"The Beginning of the End"

Dedication: For my livejournal buddy, angedemusique2. Thanks for coming back to LJ land. I missed you. Lots.

Integra turned in the warm bed and felt the heat of the sun touch her face. Damn. She had slept too long. And sleep was a precious commodity when one needed to be ready for battle. The Millennium forces were building rapidly and a conflict was imminent, if not today or tomorrow, within the next seventy two hours. Soon, very soon.

The young leader of the Hellsing organization opened her eyes and looked across the room, seeing her vampire servant, Alucard standing at the window, blinds drawn. He was leaning, looking casually out the window, one large hand resting against the wooden frame, almost caressing it, his other hand inside the pocket of loose black trousers. Alucard's alabaster chest, shone in the sunlight, bare and beautiful. Clean and white and exquisitely muscled, his body was perfection. Or very close to it. Even if the vampire was considered to be, technically dead.

"You're awake, my master."

Alucard did not turn around but Integra thought she could see his body visibly shudder. As if he could feel her consciousness down to his very soul. And since they had been intimate the night before, Integra could sense Alucard as well. Something, some muscle that she never thought she had previously possessed, had become awakened during their lovemaking and now, now felt a connection of sorts to the monster. Oh, she couldn't read his thoughts and all. But, a part of her knew that he alive and well and in the room well before she had opened her eyes. And knowing this, that new, unnamable rejoiced in this knowledge, was happy with this fact.

"Yes, Alucard, I am." Integra sat up but never took her eyes off of the vampire. Even though he was not looking directly at her, she had always been taught never to take one's eyes off of a potential threat, even for a moment. Even for a short period of time.

Watching the sun make shiny patterns on the vampire's chest, Integra was mesmerized for a moment and almost forgot what he was. Then, the spell was broken and she remembered.

"Doesn't the sun burn you, servant?" she asked, fumbling with the bedclothes, trying to disentangle herself from them. She had slept soundly the night before and so the task now was difficult. Her body fought her every step of the way, wanting to take solace in the warm, soft bed. Integra hated her moments of physical weakness but didn't blame herself. The day that stretched out before her, before her servant and the entire Hellsing organization, for that matter, would be anything but comforting. And, if things went poorly and the battle began, most would not see the comforts of home for some time.

"Yes, my master, yes, it does."

"Then, why are you standing there, Alucard?" Integra's voice betrayed a tiredness that she had been feeling down to her bones these past few days. The conflict would be the largest that she had ever seen. And the scope of it all worried her. Gently, she moved her hand to caress the tufted comforter. A momentary taking of solace, the smooth material warm and soothing against her hands. Almost like a lover. Almost like…..

"Pain reminds me that I am still…alive. And for that, for that feeling, I am grateful." Alucard turned completely to face Integra so that now, if she looked up, could fully gaze upon the vampire. She did and met his eyes with her always cool air of confidence she didn't quite feel today. Quickly, too quickly for Integra's eyes to follow, Alucard's beautifully shaped hand reached out and wrenched the blinds closed. The brilliant light of the room turned immediately to a dark greyishness, slivers of light burning through the blinds, making patterns on the floor and the walls.

The entire episode had happened so quickly that the Hellsing leader's eyes did not have time to adjust and so the room looked black, dark, confining. Through the darkness, she could make out his shape and his red glowing eyes but not much else. The room suddenly felt small, oppressive, almost tomblike . More by feel that by sight, Integra moved to the side of the bed, blindly reaching out to turn on a nearby lamp. Her bedroom was once again lit and the light immediately made her bedroom seem larger, more inviting, less threatening once again. Well, except for the half-naked vampire standing near her. He had moved in the darkness, without her sensing it and now stood only a few feet away from the Hellsing leader.

"It is coming, my master, I feel it." Alucard's eyes reddened and they bore down into hers, demanding a response.

"What is?" Integra moved to the edge of the bed so that her feet could feel the solidness of the floor. That made the her feel better. As if the solid ground could allow her to anchor herself, gain her bearings, organize her thoughts.

"The conflict," the vampire said. He slowly walked toward her and she watched him come. Alucard did not walk, he glided across the room. To Integra, appeared that his feet didn't even come in contact with the floor. Power and grace. Death and beauty. Images, words, things that did not go together, could not be said in the same sentence, yet, existed all the same in the physicality that was the vampire, Alucard.

