A/N: Hello, Rora here. As if I don't have enough to do, particularly when it comes to fanfiction, I now present to you ANOTHER new fanfic! I know, I know, I really should space these things out better, but this one just couldn't wait, I assure you.
Basically, it's formulated on another "what if?". This time, though, it's a what if based on Van Helsing. So, one night, I was flipping channels, and I find this on ABC Family (don't ask me how this movie counts as "family friendly", between vampires eating people, friars swearing, friars getting laid, and, of course, the fact that the brides are practically naked, whether they're in their vampire form or not, but I digress). It was towards the end, but I watched it anyways, and I got to the part with Van Helsing and Dracula's big, super-epic showdown. Always one to ponder possibilities, I start wondering what would have happened if Van Helsing had taken Dracula up on his offer.
And thus, this fanfic was born.
Disclaimer: I don't own...for now, any of the characters. Later on, there will be some I can lay claim to. Hopefully.
Additional Disclaimer: This fanfic's rating may go up in the future, just in case there is naughtyness in here that needs to be censored from little virgin eyes.
"Clock is ticking while I'm killing time
Spinning all around
Nothing else you can do to turn it back
Wicked partnership in this crime
Ripping off the best condescending smile
Trying to forget
(Wasting my time)
We're falling right through
Lying to forget
(Telling more lies)
We're raising our truth
Go on and tease me."
-"Our Truth" by Lacuna Coil
Chapter One: The Temptation of Gabriel
The pain was sharp, impossible to ignore as it tore through him. It was almost as bad as the first transformation, but now, pounds upon pounds of muscle and sheer fury were evaporating into the thin air they'd come from. Moments before, he had been the triumphant predator, but now, Van Helsing was only a man.
A man holding the vicious, hell-beast form of Dracula by the neck.
In a moment of pure animal instinct, he released the Count's neck and leapt over the suspended bridge (one of many that traversed the laboratory of Castle Dracula), plummeting a good ten feet before hitting the ground. And as soon as his feet touched ground, he began to back away, while the vampire was distracted.
Overhead, the Count shuddered back into his original form, his hand going to his neck and coming away coated in sticky black blood. A quick lick of the fluid confirmed it as such-but not just anyone's blood, his own blood.
It was then that his eye was drawn to something outside the window-the moon, which was currently obscured by roiling black clouds. Its absence had been what prompted the great hunter to shift forms again, and the vampire knew it, too-this brought a black smirk to his face as he watched Van Helsing retreat.
I've got you right where I want you. You'll not best me this time, Gabriel.
"Did I mention," he began with that wicked, mocking smile, "that it was you who murdered me?"
Van Helsing's eyes grew wide, filled with surprise and shock. He didn't want to believe Dracula's words-it couldn't be possible, could it? After all, Dracula had been killed over four hundred years ago, well before his time. It absolutely couldn't be possible that he had been the Count's murderer.
He wants to get inside your head, under your skin, a deep growl of a voice, one he had never heard before, cautioned him in the dark recesses of his mind. He wants you to fall. He wants to take dominance in this battle-dominance that is OURS!
"It must be such a burden," Dracula drawled, his black, pitiless eyes fastened on his opponent. "Such a curse-to be the Left Hand of God."
Disbelief seized the infamous hunter the instant those words died on the Count's lips. The Left Hand of God? That was even less believable than him having slain the vampire.
He's bluffing, the voice reminded him.
A resounding thud came from behind him and, whirling around, there was Dracula, wearing a smile deadly as arsenic. Van Helsing took a step back, but the Count advanced in his wake.
"All I want is life, Gabriel." His tone was softer now, trying to lull the hunter in before striking. "The continuation of my kind. And perhaps the return of my ring."
At those words, he raised his right hand, holding down his ring finger to emphasize the lack of a ring that should have been there. Van Helsing's gaze dropped to his own right hand, to the heavy ring bearing the dragon insignia, his mind churning at a frantic pace. Dracula-Son of the Dragon, in Romanian. The Order of Dracul-the Order of the Dragon. It had been a famous order during the time period that Dracula's lifespan would have encompassed; that the ring was his ring was entirely possible. But, if what he said was true, how did Van Helsing get a hold of it? He knew for a fact that the ring had been on his hand since the first day he'd regained consciousness in the Vatican's sick ward. Matter of fact, he'd refused to let anyone take it off of him. Almost eight years later, he still almost never took it off.
