Series/Sequel: Sequel to Discovery and Disillusion Summary: Van Helsing and Carl must split up to start a new mission
Notes: Woof! I'm not going to be quite as fast with updates as before because I need to research the area I'm writing about. I promise to keep it to the minimum necessary, though!
Warning: Aspersions against the Church of Van Helsing's time (which I feel are merited), the start of slash (in a loving relationship)
Notes: Disclaimer: I don't own anything (sniff), but I do like to play
FeedbackFor all of you who followed the past stories, I hope that you find this story equally as interesting if not more so! Your reviews and suggestions are, as always, deeply appreciated! Due to Fanfiction rules I am unable to thank you in depth but I would like to say thanks to reviewers KomikittyFluffy Vampire, Verona Dracula, PineappleIce
"...In witchcraft, as commonly understood, there is involved the idea of diabolical pact or at least an appeal to the intervention of the spirits of evil. In such cases this supernatural aid is usually invoked either to compass the death of some obnoxious person, or to awaken the passion of love in those who are the objects of desire, or to call up the dead, or to bring calamity or impotence upon enemies, rivals, and fancied oppressors. This is not an exhaustive enumeration, but these represent some of the principal purposes that witchcraft has been made to serve at nearly all periods of the world's history." New Advent, vol. 15674a.
Hide and Seek - 1
From "Discovery and Disillusion": Van Helsing smiled tiredly, and lowered his head to rest his cheek against Carl's tousled hair. When the morrow came, he would be able to handle what had to be done. As long as he had Carl with him, he always would be.They were awakened the next morning by a frantic pounding on the door of Carl's chamber. Carl groaned against Van Helsing's shoulder; burrowing into the hunter's skin, he waved a hand absently in the direction of the door.
"Go away! All full. No sprechen zie Deutch!"
"Carl?" a wavering voice snuffled at the closed wooden door while a tentative hand tried the latch, rattling it vigorously. "Carl, Cardinal Jinette wants you. He says you and Van Helsing are to come to the lab immediately, but I can't find the hunter and you won't come and I don't know what to do!"
"Oh, God," Van Helsing groaned, throwing one arm over his eyes as Carl shook his head against his neck.
"No rest for the wicked," the friar growled and poked the hunter in the ribs with a finger,
immediately soothing the indignity by stroking.
"Yes, I'm coming," the friar bellowed, raising himself up to fix the unoffending door with a look of pure dislike. "And I'll bring Van Helsing...just...go away!"
"A..all right...," the tremulous voice sounded grateful to be let off the hook so easily and the sound of rapidly fading footsteps announced they were alone once again.
Van Helsing sighed. He was still unutterably tired and his muscles ached. The only good thing about this day promised to be Carl. With a grunt, he rolled to his side, spilling the friar off of his chest then rolled over onto him instead.
"Argh! Van...Van Helsing...squashing...woof!"
The hunter's body vibrated on top of Carl's as he laughed softly. He made no attempt to rise nor to shift his weight–in fact, he was quite comfortable lying over the friar and planned to stay there as long as possible. Carl had other ideas.
The friar's fingers moved over the hunter's ribs and waist, tickling. As Van Helsing began to squirm, Carl's smile got wider and his fingers got busier. When the hunter chuckled even as he swatted at the friar, Carl laughed outright and got down to business.
Within seconds, Van Helsing gave up and rolled off, rolling into a ball beside Carl to protect his ribs.
"Stop it, Carl! God, Stop!"
"Who knew the big bad hunter was ticklish!"
"Keep...keep it up..and we'll find...out about the nasty little friar!"
Surging up under Carl's hands, Van Helsing seized the friar's wrists and forced them to the bed on either side of his head. Panting for breath, he looked down into Carl's round blue eyes.
"Maybe I should tie you to the bed," he growled, then raised an eyebrow as a thoughtful look moved over Carl's face before disappearing with suspicious haste. The look of pure innocence that followed made Van Helsing snort and shake his head. Releasing Carl's wrists, he flopped over onto his back and pulled the friar onto his chest.
"I begin to think I'm too young to be with you, Carl. You're going to corrupt me yet."
"Pssptht! Corruption is a state of mind. One I'm sure you've managed on occasion," the friar averred with pompous certainty.
Van Helsing chuckled and hugged Carl. "Probably. Do we have to go?"
The blond patted Van Helsing's chest, stroking it lovingly. "Yes. If we don't, friar Paul will be back."
"Paul?" Van Helsing's brows knit in thought. "The little fellow with the glasses and the pimples?"
