Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Hellsing characters, places, etc.
"Have you seen Walter?" Seras frowned, poking her head into the barracks. Pip looked moderately surprised to see her, glancing at the clock.
"It iz almozt dawn," he commented.
"He was gone all night. Is he sick?"
"'E iz not here," Pip shrugged, swinging up from the chair he sat in. He left his hat on the table and came to the window, peering out of it. Sunlight was almost cresting the treetops. Seras was busy contemplating the places she had already hunted for him, tapping her chin as her eyes focused on the half finished Jin that Pip had been nursing. Pip's hand closed around her wrist and he dragged her inside.
"I am not staying with you, you bloody pervert!" Seras exclaimed at once. Pip was busy closing the door, before he pulled the curtains shut.
"What are you thinking, wandering around when it iz almost ze day?" Pip asked, as close as he ever got to being cross around her. His bangs were tussled as they frayed around the band of his eye patch, and his remaining eye glimmered with irritation.
"I just haven't seen Walter. Nobody has," Seras explained. Pip sighed, and went back to his table.
"I don't know where 'e went. I 'aven't seen him either," he reiterated. "You know, 'e iz 'uman. Maybe 'e took ze day off?"
"It's so unlike him though. I can't help but worry," Seras sighed. Pip pushed the chair across from him out with a foot, filling the glass of Jin anew and sliding it towards her offered seat. "No thanks. I can't drink Jin anymore," she waved it off, accepting the seat. She perched her head on her chin, staring at the closed curtains.
"Oh? So you did drink ze Jin from time to time?" Pip goaded.
"I'm not a saint," she replied, partially coming back to reality. "I do miss it though…chatting over a beer I mean. Back in the police force, we used to have nights out once every few weeks. It was fun to just be normal, to fit in." She sighed, and lightly put her finger on the lip of the glass. Pip followed her gloved hand as it circled the rim meditatively.
"You are un'appy?" Pip asked after a moment's silence. Seras contemplated the question.
"Not exactly, no," she replied. "I mean, I got to live…the price was so high though. Sometimes I wonder if I can even really call myself Seras Victoria, you know?" Her charming smile softened Pip's expression, and he stood up. He looked almost homey without his usual military 'uniform.' His jacket was tossed off and he was in just a T-shirt, his dog tags glinting around his neck. Seras always felt things were unusually intimate when neither of them had a weapon.
"I couldn't say zat I understand and 'ave a clean conscience," Pip shrugged, collecting another tumbler as Seras seemed completely taken with swirling the amber liquid around. "You 'ave chosen a path I 'ave nothing to reference clearly." Seras looked moderately crest fallen, and she stopped swiveling her wrist, allowing the sloshing Jin to steady in her grip. "But I understand zat zere are prices on all things," he reassured her.
"It doesn't do to dwell on it I suppose," she smiled over at him, putting the glass down again. She gazed at it for as long as it took Pip to cross back to the table from the cabinet and seat himself. Restlessly, she pushed the glass forwards with one finger, and the set her palm against a side. She pushed it along to the left, following it with her blue eyes.
"I am 'appy you made ze decizion," he told her, and she looked up with a masked expression. "Who else iz 'alf the fun to tease?" Her eyes rolled skyward, and she put her head down. She went back to pushing the glass, this time to the right with her knuckles. "So…you were a police girl before zis?"
"Why are you a mercenary?"
"Family trade," he answered proudly, swirling his own drink. A smile tugged on Seras' face.
"Me too," she opened up. Pip looked delighted to have teased a bit of lightness into her. "My dad."
"My grandfather bullied me into zis life. 'E was old and stubborn. But ze man could 'it a sparrow from a football field away wiz ze sniper." Pip mimed aiming a sniper rifle and firing. He blew imaginary smoke off the tip of the imaginary gun. Seras' smile spread.
"My dad was a great shot too. He tried to teach me, but Master Alucard can attest to how well I learned," she almost snickered.
"I would 'ate to be a civilian if you were my savior," Pip teased.
"You remember ze time you fired your 'Arkonen and decimated ze civilians on ze target ground?" Pip laughed, recalling one of her failed attempts to show him up. Oh, her aim was dead on, but the card board terrorists and civilians had both burned without discrimination.
"At least I tried. All you did was complain," she accused.
"I must say, zere iz something magical about you firing zat 'Arkonen zat iz irresistibly sexy," Pip grinned, leaning forward over the table towards her.
"You're so disgusting!" she wrinkled her nose and clenched the tumbler. She sat up perfectly straight, irritated. Pip tilted his head.
