Author's Notes: This is an epilogue. An epilogue for a story. A story that can't seem to end. Why won't you let me put this story down, Alucard?


EPILOGUE: Mephistopheles

The bath water smelled like chamomile and rosehips. His pale chest was still as he settled himself into the soaking liquid, hardly bothered by the water as the spells scraped into his flesh by Arthur Hellsing glowed in a faded manner. His long fingers loosely hung over the edge of the white porcelaine, his head back while Integra knelt behind him wearing her white blouse. Her glasses were fogging in the steam, laid aside so she could see him, while she poured the water from a stainless steel pitcher over his head. The gore came away in little brown rivulets, but the water cleared somehow as he drew it into himself. Hair plastered itself over his shoulders like ink. She repeated the process until he laid his head back against the edge, eyes opening to stare blankly through the steam rising from his skin.

Several empty blood packets littered the floor to the left of the tub, savagely torn into and sucked dry of their contents as if an animal had gotten to them.

"Nice..." he purred, moving his left hand to stir the water lazily. Petals bobbed and swirled around him. Naked in the warmth of a perfect hot bath, the vampire looked at Intregra's face.

He was never so acutely aware of her beauty until he saw the worry masked behind a face she seemed tired of wearing. His lady knight of God looked so old. It made her even more precious. His vision blurred, and it must have startled her because she quickly moved to splash water over his cheeks.

"Alucard," she began to say, seeing red brimming at the edges of his eyes. "Will you tell me what the hell happened?"

"We had a row," Alucard smiled, rubbing at his eyes. "Do my tears make you unhappy?"

Integra lifted her mouth in a small smile. "I'm just a little alarmed. This is really unlike you."

Alucard dropped his hands into the water again, grinning like a jester sharing his own private joke. "That boy," he said. "We fought, he and I. We disappeared, right? I don't know for how long. You see, we had been vanishing to a place somewhere outside of the stream of time. I know it's difficult for you to believe, but how can you explain how he came from the future?"

"I believe you, Alucard," she replied, reaching for a pine green wash cloth. She doused it in water before lathering it with soap. "I already told you that. So tell me, when you and him went outside of time..."

"I unleashed all of my power on him. Master, may I have more water?"

Integra's eyes shined. She silently poured more over his body, began to wash his body carefully, rubbing the cloth over his chest and neck, reaching her arms around him. The aromatic scent filled her nose, eliminating the scent of blood.

Alucard continued after a moment, head back back. "How can I say how long when there was no way to measure the passage of time? But my minions. One by one, he cut them down, sometimes three, or four, or even five at a time. It was the most marvelous thing I had ever seen. He was... absolutely tireless. Flawless. I tore and ripped at him, but he came toward me, determined to meet his death by me. Me!" Alucard laughed and it bounced malignantly off the walls. "One man against an army of me. The war might have been waged for days, for all I know. But I understand that it took only a second before I appeared again, isn't that right?" He grinned at the little pun, moving on rapidly as he talked at the water more than Integra. "So much happened, all at once. He was holding back that entire time, just for me. Then at the end, his familiars revealed themselves to me."

"Familiars?" Integra arched a brow dubiously. "What?"

"I saw him as he truly was." The vampire's eyes turned inward as he recollected the vision. "Magnificent. Absolutely breath-taking. Like a great, dark angel from Heaven. He had wings, master! And all of Heaven's wrath seemed to come falling toward me and I welcomed the challenge with open arms!"

"But you defeated him, surely?"

"I did." At this, Alucard's eyes fell. He sat up carefully, yawned once, and rubbed his temples. "I devoured him with his blessing. He wanted to die, Master... Just like that fool Dorian Grey. Ha, ha, but he should never be compared to that whelp!"

Integra looked on, rubbing the cloth into his back, over his broad shoulders. His skin was a marvel, like the perfect marble filling the manor's corridors. There were no scars to show that he had fought valiantly against his predestined foe. She wished he had not moved so she could better see the expression on his face. He was a difficult, deep book to read. "Damn you, Alucard," she muttered, clenching her fingers on the cloth. Soap suds squeezed out along his skin. "You wanted him to kill you so you could die like a bloody fucking hero."

"True enough." He rubbed his chin, unenthused.

"You're so selfish!"

