Sitting on the front porch just as the sun’s going down, Patty watches the traffic go by.
Wonder if Dante’s back yet, she thinks to herself.
Is he going to come-
“Patty?” Mom calls out, opening the door and walking out, “Is everything-”
Resonates through the streets, startling Mom.
Patty can’t blame her, the van is honestly not something you usually see in the neighborhood, huge, dented, giant neon sign on the side.
So when Nero parks across the street and steps out the van to lean against the driver’s door, giving her a look, Patty’s pretty sure she’s the only one who gets the memo.
You free? His eyes ask her.
Turning to Mom for a second, patting her hand she sends a Sure, back to him.
Resigned, Mom sighs and tells her, “Just be back before it gets too late, alright?”
Nodding, Patty heads over to the rust bucket.
“So,” Patty says in the Fredi’s booth after their orders have been taken, “To recap: Dante’s evil twin came back to life and cut off your arm, split himself in two with the human half manipulating you guys into getting the demon half which murdered millions of people weak enough to get back together with, Dante didn’t tell anyone who they were up against, which left Lady and Trish unprepared and got them all captured, used your trauma against you in a futile attempt to keep you out of it, evil twin came back after the demon half ate the crazy demon king fruit, Dante went off alone again and put everyone’s lives in danger to settle the ancient grudge of who’s is bigger, instead of getting everyone else’s help to stop his brother who just jumped up to his level through cheat codes to stand a chance, only now told you that said evil twin is your sperm donor, something he should have told you years ago and honestly, you probably should have figured out,” she blathers on, ignoring the glare at that last comment, “Through sheer force of will you managed to regrow your human arm and develop a full devil trigger, kicked the sociopathic Darwinist’s butt, then made him clean up his mess since him and Dante were both completely ignoring the evil demon tree killing people by the second in favor of deciding who got a bigger cookie after dinner, and Dante went down with him, leaving behind everyone who actually loves him. Again.”
“…Yeah,” Nero confirms, nodding slightly, “That’s pretty much the gist of it.”
“Trish may keep her mouth shut on a lot of things, but that woman is good at keeping the facts straight. When she wants to.”
“She’s definitely better at remembering things straight than the rest of us.”
“That might just be because she has a demon brain instead of a human one,” Patty guesses lightly, taking a sip from her water, “Studies have shown that humans sometimes tend to change the events they witnessed slightly, no matter how long it’s been since it happened; it’s a real hassle for investigators that rely on eyewitness accounts.”
“Yeah, I saw it on a show once.”
Taking another sip, Patty levels Nero with a stare.
“Somethin’ on my face?” The hunter asks.
“You’re…” She starts, considering her words, “Taking this…very well.”
Taking a sip of his own, Nero counters, “Oh no, I’m beyond pissed; I think I’m, what’s the word? ...Ah! Infuriated, that’s it.”
“Here we are!” The waitress, Cathy, announces as she places their orders down “Two banana splits with nuts, one with chocolate sauce,” she says, pushing it to Nero, “and one with caramel!” She finishes, pushing the second to Patty.
“Thanks!” Patty chirps, Nero nodding in agreement.
“No problem!” The server replies, “Though,” she starts, curious, “Whenever the two of you come here, you’re usually with Dante; where is he?”
“Oh! Ummm…” Nero starts.
“He’s got some business with an old associate,” Patty covers, “Won’t be back for a while.”
“Aww! Too bad!” Cathy bemoans, “I was really looking forward to talking to him again! Sigh…Oh well.” And she heads off, “Let us know when your dad’s back in town, you two!” She waves goodbye, not noticing them freeze, “Marco, I’m goin’ on break!”
After she’s moved a certain distance away, Patty pipes up, “So…how many coins did you crush?”
Lifting his fist to the table, Nero slightly unclenches it to release a fine dust of powder to the table and curtly says, “Sixteen.”
Taking a bite out of the frozen dessert, Nero eventually says, “Dante sucks.”
Nodding, Patty agrees, “Yup.”
“He’s a fucking liar.”
