"There is a reason, why all things are as they are."
-Bram Stoker, Dracula
I watched intently as Annabelle lifted her arms. Her small hands gripped the butt of a gun tightly. She steadied herself, aimed and then fired all in one graceful movement. What resulted was a perfect shot through the centre of the target's head 20 meters away.
"Great shot Annabelle!" I shouted down to her from the balcony above the garden. Annabel didn't acknowledge me, but given that she was wearing protective muffs over her ears that was not surprising. Captain Leroy, who had been mentoring Annabel all afternoon, made his way to her side while shaking his head in disbelief. He clasped my sister's shoulder when he reached her.
"Woman, did you come out of your mother holding a gun?" The captain asked. Annabelle smiled and removed her ear muffs. "What?" She said. Both stared at each other for a moment and then they simultaneously burst into laughter.
Seeing that smile…that completely carefree smile on Annabelle's face, one that I hadn't seen in years, warmed my heart. Annabelle was finally happy and I couldn't wish for more. The only gripe was that Annabelle had gotten her joy through shooting a plastic man between the eyeballs.
How long has it been now…only three months? I counted on my fingers. No. It has been two months and twelve days since Annabelle and I had been brought to Hellsing Headquarters. It felt like it had been much longer.
Annabelle had taken up fire arm training after three weeks at Hellsing manor, and her progress had shocked everyone in the mansion (especially Captain Leroy, who agreed to teach Annabelle the basics but ended up putting her through advanced training after the first week).
I sighed and leaned back into my chair. The past two months has not been easy. What with our sudden new living arrangements, having to abandon our lives and sleep with the knowledge that monsters were no longer harmless illustrations in children's story books but very, very real; had been difficult for Annabelle and I to come to grips with at first. It had also been especially hard for father, who took exception to living under the same roof as not one, but two vampires. Father eventually came around, but the tired lines under his eyes suggested that he was having a more difficult time dealing with the situation then the rest of us.
A sudden burst of laughter erupted from the courtyard, drawing my gaze. It seemed that Walter had joined Leroy and Annabelle. I sighed, wishing that I could go down there and join them, but I couldn't get very far in this stupid…
"Are you alright Meggie? Can I get you anything?"
I turned, my father was standing beside me. His expression looked tired, but his eyes were still that kind warm tone of grey.
"No thank you father, I'm alright." I smiled to reassure him. "I just wanted to watch Annabelle and her weapons training, that's all."
My father frowned, eyes turning to the spectacle on Hellsing Manor's front lawn. "I wish she hadn't insisted about taking it up." He said, his expression turning sad. "The last thing I ever wanted either of you to do was hold a gun."
I reached over and took his hand into my own. My father's grey gaze met mine. "It doesn't matter what happens to us father. Annabelle and I will always know that you love us and wanted what's best for us."
Father smiled a small smile.
Father and I became quiet then, we turned our gazes to the sunset and quietly swallowed all of the words we wanted to say…and needed to say. I hated it, being so close that I could touch him and yet so distant. I wished he would open up and tell me everything, but I knew my father well, and anything he wished to keep secret from my sister and I would remain that way.
"The sunset is beautiful." I said, wanting more so to get my father's secrets out of my mind then to break the silence.
"It is," My father agreed. "Soon those monsters will be out."
I couldn't help rolling my eyes. Every chance that man to insult Alucard and Seras he would, without question. In the case of Alucard I knew that what father was saying was not necessarily far from the truth. I had seen what he had done to that red headed vampire in the hotel room after all. But Seras Victoria on the other hand, was one of the kindest people I had ever met. She was sweet and welcoming to my sister and I from the start and hearing my father degrade her in the way he did irritated me beyond belief.
"I wish you wouldn't say that father. Especially about Seras." I said, knowing full well that my protests would fall on deaf ears, but impulsively expressing my displeasure just the same. It was no surprise when father made his way around my chair and crouched in front of me, our faces now level.
"They are all monsters Meggie. All of them. I don't expect you to understand because you've never experienced it first hand, but trust me when I say that if that girl one day will bear the same wretched sins as her master."
I didn't respond, and instead stared at the hands on my lap. In the midst of that silence I knew what he was going to ask. I could see it in his jaw, the tightening, the burning question hiding behind his lips.
"Has he come to see you?" Father asked, releasing himself from my grasp.
I averted my gaze. "Who?" I inquired, despite knowing full well who it was he was referring to.
"You know who Meggie." Father replied, irritation in his tone.
