Author's note: Valentine's Day Ax I story: written before the start of the war with Millennium.

Flying

Alucard pressed his face against the cold glass of the third floor window. His Master had permitted him to hunt, but not to kill tonight, for fresh blood. The vampire had been looking forward to the activities at hand but saw the light still on in Integra's third floor office and decided a little detour was in order. Alucard scaled the rough exterior, hooking his fingers and toes skillfully into the deep stone crevices. Sure, there were better ways to reach the upper floors, but the vampire reveled in his ability to make the inhuman look almost routine.

Though it was well after 11 pm, Alucard could see that Integra was still hard at work. She was staring intently at the small but brightly lit computer screen. Every minute or so, she would sigh, shake her head and, with more force than was required, hit the same, small key. The vampire guessed she was reading one of the voluminous duty reports required of the Hellsing field crew. Being the CEO of the Hellsing organization was a very stressful job and right now the strain was very apparent on the young woman's face. Alucard thought he saw new creases in her brow that hadn't been there a month or two ago. She pushed her men hard and, herself, even harder.

The vampire surveyed Integra's workspace. It was Valentine's Day but only tan folders were strewn haphazardly across her desk. Even the proper butler, Walter, had forgotten his boss. 'I guess that's what happens when you allow your employees to fraternize' Alucard chuckled to himself. He guessed that, at this moment, Walter and Seras might be having a more eventful Valentine's Day than his Master was having.

Integra coughed once and the vampire was drawn magnetically back to her image. Integra's long hair fell forward, tangling in her hands that were positioned on either side of her head, trying to hold it up. Her face was set hard, deep in concentration. Alucard, like all vampires, possessed excellent eyesight, and could, if the need arose, count every strand of hair on his Master's head. The vampire thought fleetingly of another woman in his past whom he had seen with her long hair in disarray. Oh yes. Mina. Alucard remembered how her silky hair, unbound for the night, curtained her face as she rode him hard. She ground her hips against him, pushing him into the bed. Sweat beaded her forehead and her concentration increased as she neared her peak. Just for that moment, Alucard remembered, with sudden clarity, his lover's tight, hot wetness wrapped around him as she strove for her climax. As she came, Mina arched her back and threw back her head, her hair now revealing a face, triumphant in its goal. Alucard bucked hard under her and came soon thereafter, calling out her name as she had screamed his. No need to bother about waking the cuckolded husband. He was reclining in a nearby chair, safely under the vampire's spell. Only the other night creatures were witnesses to the adulterous joining.

No, the vampire guessed, that night and the many more nights that had followed it, had not made it in Stoker's infamous book. Both Mina's husband and the grandfather of the woman he now was staring at, had made it a priority to sanitize the story as much as possible. And mostly, Alucard had convinced himself it was for the best. Mina was a victim of her day and the society that surrounded her. However, that was then and this was now. The vampire would not make the same concessions and, dare he think about it, the same mistakes as in the past. No, this woman, his Master, he would have.

Alucard brought his mind back to the situation at hand. Slowly, he allowed the nails of his right hand to grow. Delicately, he scratched the glass on Integra's window, tracing her name in patterns on the pane where his reflection should have been. The insistent scratching noise made Integra look up, right at the vampire. She involuntarily jumped, seeing Alucard's strong, white features framed in the moonlight. As quickly as she had been startled, Integra regained her composure.

"Well, are you just going to hang out there all night or do you want to be invited in?" Integra gave the vampire a challenging glance.

"Now, Integra, you know that I don't need an invitation to enter any house that contains my coffin."

Integra watched, mesmerized, as Alucard slowly, and with an unethereal grace, dissolved into mist that poured through the seams between the widow and the wooden sash. Though she had seen Alucard shape-shift many times in the past, each time he performed an inhuman feat, it never bothered to disturb and thrill her at the same time.

The vampire reformed into his tall, elegant, humanoid shape, inches away from her. He was dressed for the hunt, complete with the hat and long, cape-like red cloak. Breathtakingly beautiful and utterly evil all at the same time. This close to so much power, it almost overwhelmed all of Integra's senses. She realized she was unconsciously holding her breath and let it out, audibly.

