Succession

by Talya Firedancer


"The hell d'you think you're doing?" A heavy hand descended atop his head and Dante yelped in startlement, twisting the next instant to bat the hand away with a surly baring of teeth. He hadn't heard the slightest whisper to presage the intrusion of the hand on his train of concentration, which meant that Vergil was up to his prowling tricks again.

"Shut up, Verge," Dante hissed out of the corner of his mouth, nearly dropping the sliver-thin picks of metal clamped between his lips.

Silver-sheened blue eyes so like his own narrowed in suspicion. Vergil shared his face but his look had always held a razor's edge of difference, the weight of focus, a particular air of gravity where Dante was light, anchor-free. "You're trying to pick the lock to Sparda's study." The accusation fell from his mouth unhushed.

"Shut UP!" Dante raised his own voice, mortified. "I'm not doin' anything wrong!"

An arm clamped around his neck. "If it wasn't wrong, would you have to pick the locks?" Through main strength Vergil began to drag him away.

Dante flailed, dropping the picks and forgetting his primary mission in the face of pure lust for blood. He twisted out of Vergil's grip his twin could haul him away, being the stronger in spite of the fact that they were a match in height and breadth of shoulder, but Dante had always been more agile. Until his blood got boiling, at least; then he went out swinging and forgot where his strengths lay.

He took a wide swing, and Vergil's hand snaked out, trapping his wrist in steely fingers. His brother's eyes held a spark of crimson in the depths as he growled, "You dumb shit, I saved you a week in bed regrowing skin and bone and this is the thanks I get?"

"H-huh?"

Vergil took advantage of Dante's inaction to close in, gripping his arm in a way that warned Dante he could break it in three places before he could wriggle free this time. Dante took the hint and stayed still, breathing hard with frustration. It still galled him that Vergil could best him in a tumble on a regular basis.

"Mother put wards on the locks, you dumb shit." Vergil snorted slightly, jerking his chin to indicate the door, light shifting over his eyes until they coruscated from cobalt to silver. "If you paid any attention, you would've known from the inscriptions."

"Huh." Dante sounded grudging and knew it. He tested Vergil's grip, tensing against his brother's hold, and felt sinew creak protest. "Why not just tell me, dickweed? Y'didn't have to put the chokehold on me."

Vergil closed in until a few millimeters of warm breath was all that rendered them separate. "You're cute when your breath is huffing through your nostrils."

Dante kicked at him, but he was a bad angle for it and Vergil just laughed. His grip shifted as he yanked Dante off-balance, arm going 'round him in familiar fashion as he tugged him into step with him, coaxing him up the hall.

"Mother will let us into the study when we're man-tall and ready for it," Vergil assured him. All the words were misdirection. His twin just wanted to get him away from the door.

"More like when she's good and ready for it," Dante muttered.

Vergil's chuckle was warm, making it seem like a joke between just they two. "That's part of it, I guess."

Dante cast a last, dark glance over his shoulder at the ornate wooden doors of the study, grand and intricately-carved along the margins and twice the height of a normal man. Some day he'd get a good look at Sparda's treasures. He'd find the weapon that fit so sweet into his hand, and find and kill the creature that had gutted his father.

"I swear," Vergil said with a slight shake of the head, "one day you're going to get your nuts blown off. What will you do if I'm not around to pick up the pieces?"

Dante tilted his head, quizzical. He squeezed his brother's arm, let go. "Don't be stupid. You'll be with me the whole way."

***

On a windswept, cracked arena of stone Dante's hand tightened around the hilt of the sword he had lifted from its case in Sparda's study.

Tonight wasn't for memories. Tonight was given over to the dance of swords.

He would find Vergil in the gloom of this evening and start the last, deadliest dance of swords with him this time, and they would see who came out on top for keeps.



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