When they reached Van Helsing's room, Carl proceeded to push him down onto the bed with a "take off your sweater and let's see what you've done to yourself this time". When Van Helsing moaned as he raised his arms above his head, Carl moved forward and helped him pull the sweater off the rest of the way. He gasped when he saw the purple discoloration that covered most of Gabriel's ribs.

"Troll managed to catch me with his club," Gabriel said casually, trying not to let Carl know how close he came having his head caved in by the monster.

Carl felt his throat tighten when he realized that once again the Hunter had cheated death by a hairs' breath. He covered up his reaction by beginning his examination of the injury. The area was highly bruised and painful looking and Carl took extra care not to probe too hard. Still, in checking for broken ribs, he heard several quickly stifled groans and he finished up as quickly as he could.

"Well, you are fortunate that nothing is broken. Still, that bruising is pretty severe so you should take it easy for a couple of days. I've got a salve that should numb some of the pain. I keep a jar stashed in here since I know you'll need it when you get back. Really Van Helsing, have you ever thought of ducking?" Carl spoke that last bit more sharply then he intended to but he was shaken by what had happened to Gabriel.

Gabriel looked slightly hurt by his tone and replied "I'm sorry if I'm being a nuisance. Give me the salve and I'll tend to myself. You can get back to your lab. I'm sure you have much more important things to tend to then me"

Carl felt ashamed and said, "No, no, I'll take care of it. You'll only strain your ribs if you do it yourself and that will defeat the whole purpose." And with that he opened up a chest by the wall and pulled out an earthenware jar. He crossed back to the bed and knelt before Van Helsing. He kept his head down and his eyes on Gabriel's chest, too ashamed to meet his gaze. He opened the jar and scooped the salve out and gently blew on it to warm it. Then he slowly and gentle smoothed it along the bruised skin.

Gabriel was touched by the way Carl warmed the salve before putting it on his skin. And as the friar's hands gently ghosted over his body , Gabriel closed his eyes and allowed himself the pleasure of feeling that longed for touch. As he breathed in deeply, he caught the scent of Carl's hair. Despite being a religious man, Carl liked his little indulgences and smelled of a sandalwood soap he smuggled into the Vatican. Van Helsing always found himself casually sniffing Carl whenever he was close by and a couple of times had almost been caught. But right now Carl's attention was on Van Helsing's chest and so he could sniff to his heart's content.

Carl was struggling to concentrate. The feel of Gabriel's chest beneath his hands was intoxicating and it was hard not to run them up and down from chest to belly. Carl found his gaze drawn to the dark nipples that were so temptingly there before him. He found one hand moving towards one before he caught himself and pulled it back to rest on the bed beside Gabriel's thigh. "Pull yourself together, Carl. This man is injured – you're suppose to be helping him, not groping him". With a sigh, he finished applying the salve and slowly eased away.

Gabriel heard Carl's sigh and opened his eyes to see Carl rising slowly up from the floor. Gabriel grabbed Carl's hand before he could move completely away and said "Thank you. You always take such good care of me."

Carl smiled at that and said " Well, someone has to since you do such a terrible job yourself. Really Van Helsing, I think you need a keeper".

Gabriel smiled as well and said "So, up for the job?"

Carl blushed as he thought about just what being Gabriel's keeper could entail. "Stop that" Carl told himself. "If you aren't careful, Gabriel is going to find out just how much you like touching him and then he's never going to let you near him again". Carl just shook his head "I think you are beyond my abilities" and moved to put the salve away.

"What's this – Carl the Genius admitting there is something he can't do?" Van Helsing said with a cocky grin. He knew as always that Carl would rise to the bait with that adorable pout that Gabriel dreamed about on cold, lonely nights.

Right on cue, Carl turned back towards Van Helsing with an indignant look. "You are just jealous of my superior intellect. Where would you be without my inventions, huh? Still chasing monsters with stakes and swords, that's where". Crossing his arms, Carl pouted, his lower lip sticking out in a blatant invitation.