I paused for a moment. Evaluating what I should say and how I should say it. "No…" I finally said. "I've only seen him a couple of times, incidentally, since that time he found me in the basement."
"What has he said to you during those times?" Father demanded. His tone was getting harsh, which was typical of him when he was stressed.
"What makes you think he talked to me?" I retaliated.
Father frowned, and crossed his arms looking certainly less than pleased.
I retreated with my anger, deciding not to test his patience tonight, I sealed my emotions behind a mask of indifference. I was getting tired of fighting. "Nothing really important," I sighed. "The customary really. He just asked how I was feeling."
"Anything else?" Father asked.
"No…" I said, grasping the middle finger of my right hand with my left and twisting (a habit of mine when I was anxious or something was bothering me). I hated it when father and I became like this, wanting to badly to come to a truce but so desperately at odds that the journey there seemed less than worthwhile. My body language didn't go unnoticed by my father.
"What is it sweetie? I know that look." He said, reaching forward and cupping my cheek in his large calloused palm. The warmth of his fingers, although normally soothing, provided no comfort for me this time.
"I just…I just wish you would tell me the truth." I whispered.
Father sighed, his thumb beginning to stoke my cheek back in forth in an attempt to calm. "I already told you and your sister. Your grandfather and Integra's grandfather fought these monsters back in their time, and that's why we are involved."
"You know that I know there is more to it than that." I thought.
I smiled, and placed my hand upon my fathers, pushing his hand down so it rested on my lap. I patted his hand affectionately. "I'm going to head inside and rest for a bit. I should be around for dinner."
Father stood and made his way around me. "Here, I'll help you down." He said.
"It's okay dad. I got it."
Father sighed and shook his head as I struggled to turn the wheelchair I was sitting in around. He respected my efforts enough that he didn't make another move to help me though, which I was eternally grateful for. "That wheelchair can't be easy to manage." He said, looking at the contraption in disdain.
"Well," I replied, grunting triumphantly as I finally managed to turn the wheelchair around. "I am a nurse after all. If I haven't learned how to handle a wheelchair by now then I deserve to fall down the stairs." I laughed, pushing the wheels with my hands as I began to make my way inside. Father, however, looked more concerned that amused.
"You make jokes but that's seriously one of the things that keeps me up at night." He said.
I stopped the wheels of my wheelchair from advancing and turned to glare mockingly at my father over my shoulder. The old man was frowning, but within the blink of an eye, that frown turned into a grin, one of the few I had witnessed since we arrived around two months ago. My heart filled with joy to see him smile.
"See you at supper," I said. "And make sure not to eat too much because…" I grasped the wheels of my chair, reading myself. I was going to have to run after this. "If you get any fatter you might end up being the one on this wheelchair!"
After the words left my mouth I spun the holy hell out of those wheels. I shot off the balcony and into the third floor's main hallway, propelling myself towards the elevator. It wasn't long before I heard father's footsteps booming in the hallway after me. "You get back here young lady! I'm going to put you over my knee!"
He reached me well before I thought he would, and I screeched with laughter when my chair suddenly stopped abruptly. Father's hands came from around and pinched my cheeks. "Did something so horrible come out of this cute little girl? I just can't believe it."
Rivers of laughter flowed from my father and I and although the laughter lasted for several minutes, it felt like only a few short precious seconds.
It all ended when my father suddenly stopped laughing and his expression changed from mirth to one of concern. I became confused, why had he stopped? It was then that I realized that my laughter had turned into desperate asphyxiated wheezes.
"I'm sorry sweetheart." Father said, kneeling next to me. "I got carried away."
"It's not your fault." I reassured him, as I tried to catch my breath. "I was the one who started it. I just need to keep my limits in mind."
Father nodded, then got up on his feet. "I will see you at supper then." He said.
"Sure." I replied with a reassuring smile.
I watched my father descend the hallway until he was out of sight. Once alone, I released a tired sigh and made my way to the elevator. Once I entered I pressed the SLV1 button, and it wasn't long before the elevator doors closed and the compartment started heading downward.
Guilt began to knead my heart as I pondered the short time with my father and all the lies that I had just told him. I didn't want to lie to him, but I knew that telling him the truth would certainly do more harm than good. In reality, Alucard and I haven't been strangers…in reality I had been actually visiting him…daily.