"Why? It iz true zat you are beautiful, no?" he asked, and Seras felt a blush rising in her cheeks.
"Cut it out!" she commanded.
"What?" he demanded. She kicked him under the folding poker table.
"Stop it," she repeated. Pip sighed and took a drink of his Jin, before slouching forward and propping his head on one hand.
"Zere iz something sick about a woman denying 'er beauty," Pip told her. "I blame ze television."
"Oh shut up. You can't say I'm beautiful. We work together, and you can't say it," Seras told him decisively.
"Didn't ze men you worked with tell you zat you are beautiful?" Pip pressed.
"No. They understood that it was a professional atmosphere!" she snapped, and Pip sat up. He held open his arms and looked around him incredulously.
"Zere iz no professional atmosphere 'ere! I do not see Sir 'Ellsing or your Master, I do not see us at work. We are off duty."
"We have a strictly professional relationship," Seras insisted.
"And in zis professional relationship I am saying zat you are beautiful,"
"You can't do that! We work together!"
"Zis iz not an office job. Zis iz a world of life and death. 'Ow many times 'ave we blown away ze enemy together? 'Ow many times 'ave you killed a man before 'e killed me? 'Ow many ghouls 'ave I shot through the eyes before 'e could bite into zat pretty little neck of yours? Does zat not make our relationship more zen just professional?" he demanded.
"It's your job to watch my back," Seras argued. A grin spread over Pip's face.
"And it iz a very nice back, I may assure you."
"This is what I'm talking about! You can't just say things like that to me! Not when we work together!"
"Because you just can't! That's not the way it works!"
"Zat iz 'ardly a suitable explanation. I refuse it," he crossed his arms and leaned his elbows on the table, watching her with a gleaming eye. He was waiting for her next words, and even though she knew it, she was too worked up to back down.
"You can't do that!"
"Well, I 'ave."
"You have to take it back! Take it back!"
"No, and you're even prettier when you're angry," he added.
Seras clenched her jaw and glowered at her boots, wrapping both hands around the tumbler. She refused to look up at him while his eye lingered on her, a smile teasing the corners of his mouth. He nursed his Jin for a time as Seras cursed her bad luck. She wouldn't be able to leave until this evening, when it was dark enough.
This is all your fault, Walter, she thought irritably, and glowered up at Pip. The blond mercenary smiled back jovially.
"Zis iz great. I will 'ave to thank Walter," Pip contradicted her thoughts. "I 'ave you completely at my mercy for God only knows 'ow long."
"If you touch me, I'll sick my Master on you!" Seras warned him.
"Please, I 'ave no death wish. 'E iz not a man I would trifle with," Pip held up his hands, looking skyward as he mimed a pledge. "But now zat you bring 'im up, 'e iz your Master only, yes?" he asked curiously.
"Just what are you insinuating?" Seras demanded, snarling now. Pip folded his arms on the table before them and leaned in, letting his head hang down from his shoulders. He examined her severely.
"I was only asking," he said, still looking at her severely. "I might cross 'im if it was some other way though." He sat back and took another drink. Seras smirked.
"And what are you? Some knight in shining armor?" she sneered.
"'Ardly. I 'ave no money or use for something so cliché," he scoffed.
"That would be simply ridiculous. Nobody can beat Master Alucard, not anybody."
"'E iz unbearably strong, yes, but 'e 'as no sense of fashion," Pip shook his head, as if this were a fatal flaw. Seras cringed, waiting for Alucard to phase into the room and mete out justice for the ridicule of his garments. The walls remained constant as she looked around them, and there was no mocking laughter in her head.
"You'd better be careful what you say," she warned him in a whisper. That incorrigible smile just spread wider, and Pip shook his head.
"You 'ardly seem at place with ze No-Life King," he stated, drawing out his pack of cigarettes. He pounded them against his plam, before selecting the one of his choice.
"I get that response in almost anything I do," Seras wrinkled her nose. "You know they used to call me Kitten in the Force?" she said disdainfully.
"Kitten, eh?" Pip asked around the cigarette, lighting it. He took a drag and breathed out smoke, before lifting the glass of Jin for another sip. "It seems proper only in ze context of your past. Now, you are quite ze force to be reckoned with."
"Only in comparison to a human…I just can't bring myself to take that final step," Seras shivered.
"You will, my little pussy cat," Pip replied.
"What did you call me?" she snapped automatically as her mind absorbed his last statement. "How do you know? Maybe I'll starve to death instead? Die a martyr. Or maybe I'll be so damn pig headed I'll get blown away in the middle of a battle."
