Devil May Cry © Capcom

Styled Night Out

Jason M. Lee

"Kill me," Dante muttered behind his champagne flute. He felt his ears ready to fall off from the comments about his "exotic" looks, never mind the unsettling glances that made him think of the more skeevier folks.

"Gladly, only if you do the same for me," Lady grumbled behind her borrowed fan. She was ready to gouge out the next person to make a pass at her with said fan, or start dislocating fingers.

Alas, the job took higher priority than any thoughts of payback.

"Better idea. We get the guild to charge double."

"Make that triple."

"Great idea."

This client, according to their fixer, came from extremely old money and apparently was able to trace blood ties to some obscure branch of a dissolved royal family. Normally, the job of scouting out a possible cult under the cover of a party would've been handled by one of the local hunter guilds, but as most of the guild members were well known in the community, Dante and Lady being unfamiliar faces were perfect for infiltration. Unfortunately, the affair was black tie level and as neither bought anything fancier than business formal (business casual in Dante's case), it was a whirlwind week of planning, crash course lessons in etiquette, and clothes modifying.

"I can't remember the last time I wore a dress this..."

"...poofy?" Dante supplied.

Lady tried not to snort, although she did grin. She smoothed the shimmering gown as a disguised way to reassure herself of her hidden thigh holsters. "Expensive, but yes, still a bit poofy. Can't argue the 'adjustments', though."

"Heh." Ice blue eyes flickered about, noting some of the body language and filing away the more interesting displays. Spotting the buffet table, he tilted his head, escorting Lady when she acquiesced. "Brings me back some memories..."

She didn't say anything, other than shifting closer as they filled up their plates and moved to a more secluded spot that granted them nearly the entire view of the hall.

"When our private tutor was going through the history of Europe, Mother had made an off-hand comment of how her side of the family used to be nobility before aristocracy fell out of favor. Vergil wanted to know more." A slightly careless shrug, although his barely hidden nostalgic look betrayed his real feelings while nibbling away at a strawberry tart. "She showed me and Vergil a book that charted her family tree, a mostly matrilineal House surprisingly enough, and apparently her family used to be part of a really obscure royal family. Wonder if it's still there..."

"Huh." Lady tilted her head as she sipped her glass of wine, eavesdropping on another lady whispering a certain phrase that she had been hearing repeatedly throughout the night. Part of her mind had a bit of trouble imagine Dante with some sort of crown or a circlet, while the other part could already imagine him using the headgear as weapons. "I had always wondered if Enzo had been talking bull about you being a blue blood."

A carefully concealed snort, noticing one guard whispering to another standing in front of a particular set of double doors. "Jackass had suggested about using that to hype up the shop, but I told him it was a dumb idea. Here, it might've worked, as there's still some respect for the old ways even if half of the titles don't mean much anymore. Back across the ocean, Enzo would have better luck with using his family's 'respectable connections' to advertise instead."

Lady conceded that her partner had a point about Enzo's ties with the mob, even if the area around Dante's shop was his territory and considered neutral ground to an extent. A stray thought then flitted through as she put down her empty glass and plate on a nearby table. "What about your 'ancestor'? I mean, he does have that moniker that's mentioned quite frequently in the stories."

Another careless shrug, Dante guiding her to the dancing area when the music switched to a sonata, making sure his arms didn't outline his concealed shoulder holsters, despite the speedy modifications. The rushed dancing lesson by a retired instructor brought back old childhood memories of watching Eva dance with Sparda, the record player playing in the background. "Well, 'knight' didn't quite come into existence until after he rebelled, so some of the storytellers might've felt it appropriate given that he was a vassal in the technical sense. And he did wander throughout a good portion of Europe for the longest time helping people, so I guess it might've stuck. You know how tales get, all tangled and mixed up over time. Not sure about the ones of him getting granted with nobility, though."

"Point." After Temen-ni-gru, she herself had immediately started digging through her family background. Other than being descended from the priestess who had helped Sparda seal away the demon tower, as well learning of other relatives that had joined various monasteries or temples to protect the Human World, her mother's side was mostly mundane. Suddenly, she smiled mischievously as another thought came through.

That brought a frown to Dante as they glided around several other couples and closer to what looked like the main centerpiece of the dinner table. From a civilian's perspective, the water fountain centerpiece looked like a willow dipping its branches into a lake, but he could sense latent demonic energy off of it. "What."

Lady simply smiled teasingly. "So, given your family background from both sides, should I call you 'milord'? Or maybe 'your highness'?"

"Gah, please. I can do without that stuffy shit." He rolled his eyes. "'Lord' this, 'Your Grace' that. I can barely tolerate 'mister' enough as it is, never mind 'Master' from certain folks."

She couldn't help but laugh softly, not knowing how it made his heart flutter a bit. "'Mister' it is, then."

Dante smiled back, not knowing how it made her heart flutter a bit. He flicked his eyes at one of the hosts in a huddled group with several others that both had noticed repeated certain key words.

Since it was only a scouting mission, they later dropped off whatever information they had gathered as well returning the formal outfits. Just as Dante was about to leave the quartermaster's office, he frowned at the rather mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

"Come back anytime." She grinned. "...'Your Lordship'."

Dante let out a resigned and aggravated sound, ignoring Lady's unrestrained snickering. "Gossipy hens, the lot of you."

A/N: For DantexLady Week 2019 over at dxlpartyboat's Tumblr, "royalty".

"Style" in this case is the manner of address. "Your Grace" and "Your Lordship" are two of the many styles applied to royalty and nobility.