Disclaimer: Hellsing tv series belongs to Studio Gonzo and Kouta Hirano.
Author's Notes: Edited by kelles. Written as the first ficlet for 30 romances in livejournal, themes used 'sarcasm/so no funny' and 'bookshop/library.' Dracula references. Feedback is welcome.
He was watching her again. She could feel his intense stare on her at all angles; his multiple red eyes blinking and vanishing from every reflective surface surrounding her – the father clock, the glass covering the wooden desk, even on her own half empty goblet. She tried to ignore it, to grow herself accustomed to the vampire's unnerving presence that had become a constant in her routine since she released him a few months ago.
Integral Wingates Hellsing was now a knight and could not allow herself childish fear around her servant. She left her reading for a second and glanced at the still portrait of her deceased father in front of her. His still gaze was warm and encouraging enough for her to feel safe, even for the briefest instant, this was enough to grow braver and continue.
Why did you never explain him to me, father? Integral questioned the picture, feeling silly to do it, especially with him around. He could smell her fear and her wariness. He would use those against her when she lowered the guard. Vampires were cunning demons, and her father had taught her well.
Integral's eyes were growing heavy, almost closing as she tried to dwell into the yellow manuscript letters. She had been exhausting herself to the point of passing out ever since she was knighted. Progressing her political lessons, her military training and her research about the undead, everything she needed to rule the organisation like her ancestors. She would not be put down by her age and gender by anyone, either the Round Table or her own personnel.
Age means nothing. I am not a little girl. Little girls don't have to kill their uncles or protect the country, she reminded herself, pursing her lips in determination and forcing her gaze on the old book once more. Little girls don't stay up late figuring out how to hunt down monsters; they fear them to live under the bed or in the closet.
There was a sudden gust of air in the office; the cold breeze blew several papers out of the desk. She turned her head to the right, mildly startled by the wind and looked at the window. She had left it open earlier; time flew and miscalculated how late it was. The sky was darkening into crimson hues, looking sinister.
Integral removed her huge glasses and rubbed her aching eyes while the other hand reached for the glass of orange juice in hopes the sugar would keep her up. As she sipped, she listened to the movements of the hands of the father clock.
Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
Integral swallowed hard, eyes closed and relaxing as her senses enthralled by the sound of the motions of time, escaping from her hands, out of her control.
Tick. Tock. Tack. Bang!
"A brat like you cannot control Hellsing!"
Integral opened her eyes wide and touched her shoulder quickly, nearly choking on the juice. The wound had healed almost completely but in times like this it hurt. Richard's words, like the bullet bruise, would vanish someday.
The room appeared considerably smaller and frighteningly twisted when her glasses were off and she saw the world through her poor sight. Her breathing shortened and pulse rate increased. The shadows were silhouettes of men with weapons, coming to murder her, blocking her path to guide her organisation into glory.
They made Integral feel as if she was nothing but a helpless little girl.
Her trembling hand tried to snag her frames to fight off the looming shadows, her mind was in borderline hysterics despite her attempts of self-control, but when she turned to glance down at them, the scared blue eyes reflected on the spectacles became soulless red. They held no fear; they were filled with enticing power. Could she be that powerful someday? Shocked, she dropped her goblet over the open book, breaking the spell cast upon her. Her breathing calmed and she stopped sweating.
"Stop it!" Integral shouted, furiously blushing at the embarrassment of her display and the mess she had caused. There was no response; the shadows seemed to vanish along with her fear. She put her glasses on and tried to clean the pages of the invaluable century old book that belonged to Abraham van Helsing. Ruined, the tint had become an unreadable black spot in the sheets. Anger rose on her veins. "Appear immediately!" she ordered, straightening her posture on her chair.
She scanned darkest corner of the office until the white haired vampire emerged from one of them, his eyes swirled in gleeful chaos, he did not need to speak a word for her to take note on the mocking smirk playing on his lips. "Yes, Master?"