In a moment of pause, he realized it was a rather sad fact, that it would soon be eight years since he woke up in the Vatican with a pounding head, an aching body-particularly his back; he had two long scars on either side of his back to this day and had no idea where they'd come from-and no idea as to his identity, save for a small scrap of paper, charred at the edges, with the name Van Helsing written on it in elegant, flowing script. But he had no more time to reflect upon that thought because Dracula spoke again, his tone even gentler than before-he hadn't thought that was possible.
"Don't be afraid, Gabriel, don't be afraid," he murmured. "I shall give you back your life-"
What life? He wondered bitterly. If anyone existed in my past who actually gave a damn about me, I think they would have made their presence known by now.
And that was what stopped his not-so-pleasant thoughts right in their tracks: the promise of his memory, the one thing he'd searched for, craved for eight long years. Often, Jinette had baited him to go out on missions in which he had only made it out alive by the skin of his teeth, all by speculating that some of his memory would be restored as a reward for fulfilling God's will for him.
So far, it hadn't happened.
Everything around Van Helsing seemed to slow to a crawl. Hypersensitive senses became aware of everything; his eyes noticed how embers of the fire eating away at part of the lab were falling down around him and Dracula, raining fire as if God were trying to wipe away this unholy place like another Sodom or Gomorrah. The stones of the floor were rough and gritty under his feet, slick from all the rain pouring through the giant hole in the roof. The scent of death was all around him, he noticed, but there was also the scent of life, of sweet, delectable humanity, and it was moving towards him. He knew it was either Anna or Carl, and judging by the sweet, sharp tang of a woman's perfume that tagged along with the scent of humanity, he would venture to guess it was the former.
As the world slowed down, his thoughts sped up. The prospect of his memory was enticing, morphine offered to a recovering addict. But he knew full well that there were likely strings attached, and he wouldn't like these strings-this was, after all, Dracula who was making the offer.
"What do you mean?" he asked, halting his retreat for a moment.
"You heard me, Gabriel-I can give you back your memories." The Count stopped, a smile growing on his face. "Have I piqued your interest, Gabriel?"
Despite the fact that the Count had, in fact, piqued his interest, the hunter remained silent. He refused to give Dracula the upper hand-and that voice in the back of his head latched right on to that desire.
He knows how to break your defenses; he knows where you're weak. He'll use this to destroy us-destroy you. Do not trust him, he only wished to lead us to our downfall.
The vampire count shook his head slightly, a vaguely forlorn expression on his face-or was that merely a trick of the light? "Ah, still as stubborn as you always were. I expected as much." In the blink of an eye, he had closed the distance between himself and Van Helsing, two fingers pressed under his chin to keep him from fleeing. The hunter found his limbs unable to move much, his eyes forcibly locked on his adversary. "But know this, Gabriel-I am your only hope for your memories. You can search your entire life, and all you're ever going to find are whispered half-truths, incomplete stories with gross historical inaccuracies. Books will tell you nothing." As if he sensed the question lurking on Van Helsing's mind, he continued, "The Order will tell you nothing, either. No matter what they say, they can't give you what you seek. Only I can. So, what will it be, my old friend? A lifetime of questions that no one can answer?" He took a few steps back, arms out, a dark impression of paintings of Christ holding out his arms in welcome. "Or me, answering every question you ever had?"
Again, the world seemed to slow down; everything became surreal, all his senses sharper than ever before. He was acutely aware of Dracula's cold, calculating gaze as it rested on him. His shoulders and back throbbed in pain, keeping him barely tied to reality. Something stirred deep in his gut; the Wolf, the voice he'd been hearing, howled within his skull, longing to be free again. He could feel the full moon on his back, still hidden by clouds-but, much like the Wolf, longing, struggling to be free. Beyond the burning lab, he could sense Anna still hurrying towards him, though her way was blocked by some tenacious Dwergi.
All of these minute details paled in comparison, however, to the battle being waged within his mind, his soul. Both of these entities were at war, not only with each other, but with themselves. In his mind, it was a matter of logic; one side argued for the good that would come of having his memories back, while the other argued for the bad that would come, not only from regaining his memories, but from striking a bargain with Dracula, as well. Trustworthy wasn't exactly a good word to describe the vampire.
