AUTHOR'S NOTE: another one-shot. Inspired by the scene in the manga where Alucard woke up with tears on his face. I thought Integra would be able to relate.

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THE MEANING OF ONE TEAR

It wasn't often that she visited the mansion's cavernous dungeons.

It was, after all, the vampire's domain. A miniature realm of darkness where he kept to himself, slept in peace, away from the noisy world of humans. As Integra descended the stone steps, she mused briefly that it was almost like a bat cave.

As this hour, it was very likely that he was asleep, and she was correct in assuming so. She ventured deeper into the dungeons, her shoes echoing upon the stones. He came into view soon enough. Instead of his coffin, he had fallen asleep upon his throne. The shadows surrounding him swirled eerily, as if disturbed by his dreams. The table next to him held a half-empty bottle of red wine and an empty glass. Thus was how he passed his time.

She drew nearer. She had wished to discuss a recent disturbance with him. But as she looked closer at his slumbering form, she kept silence.

Down the sides of his pale cheeks, flowing like a steady stream from his closed eyes, were tears. Red as blood.

She stood her ground.

For someone dead, he did not sleep as one. In fact, he slumber was restless. Every now and then he would stir, or one of his limps would twitch, as if being hit. Sometimes he muttered to himself, or perhaps to some phantom in his dream. Sometimes in Romanian, sometimes in Danish, sometimes in Turkish. Every now and then there would be a sneer, or a small smirk.

Upon his throne, he sat like a king. The king he once was. But a tragic king, she mused. A prideful king brought down to the level of servitude. His dreams, she knew, could not be pleasant. When one lives as long as he had, and had a life such as his, pleasant dreams were long forgotten.

But it was the first time she had seen his shed tears. Of course he would never shed them before her, or anyone. His pride would never allow it. In fact, it was likely that he was even hiding this fact from himself, unaware of it unless he was deep in slumber. Perhaps he thought she would degrade him for showing weakness, or perhaps he has already degraded himself. For it.

The shadows quivered again. She could almost hear the voices of his dreams. There was shouting, the sound of weeping, the words of enemies past, all of which he kept sealed inside, in this dark cave.

Dusk was drawing near. He may wake soon. Integra turned and exited the dungeon soundlessly. On the way out, she came across another member of the Hellsing household.

"Seras Victoria," she called. "I would like to speak with you."

oOo

When the sweep of the city wrapped up that night, it was nearly two o'clock. The troops trudged back to the mansion exhausted. Even Seras was looking a bit worn, but she took the time to deliver the director's message to her master.

To Alucard, the message was nothing out of the ordinary. His master had requested his presence, regardless of the hour. After so many years with the vampire, the woman was a nightwalker herself. He wandered if she wished to speak about whatever it was she had come to the dungeons for earlier. He had been dimly aware of her presence, but as she did not speak, he did not bother to wake.

He had woken from his day's sleep with red stains on his face once more. He hoped Integra did not see them.

Her office was empty. He waited a moment, then a moment longer. She did not come. Bewildered, he wandered into the hall and searched the floors below. She was not with the troops. Walter had gone to bed, and looked rather miffed when Alucard entered his room unannounced.

Finally, he arrived at her bedroom. It was highly unusual for him to enter her bedroom. It was, after all, her sanctuary. It was cleaned only by Walter and no others were allowed to enter. She values her privacy, what little she had in this crazy world.

But tonight, the door, instead of locked tight as usual, was ajar.

Cautiously, he entered, and there she was, sleeping peacefully on her bed, though she had so specifically requested his presence. This was odd in itself, but it could be dealt with tomorrow. He began to leave, when something caught his eyes.

Down the sides of her up-turned face, were two shiny trails.

He took a step closer, and voices filled his head, drowning out his senses. The sounds of her dreams. Death, gunpowder, loneliness. How well she hid them from the outside, where she was expected to be strong and dedicated. Where she was not permitted to show weakness or even speak on her own behalf. It was only at night, with her door safely locked and her senses buried in the safety of the dream realm, that she could allow her feelings to show, allowed to be weak, allowed to be human.

He smiled down at her sleeping form, and understood the message meant for him.

You are not alone.