Devil May Cry © Capcom
Pluck the Vibrating Strings
Jason M. Lee
Soft babbling was what roused Sparda from his impromptu nap on Dante's sofa, and his sight locked on to wide blue eyes staring from underneath a mop of fluffy white hair. He had to admire the audacity of either of his sons putting Nero on his chest when not awake, knowing how keenly aware his senses were (most likely Dante, given his second-born's disposition). Sparda dimly noticed that he had instinctively and subconsciously wrapped an arm around Nero while napping. Yet at the same time, it spoke much of how tired he was, his lips quirking up a bit into something of a smile as a tiny hand lightly smacked his face.
He hadn't had a lot to smile about in the last decade.
Staggering to a destroyed home...
The lingering smell of soot and blood...
Faint traces of nestlings no longer there...
The stench of Mundus on the leftover demons...
Mate lying lifelessly just outside the front door...
It was sheer luck that the former Right Hand of the Dark Prince had survived that ambush. One more centimeter to the left...
He spent the next ten years chasing after dead-ends, leads, and rumors, at the same time trying to keep a low profile and recover from his injuries. Running into Dante and then Vergil after his firstborn had summoned Temen-ni-gru had been an unpleasant surprise, yet be it fate or just sheer luck, he didn't care. Sparda was just glad to had found both of his sons alive, even if it meant having to pound sense into both of them (literally) and that young huntress (proverbially), and deal with that infernal human attempting to steal his power. (Even though still sealed, regaining some of his power back from Force Edge was a blessing on boosting his healing.)
A curious babble brought Sparda out of his somewhat dark musings as Nero tilted his head curiously, as if wondering why there was no reaction from the big purple warmth and the sad feeling. As if disappointed at the thoughts going through his grandfather's mind, Nero seemed to frown (greatly resembling his father), followed by another round of baby talk and more smacking of his cheek. A genuine smile grew on his face, fondness on his expression as he sat up and listened to the squeal of Nero tumbling backwards onto his lap.
He was starting to find more things - little things - to truly smile about.
"Insistent little one, aren't you? I should be grateful that you have not discovered my monocle yet, for I fear its fate against your tiny claws and wet fangs."
Nero crawled up his legs and squeaked when he cuddled his grandson close, letting out a deep purr as he took in the scent unique to Nero and that of nestlings. Wide stormy blue eyes stared up at him, jamming small fingers into his mouth before babbling again, as if happy that the big purple warmth was moving and not as sad.
Sparda let out a soft chuckle, shifting his arms so as to rub noses and smiling a bit more at the happy squeal. He didn't even blink at a now wet pudgy hand smacking his face again.
The trip to Fortuna was surprisingly Dante's suggestion, an offhand comment on having heard rumors, and pestering Vergil when hearing about his own trip there. Learning of the Order worshiping him there had been a bit of a shock, although Sparda supposed he shouldn't had been that surprised. From Lady and Vergil's research, his brief time as the lord there had left quite the impression. It was also by chance on Lady overhearing several nuns discussing on who would adopt a baby born with white hair, leading to many arguments on what to do back at the hotel. Dante's persistent ribbing of "responsible big brother" didn't quite help things, never mind Vergil just walking in to the orphanage and taking his son all the while ignoring the protests from the caretakers.
(Sparda was only glad that no one realized he was the very "Savior" they worshiped, although he was sure Sister Claudia had a very good idea of his real identity, going by her flat look between him and the twins. She had only softened a bit after the paperwork was complete and seeing the human name he had signed with, simply nodding once before bidding them safe passage.)
Barely two weeks back in Dante's shop, and the changes in Vergil was slowly noticeable. Not as frustrated, a bit more settled and more patient, ever attentive to his child, like a blade gradually being tempered and honed. Which meant less tension between the twins and Lady, and more playful - if rather snarky - banter among them. Despair was a familiar emotion, yet even Sparda himself had felt less of it.
"Truly, a good fortune that we found you, my adorable grandson." He paused, stroking downy hair and listening as Nero's breathing slipped to that of sleep, lulled by his warmth and heartbeat. "Or would it be that you found us? Perhaps a bit of both, I suppose."
The pain and shame of not being able to protect Eva or his sons back then would never go away.
Nor the ache of losing her.
Never again would he see her smile while reading together, except in his memories.
Never again would he hear her laugh during the thrill of a hunt, except in dreams.
But with Nero now in the present... It was an opportunity he will not waste. As well his sons, because even though the twins were technically adults by human standards, they were still his sons.
(And if anything was to go by whatever was going on between Dante and Lady that eerily paralleled his and Eva's paths, hopefully her as well. His devil instincts approved of her as a fine mate for his younger offspring. His human persona approved of her as a future daughter-in-law.)
With a light brush of lips against soft hair, Sparda settled back on the sofa, ignoring the soft clicking of a shutter going off from around the corner. (The tinge of gunpowder and tomato gave away the culprit.)
A not-pout, trying not to move because of two small bodies sleeping on his chest. "Must you pull out the camera at every opportunity, milady? I believe you have surpassed even Michelangelo in terms of output."
A gentle smile that matched the brilliance of her hair as she lowered her arms. "Organic memories will always shift with time, milord. Physical memories like these don't change as easily."
Perhaps a trip to see if his preservation spells held up on the many photo albums.
A/N: For DMC Gen Week 2019 on Tumblr, Day 4 - Protection/Smile.
Title is the English translation of the original Latin "corde pulsum tangite" from the poem "O Fortuna", more popularly known via Carl Orff's vocal composition Carmina Burana.