Title: Long Road Home
Author: Lady Sirinial
A/N: Welcome to the end! What a fantastic ride right? Thanks for reading!
"Okay, let's go over this one more time. Christian jump up on the table, you be Anna." Carl instructed as he quickly cleared off said table.
"Hey wait a second!" Christian yelped as Raphael pushed him toward the cleared surface. "How come I have to be Anna? Why can't Raphael be Anna?"
"Because dear," she replied with a kiss to his cheek, "I'm the one who's applying the leeches and risking my life."
Carl gestured to the table with the jar of leeches, "What are you complaining about? It just means you get to lie there while your wife runs her hands all over you."
Christian grinned at Raphael; "Well in that case," he hopped onto the table and stretched out flat. "Dr. Schneider, the patient is prepared and waiting; you may begin operating when ready."
His wife rolled her eyes and snorted, "Thank you, Dr. Schneider."
"Now, show me what you're going to do exactly," Carl demanded as he chewed his fingernails. Raphael moved up beside her husband and pulled her stethoscope from around her neck. "First I'm going to check her pulse," she narrated.
"Then I'm going to prepare a small dose of that clear liquid of yours," she pulled out the syringe, minus the enormous needle, and mimed measuring and filling it.
"It's like adrenaline," Carl added, "I'd like you to inject it directly into the vein in the thigh."
On the table Christian winced at the thought but remained silent as he watched his wife move about.
"Next the leeches go on," she grabbed her husbands arm and smiled at him before gently touching the places the creatures would go. She pointed at his bicep, "here." She ran her fingers lightly down his arm to his wrist, "here."
She flipped his hand over and tapped the back of it, "one here." She placed her fingers just above his heart beat, "another here." She sucked in a deep breath, her eyes completely focused, "Also on the neck and the palm of the hand."
"I want you to put one on her thigh, opposite of where you'll inject, and another against her ribcage." Carl intoned softly reaching over to touch Christian's side. "Do you remember how to attach them?"
Raphael straightened and winced; she reached into the pocket of her lab coat and removed a lancet. "I'm to puncture the skin and draw blood to entice them to bite."
Carl nodded, "Yes, because if you don't they'll only wander around on her skin. Make sure you wash the area first and then again after."
"Carl, this is going to take forever!" She cried. "There's no way you're going to stall him long enough!"
Christian sat up and grabbed her wrist, "Don't worry about it Raph, Mihai's in on it too. We're going to borrow his daughter."
She arched an eyebrow at him, "Eva? You're going to borrow Eva? And Irina was okay with that?"
"Well, not exactly, Mihai's not going to ask," Carl explained.
"Now who's the devious one?" Raphael teased and looped her stethoscope back around her neck. She looked at the jar in Carl's fingers and frowned.
"You realize, of course, that there will be a lot of bruising with this?" She asked as she took the jar from him.
Carl nodded solemnly, "Yes, but she will be alive. As far as I'm concerned, she can have Van Helsing pin me down and put these little things all over my body in revenge for the bruising, because it will mean she's back to the Anna we all miss."
"All right, I'll remember you said that." She lit the room with a dazzling grin. "Let's get to it, then!"
As the three left the room Fluffy sat in his cage in the back, happily munching a carrot.
"Okay Eva, I need you to stay here by this tree and be quiet until I come get you. Can you do that for me?" Mihai asked his dark headed little girl as he carefully placed her on the ground. Her little face stared at him solemnly, the very image of her mother. He'd seen the same expression on Irina's face often; his daughter was questioning his sanity. He wrapped her in a blanket and pointed over to Carl. "Carl is going to be just over there the whole time. He won't leave you alone for a second." He hugged her tightly and kissed the side of her head.
Christian stood with Carl, both of them smiling at the scene. Christian was rubbing his thumb against his bottom lip, bright eyes alight. Carl elbowed him, "What are you smiling about?"
The taller man grinned down at him, "One of these day I'm going to have one of those."
