A/N: Aaaah, salaam and good evening, my friends! Welcome to Kindred Spirits, a companion to Night Warriors. If you haven't read Night Warriors yet and you're reading this...go back and read Night Warriors, idiots!
Anyways...for those of you who read Night Warriors, I have the answer to the contest question: The characters are Alexsei and Catherine. Alexsei is named after Alexsei Romanov, the son of Czar Nicholas Romanov(You know, the Romanovs? As in Anastacia, the last Grand Duchess? And Rasputin? Ya know?) and Catherine is named after Czarina Catherine, otherwise known as Catherine the Great. Congratulations to my winner, SpeedDemon315, and also congratulations to my runner-up, Kairi's-twin!
And, in conclusion, I'd like to thank sanya12, SpeedDemon315, Kairi's-twin, musiclover209, and my new reviewer, HughJackmanFan, for their reviews! They really made my day!
Disclaimer: Nope. I don't own Van Helsing. I own Alexsei and Catherine, though! You can't touch them!
Chapter One: A Rhyme, A Warning
Strenotia, Romania; Autumn 1565
Footfalls echoed loudly through the forest, disturbing all the nocturnal creatures that dwelled there. A young man was racing through the forest, casting fearful glances over his shoulder. He cradled his left arm, trying in vain to staunch the flow of blood pouring from his injured arm. His breath came in short gasps that sent searing pain through his chest. Clouds appeared at the end of his nose, caused by his warm breath meeting the cold air.
He ran for what seemed like hours, the gibbous moon on his back. Screams of utter horror echoed out in his ears, tormenting him, calling his name: Alexsei! Alexsei!
At long last, Alexsei's body gave out on him. Pain from the wound on his arm, along with fatigue from fleeing for his life, had taken their toll on his body, leaving him weak and exhausted. Unable to go any farther, he staggered and fell to his knees. He coughed weakly as he struggled to steady his breathing; his eyes rolled back into his head and he collapsed in a dead faint, vulnerable and alone in the middle of the woods.
The ground quivered as the sounds of hooves galloping madly drew closer. Small animals in the underbrush scattered nervously.
A young woman rode through the forest, shaking the reins and driving the horse hard. The wind whipped through her chestnut hair, and her deep azure eyes were fixed straight ahead as she rode towards the nearby town on Strenotia.
I hope the town is not much further, she thought to herself. I promised Gabriel I'd meet him there…He'll start to get worried if I take much longer…
Suddenly, something caught her attention out of the corner of her eyes. She wasn't sure what it was…though even with the brief glimpse she'd caught, she knew it wasn't a part of the forest…it looked…like a man…
She pulled on the reins, bringing the horse rearing to a halt. The stallion reared up on its hind legs, but as soon as he was back on all fours, she slid from his back and crept towards the…thing…
Once she was close enough, she realized it was a man. He was laying face-down in the middle of a cluster of tree. His back didn't appear to be rising or falling…was he dead?
Her heart went out to him. Whoever he was-saint or sinner, martyr or murdered-he surely didn't deserve to die alone in the middle of the Godforsaken woods of Transylvania. Or, at the very least, he didn't deserve to die face-down on the ground. She approached the fallen man, then knelt by his side. One hand went to his waist, while the other gripped his wrist. She easily-but gently-turned him over so he was lying on his back…and her breath caught in her throat.
He had to be one of the most handsome men she had ever seen, though he was a little worse for wear. His chin-length black hair, though matted with dirt and bits of leaves, still framed his youthful face like a dark halo. Beneath the grime, sweat, and what looked conspicuously like blood that coated his skin, he appeared to have a rather fair complexion, which hinted at higher birth and breeding. His loose white tunic and tight black leggings, though ripped and dirty, were still made of linen, not cheap wool or goat-hair. He was clearly from Transylvania's higher classes, most likely the son of a wealthy landowner, or perhaps the landowner himself.
Bandits…she concluded, her brow furrowing in anger. Bandits must have robbed this man blind and killed him. Damn them…he probably did nothing to deserve it…
She gently reached for a stray lock of hair that had fallen askew, moving to put it back into its place. She knew she couldn't do anything to help him, as he was dead, but she could at least do a few things for him in death…Her hand brushed his forehead, and she instantly pulled her hand back in surprise. His skin wasn't cool to the touch, as a corpse's was supposed to be…it was hot, feverish in fact. She pressed her palm against his wrist, and she felt a pulsing under her hand, a faint, flickering pulse…
"Sweet Mother of God!" she exclaimed. "He's still alive!" She paused for a moment, then glanced back down at him. "Well, I can't very well just leave him here, now can I..?"
With amazing strength for someone as small and slender as her, she lifted him from the ground, heaved him over her shoulder like a sack of wheat, then returned to her horse and laid him across the horse's back before mounting the horse herself. The sound of reins snapping across the stallion's flesh echoed out again, and the horse took off, heading away from the town, back deep into the Transylvanian woods.
She carefully opened the door to the small bedroom, poking her head in. The man she had rescued still lay on the bed, still unconscious. It had been three days, and he had yet to awaken once. She sighed, then crept in and began to soak the small rag she held in the basin of water that she had kept in the room.
That was when she heard a groan…
He opened his eyes slowly. It hurt to open his eyes…everything hurt. His muscles were stiff and sore, his throat was as dry as a field in a drought, and his left arm burned and stung like the flames of Hell.