Alucard gazed at his Master, dark hunger in his eyes.

"And how are we tonight, my Master? It is after all, Valentine's Day. A day for promises to be madeā€¦.or perhaps, in your case, for promises to be broken." His silky smile showed sharp, white teeth.

"Please, Alucard," Integra stood up to face the vampire as her hand went to her temple. She caressed it slowly, tired. "It's late and I just do not have the time or the stamina at this hour for your games." Then, more forcefully, she added," I told you, Alucard, you have my permission to go out tonight. So go out. Go anywhere. Just don't stand here and be so bloody annoying. I have work to do."

With a quick glance at the vampire, Integra sat down and tried to focus on the report in front of her.

Without warning and with an inhuman speed, Alucard's white gloved hands shot out and grabbed the folder off of her desk. He quickly glanced at it before throwing it onto the floor.

"My report-" Integra began to protest, stunned at her slave's sudden,

willful act of disobedience.

"-will be here in the morning for you to read," Alucard finished, as the last of the papers fluttered helplessly to the floor. "Tonight, I want you to enjoy yourself. I want you to experience what it's like to be a vampire."

"And how the hell do you propose to do that?" Integra glared at her slave.

The vampire thought intently before answering, as if carefully weighing his next words.

" Sir Integra, let's go flying."

"Are you out of your mind, Alucard?" Integra looked at the vampire, incredulous. "It's," Integra consulted her watch, "very late. And besides," she glanced at the window, "it's probably freezing out there."

"No, this Valentine's Day is quite mild." Alucard replied, amused at his Master's sudden flustered state. "And besides, you can always take your coat. And your gun."

"But I'm human. It's impossible."

"Nothing's impossible for the me, " Alucard assured her.

"But the question is, my Master, 'Do you really want to feel what flying's like?' "Or," the vampire challenged her, " have you lost touch with the adventurous part of yourself?" Alucard's voice rose as he continued, " Has your daily life become so bureaucratic and boring that you forgot what it's like to live and to want to experience new things. I can't believe that the young girl I rescued in the cellar years ago has already turned into a doddering old politician already. Usually, it takes forty or fifty years for that to happen. It seems, my Master, that you have been already transformed, and, in only a couple of years."

Alucard knew Integra was never one to back away from so naked a challenge.

"Okay, Alucard," Integra sighed, "I'll go. But, first, let me get my coat and my

gun."

"Of course, my Master." Alucard's words were deferential but the tone underlying them, was not.

Alucard took a few steps back from the desk, allow Integra to gather herself and walk from behind it to stand in front of him directly.

"I'll be right back, Alucard."

"Oh, have no fear, my Master. I'm not going anywhere."

"That's what I'm afraid of."

Integra briefly left her office and went to her bedroom down the hall. She picked up a heavy dark cloak that she had earlier tossed carelessly over a tufted chair. As an afterthought, she strapped on her shoulder holster and added the matching .22. The 9 mm was more comforting to her but she guessed that it might be too heavy for tonight's activities. When you were around vampires, however, you could never have enough firepower.

Sir Integra Hellsing rejoined Alucard, who was all too patiently waiting in her office. He was sitting in one of the chairs reserved for clients. His long legs were crossed at the ankles and he was very still, a snake waiting for its prey. The vampire sensed Integra enter and stood, turning and facing her.

"Well, Alucard," Integra said, summoning all of her reserve strength, "how do we go about this flying bit?"

" Come over here and place your arms around me."

"Alucard, is this whole thing a ploy to get me into your embrace?"

"Perhaps," Alucard offered, "but if you don't do it, you'll always wonder what it would have felt like. The flying, I mean."

Alucard moved to the window and opened it. The night air was chill but not unpleasantly so for February. Integra came to the vampire and, with formality, wrapped her arms around his body. Alucard easily pulled them both toward the open window. He stopped suddenly and looked down at Integra.

"Oh, I forgot. You need to release my first level of power."

