Shoulder to Shoulder, Brothers in Arms
Rating: R or M for you filthy stinking turncoat ninnies.
Summary: Van Helsing and Dracula know each other. But how? And how well?
A/N: I have fiddled around with things so some stuff isn't quite kosher. We're going to pretend that Van Helsing lived through the wars in whatever AD, but died and was reborn as Gabriel Van Helsing, friend to Vladislaus Valerious. If you don't like it! TOUGH!
Warnings: NO Slash (Blech) between Van Helsing/Dracula, graphic gore, abuse, sexual abuse, OOCness, etc. It gets pretty melodramatic after a while. But tis' ok.
NOTE: The words in BOLD are flashbacks. The words in ITALIC are also flashbacks, but are flashbacks to the past when Van Helsing and Dracula were friends.
Valerious the Elder stood over his son. No… not his son. The creature writhing before him had been his son once, but now… The old knight's eye narrowed as the creature that looked like his son fought against the leather bindings.
"Sir. What are we going to do with him?" a familiar voice came from behind him.
"I do not know, Gabriel. I do not know…"
Gabriel Van Helsing, son of Tiberius Van Helsing stood shoulder to shoulder with his best friend, Vladislaus Valerious. At sixteen, both boys had been sent to military school to learn. Their combat instructor was lecturing them on the correct way to handle a longsword. Vlad, as he had insisted on being called, mock-yawned and pretended to be falling asleep. Gabriel tried not to laugh, but couldn't contain it all.
"Master Vladislaus." the instructor called, his eagle eyes snapping onto the youth's face.
"Sir?" the boy replied smartly.
The Instructor stalked over and stood chest to chest with the slender youth.
"You were not paying attention." the man stated.
"You readily admit it?" he asked, astonished.
"Why were you not paying attention?"
"Because, sir, we've already gone over this, sir. And besides sir, you were showing it wrong, sir."
The instructor's face purpled. He grabbed the young Valerious boy by the collar and lifted him off the ground. With his other hand, he pointed towards the barracks.
"Go. Now. Find Lord Simon. He will deal with you."
A flicker of fear crossed Vladislaus' face at the mention of Lord Simon. Then his face returned to its cold sneer. The combat instructor replaced him on the ground, smacked the insolent youth's face soundly, and shoved him in the direction of the barracks.
"Anyone else!" he snarled as Vladislaus disappeared into the low building.
The entire group was silent, fearing a punishment. Gabriel chanced a look toward the barracks. He couldn't see his friend, but he could hear the lashing of a whip. He but his lip, knowing they were punishing his best friend.
The class went by without further incident, after sword practice they had a meal of bread and cheese in the practice yard. Gabriel couldn't help but let his mind wander to his friend. What were they doing to him? Why was it taking so long? The punishment for lack of attention was twenty lashes, it should be taking this long! Gabriel's head snapped to the barracks when he heard a low anguished cry. He forced himself to ignore it as the practice yard was filled with the younger class, eager for food and a good tussle.
Gabriel returned to the barracks after classes had ended, he flopped down on his straw pallet and stared at the ceiling. After a while he turned his head to look at Vladislaus' pallet. It was empty, and that frightened young Gabriel. His friend had been beaten before, but usually he was returned to his cot to sleep it off. This hadn't been done and Gabriel feared for the other boy's safety.
Very suddenly, the door to the barracks opened and two of the guards tossed a very disoriented body into the room. They slammed the door and locked it, Gabriel could hear them laughing behind it.
"Vlad? Are you alright?" Gabriel called softly.
A groan answered him. Gabriel could smell the metallic tang of blood, he hurriedly stood up and went to his friend. He rolled the taller boy onto his back, gritting his teeth at the cry of pain the oldest Valerious son emitted.
"Come on. Let's get you to your cot."
He crouched down and hefted Vladislaus onto his shoulder. Gabriel staggered back to their area and placed the Valerious in his cot. Vlad cracked an eye open.
"Are they gone? Am I safe now?" he asked in a quivering voice.
"Yeah. They're gone. What'd they do to you?"
"Nothing. Just beat me up for a while…"
"You look awful." Gabriel stated blandly.
"Thanks." Vladislaus replied dryly.
