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between a heartbeat

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When I plunged Yamato in my chest, I wanted to shed everything that was holding back the demonic power within me. To finally become a creature that wasn’t held down by emotion and doubt.

I don’t fear death...

“Hah... Hah...” Blood drips onto the ground, past my lips, I struggle to breathe.

I don’t fear death. But every part of me trembles, and I can feel the sting of tears behind my eyelids.

Stop. I need to do this.

To separate everything weak part of my heart; every pain, every doubt, every long-forgotten happiness.

Every nightmare must end.

“Heavy chain,” I chant as I concentrate, with all of my will. To cast all of my troubles, all of my heart aside.

“That does... freeze my bones,” Agony pulses beneath my skin, and I’m unsure if its origin is from Yamato, from bleeding, or from what the corruption has done to me. I need this. I need to be free.

I will be free.

“Around,” I barely form the words, why I say them I... I don’t know anymore. There is the ripping of the fabric of the cloak, but the sound is louder than what the ear can hear.

Like I can feel something rip through my skin. My vision is blinded, and I struggle to gasp before I feel something punching through me, throwing me back. Or does it? Because I am sure for the moment that my feet are still firmly planted.

The pain in my mind is greater than anything my body could register.

Unconsciously I yearn for it to end. I yearn to be free.

I gasp again, plunging Yamato deeper into my sternum, and that feeling punches through me again. Like it’s broken through some unseen barrier and this time, this time I lose my footing. The cold wood impacts my shoulders, and I’m left trembling on the floor.

What... Happened?

Did it work?

Why do I still tremble?

Why am I still so cold?

I opened my eyes to see the portrait of my broken family above me. The tears threaten again to well up, unbidden, unwelcome. It didn’t work.

If I am still a slave to my emotions then it did not work.

Damn it.

The sound of another taking breath in the room stills me, it is ragged, pained, and sounds wet. A shiver runs through me as I sit up, my body aches, but I look anyway. Only to witness a horrifying truth, my body had remained where I had once stood. Falling to its knees before me, the demonic aura running wild.

What have I done?

Wait. No... it makes... it makes no sense.

Doubt strikes me, and I look down at myself. My body is frail, weak, skinny beyond compare. Like I’ve been starving for so long, there is no familiar canvas of toned muscle. Just smooth skin.

Is... did I...?

I try to calm myself, but the beating of my heart is a drum ringing in my ears, louder than the thoughts racing through my head.

Stop it.


If it succeeded, if I truly discarded all of my weakness, does that mean I split my consciousness into two? Was I so weak that my sense of being was woven into these concepts of fear and frailty?

A cold shiver runs through me when the body my consciousness has left shudders in pain. The sound of shifting sinew and the warping of bone breaks me from my torment. But now I am a witness to what is happening. The flesh warping, the body growing in size, horns growing where they never had on my devil form, ripping through and transforming skin.

Sweating, shaking in my fear, I realize it doesn’t matter. If I had cast aside all of my pain, all that was weak, then the creature before me was the success of my efforts.

It was now Vergil.

So... so what was I, then?

V sighs as Dante lets him finish this. Good. Perfect. Though he struggles to climb on top of Urizen, he knows the pain will end soon. He locks eyes with the creature below him, weeks ago he would have called him Vergil. He knew now that wasn’t quite true for either of them.

He could feel the rage and defiance radiating off of the demon below him, their brief exchange was much to be desired. But with little time on both of their clocks, thanks to the injury Dante had given the demon, true conversation is not a luxury they could indulge in. When he recites the poem, he remembers the time as a child when he recited it to Dante. Perhaps Dante recognized it because he could hear him rushing over now.

Time is, as they say, of the essence.

The light that burst between them is brilliant and blinding, he feels like he’s falling. A never-ending descent, and he is sure what he is seeing now must be a figment of his mind as a crystalline expanse of water meets him.

He expects to crash into it. Yet, he doesn’t.

Instead, gently touches down till he is kneeling on top of it, despite clearly knowing he should breach the surface. The deepness of that water leaves a chill in him. He remembers sinking once, unable to find the strength to come out of it. He remembers the vision that Nightmare had shown him. Is it not dissimilar?

