Devil May Cry © Capcom

Uncertain Flame of Hope Found, Be Lead Back on the Right Track

Jason M. Lee

Yawning awake, Lady blinked sleepily at the pre-dawn darkness and then smiled upon seeing the peaceful look on Dante's face, eyes closed while breathing deeply. It was rare to see him so relaxed, without a care in the world, be it awake or asleep. The few moments of down time, there was always still that hidden tension, even when lounging around the shop and just waiting for the phone to ring. Between Vergil's return and her accepting his proposal plus them all together in the shop, Dante's smiles were a lot more frequent and genuine. V moving in seemed to add an extra spring to Dante's step, even with Trish having moved out to her own apartment in the downtown district. Lightly brushing a stray bang from his face, Lady chastely kissed him on his nose before carefully sliding out from his embrace. She smiled again at his slight grumbling, but he didn't stir any further, simply burying his nose into her pillow.

Bathroom routine done, Lady paused halfway down the stairs when she glanced over the banister towards the pull-out sofa that Nero and Kyrie were using during their visit while Nico was attending a nearby weapons convention. (A neighbor had agreed to look after the boys, giving the young couple some respite.) After blinking several times, she had to bite down on a knuckle to stifle her laughter.

There, in a tangled of limbs, fallen sheets, haphazard pillows, and messy white hair, was definitely a cuddle-pile. Kyrie was tucked under Nero's chin, his arms wrapped around her. Vergil had loosely curled his tail protectively over the young couple while lying on his side, Yamato leaning next to the sofa and her sageo on the mattress near his hand. V was partially draped over his other half's legs, and Griffon was a literal fluffball nestled close to his head while blue tail feathers brushing the tops of Nero's feet. It had to be a miracle that V hadn't been kicked in the face by Nero from the way how the younger half-devil was positioned.

"Verge will never admit it out loud, but when we were kids and got scared of thunder during storms or had bad dreams, our parents would let us sleep with them in their bed, and he loved it." Dante let out a sad chuckle, gently combing her hair as they soaked in the hot bath after a long day of fighting in a cold and heavy downpour. "Some demons are kinda touchy-feely with their relatives, especially those that live in family groups or colonies, despite the more well known depictions."

"Even with the whole 'might makes right' thing?" Lady tilted her head, allowing him better access.

"Ironic, ain't it." His lips quirked crookedly, carefully sprinkling water over her. "For all of demons giving humans crap about being 'soft', wanting and liking cuddles is probably the last thing to even think of something we have in common. Cerberus, for all of his freezing bark, did mention how some puppies that either wind up being fire-elemental or have a fire-elemental head in his tribe absolutely love puppy piles."

"Huh..." The image of a much younger Vergil and Dante cuddling up with their parents was something hard to believe, much less full-blood demons, but she had been corrected before.

A soft sigh, pulling her closer and resting his cheek on her head. "Me, I just think it's the human side of us mix-bloods on the need for human touch that our devil sides agrees with easily. Sure, there's probably a few cases of those who have touch-issues, but there's no denying the wonders of a good cuddle-pile."

Carefully tiptoeing down the stairs while avoiding that one particular squeaky step, Lady picked up one of the strewn blankets laying on the floor. As she was about to fold it up, the human huntress paused and leaned against the railing, studying the sleeping group.

She remembered how eager father and son had been on being able to spend time together that didn't involve anything with demons, weapons, or some form of destruction. Nero spent much of the afternoon teaching Vergil how to human, because 20-plus years of advancement in technology and shifting in culture had been a bit of a shock to the older half-devil's system (no matter how much he tried to hide it). Yet he dove into learning the ins and outs of what had changed with the same motivation she had seen on top of the tower and from V, be it learning new phrases used by Nero's generation or the wonders of a cell phone. There was a good amount of ribbing when it was revealed that Nico had spent many sleepless nights on creating the "perfectly stylish work of art" cell phone for the twins, looking as if it could rival some of the more robust tactical-grade phones. Given the twins and Nero's rough and tumble styles, it was reasonable, even though Nico had joked how it was just shy of being heavy enough to be used as a "blunt-force weapon".

Lady wondered if Vergil realized it himself, but there were also moments of V being quite paternal towards Kyrie, such as V's recollection of private tutoring compared to public schooling Kyrie went through, or retelling effective disciplinary methods that Eva had used on Vergil and Dante which Kyrie could try. The huntress found it quite adorable on how V had to restrain his anger when Kyrie quietly spoke of the occasional unwanted attention, either at her because of Fortuna's rather conservative values or because of her being with Nero. She didn't miss how Vergil's brow would pinch at the same time at V's pursed lips, or how both seemed to react with small smiles at the same time towards Nero and Kyrie's delight - there was something between the two that neither had spoken of yet, but she wasn't going to push them just yet.

As lightly as she could, Lady carefully draped the blanket over V, pausing when Vergil opened one eye to look at her. She stared back calmly before continuing to finish her task and then stepping away. Satisfied, Vergil closed his eye again, but not without curling his tail closer around his son and daughter-in-law. In tandem, V unconsciously shifted closer to Nero's leg, one arm just shy of covering the young couple's legs.

Shaking her head in amusement at the duo's protectiveness, Lady simply walked into the kitchen, softly humming Eva's lullaby.

A/N: Follows "Pattern Welding and Annealing". For Dadgil Week 2019, "affection" and "sleep".

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

I struggled with this one.