Title: Cold Comfort

Summary: Van Helsing's eyes danced with amusement; he had never seen her like this – her own words shocked her. A GabrielAnna fic set immediately after Dracula's ball.

A/N: This is my first Van Helsing fic, so I hope it turned out alright. I'm kind of proud of it. The idea was floating around in my head for a week or so, but it turns out all it takes for me to write is one sleepless night driven by on hell of a flu. Oh well, no pain no gain, right?

The water was cold; a sharp icy sting that clung to them just as they clung to the iron grating, the dark water lapping at their shoulders. Anna tightened her grip on the metal and willed her teeth not to chatter, the frigid water biting into her. No one had moved since Van Helsing's outburst, and the silence that hung around the three of them was thick with discomfort.

Carl was the first to break it, his lips thin and blue from the cold as he managed to stutter, "I'll j-just g-go and collect our th-things, then", casting a cautious glance at Van Helsing before making his way towards shore, awkwardly propelling himself through the freezing water, sputtering every time his stoke failed him and he submerged. Anna watched silently as the friar clambered onto dry land, catching his eye and nodding before he scurried away.

Van Helsing made no move to acknowledge Carl's retreat, his head bowed, resting against the metal grating, beads of water dripping from his dampened hair. His fingers were curled tightly around the grating, knuckles white from the sheer force of his grip, and Anna found herself reaching out, her own gloved fingers prying his from around the metal. Wordlessly, he let her.

"We need to get out of this water" she spoke, breaking the silence that once again enveloped them, her words hanging in the air. Van Helsing nodded, his breaths audible, puffs of steam in the night air, becoming less labored as the rage which fueled his outburst ebbed away.

"I know"

His voice was somehow deeper than she remembered.

He pushed off of the iron grating, strong strokes cutting through the water, the faint splashes as he swam the only indication of his movement in the still water. Anna followed him as best she could, her heavy dress billowing around her, ballooning up in the water, limiting her movement. Her limbs felt heavy from the cold when she finally reached the shore, silently accepting Van Helsing's outstretched hand and allowing herself to be pulled out of the water.

He turned away from her, and she followed his line of sight to the broken window they'd crashed through earlier. The cracked glass glinted in the pale moonlight. It seemed Van Helsing could not tear his gaze from it. Anna looked away, peeling the wet gloves from her arms and throwing them to the ground with disgust. She watched with a morbid sort of satisfaction as the muddy ground seeped into the white fabric, the once pristine gloves turning brown. When she turned back to Van Helsing, she saw his gaze had shifted from the shattered window…

…to her.

She forced herself not to flinch under his scrutiny, remaining still as she felt his eyes rake over her, the water-laden dress hanging off her shoulders.

"Don't look at me like that" she commanded upon finding her voice, inwardly pleased that her steady tone did not betray the flurry of emotions she felt. She quickly stifled the part of her enjoying his eyes on her, forcibly reminder herself she was first and foremost a warrior. And warriors did not stand silently while men stared at them dressing in a sopping gown.

Anna watched, determined not to let that sentiment waver as Van Helsing's eyes met hers. A smirk played across his dark features, tugging at his lips. He stepped closer. "How would you have me look at you?"

Her eyes widened at the implications of his comment, before narrowing as she quelled the inappropriate spark of excitement it had caused in her. She was a warrior. She had always been a warrior. She did not, could not, enjoy the attentions of Van Helsing. She needed to make him understand that. He needed to look at her and see a fighter again, not a fragile gypsy princess in a gown. And so she snapped, frustrated and not realizing what she was saying. "Like I'm not wearing this damn dress!"

Her outburst was followed by a sharp intake of breath as the meaning of her own words hit her, and she flushed, her cheeks becoming an admirable shade of crimson. Van Helsing's eyes danced with amusement; he had never seen her like this – her own words shocked her.

He took another step closer, and Anna found herself refusing to meet his gaze, backing up until she was pressed against the damp stone wall. Still Van Helsing moved forward. He was not but a foot in front of her. "That I can do." His voice was low and dangerous in a way that made Anna's skin tingle. This time she did nothing to force that feeling away. She glanced up at him, startled as his eyes flashed golden before returning to their dark hue just as quickly, making her wonder if she'd imagined it.

"I didn't…mean…" but her words were lost, trailing off into the air as she felt a light pressure on the small of her back; the pads of his fingers gently tracing the seams of the dress excited a small coil of heat, not unpleasant, in her lower stomach. She shivered slightly and closed her eyes, vainly hoping he would credit her reaction to the cold and not their proximity.

It appeared he did; Anna stood, silent, unmoving, and she felt Van Helsing begin to pull away, his fingers retracting and her body instantly lamented the loss of heat his touch had provided. "Don't" she spoke, her accent thick with veiled want, eyes still closed as his hands hovered inches from her back. Carefully she opened her eyes, locking her gaze with his. His face was serious, his eyes never leaving hers as he obliged, replacing his hands, fingers brushing against her back. Slowly, she lifter her hands to rest on his arms, pressing her fingers gently into his biceps. He shifted, tugging her closer to him, and the decision was made as she leaned forward, capturing his lips with her own.

A low growl vibrated in the back of his throat as he returned the kiss, pressing his lips roughly against hers. His palms pressed into her back, arching her into him, before one slip up to rest at the base of her neck, tangling in her dark hair. Deftly, his fingers worked to let it out of the bun to tumble wildly down around her shoulders. Her hands remained on his arms, blindly grasping at his sleeves to pull him closer. He complied before deepening the kiss, tugging at her lower lip with his teeth.

They pulled apart too soon for either of their likings, each gasping for breath. Anna kept her eyes closed as Van Helsing began to make a trail of soft kisses down her throat before sucking fervently at the base of her neck. She turned her head to allow him access, eyes opening as she stared over his head at the shattered window of the mansion. She made no attempt to muffle the purr of contentment he elicited from her. Closing her eyes she ducked her head to catch his lips with hers again. Tonight, he was just a man and she was just a woman.

Tomorrow, she decided, they could be warriors.

A/N: So... let me know what you guys thought! And on a completely unrelated note, happy holidays!