Disclaimer: don't owe anything of the stuff beneath. Not even the names of the people that don't come in the film. Those disclaimers are so depressing.
Author's note: this is actually a sequel to The First Meeting, my first Van Helsing story, but you don't have to have read it to understand this one. It isn't meant as SLASH, but you could see it that way, I suppose.
The names: De Moncerf is one of the bad guys in The Count of Monte-Christo by Alexandre Dumas. Andrew was one of the apostles. William is named after William Lionheart. Frederic and Gerard are names I made up (well well, I did something original! Yipee for me!).
The Monsters: Boogers are those things that hide under your bed. The Hydra was one of the mosters Hercules had to fight. The Sphinx is that weird creature that's half woman, half lion. It also has a pair of wings, is notorious for its sexy voice (oh my!) and spends its time making up weird riddles. The Giant is based on the cyclopes from Odysseus. Mostly they were completely harmless if you left them alone. Banshees are - I guess you could call them women. They had magical powers and I believed their favourite spare time acitivty was drowning people in swamps. There are indeed a few accounts of dragons that were afraid of fire, because it's also the greatest invention of men. Or dragons aren't so bright.
Van Helsing in the start really frightened me. Which wasn't so surprising. Much of my colleagues jumped out of the way when he passed. The dark hood set a lot of his face in shadow, but his eyes, which seemed to burn their way, still were visible. In combination with the short, mostly snapped conversations he kept and the way his cape floated behind him, he gave most people the oogy-boogies. Including me.
Still, our first meeting was engraved in my mind. Meanwhile, I had started working in the cellars, designing and making weaponry. I had a table totally for me alone, although I was the only friar. The monks who were seated at the tables beside me called brother Andrew and brother William. Andrew tried to sneak pieces of my works he had copied in his own inventions, so I made sure he couldn't see anything of what I did. William was pretty nice, but he wasn't an inventor; he just multiplied what others made. Against the wall behind us were huge smithies, where you could work on wrought iron. Against the walls stood weapons ready for use and targets, on which you could try out the designed weaponry. Not that I could handle weapons. In the left and right corner of the cellar were stairs; the right went to the convent were my cell was. Where the left one led to I didn't know.
It wasn't bad work; in fact, I enjoyed myself immensely most of the time. I loved my work. Sometimes, when I sat in my cell, I was still busy designing something.
But wait, I'm supposed to tell about Van Helsing. A week or so after our first encounter, he came down to the cellars. That wasn't so weird; most Hunters came down every time they had a new task to pick up the weapons they needed for the Dark Creature they would face. The day before, De Moncerf, the leader of the Hunters, had come down to get the 'toys' like he called it, to vanquish a Booger. So when I noticed somebody came down the left stairs, I didn't look up to see who it was. I was busy working with the claws of a Sphinx, which are very poisonous, so I didn't really had attention to divide.
Someone patted with a finger on my shoulder and I dropped the claw. "Hey! Leave me alone," I grumbled. "I'm busy. Go bother someone else."
"Hello to you too, Carl," a pleasant, slightly husky voice said.
Suddenly very pale, I turned around. Van Helsing stood behind me, something very close to a smile on his lips and one raised eyebrow. "Van Helsing! Err… hi, sorry, I was busy…"
"I need to kill a Hydra," he interrupted. "Which weapons will I need?"
Oh, God, had I blew it. He didn't seem in the mood for a talk. "A Hydra? Errm… let's see." I walked to the wall on my right and started pushing every weapon that would be handy in his hands. "Those are poisonous arrows, watch out… With this you can chop the heads off, but they grow very quickly back, so you'll need this… it sprays tar, glues a bit and is very dirty. You need to spray that on the necks… and this can become handy always, I suppose." I gave him a bow I had invented myself. He took it all, nodded to me and left. Luckily I was still alive.
I turned around and saw Andrew, William and the three other monks who sat before me stare at me, mouths open. "What?" I asked, becoming red.
"He spoke to you." William's eyes popped almost out their sockets.
"Of course," I said, not understanding what it was all about. "How could I otherwise give him the things he needed?"
"He spoke to you."
It didn't seem that there would come anything else out of William's mouth, so I turned to the others. "What's wrong with that?"
"Well, Carl." Brother Frederic regained his posture as first. "I'll explain you. He normally only goes to brother Gerard," the head of the cellars, "snaps his monster and expects him to get everything. It was quite a long conversation he kept with you."
"I'd hardly call it a conversation," I defended myself, blushing even more. "I've hardly talked to him since I came here."
They didn't believe me. All the monks in the cellar acted that week a bit more distant to me. Every time I saw Van Helsing he nodded to me as greet, and every time he came to the cellar, he walked immediately to me and told me what he needed. Somewhere I enjoyed the idea the strange, distant man favoured me above everybody else. The other monks somehow got used to it, and after the fifth time Van Helsing had come down, I only received some strange looks.
