Renfield Wasn't Crazy
Rating: M, mostly for language—Seras swears more than any character I've written.
Summary: University student, Seras Victoria, is given the daunting task of writing a critical essay on Dracula. She quickly runs into trouble while trying to explain the characters in detail, but soon receives some help from an interesting passerby.
Quick Note: Let it be said, right from the get-go, that this story is mostly AU. Hellsing exists in the same way as it did in the anime/manga. What's AU are the circumstances of Seras' life and how Hellsing comes across her. In this story Seras is a university student writing an essay for her gothic literature class, rather than a police girl. I'm not entirely certain where this story will end up, but I have a good idea. If you have never read Dracula or seen one of the many movies, then parts of this might be a tad confusing to you, as I am going to be working with the characters and events of the original novel.
To many of you, this will look familiar. After many years, I've decided to do a little more work on this story, so I've taken the first few chapters, edited them, and made a few changes. I would recommend re-reading for two reasons: one, it's been a long time for all of us, and two, I've made a couple of important changes that are going to change the flow of this story.
If you're wondering why I'm suddenly showing interest in what seemed to be a long-abandoned story, here's your answer: This all came about because I've been on something of a Dracula kick lately, so hopefully I'll be able to put up a few new chapters before the mood fades.
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Hellsing belongs to Kohta Hirano, and Dracula belongs to Bram Stoker. A few of the sections in italics were taken from the Dracula Sparknotes, but I tried to keep that to a minimum, since Sparknotes can make anything seem spectacularly boring.
Chapter One: The Un-Writable Essay.
"Damn it!" Seras Victoria usually considered herself to be a mild-tempered sort of woman. "Bloody hell!" But she was just having one of those days where nothing ever seemed to go right. "Fuck, why is this so hard?" Her problem at the moment was a 20-page in-depth character analysis for her Gothic Literature class, which she had less than a week left to write. She had known about the paper for some time now, but had procrastinated on the grounds that it was centered on Dracula, a novel that she knew inside and out. When the time had come to sit down and write she had come up with nothing but a horrible blank. And it certainly didn't help matters that Seras shared an apartment with two classmates who were extremely fond of loud music and throwing wild parties at the most inappropriate times.
Her concentration suffered greatly.
"All right… maybe I should try writing an outline first, since I'm having so much trouble," Seras mused to herself, unconsciously glaring her baby blue eyes in the direction of her living room, from which some sort of heavy death metal music seemed to be blaring. 'I wouldn't be having so much trouble if Pip and Harry could just keep quiet for one miserable evening!' she thought to herself.
With a sigh and a shake of her head, she began to write down a list of the main characters. Count Dracula, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra, Renfield, Jonathan Harker, Doctor John Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris.
A terrible noise began to assault Seras, breaking through the haze of concentration that had briefly surrounded her. Someone was drunkenly warbling a very incoherent sort of song, while a bass-line thumped crazily about the apartment, shaking small things off the end tables.
"Now," Seras commanded herself loudly, "I'll start with some basic information on a few of the characters."
Jonathan Harker: A solicitor from England. The first character we meet, and our first narrator as he speaks to the reader through his journal. He's traveling to Transylvania to give over English land deeds to Count Dracula.
Something, which sounded suspiciously like a glass vase, crashed to the floor in the next room over. Seras heard the door slamming open and closed, and assumed that more people were now over.
Doctor John Seward: A doctor in charge of an insane asylum. He is also one of Lucy's suitors. He is the one who telegrams Van Helsing when Lucy takes "ill".
Somewhere, most likely the kitchen, a smoke detector went off, and if Seras looked hard enough she could almost see some sort of gray vapor spilling in from under the door. At that moment a phone rang, undoubtedly one of the neighbors calling to complain about the noise.
Arthur Holmwood: Lucy's fiancé and a friend of her other suitors. Arthur is the son of Lord Godalming and inherits that title upon his father's death. In the course of his fight against Dracula's dark powers, Arthur does whatever circumstances demand: he is the first to offer Lucy a blood transfusion, and he agrees to kill her demonic form.
