R. K. Averomono
"Seres could feel nothing, but she clung to Alucard's memory of Sir Integra's face relaxing into death. Seres felt some satisfaction and esteem for Sir Integra. The old woman had gotten the better of the vampire in the end."
Sir Integra had been dead for years, but the dark Hellsing mansion remained loyal to her. The old house, put up for sale by the British government, remained empty. The rumors of a bloody history surrounding the property never seemed to fade. However, the building did not attract attention. No one took interest in the overgrowing hedges or the boarded up windows or the curious "No Trespassing" signs that usually enticed vandals. The Hellsing House was one of a thousand ancient mansions that made up London, huge but plain and incredibly forgettable. If it looked a little creepy from the street, then it looked still more like the other mansions. London itself was old and creepy.
At first, this brought Seres Victoria much relief. She and her master had nowhere else to live.
If the royal family had any suspicions that Hellsing's vampires were still living there, they'd never sent anyone to investigate the matter. Seres and Alucard lived undisturbed, watching the paintings of the old masters fade on the wall.
They were their own masters now. And the mansion was their's. Or, it was Alucard's.
"Spoils of war," was how Alucard had put it. He naturally assumed responsibility of what was left of Integra's fortune, the house and everything in it. After all, there was no more Hellsing family and no Hellsing Organization for that matter to claim it.
"I win because I'm still alive and they're all dead. I always knew this was how it would be." Alucard walked from bedroom to bedroom as if he had never been in them before, sizing them up, nodding and looking very satisfied. He was excited with freedom. Now he had a huge empty house all his own and it looked to Seres like he intended to make it into a personal fortress.
"You're being absurd." Seres announced, perfectly revealing her thoughts by rolling eyes with just her tone. She slowly climbed up the grand staircase after her over-excited master. "I know you don't have any shame...but couldn't you just pretend?"
"I'm just taking back what's mine," Alucard replied from who-knows-where.
"Yeah, everything's yours," Seres sighed at the top of the stairs and looked down the empty hallway, wondering which room his was desecrating now. "Sir Integra's grave isn't even settled yet and you're redecorating, but whatever. Whatever you say."
"This is the first time you'll be able to live like a true vampire," Alucard said. "I was afraid your development would be stunted by Hellsing's silly restrictions, but fate has smiled on us."
Seres followed his voice. "Since when have you ever cared about me?"
She found her master standing in the master bedroom. Seres stood at the threshold, hand gingerly placed on the door molding, not daring to go inside. She didn't belong in Sir Integra's bedroom, dead or alive, now or a hundred years from now. The air hung with the stench of lingering death and pain. Seres felt the presence of the old woman's authority as certainly as she felt the floor under her feet. She resisted the urge to warn Alucard that he didn't belong in there either, strutting around Integra's deathbed like it was a damn trophy.
Alucard was looking at the enormous bed. "Yes, this will do."
Seres stared at the back of his head. "It'll do for what?"
He looked over his shoulder at her, grinning. "I'm moving my coffin here."
"Um." Seres felt the wood molding against her finger tips singe through her gloves, as if the room was suddenly on fire, but her hand was firmly pressed against the doorway and she made no move to let go. "That's....that's very petty. You HAVE to sleep here?"
"Oh, yes. Only this room will do."
"Even though it faces east? Sunlight will be shining through those huge windows for most of the day, you know."
"It's utterly pathetic that you're frightened of a dead woman." Alucard laughed at Seres and brushed by her. Apparently this was very funny to him and he continued to chuckle as he went down the stairs. "Even alive, she was bedridden and feeble, a helpless old woman with no power left."
"You're not seriously going to put your coffin in Sir Integra's bedroom, are you?" She stood at the top of the landing, nervously folding her arms and then planting her hands on her hips and then folding her arms again.
"It's my room now," Alucard corrected her. "It's only fitting I take sleep in the master bedroom, don't you agree?" His smile was full of sharp teeth. "Besides, you shouldn't worry about me so much. You should be looking out for yourself—after all, that nice, convenient medical blood you love to drink will run out soon."