Gabriel found himself aching to kiss that pouty lower lip and then shook his head in shock. Kiss Carl – where had that come from? But now that the thought had come, Gabriel found it impossible to dismiss. He wanted to kiss Carl, wanted it more then anything. Rocked to the core, Gabriel rose from the bed and moved away from Carl, going to the window where he could put his back to him. His mind reeled. He wanted to kiss Carl… more then that he wanted to touch and caress him. What should he do? Carl was his friend and that friendship meant everything to him. It was the only thing he had to look forward to in his otherwise dark life. And Carl was a friar, a holy man. Ok, there was that bar maid in Transylvania but that was a one-time thing. This was a far bigger than that. This was sex with another man – how would Carl feel about that? Was he attracted to men? Van Helsing shook his head "What I am thinking? Carl trusts me. I can't betray him like this. He'd be horrified if he knew I was lusting after him…"

Carl looked at Gabriel's back with concern. Gabriel had gotten a strange look on his face when Carl had responded to his teasing. Now he was standing at the window rigid and distant. What is going through his mind to make him close himself off like this? Carl moved quietly over to Gabriel and when he was close enough to reach out and touch him he gently called his name. "Gabriel? Gabriel, what's wrong?" When he didn't get a response, he gentle touched Gabriel's shoulder. Gabriel stiffened under his touch and Carl quickly removed his hand. He pushed down his feelings of rejection. Now was not the time – Gabriel clearly needed him. He moved around to Gabriel's side and tried again. "Gabriel, please talk to me. What ever it is, I want to help"

Gabriel winced slightly at the concern he could hear in Carl's voice. He knew Carl wanted to help but would he still be offering if he knew what was really bothering him? Still Carl was not moving away and he knew he would have to answer him. "I'm sorry Carl, I guess I'm a bit wound up from the mission" Carl frowned at this answer. Since when did Van Helsing pull away from him because he was troubled by a mission? He always came to Carl to work through his troubles – and Carl treasured that. He knew that the Hunter was fiercely private and to have opened up enough to let Carl this close was a gift beyond price to the friar. Why was he pulling away now? What had Carl done? Was it something he said? But he and Van Helsing had teased about Carl's genius many times and it only made them closer. What had happened? What had he missed?

Without realizing it, Carl had moved away from Van Helsing and begun pacing the small room. Van Helsing felt a pang of loss at his moving away but also knew it was for the best. Carl was far too great a temptation to him right now. He needed to sort out what had just happened so he could create a defense against it. He would not lose Carl's friendship over this suddenly identified desire. He could fight this… Carl would never know…

Carl frowned. No matter how he turned the recent conversation around, he couldn't find what he had said or done that made Gabriel withdraw his trust in him. The pain of this was like a knife in his heart. He had to get back in Gabriel's trust… he had to. He couldn't bear to lose this precious relationship. Straightening his shoulders, he turned to Van Helsing. "If you are troubled by this latest mission, you would do better to talk about it, rather then bottle it up. You don't want to bring back the nightmares, do you?"

Van Helsing almost laughed at this. He hadn't had nightmares in a number of months now. Instead his dreams had been of a blue-eyed friar. How could he have missed what was so obviously in front of his face? He wanted much more then friendship from Carl. He bowed his head to rest against the glass, his shoulders slumping. The sight of the strong Hunter in such a defeated posture almost broke Carl's heart. There was no way he could allow this to continue. He wanted his brash, teasing Gabriel back!

Carl reached out and touched Gabriel lightly on his arm to get his attention. Van Helsing turned his head towards Carl but did not quite meet his eyes. "Van Helsing, there is nothing you could have done on this mission that could ever make me turn away from you. Please, talk to me."

Van Helsing closed his eyes in pain. Would Carl say the same thing if he knew what Gabriel was aching to do to him? "Carl, please. This is too hard right now" and he turned back toward the window and away from Carl. Carl felt another knife pierce his heart. He could hear the pain in Gabriel's voice, could see it in every line of his body and yet he wasn't being allowed to help. He just couldn't leave Gabriel like this.

"If you don't want to talk about it, I understand but at least let me stay here with you. You are in such pain and I can't bear to leave you like that." Taking a risk he wrapped his arms around the Hunter, pressing himself to his bare back. Resting his head against Gabriel's warm skin, he tried to convey all love and concern he felt. He had to show Gabriel he was there for him.

Van Helsing forced down a moan as he felt Carl press tightly against him. The feel of his hands resting against his chest and stomach was torture. He wanted nothing more then to turn around and hold Carl tightly to him and never let him go. He wanted to cover him in kisses and to see those blue eyes drowning in pleasure and love. At the thought of Carl lost in desire for him, another moan escaped him as his body shuddered with pleasure. Carl, still pressed up against him, found a heat growing rapidly in his belly at the sounds coming from Van Helsing. Without thinking he rubbed himself against Gabriel's back, earning another moan from Van Helsing and causing a whimper to escape from his own lips. Carl was burning up and he wasn't sure what to do about.