Something that sounded like, "CHUG! CHUG! CHUG!" reached her ears.
Quincey Morris: A plainspoken American from Texas, and another of Lucy's suitors. Quincey ultimately sacrifices his life in order to rid the world of Dracula.
Seras' apartment was of the comfortable variety, which was amazing considering how little money she had. The apartment was clean, spacious, the rent was cheap, the water pressure was good, the stove worked, and…
…The walls were closing in.
It was just too bright, too loud, and not at all conducive to writing a paper.
"I can't concentrate here!" Seras finally howled in frustration. Quickly she packed up her laptop, grabbed a coat, and headed out. Leaving the apartment wasn't easy in the least; the throng of people in her living room had been larger than she had anticipated and for some reason they all seemed intent on blocking the front door. After getting tossed about for a while, she managed to make it out into the fresh night air.
'Now,' Seras thought, 'where should I go? I need somewhere quiet and relatively deserted…'
The city was a modern jungle. Buildings rose up like metal trees while people bustled about, taking in the smell of urban living, and the sound of millions of voices all talking at the same time. The air was thin and smelled faintly of oil and greasy foods. Shops littered every corner with brightly lit displays proclaiming amazing discounts. The general area was filled with the din of music, shouts, laughter, and crys. Pavement, covered in grime and cracks, stretched out as far as the eye could see. And over this nighttime setting, streetlamps cast an eerie orange glow. London was a busy city.
For the most part.
The oldest city park was filled with ancient oak, beach, and pine trees. Between the trees were dirt and gravel paths that wove themselves intricately throughout the green district. On the sides of the paths were iron benches of the beautiful, but extremely uncomfortable, variety. Sitting on one of these benches were the only four inhabitants of the park: a laptop, a cup of hazelnut coffee, a battered copy of Dracula, and a girl. The girl was around twenty, willowy, pale, blonde haired, and blue eyed.
And frustrated. So very, very frustrated.
Seras Victoria had gotten about as far as, "The novel Dracula, by Bram Stoker, is filled with interesting and highly symbolic characters…" when she promptly ran out of ideas. Well, that wasn't entirely correct. To be fair, she had plenty of ideas, she just didn't know how to go about writing them down. This was always where school had been hardest for Seras; she could talk about things, discuss them at length, but she could never seem to write them down. She took a sip of her coffee, briefly toying with the idea of getting someone to transcribe a conversation between her and a classmate, but decided that Professor Vrel wouldn't appreciate that. "I am so fucked," she laughed humorlessly.
The fine hair at the back of her neck rose, sending a chill down her spine, and it was then the she realized she suddenly wasn't alone anymore.
The man walking up the path was tall, probably somewhere around six feet or so, and lean. He was pale, with black hair, and appeared to be wearing a charcoal colored suit with a startlingly red trench coat. And sunglasses. Seras couldn't even begin to guess as to why a man would wear sunglasses at night, especially in the green district where there was no lighting at all. The gravel crunched under his booted feet as she continued to stare at him; she didn't mean to stare, she just couldn't seem to take her eyes away. As he drew closer she tried to guess his general age, but found, to her astonishment, that she couldn't. There was something about his angular features that defied time—twenties seemed too young, and thirties seemed too old. His face was simply ageless. Overall, he struck an imposing figure; the man was over twenty feet away and yet she still felt mildly threatened by his presence.
Seras was a quiet sort of girl; she never took risks, or went on adventures. She lived her life vicariously through books. That wasn't necessarily the way she liked things, but that was just the sort of person she was. As a result she often felt that she was somewhat socially awkward, which was exactly why she didn't say a word to the newcomer as he drew closer to her bench.