Mihai snorted as he came up on both of them, turning every now and then to look at his small daughter. "Firstly my friend, you have to survive today. Secondly, you have to survive Raphael."
Christian merely grinned and ducked his head, "I'm not worried."
Carl laughed nervously, "Well, it's time to test that confidence."
Irina burst into Valerious manor and launched herself up the stairs. "Mihai!" She cried as soon as she hit the second level, "Mihai!" she sobbed again.
Her husband leapt up from his chair and came running, catching her midway as she collapsed into his arms. "Irina! Wha-?"
"She's gone! She's gone!" his wife howled, clutching at his shirt. Her whole body was quaking in his arms. "Eva! I can't find Eva!"
Christian came running up. "What the hell's going on?" the doctor asked.
"My daughter is missing," Mihai ground out, he crushed his sobbing wife against his chest and looked up at the man, tears glittering in his eyes. "Eva, my little girl, she's missing."
"I'll get Van Helsing!" Christian said and ran off towards Anna's room.
The soldier nodded and kissed the side of his wife's head, gently rubbing her back, trying to get her to calm down. Raphael stuck her head out of her room and gave her husband a curious look, he winked at her. A haggard looking Van Helsing appeared next, his bloodshot eyes drinking in the scene.
"Irina," Gabriel's voice was warm despite his appearance. The distraught women shook her head and clutched harder at her husband. The monster slayer knelt next to the couple and set his hand on her shoulder. She finally turned to look at him. "I promise you, we will find your daughter."
He stood up and his knees popped loudly. "Let's go," he ordered gruffly. Mihai was whispering to Irina, who hesitated to let go of him. Fortunately Miruna appeared and helped the woman up, promising a warm cup of tea. As the men passed Raphael snagged Christian and pulled him into their room.
"Well?" She asked fidgeting with her stethoscope, Christian smiled.
"Well, Mihai's a terrific actor," his attempt at humor managed a halfway smile from her. He sighed and set his hand against her face. "You will be fine, we'll keep him occupied."
"What if she doesn't wake up Christian?" Raphael asked, and turned her face into his palm. Her husband smiled and kissed her forehead.
"Then we'll keep trying Raph," he stroked his thumb across her temple for a moment, and bent to give her a quick kiss for luck. She hung on longer, clinging to him desperately. When she released him he smiled and jerked his head towards the door, "They're waiting for me."
She was left standing in her room with a jar of leeches and the happy tingling his kiss had left her with. She inhaled shakily and headed for Anna's room, praying as fast as she could that this scheme would work.
She turned and locked the door to the Princess's room, knowing it would do little to stop anyone who wanted in from getting in. Still facing the dark wood she set her forehead against it and exhaled heavily to help rid her of her nerves. She straightened and pulled her shoulders back, head held high she walked to the side of the bed and pulled the blankets away from Anna.
She swallowed hard at the pale body hiding beneath the blankets, but her hand was steady when she put on the stethoscope and bent to check the patient's heart beat. She found it faint, but there, still beating, still keeping Anna Valerious alive.
It took her a moment to get the woman out of her sleep wear, and then came the hard part. She grabbed the bowl from the bedside table and filled it with warm water and soap. Then she smoothly cleaned the area's that would soon have leeches attached to them. The jar sat next to the bowl, the creatures inside wiggled about obliviously.
Raphael started praying again as she reached into her pocket and pulled out the lancet. "God forgive me," she whispered and gently stuck it against Anna's ribcage.
"Eva!" Van Helsing bellowed into his cupped hands. Beside him Mihai echoed the call; Christian's cry came from their right.
"We need to spread out more," Gabriel said to the anxious father. Mihai nodded and broke off to the left. The line continued forward every now and then yelling for the lost child. Out of the brush she appeared, dark hair gleaming with the hidden red tint as she ran for her father, blanket trailing behind her. Carl came running up behind her eyes wide in a too pale face.
"Daddy!" Eva's little voice cried, her face streaked with tears. Mihai caught her up in his arms and shot a private glare in Carl's direction. His daughter wrapped her short arms around his neck and squeezed tightly, Mihai cleared his throat.