"Why?" Integra asked. "You always seem to 'fly' around the mansion."

"Yes, but, passengers make me expend more energy and therefore, I need to call on more power."

"You have my permission, " Integra granted him.

"Good." Alucard said "Releasing power restriction system to level one." Though nothing externally was different, the vampire moved his shoulders slightly and seemed to like what he felt.

"Hang on my Master," Alucard warned her. He leaned down so that his lips were almost touching her ears.

"And, now, I think, Sir Hellsing, this might be the best time to close your eyes."

"I never close my eyes with you." Integra replied but clung more tightly to the vampire.

In the next few minutes, Integra wished she had done as Alucard had commanded her. Vampire flying was more akin to being on a roller coaster ride. And a very fast one at that. The wind buffeting her face was especially hard and scalding. Integra was convinced she would have a pretty severe wind burn for at least a month.

As for the ground. Well, that was worse. It was just a green blur beneath her. Or was that on top? After the sensation of swallowing her stomach back through her mouth, twice, Integra gave up and followed Alucard's advice. She closed her eyes and hung on. Tightly.

Without the constant flow of visual images bombarding her eyes, Integra decided flying was not all that bad. However, the trip seemed to be over in only a couple of minutes. Integra felt, rather than saw, both of their feet land firmly on the strong, hard ground. She opened her eyes and stepped back, out of the vampire's embrace.

Integra had the sensation after they landed that they were up high and her eyesight now confirmed her feelings. Alucard had taken them both to the top the ammo building, located on the Hellsing property, several yards away from the mansion itself. One of the only buildings with a flat roof, it made some sense that Alucard would conclude her first flying lesson here.

She walked out, to the edge of the roof while Alucard waited in the background, silent, patient.

"Isn't this a beautiful view, my Master?"

Alucard's deceptively soft voice broke through the night silence, carrying all the way to Sir Integra, startling her out of her moment's reverie.

"If you look out into the distance to the right, why you can even see the bright lights of London."

Alucard came and stood next to Integra. He moved so quickly and silently that she never saw him until he was there. The vampire's long, thin, fingers went to clasp her quilted shoulders. They were shrugged off almost immediately with a quick, violent jerk.

She turned to face him, with a direct stare.

"I wouldn't know, Alucard. Humans can't access this area after the nightly lockdown."

"A pity," came the vampire's reply. "Too many beautiful things in this world can't be experienced by the human condition. Now, if you were a vampire, you could be here every night and gaze at this. With me."

"You tricks are getting a little stale, Alucard." Integra sighed, continuing, " If you brought me here to talk about turning me and think that this," here Integra indicated the view with a nod, "might sway my decision, you're more than a little deluded."

"Well, that wasn't my exact intent, "Alucard replied. "however, I must admit, the view is indeed spectacular. And, like most of the important exchanges in the history of the world, big decisions are always best to be talked about 'high up' as it were. Above the masses. Among the gods."

Alucard's smile, rather than the colder temperatures at this height, made his Master shiver involuntarily.

"Just get to the point, Alucard." Integra was becoming increasingly annoyed at her slave. "What's the temptation this time? Money? Power? Immortality? Or even...great sex? I'm tired, I'm cold and I just want this to be over so I can get some sleep tonight.

I have an early meeting tomorrow that I need to be sharp for."

"Now, now, Integra," Alucard chided her. "Let's not be so hasty. Besides, it's Valentine's Day." The vampire continued in a condescending tone, "And what would this day be without the giving of gifts?" He stopped, then added, "Special ones."

Integra suddenly became very on guard. Presents from Alucard were usually a double-edged sword.

Alucard regarded Integra carefully. If he saw that she had become wary, he made no attempt to call attention to this fact.

"Before I give you my gift tonight," the vampire continued, "let me tell you a story. A long time ago, before you were born, I tasted another woman's blood and became enchanted with her. Much in the same way that I'm enchanted with you. She was so strong so brave..."

