Note: For the contrelamontre livejournal community challenge 'opposites.'

And the Devil Gave Him Wings

"I have been to Hell, my pet." His teeth gleamed with eager menace, impossibly iridescent pearls in gloomy shadows. "It's no good wishing it on me any longer, now that I've been to see the Prince himself."

"I see." The gruff answer that floated back over the opulent space of Castle Dracula's ballroom was uncommonly restrained. "I trust your vacation was a pleasant one?" The air stirred without discernable movement to agitate it, and breath stinking of butchery and decay hissed abruptly against the grimy flesh of a neck left carelessly unprotected. The space seemed to reel with the preternatural movement of an unholy creature; for a moment the room was both huge as a village and claustrophobic as a crowded larder.

"Come now, Gabriel. Such a tasteless thing to say!" The words were spoken from behind as a cool fingertip toyed with a lock of smooth, dark hair, and Van Helsing found himself staring resolutely forward to combat his intense revulsion and discomfort. "It was really more of a business meeting."

"Business against God," he croaked in response, the muscles and tendons in his neck stiffening into thick cords as dead fingertips delicately traced the lines of his carotid artery and his jugular vein. He felt the answering sigh within every bone of his body.

"God," Dracula drawled, resting his chin languidly upon Van Helsing's tensed shoulder. "Do you know, Gabriel, that the path to Hell is lined with poppies? Lovely little red flowers, and they bloom all year round."

"You're a monster."

The universe swelled and contracted once more as the newly-formed vampire slipped between the folds of space and time. He stood before Van Helsing and cupped the man's chin firmly.

"Monster," he breathed, eyelids fluttering as if in the throes of some terrible pleasure. "Yes, I suppose you would place me as such. But, Gabriel," their eyes locked as Dracula's free hand brushed lightly over the hilt of the sword Van Helsing held. "Dear Gabriel," he smiled and brushed his thumb over his captive's lips as his immortal fingers danced up to caress the blade of the weapon. "Isn't this the foil you used to kill me?" His tone was mild, but a glimmer of phosphorescence shone in his slatted pupils.

"It is."

Dracula smiled, then, and released his grip on the man. "Such an opportune moment… has it not occurred to you to finish the job you started?"

Van Helsing stared, unflinching, into the soulless countenance of an apparition he had helped to create. And then, in one smooth motion, he thrust his sword into the flesh of a new evil.

The vampire tipped his head back with the inertia of penetration and a small moan escaped his bloodless lips. The noise was synonymous with both pain and arousal, and its vibration tingled from Dracula's flesh to Van Helsing's own, conducted by the steel that joined them. Death, however, had not resulted, and when the creature lifted its head upright, it wore a small, sad smile.

"There are worse things to be," he said softly, idly pulling at the mortal wound in his chest, "than a monster." With a sudden, jarring rush of speed, he grasped Van Helsing's wrist and pulled the man toward him, impaling himself fully upon the sword he had already died upon once. He leaned forward as Van Helsing began to struggle against his grip, touching his forehead to that of his murder.

"Evil!" Van Helsing gasped slightly, gritting his teeth and turning his head to the side to escape the intimate space. "Evil is…"

"There is no evil." Dracula intoned solemnly, his smooth cheek ghosting over the sandpapery angles of Van Helsing's unshaven chin. "There is no good."

"There is God."

"And God is good?" Van Helsing did not hesitate.

"Of course."

"And yet you would kill for him." Dracula lifted his head slightly and, reflexively, Van Helsing did the same. In the shadows of the high beams and rafters of the coarse castle ceiling, he fancied he could discern the distinct pattern of the skeleto-musculature of an enormous pair of wings emerging from the vampire's own shoulder blades. "You are not a hand of God."

"But—"

"You are, instead, a plaything of fate." He smiled widely, and the effect was grotesque. "You are not God's hand, but His Abraxas. You cannot be one or the other, good or evil, so you must be both and neither." The twist to his lips became a sneer. "And you will not rest until you can understand this."

"No, that isn't—" Van Helsing's protest died when felt a sudden heaviness weighting upon one of his fingers.

"My family's insignia." Dracula leaned forward again, pressing his lips to the thin curve at the tip of the man's ear. "You will wear it… because I am afraid, Gabriel, that we will meet again." Van Helsing tightened his fist around the ring's thick band with the sudden possessive paranoia of unexpected acquisition. "But, until then, I'm afraid we will have to part company."

The world spun just a little further on her perilous axis, and Van Helsing's last impression before finding himself completely alone was of wings beating softly against his cheek.