She let out a relieved breath when he drew level with her and still showed no signs of slowing his ground-eating stride. Her relief was short lived however, when he stopped just a few feet past her lonely vigil. He slowly turned his head to look at her, and Seras idly wondered what color his eyes would have to be to appear red from behind his oddly tinted glasses. 'Probably mahogany…' He seemed to study her for a moment, but she couldn't really tell since his expression never changed and it was hard to see his hidden eyes in the dark of the night.
"It's a bit late for young girls to out reading," he murmured. His voice was rich, dark, and firm, like satin and crushed velvet over a bar of steel.
Seras bristled; she might not have been able to place his age, but he couldn't be so much older than her that he could call her a young girl! "I'm not reading," she snapped in annoyance, "I'm trying to write."
"Oh?" he asked, his voice caressing the question strangely. "What about?"
"It's really none of your business, sir." Seras began to panic when he turned around fully. If this man had seemed intimidating from twenty feet off, it was nothing compared to now. His six-foot frame towered over her sitting one—and was it just her, or did it seem darker right where he was standing than anywhere else in the park?
"There's no need to be so brusque, I'm merely curious," he seemed to smirk, but Seras was suddenly having a hard time getting any sort of definite grasp on his features.
"Dracula," she answered curtly. "It's for my English class." He wasn't doing anything but talking to her, he wasn't even standing particularly close, but she still felt uneasy. Discreetly, she started to gather her things together.
A wind picked up from absolutely nowhere. "How very droll," his dark voice replied—and only his voice.
Seras blinked uncertainly. He was gone! He had utterly and completely vanished, and yet somehow she had heard him speak as if he had still been standing there. She scanned the surrounding trees, and then eyed her coffee suspiciously. Here she was, just trying to get a decent grade in school, and her body had the audacity to create a caffeine-induced hallucination on her!
Seras grabbed her belongings, threw away her coffee, and headed back into the city, intent on finding another place to write.
…Just incase the caffeine-fueled hallucination decided to come back to the park.
Twenty minutes later found Seras still looking for somewhere to settle down. She was starting to wish she hadn't left the silence of the countryside to go to school. 'Maybe Pip and Harry have moved their party to somewhere else by now,' she mused wistfully, but she knew better. No matter how loud it got, no matter how much the neighbors complained, the parties were never over until after two in the morning, at the very least. 'Well, it's just ten now,' she thought to herself, 'I've got at least four hours until my apartment is silent.' The streets were crowded for a Wednesday night but then, what else could one expect from London?
She knew she was probably being paranoid, but every couple of blocks she felt as though she were being followed. However when Seras looked around there was never anyone who seemed overly suspicious near her. At one point she had thought she saw a flash of red clothing ahead of her, but when she moved to get a better look her foot caught on the uneven pavement. By the time she had righted herself and looked back up the only person wearing red was some poor kid dressed as a lobster mascot.
Seras crossed her arms and pulled her jacket tighter against herself. The mysterious wind had not stopped since she left the park, and only seemed to be getting colder. Unconsciously she gripped her book bag tighter, and decided to stop at the first café or library that she came across. Preferably somewhere crowded where intimidating, possibly not caffeine induced, hallucinations could not approach her.
What she found was Rimkus Corner, an underground poetry café with a sign that boasted it to be open from twelve in the afternoon to six in the morning. Seras descended the stairs and took a good look around. Rimkus was large and pentagonal, with a small stage near the back. The walls were an interesting combination of maple paneling and dark colored silks; the floor was littered with little wooden tables, bookshelves, and a few booths; the air was blessedly free of the clouds of smoke that she had expected; and the lights were dim, trying to lend an air of mystery which Seras thought was somewhat childish and bloody irresponsible of anyone who wanted to read for an extended period of time. All in all it was a nice place.
There was only one problem: including her and the guy sleeping behind the service counter there was a grand total of five people in the entire establishment. Still, it was the perfect place to write and—Seras could still vaguely feel the wind blowing down the stairwell—it was warm.
