For those of you that were following Even A Man Of God Has His Limits, this would be the reason there hasn't been an update in a while (along with an LOTR story I've finally posted here) This story has been shared other places but I finally am getting around to putting it here.

Since this takes place in modern times, clearly this is an AU story. And since my characters have not been transported here from "their own time" or are re-incarnations, they have different histories. Hope you enjoy!

The dark haired man hauled himself up on the roof and collapsed in exhaustion. Where the hell had all the gargoyles come from? There shouldn't be any of them here in the city. He clutched a hand to his bleeding shoulder and curse roundly. Damn it, he hated when Headquarters gave him inferior intel. He knew he wasn't very popular but surely they weren't trying to get rid of him?

He looked down from the rooftop searching for pursuit. Seeing nothing he slowly made his way across the rooftops until he reached the seedy part of town. Climbing down a fire escape, he proceeded down streets until he reached the building he lived in. It was run down and thoroughly disreputable but no one bothered him or took much notice of his strange hours and even stranger habits. He walked up to the top floor and down the hall to the small apartment he currently called home. Letting himself in, he tossed his keys on a small table and lowered a large sack onto the floor. He then slowly began the painful process of removing his coat and shirt. Once off, he walked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror at his wounded shoulder. It was still bleeding but it had slowed a bit. It hurt like hell but he had gotten worse. He grabbed a tattered washcloth and set about cleaning and bandaging his shoulder.

Once done, he walked back out of the bathroom and headed over to the small kitchenette. He grabbed a bottle of whiskey and poured himself a large glass. It had been a long night and he intended to drink himself into a comfortable oblivion while watching TV.

He settled down on the bed and flicked on the ancient black and white TV. He idly surfed through the channels while downing his first glass of whiskey. A monster movie got a brief pause as he watched a vampire go up in flames thanks to a holy water bath. Yeah, like it is ever that easy. He continued on and finally settled for some pointless action movie. The violent images and complete lack of plot was exactly what he needed. He poured himself another glass and sat back to watch.

Seeing the hero easily get people to follow his orders, the man just snorted bitterly. He could never get anyone to follow his orders, even when he was trying to save them from some hideous monster. They always thought he was involved somehow. He drained another glass and poured himself another. It just doesn't pay to be the good guy in real life. You do the right thing, you vanquish evil and everyone gets on your case about how much damage you caused. Even the bosses in the Order gave him grief every time he had to make contact with them. Which is, of course why he checked in as little as possible. Thank god for the Digital Era where everything could be sent by email or left in a voice mail. He raised his glass in a toast and drained it.

He then winced as his earlier train of thought reminded him of something unpleasant. He had damaged one of his weapons during the scrap with the gargoyles. That meant he was going to have to do more then email a report. He was going to have to travel to Rome and get it fixed. Groaning he grabbed the bottle and drank directly from it. Damn, he had hoped to avoid going in for at least another 6 months. His mind raced as he tried to think of a solution but the alcohol had started to kick in and nothing came to him. Fuck it; I'll worry about it in the morning. He settled down more comfortably in the bed and took another swig. He watched as the Hero commandeered a car with barely a protest. If only it worked that easily for me…

Carl was making one of his dreaded appearances in the office. He nervously fidgeted with the tie that he had hastily put on this morning before running out the house. He hated wearing a suit – he knew he looked ridiculous in them. He much preferred comfortable clothes he could work in. But he was due for one of his periodic reports to the Vice President in charge of Research and Development and there was just no putting it off any more.

He knew he was getting curious looks from the other people in the elevator. It was clear that Carl was not a typical employee of Carmaco but he had a red identity badge, which clearly gave him access to the secure levels of the facility. He was a mystery and the denizens of Corporate America didn't like mysteries. They liked things that could be clearly summed up with spreadsheets and flowcharts. Carl on his best day could never be turned into a flow chart.

He heaved a grateful sigh when they reached his floor and he could get out. He hated being stared at and looked down on. He might be one of the most profitable inventors that Carmaco had ever had but he would never be able to carry off the polished image that was the main stay of corporate ladder climbers everywhere. His strawberry blond hair always seemed to work itself into untidy spikes no matter what he did and he knew his pale skin made himself look slightly unhealthy next to the sleek gym rats that worked around here. He sighed and clutched his briefcase a little closer. This is why he always avoided the office. It always made him depressed.

He walked down the halls, ignoring the looks that passed his way. He reached his destination and walked up to the desk. He smiled at the efficient looking woman who manned it. She was on the phone but she gestured him towards one of the chairs. He settled into a chair and looked around at the tasteful yet somehow bland furnishings. He never could quite understand the point of decorating with art that didn't actually SAY anything.

The women finished up her phone call and smiled over at Carl. "Hello Mr. Hamilton. How are you today? Can I get you a cup of coffee?" Carl smiled gratefully at her. "A cup of coffee would be wonderful. I ran out of the house before I had a chance to have my first cup. With two sugars if that's not too much trouble?" She shook her head "No trouble at all. Just let me tell Mr. Langdon that you are here."