The relationship had started a few days after Alucard found me in the basement. At that time I was still being confined to the medical room I had first gained consciousness in. Annabelle had been visiting me every day and on that day she had brought a copy of my favorite book in an attempt to cheer me up. Naturally, it worked and it was not long before I was devouring those pages. I ended up staying up most of the night in order to finish reading it. I became so engrossed in the pages that I scarcely noticed that Alucard had entered the room at some point during the night. Truthfully, I don't know how long he was there. It could have been minutes; maybe even hours…regardless, I remained completely oblivious to his presence until he spoke.
"What are you reading?" He had asked. The sudden presence of his voice startled me and when my body made that inevitable, involuntary jump, I fumbled and dropped the book onto the floor.
"Crap!" I cursed, looking at the fallen novel and then at Alucard, who was sporting a small amused smile.
"You really have to stop startling me like that. Otherwise I'm going to need surgery again." I growled as I slowly leaned my body to the side in order to pick up my book. Suddenly Alucard's gloved hand had grasped mine. I nearly jumped at the contact…again. Dammit, why was I so jumpy around him?
"Lay down Meggie. You still need your rest." Alucard said. He picked up the book with his other hand and placed it on the bed. "Now, up."
Before I made a move to get myself up, Alucard's hand released mine, and slid up my arm…slowly…up all the way until it was nestled against me, cupping my side. My breath caught in my throat, the sensation causing my blasted heart to skip a beat. Alucard lifted me back upright onto the bed effortlessly.
The worst part was that it wasn't fear I was feeling in that moment, but something that was entirely different.
"Jesus Christ Meggie, the hell is wrong with you? You just met the man...er...vampire." I silently scolded myself, all the while pondering why the hell I was getting so flustered over such a little touch. In attempt to disguise my flustered state, I made a quick grab for the book Alucard had so kindly picked up for me and miserably pretended to try and find where I had left off.
"I apologize for entering without asking first."Alucard suddenly said, breaking the silence.
"Ah…no it's alright. Don't worry about it." I replied, hoping he wouldn't notice my flushed cheeks and not daring to see if he did notice as I was still desperately attempting to avoid eye contact. Instead, I clung to the pages of the book, ironically, for some sense of reality.
The silence that followed was maddening. Both of us were just sitting there, waiting for the other to speak. After a minute passed and I realized that Alucard wasn't going to open his mouth, because I had yet to answer the question he asked when he first entered the room.
Way to go Meggie. Your people skills are off the chain!
"It's Frankenstein." I said, holding the book up awkwardly.
"Hmmm?" He hummed, eyeing the book with interest.
"The book," I repeated, this time holding the book up in the air right in front of him. "It's Frankenstein…it's my favourite."
Alucard looked momentarily perplexed as he regarded the book. I raised a brow, had he never heard of Frankenstein before? No way. I mean, he did live in a basement but he couldn't possibly have been that unexposed to things such as these. Alucard's curious inspection of the book answered my doubts immediately.
"You've never heard of Frankenstein." I said, still a little bewildered.
Alucard shook his head. "I don't tend to read much these days."
"Oh." I said, rubbing the spine of the book. The bed suddenly shifted, startling me yet again (God dammit). I looked up to see that Alucard had taken a seat next to me, his crimson coat a startling contrast to the pale beige of the bed sheets.
"What is it about?" He asked, looking genuinely interested.
I blinked, surprised that he would even ask, that he would even take an interest. A quiet excitement filled me. It wasn't every day that I got to talk to someone about my love for this book without said person groaning and saying "I know Meggie, I know!"
"Don't tell me you've forgotten already?" Alucard said, pulling me from my thoughts and prompting me to continue. "Did you lose your memory after I startled you?" He teased, a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. I smiled too.
"It's about a scientist." I began. "He wants to rid the world of death, so much so that he becomes obsessed with his work and in the process, creates a terrifying monster."
"What happens to the scientist?" Alucard inquired.
"He is plagued by his creation. He loses everything he loves because of it and in the end it is all he has left. Despite everything he lost, the creature he created is still there, chasing him."
"Sounds like the scientist got what he deserved."
"I guess so." I said, playing with the book in my hands by flipping the pages back and forth. "But I pity him, you know. All he wanted to do was bring the world some good."
"And what of the monster?" Alucard asked, shifting his weight and causing the bed to creak softly.
"I pity him most of all."
"Do you? Why?"
"Why?" That was certainly an odd question to ask. For me, it was quite obvious why someone should pity the creature. But as I looked at Alucard and saw the genuine confusion in his eyes, I realized that perhaps the answer wasn't so obvious. Perhaps, being a vampire like Alucard, made you immune to the sympathy that tugged at one's heart for the pain and suffering of others.