Feeling that the chances of the exchange in the park having been real, or that if it had been real, her chances of that man being interested in finding her again, were slim she decided to stay. She hesitated for a moment, then headed over to the counter to wake the boy up and get something to drink before going over to one of the cozy looking booths. 'Hopefully, here I'll be able to concentrate and, with any luck, finish this paper so that I won't have to worry about it for the rest of the week.' After retrieving a coffee from the sleepy-eyed boy, Seras quietly set up her computer while listening to the couple in the corner argue heatedly about Lovelace and Byron.
Two hours later she had succeeded in doing nothing but annoy the boy behind the counter by waking him up just a few too many times. 'I maintain it's not my fault that he's sleeping on the job,' Seras thought sourly when she noticed him glaring at her from his slumped and not-quite-sleeping position.
"It looks like you haven't gotten all that far into your writing since the last time that we crossed paths," someone said from the other side of her booth.
A shadow fell across Seras' computer screen. Slowly she raised her head up, her fears confirmed when she saw the man from the park, who she had begun to think of as Mr. Creepy, sitting opposite her. "When did you get here? Are you following me?" she demanded, extremely bothered by the notion that someone could be stalking her.
"I arrived here just before you did," he smiled, his tone easygoing. "So the question begs to be asked: are you following me?" There was a definite smirk playing about his full lips, and it was just the tiniest bit infuriating.
Seras slapped herself mentally; how could she count there being five people in the café and not notice that he had been one of them? "No, sir, I am not following you," she answered the man's rhetorical question, hoping that if she remained as curt as possible he would take his leave of her.
His smile—or smirk, it was very hard to tell which—widened. "Do I make nervous?" he asked in a tone which clearly stated he enjoyed her skittishness.
Did he make her nervous? Certainly, but why? Studying the man across from her, she really couldn't pick out any single thing about him that should have had her on edge. Maybe it was the fact that she couldn't see his eyes, something that always bothered her when she spoke to a person; or perhaps it was that his hair seemed a tad bit longer now then it had when she'd last seen him, grazing his shoulders when it had only looked to be down to his chin just a few scant hours ago. But then again it had been dark on that lonely path, so perhaps she was mistaken. It was almost as if the different features of his face, by themselves, were completely faultless, but put together they possessed some devilish quality that had warning bells going off in her head. That, taken in hand with the fact that he had simply vanished from the park as he spoke to her, had Seras wary of the man before her. The less time spent in his presence the better.
"I'm not nervous," she lied through her teeth, "just busy."
He seemed to study her for a minute, then raised an eyebrow that she almost couldn't make out through his wild bangs. "You're lying."
Seras opened her mouth to protest, but he quickly cut her off.
"Now I'll grant that you probably are busy," he gestured vaguely to her laptop, "but I refuse to believe that you aren't nervous."
She couldn't believe that someone would be so blunt as to say something like that to a complete stranger. "Whether I am or not is really none of your business. Now if you'll excuse me, sir, I really need to work on this paper."
"So quick to dismiss me, and yet still polite enough to refer to me as sir," he cocked his head to the side, his smirk softening somewhat.
Seras could feel a headache coming on. "Are you complaining that I'm being polite or that I'm trying to get rid of you?" she asked while rubbing her temples.
He shook his head noncommittally, acknowledging her question rather than answering it.
"Look, was there something you wanted? I have put off this essay for too long to get distracted now!" she snapped; she hadn't meant to, but the night had been less than productive and her temper was starting to wear thin.
"I'm a distraction?" he asked, humor clear in his dark voice. "For two hours you've done nothing but harass that poor coffee-drone behind the counter and listen to those two in the corner argue about romantic poetry. It seems to me that you were distracted long before I showed up." She had a feeling that had she been able to see his eyes they would have been gazing at her mockingly.
"What do you want?" Seras pleaded tiredly, thinking that for all the work she was getting done right now she might as well go home and try writing again in the morning.
He chuckled and spreading his hands in a placating manner. "I could help you if you would stop being so abrupt with me."