"What the bloody hell you are doing, bloodsucking git!" Integral demanded to know before collecting herself. "First the stalking, the nightmares, your voice in my head and now illusions?" she interrogated. "It ceased from being funny if it ever was."
"You were falling asleep, Master," Alucard said, unapologetic. "I thought you'd appreciate that to stir your senses. You need to be awake and train lest everyone think you are an useless little girl, correct?"
Integral shut her mouth; her doubts overwhelmed her for a moment as he bent over her. He was immense and even with the desk between them, Alucard seemed to cover the world, forcing her to watch him and only him.
"Though I don't see why they think that," Alucard leered, his tone shifted between seriousness and sarcasm, she felt his eyes travelling from her face to her bosom. "You are far too developed for being just a little girl."
Integral crossed her arms in an attempt to shield her blossoming breasts with pretence to appear business like. His sexual liners were nothing new but still made her uneasy. She was young and to be seen as sexual object for an ancient vampire was certainly spooky. "Next time you wish to aid me," she stated, narrowing her eyes and standing to appear taller, "Refrain from recruiting to such harsh methods, servant."
"You are the Master," Alucard pointed out, running his tongue over a fang, making it seemed like an obscene motion. "Why don't you discipline me better?"
Integral shot him a scandalous look and waved her hand, dismissing him. "I'll find a suitable way to punish your trespasses. Now you are here," she changed subjects, opening the drawer and extracting a folder. "There are a series of incidents in East End you should investigate. I was going to send Walter but he suggested it was time for you to get a hobby aside of terrorizing the staff."
"I merely train them to be prepared for their duties," Alucard shrugged and started to vanish.
"Go away!" Integral commanded and relaxed when all traces of his presence were gone. In all these months, their interaction had shifted from good-natured banter to the scariest bickering. She could not sort his intentions. Did Alucard truly respect her or was he just playing with her until the one day when he would kill her?
Just like my uncle did, she thought sourly, closing the now ruined vampire encyclopaedia and picking up a decade old edition of Dracula by Bram Stoker. She had been meaning to re-read it due to the lack of documents her grandfather and father left her regarding Alucard's nature, while not everything was a real account, the fiction followed the past pretty closely.
Integral passed the pages, absorbing in Jonathan Harker's clueless nature of the supernatural environment he was immersed. She considered him quite stupid but a lamb to be protected, the example of the people she had to dedicate her life to. Yawning at his ramblings and stupid actions, she read less eagerly his pointless attempts to escape until some scene captured her attention. She sat straight; allowing his confrontation alone with the Count sank into her, recalling seeing the said strange weapon among her father's collection inhered from Abraham van Helsing.
Oh, Alucard, I just found a way to punish you, Integral thought with a triumphal glee. To fight someone with a child-like mind as the vampire, she should resort to childish methods. Perhaps her age was an advantage to allow her to think as both as an adult and as a young girl. Picking up the phone, the knight dialled Walter's number.
"Walter?" she asked, her fingers ran over the cord excitedly. "Alucard is out, right?" She waited for his answer and widened her smile. "I want to make an unusual request. I need a certain garden tool… to be covered with silver. You do remember that very eccentric item part of my father collection, don't you?"
The past week, Alucard had been kept busy, sometimes serious missions and another purposeful faux information overseas in the South of Ireland. Integral was buying time to avoid having the vampire be around at night and risk him reading her intentions. She would not be defeated in their game so soon. To her surprise, she found herself enjoying the battle of wills. It forced her to think in tactics she would not often contemplate and was such good exercise for a rookie in the leadership field.
Walter had brought her request earlier this morning; a knowing smile played on his lips as he had handed her the package. "It's heavy, Sir. Be careful."
"If a sissy, Victorian solicitor could lift it, so can I," she had proclaimed before unwrapping the item and wielding the now silver covered ancient 'weapon.' She had turned to Walter, giddy. "Alucard stays tonight."