"What..?" he croaked. "Where am I..?"
She heard his helpless bleatings, and quickly hurried across the room and placed a finger to his lips. "Shush…you shouldn't overexert yourself. I fear there is a fever upon you…"
She then began to dab at his forehead gently with the cool cloth. He couldn't help but stare at her. She was so beautiful, with long chestnut hair that framed her thin, beautiful face, sun-kissed skin, and soft, gentle, blue eyes.
Surely she must be an angel… he thought. "W-What is y-your name..?"
She smiled. "My name is surely of little importance. But, if you wish to know…my name is Catherine Van Helsing."
A smile came over his cracked, dry lips. "Ah…the last huntress of the famed Van Helsing lineage. I thank you, dear Catherine, for your excellent care."
"It was no trouble, Mr.-"
"Dunkirk. Alexsei Raphael Dunkirk."
Catherine nodded and dabbed at a small cut on his face. Other than a fever and a few cuts and bruises, he seemed to be fine now. He appeared to be strong, as well as sane…and so kind and gentlemanly. He would probably need only another day or so of nursing and he would be well again…
Suddenly, a glimpse of something bright red caught her eye. It was Alexsei's left sleeve. A huge patch of the white linen had been stained by dried blood. Curiosity piquing, she reached over and gently lifted his left arm to see it better. "What happened?"
"A-Attacked…" he whispered, a pained look coming over his face. "I…was attacked…s-something big…"
Catherine nodded, then gently began to peel the bloodied linen away from his skin to examine the wound that was surely underneath.
Beneath the sleeve, a large wound-spanning a good six inches at least- had mangled Alexsei's lower arm. The edges of the wound were jagged, and the skin around the wound was inflamed and burned under Catherine's fingertips. The wound itself was still gory with fresh blood, even though Alexsei had to have been attacked over three days ago. Catherine could tell instantly it was a bite wound-and she knew what caused it. She dropped Alexsei's arm and took a step back in horror.
Alexsei turned his head towards her, looking confused at the horrified expression on her face. "Catherine? Miss Van Helsing? What's wrong?"
"B-B-Bitten…" she murmured, her voice barely rising above a whisper. "You…you've been bitten…"
Alexsei had been bitten by a werewolf, infected with their dreadful, venomous curse. Unbidden, an old nursery rhyme came to Catherine's mind, one her mother had often repeated to her and Gabriel when they were young children: Even a man who is pure in heart…And says his prayers by night…May become a wolf, when the wolfsbane blooms…And the moon is shining bright…
"Bitten?" Alexsei asked, struggling-and finally succeeding-to sit up on the bed. "What do you mean?"
Oh, God…she thought. He's been bitten…by rights, and by my job, I should kill him. But…I don't think…I can…
Alexsei watched as Catherine backed away from him, before turning and leaving the room completely, shutting the door behind her. He could hear the delicate sounds of glasses clinking together behind the door, as though several people were gathered…or someone was searching through glass bottles.
Since when has my hearing been so keen, though? Alexsei couldn't help but wonder as he sat in silence, massaging his throat. It was as dry as the fabled Sahara desert, making it painful for him to swallow.
A moment later, the door opened and Catherine returned. A wooden tumbler was clutched in her hands, and a strangely somber expression had settled on her face. Judging by the gentle sloshing sound coming from within the cup, it was filled with some kind of liquid. Wordlessly, Catherine held the cup out to Alexsei, who took it eagerly. It was filled with some sort of unfamiliar silver-gray liquid, but he still drank deep, draining the tumbler to the dregs.
A feeling of sudden exhaustion overcame him. His vision blurred alarmingly, and his tense muscles relaxed. The tumbler slipped from his fingers, clattering loudly on the wooden floor. Darkness invaded the corners of his mind, creeping forward until he was at the edge of losing consciousness completely.
"I'm sorry…Alexsei…" That was the last thing he heard before the darkness overtook him completely.
Alexsei groaned as he slowly came around again. He could feel something pressing against his chest; he opened his eyes to find that he was laying face-down on the floor of the forest.
"What the-?" he asked as he pushed himself up off the ground. Looking around, he found that the forest around him was completely empty. There was no sign of the small cottage he had awoken in last time…and no sign of Catherine Van Helsing, either.
She gave me something… he realized. Some sort of archaic sleeping potion…so she could abandon me. And I thought her to be an angel…why..?
Anger boiled in him. A low, snarling growl tore from his lips, and, with an angered yell, he slammed his fist into a nearby tree trunk. His dark hazel eyes glowed yellow in the rising darkness.
A full moon rose in the twilight sky.
And you can pretty much guess what happens next...
Alexsei: Yep. I go all fanged and furry and "I'm-a-gonna-eat-you!" and go scare the hell out of the villagers...
Catherine: God, Alexsei, why'd you get so pissed, though?
Alexsei: You tricked me. I don't take too kindly to being tricked, Cat.
Catherine: I didn't trick you. I did it for your own good. Remember...I was supposed to kill you...
(watching Alexsei and Catherine go back and forth) This is like watching a ping-pong tournament...I'm getting a little dizzy...(rubs head) Ooooh, I got a headache...Anyways, hope you all enjoyed, and please review and tell me what you thought!