"Why?" The warning bells were going off again. A perfect stranger, whom she wanted absolutely nothing to do with, was offering her help? It seemed too unlikely to be harmless.
The man cocked his head to the other side now. "Partly because you strike me as the sort of person who has a hard time writing their thoughts down, but mostly because you seem to need it."
"Forgive my doubt," she replied in frozen politeness, "but why should I trust you when I have absolutely no idea who you are?"
"You said your paper was about Dracula," he answered, rolling the vampire's name over his tongue like a forgotten memory. The way he said Dracula was unique, as though his voice had grown suddenly heavy with an accent, but it seemed fitting somehow. "I happen to be an expert on that story."
She stared at him for a moment. "You're a professor?" she asked disbelievingly. He seemed sophisticated enough, but he certainly didn't strike her as a teacher, unless he was one of those incredibly eccentric professors that she had always heard about but never met.
"No, but an expert nonetheless," he stated with a mysterious smile. "It's been two hours, and I doubt you're any farther now than you were when we met in the park. The way I see it you have three choices: You can sit here questioning me and my motives all night, you can leave and try to write some other time, or you can take my help and make some progress on that assignment of yours," there was something in the way he said it, something in his voice, that really made her hate the idea of trying to work later. His tone wasn't exactly coaxing, but it was persuasive all the same.
She shook her head absently, once more asking, "Who are you?" Seras tried to catch a glimpse of his eyes behind their glasses like she had at the park, but the orange lenses suddenly seemed completely impenetrable. She couldn't figure out why it was so crucial at that moment to see his eyes, but everything in her screamed that it was absolutely necessary; without it she would miss something important. Seras had never had so many gut-feelings in one day as she was having around this man in one evening; something about him was off, and in a big way. Suddenly, and unlike any other person Seras had met, he completely relaxed under her scrutiny, as if to encourage her perusal further.
"I'm just a lover of literature, like yourself I'm sure," he answered without really getting to the heart of the question.
Unnerved by his behavior and evasive answers, she fidgeted slightly in her seat. "Look," she breathed, trying to ignore the desperate note in her voice, "I know I need the help, I won't deny that. But to be perfectly honest, I'm not comfortable with the idea of working with you," Seras replied, needing him to understand that she simply could not accept his offer.
"All right," he hummed, "we'll compromise then. I'll leave you alone for tonight if you promise to give my offer some serious thought." He leaned forward, closer to her, eating up more than his fair share of space. "But if you find, after some time, that you really would appreciate my help, then meet me back here," he finished smoothly, clearly ignoring her earlier refusal.
"When?" she wondered aloud. "For how long are you offering this help of yours?"
Nothing about his expression changed, but it felt as if the very air around him held a heavy smugness—like, somehow, in the end, he knew she was going to give in. "Indefinitely. I spend a good deal of my evenings around this area. If you come back I'll know."
If that was truly the case, then she never wanted to set foot in this part of the city again. "If that's the only way to get you to leave me alone, then fine, I'll consider it." Seras gathered her belongings together. "But I make no guarantees," she added while standing to leave.
He uncrossed his legs and turned to face her, the very picture of a gentleman intending to see her out. "I wouldn't dream of asking for more," he nearly purred.
She backed away from the booth a few steps, but when he made no attempts to stand and follow her she relaxed. "Don't hold your breath," Seras advised as she left the sleepy little building.
The apartment had not survived its latest party very well. The sofa was tipped on its back, torn paper and plastic cups littered the floor, and the kitchen looked as though it had been epicenter of World War III. Pip and Harry were nowhere in sight, telling Seras that the party had probably gotten too wild, so they had exercised what little consideration they had by taking it elsewhere. Not wanting the trash to be able to sit around perfuming the air, she knew she would have to clean, despite the fact that the only thing she really wanted after the night she'd had was a hot shower and a soft bed.
