Devil May Cry © Capcom

Meant to Be Returned to the Earth

Jason M. Lee

Line ahead.

If it came to needing rapid-firing on a single spot. (He was NOT going to compare it to Dante or Lady's guns, no matter how much Sparda commented about it.)

Double line.

If needing to pin down a target in place. (No matter how much Nero begged, they were NOT going to replicate the knife thrower's display on creating an outline. Although visiting the circus might not had been such a good idea - Lady kept twitching for her concealed pistol and Dante was just on the edge of Triggering by the time the clowns' demonstration were done.)

Diamond form.

Not quite enough mass, but perhaps well enough to cause a knockback effect if he focused hard enough. (Of COURSE he wasn't going to compare the spread of the shotguns his hunting partners used.)

Sensing Nero's tiny but bright presence alerted him before the floorboards creaking and the rapping on his bedroom's door did. "D-Daddy?"

Blue light faded away as the swords were dismissed, Vergil frowning slightly as he released the seals and opened to his sheepish son with hands behind his back. "What did I say about knocking when the octagon was red, Nero?"

Feet shuffled, head ducking while a guilty blush crossed the boy's cheeks. "Not to, Daddy. Only when eh-mah-gen-seas."

"And do you remember why I told you that, Nero?" He knelt down to his son's level, gaze firm but not harsh.

More blushing. "Becuz dah way I don' get hurt by ack- acksee- acksident."

"Good." Vergil studied the slight dancing from Nero, wondering why his child was fidgeting so much. "So, why were you knocking on my door?"

Blue eyes lit up at the lack of punishment, bouncing from more than just in relief. "White stuff falling outside, Daddy! Window cold!" An adorable pout. "Gampa said no go until Daddy say so."

"Whi- Ah." The weather forecasters had been warning about a cold snap coming into their vicinity for the past several days, and a quick glance out the window showed the fast flurries. Apparently, the shop's heating system was working well enough for Nero to not notice the temperature difference. (That had been one of the first things Vergil demanded that Dante get fixed after bringing Nero home, next to plumbing.) While the winters were usually mild with mostly rain and the occasional hail, the news anchors had also mentioned of the rare occasions where it got cold enough to create snow. "The 'white stuff' is simply snow."

If he thought his son couldn't be more adorable, Nero's eyes grew wider, going back and forth between him and the window. "'Noh?"

"Snow," Vergil repeated, careful to enunciate the word.

"Su-noh!" Nero scrunched up his face, knowing that he was saying it wrong. "S-noh! Snow!"

Another thread of warmth whenever his child proudly accomplished something with a beaming smile. "That's right, snow. And your grandfather is right in that you shouldn't go outside yet."

A curious head tilt. "Why?"

Vergil was grateful that they were already past the constant "why?" stage as he went into his closet and started unfolding clothes that had been purchased just in case. (He lost count how many times he had skewered Dante for his little brother's ridiculous responses to each of Nero's "why?", much to Sparda and Lady's amusement.) "Because it is very cold and you could get sick."

"We go out?" Eyes grew wide at the revealed small dark blue hoodie.

He didn't stop the small smile from showing as he beckoned his excited offspring over. "Yes, we're going outside."


Each loud squeal had Vergil wanting to immediately rush over to Nero, but he restrained himself on the bench, keeping a watchful eye as his son worked his way through the snow on trying to follow Dante's exaggerated footprints. Laughter from both his brother and Lady echoed in the air, mixing with the giggling glee of his child alongside other young children that were also enjoying their first winter wonderland. Here and there, parents or guardians either watched or joined in on the fun.

Not one for such activities, Vergil mused on the possibility of cold weather training as he sipped from a steaming cup of apple cider.

"Let him enjoy being a child," Sparda murmured next to him, as if reading his older son's mind. The older devil was enjoying his cup of mulled cider. "Teaching him to survive in the real world can come later."

Vergil said nothing, although he did flick his eyes at the food vendor selling hot drinks from her cart some distance away. He hadn't missed the slight nervousness from the low-level female demon at his stone-faced look when he had gone to make the purchases.

"This is the Human World, Vergil." Sparda also tilted his head at the vendor, who at the moment had a genuine smile at the gaggle of children now crowding around her and Dante, having loudly proclaimed that all hot drinks were on him. "There's no need to rush just yet, and there's only so many what-ifs in either worlds."