"I feel it," the servant of Hellsing said again, with more emotion this time and knelt at his master's feet. More detached, he continued, "They will come with their armies. And their men. And their guns. It will be a terrible time, a wonderful time, Sir Integra." With the last, the vampire's eyes met her and he smiled, all sharp white teeth. A mixture of emotions whirling through her thoughts, suddenly, Integra felt the touch of her servant again in her mind, in her very being. His touch, light, evocative, unnerved her and she sat back on the bed, tried to back up from him but he was faster and on his knees, he advanced toward her. Alucard's hands positioned themselves on either side of the bed, on top of the sheets. Integra was physically trapped and could not move. The scarier part to her was whether she would have even wanted to at that moment.

"Sir Integra, master, we will hunt them. And kill them. And in the end, in the end we will be victorious."

"The Hellsing organization," she whispered, her voice more breathy and unsure of itself than she had heard it in awhile.

"I follow your orders, my master, your orders. What you tell me to do, I will do it. When you tell me to do it, I will carry it out at that time, not before." Alucard held up one long, thin, white hand, unencumbered by the gloves he usually wore. The vampire's skin was creamy and flawless and bore the same seal, though light and with less distinction than was found on the gloves he usually wore. The marks did not look like any tattoo that the Hellsing leader was familiar with and she guessed that they had been made though magic when the vampire was first bound to the organization a long time ago. "This hand," Alucard said, holding it up, pushing it closer to her eyes, "will maim for you, kill for you." He smiled then and his teeth, so very, very sharp and white, glittered dangerously in the muted light. "I will maim, I will kill. I will tear apart thousands, millions, bathe in their suffering, their blood. And all, all you have to do my master, is say the words."

"As you should, Servant." Integra had to struggle with her voice but she was proud that she had found the words to respond to him. Her body was as restless as her mind and moved on the bed. She realized that now she was only constrained by only one of her servant's hands now, instead of two and began to slide toward the gap, trying to gain an advantage. But the vampire was inhumanly quick and his hand came down on the mattress, again keeping her still.

"Let me go, Servant. I am sick of your…games." The Hellsing leader now threw a strong measure of command into her voice but the monster only laughed in response. It was a sound that at once was frightening. And so very, very erotic.

"Know this then," Alucard replied but made no motion to remove his hands. "The Millennium organization thinks it will be triumphant in this battle."

"They are wrong, Servant."

"Yes, my master, they are. But part of the way for one to triumph in war is to understand one's enemies."

"I am listening," Integra said and moved again toward the vampire, so that her feet were on the floor.

"The Millennium organization think that they will be victorious because they go into battle loving it for just that. The idea of war." When Integra's face showed a bit of puzzlement, the vampire relaxed his grip on the bed, continuing, "The Captain, the Major, oh, certainly, they will tell you, if pressed, that they want to turn the world into one state, one nation, ruled by them and their men. With a horde of zombies to carry out the fighting, yes, they would like that very much. But, my master, there are two ways to win a war. Go into battle believing in one thing so strongly you would die for it. Or believing in nothing, nothing at all. The Millennium group are the latter case. They like war…enjoy it simply to cause bloodshed, carnage and death."

"As do you, Alucard." Integra looked directly at her servant and his eyes reddened momentarily at her words, before returning to their normal black again.

"No, my master, no," the vampire replied softly, but his words carried weight in the darkened room. Alucard's lips, so sensually obscene, curled into a show of distaste. "I am nothing like the Millennium…scum that litter our country. When I fight….when I've fought, I have always fought for a purpose, for an ideal. Once long ago, I battled the Turks to keep my country free. Then, I fought humans for the woman I loved. Later, I traded my freedom for all this power and battled in the service of the Hellsing Organization. I took orders from your grandfather, Abraham, your father, Arthur. And now, now I will take them from you." Alucard's face changed and his look was one of devotion such as a servant has for his Queen. And something else. Want. Need. Hunger.

Integra put a hand to her face, trying to shield herself, if only for a moment, from the naked lust she saw in her servant's glowing eyes. "Why are telling me this, repeating all the history that I know about you?"

"Because," Alucard whispered, moving to take her hand in his, "this battle will be nothing like anything you've faced before, like any conflict you've seen."

"I know." Integra's voice had gone soft again and she let the vampire see a little of her uncertainties about what was to come.

