A/N-- Not much to say but enjoy!

This finale's song is 'Til I Get Over You by Michelle Branch.


Chapter 14:
'Til I Get Over You

Gabriel stepped close to Carl, kissed him; the Friar tasted the salt of his lover's tears where they stained his lips. He opened his mouth to question him, to say something, anything, and hear his voice answering, but Van Helsing held one finger to his lips; now he tasted blood. Blood and tears, they formed the foundation for everything they were, everything they had become. They were everything that kept them apart. Slowly, with infinite sadness, the Hunter shook his head and stepped away.

Carl reached out feebly, like a sleepy person navigating the hall to the bathroom, and called his name, a child calling out in nightmare. Oh God no... He thought, seeing Van Helsing walk towards the hole in the ground filled with swirling blue. Forlornly, he reached out to stroke the mirror before it, like the big man had stroked his little Friar's hair when he had been half-asleep. He realized then what the hole was wrought of. That portal was made of his blood, his tears, his agony.

His love.

It could not be stopped. Not until they stopped loving each other. Carl tried to call out to Gabriel, but could find nothing to say. He turned and looked back at him again.

"This love... it's almost too much. What am I going to do with it? What?"

"No... don't go..." Carl called out feebly, holding his hand. "Don't cross this bridge... I'm not there yet..."

"Sorry, Carl." Van Helsing said with a half smile. "I can't wait for you to catch up."

"But I'm right here. Right here. I came for you..." He whispered, taking the Hunter's hand. Gently, Van Helsing squeezed it back, and then brought it to his lips.

"Think about it, love. The world will see this as retribution for my crimes. Why can't you see it that way." He whispered, the words materializing as warmth against Carl's skin.

"But not this way! I won't have you taken from me this way!" He whispered fiercely, grabbing Van Helsing's shoulder. "I've accepted that you'll die some day. But it wasn't supposed to be whileI was still alive!"

"Is there another way?" Van Helsing shouted desperately "If there is, then tell me! I could never stop loving you, and that's what caused this." He shook his head so hard that droplets of sweat and tears flew off his face and were thrown violently about in the wind. Slowly, he stumbled back from Carl. "Never. Never."

"Even in death?" The Friar shouted as his Hunter walked away from him, towards the hole. Gabriel Van Helsing never heard. He could not give his Friar that final consolation of an immortal love. What happened next he never accurately remembered. He was blown away, literally. He tried to call out for Gabriel, tried to stand, tried fight, but he lost his voice and the world was holding him down, holding him back. When at last he struggled to his feet, it was too late.

Debris was scattered all around as though a children had lost its temper with its toys. Otherwise, everything had returned to normal. Except for the sun, which was ashamed to show its face as a lonely figure collapsed at the side of a larger one, cradled it, wrapped itself in its stillness. Watching, Cardinal Jinette knew exactly who those two figures were. Friar and Hunter formed a picture of martyrdom straight of the storybooks, lonely out there in the quiet.

"Well," sighed one of Carl's aides- Thomas, Jinette thought his name was -sighed. "At least the world didn't end."

"No," Jinette replied softly, watching as Carl's faint tears broke out into wracking sobs, hearing him call Gabriel's name over and over again, the words stabbing into his heart like knives. "It did."


"Carl! Oh, it's been so long!"

"Yes." Carl offered his mother the best smile he could manage at the moment, which was really more a twitch of the lips.

"Robert? Someone get Robert and Carolyn down here. Carl's home!" She turned and ran inside, leaving her son in the doorway of his house. Carl made no move to follow.

It had taken Jinette less than a week after Gabriel's death to send Carl back to his home in England. He knew it was the Cardinal's way of getting rid of him without excommunicating him. Perhaps the man did have a compassionate bone in his body after all... somewhere, in that tough skeleton.

He wasn't quite sure what he was saying as he embraced his uncle, Robert, and his aunt, Carolyn, but he assumed the responses were appropriate as they hugged him harder and smiled. His mother was bustling around, shouting something about having some cake left over for them. He felt himself smiling, a motion that was still uncertain for him.

"Are you alright, my favorite nephew?" Robert asked, putting his arm around the Friar. Carl forced his smile to stop twitching downwards.

