Tangible Schizophrenia


The Last Temptation

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: NC-17. Vampirism from unexpected quarters. Bloodplay. BDSM. Wing-kink-and I don't mean the Lotrips kind.
Pairing: Gabriel Van Helsing/Vladislaus Valerious [Dracula]
Feedback: What you liked, what you didn't, etc.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Notes: Set in the Gatekeeper-verse. Miguel is a sort of OMC with Antonio Banderas as a visual. He looks like this and this. Dean is from The Ninth Gate. I'm mostly making up the mythology here as I go.
Summary: Sometimes the change isn't noticeable, but the result definitely is. Gabriel and Dracula meet a third time.


Dying was painful. Coming back was hell.

Vlad felt his soul rip back into protesting flesh, felt every particle of bone and flesh resist the rejoining. He thought he was screaming, because his jaws were opening till they cracked hurt back through his skull and his ears were ringing with the death-toll. He thought he was crying, because his eyes burned and his throat was ripping out and his heart was tearing apart.

It hadn't been nearly this terrible when the Devil had raised him.

"That would be because you were dead, and you stayed dead afterward. This is what a true resurrection is like."

It was a deep, rough-edged voice that spoke, with echoes of silk and steel in it, and its owner had great white wings arching from each shoulder.

Angel? This couldn't possibly be heaven.

"It's not." Another face appeared over the apparition's shoulder: beautiful in the manner of a fine dagger, intelligent, mocking. The rest of body slid under one wing, tucked itself back against the angel, who drew possessive lips up the arching throat. "But Miguel used to be one. I suppose you could say that he technically still is one."

"You're in the borderlands," said Miguel. Wings swept back as he leaned forward, throwing their shadow over Vlad like a transparent shroud. They gathered subtle menace with every slight flutter, owl stooping onto feeble fleeing mouse. "In between everything."

Vlad struggled to sit and only then discovered that he'd been bound with chains: manacles on his wrists and ankles, heavy collar with its leash of links sunk deep into the…floor. Which had the grain of wood, but none of the slight unevenness that existed in the most highly polished parquet-in fact, it was more like he were lying on a painting of planking. The metal, however, was real enough, pressing ice into his flesh and dragging at his already weak limbs so he ached.

And that was the greatest shock: he could feel again. Terror and uncertainty were lumps in his throat, lead in his belly. Confusion was a whirl in his mind, and pain were random unravelings in his seams, making him bite back whimpers and moans. He panted for air, felt his heart thumping against his ribs.

"You probably want to keep lying down," cautioned the ordinary-looking man. He adjusted his glasses and swept his eyes over Vlad. "You did spend over a century in hell. And you're going to remember soon."

"Listen to Dean." Miguel eased the man off his leg and got up to look behind himself. His wings snapped into nothing, and suddenly he appeared like any other person, dressed in what Vlad vaguely recognized as some kind of suit.

There were, however, more pressing matters than changes in fashion to catch Vlad's attention. When Miguel had stood, the unconscious and chained form of another being had been revealed, lying about ten feet from them. It seemed to be an angel on his back, with wings like Miguel's splayed beneath him. The feathers were white with blood smudges, and the profile was one that Vlad would know under any conditions.

"Gabriel was what we'd call lost. Now, we don't know what he is. We only know that you had something to do with it. And that is why you're here."

But Vlad wasn't listening to Miguel, or even looking at him. He was watching Van Helsing, who was beginning to stir. First the feathers ruffled, then smoothed down in successive waves so each slotted precisely into its space. Then the fingers slowly curled and relaxed, like a corpse settling into death. Eyes snapped open, narrowed into slits, but Gabriel didn't turn his head or glance around him. "Michael."

"Miguel." The other angel padded over to him and knelt down. "I changed my name-"

"Because you entered the borderlands. I remember." Gabriel's voice was eerily calm, but flat as parchment and devoid of all emotion. A far cry from the last memory Vlad had of him. "In fact, I think I remember everything now."

"Do you." Miguel reached behind him and pulled Dean over to his side, then snapped his fingers. Almost in the same second, Gabriel's chains vanished. "Well?"