"Stop," Integra commanded, holding up a hand to silence the vampire. "I know all there is to know about Mina and you. I've read my grandfather's journals and Stoker's book. There's nothing left I need to understand. In short, it went like this. You saw someone vulnerable, you took her, you abused her and then, I don't know what possessed you, but, 'Thank God', you let her go."

"Is that how you see it all? How you see my relationship with Mina?" Alucard tried for wounded and didn't quite make it. "My Master," the vampire continued, "think about this further. You are aware of the old saying, 'History is always written by the victors'."

"Yes. So?"

"So, Sir Integra, the relationship between Mina and myself was much more complex than you were led to believe." Alucard looked almost serious. "The men didn't tell the entire story. They didn't have the..stomachs for it, actually."

"Oh, come on, Alucard." Integra goaded her creature, "So you lost the princess in this perverted little fairytale of yours. Get over it. Move on."

"I can't, my Master. Because, over a hundred years later, I don't want to make the same mistakes again." Alucard stared at Integra intently.

"I'm not Mina," Sir Integra said.

"No. No, you're not," Alucard agreed. "However, you do share many traits with her. Much like you, Mina was a beautiful, strong-willed woman, a woman who defined the world rather than let the world define her. A woman like that is rare, priceless. A woman like that, like you, my Master, is worth at least five good men. Twenty, if she is a vampire."

"All of this is very nice flattery, Alucard, " Integra said. "but, none of it won't help to change my mind about what happened in the past."

"Maybe this will then. Happy Valentine's Day, my Master."

The small, brown book came, without warning, from beneath the vampire's voluminous coat and landed with a dull thud at Integra's feet. Sir Integra picked up the book. It was covered in a faded leather wrapping. The leader of the Hellsing organization didn't have to open it to know what she was holding. It was a diary. A very old, well-used diary.

"Is this-"

"Yes, it's Mina's diary."

"How did you get this Alucard? How many people did you torture before someone handed this over to you?" Integra stared at her creature, incredulous.

"None, my Master," was the vampire's firm reply. "Mina gave it to me herself. On her deathbed. You see," Alucard continued, "after we separated, there was still a link between us. Though I ceased all direct communication with her, I still could sense her and she, me. I knew when she was happy or sad. I felt her joy, her sadness and even, her death. When I knew Mina was dying from pneumonia, I traveled to London, under an assumed name, of course, and was at her side when she passed away. I'm not going to tell you about what we spoke of, but ,suffice it to say, she thought Stoker and the rest got many of the 'details' wrong. Especially about us. She entrusted the diary to me and made me promise to give it to the next 'strong woman' I met in my life so that she could read it and know the truth about us. Mina said that it was important that a woman read her writings, not trust the tale that was to be told exclusively by men."

Integra picked up the diary and examined it. It had a small, dainty lock on it.

"You'll have to break the lock, " Alucard assured her. "Although, for you, I don't think that will be a problem. Also," the vampire recited, "the journal is written in short-hand, so you'll probably have to learn that skill well enough first to read it. But, Integra, I have faith in you. You do seem to overcome your obstacles."

"You really are the snake in the garden, Alucard." Integra's uncertainty put more anger into her voice than she felt at the moment. "And you know, this will take awhile," Integra said, almost to herself, "since I have to do the translations myself. I don't want to risk the chance of this getting stolen or affect the reputation of the Hellsing organization in any way."

"So, you see, my Master, I have given you the perfect gift." Alucard smiled, quite pleased with himself. "I think you might want to go home and..brush up on your short-hand."

"Yes, Alucard, if there are no more 'gifts' tonight to be bestowed, I want to go home."

"Whatever my Master commands." Alucard held out his arms to Integra. She put the diary in her coat pocket and stepped reluctantly into his arms.

Back in the safety of her warm bedroom, Integra removed the diary from her coat. She tried to pull at the rusted lock but to no avail. The book wouldn't open that easily to reveal it's secrets.

"Damn."

Integra took the small journal and placed it carefully underneath some shirts in the table by her bed. It was going to take a good amount of time to decipher and then, to interpret, the entire diary. The Hellsing organization leader gave a half-smile and shook her head. Alucard really knew how to make the holidays interesting.