Author's note: This is my first Carl fic, so please, be gentle. I wrote it for Clez in a fic challenge at LiveJournal, and though it took me a very long time, I finally finished it. Good thing she liked it, after the wait. Oh, there are some London Assignment spoilers in this, just to warn those who, strangely, have not seen it yet if anyone hasn't. So, here it is, hope you enjoy, and writers are like crack addicts. They need reviews daily. And here are the fic requirements:

Title: System
Pairing/Character: Carl! Write me a lovely Carl story, pwease
Genre: General/?. Nice and easy. Go with the flow, my friend. (ok, it turned out angst/humor, but she said go with the flow)
Dialogue: "Why is everything so hard for me...?"

Disclaimer: I don't own Carl or Van Helsing or Anna or Dracula or the Creature or the Order or anything else in this. I make no claim on them, nor profit, and I mean no copyright infringement. So don't sue me. Savvy?


Carl sat at the small desk in his little cabin on the ship taking him, and of course Van Helsing too, back to Rome. Nice, safe Rome where he didn't have to worry about baby vampire bats creatures, full grown vampires, werewolves, Van Helsing turning into a werewolf, disfigured humans with a thing to electrocuting others, none of that. Back to Rome where he could be a nice simple friar, locked away from the world.

Yes, that sounded nice.

The friar had been going through many, depressing, moods. Mourning for Anna - though he knew she was at peace and her family was saved and in Heaven's gates now, so that had given him some comfort - , nursing his hurt from being shocked so many times - figuratively and literally - , and pondering over everything that had happened, most of which had been unpleasant and terrifying.

He hoped he had done the right thing, letting the Frankenstein Creature live. And not telling Rome of Van Helsing's brush with lycanthropy. He was fairly certain he had, but he was having doubts. He supposed it was natural, and that he would have had second thoughts no matter which choice he made in the end.

Still, once he was back in Rome, locked away with his unstable chemicals and books, he would feel much better. He had always appreciated the safety net that his home was, and after that awful mess in London, he had appreciated it even more. Now though, he realized he had not appreciated it nearly enough.

In Rome, he was genius and he was in his realm, where he was one of the best, and he knew exactly what he was doing, where he was, who he was. Outside, he didn't have a clue, and he was forced into the most horrible situations.

Like having to wear a dress and fix his face up like a woman's. That had been one of the, if not the, most degrading things he had ever been forced to do. He wanted to hate Van Helsing for it. He didn't, of course. That, and then the awful stay in Transylvania. The visit to Castle Dracula, that stunt at the masquerade ball, why did he get in such horrible messes?

"Why is everything so hard for me?" he asked himself as he pondered over his difficulties in the world outside of Rome. "Why do I get in such strange situations that usually scare me almost to death so often? Yes, I travel with Van Helsing, but still," he muttered, leaning his chin on his hand.

That settled it. No more adventures with Van Helsing. He would insist it to the Cardinal when they returned. He just could not go on any more adventures. He was tired of dodging vampire babies and wearing dresses and being chased by some hunchback who liked shocking him, or evading werewolves or seeing people die because of great evils.

It was hard to watch everyone be a hero, it was hard trying not to get killed, it was hard watching others around him get killed.

What if Van Helsing had stayed the werewolf, what if Anna had been to late? Then Carl would have had been forced to kill Van Helsing, the one person he actually considered a friend.

Even if he wanted to hate him sometimes and hated traveling with him.

Carl couldn't take it. He liked being in Rome where he was oblivious to death and destruction, where he didn't have to stare at evil as it glowed in the eyes of the inhuman, where he was useful and was at his game, not just a tagalong simply around to make sure Van Helsing succeeded, whether he wanted to or not.

And he hated that he had lied. But perhaps even more he hated that he felt the Order was wrong to deny the Creature life. Perhaps what he really hated was the knowledge that had he told the Order of Van Helsing's lycanthropy, they would want their own hunter put down like a wounded dog.

Carl had faith in God, but his faith in the church and its system was diminishing. And now as he thought it over, perhaps he didn't really want to stay there anymore at all.