Van Helsing also became a bit more open to me; it seemed like he had a sort of dry, rather sarcastic humour and we sometimes talked for a while about his and my work. I usually started the conversation with "Did you kill him?" or "Did you get him?" and then he would almost –I say almost- smile and answer. Sometimes he would when I asked him something just say "Not now, Carl," which meant he didn't want to talk about it. I got used to his moods and learnt when to shut up. Though I have to admit, I'm not very good in that.
"Well, did you kill her?" I asked him, while struggling with the heavy iron I needed for my piece of work. He had had to go after a Witch. Andrew was at one of the smithies and William had gone to pick up a weapon he had to copy.
"Of course." He was leaning against my table and gazed pensive at the ceiling. "She tried to seduce me whole the time. It took her quite a while to realise I wasn't interested."
"She can't have had a good taste, then," I blurted out before I had thought about it. My eyes widened. Now he'd kill me.
I wanted to run, but I was frozen, my hands limp, the iron useless in my hands. My brain kept working, masking the most stupid things I had ever thought about; how would he kill me? Would he just strangle me or knock me first unconscious? Would he still be allowed to do his work if he had done me in? And, a small part of my mind wondered a bit melancholic if my mother would cry a lot when she heard.
I heard a strange sound. It didn't really sound like he was taking something to kill me. Or would he do it with bare hands? I looked up. He was chuckling softly. He. Was. Chuckling. I stared at him like a cow at a farmer, which made him only chuckle harder. "Don't worry; I knew to scare her away with a description of you."
Back on earth. He was not going to kill me apparently. Not now, anyway. Answer him. "That's not very nice," I protested, reddening. Andrew was returning.
"Who told you I was?" he requested, not really expecting an answer. "Made something new lately?" he asked, abruptly changing the subject when Andrew reached us.
"Yes!" I said enthusiastically. "It's a real masterpiece, though I'm it saying myself. It creates a good diversion. Look-" I grasped his arm and pulled him a bit away from the table. I picked up a small ball which had lain on it and dropped it on the ground.
Immediately big smog came out of it, filling the whole space with thick smoke. From every side came irritated voices. "Com'on, Carl…" "I can't see a thing anymore!" "Did you have to do that?" "It's not funny, Carl!"
"They're just jealous," I muttered to the big, solid figure beside me. I don't know for sure, but I think I heard that warm chuckle again.
I never really got to sort out what he thought of the cardinal. I know he wasn't afraid of him, or maybe I just think that because I can't picture him being afraid. Maybe he cared for the cardinal. Or maybe he was afraid he would give him to the authorities, who would probably be more than happy to kill him. Maybe the cardinal was like a father to him. I really don't know.
But he hated the chamberlain fierce, and the chamberlain returned that hate with equal feelings. Also the other Hunters couldn't stand him, especially De Moncerf. I think it was because Van Helsing was the best Hunter they had, while De Moncerf was the leader. Not that Van Helsing cared about a leader. So when Van Helsing came down in a real fit of rage, it wasn't too surprising he and the chamberlain seemed to enjoy themselves.
"What are you doing, Carl?" Andrew leaned forward, an eager expression on his face.
"Nothing," I replied hastily, covering my piece with a blanket. I didn't want Andrew to see my masterpiece. I was already working on it since I had come here, what had to be… two years ago. I still didn't really know what it was for, but it would be useful for one thing or another.
Andrew was just opening his mouth when a huge roar came from the left stairs. "No!"
Everybody looked up. The chamberlain came off the stairs followed by a furious Van Helsing, a slightly smiling De Moncerf and the secretary of the cardinal. "Please, Van Helsing, it are your orders," the latter said soothing.
"You know what you can do with those orders?" Van Helsing grumbled. The secretary turned red. Apparently he did.
"Let me send someone," De Moncerf suggested with a malicious grin. "I can find someone who is brave enough."
"The problem is, De Moncerf," the secretary interrupted, "that it has to be Van Helsing."
"And Van Helsing refuses," Van Helsing said coldly. "Let De Moncerf send one of his dressed monkeys. It'll be a pleasure to hear that that giant scared them away." They had reached the foot of the stairs, where they continued to argue. They seemed to have forgotten all the monks.
"And what about your attitude of 'My life, my job, is vanquishing evil', Van Helsing?" the chamberlain remarked smugly.
Van Helsing turned abruptly to him. "Name one –just one- evil thing he has done? All he asks is to be left alone while he heeds his sheep!"
"He has almost killed one of my men," De Moncerf said, also getting angry. One of his companions, who was down here to get the stuff to capture a Banshee, came closer.
"Who came to kill him," Van Helsing snapped. "I'd do exactly the same!"