"That would be Paul. Don't mention the pimples. He's sensitive."
"Hmph. He looks like he's 12."
"Hardly. And he has a bad case of hero worship for me, so mind what you say."
The hunter rubbed his nose against the friar's soft hair, inhaling Carl's fragrance with pleasure. Then, with a sigh, he released the other man, moving to sit up on the edge of the bed.
Carl sat up as well, stretching until his joints popped. He eyed the sunlight spilling through the open shutters with shuddering dislike.
"Didn't we just go to sleep?"
Van Helsing nodded. "About five minutes ago," he agreed as he forced himself to his feet and moved to the pitcher and bowl on Carl's washstand. Pouring some of the water into the bowl, the hunter began to wash himself, shivering as the cold water sluiced over his warm skin. Carl pulled up the still-warm blankets around himself and watched avidly.
"You know, I've seen you wash a hundred times before. I don't know why it's so interesting now."
"I don't either," Van Helsing snorted. Hefting the bowl of used water, he moved carefully over the clothes strewn wooden floor to the open window and tossed the water out. Pulling the towel from his shoulder, he wiped the bowl out and replaced it in the stand before turning to dry himself.
"Possibly it's because you've become dotty with infatuation?"
Carl only grinned before bouncing off the bed and into Van Helsing's arms to hug him tightly. Above the friar's head, Van Helsing's smile was tender and pleased. His hands gently stroked Carl's hair and back with long smooth caresses that made Carl sigh.
"I could easily get used to this," the friar smiled against Van Helsing, nuzzling his chest and the warm hard nub he found there.
"So could I. But if we're going to go, you need to stop that. I don't want to face Jinette and Paullooking like a bull."
Carl snickered but pulled away as requested. Jockeying for position, the two men switched positions at the wash stand. Van Helsing leaned over the friar to pour water into the bowl as Carl touched a finger to the water and yelped.
"Damn! It's cold!"
"Yes, Carl, it's cold. Hurry up and wash so you can dress and get warm."
The hunter disregarded the friar's muttered replies, sure that they were wholehearted curses. Carl didn't tend to greet the morning with open arms on the best of days. This did not promise to be even a good day. Turning, Van Helsing pulled on his clothing from the day before. They were rank, but all he had at hand–later, he would make the effort to move a change of clothing into Carl's press, so this wouldn't happen again. Once dressed, he turned to the spluttering, wet friar.
"I need to go to my room for fresh clothing. Come get me when you're done."
"A...aalrrrrrgght," the friar chattered at him, waving his arm for the hunter to go.
Shaking his head, Van Helsing unlocked the chamber door and eased it open, peering out into the hallway. Finding it empty of salivating Pauls, he quickly stepped outside and pulled the door to after him, then set off for his own room.
Carl finished his washing in record time. He could have done a better job, but at least he didn't smell of sex any longer and that was the main goal of this current water torture. Shivering hard now, he moved to the wardrobe, yanking the doors open to survey the staggering choice of two robes hanging inside.
"Let's see...brown...or brown? The one with the frayed hem, or the one with the acid burn on the sleeve? Decisions...decisions..." In the end he settled for the frayed hem and pulled the thick robe on with a groan of relief. Five minutes later and some interesting contortions got his drawers and a pair of thick wooley socks on. Shoes followed. A pair of fingerless gloves pulled firmly down over his hands completed his sartorial preparations.
Smoothing down his hair with his fingers, the friar moved to the door and yanked it open. All was quiet in the dark hallway. He wondered if the other friars, monks, rabbis, Muslims, etc. that shared this hall with him were already in the labs. Probably.
Moving through the hallway at a fast trot, he blushed to realize he was all but running–he suspected that he was going to be an embarrassingly eager lover. Carl loved sex. He loved snuggling up to a warm willing woman and he loved snuggling up to a warm eager Van Helsing more so. If he were being 100 truthful, however, he had to admit to himself that he loved what happened after the sex the most. The talking, the holding, joking with the hunter. Carl loved being loved.
Two turns and a long hallway later, he knocked on the hunter's door.
"Come," came the reply and he opened the door expecting to see Van Helsing fully dressed. Instead he was greeted by havoc.
The hunter's room had been torn apart. His belongings were scattered all over the room, most of them shredded, the bed had been all but destroyed. On one of the stone walls were gouging scratch marks, at least a quarter inch deep.
"Oh my God," Carl whispered, stepping into the room to turn slowly about, viewing the devastation with horror.