Gabriel stared down at his dark haired companion. Both boys were dark haired, Vlad wore his in a tight ponytail while Gabriel preferred to let it hang loose. They both came from good families and had been at the military academy since they were six.
"Damnit." Vlad swore as he heaved himself into a sitting position, he prodded at his spine, wincing as his fingers met with some bruises and cuts.
"Did they whip you? I thought I heard whipping."
"Yeah. But that's not the worst of it..."
Vlad's body stiffened and his face paled.
"I don't want to talk about it." he said harshly.
"No! Just forget it!"
Gabriel gazed at him appraisingly, an idea forming in his mind. He knew what had happened to hurt Vladislaus so. His friend was not ready to talk about it, so Gabriel shrugged and pulled out some food wrapped in a cloth.
"I snuck you some food. I know you haven't eaten yet."
Vlad nearly pounced on the food and practically inhaled the lot. He looked up at his friend and thanked him profusely.
"What would I do without you?"
Lord Valerious the Elder stared at the sleeping vampire. In sleep he looked more like the man his son had grown into, and less like the daemon he had allowed to possess him. He took a chance and tentatively brushed back a stray strand of hair. The creature was filthy with blood and dirt, blood streaked his unnaturally pale face and trickled from open wounds.
"My son…" Valerious the Elder murmured.
"Aye?" a voice spoke from the darkness. "Your son? He wasn't your son when he needed your help!" the bitter voice of Gabriel Van Helsing said.
"My son has never needed my help!" Valerious protested hotly.
"No? He asked you, time and time again. During our schooling-"
"That was years ago!"
"He needed you then, he needs you now. And now you will just kill him?"
"He is a monster." Valerious replied, as if that could explain everything.
"Some would call you 'monster'." said Van Helsing darkly.
There was silence as Gabriel looked down upon his friend's body, for that was what is was now.
"He was in pain. He begged you to help him."
"No. He is a man! He should have helped himself-"
"Yes. He should have. But he couldn't. He searched for salvation, for forgiveness. The church gave him none, you gave him none. He turned from a light that had failed him to a dark that welcomed him. And now you call him 'monster'."
"He is a monster. And he must die." Valerious said, more definite than he felt.
Gabriel glared at him through the gloom.
"They used to beat him." he said softly eye tracing the scars he knew lay beneath the layers of clothes. "At school. He was beaten, whipped-"
"No doubt he deserved it!" Valerious interrupted.
"And raped." Gabriel continued, unheeding of Valerious' discomfort.
"My son would never allow-"
It was Gabriel's turn to interrupt.
"He didn't have much choice in the matter. Does anyone deserve that humiliation?" the dark haired man said in a low growl.
"Never… My son would never-" Valerious was shaking his head.
"He used to cry out in the night, when we were children. He used to call for you in his sleep. This is your doing, Valerious."
Valerious had backed himself against a wall and was shaking his head.
"You did this to him. You made him like this!" Van Helsing repeated.
"I must and ask forgiveness from God! God will right all-"
"God? You think God can help you now? After the atrocities you've performed and allowed performed on your own flesh and blood? My God!"
Van Helsing turned from the older man in disgust.
"Blasphemy!" the Elder murmured angrily. "You shall not blaspheme in my presence! You are a hypocrite, Gabriel! After all," he said slyly. "It was you who murdered him in the first place."
Gabriel glowered at him, inside himself, his heart and mind were at war.
Vladislaus Valerious followed his master into war. His God had failed him and he followed a new master now. He had prayed for years for something to end his suffering. Nothing had come. Now, at a loss for what else to do, he followed a cruel and vicious leader with visions of grandeur. He sat in the saddle of a powerful black stallion, as the charge began, he kicked it into a trot, following his master closely.
Across the field, Gabriel Van Helsing rode his own brown steed, the horse galloped at the head of the column and was one of the first into the fray. He cut down his enemy, one by one, a warrior for god. His armour was soon coated with the blood and gristle of his foe. The coppery smell of blood permeated his nostrils. Men screamed around him. He saw a man, mounted on a horse, and galloped toward him. The two soldiers met with a clash, knocking both men off their horses. Gabriel landed on the ground and sprang up as quickly as he had fallen. He screamed out his battle cry and searched for the man he had collided with.