"Zere are more eyes zen just mine on you in zose fights, so I do not think zat a likely scenario," Pip told her evenly. "And I believe zat your will to live will be too strong to die of starvation," he added. Sears smirked.
"We've already learned that," she chuckled darkly.
"Cheer up. Zere are worse things out zere. Now, zese cannot be ze only things you think about. Do you still, for instance, have a craving for shopping? Every woman I 'ave ever met 'as a passion for some item, usually shoes. Or 'ave you become addicted to zose fancy little underwear? Care to show me? I would be 'appy to judge for you!"
"You disgusting pervert!" Seras readied to lob the glass at him, and Pip cowered. She came back to her senses as Jin sloshed into her hair, and quickly place the glass back down. "I never used to lose my temper like this. You are a horrible influence," she told him. Pip chuckled.
"I 'ave a way with women," Pip answered. "If I can beat you at arm wrestling, will you give me a kiss?" He plunked his elbow down on the table, holding his hand open to her. Seras smirked and put her palm against his, before bending his arm all the way back until his knuckles hit the table. It took less then a second. Pip squirmed, screwing his eye shut before she let go. He rolled his shoulder once he was free. "I always forget 'ow strong you are."
"I guess I won't ever be needing a man to do my heavy lifting now," Seras said.
"Oh? Did you rely on such gallantries before?"
"No, but the option was there. Especially if there was a real looker around!" she giggled. "I tried not to attract attention, especially as one of the only girls on the force, but sometimes a girl's just got to do something!" Pip smiled back at her, watching as a warm blush tinted her cheeks.
"Bunch of gloomy stiffs around all ze time must make it 'ard. 'Alf ze men fear you, ze other 'alf are too old," he nodded.
"You're not scared. Why's that?" Seras demanded.
"I'm a succor for a pretty girl. It iz my weakness," he put a hand over his heart and shook his head mournfully. "But you can't tell zat master of yours. 'E already 'as me in a vice."
"He probably already knows. I don't think there's anything he doesn't know," Seras wrinkled her nose, letting his comment slide. Pip shivered. "It gets a bit invasive, if I may confide. I think he likes just eavesdropping on my thoughts. I do try to make him proud, and there's nothing happing in my mind I wouldn't let him be privy to. I just wish he'd ask instead,"
"…You do not 'ave zis power…?" Pip asked timidly.
"I wish. I'd like to jump in on him a time or two," Seras answered. "I wonder what it is he thinks about…" She was too busy tapping her chin in thought to notice the relief visibly unwind through Pip's shoulders.
"Guess I can keep my fantasies for a while yet," he said, watching the scarlet color deepen Seras' cheeks. A frown grew in increasing severity, and Pip began thinking twice about his statement. "Just a joke, Seras, really!" he waved his arms.
"It had better be!" Seras leaped out of her chair, grabbing for him. Pip kicked over backwards and rolled out of the folding chair, scampering over it again and under the table. Seras skid to a halt and jumped over the table, pouncing where he had just stood. The tassel of his braid brushed her nose as she turned, hunting for him.
"Too slow!" Pip jibed. Seras stepped in his way on the way to the door, sending him rebounding back towards the single bunk and sink he had in his room. He jumped over the bed as she chased him, and skid to a stop before the curtains, whirling around with both hands behind him fisted around the material. "One step closer and I'll fry you!" Pip threatened, beaming playfully, daring her to approach. Seras skid to a halt, panting. She clenched her fists, but was distracted by golden light shining down onto his hair.
She had only ever seen Pip in fluorescent lighting or the moonlight she realized. They had known each other for some months, and she had never seen him in daylight. Of course, there were lots of people she hadn't seen in daylight, but it struck home now that a tiny sliver touched down on him. She scooted to one side.
"Pip, will you open the curtains?" she asked him. His smile faded.
"You can't…it would destroy you."
"Only if it touches me. Please…I want to see it again…"
Pip understood suddenly, and he straightened up. Slowly, he peeled the curtains open. Sunlight burst through, filling up a square where the table sat with their Jin. The sky shone with an early morning blue, breathtaking in its serenity. There were no clouds. But her attention was on Pip, who was severely assessing her position in regards to the sunlight. He stood oblivious to her appraisal of him, all that gleaming golden hair and how blue, blue, blue his eyes were. He could have been an embodiment of the sky.
"Beautiful…" she murmured. Pip double checked, and then turned to the window.