"Carl…" Van Helsing's voice sounded strained as he attempting to pull his brain back from the pleasure induced haze it was in. Carl's rubbing against him was almost more then he could resist. He could feel himself growing hard and knew if he didn't move away from Carl soon, he would grab the tormenting friar and carry him off to bed. In a desperate attempt to save the situation, he turned to push Carl away. Unfortunately the maneuver meant Carl's body rubbed against his entire body and the groan that escaped his lips was impossible to miss. His breathing was labored and his mind was reeling. He wanted Carl so badly he was shaking.

Carl's mind was reeling too. His body was on fire and he wanted nothing more then to touch Gabriel anywhere… everywhere. His breaths were in shaky gasps and his body trembled. His arms were still wrapped around Gabriel though now resting along his back. Giving into temptation, he ran his hands up the smooth, hard muscles of his back. It was absolute heaven… He moaned in delight at touching Gabriel the way he always wanted to.

Carl's caressing of his back and the sounds of pleasure coming from the friar's tempting mouth was more then Gabriel could bear. With a moan of his own he pulled the friar to him and ground his body against him. Twin groans of pleasure came from that move. Panting hard, Van Helsing bent his head until his lips were right by Carl's ear. "Carl… I…" Whatever Van Helsing had meant to say was lost when Carl's eyes met his. Blue eyes were full of desire and the sight cost Van Helsing his last bit of control. He brought his mouth down to capture Carl's in a passionate kiss.

Carl felt like he was drowning and never wanted to escape. Van Helsing's kiss was like nothing he had ever experienced before. He wanted it to go on forever. His body was melting under the waves of pleasures coming from kiss and from the feel of Gabriel's body pressed so tightly against his. He moaned again and Gabriel took advantage of it to slide his tongue inside the dark heat of Carl's mouth. As their tongues danced against each other, Carl arched up against him, pressing his lips even tighter to Gabriel's. It was so incredible and yet not enough. Carl ached for more and he groaned his frustration against Gabriel's mouth even as his hands continued to run up and down his back.

With a growl, Gabriel pulled his mouth from Carl's only to trail a series of kisses along his jaw and neck. He lightly nipped at the base of Carl's throat and was rewarded with Carl throwing his head back to give him even greater access. He sucked slightly at Carl's throat and heard him whimpering in need. "Gabriel… Gabriel, please…" Carl didn't even know what he was begging for just that he needed more. He clutched desperately at Gabriel's shoulders as he could feel his knees giving way under the onslaught of pleasure that was carrying him away.

Gabriel could feel Carl buckling and knew he wasn't too far behind. Still kissing his way along Carl's neck, he slowly backed the friar up until the reached the bed. Carl collapsed gratefully on it and Gabriel followed him down until they were lying on the bed. Carl's heart was racing as he looked up into Gabriel's eyes. They were burning with desire and Carl gasped at the jolt of pure heat that filled him at the sight. Gabriel wanted him. Wanted him as much as he did. He reached up a hand and pulled Gabriel down to him so he could capture his mouth in a deep kiss. This time it was Carl's tongue that explored Gabriel's mouth and both men were breathing hard when they finally had to break for air. Carl's hands eagerly explored Gabriel's chest, finally able to trace the planes and angles to his heart's content. His clever fingers reached out and played across one of Gabriel's nipples and Carl was rewarded with a deep groan and Gabriel's hips grinding down into his own. The feeling was enough to drive Carl wild. "Oh God, that feels so good. Do that again". Gabriel did, slowly grinding his hips against Carl as he brought his lips down again to capture Carl's. Carl was writhing in pleasure and burning up. His robes were too much… he needed to get them off… needed to feel his bare skin against Gabriel's. He struggled slightly, pushing at Gabriel's shoulders. At first Gabriel was too lost in kissing Carl to notice but as Carl became more insistent he broke of the kiss. He felt a sudden stab of fear that Carl had suddenly woken up and realized what was happening. Had decided that he wanted no part of it. He felt an icy chill begin to fill him. "Carl… what's wrong" he said as he lifted himself off Carl.

"My robes… too hot. Have to get them off… need to touch you…" Carl could barely string his thoughts together. All he could really think about was feeling Van Helsing's skin against his own. He thought he might explode if he didn't feel it soon.