She turned and knocked on the door behind her and then opened it. "Mr. Hamilton is here when you are ready." Carl heard a muttered reply in response and she nodded and closed the door. "He's on a call with Tokyo and is going to be about 5 more minutes. He told me to make you comfortable." She walked across the room and stood in front of Carl. She had a predatory look on her face and her smile seemed to be offering more then just a cup of coffee. "So, how can I make you comfortable?" she said, oozing a little closer to Carl. He shifted awkwardly in his chair and said, "Well, that coffee would sure be nice". She looked disappointed for a moment but then quickly pinned that efficient "corporate" look on her face and said "Of course. I'll be right back." With that she headed out the door as fast as her tight little business suit would let her.

Carl sighed in relief. This happened every time he came to the office and was just another reason to dread reporting in. He never quite knew how to respond to aggressive overtures. Its not that Margaret wasn't an attractive woman, its just that she was ambitious and smart and Carl had learned to avoid that type. They always started out by saying that they didn't care that he had no desire to be an executive with the big office but it always ended the same. Terrible fights over Carl's refusal to "play the game" and "make something of himself". He knew that if he wanted to, he could demand the title and all the perks that went with it but he had absolutely no desire to do so. He liked inventing things and he liked the freedom of not being chained to corporate politics. The only reason he worked for Carmico at all is that it gave him an outlet for the things he created. It certainly wasn't about the money. He had plenty of that thanks to his parents.

He shook his head to rid himself of these depressing thoughts and pulled out his papers. Might as well review his findings in preparation of his meeting with Landgon.

Van Helsing slowly raised his head from the pillow. This turned out to be a bad idea as his head suddenly felt like it was going to split apart. Groaning he dropped his head back down. He really shouldn't drink like that but sometimes he just needed to sleep without the dreams. He tried to close his eyes and go back to sleep but nature called and he realized that he really needed to get up and piss. Rolling over he groaned a little more loudly. Not only did his head hurt but also his shoulder had begun throbbing and aching. Very gingerly he pushed himself into an upright position on the bed. The room swam for a few moments and then came back into focus. He took a couple of deep breaths and then decided to move on to Phase Two. He stood up and then let out a curse. Apparently his shoulder wasn't the only place the gargoyles scored last night.

Staggering to the bathroom, he stood over the toilet and dealt with his most immediate need. Then he opened the medicine cabinet and took out the painkillers. He poured two into his hand and swallowed them, not even bothering with water. This was becoming a habit he would rather not have. He looked at his face in the mirror and grimaced. He looked like hell and not too surprising. His long hair was tangled and in need of a wash and his eyes were bloodshot. Deciding that the first order of business was going to be a shower, he turned from his reflection and started the water running. He then shed his clothes and stepped under the water.

Water pressure and temperature was always unpredictable but apparently his luck was improving and it was both hot and plentiful. He wash away the remains of last night's scuffle and began to almost feel human again. He lingered for a while, letting the hot water soak away some of the residue soreness. While he healed quicker then most people, he had taken quite a beating last night. How the hell had a nest of gargoyles managed to find their way to the city? And why hadn't anyone from the Order found out about them BEFORE he walked right into them?

Thinking about his bosses made him remember that he was going to have to arrange to go into Headquarters. He scowled at the thought and angrily turned off the water. Stepping out of the shower, he quickly toweled off. He really didn't want to go to HQ. He was not in the mood for another lecture about his methods. He wrapped the towel around his waist and walked out into the main room. He glared at the phone as if it was responsible for all of his grief. He started to walk towards the instrument of torture to pick it up when his stomach rumbled.

He paused and then decided that he just couldn't face dealing with The Dragon (his boss) until he had eaten something. Grabbing some clothes off a pile on the floor, he got dressed and headed out the door. Even though this was not about work, he still grabbed weapons. You never knew what might happen out there…

Carl left his meeting with Langdon feeling tired and wrung out. Langdon was a typical corporate executive in that he knew nothing about the creative process and cared even less. It was all about marketing windows and beating the competition to the punch. It was completely useless to say to him that it takes time to completely debug a system. He would argue that Carl worried too much about perfection and that he needed to learn to exist in the real world.

Having just come out of "the real world" Carl was just as happy to not be a part of it. And having eventually given Langdon the answers he wanted, Carl was now free to retreat back into his little world for another year. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief as he waited for the elevator. As the door opened, he stepped inside, grateful that there was no one else in the car. As soon as the doors closed he slumped against the back wall and worked to unfasten his tie. God how he hated the things! They only added to his feelings of claustrophobia he got when he had to come into the office. He shoved the instrument of torture into his pocket and closed his eyes. When the doors opened, he wearily pushed himself away from the wall and shuffled out of the car. He walked slowly across the lobby, lost in his own thoughts and almost walked into the door thanks to his distraction. It was only the quick shout of some "suit" that prevented him from hurting himself. He flushed bright red and mumbled some words of thanks. He hurried out of the building with the amused and pitying looking of the "suit" burned into his brain. God, he hated having to deal with the office.

Reaching his car, he opened the door and threw his brief case into the passenger's seat. He started the car and was about to head for home when his stomach rumbled. He decided that he didn't want to have to deal with cooking something so that meant he needed to find a restaurant somewhere and get dinner.

Pulling out of Carmico's parking lot, he remembered a restaurant he gone to with Carol, one of his ex's. He vaguely recalled that it wasn't too far from the office and decided that it would do. Right now he just wanted a cheeseburger and French fries and maybe even a milk shake. Yeah, that sounded good. It had been a really long day…