Summary: When Integra Hellsing isn't feeling her best, Alucard has the perfect remedy...no medicine needed. Implied Alucard/Integra.
A/N: This started off as one story and turned into another one entirely. Looking back on my previous writing, I realized that in most of my fictions I unconsciously have some form of prank-pulling or shenanigan. Some poor characters usually fall victim to another one's humor--I think that because this is basically my personality it somehow incorporates itself into my writing. I love pranks. Here's a nice, long, fat one-shot.
All characters © Hirano Kouta
The Best Medicine
Here there be Vampyrs...
She knew that something was not right when Integra Hellsing found herself wide awake at 3:30 in the morning. Her eyes, free from their curtain of glass lenses, bore into the darkness of her bedroom quarters in search of whatever it was that could have woken her from her slumber.
It was only after Integra found nothing that she realized her head was aching, a lethargic throb pulsing steadily behind her temples. Generally something attributed to a hangover, but the Hellsing head couldn't recall the last time she had consumed any sort of brandy.
Another annoyance she noticed was that aside from her head, her whole body felt…wrong, ill at ease. Or maybe just ill. Integra groaned silently and muttered curses under her breath. Of all days…
She would be receiving a new batch of ghoul reports from Scotland Yard tomorrow…oh scratch that, today, Integra mentally corrected herself as she threw a glance at her digital clock. There would be no time to fret over trivial matters; work needed to be completed.
Fanning out her long blonde hair so it blossomed softly over the bed quilts, Integra lay with her eyes closed, trying to ignore her pains. The red numbers of the digital clock burned into her eyelids like the glow of a vampire's iris. She remained that way until dawn.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
"Honestly, there is just so much I'll put up with…" Walter C. Dornez, Hellsing's former trashman and current butler grumbled as he began to pick up the numerous empty blood packets that were strewn carelessly across the stone floor. You would think that five hundred-plus years would be enough time for the vampire to learn how to clean up after himself. Honestly.
In all sincerity the butler wished that he wasn't here. Despite his many ventures into the vampire's basement lair, he still couldn't dismiss the macabre aura of the undead's dwelling. The untrained nose wouldn't pick up the reek of blood that saturated the walls and floor, and the untrained ear wouldn't hear the echo of soul screams.
No, he did not want to be here at all unless duty called. And duty certainly called; Walter had business to attend—even if it was at half past five in the morning.
He felt a familiar chill run through his old bones as Alucard calmly phased into the room.
"You leave such work for me sometimes, Alucard," the butler sighed without bothering to look up. "John Bulls such as myself aren't usually cut out for this sort of thing. We'd rather age quietly, sipping our tea and smoking rolled cigars."
Alucard chuckled at the butler's humored yet tired sarcasm. "As far as I know, most John Bulls weren't former World War II assassins," he replied in a deep voice.
Walter straightened up with a trash bin half-filled with drained blood packets and allowed a smile to flit over his face. "That is true," the old butler mused.
"I know how much you hate coming down here, Walter," Alucard began matter-of-factly. "So there must be a good reason as to why you're here, and don't tell me it was just to clean at this hour."
The butler suddenly looked slightly uncomfortable, the lines on his face deepening and the crow's feet around his eyes expanding.
"Alucard," The vampire waited patiently for him to carry on, blinking his brilliant scarlet eyes in the dark.
"This isn't quite within my area of expertise, so to say," Walter began, "and I cannot believe that I am asking you of all people. However…" The butler cleared his throat and gained a hard confidence to his tone before continuing.
"Master Integra seems to be rather 'put out' today, and I seem unable to discover what is troubling her."
Walter nodded, trying his best to ignore the impish gleam that had entered his friend's eye. "I walked past her office this morning and it appears she is already awake. When I tried to talk to her she was rather… brusque in answering. I was never one for cheering up—that was Arthur's job, as you well know."
A pointed white eyetooth was visible as the left side of the vampire's mouth turned up in a lopsided grin. "All too well," he replied, remembering the late Hellsing master and his rather ostentatious persona.
"And it troubles you to see our master in a state of distress, so you came to me as a last resort," he finished with a humored air.
"So it would seem. Do you think you can do anything for her, Alucard?"