"Sweetheart! I'm so glad you are all right! Mummy and I have been so worried," he admonished softly. Eva snuffled against his neck her face sticky from dried tears, fresh ones were trailing down his neck. "Eva what happened?" Mihai asked and glared at Carl again.
"I heard a scary noise!" She confessed, her blue tear streaked eyes huge. "He said it was a werewolf!" Her tiny finger pointed at Carl accusingly.
"I did not! I said it could be!" the little Friar cried indignantly, then clamped his hands over his mouth and shot a look at Van Helsing. Gabriel's eyes were glowing hot with anger, wild and dark. Mihai and Christian shared a glance, came to the same conclusion and turned on Carl.
"You had my daughter? What the hell were you thinking?" Mihai roared, clutching his daughter tightly.
"I-I- she wanted to pick some flowers for her mother!" Carl stammered out, squinting as he tried to sound convincing. Christian stepped forward glowering darkly, "You better pray Irina is so happy to have her daughter back she forgets to kill you!"
"Not likely," Mihai muttered and turned to head back towards the manor. He glanced over his shoulder at Van Helsing, "Thank you for helping me look."
But Gabriel wasn't smiling, the three men could see the wheels turning as he looked from one to next. The predatory gleam in his eyes reminded Carl of when Van Helsing had been infected with the werewolf venom.
"Van Helsing," Carl started but was cut off by the menacing growl emanating from his friend.
"What is this?" He demanded quietly, searching each of their faces. Christian shuffled his feet, Mihai adjusted his daughter, and Carl scratched his head.
"Uh, well, we needed to buy some time, you see, for Raphael to finish with the leeches-"
"CARL!" Mihai and Christian shouted in unison. Eva began to cry again, big gulping sobs. All the blood drained from Van Helsing's face, "leeches?" he repeated then lunged for Carl. The Friar yelped and side stepped, the monster slayer went sailing past him running as if the devil himself were chasing him. He was headed straight for the manor.
Raphael watched the clock in the room, waiting for the time to remove the black creatures sucking voraciously at Anna. Swallowing her disgust she reached forward and began pulling them off. They wouldn't come easily, her tugging left nasty trails of blood and the beginnings of what would be awful bruises.
She was working the big bugger off her ribcage when something, or someone, hit the door, hard. "Raphael!" Gabriel's voice roared. He started pounding on the door, seeing in his head Anna's soft skin ravaged by the vile slugs. The bruises would be deep and purple, her blood would be staining the sheets, and he couldn't bear it. "Anna!"
"Shiße!" Raphael swore and ripped the remaining leech off, leaving a tear. She pulled the syringe and vial from her pocket and quickly attached the hypodermic needle. The door groaned loudly as Van Helsing continued to pound on it, she suspected it wouldn't be long before he would begin ramming it. She carefully measured the amount of clear liquid Carl had told her and stared down at the cold face of the Princess. "I am so sorry," she apologized and stuck the needle deep into the femoral vein. She pushed the fluid and removed the large bore needle as gently as she could.
"ANNA!" Gabriel shouted and the next boom of the door let Raphael know that he had brought his shoulder into play. She looked down at the Princess with her lip caught in her teeth, why wasn't anything happening. The banging grew louder.
"Come on!" she begged the comatose woman, "come on Anna!" But the body remained still. Raphael's eyes blurred, "Please Anna, please wake up," she pleaded. She closed her eyes tightly and tried to block out the groaning door, she sent her thoughts heavenwards, asking God to return the woman to them. Her hands moved on their own, one settling just above the woman's heart, the other on her forehead. Raphael felt a heavy pressure on her chest and then all of the sudden a fire in her hands. She gasped and pressed her hands down on Anna's skin, her eyes flew open and on the bed Anna Valerious sat up with a hoarse cry.