"As always!" Alucard turned to stare at her with his smile.

Integra growled, tossing the cloth into the water with a splash. "You never stopped to think whether the Hellsing Organization would suffer without you!"

"It suffers with me!" he sat up, water pouring from his sides as he got to his knees, leaning on the edge of the bath to glare at her. "After all, I did not exactly twist your arm out of its socket to seek my glory! It was not enough to be the lone warrior of Hellsing! Their black knight!"

Fury suited her just fine, Alucard decided. She clenched her fist to hit him, but decided that it was better not to. Forgoing all thought of consequence, she grabbed his jaw and pulled him roughly, hissing against his damn little grin. "You are my knight, Alucard, and you always will be; without regard, without bloody foresight-- reckless bastard-- do you have any idea--"

Alucard waited, fixing his eyes on her face until the anger she had summoned up as her armor against human weakness. It cracked and tumbled away, her knuckles white on his shoulders. "Bastard-- you don't have any idea--" Tears followed the dimples in her face down her cheeks. He pulled her close to the edge, covered in soap, and kissed her face. Wretched little sounds of directionless anguish bounced from wall to wall.

So tender, and precious. Little mortal woman. It must be your turn to weep again. The vampire's eyes softened greatly, feeling her shoulders tremble and her breast shudder against his. "I c-can't," she growled, taking up arms again, glaring at his neck. "I can't endure that again. Don't you dare attempt to seek your own death because it will be the death of me."

Alucard said her name and made her look up in slight surprise. "Rinse," he purred, sliding back into the water, his hair slightly dried. She poured a pitcher of water over him again, a soft flush tinging her cheeks. "Am I pleasing, master? You've never seen me quite so, isn't that right?"

The tone was half-teasing, half-demure. Integra wrinkled her nose, placing the pitcher on the edge of the porcelain bath as she stood up and stretched, her shirt raised to show her navel. It caught his attention and stirred his blood, and it was his turn to blush.

"Not as pleasing as I am to you," Integra noted coolly, frosty amusement glittering in her eyes. How quickly her emotions doth change! "Stay." Alucard sank into the water, playing with one of the petals, drowning in the scent of the water and soap and the faint aroma of her perfume left behind. She disappeared from sight. There was a Japanese screen to one side. She stepped beyond it, reached her arms above her head, and dropped the blouse on the tiles where he could see it by her shoes. She pushed those off her heels and brushed them aside.

In about a minute she showed herself again, eyes gleaming, a soft white bathrobe draped around her. At her approach, Alucard reopened his eyes and nearly jumped out of his skin. "Master..."

She derobed, sliding one slender leg over the edge, then the other. Alucard slid backward and watched her move, half-mesmerized. Then he pulled a small smile; she responded in kind, settling into the water and moving to move the water up over her neck, sighing, exulting in the heat that eased her muscles.

"Why, master--"

"Shut up, Alucard."

His lips quirked slightly into a crooked smirk. She quietly twined her legs with his, as this was not a situation arranged for two to fit into. Even in hot water, his skin felt cooler than everything else. She stared across the steam rising from the water into her vampire's eyes, long golden hair floating around her. It was a buffet of skin to feast his eyes on, but he could devour her in other ways than simply looking. With nary a squeak of porcelaine he covered the short distance and pressed his mouth to her throat just beneath her jaw, pressing his lips to her skin until he felt her hands rest on his shoulders, then her arms loosely hang about his neck, pressing him closer.

"Promise me," she said into his ear. "You'll stay by my side, not because you are cursed but blessed."

"I am blessed, Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing."

"I love you, Alucard."

He grunted slightly at that. She tightened her hold on him, kissing his hair, his cheeks, his face, until she bumped her lips against his and pressed harder, more fervently, a passionate affair indeed. The vampire did not necessarily discourage the effort; he pushed his tongue past her lips, into her mouth, feeling her warm mouth tighten and pull on it with unyielding hunger. His wet, dark hair clung to her face; likewise, her hair was sticking to his sides. She breathed life into his mouth with the tiniest of moans and he relinquished his hold over her, letting her recover.

"Not for you. Not now," he crooned, stroking her hair into order. "My beloved master. Let me get dressed and we'll put you to sleep with tea."

"Don't coddle me," she growled, flustered as much as any virgin.

