A/N: And here it is, ladies and gentlemen, the final chapter of Intrusive Dusk! I can't believe I'm at this point, I mean, it's been...close to two years now. I actually started writing the first chapter in December of 2007, and now, here we are, August of 2009, and it's finally done! Anyways, I'd like to thank SpeedDemon315 for her review, GuenVanHelsing and musiclover209 for reading the last chapter, and to Teyrian Timelord for reviewing every chapter all the way up to chapter 17-that's pretty impressive! Hope you enjoy the final installment.
Disclaimer: Still don't own Van Helsing. Probably never will, unfortunately.
Chapter Twenty-Five: Welcome to Existence
"I never would have thought that this would be a good way to get back together with the friends we made," Carl commented to Van Helsing as they both observed the happening within the vast ballroom.
"Well, what better way to get back together with everyone than a…would you call this a rehearsal dinner for your wedding?"
"I would," Catherine commented as she waddled up to her brother and Carl. One hand gripped the skirt of her midnight-blue dress, so she wouldn't trip over it, while the other hand half-cradled her swollen belly. She was smiling, but looked quite exhausted; Sigrid trailed close behind her, looking a bit worried. At nearly nine months pregnant, Catherine's stomach had swollen greatly to accommodate the baby-according to Alexsei, she was due to give birth any day now. However, that hardly stopped her from going about as normal a routine as possible-including attending a dinner in honor of Carl and Alexandra's wedding.
"Ah! Catherine!" Carl greeted with a friendly smile, though concern glimmered in his eyes. "How are you feeling this evening?"
"I'm just fine, Carl, don't fret," she assured them both, waving Carl's concerns away with a sweep of his hand.
"And the baby?" Van Helsing asked.
"Up and kicking away. Sometimes, I wonder if I'm having a baby or a mule."
"Are you sure you don't want to sit down, Savne Catherine?" Sigrid questioned gently, moving to her side. She gave a friendly wave to Carl and Van Helsing.
"Thank you, Sigrid, but I'm fine, I promise." She turned back to her brother and his companion. "By the way, Carl, congratulations on yours and Alexandra's upcoming nuptials!"
"Oh, thank you, Catherine!"
"I'm amazed Jinette actually agreed to let you renounce your title of friar," she added. "Generally, once you're training to be a monk, you're in it for life, and Jinette's always seemed to be a by-the-book sort of man. Hell, Alexsei and I had to beg and plead on hands and knees to be allowed to sleep in the same room together!"
"Well, Alexandra had a little chat with Jinette," the ex-friar confessed, chuckling softly. "She even got him to agree to officiate the wedding!" He glanced to Van Helsing. "By the way, thank you for letting us use your house to host this little dinner…and the wedding ceremony."
"Don't thank me, thank Gabrielle. She's the one who reminded me that there was a ballroom that was perfect for such an occasion."
Carl opened his mouth to respond, but was cut off by a gasp from Catherine and Sigrid's startled cry of "Savne Catherine!" Much to Van Helsing's surprise, Catherine had gone down to her knees, clutching her belly, her face suddenly drained of all color. A dark stain seemed to be spreading across the skirt of her dress, and the tangy, copper scent of blood scented the air.
"Oh, bloody hell!" Carl swore, looking panicky. "Where's Alexsei? I think that baby's coming-now!"
Everything seemed to move quickly, a strange, surreal blur of a dream to Van Helsing. Along with Sigrid's help, he tracked Alexsei down in the semi-crowded ballroom and informed him that his wife had just, unexpectedly, gone into labor. Alexsei had rushed off to find her, Van Helsing at his heels.
Now, they were back in the bedroom Alexsei and Catherine were staying in, Alexsei and his niece at the foot of the bed. Alexandra held a basin of water, while a pile of towels was stacked at Alexsei's feet. At the moment, there was a lull in the action-and Catherine's pained moans and whimpers-and Alexsei was gently massaging her foot, trying to soothe her.
"You're going to be fine," he promised. "It'll be over before you know it, and we'll have a baby with your beautiful blue eyes and that sweet little smile of yours."
"How do you know that?" she asked, wincing as another painful contraction swept in.
"Call it a gut feeling."
"I'd have to agree with him on that one, Catherine-he's a doctor after all. Their gut feelings tend to be right."
Instead of a response, the expectant mother gave an agonized groan, her knuckles turning white as she clutched the bed sheets. Alexsei knelt by the foot of the bed.
"Wait it out, Kitty, wait it out. I know it hurts, but you're almost there. You're almost ready to push, I promise. I promise."
Gabrielle, who stood at the left side of the bed, opposite her husband, grabbed a rag from the basin on the bedside table, wrung it out, and placed it against the back of Catherine's neck. She opened her mouth to offer her thanks, but instead, she yelped like a wounded puppy, her arm jerking and knocking the basin from the table, sloshing water on the sweat-soaked bed sheets and splashing on the floor. Only Gabrielle's quick vampiric reflexes saved the bowl from smashing against the flagstones.