Raphael fell back on the floor, stunned, "God has healed" she whispered in awe. The door splintered. Gabriel landed in a heap and saw her as he looked up. Anna had since fallen back and was gasping harshly, eyes flickering wildly about the room. Van Helsing struggled over to the doctor and grabbed her roughly, "What did you do?" He demanded but Raphael was too busy gaping at the other woman to care. She saw Anna struggling and knew she had to help. She shoved Gabriel off with more force then he expected, and lurched up to the bed.
"You are okay Anna, it is going to be okay," she hauled the sheet up to give the woman some sense of dignity. She heard a sharp inhale and looked over her shoulder to see Gabriel staring at the bed in wonderment. She smiled at him in a watery manner and shook her head. Carl and Christian appeared at the door; Christian's face showed horror at the state of the heavy wood door. In synchronous they looked up and both their mouths fell open.
"Oh my God," Christian breathed.
"It worked!" Carl cried.
Raphael had snapped into doctor mode and was busily checking heartbeat and peering into Anna's blurry eyes. "I am so sorry Anna, I know you hurt but I need you to stay awake."
"h-h-how-" Anna rasped, Raphael shushed her. Gabriel gathered up Anna's hand, causing her to turn her head. Her brow furrowed as she took in his tears and how tight he was holding onto her. "Wh-?"
"Gabriel, I need to treat the wounds," Raphael spoke softly.
"Why can't she talk," Van Helsing worried, Anna's hand now pressed tightly against his face.
"Her voice has not been used for some time now; it will come back with time."
Gabriel nodded and kissed Anna's palm, he left without another word.
Raphael smiled at Christian to let him know she was all right, and waited for them to be long gone before she pulled back the sheet again. Anna watched her, eyes full of questions, so Raphael smiled at her and answered as many as she could.
"My name is Raphael Schneider, I am a doctor. Gabriel came to Germany to find me, to help you. My husband, Christian, came with me, he is also a doctor. You took too much medication Anna; we had to get it out of your system, we used leeches."
Anna's eyes widened but Raphael smiled sweetly to comfort her. She was gentle as she cleansed all the wounds and wrapped them. Anna felt a flicker of a smile on her own face, hoping the other woman would read it as the thank you she meant it as.
"Don't worry Anna; it will all be all right now."
"Irina," Mihai called out to his wife from the entryway to the kitchen. Eva was sleeping safely in his arms. Irina turned from the window, her eyes red and face raw. The tears started anew as she saw her sleeping baby. Mihai set the slumbering child back in her mother's arms, kissing first his daughters forehead then his wife's. Irina choked back a sob and stroked her daughter's dark hair as she cradled her to her chest. She leaned into Mihai and settled her head beneath his chin, her face wet against his neck. He held her close, feeling the tug of guilt for causing her this pain, he wrapped her up in his arms and held her tightly, their daughter between them.
Gabriel could hardly believe she was sitting there and smiling at him. Anna, his Anna, was smiling at him as if nothing had happened at all.
"Did you miss me?" She rasped with a knowing grin. He smiled back and gently lowered himself onto the bed beside her. "You know I did, "he responded and tucked a curl behind her ear. She hummed happily and snagged his sweater, then maneuvered him so she could curl up with her head on his chest. "Good answer," she sighed and slid an arm over his waist. He kissed the top of her head and adjusted himself to be more comfortable.
She looked up at him and smiled sleepily, still recovering from the blood loss and shock. "How did you know to look for Raphael?"
He frowned and stroked her hair, "I know her from before, somehow. I knew she could save you."
Anna nodded as her eyes slipped closed, "From your past?"
"Neither of us can remember anything except that we've met before." He grumbled and smoothed his cheek against her head.
"That must be difficult," she murmured. He lifted her bruised hand and kissed it gently.
"I am sorry," he confessed to her curls. She shook her head.
He winced and stroked the back of her hand with his thumb. "This whole thing, but especially these bruises."
She smiled and nuzzled her head against his chest drowsily. "It's fine."
He reached down and pulled a quilt over them, and then slid his hand back into her hair. "I love you, you know."
The name Raphael means "God has healed."