"You!" a voice directly behind him gasped.
Gabriel thrust his sword back, hearing the satisfying squelch of steel meeting flesh. He pulled it out, seeing the red stain on the blade and smiling.
"Gabriel…" an anguished voice moaned.
Van Helsing turned to see the face of a man he had not seen for a very long time.
He dropped his bloodstained sword and had just enough time to catch his old friend before he hit the ground. There was blood everywhere, covering the dark haired man's belly, chest, and legs. Vlad choked painfully, clutching at Gabriel's arm.
"My God! I didn't see you! I'm so sorry!" Gabriel moaned sorrowfully, holding his friend's body close. "Why didn't you say-"
"It's alright… It's alright, old friend. I-"
The Valerious coughed, blood dribbling out of his mouth and onto his chin. Dying eyes looked up at Gabriel, pleading with him.
"Tell my f-father… Tell him I'm gone. G-give him my ring."
Gabriel nodded wordlessly.
"I'm s-sorry, my friend, that we had t-to meet like this." Vladislaus moaned, his hand going to his belly and staining with blood. "So sorry…"
Gabriel watched, in helpless anguish as his friend's eyes closed and his body sagged against him.
"Vlad, no!" Van Helsing begged his old friend, shaking the lifeless body.
Unbeknownst to himself, Gabriel began to cry.
Van Helsing watched as Valerious the Elder fled,presumably to Rome to plead for forgiveness. He could not help but think that this was the beginning of something horrible.
"Gabriel…" the vampire said in a cold sing song voice. "Gabriel, come closer my friend."
Van Helsing stepped cautiously forward, standing over the bound creature and glaring down at it.
"Gabriel, why do you fear me?" the vampire asked, his voice like ice.
"I'm not afraid of you." Van Helsing replied defiantly.
"You are. I can smell your fear!" Dracula persisted angrily, straining at the ropes.
Gabriel merely stared at the daemon with the angel's face.
"Vladislaus… if you're in there anywhere-"
The creature convulsed suddenly, apparently allowing the human in him to emerge momentarily.
"Gabriel!" he cried in a harsh voice. "Gabriel, if you ever held any love for me in your heart, you will kill me! Please Gabriel!"
"I cannot. I'm sorry. I killed you once before, I cannot do it again." Van Helsing said, his head dropping to look away from the bruised eyes that bored into him.
"Fool!" the vampire cried.
It was as if he were talking to two different people within the same body. The human voice begged for it all to end, while the daemon persisted in existing past it's time.
"Your father has gone to Rome to ask for forgiveness for your sins. He has gone to make a pact with God."
"God!" Dracula spat on the ground. "God has abandoned me! If I should die, I would gladly go to Hell to escape He who left me to my fate!" the vampire snarled angrily. "Man made me like this! Not Satan!"
"Blasphemy…" Van Helsing murmured. "My friend… what has happened to you?"
The hunter's heart was broken. He had murdered his best friend twice, he was responsible for the death of his true love, Anna. Her broken body lay sprawled on the ground where she had slipped. Van Helsing turned his head to the remains of Dracula. After he had destroyed the hell beast, the dust had regenerated into a solid body. The daemon was gone, leaving the human man to die in agony.
"Van Helsing?" Carl asked tentatively.
Van Helsing gestured wordlessly at Anna, he lifted her body into his arms and cradled her close.
"I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…"
He stumbled down the incline and fell to his knees beside Dracula's body. His memories seemed to be flooding back, most painful, all to few happy.
"Thank you…" Dracula-or perhaps he was now Vladislaus, murmured in a voice that was little but a breath.
Death was his gift.
Gabriel stared down at the severed finger in his hand. He hadn't been able to get the ring off the normal way, so he'd had to sever the limb and tug the still warm metal ring off. He felt bile rising in his throat, dropped the detached digit, and was violently sick.
"Vladislaus… why? Why has this happened!" he moaned, shivering.
The body of his friend lay cooling, he slid the ring onto his own finger and took one last look at Vladislaus Valerious. The image of the blood soaked body would burn in his mind forever. He mounted his horse and galloped off, trying desperately to forget the awful events of the day.