Seras had just put her book bag down on the now right-side-up couch when she heard something at the front door. Curiosity overruling her caution, she opened the beige portal. There, standing on her doormat, was a dog—a humongous, shaggy, black, red-eyed dog; it was most likely a stray. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened; she was a sucker for homeless animals and often let them stay from a while, or fed them at the very least. As a result, stray dogs and cats showed up quite frequently, as if some creature that had benefited from her in the past had told them about her. Seras eyed the canine carefully and, against her better judgment, stepped aside. "Come on in boy," she beckoned to the massive hound. He strode in confidently and with a grace she wouldn't have expected from a vagrant animal.
It was tricky dealing with strays sometimes; there was no way of knowing which ones were sick or dying, which ones were well behaved, or where any of them had come from. The dog before her was a conundrum: he was a stray but was well groomed, massive but graceful, black-furred but red-eyed. Perhaps he was some sort of rare breed that had gotten away from its master.
"You'll have to wait until I'm done cleaning if you want any food," Seras told the arrogant beast. "This place is a disaster." Here he gave her a look that she would have called 'sarcastic agreement' if it hadn't been coming from a dog. "It's not my fault," she tried reasoning with him, "my roommates are just rowdy boys!" She shook her head when he just continued to stare at her, and vaguely wondered why she was trying to rationalize the appearance of her home to a creature that probably couldn't understand a word that she was saying, let alone appreciate the cleanliness of her accommodations. "It's going to be a long night," she sighed to herself, moving toward the kitchen for some trash bags.
Seras had gotten home just past midnight. By the time she was finished cleaning it was nearly two in the morning. Exhausted, she sat on the sofa, idly rubbing the dog's wide forehead. Despite what she'd said, she had set out food and water for him halfway through her cleaning but he had yet to touch it. "And I still have to work on that damn paper," she moaned pitiably to herself. The dog cracked one eye open, and gave her a look clearly suggesting that he would bite her arm off if she stopped petting him. "I have to. If I don't, I'll fail the assignment, and it'll drag my whole grade down," she explained gently while standing up and looking for her book bag.
It took her a while to realize that the hound was lounging on top of it, lazily grooming his paws. However, when she tried to approach him for it, he bared his teeth, which all seemed freakishly sharp even for a dog, and let loose a guttural and horrifying sound that she could only assume was a growl. "What?" she snapped. "I took you into my home, I've given you food even if you haven't eaten it, and I was just petting you a minute ago! The least you could do in return is to get off my school work! If you can't be nice I can always through you out, you know," she threatened. He lifted his doggy brows at her, an almost human stubbornness shining in his eyes. "Please," Seras pleaded with the suddenly aggressive dog, "I really need to work!" He growled again, using his paws to pull the bag further under him. "Not even if I promise to pet you some more?" she raised her hand toward him, afraid to get too close in case he should decide to bite. The red eyes seemed to contemplate her offer for a moment, before covering the book bag more fully with his massive chest. The he leaned forward and nudged her hand, as if to encourage her attentions even if he had no intention to relinquish control over her current objective.
"Fine," Seras moaned, giving up. "I'm going to bed," she added on a sighed, feeling her exhaustion double at the prospect of wrestling with the beast over her laptop. Walking down the hallway she headed toward her bedroom. Behind her she could hear the clicking of nails on the tile, and briefly thought of rushing back to the couch for her computer, but soon heard a deep woof coming from somewhere behind her thighs, and thought better of it. Not bothering to turn the lights on, she quickly changed and climbed into bed. Next to her she felt the mattress dip, and something heavy settle against her side.
As she slowly drifted off to sleep, cursing strange men and dogs alike, she prayed that tomorrow would be a better day for writing.
A/N: Even though they are still quite similar, I decided to keep the first three original chapters up, for those who still want to read them. Because this revised version is comprised of those chapters, it's a bit longer than what I usually write. There were only a few changes here and there, but a lot of what is to come is going to be good deal more interesting (and different) from what I originally planned.