“All we wanted was for him to let us know if something was going on and did he do it? No.”
“Just keeps everything to himself, thinks no one else can handle it.”
“Because we’re just stupid kids who aren’t used to real pain, no we’ve got it easy, everything is so much easier, what are you brats complaining about?”
“Maybe I should have just killed him.”
“Nah, then we couldn’t talk smack about him in his face.”
Eating in silence for a bit, Patty eventually says, “Do you…want to yell about it?”
Looking rather…vulnerable, Nero eventually steels himself and says, “No…You don’t deserve that.”
“Nero, you can’t just-”
“I’m not keeping it in,” he interrupts, “I’m not like him; I’m just not going to take it out on you, you didn’t do anything wrong. I don’t do that, not anymore, I don’t want to do that anymore.” Looking at his hands before clenching them, he starts again, “I knew…I knew it was a problem already, and I was already trying to stop, but…after seeing the Qliphoth and what it did to Redgrave…I really saw what happens when you don’t think about what happens to everyone else when you just take out what happened to you on people that had nothing to do with it.”
Placing a hand on his, making him look her in the eyes, Patty tells him, “I know. And thank you.”
That gets a smile out of him, a tired, grateful one.
“C’mon,” Patty starts, patting his hand, “Let’s get back to dissing Dante.”
“He is literally, the most irresponsible man I have ever met.”
“Even before all this shit, I was figuring out his bills; I moved two years ago, why am I still doing this?! Fuck, who lets a seventeen-year-old be your financial advisor?!”
“And he totally blew me off for my birthday and wasn’t even enough of a man to tell me; he had Morrison do it!”
“To be fair, none of us wanted to go.”
“And, he’s still living on a diet of pizza and ice cream!”
“He would not have lasted in Credo’s house.”
Taking a breath and another scoop, Patty bluntly says, “We picked a terrible father figure.”
“Yup,” Nero agrees.
“…I miss him,” she utters quietly.
“Me too,” Nero agrees, just as quiet.
“But he picked going into the underworld with his evil twin instead of all of us, the family that has tried to support him.”
“I get why he needed to do it,” Nero cuts in, “I guess, theoretically, I know someone needed to keep an eye on Vergil and make sure the Qliphoth got cut and he didn’t try anything else but…it feels like he picked him over us.”
“I thought…” Patty says, “I thought he finally realized that we’re the family that wants him, that loves him. I thought he realized that he deserved better, that he deserves a family that cares.”
“I guess we didn’t try hard enough,” Nero sadly says, “Or our dad is just an idiot who can’t accept a good thing and stuck to the toxic environment him and his brother have based around dismembering people you share DNA with to relieve frustration and avoiding confronting your feelings.” Shoveling a spoonful in, he continues, “He really is into self-sabotage.”
“I’m glad we never called him ‘Dad’ to his face.”
“Yup. Does not deserve it."
“…Maybe I should have shot V,” Nero wistfully declares, “He was already shifty, but now I know he was using me for his evil ‘I want more power’ plan; I told myself I wasn’t gonna let that happen again, it was my goddamn New Year’s resolution.”
“Well, then Vergil wouldn’t have come back!”
“Yamato would’ve come back out! …Maybe.”
“Well who would cut it down?!”
“I don’t know, those crazy witches with the hair?! They seem like they could find a way out!”
“Why didn’t you call them to help in the first place?!”
“I tried to, but apparently Dante called them beforehand to tell them to stay out of it!”
“Why do we expect things from him?!”
“…I guess it’s kinda my fault, I did help V. Why’d I trust him, I’m usually better at being suspicious of everyone I meet? …Why’d I invite a hobo to dinner?!”
Looking at Nero with one eyebrow raised Patty calmly says, “Because you’ve been turning into a kinder and more open person who gives others the benefit of the doubt?”
“Ah, no!” Nero blurts out in realization.
“And you’re the only one who realized how dumb Dante and Vergil’s whole rivalry is.”
“Patty. Shut up.”
“…Nero, I think you’re the most emotionally mature person at Devil May Cry.”
