Chapter 5: Rooftop

It was an understatement to say that it was bad time to be in London. Although the city was beginning to repair itself, it remained a mess, and everyone was either distraught or grim. They were just trying to pick up the pieces and move on. No one was truly happy, except for one. He was none other than Alucard.

The vampire was currently enjoying the night skies and the London view from the rooftop of the Hellsing headquarters.

He had not felt this free, this alive, since he had been captured and bound by Abraham to serve Hellsing and its descendents.

After one hundred years, Alucard was himself again. His real self. He had returned as the Count. Dracula. Vlad Tepes. Of course, there was that niggling fact that his powers today were considerably greater than he could ever have dreamed to achieve, due to Hellsing's 'assistance' and experimentation. But Alucard easily waved that thought away. He was free of all restraints, and he wasted no time in revelling in his freedom and power.

Yes, he was infinitely pleased with the world. The night skies were clear and the round moon glowed with icy beauty. He could stare at the skies all night, intoxicated. The terrifying view of London before him was a bonus.

His mood was slightly marred when he heard the sound of an engine. Looking down, he saw Integra leave the headquarters. He spied her refusal of the new chaffeur's offer of driving her. Then he saw her enter the car and drove off herself.

Alucard wondered at her recent behaviour. While she was still the same Sir Integra in front of her colleagues and even the Queen, Alucard knew better. Integra had not been sleeping much. He could hear her pace about in her bedroom during the night and it disturbed him. There were shadows under her eyes and she was a good deal paler now.

"I shall try not to get drunk on my own power," he had informed Integra drily. She had told him that she would allow his powers to be kept unrestrained for a few more days in anticipation of further attacks and to cull the remaining monsters left hiding in London.

She had merely scoffed at his witticism, and had not made any sarcastic or defiant remark as she was wont to do. Even the policegirl had shown more displeasure at his callous conduct to the people in London than Integra, which was unusual. To think Seras had been happy at first to see him return. She was always in awe of him. But then, she had also called him an unfeeling bastard later on. He put her boldness and lack of submissiveness to the mercenary inside her, and smiled to think that his prodigy had grown up.

Nevertheless, his attention was on Integra and he was disturbed. If not for the reticence and determination in those blue eyes, Alucard would seriously wonder if it were someone else who was parading as Integra at Hellsing.

She was in pain, that much he knew. He could sense it in her movements and her voice. Not physical pain, that was well taken care of by the doctors. Besides, physical pain would never bother Integra.

It was something else. Alucard knew it was partly because of Walter. He could have told her not to bother with him, and had suggested that she bound Walter to Hellsing just like what Abraham had done to him. But she had yelled at him in anger and dismissed him.

Foolish sentimentality. He did not think Integra capable of that. But she was human. Frighteningly so. Sometimes, he forgot. He kept thinking of the potential she had to be an all-powerful vampire based on her immense strength and will that he overlooked her other aspects. Aspects like sympathy and care and love for other humans. Aspects like her complete faith humanity. Pathetic humanity, in short.

"Don't look down on humans."

He had not been there when she was fighting those vampires, but the link between them enabled him to know what she had been through that night.

Her smile and sadness when Penwood and his men chose to stay in their headquarters.

Her order to Walter to come back no matter what.

Her insistance that the Iscariot people escort her back to Hellsing.

He knew her, yet could never understand why she believed in humans so much even after what she had seen in her young life.

The betrayal of her uncle.

The cowardice of the Round Table.

The greed of men who sacrificed other unworthy lives for the promise of immortality.

Surely she would come round. Alucard convinced himself. She would definitely come round. And then, he would claim her for his own absolutely.

Satisfied with his analysis, he decided to return his attention to the night-skies. He did mean to enjoy his freedom whilst he had the chance.