Wings swept out, cracking the air with an ominous snap. Without even seeming to move, Gabriel was squatting, rubbing his wrists with a curiously pensive expression on his face. Vlad's marrow chilled, and then he recalled where he'd seen it before.

"The moment before I killed you. The first time, that is." And finally, Gabriel's head pivoted to look at Vlad. He didn't move even remotely the same; there was no trace of human frailty in his motion, no slight jerk of imperfect muscles, no betrayal of nerves. It was like how the Sphinx would have moved, had it ever decided to rise from its eternal guardianship by the pyramids.

For all that Vlad knew, it might have. He was, however, a Valerious by birth, a warrior by life and a power of the dead by pact, and he did not lack in courage. So he met the cold, opaque gaze that turned upon him, and he hid his faltering deep within himself. "Am I to assume that mind-reading is one of your abilities?"

"So it looks. To be honest, I'm still a little confused. Can't seem to recall what I can and cannot do." Something in Gabriel's rough emphasis of certain words struck at Vlad, but the majority of his mind was occupied with the fact that the other seemed to be returning to his normal self. And that was relieving, because it reduced the alien terror to simple shock. "Let's see, shall we?"

Out of the corner of his eye, Vlad could see Miguel's hand tightening on Dean's waist. "Well, I don't suppose you've finally remembered about me," he jeered.

As if in deep thought, Gabriel dropped his chin into his head and held that pose for several strangely tense seconds. Then he snapped his fingers-

--Vlad's collar dropped away, and he nearly toppled over from the unexpected loss of its weight-

--and smiled, coolly friendly like the first time they'd met. "Of course."

Someone shouted.

But the sound came only dimly to Vlad's hearing, because by then he'd been swallowed in soft suffocation and brutal iron. One hand wound up the slack in his chains as they went over backward, and the other forced down his side to grip his thigh, new bruises shrieking in its wake. He opened his mouth to gasp and found delicate fluffiness smothering him.

"Still biting?" hissed Gabriel as the wing-joint yanked away before Vlad had more than a ghost of a taste, dripping fresh red onto the feathers. And then Gabriel lunged down, exact replication of Vlad's second death, and teeth ripped straight through Vlad's soul.

It was too much to be a third death. Agony sluicing down every vein, prying apart his bones, twisting him up and down and left and right until he couldn't tell which way was the sky. Until he couldn't tell where ended himself and where began the twin stabs of ecstatic pain that were fixed into his neck.

And the dregs of mortality were returning. He was hot where Gabriel had him pinned, cold where there was no merciless hold, cringing and clinging at all once. His knees clasped beneath the battering wings even as his hands strove to pull loose his chains, and his blood was a river of fire running down his neck, pooling in the hollows of his throat. It drowned his voice.

Then the pain was gone, the pleasure was gone, and he was left moaning among the hollow ruins. He didn't even have enough strength left to staunch the bleeding of his ripped throat with a hand.

Dean did that for him, and even held up his head so he could see the two fighting angels. Gabriel had lost his flawless grace, and was now staggering about like the worst village drunkard. It didn't take long for Miguel to throw the other so hard into a wall that Gabriel didn't get up.

"Don't," snapped Dean, shoving down a shoulder Vlad hadn't realized was rising. "Idiot."

"What happened?" growled Miguel in the same instant.

Gabriel produced a harsh, sorrowful smile, and lifted his wings. The red splotches had grown. "Angels," he said in an ironic, angry voice, "Are not supposed to mingle with the fallen. They are not supposed to scream with grief, they are not supposed to know the sharing of warmth-and they are not supposed to change."

He flicked his wings out of sight, and glowered blue heat at everyone. "Do you know what it's like to be bitten by a werewolf, Miguel? Or by a vampire?"

"I wasn't one. Not then," Vlad said, too quick. The glance that came his way burned his heart to ashes. He knew he could survive that, but he'd forgotten how much the feeling clawed at him, nagged about the little cinders rattling through his dead body. Not so dead now, though it seemed as if Gabriel would be more than happy to change that.