The king cocked his head fractionally, causing thick locks of dark hair to fall softly alongside his well-defined face. The corner of his lip curled over a glistening fang in a smirk.
"You doubt me, Angel," he told the aged butler, addressing him by his former alias.
"I have always been a lady's man," Alucard said, turning to leave in a swish of his claret coat. Walter sighed.
"Please tell me that was a joke, Alucard," he told the empty room. The only reply he got was the steady drip of a not-quite-empty blood packet's contents hitting the stone floor.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
The thick pile of file reports on her desk didn't seem to be diminishing—rather getting larger by the minute. As her pen moved lazily over the documents, Integra kept reminding herself not to let her physical condition interfere with her work. She had an organization to run, for heaven's sake. What of it if she had caught a little bug? Filling out the reports would distract her mind, she supposed.
Oh, but how wrong she was. By the time six thirty rolled around, Integra was far beyond caring about her paperwork. Her throat was sore and sandpapery and her eyes were burning behind their heavy lids, not to mention congestion was settling into her sinuses and making everything ache.
She brought a hand up to her face and quickly sneezed into it. Once finished, Integra pulled it away with an expression of disgust. She would have to wash that glove immediately.
Scowling, Integra glanced at the thermostat. Normally she didn't mind the coolness of her office; it came naturally with the old manor and she found it rather relaxing. Not today, however. The little black numbers informed her that it was well above 21 ͦ Celsius, but to a certain Hellsing heir it was beyond freezing.
Integra gave a slight shiver in her coal-black suit and brought her hand up to her face, feeling another disturbance in her sinuses. However, she quickly put down the rebellion in her nose as the temperature in the vast office dropped slightly, indicating the approaching of an ancient vampire. He would be one to exploit her for such a weakness, she mused…that is, if he ever found out.
Integra's mouth played into a smile. She had always been good at hiding things—today was one time she was thankful that her servant could not read her mind. Unknown to Integra, this would be easier to say than to do.
The first thing Alucard noticed was the abnormally tight grip his master used to hold her fountain pen. The knuckles were a dangerous white as the skin was pulled taught across the bone. The second thing he noticed was that her lips were thinned into an almost nonexistent line, cigar absent.
"Good evening, young Master," the vampire rumbled from the shadows.
"How many times must I remind you to stop calling me that?" Integra Hellsing grimaced, not bothering to return the greeting. "I'll be twenty-one in the fall, for goodness sake."
"That is still young, Master," Alucard answered with a grin, materializing a few feet from her desk.
"For you, maybe. I am no longer a child."
"Ah, but just like yourself, the morning is also young," the vampire smoothly directed the subject into less tetchy waters. "Why are you not in bed?"
Integra's grip on her pen tightened even more, if that was possible. "Obviously I have work to do, Alucard."
The vampire's ember-colored eyes fell on the wad of papers on his master's desk before drifting upwards to her face. Alucard saw that there were hectic pink splotches on her cheeks and strangely around her nose as well. Funny, since when did his master blush upon his presence?
"Oh?" He asked, taking a risk and beaming haughtily, eyes scrunching up at the sides. "And what if suddenly those files were to mysteriously vanish from your desk?"
Blue eyes hardened to slits. "If that were to happen by chance, I might, in my frustration, extract my longsword and lop off the head of a certain vampire in the residency."
Irking his master pleased Alucard to no end, and he found much humor in seeing her explosive reactions. She was more irascible than usual today, and her motives for being so sparked the nosferatu's curiosity.
"I'd like to see you try, Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing," he leered, baiting her. From his distance and with his acute vampiric senses, he could feel the heat radiating off of her skin, more so than usual this morning. The vampire wondered why she was embarrassed so.
Integra pushed a thick tress of hair over her shoulder and reached into the desk's top drawer, producing a chrome pistol. She cleared her throat to transiently rid it of its scratchiness.
"Although they won't kill you, I'd imagine the silver bullets in this gun would hurt plenty, Alucard." Her tone was low and tenebrous, fully suggesting that she would carry out her warning if necessary.
"Come now, Master. I was only jesting. Besides," Alucard added, "I don't think you would shoot me."
Integra raised the revolver slowly, pointing it at her servant. She didn't really want to fire, as the sound of the release would undoubtedly augment her squashing headache even more.