Gabriel felt relief wash over him and moved off Carl completely so he could remove the bulky robes. The thought of touching Carl's skin was making him ache. As Carl clumsily struggled out of the voluminous robes, Van Helsing struggled to calm his racing heart. As Carl removed the last of his clothes, Gabriel pounced on him, pushing him down onto the bed as he ravished his mouth. His hands slide over the pale skin of Carl's chest and both men groaned at the contact. Carl arched up as much as he could into Gabriel's hands as he frantically returned the kiss. When Van Helsing's hand came to Carl's pale pink nipple, Carl wretched his mouth away with a gasp. "Gabriel…" he cried brokenly, whimpering with need. Van Helsing knew what he was asking for and began deliberately trailing kisses down Carl's neck and across his collarbone. Carl writhed and panted as Van Helsing worked his way down his chest. When his mouth closed around Carl's nipple, Carl cried out and grabbed the back of Gabriel's head. Gabriel laved at the hard nipple, relishing the needy cries and the way Carl ground his body up again his own. His cock was harder then it had ever been and he ached for release. He gently nipped at the nipple and was rewarded with another cry as Carl's body writhed against him. He trailed his lips across Carl's chest and gave the same procedure to the other nipple.

Carl was moaning nonstop and grinding himself frantically against Van Helsing. His hands were running up and down Gabriel's back almost frantically as he tried to relieve the incredible fire that had been kindled within him. As his hands reached the waistband of Gabriel's pants he found himself sliding his hands underneath to caress the firm buttocks. He could feel the muscles flexing beneath his hands as Gabriel ground his hips into Carl's. He could feel the hard length of Gabriel's cock rubbing against his own and it was driving him wild. It was intense and yet not enough. He wanted to feel all of Gabriel's skin, to have him naked and hard against him. He fumbled for the buttons of Gabriel's pants, groaning with frustration at his clumsy fingers.

Gabriel felt Carl's hands so near his groin and he almost exploded. He wanted those clever hands on his cock. He groaned and buried his face in Carl's neck, kissing the juncture of neck and shoulder. He nibbled one earlobe and felt Carl buck against him, once again grinding their two cocks together. Carl finally managed to undo Gabriel's pants and he wretched them down over his hips, desperate to bare Van Helsing to his questing hands. Gabriel rolled off briefly to pull them off completely then rolled back on top of Carl, kissing him fiercely. Carl's hands slidover the firm flesh of Gabriel's buttocks, kneading and caressing them. He ground his hips against Gabriel's, and the feeling of the their cocks sliding against each other was almost more then he could bear. "Gabriel… please… I can't take anymore…"

Gabriel, too felt like he would explode without release. He slid his hands beneath Carl's hips and drew him even tighter against him. Speeding up his pace, he rubbed the two of them together, the friction causing them both to gasp and pant. Carl wanted to thrust against Gabriel but was held far too tightly. Instead he planted open mouth kisses along Gabriel's neck and chest as he felt wave after wave of pleasure built in him. He could feel his orgasm crashing towards him and he was helpless to resist it. "Gabriel… please… I can't hold on…"

Gabriel could feel his own release building up and claiming Carl's lips in a passionate kiss, he drove them both over the edge, their cries of pleasure lost in each other's mouths. He lay trembling on top of Carl, his body completely drained from the intensity of his orgasm. He had never felt anything like it before. His brain could not think of anything but how much he loved the slight blond man beneath him.

Carl could feel the tremors that still shook Gabriel's body. His own was limp and sated and he smiled weakly as he cradled the dark head of his lover. However, Gabriel showed no signs of moving and while Carl loved the feel of holding him, he was finding it difficult to breath. "Gabriel…" he whispered. He got no more then a grunt in reply. "Gabriel…" he tried again, this time gently pushed at his shoulders. "What…?" Gabriel replied fuzzily, unable to believe that Carl wanted to talk at this moment. Gabriel wasn't sure if he remembered what speech was. "Gabriel, please… I can't breath". With a rush of guilt, Gabriel rolled off him immediately. "Sorry… its just that you felt so good…" Carl smiled lovingly and snuggled immediately against his lover's chest. "Its alright, you're just a bit heavy that's all." Gabriel tightened his arms around the blond man and kissed the top of his head. He couldn't believe that Carl was his. He felt such amazing peace just holding the man. He wanted nothing more then to hold him forever.

Carl was in heaven. He was held safe and loved in Gabriel's arms. This was where he always wanted to be. Snuggling even closer he wrapped his arm around Gabriel's waist. With a happy sigh he closed his eyes and allowed himself to drift into a light sleep.

As Gabriel watched his lover drift off into sleep he found himself smiling. This is what he had looking for. Now that he had found it, he had no intention of ever letting it go. He placed a gentle kiss to the top of the blond head. "I love you, Carl"

"I love you too" was the mumbled reply. Gabriel smiled and cradled him closer. Then he too drifted off to sleep.