Dante's Little Apple Surprise

by Tatsurou

Chapter 14: First Date

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As Dante came out of the portal, he came across Lady, crying over Arkham's broken body. Based on the smear of blood leading away from him to the center of the seal - which was now closing itself back up - the big hole in his head, and the absence of the red markings that had been moving under his skin last time, Dante could tell that he was really dead this time. He could also tell from the empty gun in her hand that Lady had finished him off. He knelt down beside her. "You okay?"

Lady opened her eyes, blinking away her tears. "I haven't been okay for a long time," she muttered. She slowly pushed herself to her feet. "But I think, for the first time in a long time...I think I will be."

"That's good," Dante said, pushing himself back to his feet. "So about that coffee and pizza..."

Lady rolled her eyes at him. "Really?" she asked snidely. "After all this, you're asking me out?"

"Hey, I asked you out for coffee or pizza once this was finished with a while ago," he countered. "You also said yes. I'm just asking if you're up to it."

Lady shook her head, then shrugged. "Why not?" she said finally. "I could use something to help me unwind."

"I hope you both have plenty of energy!" Agni proclaimed.

"Because it looks like you'll have to fight your way through!" Rudra agreed.

Glancing down the tower, Dante and Lady could both see the swarm of demons gathered at the base, easily numbering in the hundreds. "What's up with all that?" Dante demanded.

"Dregs!" Agni proclaimed.

"What's left of what came through the portal while it was opened!" Rudra agreed.

"Looks like we're on clean up duty," Lady admitted.

"Looking forward to it!" Dante proclaimed, working loose a few kinks. "Applejack's out of it, so she won't steal any kills this time!"

Lady raised her eyebrow. "You really enjoy killing demons?"

"With as good as you are at it," he countered, "don't try to tell me for a moment that you don't."

Lady thought for a bit, then shrugged. "Point," she admitted. Then she smirked at him. "How about we see which of us is better? Winner picks and pays for the meal?"

"You're on!" Dante agreed. "Nevan, you up to keeping score?"

"As long as I don't have to do anything else," Nevan murmured. "I'm still exhausted."

"No demon form for you, though," Lady points out. "Those kills won't count."

"No problem," Dante allowed. "I'll still win." He turned his back to her. "Need a lift down?"

Smirking, Lady took hold of his shoulder and braced herself on his back as he leapt downward.

Finishing off all the demons, Dante and Lady leaned on their weapons as they caught their breath. "Who won, Nevan?" Dante asked.

"By numbers alone, it is a tie," Nevan replied.

"What?" Dante demanded.

"However, you killed far more of the larger demons, and many of Lady's kills came from exploding the bomb skeletons in large groups, so she wins in skill, while you win in power."

"Huh," Dante mused. He turned to Lady. "You pick, I pay?" he offered.

"Sounds good," Lady allowed. "So where's the pizza place with food for Applejack?"

Glancing around, Dante pointed. "Right there. And it's still open."

"Convenient!" Agni and Rudra chorused together.

"Do we get to eat too?" Cerberus inquired.

"As long as you can fit in the restaurant while doing so," Dante directed.

The owner of the pizzeria wished this was his strangest day on the job. First the sky caught fire and demons ran the streets. Most of the businesses around got crushed. A massive order of pizzas and apples was taken and paid for magically. The sky went back to normal, the demons were slain...and the ones who killed all the demons were the only customers he'd had all day to sit down to eat. The two human looking ones had their own table, while the succubus-looking vampire, the sword-headed statues, the tiny pony, and the tri-pronged nunchuku that could somehow eat had another table.

He really wished this was his strangest day on the job. He really did.

As Dante and Lady ate, they tried to find something not demon related to talk about. Unfortunately, neither of them actually had anything in their pasts to talk about that wasn't demon related...or really depressing. Eventually, they settled on the one thing they could talk about that put a smile on their faces; the little pony at the next table.

"So how'd you end up with a pony daughter?" Lady asked curiously.

