Disclaimer: Hellsing belongs to Kouta Hirano.
Author's Notes: Contains some Enrico x Anderson, hinted Alucard x Integral and Enrico x Integral. Set after Psyoblade I. Spoilers. Edited by Puck 3/4, answers the November challenge of Fictionhaven of bliss and insanity.
Death changes ones perspective of many values held closely in life. He understood; bitter experience made him open his nonexistent eyes. No matter how he tried to cling into his own world, it had been turned upside down.
When he was young, Enrico Maxwell wished to be on top of the world so no one would look down on him again. His parents would regret having abandoned him to the orphanage, his classmates who ridiculed his tendency to dress as a priest and he would impress his professor. He wanted to make Professor Anderson proud and punish the heretics he fiercely taught Maxwell to hate.
He was on top now, lonely on a high, shapeless pedestal. No one was around to look at him. He was alone, miserable and very dead.
Maxwell was in hell. Or so it seemed. Despite he no longer had eyes to see, a mouth to speak or ears to listen, the Archbishop was aware of the surroundings. He was stripped of body and skin; he was a floating soul in the cold, secluded space that the damned minions had put him into.
There was no way to climb down without suffering a nasty fall, Enrico had estimated, even if he accomplished that feat there were the fearsome hounds guarding his prisons. They howled and clawed his fragile pedestal every turn of the hour, making him aware of the time he had remained in this hell.
Each minute felt like an eternity. But he did not try to escape. Physical death had been painful enough, the concept of spiritual damage frightened him more.
Maxwell sat and embraced his knees, clutching onto himself (or so he imagined that if he had a body that is what he would currently be doing). He was high but everyone had forgotten. Was he wrong? Was he too late for regrets? Why had Professor Anderson, Father Anderson punished him so much if he had not misbehaved?
But I was the leader not him. He had no right… He had no right…
Yet he did. Deep in his heart, Enrico knew that Anderson was entitled to do it. He stared at his silhouette, was he weaving the mental picture of his ghostly form too? Why was he was red? Like Judas' hair? As the blood on his hands, representing the innocents he had murdered. Heretics, as they were.
I'm sorry…I just wanted to make you proud. I was wrong, don't punish me like this.
"Father! Professor Anderson!" Enrico exclaimed, his soul did, calling for his tutor. "Yumie! Heinkel! Forgive me! I don't want to be alone! I need you!" He wanted to have hands and ears to avoid listening to the hellhounds scratching and trying to make him fall. Maxwell could not defend himself, he was powerless.
His 'voice' broke in a trembling sob. "P-please. Someone answer me."
It was cruel, Maxwell was not even allowed to cry. Why did God hate him so much? Why did his parents? Even his professor loathed him to force this fate to his person? Everyone had truly left him. He was so unworthy that no one wanted him, not even the King of this Hell called his inferior presence into his battle.
"You promised me that in Iscariot all are sinners, Anderson, that we won't look down on each others."
But I did. I turned away from you to lead those knights.
"I am sorry, it's my fault. I won't do it again," Enrico finished sounding like a scolded child admitting to having misbehaved. His heart was filled with despair, remorse, anger but above all an overwhelming loneliness. "D-don't leave me alone."
It was too late now. He was dead; too bloody late for regrets, courage and forgiveness. Maxwell did not mind hell, none of the Iscariots did, but he wanted to have the honour of facing demons in his damnation, not be their victims.
"I can start in this moment," Enrico concluded, gathering his remaining strength, remembering when he was on the top, while he held power. He had thought he could have everything he wanted at last: London, Integral Hellsing, and Anderson… Death had no taken that resolution from him, he did when cowered in front of Alucard's minions. He would face them now, they could tear his soul but he was an Iscariot. What else had a dead man to lose? "I would make you proud, Father Anderson."
Enrico took a dive down, he had no eyes to close, and he could not feel the air either, being deprived of skin and bones. He prayed in his mind, attempting to strengthen his heart:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in our day of battle; protect us against the deceit and wickedness of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
The guardian dogs were close; them he could sense. Their breath and claws were ready to saw his soul apart. But Maxwell could not turn down. If he died as a coward, at least he would face oblivion with a bit of dignity.
And you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God banish into hell Satan and all of the evil spirits who roam through the world seeking the ruin of souls.
He braced himself as he pronounced Amen, preparing to fight the teeth and heads of the hellhounds. But, instead of snarling and barking, Enrico heard canine whimpers and yelp, dry sounds. He surveyed the dark blank space around and saw a glowing light approaching him. The brightness of the tall, masculine figure was dimmed with a black spot on the left side – the heart.