"My apologies." Gabriel made a mocking salute. "And how did it feel to be bitten by an angel, Vladislaus?" He leaned forward. "Would you like me to do it again?"

Black sharp pain chopped through Vlad's neck before he could answer, and the last thing he saw was a raging Gabriel being held back by Miguel, and Dean's palm covering his eyes.

* * *

That damned vampire was on the other side of the stones. Gabriel could feel the blood running through the wall, hear the heartbeat. Smell the fear. Lovely Vlad, heir of the Valerious line, was finally waking up.

And here Gabriel was, trapped in a vault, unable in any way to get to what was rightfully his by suffering and blood and loss. God had taken one Valerious from him, and now Miguel was trying to force him away from another.

Anna. Anna, Anna, Anna. Beautiful, strong-willed, clever. Flawed. He had loved her, and if she had lived, he might have been content without his memories. But she hadn't. She'd died before the fragrance of her hair and the mellow richness of her voice could take over the emptiness within him, and so he had gone back to his old searching.

If the Vatican had had any sense, it wouldn't have let him keep his-keep Vlad's ring. And it certainly wouldn't have sent him to Transylvania to battle the awesome Count Dracula. But it was made of fools who were supreme in their knowledge that evil would always be met with a champion of good, and who assumed that a man sworn to God would stay sworn to God.

Lucifer Morningstar had been bound by far greater vows than any of any mortal thing's devising, and yet he had broken them. While Gabriel had never had any intention of betraying his, he also hadn't meant to do anything but his duty: protecting humanity by living among them-by, in effect, becoming one of them. And he'd succeeded.

Men were fallible. Men also did not fall under the laws of fate so much as the laws of chance, and Gabriel hadn't realized that until much too late.

"Vladislaus?" he called, listening to the echoes of his voice vibrate across the small room. The sound of it was dying off much faster than it should; he pressed his hands to the stones and was surprised to find that they weren't precisely solid.

Now, what was his old colleague up to? Gabriel had heard of Miguel and El and a few others turning their backs not only on Heaven, but on the entire war. He hadn't thought much of it then, deeming it outside of his domain of responsibility. In consequence, he didn't know what he could expect from them, as it was obvious enough that they'd changed as much as he had. "Vlad?"

Ah. Slight stiffening against his palms, transmitted through the wall. "I still have your ring. Would you like it back?"

Gabriel took in a deep whiff, examining all the nuances in the smell of fear. That wasn't a legacy of his stint in heaven, but of his brief time in the wolfskin. "I do remember. I remember the snow, and the tears in your eyes when you had to kill your horse. It was a beautiful thing, by the way. I didn't tell you that."

A rasping whisper came to him, hardly distorted or muffled by the intervening rock. "What are you?"

"Only what you've made of me. I give you full credit for that." The air was coalescing around Gabriel's hands, sweeping a thick fog over the walls. He watched the blanket closely for any alterations in it that might signal exploitable weaknesses. "I would have thought your first question would be why I killed you."

"I know that." Edges of a laugh. "When I made my deal with the Devil, he was kind enough to fill in some holes in my knowledge. He's not a very pleasant host, by the way. I assure you, I was made to keep my side of the bargain in full."

About two feet to Gabriel's right, the mist was forming straight lines. It was pooling in minute incisions that indicated some kind of entrance, so he soundlessly shifted over to the center of it, feeling its outline. "Then I'm sorry."

"For-for what?" The barrier hurt most then, because Gabriel could picture the slight lifting of the man's eyebrows, the quirking of the lips, but he couldn't see it. He could feel the emotions whipsawing through the other room, but couldn't. See. "For not persuading me to the side of the angels?"

"For agreeing to involve you. Pawns and church and royalty," Gabriel sighed, letting his forehead rest against the wall. His fingers crept as deep into the shallow grooves as they could, lying the side of his hand parallel to the cracks. "White wanted to be sure of your family. Black wanted a wolf in the sheepfold. And both of them thought whoring was the best solution."