"It iz a good morning," he agreed, rubbing his chin. Seras just drank him in, saw the way shadows curved down his muscular arms, and the gray-white creases in his shirt. His hair was detailed in golden blond, a hint of autumn red, and even a few lowlights of earthy auburn. He could have been a painting standing there, examining the daylight. She longed suddenly to reach out and touch him, to climb into the sunlight and bury herself in his chest, to smell and taste daylight again.
"You should get some sleep. Sir 'Ellsing will be angry if you are not well rested," he suggested as he closed the blinds. "You can take my bed. I was going to inspect ze new shipment of arms today and call a few people anyway. If you need anything, I'll 'ave my work phone." He gave her a winning smile and walked to the bed, fluffing the pillow. Seras' eyes lingered on the spot where he had been, adjusting once more to the darkness that now dominated her existence. "I'll be back when it iz safe for you to come out." Pip assured her, giving her a pat on the shoulder. She jumped, and spied the turned down sheets. With a wave, he slid out the door without opening it too far.
After a moment, once she was sure he was gone, she stepped out of her shoes and climbed onto the bed. She slid under the sheets and hunkered down, breathing in deeply the smell of cigarettes and Pip's aftershave. For a mercenary, he was very particular about shaving. She mused at how much more comfortable she was enveloped in Pip's scent on his hard mattress then her own plush coffin, confining and morose.
When she came around again, it was at the gentle insistence of a rough hand. Her eyes blurred into focus, instantly recalling the events of that morning as Pip's scent invaded her nose anew. She looked upwards at him, and he stopped shaking her.
"Time to get up, Pussy Cat," he smiled cheerfully. "A bit early, but I thought you might like to freshen up a bit. I asked Walter for a change of clothes. 'E was sick last night, you know? 'Appens to the best of us," Pip explained cheerfully. Seras would have blushed except she could feel the heat radiating off of the mercenary. She reached out and caught his wrist, pulling him down towards her. He gave a startled grunt, and remained frozen as she locked him in a gentle embrace.
Sunlight wavered off of his skin, the smell of daytime and warm air in his clothes. He was so warm it sent goose bumps up and down her arms. His sun soaked braid wound between her bare fingers, and she closed her eyes, recalling days she could never get back. Pip was tense for a moment, before he relaxed and carefully put his arms around her as well.
"You're so warm…" she said, feeling his heartbeat through his ribs. Pip didn't say anything, and let her hang onto him a moment more. After that, he gently pulled her loose and stood up.
"Zey will start to gossip," he warned, wagging a finger at her. Seras just smiled and stood, shimmying over to the tiny shower that his rank afforded him. She climbed in and listened to Pip whistling over at the table. "I will meet you at ze parade grounds, as always," he called after that, and she heard him leave.
Seras dressed in peace, and prepared herself for ridicule. She slipped out of Pip's room and made a break for it across the wide open estates that belonged to Sir Hellsing. She ran the whole way there, and only stopped when she got to the locker room where she collected her things and slammed out to line up for inspection that evening. She made it just in time, arriving and panting, standing breathlessly in place.
"Hey, did you hear about the boss?" asked Gordon on her right to Jules on his right. "I heard he slept in the barracks today." Seras tilted her head.
"Yeah, I heard that too," Jules nodded.
"He said it was some broken air conditioning, but I bet he was just scared Alucard would come get him in the middle of the night for hitting on Seras, right?" grinned LeBlanc on her left. The other men laughed, and Seras chuckled nervously.
"Alright you cowering toads! We 'ave a Freak to deal with! All of you, on ze double!" Pip barked, coming into the room in a flourish. All talk was over, and Seras hustled with the others to get to the transport. Alucard was waiting beside hers, standing with his usual cap, coat, and yellow glasses. He didn't make any moves as she approached, and she was almost already in the Van before his hand closed around her wrist, stopping her completely. His tall frame leaned over her and smelled her hair, before giving her a smile and releasing her.
"You children know nothing of fashion," he informed her, and let her climb in. She gave him a nervous smile and gulped.
"I was good, honest," she told him. Alucard only lifted one eyebrow.
Don't come crying to me if you encourage him, he told her privately, and her face was red clear to the roots of her hair.
"I wasn't!" she argued.
"Let's go, Police Girl," he dismissed her. She climbed in with a scowl and sat in her place, next to Pip. The mercenary looked over at her, and she swiped at her throat.
"Damned if it wasn't worth it," Pip smiled. "'Ow's about you spend ze night with me tonight, eh Pussy Cat?" he stated loudly. "I understand you like it hot!"
"Pervert!" she wailed as the van burst into laughter around her. But secretly, she couldn't help but smile. He was still warm as sunlight.