"Calm down, Van Helsing." The chamberlain sounded quite threatening. I listened frozen, not able to react. "Or I'll have to arrest you."
Van Helsing laughed bitterly. "Says you and what army, or did you bring your grandmother along to help you?"
"Van Helsing!" The secretary sounded quite shocked.
"I'm – not - going!"
"I'll have to report to the cardinal then," the chamberlain mentioned. His stony eyes settled on Van Helsing with a certain hungry glow as he waited for his reaction.
Van Helsing's mouth opened like he wanted to bite back some angry retort, but he was silent. I could see his shoulders tremble from all the way to the back of the dungeon and his hand curled into a fist as if he wanted to strike the man before him, but he just stared at him.
Suddenly he turned away and strutted to the back, to my table. The others moved to the left stairs, apparently being sure they didn't need to convince him anymore. The chamberlain smirked as he disappeared to upstairs.
"Carl!" He was still trembling violently, and lightning, filled with suppressed anger, sprung out his eyes.
"Yes?" I almost squealed. Oh, my God, I'm going to wet my trousers!
"Get me whatever I need to kill a giant, and make sure you stay out of my neighbourhood the coming days," he grumbled. "For I'm not sure if I'll be able to control myself."
I was more than happy to do his bidding.
I stared into the flames of the little fire I had made. Dragons that had tasted blood also developed a strange fear for their greatest weapon: fire. There was nothing as dangerous as a dragon that spit fire, but if you only lightened a match, he wouldn't come near.
As setting for my camp I had chosen a forest with thick trees and a lot of bushes. It is far more convenient than a wide open space when one's dealing with a thick-headed, unwieldy monster. They can't really move fluently between trees. The only drawback is the chance they could get the idea to simply put the forest on fire.
I felt rather lonely. Strange. Normally I never felt lonely, no I rather enjoyed silence. It was far more relaxing than those fools that were usually in my neighbourhood. But now…
"Not now, Carl."
"Okay, so you don't want to talk. But you know, it's rather difficult to know exactly what you are thinking if you-"
"Okay, okay, I'm sorry, but you have to admit-"
I wished he was here. Even stranger. Was I going soft? I can't remember ever wishing I had anyone with me. I can't even remember I ever wanted company. In fact I hardly remember anything, seeing I've got this big hole in my memory.
"Who are you?"
"I do not know."
"What are you doing here?"
"I do not know."
"Are you even a man?"
"I do not know."
"Where are you from?"
"I do not know."
"What are you?"
My first memory. The others I don't call memories. They are dreams I sometimes have, filled with blood and cries and-
Don't think about it. Don't like to think about it. I'm desperate to know about my past, but I don't like those dreams, those nightmares. I wished Carl was here. He could at least divert my attention by his stupid chattering and probably would draw that damned dragon nearer too, so the stupid animal could set the entire forest on fire. Sometimes I couldn't believe he still had something to complain over or to talk about. He always talked and never over the same thing. He never seemed to get tired about it, or about the fact I mostly didn't respond or even let him know I had heard him. Smiling I pictured his whining if I would take him with me once.
"But Van Helsing, I'm not a fieldsman! Why did you take me? I don't even know how to hold a sword! I don't like danger!"
Chuckling I leant back. Only for that I would like to take him with me once.
I missed him.
I was definitely going soft.
He slammed De Moncerf against the wall that afternoon and knocked another Hunter unconsciously. After he returned, he was more silent than ever, but spent more and more of his time in the dungeons, by my table. One evening, he even walked in my cell.
I don't have a very big cell. No one of the monks has. There's a bed, a desk, a chair and ugly, empty stone walls I had filled up with designs and a cross. But suddenly he was there, falling down on my bed and sulkily looking at me.
I gazed back. "What?" he snapped.
"Nothing." I hastily turned back to my work, ignoring the fact that my cell had suddenly become much smaller.
He sat there for over an hour, just seeming to be content that he sat there and I was there.
It became a ritual without a frequency. Sometimes he would come, sometimes he would stay away. But he would always fall down, let his shoulders lump and totally relax. I mostly didn't talk when he came, except when I was very excited. Okay, I did talk a lot to him, though I could never tell if he was really listening or not, because he never gave a sign of life. He only moved when somebody passed. Then he would tense totally and clench his fists. His breath would go haggard and his eyes would flare. Until the footsteps had died away, he would sit like that, staring at the wall.
"Carl, bring this to De Moncerf." Brother Gerard, the head of the monks, handed me a big but very easily made iron bow. Or actually, he dropped it in my arms, causing me to almost fall down under the unexpected weight.
"What?" I panted. That thing was heavy!
"Bring it to De Moncerf." He turned around and walked away.
I tried to ignore Andrew's little smirk and ran after him, well, bumped after him, seeing the bow almost made me fall. "Where?" I cried desperately.