Then he slammed his hands down. Stone splintered outwards, ripping grazes across his face, but his skin healed very quickly now. He scooted back as the pile of stone fragments before him continued to grow, revealing…a metal door. And judging by the style of the lock, the key went in the other side.

Gabriel cursed, vaguely noting that he was doing it in archaic Greek, and got up to kick viciously at the pieces of rock. He knew that kind of door, and that kind of metal. More importantly, he knew that even now he couldn't open it.

Vlad probably could. If he wasn't chained, and if his side of the wall was slightly more furnished than Gabriel's. Which depended on how much Miguel had changed since the last time Gabriel had spoken to him. Of course, then they had both been angels and both hadn't thought much about the human race that they were protecting. Now…

Miguel had altered enough to have a once-human consort. And Gabriel had discovered a liking for a very specific type of blood. "Vlad?"

"I believe you've lost the right to call me that." Shaky as a house of cards, smooth going raw in the time it took for Gabriel to put his hands on the door.

"You used my Christian name before I gave you permission," Gabriel retorted. He stroked his fingers down the metal hoping to find a defect. There were none. Beautifully-wrought irony in that: the only perfect thing left, and it was a prison. "Why did you choose Hell over Heaven? If you'd simply stayed dead, then you would have been a wronged man, and would have been treated accordingly."

Bitter bark of laughter. "And I still would have gone through Purgatory for a thousand little faults that were no different from any other man's. Nobility, commoner, or religious. No, Gabriel. If I was going to be punished, then I was going to be punished for a crime that was worth it. And now I have my own question for you: was lying with me truly whoring for God?"

* * *

The bed was against the far wall, and Vlad was not in it. He was on the floor by the door, pressed as close as he could to it, and desperately trying to will himself away.

His blood was crawling, trying to answer the seductive thrumming undertone in Gabriel's hissing. It was surging up his veins, searching wildly for an opening, and shoving against the thin scabs that were all that that patched his throat together. He pried his hand off the door and clapped it to the bandage that wrapped about his neck, shoving down the reflex to choke as the cotton drew tight.

Good God. He needed air. Never mind what was on the other side of the door-what in the name of all things sacred and not was he? Man, vampire, or something else entirely?


And with a single word, Vlad's world once again shrunk to a voice.

"And therein lay the problem. You see, God loves man. And angels love God. Those aren't supposed to cross." Something battered against the metal, making it sing in both low and high registers, clawing up Vlad's backbone. In counterpoint, Gabriel's voice dropped to grit and smolder. "I thought I was falling."

"Funny," Vlad breathed, rolling his shoulders to force his muscles to relax, "I thought the same thing."

"If I were falling," the voice relentlessly continued, "Then it was your fault. And if it was your fault, then you were already lost. You were in hell, and I couldn't reach you."

Prickling. It began at Vlad's toes, twitching them on freezing stone, and then raced up to pool between his thighs. His prick rose against his trousers, scratching delicate skin over the rough weave, and when his palms slid down a little, he could see that they'd left damp streaks behind.

"I was wrong." Gabriel sounded surprised. "You can't fall more than once. Or if you're already on the ground."

"But-" For a moment, Vlad thought someone had crept behind him and sliced him open from shoulder to opposite hip. But no, the room was empty, and his gasping was solely due to an unexpected flash of heat through his veins.

Low, low chuckle. So low Vlad had to crush his ear to the metal to hear it. "They never had that straight. Man fell from grace. Lucifer was thrown. They're not the same. With the one, you've got a chance of choosing where you land, and with the other, you don't."

Something dusted across the nape of Vlad's neck, teasing out violent shudders. His breath was speeding up, and his fingers were convulsively scraping at the door. He ducked his head, trying to shake the strands out of his face, but they were stuck to his skin.

"Which did you suffer?" he asked, struggling to keep at least his voice steady.

"Neither, actually. I…slipped away. If you want to be frank, I think I just forgot how to be an angel, and somewhere along the line, He made it so." The laugh whuffed out of Gabriel, light and easy, like the time he'd aimed at a fox and hit a wolf instead. "Your family, Vladislaus…I have no idea what anyone was thinking when your line was born."

