name did. He reaches under his armour and procures a golden amulet. Dante understands; he pulls out his own amulet again.
Vergil looks at them, then back at Dante, starting to shake all over as he remembers, “Twin brother.”
There, a tear on broken skin mirrored by one on Dante's own cheek: another proof that devils may cry.