Screaming, “NO!!!!!!” to the heavens did not invalidate her point.
“You know,” Nero says while they’re driving back, “I actually feel kinda better talking to someone who’s…y’know, sane.”
“I’m glad,” Patty replies.
“I think I can finally talk to the kids about what happened now.”
Giving him a wary glance, she asks, “You’re gonna tell them?”
“Yeah,” Nero answers, “They’ve been asking about where Uncle Dante is for awhile now, but I figured I should vent about it a bit before I told them.”
“…The whole thing?”
“Yup,” he replies instantly as he makes a turn, “I’m not gonna keep things from them. That’s not how I do things.”
“…You really have grown up, Nero.”
“And then I’m gonna piss on V’s book.”
“Scratch that, you’re still the pettiest person I know.”
That earns her a hair ruffle as they pull into the driveway, one she complains about messing up her perfectly shaped bangs.
“Thanks for the ice cream,” Nero tells her as she walks out.
“Well, you drove,” she deflects, “It’s only fair.”
“I’ll call you tomorrow, okay?”
“Whatever you want, Patty-pat.”
Starting back up the ignition, he stops when he hears a, “Hey, Nero?”
Pausing, he looks to see Patty still standing outside the car.
“Do you…” She starts, “Do you think he’s coming back?”
“Are we ever going to see our crappy dad again?”
“…Probably, he sucks but he’d kill himself before he became a deadbeat parent,” Giving her a lazy smirk, he adds, “And the old bastard’s gotten himself out of worse situations, right?”
“Yeah,” Patty agrees, smiling.
“He’ll be back,” Nero reiterates, “Even if we have to go down into Hell and grab him.”
“I’d survive,” Patty puffs up proudly, “But how do you wanna deal with him when he get’s back? Silent treatment or light his stuff on fire?”
“Patty,” Nero teases, “We both know you’re incapable of the silent treatment; we’re gonna burn his coats.”
“Oooohh, that could get us killed.”
“Hmm,” Patty hums, “Since Vergil technically ate that fruit, does that means he’s king of the underworld?”
“Maybe?” Nero shrugs, “Gonna be honest, I was a bit more focused on the whole ‘People are dying’ thing and Dante being a dick.”
“I was just thinking,” the girl muses, “Maybe he’ll like being the big dog and stay there and never bother us with his stupid three billion human life pay to win power ups again and we all can get back to trying to figure out how to be happy.”
“Hopefully,” Nero agrees.
“And Dante can spend the rest of his life begging for forgiveness.”
“You know he won’t.”
“I can DREAM, Nero!”
“Whatever,” he chuckles, “Talk to you later, Patty.”
“Drive safe,” she says back, closing the door.
Waving him off as he drives away, the huge van reducing to a miniscule fleck, Patty heads inside.
“Hi, Mom!” She greets to her mother on the couch, “I’m back!”
“Hi, sweetie,” she says back, “Did you have fun with your friend?”
“Yup!” She says before a yawn, “But I’m beat! I’m heading to bed.”
“Alright, goodnight Patty.”
“Goodnight,” she ends with a kiss to her mother’s forehead.
Just before bed, she scrolls through the gallery on her phone. She’s tired and her eyes are barely staying open, but she has to find it.
Selecting it, she sends it to Nero’s phone, knowing he won’t check it while he’s driving, he’s not that stupid.
It’s a good picture, she thinks to herself, pretty amateurish, but five years ago she didn’t have the selfie expertise she has now.
So this picture of her, Nero and Dante from the first time they went to Fredi’s together, her slightly more cringey thirteen-year-old-self giving a peace sign, the awkward and angry teenager Nero was trying to hide his blushing and glaring face, and Dante looking at peace for once, it’s worth keeping.
I know we’re mad at the bad things he did, she texts, But…
How about, at least when we’re ready to, after like, eighty years…
We talk about all the good things he did for us, too?
Only a little, though, with a little roast every now and then. He still deserves our full wrath. 😊
The response comes a few hours later.
I love him too, Patty.