He had been certain he would never see his friend again, after all, he was dead. He deserved a little peace, but perhaps God thought otherwise, for only a month after the battle, he found himself sitting in a tavern, listening to the gossip of the townsfolk.
"That's right! It was a Valerious! A horrible creature, all teeth and blood." The man shuddered. "As long as I live I shall never forget that sight; a man bent over the body of my beloved sister, drinking her blood."
Van Helsing's ears pricked up at mention of the name 'Valerious'. He frowned slightly, then got up; and went to the table the man was sitting at.
"Excuse me, good sir, could you perhaps remember some of the features of this… monster?"
The man nodded eagerly.
"It was a tall man, black haired, with noble features… If I hadn't known better, I would have said he were the son of a lord!"
Gabriel's heart clenched tightly in his chest. Vladislaus? Alive? It couldn't be!
But it was. The attacks increased, mainly women close to the house of Valerious. Their bodies were found, drained of blood and placed carefully by the gates of the Valerious castle. The women were sub sequentially decapitated, their mouths stuffed with garlic, and burned on funeral pyres.
Everyone feared this nameless evil, this… monster, which stalked the streets hunting for blood. Everyone except, of course, Gabriel Van Helsing.
Gabriel rounded up a small band of men, strong enough of body and spirit to restrain the beast that was plaguing the village. Gabriel was going to use himself as bait. If this creature was, indeed, Vladislaus, than he would come to Gabriel.
The night came upon them quickly, the men checked and rechecked the iron barred cage they had built. This had to hold Vladislaus, or all would be lost.
Gabriel turned his head to look at the body of Dracula. His eyes were closed, mouth parted slightly.
Those words rang in his ears. He would be haunted, as he had been by the vision of Vladislaus' mutilated body oh so many years ago.
He turned back to Anna, tears filling his eyes. Her spine had snapped when he had grabbed her in his werewolf form. It had been quick, he supposed… I had been quick…
Dracula snarled furiously and fought against the ropes and straps that held him down. Van Helsing was off to his right, staring down at the creature that had once been his best and closest friend. The vampire was cursing in three different languages and his eyes were red with hate.
"Valerious!" he roared angrily. "Father of Mine! I will kill you! Rip your throat out and bathe in your blood! How I will enjoy every moment of it!"
The creature's fangs were bared, he strained against the bindings, eager for blood.
"Oh my god!" A low cry came from the doorway.
"Damnit man! I told you! Keep her out of here!" Valerious hissed angrily.
A woman had just entered the room. Van Helsing grabbed her before she could move toward the furious bound vampire.
"Aleera! Stay back from him!" Valerious said quickly. "He is not himself!"
"What has happened to him! Why is he bound like that!" the blonde woman wailed.
"He has given himself over to the devil! He is an evil being now! And we must destroy him!" Valerious said.
"Yes…" the vampire suddenly said in a low hiss. "Kill what you cannot cure, father."
Aleera broke Van Helsing's grip and ran to the side of her lover. She fell on her knees beside the low table.
"My love! What has happened to you? I must hear it from your own lips!" she wept.
Dracula seemed to be fighting an inner battle. The daemon in him wanted blood, and this girl seemed good enough. But the part of him that was still human knew Aleera and loved her, cared for her.
"Aleera! Stay back!" the vampire cried, the human in him recognizing her and wanting to keep her safe.
"Vladislaus! What's wrong?" she leaned closer.
Just then, the daemon took control and lashed out. Aleera screamed and fell backwards in a dead faint. Gabriel barely caught her as she collapsed. He glared at the being strapped to the table. Dracula chuckled, low and deep, fangs extended and eyes darkening with bloodlust. Aleera stirred in Van Helsing's arms, moaning softly.
"Vladislaus…" she murmured. "What has become of you…"
Indeed, what had become of them? What had happened to drive them all to darkness? As Gabriel Van Helsing sat in the dark, cradling the body of his beloved and sitting beside the broken body of an old and dear friend, he wondered this aloud:
Alright, I know that was an absolutely shite ending, but you're going to have to deal wiv it. Reviews are appreciated, flames are used for roasting human flesh on a spit, and badly spelt flames with be chortled at and then ignored.