In his soul, it was a matter of morals. One part of his soul argued against trusting Dracula-nothing but trouble could come from doing something that insane. Not to mention, it would mean he was turning his back against the Vatican entirely. But, at the same time, the other part of his soul argued that the Vatican owed him, owed him for eight long years of fruitless work. Not to mention, it could be a cleverly-concealed opportunity to destroy Dracula, once and for all.
One decision could drastically alter the course of his life.
"Well, Gabriel? I'm waiting."
Despite the howling of the voice in his head, telling him not to, the great hunter fixed his eyes firmly on Dracula, and nodded.
"Yes…I want to know. I want my memories."
"Well, good," the Count purred, his expression content-and contemplating. He had something wicked on his mind; a person would have to be blind not to see that. "I hope you still have your nerves of steel, Gabriel, for this journey won't be an easy one."
Suddenly, the moon broke free from the clouds in the sky, bathing both men in its light. The hunter fell to his knees, shouting and tearing at his skin, as the Wolf began to take over again.
Anna had been counting.
She was up to nine strokes of the bell now-time was slipping through her fingers faster than she had anticipated. Having dispatched of the last of the pesky Dwergi, she resumed her charge up the spiraling staircase, making her way towards the laboratory, nestled away at the top of Castle Dracula's north tower.
Please, God, let me get there in time! She begged, her heart pounding in her ears, the perfect accompaniment to the heels of her boots, which clacked and scraped against the stones of the staircase.
Finally, she heard murmuring voices, barely audible over the sounds of what appeared to be some sort of fire. Rounding a bend in the stairs, she saw a doorway at the top-a doorway where wicked orange flames flickered, where two male voices floated down. Her heart leapt.
Only two left before the hunter's fate was irrevocably sealed.
Using that thought as an impetus, Anna rushed forward, sprinting the rest of the way up to the laboratory, through the open archway, and into her desired destination…
…Just in time to see Van Helsing fall to his knees, writhing at Dracula's feet as he started to tear his flesh away, revealing dark fur underneath.
She expected the vampire to attack, but he merely shook his head, an amused smile on his face. "You see, Gabriel? It's not only a nuisance to me; it's going to be a nuisance to you, too."
Before she could move, the Count removed something-a small physician's syringe-from his cloak, jamming the needle into Van Helsing's neck quite harshly, pushing the plunger and driving the liquid within into his bloodstream. A moment passed, as his agonized howls and snarls died off, his twitching stopped, and he lapsed into unconsciousness, much to Anna's surprise-and consternation. This confusion only increased when clumps of the fur he'd sprouted began to fall off, leaving naked skin in its wake.
A horrible realization came to her-nothing on earth could stop a newborn werewolf dead in its tracks and cause it to regress with such speed, save for one thing. Her hand went to her sword belt instinctively, only to grasp thin air; she'd abandoned the familiar article of clothing in the west tower, before swinging across the gorge that brought her one step closer to helping Van Helsing. Undeterred, she reached down, ripping a switchblade free of the straps on her boots that held it. She flicked it open, her heart pounding in dread-and potent rage.
"You killed him!" she accused in a holler. "You bloodsucking monstrosity, you killed him!"
Dracula glanced over his shoulder, fixing one dark eye on her, giving a light chuckle. "My, my, Anna, don't lose your head. He's still alive. Matter of fact, he rather chose this fate."
Her eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" In a blur of movement, the vampire snatched the syringe containing the cure for lycanthropy, and by the time Anna realized what had happened, he was twirling it idly in his long, pale fingers. "Thank you for saving me the trouble of having to fetch this myself. Also, thank you for saving me the trouble of having to dispatch Aleera myself; she was of absolutely no help to my little plans. And now"-He gave a showy bow, sweeping his cape forward as an added touch of panache.-"I must take my leave. Until we meet again, Anna."
She sprang forward, switchblade raised, but the Count erupted into his hell-beast form, snatching up Van Helsing's unconscious form in the talons on his feet, before taking off, flying out a window that had already been broken. And all Anna could do was stand there and watch, as the man who had saved her life-the man she loved-was carted off by the self-proclaimed Son of the Devil.