Seres's lips pressed together tightly. She KNEW that, he didn't have to remind her. "I'm not like you. Don't you get it? I don't have it in me to pick out some random person and kill them like it's nothing. I'll find a way around all that."
"Of course you will."
"You have no faith in me. Like usual." She turned away from him and folded her arms. She lifted her head, feeling determined. "I don't need you anyway. I'll figure it out on my own."
Seres wasn't figuring it out on her own.
Vampirism was settling over her like a gloomy rain cloud. When the Hellsing Organization had dissolved, the option of drinking medical blood disappeared and she knew it was only a matter of time before she'd become a killer. She spent every waking moment suppressing her appetite, dreading the moment she'd lose control, all while trying to piece together a plan.
"I don't even know what I'm trying to accomplish. I guess...staying alive is all I can hope for." She tried to remain calm. But then hunger pains would wrack her body and jumble her thoughts until all intelligent thinking boiled down to emotion. Anger, mostly.
She walked through the rooms of the house slowly, remembering the people who used to work there. People who's names she didn't know – the extremely Italian chef and a chubby maid, the two doormen who always smiled at her. The Hellsing mansion had never been a bustling household, but she was painfully aware of how dead it was now in comparison to before. Her footsteps seemed so loud.
"I wish...Walter was here." She was in the kitchen now, tracing her fingers over the counter tops, making lines in the dust. "Damn Alucard. Jerk. God, I'm hungry."
Alucard returned to the house, hunger fully satisfied courtesy of the Greater Art Community of London. He couldn't resist the snobbish elite that art gallery openings drew. They were usually so wrapped up in themselves. It was nothing to lure them away.
"I've lost all my manners," he chided himself before a mirror.
In times of weakness, she would throw herself on Walter's bed and cry helplessly, begging God to stop the unbearable aches of hunger or at least let her die. She couldn't make herself believe that her own life was worth more then anyone else's. She couldn't kill. So she tried to put the hunger from her mind. She had grown used to the weakness and exhaustion that vampires feel after going days without drinking blood, but after months had passed by, she couldn't walk or even sit up without being wracked by pain shooting from every muscle and joint. Without blood, she was cramping up from rigor mortis.
"No," came the voice instantly in her mind, full of impatience and cruelty "If you want the pain to go away, you know what you have to do. Don't bother me."
A little smile grew on Seres' white, sweaty face. So her master WAS close by, as she suspected, watching her. She raised a trembling hand to wipe her damp forehead. Maybe luck was on her side tonight. "I'm not getting up."
"Then you'll die."
"Maybe," Seres agreed simply. She was baiting him. He knew it, and she knew he knew it. Playing with her master like this was a dangerous game.
"You're a coward, you don't have the resolve to just lay there and die. You'll get up eventually, and your hunger will drive you to your prey." He paused. "And I know you think I'm going to save you, but there's nothing I can do for you. Even if there was something, I wouldn't. I'm tired of being patient with your denials. If you can't bring yourself to be nosferatu, I wish you would hurry up and die. You embarrass me."
"You're not so brave either," Seres said, her voice hollow and breathless. It was bold, too bold, but then she didn't see herself living much longer anyway. Talking was so painful. She twisted on the sheets, panting.
She came to the realization, laying there, that didn't actually like Alucard. There was something undeniably attractive about him, she could admit that, and she had always clung to him, pined for his attention. But out from under Hellsing's seal, he had grown even more cruel and distant, and he killed humans to feed now. She had never seen it done, but she often heard the screams his tortured victims and found evidence of their unnatural deaths in Integra's bedroom.
Her sweaty hands clenched into fists.
She didn't want to become like him.
Alucard's laughing filled the room, and then there was silence, as if he had gone away.
Seres wasn't frightened. She could still sense him, though he had withdrawn from her uppermost consciousness. "If you go away," she said, "before I drink your blood, I'll die for sure, whether I kill or not."
Alucard didn't reply.
"It's like, if I knew as much, maybe I'd be just as powerful as you. But you don't tell me anything. You just like to sit back and watch me mess up, and then you pick on me for not knowing anything." Having Alucard's power was hardly what Seres wanted, but she needed to keep talking, keep Alucard engaged until he accidentally let slip some obscure fact that might save her life, or until he killed her and ended the suffering.