"All right, you're ready! You're ready!" Alexsei called out, sounding excited and, at the same time, scared to death. "This is it, Catherine! Push!"
Her groans and yelps increasing in volume, Catherine heeded her husband's instructions and began to push. Both her brother and her sister-in-law took her hands, encouraging her as she struggled to bring her first child into the world. The amount of sheer agony only increased as she kept struggling through labor, testing the limits of her high threshold for pain, going as far as to bring tears to her eyes and almost tearing a scream from her lips.
"And…it's…a…baby!" Alexsei declared from the foot of the bed. Immediately following his words was a shrill cry; the lycanthropic physician lifted his arms slightly, displaying the screaming baby he held in his arms. Catherine opened her eyes, and as soon as she saw the baby, an awed look came over her flushed, torrid, and sweating face.
"Ohh…" she whispered. "Oh, Alexsei…"
"It's a girl, Catherine-a beautiful little girl," he informed her proudly, cutting and tying off the umbilical cord as Alexandra gently cleaned the viscera from the infant. They bundled her in a towel, and he moved to place her in her mother's arms. "Sweet Moon, look at her. She's beautiful-"
He stopped short as Catherine clutched her stomach again, gritting her teeth, wracked by another throe of torment. Concern on his face, Alexsei passed his daughter to Alexandra and hurried back to the foot of the bed.
"Alexsei? What's happening?" the fallen angel whimpered, confused and relatively terrified.
"I don't know! I don't know! I'm trying to-!" He broke off suddenly, a shocked expression overtaking his face. "Christ! I see…are those feet? Those are feet!" He looked up at everyone who stared back at him in disbelief. "Catherine, start pushing again! There's another baby on the way!"
"Twins?!" She hissed in pain before shooting Alexsei a pained glare. "This is all your fault, I hope you know that."
Disregarding her comment, Alexsei coached her through the second round of labor. Already exhausted and sore, Catherine's moans evolved into wails of torment that rivaled the cries of the newborn infant in Alexandra's arms.
"All right, the shoulders are out, now comes the hard part-the head," the lycanthropic physician called out. "One last big push and it's done. It'll be over. Come on, love, I know you can do it."
Mustering up all the energy her exhausted body could produce, she obliged her husband's wishes and pushed. She let out a full-fledged scream as the pain dragged out for a long, long moment, until…
"It's over! The baby's out!" he called, holding up the second newborn, who shrieked just as the first baby had. "Oh, Catherine, she's beautiful."
"S-She?" the fallen angel panted. "A g-girl?"
Alexsei nodded, cleaning and bundling up the younger twin and hurrying to Catherine's side, sitting on the edge of the bed and placing the baby in her arms. Alexandra hurried over, placing the first baby (who was still wailing) in her uncle's arms.
"Well, would you look at that?" Van Helsing asked in an awed whisper. "Two little girls-and they're beautiful, Catherine."
"T-They truly are," she agreed, tears rolling freely down her cheeks as she gazed upon the infant in her arms, and the one in her husband's arms. The little girl she held had settled down, now gazing around the room curiously, while the daughter Alexsei held continued to fuss. Both girls already had a fine coating of downy black hair covering their heads, evoking a chuckle from the exhausted fallen angel. "T-They got y-your hair, Alexsei."
He chuckled. "And I think this one got your attitude. She cries like she did."
"What are you going to name them?" Gabrielle asked, moving to stand beside her husband.
"W-Well…originally, we w-were going to g-go with C-Cordelia Adaliah, if we had a d-daughter. But now…I'm n-not sure," Catherine confessed.
"Well," Alexsei began softly. "How about Sorina Adaliah? You see…I originally had two sisters: Alexandra's mother, Adaliah, and a baby sister, Sorina. She was born when I was seven, and I absolutely adored her. But she was weak and sickly from the day she was born, and didn't even make it to her first birthday. Mother never got over her death-after a while, she started to act like Sorina never even existed, to ease the pain a little. We were never allowed to talk about her…I suppose I completely forgot about her until now because of that."
"Sorina Adaliah…that's a b-beautiful name. B-But who do we give it to?"
"I say you give it to her," Alexandra suggested, motioning to the baby in Catherine's arms. "She seems very calm, like Uncle Alexsei, so I think we should name her for his side of the family."
"That's a good idea," Alexsei agreed, looking to the unnamed baby girl in his arms. "But what about this one?"
"A-Alexyna," Catherine panted, catching the attention of everyone in the room. "She was…the original matriarch of the Van Helsing f-family. She was the w-wife of Malachi Van Helsing, the first vampire h-hunter in the family." She smiled. "And b-by all accounts, a spitfire herself."
"I like it," the new father agreed. "Do you still want to use the name Cordelia? I know it was your mother's name…"
"Alexyna Cordelia? Alex for short?"
"If I may give my opinion, that sounds like a fine name," Van Helsing said, offering a small smile as he gazed upon his twin nieces.