The vampire stood calmly, emitting a dark chuckle as his master pointed the loaded revolver at him, her breathing slightly labored. Time had frozen momentarily; neither one of them moved. The seconds seemed to retard, flowing by as sluggishly as viscous molasses. Neither master nor servant was backing down…or so it seemed.
Integra knew it was bound to happen: she was as subject to Murphy's Law as anyone else. Not now…
Alucard raised his eyebrows at the change in his master's expression, watching as she unsuccessfully endeavored to hide it and eventually turned her head away to sneeze a few times into her free gloved hand. Unfortunately this also aggravated her throat and Integra began to cough as well.
A metastases of glee spread over Alucard's pale features as realization finally hit him. He couldn't believe he had not noticed it before—then again, it had been a while.
He grinned. "You're sick, aren't you, Master?"
Integra flushed dark with humiliation, rubbing her nose. That was answer enough.
Alucard chuckled darkly again, only this time slightly louder. In a swish of black hair and ruby fabric the nosferatu shimmered out of visible spectrum only to reappear by Integra's desk in a blink of the eye.
He now saw up close the shadows under his master's pale eyes and the slight sheen of sweat coating her features. Alucard gazed reproachfully at the papers strewn on the oakwood desk. "Oh my, we can't have that, can we, Integra?" He asked rhetorically and held a gloved hand over the pile. The stack grew transparent and faded away into nothingness.
"Alucard," Integra managed, her temperature too high to be truly angry. "Return my work immediately." Her voice was as clipped as usual, but the words flopped sluggishly in her mouth like a dying fish.
"I have put them in Walter's room for the time being, Master," the vampire replied. "Do not think you are the only one capable of filing reports around here, especially if they are only on those measly ghouls."
"Now, I suggest you make your way back to your bedroom before I see fit to take you there myself."
Integra blinked incredulously, noticed the hard scarlet of Alucard's eyes, and submissively rose from her desk to comply. Breezing past him she mumbled under her breath protests of "who the master was" around here. Alucard smiled. His master must be sick indeed to voice her complaints aloud; it was something not witnessed every day.
So the Hellsing head staggered groggily up to her bedroom quarters as the light of the rising sun poked through the corridor windows. Unknown to her a vampire followed quietly in the shadows in case she were to fall.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Something caught his eye, reflecting dimly in the underside of his monocle. Walter drew closer to the object in question. It appeared to be a thick stack of papers.
Strange, thought the butler, they look exactly like the file of ghoul reports I brought up to Integra's office last night. On a second glance he saw them to indeed be the reports. How the devil did they get in here?
Walter Dornez may have stood there contemplating possible solutions for quite a while if he had not seen a little note crudely attached to the first paper.
Master Integra is ill today so she will not be doing her paperwork. -Alucard.
P.S. Did I not tell you I was a lady's man?
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
The young fraulein woke in the midst of her comforters feeling somewhat better. She tentatively brought a hand to her forehead and noted that her fever, although still present, was not as high as it had been before. Integra's white satin gloves were not present. That was odd; she did not remember removing them…
Glancing down, Integra observed with horror that she was not clad in her charcoal uniform but periwinkle satin nightclothes no doubt taken from her closet wardrobe. She suddenly felt uncomfortable, so Integra thought it best to not think about the subject any more.
"I had not predicted you'd wake so soon, Master."
"Why are you here?" She asked, bringing a world of colors back into focus with her rounded glasses. Had he been there this whole time?
Alucard was seated comfortably in an armchair by her bedroom cabinet. His wide-brimmed fedora and glowing shades had been abandoned on Integra's cabinet, exposing lush dark locks of unruly hair.
The tall vampire didn't answer her directly, or at least not a way her fever-addled mind could comprehend. "Why, remedying this affliction of yours, Master."
"Oh?" Integra sat up in her bed, propped up on the backs of her elbows. She absently reached for the box of tissues on her nightstand, for once thankful for their presence. As much as Integra needed to expel her nasal mucous, she did not wish to do so with Alucard present. She detested looking weak, especially to someone under her servitude. Especially to him.
"And how will you go about doing that, Alucard?" She snuffed behind her hand.
"Integra," Alucard spoke after a slight caesura, again not providing a straight response. "Do you remember a few months ago…when you had to deliver your report on the freak chip to the Vatican in person?"