"Of course." He responded. "Trip was a bit long, that's all. It's never felt so long before."

"I bet you left a lot of friends behind, a charming young man like yourself." His aunt laughed. "Loneliness can make everything seem longer."

"But absence makes the heart grow fonder." His mother quoted, leaving a wet kiss on his cheek and thrusting a slice of cake into his arms.

Carl's smile hurt now. But still he bravely manned its post. Would Gabriel have given up? Would he have stopped smiling? No. He could have sworn he was grinning even as he stepped off into death's embrace and out of his love's.

I would've given you a penny for your thoughts at that moment. You wouldn't even have to ask like last time. Carl whispered to the Gabriel he kept in his head. Carls tended to get very lonely without their Gabriels. That was an irrefutable fact now, surrounded by his family, stepping out into the sunshine of the porch.

----
Every time I feel alone
I can blame it on you
And I do, oh
You've got me like a loaded gun
Golden sun and sky so blue, oh

----

Day passed into night, warmth succumbing to cold. Carl found his room unchanged and collapsed onto the bed that had been his until he was thirteen and taken away to work for the Order. The transition wasn't such a hard one. He'd grown up an only child with no father and only his mother until his aunt and uncle came to live with them. Tenacious and vivacious as he was, most teenagers his age could not understand how he could spend hours reading, writing and drawing, scheming and even thinking about philosophy, daring to dream still. He was eager to be going off to a community full of knowledge and faith. He would be understood there.

He tossed and turned on his bed, finally settling on his stomach. That was odd. It should be harder to leave home, not harder to return. But without Gabriel... nowhere was home. He had left almost nothing behind when he had left home. Leaving the Vatican, he left everything behind.

'Everything' was a handful of memories, a bucket full of tears and a single gravestone in the corner of a cemetery. But they were memories he ambled through every day, tears he cried every time he was alone, and a gravestone that he would caress as though it was his lover's skin. But maybe it was right of Jinette to send him away, before he grew attached to those. Before moving on became impossible.

He forced the librarians to keep him out of their library, no matter how badly he needed to be there. Only his aides could go in for him. He was afraid of what he would do if he were allowed in there, considering that the last time he had pulled Gabriel back from death's grasp he had almost pulled the world down on their heads. And he wanted his Gabriel back so badly.

"You wanted me to come on missions with you." Carl murmured. "You said the Carls didn't have much of a choice in the matter. Why wouldn't you let me come on this one...? This last one...? Didn't you want me with you...?" Carl rolled over onto his side and then his back. Shakespeare had been wrong to kill Romeoand Juliet, if it was tragedy he was after. Nothing could surpass the pain of being left behind.

----
We both know that we want it
But we both know you've left me no choice

----

Carl tried to tire himself out thinking about his inventions, but it just wasn't working. He hadn't even touched any of them since Van Helsing's death, sticking mostly to watching his aides work and guiding them in their own. In that respect, he was very angry at the Hunter for going and dying on him. Nothing was much fun anymore without that insufferable smirk.

He started and leapt to his feet at the first feeling of tears on his cheeks. No. He would not,could not, cry here. He jerked on his pants and a shirt, casting his nightshirt aside, and bolted out of his room, out into the cold night air. It slammed into him like a physical force, impelling him to go back inside. There had been no one there for him at the funeral, or for the horrible days before and after. The least he could do for himself was allow someone to comfort him now.

No! He shouted inwardly. I'm going to be stubborn now. I'm not going to give Gabriel the satisfaction of making me run crying to my mother. I'm not going to let him laugh at me, wherever he is, for it! I won't!

So he sat down under the tree where he had first dreamed of being a great inventor and felt the debris of those shattered dreams bite into him, a bitter regret for things lost and given up on, reminding him of his failure to be strong and go on. He sat there and counted to ten, waiting for himself to calm down.

He had counted to ten twenty times before he could finally control his tears.

"I hope we meet in Hell someday." He told the air around him. "I can't wait for that day. I can't bloody wait."