His blood. That was it. Gabriel had drunk his blood twice: once as a werewolf, and once as he was now.

There were ways of making vampires without bothering to go through the motions of mortal procreation, which were far less pleasant to vampiric senses. But for every one that Vlad turned to the Devil's path in that way, the blood became more dilute. Those offspring were far weaker-even his brides had been as footstools compared to himself-and besides, it took a great deal of energy from him to accomplish such. He had, however, still done it because he needed soldiers against Heaven that he could control. And werewolves were much scarcer than in the years of his mortal life. Thwarted from their main quest, his relatives had taken out their frustrations on the wolf packs and other monsters of the Carpathians.

"What are you doing to me?" he snarled. With a huge effort, he threw himself backwards. His skin froze, wanted to crack open and throw him out, but he resisted the urge to return. "Gabriel! Damn you! You've killed me twice-it was your fault I looked toward the Devil for help-and what are you doing?"

"Open the door, Vlad," came the implacable answer. When he shook his head and clung to the floor, pressed his lips to its roughness, his blood seized up in his very veins and sent him into spasm. "Open. The door."

"God, please…"

Growl. The door visibly shuddered as a heavy weight rammed into it. "I think we've established that he doesn't listen to either of us now."

"Our Father, who are thou in heaven…forgive us our trespasses…blessed Virgin Mary, who is merciful unto the worst sinner…" Fragments of prayers floated out of the deep recesses of Vlad's memories, like debris swirled up by a flood. And he reached for them, only to watch their fragile words fall to sand in his hands.

"Open the door. You don't believe in that, Vlad. You defied the rule of Heaven-in your eyes, it became nothing more than the laws of men, capable of being broken by money, strength, anything." Screeching as nails dragged down the other side of the door. "I don't think you even believe in the devil. After all, he bargained like a backalley whore. Didn't he? Now…open it."

Vlad tried to grab a bump in the floorstones he knew was behind him, and found his hand flying to the bottom of the door. He started to crawl back and only ended up closer to the wall than when he'd begun.

"In fact, I'm beginning to think you only ever believed in me."

And that struck, deep and digging so it wound up even further in Vlad's flesh. He reared up and hit the metal till it clanged deafeningly in his ears, and then he hit it a few more times. When the cacophony finally died away, he forced the words from their hiding places, out through savaged lips. "I did. I don't. Gabriel, I thought you loved me."

Long second, full of past anger and present grief and future numbness. Then, very softly, with the same stony concentration Gabriel showed when he hunted: "I wouldn't have killed you if I didn't."

Heat flushed up Vlad's neck, pulsed the bite marks till they seemed to bulge out for several inches. He whimpered, struggling against the rise and pull of the tide inside him.

"Open the door," came the gentle, gentle call.

And he did. The key was hanging from the knob, and he pushed it in and turned it with shaking fingers.

* * *

The moment the metal began to give beneath Gabriel's fingers, he flung his full weight against the door. It crashed open, thudding halfway there into something soft.

He scrambled through and gazed frantically about; when he spotted Vlad, groaning and sporting a vicious cut on the forehead, he lost no time in seizing his own. Slammed Vlad down and dragged his tongue over that spill of crimson, rolling its bitter copper richness around his mouth. Gabriel stroked it across the roof of his mouth and watched Vlad's body bend into a deep curve, straining up so their chests grazed. The man's eyes were completely dilated, and scarlet was leaking in their whites. He couldn't seem to control his breath, which came short and long in absolute randomness.

Vlad licked at his lips, apparently preparatory to speaking, but Gabriel didn't give him that chance. He dove into the sweet chance, ripped at the healing cuts, and sucked more blood from them as Vlad writhed beneath him. Air hissed past his face in little choked cries. To drown them out, he resorted to tearing cloth. Clothing-what they did need that for?-bandages, and that revealed the marks. Twin holes, still crusted about with blood.

And suddenly he couldn't remember whether he'd intended to kill Vlad again, or…something else. Gabriel didn't know any more-none of the old rules applied, and there didn't seem to be any new ones.