"You are a fool for everything, Maxwell. My most foolish student, in life and death."
Enrico Maxwell had still retained a bit of his faith to expect divine intervention but he did not dare to hope that Anderson descended to hell to save him. "I am… I am sorry," he said lamely.
"Falling to your enemies in a suicide attack," Anderson kept condescending before his tone shifted. "At least this time it was for a good reason, Enrico."
Approval, a slight praise in his tone. Maxwell would have beamed in the past, in the secrecy of his room so no one would see him, if Anderson had complimented him more often. "Are you dead too?" he asked. The priest did not sound dead or damned any longer, the holy light he radiated was utterly puzzling for him. It took Enrico a moment to realize what the Paladin had done. "The Nail."
Anderson was not speaking, his mouth was unmoving. It was his heart and soul communicating with Enrico's own. The Nail, his professor was not a regenerator or an assassin any longer. Maxwell wanted to throw himself at his feet and kiss them, but he could not kneel without legs.
"My Lord… I am unworthy."
"Never is too late to regret, Maxwell. That is a lesson I taught you wrong."
Do you regret in handing me to my death? Maxwell wondered, the awe had started to wear off in bitterness. His soul was bare and quivering to his Messianic greatness and Anderson did not apologize for his deed. Enrico trusted him; Anderson was the only being in this world that ever he counted on. His heart broke with the shattered glass of his vehicle.
"I didn't come here to deliver an apology."
"What then?" Enrico sneered, feeling vicious all suddenly. Men were insolent dead and alive to God's works even the ones of the cloth. "You defeated the Cerberus with your bare hands, Herakles but you cannot take Peirithous away. Hades won't let you go that far from his domain."
"'Hades' is elsewhere occupied in protecting his Persephone from the Nordic Pantheon and my Father is more powerful than Zeus," Anderson followed suit, unfazed by his daring move of bringing up deities. "Or perhaps you are Theseus more than Peirithous in this drama."
"Or both," Enrico conceded, tired of the brief game. Could souls get a headache? "I wanted Persephone or I thought I did." Anderson did not interrupt Enrico, but wanted him to continue. "Brief lust, sinner's prerogative. She was impressive and I wanted the best. But it has always been you that I yearned for the most." The Archbishop's grief increased after the confession, frightened of what his rejection could provoke inside his troubled mood.
"Enrico… you have always been dear to me."
"Not like that! You are everything I have left!" Maxwell explained. "To bring Iscariot to a new age, I wanted to show you I could do it. That you would-"
"Hush, boy, I know. I can see through you."
He was speechless for a moment, he could picture his body bashful red if he still had any. "Would you free me?"
"You must free yourself, Enrico Maxwell, I am the gateway," Anderson came closer; he was a luminous presence that eclipsed the perpetual darkness in the prison.
"Gateway to where? The battlefield?" Enrico questioned, his tone was wary. He was not sure if he wanted to return to the war. He was afraid to make the wrong choices again and win his teacher's scorn. "Can you return me to life?"
"You don't want to."
Maxwell was stunned. Anderson was absolutely right, he did not want to live again, he only yearned to be close to Anderson and never be apart. In the end, Enrico was a coward, he could not open his arms to the Creator's gift and that would haunt him. Anderson's arms wrapped around him, cradling Enrico's ghost to his chest as if he were solid again.
"Stop crying, Maxwell, I am with you."
"I don't have eyes," he protested, feeling young again, innocent. "But you will leave, Master," he added. "You need to take care of the world to focus in one lamb."
"The good shepherd always looks after the stray lamb," Anderson cleared up. "Will you follow me, Theseus? Will you allow your own rescue?"
"I am no longer your leader. You have become the teacher again." The Master, the Saviour. "Order me and I will follow." I don't want to leave you, if for that I need to go to war again I shall. Maxwell saw the gate opening in the New Messiah's heart, the nail was consuming his soul; Enrico was drifting into his wondrous light.
"If I was still a sinner, still the mortal man that claimed to revel in his vice, Maxwell, I would have loved you as you want me."
Enrico heard his claim as Anderson started to ascend from the hell, going higher and higher, over his fragile pedestal and above to the field of blood. He was losing his conscious as he was being absorbed inside the inhuman system. Small in the immense universe but not alone, not unhappy.
But you are not that anymore, you are something better, you are now completely everything for me, Anderson: father, teacher, lover, killer, saviour and God.