----
(Chaque fois que tu ton va)
You just bring me down
(Je pretend que tu fais bien)
So I'm counting my tears
'Til I get over you

----

"Good morning!" His mother beamed, yanking the covers off his body as she had done every other day of his life at home. Well, at least she did it with a sense of humor and a helping of good cheer. Carl rolled and put his feet on the ground. "What? No 'five more minutes'?" Carl stared blinking at her for a minute, then shook his head no and stood up. "Get back in bed this instant!" She ordered. "Ask me for five more minutes, like you always used to do!" "But I'm awake..." "I don't care! Do it! Like you used to!"

"Things change, Mama." Carl groaned, rubbing his eyes.

"Things do not change, we change." His mother said sternly.

"We die." Carl murmured. There was a tiredness in his voice, a bastard child whose parentage was not from sleep deprivation.

"That too. But we live with the fact, don't we?" She laughed suddenly at her own paradox, repeating it to herself as she bustled down the hall. Carl followed her downstairs after a minute or two, running into several corners on his way. He wished he had Gabriel's focus in the morning. No matter how long they had been up the night previous in their brief history as lovers, he had always awoken ready to take on the world and win. He woke up quailing at the thought of having to conquer the walk to the door.

But Gabriel's mornings were just that: focused. If he wanted to get an early start, he'd get it. If he wanted to have Carl screaming his name before leaving the room, then there was no dallying about it, however delicious dallying could be.
I've got one thing on you, Carl thought smugly. At least after I've conquered the walk to the door I come out smiling.

----
Sometimes I watch the world go by
I wonder what it's like
To wake up every single day,
Smile on your face,
You never tried.
----

When he came downstairs to the kitchen a determined smile, which was a lovely room that managed to be cozy and airy at once, his mother was nowhere in sight. But there was his Aunt Carolyn, sitting at the table sipping coffee. Her husband came up behind her, sneaking a flower from a nearby vase, and presented it to her with a flourish. She laughed and tipped her head back, welcoming his tender kiss.

Carl had to work not to collapse and retreated back up the stairs just in case he did.


"Awake already? I'm proud of you." Gabriel smiles. An arm slides around the shoulders of the man he's proud of, who smiles back inwardly but outwardly only grunts.

"I don't see why I should be. I haven't exactly gotten a prize yet." Gabriel smiles, that smile that can be wicked at times and gentle at others, wry but hopeful. The smile of a man of sacrifice, of courage, of character. He was smiling a lover's smile then. They smile often; deep down they know they will not smile soon.

"Congratulations." He hands the man he's proud of a biscuit, quite ceremoniously stuffing it in his mouth.

The man he's proud of chokes and sputters, finally managing to swallow.

"Death is a prize?"

"You bet. A prize you have to earn after long years of slogging through living."

"Well, life hasn't been all that draconian."

Gabriel raises an eyebrow.

"Kiss me." The man he's proud of says, turning around.

He leans in slowly; it promises to be a slow and thorough kiss. A warm brush of air sweeps the crumbs from his mouth and a lithe pink tongue sneaks out to taste the clean, soft lips.

"No." He dares to breathe, turning and darting for the door.

The man he's proud of chases after him, catches him outside on the deck of the ship. The world is stirring faintly under dawn's patient gaze and the air is tinged with pockets of cool, moistened by the sea. He catches the Hunter and holds him, about to demand his kiss... the captain of the ship passes, and they freeze, stepping apart slowly, casually. They've become used to hiding their love. But they haven't become used to containing their passion; perhaps they don't want to. The man he is proud of can't resist the urge to reach out and take Gabriel's hand as the captain passes without a second glance.
And Carl realizes then that it's these simple moments, the touch of a hand, the wind toying with their hair, standing close enough so that the playful strands touch each others faces and intertwine, that he will always remember.


And now under the force of memory Carl felt himself wanting to collapse. Oh, memory was a force... but it was invisible. It wasn't warm, it didn't smile, it didn't touch his hand and stand next to him on ships, staring at the horizon and feeling for once that there might still be hope left for this world and hope still left for love. And memory was what had stolen Gabriel from him. But who could change it? Memories were the past. No amount of longing could undo that.

----
We both know we can't change it
But we both know we'll just have to face it

----

"Awake this early? I'm proud."

"I can't wait to see you in Hell." He whispered thickly, but this time with no bitterness. "I'll be proud of you for waiting."

"Carl? Are you coming to breakfast?"