"Killing is the first step," Alucard's voice echoed. "Got to crawl before you can kill, and all that. See if you can perform at least the basics, then I'll teach you something useful."
"To what end?" Her vision was blurring, the panels in the ceiling morphing together. "I'll still be weak, but I'll be a murderer then, too. A vampire with a one-way ticket to Hell? And didn't you tell me, Master, that older vampires resent young ones, and even make sport of killing them off so that there's less competition?
"Is that a shot at me?" Alucard asked innocently.
"I'd say..." Seres struggled not to ramble, to make sense or else lose his attention, "that it's in my best interest to die to way I am, with a clean slate, rather then dirty myself just so that a certain older vampire can pick me off for sport."
"You're no sport." The morphing ceiling became Alucard. He floated over Seres. "Masters don't do that to their own brood, anyway, you idiot. To another's, but not their own. And stop breathing deeply like that, as if you need air to live. You stopped needing to breath a long time ago. It's irritating."
"Don't change the subject, I know that. I like breathing, I like smelling." She knew most of her bodily functions were unnecessary now, save for her beating heart. How odd, that she was a living corpse, yet her heart still fluttered inside the cage of her chest. She clung to the old involuntary actions of a human body like a security blanket. That she could ever desire to menstruate or use the bathroom or bleed like a normal person must seem ridiculous to those who do it all the time, but Seres was desperate to relive any experience remotely human, so she wouldn't forget what she really was.
"What you really are?" Alucard's tone was still a taunt, but a forced taunt, trying to cover a brewing anger she could sense telepathically.
Seres clammed up immediately. Her master had been delving into her thoughts again. And she had thought her mental barriers were getting stronger. She had to stay alert, and not let her mind wander.
"That's an interesting mental slip," he said, fading out of sight and reappearing at the foot of the bed. "You KNOW in your mind you really are a vampire, but your heart won't accept the truth. You think all you have to do is deny your physiology, keep yourself pure long enough and your mortality will return to you. I thought you had matured at least past THAT point. I'm disappointed in you. I can't believe you came from me."
"I didn't come from you!" Seres said, curling her legs under to body, maximizing the distance between her self and him. His face was concealed in the shadow of his dark locks, but his eyes were glowing, somehow fiercer then normal. "If I embarrass you, do something about it. Teach me something so I can make you proud."
"Your incapable of doing ANYTHING that would make me proud. The only thing I want is to see you take care of yourself, just hunt and drink blood, that's all. The BASICS, so I can be rid of you." He was gone again. He was phasing in and out of the room, as he sometimes couldn't keep still when he was agitated, undecided of whether to stay or leave.
"I knew you were a weak human, but I thought with a little strength you'd...no, instead you stayed weak. So pathetic. I should have thought better. Weak humans just make weak vampires..." He was muttering to himself, restless and frustrated.
Something strange was happening. As Seres lay, her vision blurred and for a moment, she felt it had nothing to do with her waning strength. Her eyes were fixated on Alucard's phasing and he was all she could see. The room melted away. His voice became two voices, one muttering, one whispering—whispering, barely audible, but distinctly tired, and despairing—this whisper she paid close attention to. Were these Alucard's thoughts? Was he talking to her? It was not his voice though. It almost sounded like...
Seres heard herself repeating those words: "But strong humans are too good for your blood. Is that what Sir Integra told you?"
A whole five seconds of complete silence passed, long enough for Seres to realize she hade made a huge tactical error.
She couldn't see his red eyes, her vision was completely obscured by his inky black hair covering her face. She couldn't hear her own screaming, or feel herself thrashing for her life under his iron jaws. Those activities were all going on somewhere in her body that her brain was detached from. All she could hear was his thoughts: "'I just want you to disappear, or least I want to disappear from you. Anything, just as long as we're not together. I'm too old to deal with you anymore.'"
