Author's Note:

It's been a while since I updated this; I was temporarily lured away by some other fandoms. Didn't mean to leave these guys hanging...

Runts Gal: Thanks! That's one of my favorite bits, too.

oubeanieu: Glad you're enjoying it! As for how Van Helsing can talk as a wolf...I'm not touching that one :-)

Seadragon68: It's a hazard in this line of work, I guess.

Suze: Stay tuned...

The Logical Ghost: Thank you. It's been fun writing this!

No one could ever accuse Carl of being a vain man. The jester's costume had not only qualified as 'a bit much', it had surpassed it with flying colors; and the less said about The Dress, the better. But even he had to admit that he was probably committing some sort of sartorial faux pas at this moment in time.

It wasn't so much that the cuffs hung past his wrists, or that the hem of the coat brushed over the ground as he walked, picking up a decorative fringe of mud and the occasional embellishing twig. It was, rather, the acute sense that he really did not belong on the inside of this coat.

Not, of course, that he had really belonged on the inside of petticoats and a bodice, either. And the only good thing that could be said about being on the inside of a pair of striped trousers and a belled cap was that at least one didn't have to look at oneself whilst stuck on the inside of the damned things.

But his cloak was still recovering from its losing battle with the rain the night before. An almost absolute lack of dry tinder had led to a definitely absolute lack of fire, and the half-damp bundle of limp wool now hung from the straps of his pack like a...well, half-damp bundle of limp wool. It was not, he suspected, doing his overall look any favors.

This wasn't just any coat. The man who belonged in this coat, he thought, was a man who chased horrors and destroyed monsters on a regular basis. A man who had plunged from the top of the Notre Dame and lived to tell the tale. A man who knew what waking nightmares really were all about.

That man, however, was currently sniffing energetically about in the underbrush with his tail up, and it fell to this man, who destroyed on a regular basis nothing more than most of his laboratory and his colleagues' equipment/hems/eyebrows, to make some use of the coat in the windy aftermath of a rainstorm.

It would likely have felt just as wrong had he seen Van Helsing in a friar's habit. Well - now certainly, but even so when Van Helsing was in normal form.

He didn't belong in this coat. Sacrilegious, that was the word.

There had altered their course now and were headed northwest, aiming for the river as per yesterday's plan. Van Helsing made a wide circle and trotted back towards him. 'Frozen yet?' the wolf asked, entirely too cheerfully in Carl's opinion.

'Van Helsing, with the damp, it's colder than it was yesterday.'

'You want to pick up the pace a little. Get the blood moving.'

Sharp teeth nipped at his heels, not touching him once. Carl ignored it. 'Pick up the pace? Whilst wading about in this thing?'

'What's wrong with the coat?'

'Nothing, unless you're not built like a tree.'

'What's that supposed to mean?'

Thunder grumbled somewhere, probably complaining about how far away it was. The next gust of wind that blew in their faces prompted the nearest tree to fling its hidden reserve of raindrops at them. Cursing, Carl wiped the icy water from his eyes, and decided he could afford to speed up a little, after all. How much farther to the river? Vampire slaying, that was the easy job; took a few days and one was done. It was the commute that was the killer.

'Do you, er,' he hesitated, 'ever wonder how we got back from Dracula's castle?'

'What, you mean in that we didn't know where it was relative to the village so we couldn't have walked back, and the portal only worked one way so we couldn't have returned through it?'

'Yes. A bit strange, don't you think?'

'Now that you mention it, I don't remember a thing about it. It was as though we simply blacked out, woke up, and found ourselves right back in oo! Rabbit.'

'Van Helsing! Get back here!'


'Well, I didn't want you bolting halfway across Creation just to chase that thing.'

'Mfmm gmmph.'

'Don't talk with your mouth full.'

'I'm insulted by the fact that you thought I'd have to run more than fifty feet to catch it.'

'Oh, yes. I'm sorry, I forgot who I was talking to, Mr Famous Rabbit Hunter.' They walked in silence for a few moments. 'I don't suppose you saved me any?'

Van Helsing gave a disdainful sniff. 'You don't even like raw rabbit.'