"Yes, Mama." He called back down.

"There you are!" She beamed- but then, she was always beaming -as he sat. "I thought you said that things change! And here you are, late as always!"

"Things do not change. We change." He quoted back at her, unable to keep his eyes from straying to Carolyn. Mercifully, Robert was keeping his hands away from her.

"Is something wrong, Carl?" She asked with a frown, pausing in the cutting of her sausage.

"Are you still tired from your trip?" Her husband asked, mimicking her expression.

"Nonsense!" His mother bustled. "All he needs is fresh air! The beach always cheered you up, ever since you were a baby in my arms and at my breast-"

"Mama!"

"It's settled then! To the beach we go after breakfast!" She finished.

Glumly, Carl ate his meal. He forced himself to want to go to the beach. Dammit, he was going to survive this! He was going to survive without Gabriel, however hard it was!

All breakfast, he smiled and laughed until it hurt. In his room, he screamed into his arms, clenched his fists and beat them against the bed. I will survive you, Gabriel! You aren't taking me down!

----
(Chaque fois que tu ton va)
You just bring me down
(Je pretend que tu fais bien)
So I'm counting my tears
'Til I get over you

----

"Are you sure he's alright?" Carolyn asked, holding Robert's hand as they progressed down the beach. It was noon, and Carl and his mother were ahead of them.

"I don't know." Robert said through pursed lips.

"It's like... he's forcing himself to put on foot in front of the other... to..."

"Keep living?"

"Exactly... You talk to him. You were like his father before he left here, and he's like the son we can never have to me now. Talk to him." She pleaded.

Robert looked up and saw that Carl had stopped near the water, his arms crossed. His mother approached him; they had words, and she was sent away scowling. He remained, resolute but irresolute, refusing to be moved but clearly shaken.

"Here goes nothing." He murmured, releasing his wife and approaching his nephew.

Carl couldn't help but feel angry at himself for yelling at his mother, but he hadn't known how else to react. If he didn't tell her about Gabriel, maybe it could be like it never happened. Cardinal Jinette probably never intended for him to come back, and so he might as well look upon this as the start of a new life. But how could he begin to go on living without Gabriel...? Maybe he could do it if he gave his Hunter, his lover, his friend, his Gabriel, the cold shoulder. Pretended he had never existed.

I have to let you go. Carl thought to himself. He knew Gabriel could hear. You have to let me let go.

"Carl?" He heard his uncle's voice but didn't respond, moving on down the beach instead. He needed to let go alone.

----
Chaque fois que tu ton va
Je pretend que tu fais bien

----

The ocean had always filled him to his brim with emotions and ideas. It had always filled him with a longing for elsewhere,any elsewhere. It did the same to him now: it filled him with the longing to be anywhere but here, now that nowhere was home. He needed to be anywhere but here, where Gabriel was. But then, Gabriel would never leave him. He'd always be there. A gift and a curse. Rather annoying, too.

But here, here... Gabriel's presence was especially strong. He was in the sand between his toes, the cold water, the breeze, the sun... and though here it was relatively warm and open and bright, he kept seeing the place they had buried his Hunter. He had gone there often before the Cardinal had sent him away. He had spent long hours there, talking to him. He knew he was listening, somewhere. Maybe, if he talked to Van Helsing enough, told him how much he missed him, he would come back. Carl sat down slowly, feeling suddenly weak as tears formed in his eyes.

He knew he would never come back.

"Carl? Carl?" His uncle was calling him nervously.

Carl ignored him. Just one more look at those eyes.
----
We both know that I'm not over you
I'm not over you

----

He thought he saw a flicker of gold at the corner of his eye and turned, but it was only the sunlight playing across the rolling waves of the ocean.

Wordlessly, he stood and walked away.

----
(sigh)
----


A/N-- French translation: Chaque fois que tu ton va- Every time you look my way Je pretend que tu frais bien- I pretend that I'm okay (dunno how accurate it is, I got it from the Michelle Branch CD Hotel Paper so I cannot be held accountable)
....I'm sorry for the sad ending. But it just worked so well...... sort of. I thought I could've done better on it. Thank you, than you,thank you to all that helped me with this story through their reviews and unrelenting support. It never would've been finished without you guys.