"Through it all, through every battle, every conflict, every single, step of the way, remember what I have just told you. And remind yourself that when you fight, when you kill, you do so for a reason, a goal. To keep the humans and the Queen and country safe. Safe from that Millennium trash." The vampire pressed Integra's small hand to his lips, taking time to kiss each finger individually. The Hellsing leader shivered at the feel of Alucard's wet mouth and nimble tongue. Though she had remained a technical virgin after their lovemaking, she shuddered now remembering how much pleasure his mouth had given her the previous night. The vampire felt her tremble and with her hand against his face, smiled up at her. "Keep one goal, one purpose in mind for fighting this war. And go into the conflict believing it down to your very soul. That if you ever gave it up, there would be nothing to sustain you. And with that, you could choose to die." Slowly, the vampire turned Integra's hand so that her palm faced his mouth. His lips gently kissed her warm, human skin before his tongue shot out, licking the base of her palm, languidly, erotically. The vampire's movements made Integra suddenly so very aware of her the cloth of her tailored satin pajamas brushing parts of her body, tempting her, exciting her with sensual remembrances of what had passed between them the previous night.

"In the course of the battle," Alucard whispered, "you may be taken prisoner. Tortured. Harmed. Though I will always heed your call and come to save you wherever I may be, there will be time when the Millennium garbage is alone with you. And then, they will tell you to forget everything you're fighting for, forget everything you believe it. They will tell you that all life, all existence has no purpose, no meaning. That the only thing that makes sense is to kill. And to kill again."

"I will never bow to them, Alucard, never. I would rather die."

"Now," the vampire cautioned, his cool breath so very near to Integra's inflamed skin that she had to tighten her mouth in fear that she would ask him to continue to kiss her, to make love to her again. "Now, in the safety of your bedroom, you say that."

"I have been in conflicts before, servant." The young leader's posture straightened up in bed and her voice took on a note of anger.

"Yes, yes you have. But not like what you will see. I have been through enormous battles, paid heavy prices and risked all, many, many times. This will be the war to end all wars. And blood and death will cover everything. You will never get out the smell, no matter how much you wash."

Suddenly, Alucard opened his mind and Integra saw him. As he was when he was human. Riding with his men, fighting the Turks. On horseback at first. Riding. Fast, faster still. Then, using his sword to defend himself against faceless enemies. Back and forth. Back and forth he swung it. The blade went right, left, connecting with one rider, than another. And another. Suddenly, an enemy sword came from behind, missing his side but knocking him off the horse and to the ground. And then, then, Integra, through Alucard's own eyes, felt him, felt his body, slowly, so humanly slowly, rise and look around, taking in the carnage that surrounded him. Hundreds, no thousands lay dead, dying. Blood coated the ground, grew thick and hard. The stench was overpowering. Every scent was on the air, the smell of men, their bodies, the mixture of dark liquids that ran out of every orifice, pooling on the ground, at Alucard's feet.

The monster that was now a man began to walk and everywhere around him, as far as the eye could see, was death. And more death. Most of the men laid motionless on the battlefield, corpses rotting, bloating, but some of the former warlord's own men were still in small pockets, fighting, engaging, killing the enemy. The warlord's men walked past those that lay dying and reaching out with the swords, slit throats, cut off heads so that those men would never recover. Shouts, grunts and moans filled the air. The sounds were the sounds of those that were hit, those that were hurt and those just begging to die so that they did not have to see anymore of the horror that surrounded them. Yes, Alucard whispered to Integra in his mind, all this. The war to come will be all this. And more. So much more.

With a loud gasp, the vision dissolved and Integra was able to see clearly again. The darkened room around her. The vampire kneeling at her feet, her hand in his.

"Alucard…" she whispered and his name was a prayer on her lips. Suddenly, there were no words to combat the horror that she had seen.

The vampire looked down at her, his large hand holding her smaller one and replied, "When I will come for you, and know, my master, Sir Integra that I will always come to your aid until I die the true death, I will not ask, not question what purpose, what ideal has kept you alive, has saved your sanity. I will not inquire as to what you kept believing so deeply that you have chosen to live, to survive, though death may have been the less painful option. I will only be glad that you are alive. And then, then, I will free you and together we will exact a heavy price for those that have harmed you . I will watch with pleasure as you kill those who have caused you so much pain."

"I will always fight for my Queen and for my country, even to my last breath."

"Never make promises now that you might not be able to keep, my master."