Van Helsing sat on the one remaining whole chair, arms folded, one leg up on the overturned table. His face was dark and thoughtful as he watched Carl's gyrations.
"It looks like staying with you last night was a good idea, for more than one reason," he murmured, his lips turning up at one corner.
"Gabriel...did this happen while were fighting at the gate...or..or after?"
Van Helsing shrugged. "It's hours old now–there was only one of them, but that's all I can tell for certain."
"How do you know...oh," the friar blushed as Van Helsing raised one eyebrow at him. "Gabriel...you don't think the Cardinal..."
"Not unless he's grown claws," the hunter remarked, gesturing to the scores in the wall. "It looks like my visitor wasn't happy I didn't spend the night in."
"Thank God you didn't," Carl shuddered. "We should go see the Cardinal immediately. If that thing is still here, it could hurt someone."
Van Helsing nodded, rising to his feet. He'd managed to piece together a change of clothing from the wreckage, and now with his coat and hat on, he looked less like Carl's lover and more like the Vatican's monster slayer. Carl shivered again–he hated losing the easy happiness that they had enjoyed only minutes before.
As they left the hunter's room, Carl steeled himself to look up at his friend. "Gabriel, I have a favor to ask."
"Mmm?" the hunter met Carl's eyes, frowning at his hesitant tone.
"I...I want you to forget about getting..outside lodgings. For a while. Not forever...just until this settles down. I don't want you to be alone if that thing comes back."
Van Helsing's grim mouth abruptly quirked, sliding into a small fond half smile. "Are you worried about me, Carl? I can take care of myself, you know."
"Yes, I know that very well. I also know that's not your place any longer, I'm supposed to take care of you. So humor me."
"Ah, I see. Very well. If that's what you want."
"It is," Carl sighed with relief, his own mouth now turning up into a like smile. "I'm glad that you can be reasonable."
"Hmph, terrified is more like it. I don't want to go up against a protective friar."
Carl snorted, shoving his shoulder against Van Helsing's side to make the hunter stagger slightly. "That's right. And don't forget it!"
They made the rest of the journey in good time, not speaking again until they found Jinette. He stood in the center of the lab, bathed in a welter of sound and smoke, his expression grim. He looked as if he hadn't slept and the tension in his body promised mayhem to anyone foolish enough to earn his wrath. Carl made sure Van Helsing didn't miss this fact by poking him sharply in the ribs, then placing a finger to his lips. The hunter rolled his eyes, but nodded.
Paul noted their arrival first; his approach was a combination of a trot and a sideways sidling motion, making him look like an eager but uncertain puppy. Carl's smile evened out the other friar's indecision and the man joined them with a dazzling smile of his own.
Van Helsing barely managed not to chuckle at the fellow's obvious adoration of Carl, although Carl's foot pressing down on his also helped overcome that temptation.
"Carl, Mr. Van Helsing," the young friar gasped, his wide brown eyes alight with excitement. "They've been going at it all night. The Cardinal hasn't left for a moment."
"He's been here all night?" Carl gasped, eyeing the prelate with a small amount of dread, now. Jinette with eight hours under his belt was difficult to get along with. Without any sleep at all...they'd be lucky if he didn't clap them in irons.
"Hasn't had a wink," Paul averred with grim satisfaction. "He's been asking for you now every five minutes. Maybe you should go to him."
"Good idea," the hunter growled, catching Carl's arm. "Excuse us, please."
The young friar's head bobbed on his neck almost bonelessly as he stepped aside and allowed the two to continue on to the Cardinal's side.
Jinette noted their approach with snapping eyes and a short curt nod. He didn't speak, only gestured them to follow as he turned and left his station, heading for the area where a projector was set up. Upon his arrival, the monk that had been nodding over the projector snapped to and lit the candle within to cause a picture to appear on the wall. The image was somewhat difficult to see, being unusually grainy and inclined to waiver. The monk meekly apologized, explaining that he had done his best, but had been unable to get a better quality projection.
Van Helsing and Carl studied the image of an older, severe looking woman, with dark hair and eyes. She was dressed in what appeared to be a simple black dress. The only thing that distinguished her appearance was a pair of snapping black eyes that made Carl feel the urge to apologize for some reason.
"This is Mavis Carter," Jinette spoke in a grating growl, his voice harsh with incipient laryngitis. "She is the unacknowledged head of a cult of witches in Bavaria. We believe that this cult, or coven, is responsible for causing the monsters to rise up."