Alucard stretched as he stood outside the bath, arms raised high above his head, flawless immortality carved out of the ravages of time. Integra dried herself with her bath towel, steam rising from her pink skin.

Alucard drew his pants up over his legs, letting them hang on his hips. He wondered awhile at the words spoken in the past, and his role as the observer of D's past - and his future, it seemed. Or one future. Who was to say that Alucard would become the kind of tyrant over his own child? And here, vampires were said to be barren, childless. Was it just a coincidence that D had come here, to see him in particular?

Foolishness. Walter delivered him new clothes, washed, and mourned the loss of his beloved Casull and Jackal, before promising that even better side arms would be made for the vampire. The butler's monocle gleamed suspiciously at the state of Integra, whose hair was damp and skin flushed. Her stately appearance was cast off, glasses fogging slightly as they sat precariously on her nose.

As Integra shuffled off to bed wearing a pair of brown leather slippers, Alucard reclined against the wall. It was fortuitous chance that Walter was here. He felt as if he had not seen him in a millennia and yet the old creature had not changed at all.

"Shinigami," Alucard called him.

"Alucard, sir?"

"That journeying vampire hunter from the future... said he had a gift for you."

"A... gift, sir?" Walter quirked an eyebrow, hands folded kindly behind his back. Only Alucard could truly say what kind of character he was. He had flitted like a moth into time and space during his battles with D, and although he was paying more close attention to the swordwielding dhampir, he had seen and heard quite a bit. In another time, perhaps, Walter was a traitor; he did not know exactly what reasons pushed that time-period's Walter.

But the insight was intriguing to say the least.

"There was a blue jewel in my clothes; please put it somewhere safe, the Manor treasure room perhaps."

The battle: when they had been close enough to see the ethereal light of eternity gleam in each other's eyes, Alucard lunged to grab the jewel with his teeth, breaking the chain with his teeth. As it fell, he snatched it out of the air before it was lost to the gaping darkness around them. D did not begrudge him the sudden chance in ownership.

"Please tell Inte-- ah, master -- not to be alarmed. While it's still dark, I'd like to go out for a bit. There's something I left behind."

Walter called after him, slightly alarmed. "Whatever could you have left behind? There was nothing, master Alucard!"

Alucard hurried along, taking to lightening sky and finding the empty field which was still peppered with blood. His feet crunched the hardened snow beneath his feet. He stood in the midst of blood frozen solid, crimson-hued eyes looking here and there as if he were a man who had dropped his wallet in his obscure place. From underneath a layer of churned-up snow near the place where he had popped back out of time like a cork from the pressure, there was a small but distinguishable muffled groan.

The vampire stepped toward the snow, using his boot to brush it aside. A tiny brown mouse looked up with black eyes like tiny pepper corns, gleaming with intelligence and sizzling with outrage. The familiar voice erupted from in between the mouse's squeaks, walking around in a circle to warm itself up.

"Took you long enough to find me! I was starting to think I'd freeze to death out here!"

"How did you manage to get back?"

"You think I was gonna hang around? When the ship's sinking, a rat's got to jump ship, eh?" The "mouse" grinned widely, so widely that it seemed to stretch the furry mammal's face obscenely.

"Or a mouse, in your case." Alucard returned the grin, crouching down and offering his palm as a lift. The mouse crawled on, shook itself once, before blinking up at Alucard with twitching whiskers. "I suppose you'll be coming home with me, whatever you are."

"I'm a parasite. I'm not really hurtin' this little guy, just hitching a ride until a better host comes along. For now, I think I'll stay here - it's not too conspicuous unless I happen to scurry across your master's dinner table." When the mouse was placed into his breast pocket, he stuck his nose out. "Hey, this is nice - first class! Sure am going to miss that dhampir bastard, though. Hope to hell he was worth it. Was he tasty?"

"You talk too much. I should squash you, really. But you, my little furry friend, are too interesting. I'll want to hear all about you and how you came to be attached to his hand like that."

"Well," the mouse chuckled anxiously, "it's kinda embarassing, really. But--"

The red-coated figure walked back to the edge of the field, unable to fly lest he harm his new companion. The voice of the parasite echoed across the snow, growing softer as they walked away. Alucard was sure that tomorrow night would be a singularly grand one; he would surely look forward to many more to come.