Something is rising from the depths, at first just a shapeless form. But as it comes closer, its approach slows, becomes clear. The boy beneath the water is much like the boy who fell into hell, unchanged in some ways, all too different in others. He’s bloodied, hurt, eerily still. His eyes are closed, and it is clear that he knows nothing of what is happening.

V’s thoughts wander back to the moments after his birth and wonders again if his theory was true. For now, it matters not, he wouldn’t change the course of his actions that brought him here. Even if he could have changed the flow of fate.

“There you are,” V whispers to the boy that was a reflection of his past if not his face, “I know, it took me longer than expected,” He reaches into the water, and though it feels wet, it is also thick. Like he’s reaching into muck, “but I am here now. So there is no need to fret.”

Securing his hands around the boy, he pulls him up towards him. It became more difficult the closer the boy got to the surface, he’d breach it now if not for some invisible resistance. V bites his lip, reaching a hand to touch the boy’s face, “I understand the terror all too well, trust me. I ... I know that you wanted to leave it all behind,” his thumb caresses over the boy’s cheek, “To feel whole again.”

His voice hushes as he leans down, “To feel safe. It's... all you ever wanted,” his hair wet as he places his forehead to the boy’s, as close as he could with the thin layer of water that separates them, “We’ve come so far, now it’s time to take that last step.”

The resistance begins to fade and V breathes a sigh of relief, he is finally able to lift him from the water. Pulling him close as he sits the boy up, he leans back as the surface of the water feels solid once more. They remain there as he waits, stroking his hand through the boy’s hair. He feels tired suddenly, but he doesn’t dare close his eyes, he wasn’t going to let the boy wake up alone if he could help it.

“Dante will be furious with us,” He murmured into the boy’s forehead, feeling a flinch. Smiling, V pulled back enough to watch Vergil stir, blinking through the disorientation of his senses.

“Good afternoon, Vergil,” V says playfully, as Vergil wakens he ages before him, his brilliant blue coat fading to the one he wore before tearing himself asunder. Vergil regards him carefully, confused no doubt. After a moment he seems to piece enough together, “... Strange,” He murmured quietly, “This shouldn’t be possible.”

V smiles, “You are moments away from waking, I see no reason why the impossible remains so. With every moment it draws near, I will fade until it is just you again. I’m not sure you’ll even remember this moment. As fleeting to reality as it is.”

Vergil tries to sit up but is unable to move, “We are not in a physical space,” V explains, “Trying to stand when you are already is pointless.”

After a moment of concentration, Vergil succeeds in sitting up properly. There are echoes around them, distant voices and even more distant images reflecting off the surface of the water as V’s attention is caught beneath them. He realizes after a moment that they must be memories, after seeing familiar glimpses of his own actions over the month he’d spent split in two.

He realizes Vergil is watching as well, though it may be more accurate to say that these images were there because the memories were returning. V sees the tension in him when the images get closer and closer to his sundering and what looms beyond. The apprehension of fear is agonizing, no wonder he didn’t want to wake. V turns Vergil’s gaze away from the reflections beneath them, holding his face in his hands, “Let them pass, it is only a moment. They are a lifetime away, and define you no longer.”

“I discarded them,” Vergil’s tone is stressed and frustrated, and he clasps his hand over V’s wrist. V knows that if he gives him the time Vergil will turn that anger on him. On himself. The distinction is unclear right now. So V leans forward, pressing their foreheads together again, running his hand through Vergil’s hair.

“You worry so much, you plan and yet your actions couldn’t be more reckless if you tried,” He hopes Vergil doesn’t push him away as he continues, “Everything isn’t going to go how you plan it, but that doesn’t mean it is a failure. You discarded me, and the mistake couldn’t be more profound, could it?”

Vergil stills at that, relenting. His grip loosens though he does not pull away from V, his eyes close. They remained like that for what is in reality milliseconds of time, he knows, but what seems like an eternity before Vergil finally breathes, “Alright.” As if accepting V’s words.

“Ready so soon?” V almost wants to voice his reservations. He doesn’t want to go back into the dark, though he knows in reality that once they were done merging that there wouldn’t be enough space between them to know the difference. Vergil must have caught onto this feeling, his brows pinched together, he opens his eyes and regard’s V carefully.