"Left stairs, fifth floor, third room," he answered impatient. "Hurry up."
So, staggering under the weight, I moved up the stairs. My breath hurt in my chest, my arms felt like they would break and my entire face felt hot. Luckily I didn't meet anyone. Not that I am complaining or anything, but the thing almost crushed my arms. I'm not a fighter or a lifter. I'm not sportive or anything and I don't like to… to do anything exhausting. I mean, I had come here for the brainwork, not to carry heavy iron bows up stairs!
I had reached the fifth floor and knocked panting on the third door on the left. I heard quick footsteps and the door flew open. "I said to get your ass-" Van Helsing shouted and fell silent as he saw my perspiring face. He slowly raised one eyebrow.
"Wrong – door." I muttered, feeling warmer in the face than ever.
"De- De Moncerf," I faltered.
"Get in." He took over the bow like it was nothing and took a step aside so I could slip past him. He walked to the door at the other side of the hall (which was of course the third door on the right), knocked, opened it, threw the weapon with an irony sound in the room, shouted: "Special delivery!" and closed the door again. Then he listened with an almost euphoric expression to the hard smash and the roar that always follows when toes are crashed by heavy iron bows. He walked over again and closed the door behind him. "Hello Carl. Sit down."
"Thanks." I sat down in one of the white canopies in the room. Everything was white. I assumed this was the sitting room, judging the three canopies, old long-case clock, desk plus chair and the two doors indicating he also had a separate bedroom and maybe even a bathroom. I felt myself getting jealous as I stared at the view you had on Rome from the broad window on my right. He had glass in it, for Christ's sake.
"Do you like it?" His husky voice interrupted my thoughts.
I turned back to him. He had placed himself in the canopy before me. Only now I noticed he wasn't wearing the long, black coat or his hat that sat most of his face in shadow. His white shirt hung loosely around his body and if he didn't have the get out-aura around him, one would almost say he was relaxed. For the first time ever I could properly study his futures which were encircled by his long brown hair.
"I like the clock." As answer he chuckled. "We used to have five or four of them, back in Mannheim. My father was a watch maker. I remember when I was seven, that my sister was sick. I heard the doctor mention to my parents it wouldn't take much time anymore before she would die. So I ran around the house, stopping all clocks I met. I figured that she would have enough time then."
He didn't laugh. "And did she die?"
"Yeah." A lump appeared in my throat and I stared at the city. "Typhus. She was my oldest sister. My oldest brother is also watch maker; otherwise I would've to success my father. But I had a good head, so they sent me to the convent." I shrugged. "That's how I ended up here."
The city seemed to be on fire as the sun set. Or maybe it was because my eyes were so blurry. I found his penetrating gaze most disturbing. Why was he staring like that? I felt most violated. I had told him something I hadn't told anyone before and now he was staring like I was some sort of freak.
"And you? How did you grow up?" He shrugged. "C'mon, you can at least tell me that," I said irritated. "I don't even know your first name." Like I was interested in his first stupid name.
Now it was his turn to look at the city. "Nobody uses it anyway. I'd knock them down if they would."
"Where did you grow up?" He shrugged again, his eyes blazing. "Come on, Van Helsing, tell me at least something!"
"I don't know!" He looked like he wanted to punch someone. "I don't know! I've got loss of memory, alright? I've got no idea where I grew up or who the devil my parents were, okay? The first thing I remember was me lying on the stairs of the basilica. I've got no fucking idea! I - just - don't - know!" He looked at the city like he could put it in flames if he only stared hard enough. His clenched fists were trembling.
Amnesia. He suffered from amnesia. I gazed at his set jaw. No past. Not one he could remember, at any rate. It frightened me. If he had had a past he would somehow been more human to me. Now he just was, seemed more and more a machine, set free to kill. Though I had never seen a machine tremble in suppressed rage or his breath heard so uncontrolled. It wasn't like I had even heard a machine ever breathe. "Maybe I should go," I mumbled. He seemed to want to be left alone. Probably wanted to smash something.
I stood up and shuffled to the door. "Gabriel." His slightly harsh voice sounded through the room.
I turned around. "Pardon?"
"My first name. Gabriel. Gabriel Van Helsing." He spoke even more shortly than before. Funny. I didn't know he could even speak more shortly than usual.
He was named after an angel. A person that sometimes even seemed to exist out of darkness and bitterness was named after a creature made of light. "Well, that's at least something," I said, straightening up. He looked at me from the corner of his eye. "Next time we'll see what you do remember," I resumed. "Dreams and that sort of stuff normally help too." I was getting more excited by the idea getting to know about his past by the minute. "You should write them down. Those dreams and strange ideas you get, you know. What do you think?" I looked at him hopeful.
"Not now, Carl."
"Oh. Okay." I left the room.
Okay, that was it! Please review!