That white neck, color of virgin snow, arched in offering. Vlad's gaze glided over Gabriel's face like a hesitant touch, then shuttered under too-long eyelashes. A girl's, the other Valerious son had distastefully remarked to his stern father, as they spoke in whispers that they had thought Gabriel couldn't hear. Echoes of Anna-in Anna, centuries down the tree.

"You decide my fate." Vladislaus was speaking quieter than a whisper, almost as if his thoughts had been accidentally plucked from his mind into audible form. "You always have…that's the constant…"

Gabriel shifted his grip on the man's-not the vampire, but the man-wrists, locking both in one hand. He yanked Vlad's arms up and back until his knuckles were grazing the back of Vlad's neck, testing the strength of the shivers there, and then he hauled the man up onto unsteady knees. His other hand went into long dark hair, coarse silk just as he remembered, and held everything still.

Vlad didn't say anything else, but he didn't need to. His gaze, trembling as it was, sliced effortlessly down through every single layer of Gabriel. And as before, it brought too much to life.

He snapped his teeth precisely into the holes, feeling hot copper wash down his throat. But this time, something made him do it carefully, without the sheer savagery of the first time. He…savored. Suckled, and treasured each drop, not letting a single one drip away. And that was more difficult now, because Vlad didn't thrash. He swayed, lips working against Gabriel's ear, erection pressing into Gabriel's knee, and he murmured wordless things that had the tang of encouragement. Pleasure, even as he grew weak and slack in Gabriel's hold.

The world spun into a dizzying haze where times before and after and between all wove together into a puzzle. A tapestry of secrets, to which Gabriel had had the key once. Now, he could only ponder the strange hue there, the extra twist here, and see the colors shuffle themselves anew.

Behind him, the air stirred: his wings were out. One swept around as if to cup them in their own space, while the other folded and tilted forward to rest its edge against Vlad's mouth. Not quite understanding, but very definitely knowing, what he was doing, Gabriel moved the feathers out of the way so lips brushed bare skin.

Lightning ripped down his spine, then splintered down each rib as his lungs gave a convulsive leap. He slammed the wing-tip further in, beating it against Vlad's teeth until they opened and sank in.

Gabriel screamed.

He released Vlad's wrists and then they were on the floor, him with his mouth fixed to the wounds in Vlad's neck and Vlad with lips clamped to Gabriel's wing. And they were clutching, rolling, shifting around and against and then into somehow. But no thinking. Not when reality was circling like vengeance, was connecting and dividing and then remerging-

Gabriel found his foundation again. Dug his nails into quivering flanks and clumsily rolling his hips, trying to shed his skin. Or perhaps share it-he couldn't tell where anything ended, any more. Hands scrabbled up, sparking fires all over him, and skated down, trying to show where. How. When. A knee pushed past his side, banged into his free wing, set off blazes in both places.

They ate at him, burning from his heart to the blood going into Vlad's mouth, scorching from the frenzied heartbeat beneath him to the pulse of blood flowing between his lips. And they dragged at him, whirling him about and about until he lost sight of up and down, right and wrong-everything except red. Red and white and black, coming apart in his hands, tearing at his wing as if it didn't have the right to be there. It didn't, but-but-

--there were snowflakes in the air, and fires in the valleys-

--mist rising above the flickering scarlet pinpoints-

--and it snatched his feet from the earth, and carried him into the black.

* * *

Vlad woke in feathers. Pure scarlet ones, that lazily arched above and also wrapped about him, keeping him close to a warm, lean body.

"…well, El doesn't even have wings now. Not real ones; just shadows. So I suppose this isn't too unusual for here."

"Frankly, I don't care what's usual and what's not." One of Gabriel's fingers was cupped about the side of Vlad's neck, their tips teasing very sore bite marks.

So he drowsily nipped into Gabriel's collarbone, then lapped at the resulting trickle. Whatever Gabriel was, the taste of his blood was powerfully addictive. Vlad wasn't certain if he could ever stomach anything else.

Upon reflection, he didn't think he minded. And neither, it seemed, did Gabriel.


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