Alexsei nodded. "It is. Can you believe it, Catherine? We've brought not one, but two beautiful little girls into the world. It's a miracle."
"It is," she agreed, watching as the girl she held, Sorina, yawned, before reaching for her mother's face with a tiny hand. Catherine stroked her hand with a finger, which Sorina's little hand closed around almost immediately. "Say hello to the next generation, everyone."
"I'd say it's going to be a good generation," the legendary hunter declared.
"Well, Magna? What's the verdict?"
The withered crone looked up to the man who'd spoken, gauging him for a moment before giving him a grin. "I'd say you're the father or two healthy little boys, Master."
"Really?" Thanatos asked, his emerald eyes lighting up instantly. They only brightened when the old witch approached him with two blanket-wrapped bundles.
"Yes, indeed-you and Lady Alana should be proud; these are two fine looking boys." She placed both of the bundles into the necromancer's waiting arms, before backing off a respectable distance. Thanatos turned, moving to sit down on the edge of the bed in the center of the rom. As soon as he did, Alana's eyes opened, looking up at the man she loved. The corners of her pale lips turned up gently, especially once she spotted the two bundles.
"Magna said boys?" she asked, her voice hoarse, but pleased none the less.
"Healthy, handsome boys," he informed her, shifting slightly, passing one of the babies into her arms. "Take a look."
She gave the smallest of sighs as she looked down at the little boy in her arms. "Perfect. Absolutely perfect." Her eyes took on a slightly far-away look. "I still remember when you told me I was pregnant with them-I honestly never thought, at that point, we'd get to this point."
"I remember that day as well," he agreed. "You didn't believe me at all at first."
"Twins is hard to believe for a vampire," she explained, running a finger up and down the cheek of the son she held. "Generally, it's hard enough for a vampire to conceive one baby-sometimes impossible, as the vampire may be infertile. It's an extremely rare occasion for a vampire to bear twins-and not lose any life in the process, be it one of the babies' or her own. Although, when it does happen, it's a blessing. Lucifer's blessing. Clearly, great things are in store for these two little boys."
"Speaking of these two little boys, did we want to give them the names we had discussed?"
She nodded. "We most certainly do. Now, who gets which name?"
Thanatos studied the twins intently for a long moment, before reaching out and gently touching the son Alana held. "I think he should be named Adrian Dragomir. It just seems to fit him better-I don't quite know why, but it does."
"I think it suits him," she agreed, stroking the soft tuft of raven hair the baby already had. She then looked to the identical child her lover held. "And he'll be Arkadi Kaevan?"
"Sounds perfect." Thanatos leaned in, pressing his lips against Alana's in a gentle kiss. She placed her free hand against his cheek as they kissed, savoring the warmth of his human flesh. After a moment, his lips moved, from her lips to the hand upon his face. He kissed her hand, loving the feel of her icy skin against his warm lips. She gave a small, tired giggle.
"If you keep that up, Adrian and Arkadi may find themselves being joined by a sibling."
"Would you like that?" he whispered to her, resting his forehead against hers, staring deep into her coffee-colored eyes.
"I would love nothing more," she murmured back. "Not even Van Helsing's downfall would thrill me more."
"You still wish to see him fall?"
"Of course I do," she insisted quietly. "But it doesn't have to happen right now-it can wait a while. Let's let him think I'm dead just a little longer, mm?"
"Sounds like a brilliant plan-lull him into a false sense of security, and then completely blow him out of the water when we strike."
Alana nodded. "Exactly. The future is ours, my love, completely ours for the taking." She gave a contented sigh, before leaning back against the pillows, which Thanatos had propped up for her while she was in labor, hoping to make her just a little more comfortable. The dark-haired necromancer leaned back with her, putting an arm around her, while his other arm supported Arkadi, who had dozed off to sleep, just as Adrian had in Alana's arms. "And damn, it's going to be good."
Alexsei: Oh, you would.
I would what, Alexsei?
Alexsei: You would bring the bad guy back.
Alana: *blows a raspberry at Alexsei* Ha, ha, she likes me better than you.
Just because I brought you back doesn't mean I like you better.
Van Helsing: So...now what?
Catherine: *points to Alana* I say we ignore her. Focus on the good things.
Why, that's very noble of you, Catherine-take the higher path-
Catherine: And then later on, kick her ass.
*sighs* So much for that...
Van Helsing: Well, I guess there's no more to say. Want to send them off, Aurora?
I'd be delighted. Anyways, so thanks for reading this little tale, and keep your eyes out for the sequel, Hybrid Dawn, which will be released sometime between now and New Years (I know, I know, it's a long span of time, but I've got some other projects and I want to see what progress I can make on them), and also, if you're a fan of the story or of my YouTube videos, keep your eyes peeled for an Intrusive Dusk trailer (which is in the works now and will probably be released soon). Again, thank you all for reading, and for all the love, advice, and reviews, and I'll see you next time!