Seres eyes raked over Alucard's exposed memory as he remembered it. Ancient Sir Integra, eyes sunken, skin paler then Alucard's from chemotherapy, her hair limp and falling out. Alucard's wrist bitten open, blood seeping out in rivers spilling over the sheets, over Integra's hospital gown. Integra's bony, ungloved hand, dappled in liver spots, rose and pushed his wrist and the immortal blood away. "Let me be already. You shame me."
"You don't have the resolve to just lay there and die," Alucard said. "Fear will drive you back to me..."
"Don't project yourself on me. Just because YOU didn't have the resolve...or maybe you just lacked the courage to die."
"Are you calling me a coward?"
"I'm calling you a sellout." Blue eyes closed without regret. "The finish line is in sight—and there's nothing you can do to stop me from winning."
The sheets soaked up the blood, but Alucard continued to keep his arm raised in offer. "You think death is winning?"
A small, sincere smile cross her face as she replied, "I've had to suffer the consequences of compromising with you my whole life, having to struggle with you, having to battle wills against you. Not giving you what you want at the end...that's how I win."
Seres could feel nothing, but she clung to Alucard's memory of Sir Integra's face relaxing into death. Seres felt some satisfaction and esteem for Sir Integra. The old woman had gotten the better of the vampire in the end.
Seres Victoria was dead.
He had been overzealous in his passion to punish her, and now pieces of her were strewn about the room. She had died exactly the way she predicted—picked off by her own master, but with a clean slate. Cowardly, perhaps, but she had tricked him into getting what she wanted—an out.
"A waste of time," Alucard said to the lid of his coffin. His hands were folded neatly over his stomach. "At least I won't have to contend with her crying and keeping me awake. I can sleep now." However, the pestering suspicion that he might be an idiot worried him. He couldn't sleep. Killing Seres like that had been stupid. It was evidence of his lack of self-restrain, a weakness that could potentially get him killed.
Beams of sunlight streamed through the curtains, warming his casket.
He tried to brush off his uncertainties, rationalizing to himself; I win because I'm still alive and they're all dead. This is how things have always been. And here I am, again, the only one left and all the spoils of war are mine. There's nothing to worry about.
But then, was he really alone?
The sound of a soft foot scuff made him wonder.
Alucard lay perfectly still, listening carefully. He could hear something moving around, something walking away from him, something trying to stay quiet. Then the sound was unmistakable.
Seres panted, trying with all her might to keep herself together. Literally. She clung to the handrail, but her wrists felt like they were going to re-detach from her arms. Her newly re-formed legs were wobbly, too. But she couldn't stop. She had to keep going and get as far away from her master as she could.
"I don't need his dirty blood to keep myself alive," she told herself, descending step-by-step, shaking with effort, pain and fear. The first floor seemed so far away. The slightest creak in the stairs might disturb her master, but she could hardly tip toe now. If only she could make a break for the door, in a huge burst of speed...it was so impossible, she might as well wish she could just fly away. She hardly had enough strength to do what she was doing...
"Then why don't you just give up?" Alucard asked, leaning against the railing behind her, at the top of the stairs.
Seres was so shocked, she almost tumbled head-first down the stairs trying to turn around. She caught herself at the last second and steadied herself on the railing. Then, with renewed effort, she made her way down the stairs.
"And once out the door, what will you do in that blinding sunlight? Police Girl? I'm talking to you."
She didn't listen to him. "I have nothing to fear from light."
Alucard chuckled, leaning casually on the banister, running his fingers absently on the top of the railing, which was soaked in Seres's blood. He licked his fingers, savoring his offspring's life-force. "In my state, maybe. But with you starving yourself like that? I'm afraid you'll burn up."
The front door was only inches away. "I'm not scared of anything." Her hand descended upon the latch. She hesitated, half-expecting Alucard to fall upon her again. But nothing happened. She waited a few seconds longer, and still nothing.
"You wont leave me," Alucard assured her. His voice had become rich and deep, seductive and kind, knowing he would win again. Win as always. For him, nothing would ever change.
Seres unlatched the lock and the door opened. "Your winning streak is over." The door swung open wide and bright, warm sunlight filled the room. Then it shut as quickly as it had opened, and Seres was gone.