"Witches..." Van Helsing moved closer to the portrait, studying it, then growled as the picture wavered violently before disappearing.
"Sorry...sorry! Candle went out. One moment..." the monk babbled, his eyes everywhere but on Jinette's face. As he tinkered with the candle, Van Helsing turned to Jinette.
"Why would this coven want to cause trouble?"
"We don't know. Suffice it to say that our information is sketchy at best. The only real clue we have is this..." Jinette held out a small card to Carl, who took it and moved to Van Helsing, holding it up for their inspection.
The scrap of carding had a symbol on it, done in red. Carl shivered when he realized the design was in blood.
"That is the symbol of this coven. It was found on the body of one of the monsters that attacked the Vatican."
"Just one?" Van Helsing asked, eyebrow raising. "One monster, it could have gotten it anywhere. Maybe from another victim."
"Possibly," Jinette admitted, then shrugged, his mouth opening to speak again only to be interrupted by the monk manning the projection machine. The monk had managed to relight the candle and the image reappeared on the wall briefly before it wavered drastically and began to blacken and curl.
"Oh no! The image is on fire!" the monk wailed as he dived into the projector to try and salvage the small picture, only to be pulled back by Carl.
"Don't, it's gone," Jinette growled. "It appears that card is our only clue now."
"Maybe not," Carl interrupted, glancing at the hunter before turning to Jinette. "Gabriel's room...it's been wrecked. Someone or something has been there and torn it apart. It left a set of claw marks on the wall almost 7 feet up."
Jinette blinked, frowning. Abruptly, he gestured to the distraught monk hovering over the smoking projector. "Marcus, leave that alone. Get a detail of forensics together and go to Van Helsing's room. Go over it carefully, gather all the evidence you can."
"Yes sir." The monk straightened slowly, his face paling as he nervously licked his lips.
"It's alright, whatever it was it's gone," Carl promised him, and smiled as the monk relaxed slightly before hurrying away.
Jinette had already dismissed the monk from his thoughts, his attention was now for the hunter. "When did this take place? How is it I haven't heard of this before?"
Van Helsing shrugged, his hazel eyes on the projector rather than Jinette. "I didn't go to my room last night. It could have happened any time within the night."
"You didn't return to your room? Where did you sleep? I told you to get some sleep–I need you to go out on a mission today."
Van Helsing turned to meet Jinette's eyes, his own expressionless. "Don't worry. I'll be ready to go when necessary."
Carl held his breath, only releasing it when the Cardinal frowned, but didn't pursue the matter. Instead, the prelate began to pace, his booted feet inaudible over the roar and clank of the forges.
"I've made arrangements for you to leave in a few hours. You'll be bound for a village outside of Kempten in Bavaria. I have maps for you. It's a small village, probably not much bigger than a few dozen souls. The main arm of the coven has a base in the surrounding area. I can't tell you exactly where, you'll need to find out from the villagers."
"Hmph. That leaves a lot open," Van Helsing frowned. "What are the chances the villagers will be willing to talk."
Jinette sighed, pausing to rub his eyes tiredly. "It's the best we have. I know it's ridiculously little,
but you'll have to make due."
Carl moved forward at that point, raising one finger to catch the prelate's attention.
"Er, your Grace...actually, I had planned to go with Gabriel. He'll need some help with this..."
Jinette was already shaking his head even as Carl spoke, his eyes flickering from the friar to the hunter.
"No, not this time. I need you here, Carl. We still have a spy in the Vatican. I plan to rely heavily on you to find him."
"Me!" Carl squeaked in horror. "But I'm not a detective. I know nothing about finding spies! Surely this is, finally, a job for the Inquisition?"
Jinette fixed his dark eyes on Carl, his brows coming down in an exasperated frown. "Carl, do you really think it's wise to invite the Inquisition to poke about in the Order's business?" He waved his hand as the friar opened his mouth to reply. "It doesn't matter. I've decided, Carl. This will be your task; I am certain you are more than up to it. Get all the help you need, but keep it within the Order."
Blinking, Carl could only swallow his objections like a dose of bitter salts. "Yes, sir," he muttered, falling back to stand beside the hunter. His disappointment was obvious, but Jinette didn't choose to make note of it. Van Helsing pressed briefly against Carl before moving away to join Jinette as the prelate left the lab.
Standing alone beside the smoking projector, Carl heaved a sigh. Then, looking about to verify he wasn't being watched, gave the projector a good kick. It didn't help his frustration–it only gave him a sore foot.