"Well…because he was born innocent. His creator was so frightened of him that he abandoned the creature to his own devices. The creature went through life without knowing friendship, or love or a kind touch. It tortured him, to know that the only human being who had a reason to love him ran away."
"But the creature is a monster."Alucard insisted.
"He wasn't born that way. He lacked choice." I said in defense.
"Why does that make a difference?"
"Because all monsters were humans once. Humans who were hurt, denied kindness and love. Beings who couldn't take the pain anymore so they decided to leave behind everything that makes them feel that pain…everything that makes them human." I paused. "And that's…sad."
Alucard sighed, those crimson eyes leaving me for but a moment as he seemed to be contemplating what I had just said. I watched as his gaze became distant, and I wondered what it was he could be thinking about, what sorts of memories were playing inside that mind of his.
"You shouldn't pity the monsters Meggie." Alucard whispered, his gaze turning back to me. "They don't even deserve that."
After that night, the relationship between Alucard and I took its roots. It started out casual enough. Alucard and I would talk about things, insignificant things, during the night. We came to know each other a bit better, or rather, he got to know me as he didn't seem to like dwelling much about his past. He often said his memories held tales that were not fit for conversation, and insisted that focusing on mine would be much better.
It came to the point where I had asked him why he was bothering to spend his time with me. Considering that he was a vampire who could do whatever the hell the wanted, his choice to spend a few hours with me every night while I was recuperating was certainly a little odd to say the least.
At that time, Alucard had replied with something to the effect of, "Because I enjoy your company."
Although that answer didn't really prove satisfying to me,I let it slide, hoping that the nature of Alucard's interest in me would come forth with time.
By the time the first month of our stay in the Hellsing Manor came and went, I finally gathered the courage to approach Alucard about the subject of my dreams, and more importantly, his presence in them.
God, I used to be so afraid of him. In my dreams those eyes were always on me, watching, never moving but somehow always seeming to come closer. Sometimes he had gotten too close, and for hour after restless hour he was all I felt, as if I were surrounded by him. This overwhelming sense of shame and fear came soon after and it would stay until I woke up with the sun's rays.
In my dreams Alucard was often completely terrifying and utterly monstrous. But the first time I saw his face (really saw his face) with my own two eyes that night when he visited me after I was found in his room, I saw something fundamentally different from the images in my dreams. Alucard looked the same, but in real life…there was something different about him and despite everything that had happened until then, his killing of those vampires in the hotel, the fact that he had been terrorizing me in my sleep ever since I could remember; despite everything…the first thought that constantly entered my mind every time I saw him was,
"Why does he look so sad?"
He had that same look in his eyes that I had seen in some of the patients at the hospital. Some of them entered those clear glass doors with absolutely nothing left. No family, no friends, no love. They all had that same empty look in their eyes, and that was something to truly pity because there is no prescription on earth that could fix despair.
Alucard had been surprisingly gracious when I first approached him about my dreams (perhaps he pitied me when he saw how obviously uncomfortable the whole ordeal made me), however, he made sure to warn me that perhaps not knowing would be easier. He gave me a day to think about it, and when I approached him again, determination in my gaze, he let out a soft sigh and said. "Tell me."
Since then, Alucard had been helping me learn the truth about those dreams that had been with me my entire life. I told him everything about them and…how I felt about them. In return he told me –unabashedly- all that he knew. From these, he and I had come to the startling conclusion that the dreams that I have been having were events that had occurred in Alucard's past…or more accurately, my grandmother Mina's past.
Alucard never said much about his relationship with my grandmother, but it didn't take a genius to figure out just how close they had been. At that point it became obvious why Alucard had taken an interest in me from the start. Truthfully, I didn't know whether to take the long due revelation as a relief or something to be upset over. Was the only reason for Alucard's value of my company (or even my very life) because I looked like my grandmother? Regardless, I was stuck in this mansion now, tangled in the lives of my forefathers and mothers, and no matter how I felt about things, my situation here would not change.
The elevator suddenly jolted to a stop, and the soft female voice indicated that I had arrived on sublevel one. As soon as the steel doors opened I wheeled myself out of the elevator and into that familiar dark hallway.
Author's Note: Sorry this chapter was a bit lacking in action; but I hope those of you who read it enjoy it! It should pick up a bit by the next chapter.