“It was... cold,” Vergil announces unexpectedly, his hand catching hold of V’s, though he’d yet to move it from his face. In the time that they shared staring at each other V nods, understanding.

“Walls are one thing, but then they are meant to protect the warmth hidden within them, don’t you agree?” V’s eyelids began to feel heavy, and he is sure now if he wasn’t holding onto Vergil he would start sinking. The surface of the water beneath him no longer feels solid.

“Yes,” Vergil glances down as if sensing what was going on, “You will fade away, you said?”

“As if I’ve never existed as something separate from you,” V reiterates, rephrases because simply fading isn’t quite the truth of it. “As it should always be.” Though Vergil doesn’t voice it, he could feel his doubt, and if his mind wasn’t swimming in memories already V was sure he’d hear his thoughts echoing. “If you fear to go through this again, you have my memories to look back on. And your own, as a demon.”

“Right,” Vergil relaxes, yet curiously he doesn’t push V away, doesn’t yet try to wake despite saying he was ready earlier. “Dante will be furious...” He murmurs, turning his gaze away, avoiding the surface of the water, though V knows that his thoughts were currently of their twin.

“Oh, will he ever be,” V chuckles, turning Vergil’s gaze back toward him, he’s too tired to go on, so it must be time soon. Whether they were ready or not. “Before we wake, a bit of advice,” V closes the distance between them, placing a tender kiss to Vergil’s lips.

Confusion again, “What is that supposed to mean?”

V smiles, “Love yourself a little bit more than the things you loathe in yourself.”

His facade wavers and Vergil is suddenly leaning toward him, worry on his features. It takes V a little bit to realize why; he actually is sinking into the water beneath them. There is a sense of vertigo V knows they both share at that moment, “Vergil, let go. You have to wake up.”

There is tension and apprehension on his expression, more resistance in his grip; V knows it will not bode well if Vergil doesn’t wake. If he tries to stay, will he ever wake? “If you don’t wake up now,” V pleads, now gently pushing against Vergil with one hand, the other caressing his cheek, trying to soothe the anxiety in him, “Then you may never again. What would be the point in that?”

Reluctance, but he relents, and gently releases his grip. V smiles up at him, “You won’t remember this, so don’t fret so much. I am your heart. My rhythm will always be there until we draw our final breath.”

Vergil nods slowly, yet doesn’t release him until V is beneath the surface until their grip is just by their arms now. V’s vision fades quickly now that he’s beneath the surface, his senses dulling. Though even that isn’t quite the truth. V feels Vergil’s arm slip through his grip, he can sense Vergil hesitate when their fingers slip over each other. He worries that Vergil would try to catch him again, dooming himself, but he doesn’t.

They part. V watches the silhouette of Vergil fade as he sinks further.

V is alone now, drifting down beneath a sunless sea, memories echoing like dreams to the rhythm of a heartbeat. Until he couldn’t tell where he ended and the sea began.

An endless descent.

As I drew breath, I can see the light behind my eyelids fade. My body feels strong for the first time in an eternity, though I ache with something less tangible. Loneliness throbs in me, I know it all too well. It might be fresh because the memories of my life have rushed through me so suddenly, leaving me feeling breathless.

It might be because I have been this way for far too long, I cannot tell.

“Vergil.” Dante.

The loneliness pangs through me anew as I open my eyes. Like an echo meeting my brother’s voice. I clamp down on it, drawing another breath as I bring up those familiar walls around me. I know it is figurative, but my body cools as I settle into the facade that protects my fragile heart from the constant pain that threatens it.

I am smiling despite myself, despite the drama between my brother and I. Surely when I turn around Dante will meet me with full force, and I am tempted to make him wait.

For just a moment longer, I just want the peace to remain.

The moment passes and I turn to face him. Though something out of the corner of my peripherals catches my attention. A book. I remember it well as I retrieved it from the ground. My name is written on the inside. I may only have a moment longer to rifle through on the two sets of memories echoing in my head. I can feel Dante’s aura close to bursting.

Ever impatient, my little brother.

He can wait.

For this moment, I listen to nothing but the beating of my own heart, grazing my thumb gently over the initial emblazoned on the front of my book.

Fleeting though it may be, the loneliness eases just a bit.