The vampire's words made Integra flinch visibly and she pulled hand away from the vampire's with an intense ferocity. "I should have you flogged for what you just said to me." The young leader cradled her hand as if Alucard had hurt it while holding it. "Do not touch me, servant," she insisted but the vampire could feel her uneasiness in his mind and so his master's words did not bother him as much as they would if they were not now connected.

"I am only telling you now so that you may be better prepared to fight them, to win the war."

"And like a young, helpless maiden, am I suppose to pine for you, weep for you, while the enemy is holding me prisoner and doing bloody, God knows what to me? I am Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing, Alucard. I am made of better stuff than that." Her gaze swept over the partially clad vampire and he inclined his head toward her, reverent, subservient.

"You are, my master," the vampire agreed, "or I would have not served you every since you were so very young. In the cellar that day. I killed you enemies. Killed Sir Richard so that you would be master. Be in charge of the Hellsing organizing. However, now, all I am telling you, is that, if you have nothing left to believe in, if you think that everything is really lost, believe in one name, one word."

"Alucard."

"No, my master. Dracula."

The word brought a heavy silence to the room and Integra moved restlessly on the bed. Alucard stayed on his knees. Waiting. Unbreathing. The young leader looked up and at the kneeling vampire. For a moment, just a moment, she saw his features shift, change. And suddenly, in place of the young male vampire, was the warlord, the prince, the leader of his people. Dracula. Vlad, the Impaler. And he, this vampire, this prince, this…man would always come to her aid. Here. Now. On the battle field. Perhaps, because of their link, even in the afterlife, death even not being able to keep them apart. The vision of Alucard as Dracula was brief and suddenly, the young vampire was normal again, clad in the simple loose trousers of modern day clothing.

"I will not bend, I will not break," Integra repeated, though the anger had left her voice now. "I will stay strong for the Hellsing Organization, for England herself."

"I believe it," the vampire responded, "but, we also have a bond, you and I, and through that, you will be stronger, will be better able to carry out your duties. To win the war. To triumph over the Millennium organization and all of their filth."

"We should not have been…intimate," Integra struggled to say. "Alucard, I can feel you in my head, in my thoughts."

"As can I feel you, Sir Integra."

"The bond, between us, it…it makes me feel less human now."

"But you are more durable now, harder to kill. You will also be faster on the battlefield as well. Integra, you have gained an advantage from our passion. Look, you do not even need your glasses to see me now."

Bloody hell, but the vampire was right. Integra's eyesight was clearer, cleaner. And the worst part was she had not even noticed until her servant had said it. Her new, improved vision seemed normal, right. But she could feel the link between them. And that, that was still foreign, still alien.

"Your vision will return to its more..normal parameters by this afternoon and you will need your glasses again," Alucard cautioned. "However," he continued in another, softer, voice, "If we continue to exchange blood, your eyesight will improve and remain so, permanently. You, Sir Integra, will also gain more strength. And more endurance. Prizes on the battlefield to be sure, my master."

"You are making these promises so that you can taste my blood again, touch my body."

Integra gazed at her servant and suddenly, he looked directly at her, suddenly, more human than monster now. There was a vulnerability on his face that she had never seen.

"And if I am?" he asked slowly, "should we not revel in pleasures before what is to come?"

Without warning, the overpowering smells and sounds of the battlefield reared up in Integra's mind and took over all at once, trapping her again the hell that was called war.

"Enough, Alucard, enough of this!" she commanded and the images dissolved as fast as they had come.

Integra's hands reached out and lightly brushed the kneeling vampire's chest. He sighed and moved against her fingers. Gently, she rubbed her fingers against Alucard's chest, feeling the coarse, black hair tickle her skin. Without words, Integra and Alucard moved closer so that now she could touch him without reaching. Her hands caressed his muscled shoulders, his long, white bare arms, his taut stomach.

There was so much to think about. Integra should not share intimacies with her servant again. If they shared blood again, how much tighter would the bond draw them together. How much more of her humanity would she lose? How much more of her would her vampire servant gain? There were no answers to the questions that filled her mind but Alucard, the man, the monster was a solid, real presence under her questing fingers. If she had to experience all the terrors that Alucard had just showed her, she would. Later. Someday soon, the enemies might find her, might torture her, might even kill her. But now, now, she could choose. And she chose to experience pleasures, if only for one last time.

Gathering strength from the blood bond that now linked the two of them, Integra leaned in toward Alucard and his mouth met hers somewhere in the empty space between them.