Cue to her orders, Alucard had not been sent into a goose hunt and was meant to remain inside the Manor grounds. Integral was waiting in the library, faking to read Stoker novel. The pages returned to the passage of the Harker confrontation with the Count while he tried to escape. She had her secret weapon wrapped and put to a side of her chair, expecting his melodramatic entrance in any minute. The lights flickered, the temperature seemly dropped and the animals of the woods stopped their noises.
So there he is, Integral braced herself, shielding her intentions. "Alucard, come out. If I wanted to be scared, I would rent a Hammer film."
Alucard took a minute to manifest himself, perhaps this was his way to make her wait and see what happened. He seemed disappointed she did not repeat herself. "Is your sending me to fake chases a way of punishment?" he asked, his tone was annoyed. "Tell me Master, don't you trust your servant to take care of the real menaces." He approached, looking mildly offended and threatening as the white hair moulded with shadows.
Integral though, was not letting him intimidate her this time. She would win even if she had to drop to his childish level. "Does the servant have any complaints for what his Master wishes?" she asked, lifting a brow. He was on her in a minute, his hands pressing to sides of her chair, nearly trapping her.
"I only want to serve you the best I can," Alucard pointed out, his tone was dark, his eyes clashed with hers. Centuries struggling against her barely teenage years.
"Can you read English?" she asked, her stomach twirled with anxiety. Alucard looked puzzled and leaned off for a second. "I asked if you can read English or if you forgot, Alucard."
"Of course I can," Alucard snapped, miffed.
"Read that, quietly," Integral pointed to her open book. "Read it now," she ordered. Regarding her for a second, Alucard picked the book up and snorted haughtily at the cover then quickly scanned through the selected page, supporting his weight on the table. "Oh don't laugh, there is much to understand of the past to decide your future."
"Why do you want me to read-" Alucard was starting to complain when he froze. He was slow to react; Integral had picked up her secret weapon with certain difficulty and lifted it, aiming to his head. She stopped inches before striking. The expression of pure shock the vampire made delighted her.
"You recognise this old spoil of a lost battle?" Integral taunted as she kept her hold firm with the newly silver coaxed shovel. Her thin arms trembled by her effort but she did not falter. "I know you do."
Alucard's eyes narrowed and put the book down. "That didn't harm me. The foolish human's attempts were pointless."
"Ah, ah, ah. Mr. Harker hit you on your forehead a century ago with this shovel. Now I can make the mark more permanent, it's covered with blessed silver," Integral kept taunting. "It hurt your pride, servant. That weak mortal was able to reach the powerful Nosferatu? You are flushing. Did you just drink warm blood?" she lied to his further mortification.
"I am not!" Alucard growled, mildly embarrassed. She knew it was a touchy subject; Harker marked his forehead with the shovel, of all people. His expression contorted in rage then started to laugh, it still brought shivers to her spine. "So this is your punishment, Master?"
"A reminder," Integral dropped the shovel down, massaging her hands. "Don't bring up my worst memories and I won't bring out yours. I won't send you to fake missions if you don't harass me when I am busy."
Alucard bowed to her, giving her a fanged smirk. "Very good, you are truly worthy to be my Master," he appraised her. Then he frowned, "Even if it wasn't funny at all."
"Curious, I was hoping you would share my sense of humour," Integral retorted with sarcasm. "Now shoo, Alucard. I am busy, remember the deal."
"For now Master, for now," Alucard agreed and shot her a smouldering look to her body before vanishing.
Integral sighed and collapsed on her chair. I won this round, she thought before the sound of applause distracted her. Walter opened the door and clapped at her victory. He was like Alucard in that way, appearing mysteriously through the darkest corners. "Walter…"
"Congratulations, Sir. You handled him perfectly," he commended her.
"Thank you Walter," Integral inclined her head and glanced at the shovel, beaming. "I will put this near my bed just in case he pops out in my mirror while I change again."
"As you say, Sir Integral."
She bit her lower lip in deep pondering. "Oh, and Walter…"
"I want to purchase new clothes," Integral commented, looking down her bosom. "A tailored suit to conceal my body, high collared and double breasted. Because I prefer to speak with Alucard and have he facing me instead of staring at my neck and chest."