A noncommittal grunt, although Vergil did relax a bit, going back to his cup and quiet vigil.

After being refueled by the warm drinks, Dante and Lady were somehow roped into helping the children on building snowmen. Seeing that his uncle and "cool auntie" were preoccupied, Nero ran back to his father and tugged on Vergil's pants. "'Noh-man too, Daddy?"

"Nero, I..." Dignity and the want to keep some projection of class was cut down faster than a Judgement Cut upon seeing the brightness in those stormy blue eyes and red flushing the round cheeks. Sparda's only response to his questioning glance was just a smile that wasn't even hidden behind his cup. "...will join in on constructing one. Perhaps as a lesson on the structures of round shapes."

Thoughts of teaching the circumference, radius, and volume was thrown out the window as Vergil was soon helping Nero roll the largest snowball the quarter-devil could to create the main body.

Face slightly flushed from mostly the chill, Dante plopped himself next to Sparda, Lady soon joining his opposite side with two steaming cups of mulled cider in her hands and offering one. Taking a sip, the younger twin let out a sigh. "...wish this could've been on a better day. We gonna visit, Father?"

This time, Sparda's smile turned a bit melancholic. "Later. Let Nero and Vergil have their fun."

"Why, what's with tod-" Lady furrowed her eyebrows, before her eyes widened and become just as solemn, staring at her wavering reflection. "Oh."

"Yeah..." Dante exhaled gustily, watching his breath condensed before looking back at Vergil picking up Nero so the youngest of them could put a crown of sticks on top of the lumpy snowman. He couldn't help but smile at his nephew's delighted cheer, enjoying how much more relaxed his big brother became. "Dunno how the weather is over there, but still. 'Bout time Nero got to 'meet' her, in my opinion. Wanna come along?"

It took Lady several moments to realize the question was directed at her and she burned her tongue in the process. "But- Family- I'm not-"

A soft chuckle from Sparda, tilting his head at his son and grandson now building a pyramid of snowballs. "I believe my grandson would be very happy if you joined us, 'Auntie' Lady."

The lone human hunter present was quite glad that her face was already red from the cold, although she tried to hide behind the scarf and her drink. "...I'll try not to disappoint Nero."

Young as he was, Nero sensed the heaviness when they stood in front of the lone stone marker underneath a bare tree and quietly watched as his male relatives cleared away some of the extra plants and snow while Lady held his hand. The funny purple hole that they had walked through earlier felt funny - he didn't like it, even though Vergil had kept a reassuring arm around him. He could also feel the slight sadness when his father picked him up, standing before the stone marker.

"Do you remember that 'pretty lady' in the picture on the desk, Nero?" Vergil spoke softly.

"Uh-huh." He had asked about the picture of the pretty yellow-haired lady on the desk a lot of times before, only to be told that he wasn't allowed to touch it yet and he'll know later.

"This... is your grandmother, Eva, my mother. She... had been tired for a very long time."

Nero tilted his head, studying the name etched as well the single red rose that Sparda had created and placed in front, gloved fingers lightly caressing the etched words. "Gan-ma? Like Gampa?"

"Yes, like Grandpa."

"Ganma... sleeping?"

He swallowed the lump in his throat, watching Lady's lips move as she stood next to Dante, their fingers barely brushing each other. For whatever reason, it reminded him of seeing Sparda and Eva coming back from taking walks together. "Yes, she's... sleeping. A very, very long sleep."

There was a hurt, causing Nero to tug at a stray bang. "...Daddy miss Ganma much?"

"...yes." Vergil blinked away the moistness in his eyes. It was just getting colder. "So does Uncle Dante, and so does Grandpa. Today... was her birthday."

"Oh." Not liking the sadness, Nero nuzzled underneath his father's chin. This felt like another thing he was being taught, so maybe he'll learn more. "We come again?"

They've been coming ever since Nero was a baby, but it had always been individually, alone. Today was their first time all together. "...that we will."

It was just the snow landing in his eyes.

They left a misshapen yet tiny snowman and a lump shaped like a cake with sticks for candles next to the gravestone.

A/N: Follows "Pluck the Vibrating Strings".

For Dadgil Week 2019, "snow", "training", and "birthday".

Title from the song "Ashes" as sung by Gemie and composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, from the anime film Promare.