Dante chuckled. "Found her in a wrecked bar near the entrance to Temen-ni-gru. She bit me, proved a real fighter, and told me her name was Applejack. I figured she could take care of herself, since she'd already bucked a demon all the way across the street somehow, but every time I tried to leave without her, she set up an awful racket." He laughed as he reminisced. "She certainly made the climb up the tower interesting. I still don't know how she got Cerberus to shoot ice. That's quite a bit of power."

Cerberus paused in his eating. "Actually...that was me indulging her," he admitted. "Like I said, she made me feel like a puppy again when holding me, and she was visualizing me spitting ice when she pointed me at things. So...I did so."

"Were you also aiming yourself when she threw you?" Dante asked.

"Well...sorta," Cerberus confessed. "I was the one making me fly back to her hooves each time."

"She's...also not as good a guitarist as you might think," Nevan admitted. "She was actually just wailing randomly on the strings. I...could feel in her mind what sounds she wanted me to make, so I made them for her. She was trying so hard to look awesome for you."

"Oh!" Agni proclaimed. "So that's why she didn't want us telling Dante about the demon power she got from his blood when Virgil stabbed him and she got cut!"

"She must have wanted to save it as a surprise for when she'd look most awesome to Young Master!" Rudra agreed.

Applejack pouted at the twin swords, then turned away, looking embarrassed.

"And even Pops got in on it," Dante chuckled. Reaching over, he tousled Applejack's mane. "Silly filly," he chided, making her smile.

"Her Devil Trigger has awakened much earlier than yours, however," Cerberus commented. "The longer one has such power active, the stronger it can grow."

"However, the earlier it awakens, the weaker it starts," Nevan explained. "Right now, her overall capacity to store magic and demonic power is so low she won't be able to transform for more than about five seconds at a time without forcefully reverting, and she shouldn't do it that much. She'll risk straining her body and magic."

"Like overworking your muscles when you're too young?" Lady offered.

"Exactly!" Agni confirmed.

"A capital comparison!" Rudra added.

"So what about her marksmareship?" Dante asked, joking with his wordplay. "Was that Artemis helping her?"

"Nope," Cerberus denied. "Artemis has no will of its own. It is merely a forged weapon. Nor did I assist her. She just naturally has excellent hoof-eye coordination for such things. It's in her blood."

Thinking about the power he'd felt from Geryon before the demonic horse imbued him with his power, Dante couldn't help but wonder what else was in Applejack's blood.

"So what are you going to do?" Lady asked. "Now that your power's fully awakened, I mean?"

"Take care of Applejack," Dante said. "That and figure out what to name my demon hunting business, and open it. How about you? What'll you do now that you've dealt with your old man?"

"Probably still hunt demons," she stated. "I don't want to let anyone else suffer from a loved one becoming a monster like my father."

"Guess you'll be going your own way, then?" he inquired. He blinked away a tear he couldn't explain.

Spotting the tear, Lady smiled. "Probably. But I'll stop in every now and then." Reaching over, she stroked Applejack's ear. "This little one could use a female role model, after all."

"Mama!" Applejack agreed happily, making everyone chuckle.

"As for your business...I have a suggestion for a name." Dante glanced towards her. "How about...Devil May Cry?"

Dante leaned back in thought for a time. Then he smiled. "I like it."

Author's Notes:

Some of you may be wondering why I've, apparently, massively depowered Applejack as compared to what she demonstrated in the story.

The truth of the matter is I never intended her to be as overpowered as she came across as. Yes, I wanted her to be able to contribute to the story, and I wanted that moment of awesome with the revelation of her full Devil Trigger form...

But as I got caught up in the story, I kept forgetting something with each of her combat scenes. She's a foal, a toddler. She shouldn't have that much power so young.

Thankfully, the weapons talking the whole time provided an option of how to rebalance things a bit, without taking away from AJ's awesome or breaking the story. After all, the Devil Arms she wielded were actual demons who willingly joined up with her.

Next Chapter: Fatherhood Estimated time remaining: 3 Hours, 30 Minutes
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