The Hellsing heir stopped, momentarily confounded by his question. How could she forget? The trip had been tiresome enough, but to top it off the leader of Iscariot had demonstrated such blatant disrespect upon her arrival that Integra had wanted to shoot him then and there if it hadn't been for the presence of the Pope. It had not been an enjoyable experience.
"Do you recall Enrico Maxwell referring to you as a 'heresiarch bitch unfit to lick the spittle off God's shoes?'"
Integra scowled, remembering the incident. "Tell me this is going somewhere," she said with gritted teeth, sniffling.
Alucard ignored her comment and continued, "And remember, a few evenings after that, when I snuck you into Section XIII's wing of Iscariot Headquarters and we cut off all of Maxwell's hair while he slept?"
A smile crept into Integra's features and she began to laugh quietly. The episode sounded even more amusing when coming from Alucard.
"I enjoyed that," she replied, tilting her head to the side reminiscently. "He looked like a 'Walter-gone-wrong' the next day."
"I liked the part where he thought Father Renaldo did it," the vampire chortled. "I learned some new vocabulary that day."
Integra's sapphire gaze turned thoughtful. "That was the first time you took me flying, I believe," she reflected.
Alucard's eyes glowed like embers. "Ah. It was fun, wasn't it, Master?" Integra responded with a warm smile, remembering how it felt to guffaw in the face of gravity, how it felt to have her lengthy hair flap in the wind behind her.
"I don't know, Alucard," she answered innocently, unconsciously fingering the laced ends of her comforter. "I think the best part was actually the snipping sounds of the scissors running through Maxwell's hair."
The vampire snorted and was about to respond wittingly when his master cut him off.
"By the way, Alucard, the hair—" Integra frowned. "What did you do with it? I seem to have forgotten."
"Well about that, Master…"
Alucard shifted in the armchair. "I…well…"
"Spit it out already, that's an order." Integra crossed her arms around her cascading hair. It was quite atypical to see the nosferatu at a loss for words.
A small sheepish grin broke out around Alucard's canines. "I believe I used it as extra padding for my coffin, master. The leather interior was becoming a bit flat at the time…"
The silence afterwards seemed to last a lifetime.
Integra heard a strange sound in her bedroom then, a peculiar noise that made the vampire's pale face contort between amusement, shame, and shock. She wondered where it could be coming from, seeing as the laughter she heard apparently did not seem to be coming from him.
Oh, it was coming from her.
She finally managed to peter off, reaching a finger behind her lenses to wipe away the wetness that had gathered at the corners of her eyes.
"I am…glad to see you found that so amusing, Master," Alucard remarked with a wounded tone. His pride had taken a serious blow.
"But what did I tell you?" He asked a still-snorting Integra. "I indeed remedied your affliction, as promised."
"But you did nothing, Alucard," Integra pointed out.
The No Life King glided over and tapped her pink nose with his index finger, something oddly affectionate for a creature of his stature. "That is where you are wrong, Integra. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and I could not agree more. Tell me, have you once thought about your ailment upon waking?"
Integra's eyebrows elevated as it dawned on her that the vampire was right. She had forgotten all about her cold. In fact, laughing had loosened up her abdominal muscles and left the Hellsing heir feeling a little lighter than she had before.
Luckily a muffled rap was heard on her bedroom door, because Integra would have not known what to say.
"May I enter, Lady Integra?"
"Please," she replied to the butler on the other side. The door swung open slowly and Walter strode in with a pewter platter of tea and biscuits.
"I heard that the Lady was not feeling well, so I brought some lunch up," he said, pushing the tissue box aside to set the salver down on the nightstand. Integra cast her eyes aside, contrite.
"I apologize for earlier this morning, Walter," she told him repentantly. "I was not myself."
The aged butler smiled and bowed. "Of course, my lady. And I trust Master Alucard hasn't been too much of a nuisance?" He threw a gray-blue glance to the vampire (half) jokingly. Alucard grinned widely.
"With his remedies, perhaps I should fall ill more often," Integra replied with a lopsided smile, indicating sarcasm.
"I would worry about the future of the Hellsing organization then," Walter said as Integra and her servant grinned at each other.