It bothered her more than she was willing to admit. She wasn't entirely sure why. But when she'd seen Alucard returning from the village carrying someone, she knew something was wrong. It seemed unlike him, out of character. He did not rescue damsels in distress.

Except, of course, when he did. She could never forget that he had entered her life as not only an indisputable monster, but also a knight, of sorts. Minus the shining armor, of course. But he did bow before her and call her master. It was still hard to ignore that, even after all these years.

When she'd realized just what the girl was, she'd been shocked. She had no right to be. No one else would be surprised that her vampire had bitten someone. But…she was. And she'd let the accusation show on her face, so that he saw it. Even then, he had been amused.

Which meant that now, Integra would not be able to get a straight answer out of him. Why? Why had he done that?

"It was her choice," was all he would say.

Well, not quite all. He had been his usual obnoxious self. His actual explanation was a bit more verbose, but no more illuminating. He could be labeled a creature of darkness for his deliberately obtuse word choice alone.

They'd returned to headquarters, not speaking to each other. She'd allowed him to get his new draculina situated in the dungeons. And then she'd called him on the carpet.

"What did you do? What were you thinking?"

"Do you want to know, Master?" he asked eagerly. "It was such a beautiful night. I truly love nights like this," he began almost dreamily.

"I'm not concerned with the weather. I want to know about the young woman who is currently passed out downstairs!"

"Do you? Do you want to know what her virgin blood tastes like? It was her choice, you know. She gave herself to me willingly as she died. Do you want to hear about that?"

"No, I don't, you monster. I want to know why she died in the first place, before you so heroically spared her." She did not care how harsh her words were. Alucard never seemed hurt by them anyway.

He made a distasteful face. "That vampire scum used her as a shield, so to shoot him, I had to shoot her as well."

She narrowed her eyes at him. She knew there was something he wasn't telling her, something he wasn't admitting to. But she'd have to leave it go, for now.

"Don't you ever do that again. Do you understand me? Never again. If you bring home another draculina, I swear to you that I will stake her myself. Now get out of my sight!"

He left. He didn't say anything more. Didn't attempt to defend himself. Didn't even laugh. She sat down in her chair and got out a cigar. She didn't care that it was almost morning; she wasn't about to sleep.

But a week later, she was still trying to figure it out. So, what was that all about?

The easy explanation was that the Hellsing Organization was in the business of destroying vampires, not creating them. She could be angry for that reason alone. But that was easily dealt with. She could have ordered Alucard to clean up his messes and shoot the girl in the heart on the spot. Or she could have done it herself. But she hadn't. And now…now it would be unthinkable.

If she had been worried that Seras Victoria would turn into an unruly, bloodthirsty monster instantly, those fears were groundless. The girl was timid, thoroughly obedient, eager to please…and on top of all that, seemed sickened by the idea of drinking blood. The thought that Alucard couldn't handle the girl was absurd. It was actually hard to even remember that she was a vampire.

So what was the problem, then? The problem was that her servant had done this, and she didn't know why. It wasn't like him. He insinuated many, many things, but never in the past ten years had he even appeared tempted with the idea of creating a draculina for himself.

She was not the least bit fooled by the idea that this had been Seras' choice. She knew Alucard well enough to understand how his mind games worked. Everything he did was always her choice – she was his master, and he followed her orders. And yet, in truth, Alucard did as he wished, as the current dilemma so amply demonstrated. She was not sure why he felt it so important to cling to his identity as her servant, but she suspected that it allowed him some measure of control. He was an amazing creature, but too wild; if left unchecked, he would destroy himself. He seemed to know this, and so he only killed on her orders. If she declared someone was to go free, he respected that immunity. Conversely, if she were to unleash him on the world – he would destroy it all.

So when he said the choice was up to Seras – yes, he would need that. He would need to know that she was going along with his plan willingly, or rather, that she was demanding such actions from him. But Integra knew that it was Alucard's plan, of course. Only a vampire would create a situation where such a choice was demanded of Seras. A police officer would never toy with a hostage in such a way.

But why now? Or why Seras? She had tried to discuss this with Walter, but he'd seemed as much at a loss over the situation as she was. He would only tell her that Alucard had strange whims. The problem was, that when she thought about what those whims might be…she didn't like the implications.

This simplest idea was that Alucard was lonely, and wanted another vampire around. Never mind that he had not expressed any sort of dissatisfaction; it seemed reasonable enough, and not unlike things he had done in the past, if the histories she had read were accurate. She saw no reason why that should bother her, but also no reason why Seras Victoria should fulfill that role at all. She was hardly Alucard's type, and likely to remain in fear of her master for some time to come. The idea that Alucard would just pick up the first virgin girl he found and bring her home did not sit well with her at all. He could be very shallow, but he wasn't that shallow.

But even that was better than the other idea that crossed her mind. Could it be that he was training Seras Victoria as his…replacement? She was familiar with the need to have an heir, and the consequences of failing in that duty. She was young enough that no one pressured her seriously yet. But Alucard shouldn't need one, ever. He should be able to continue serving the Hellsing family for as long as necessary. So why would he go and recruit another vampire for the Organization like this? And without consulting with her first? She did not like to admit that it scared her. That somehow, he was keeping her shut out, because he knew she would not like it.

So rather than dwell on that, she put it out of her mind. Of course she was being ridiculous. Vampires did not have such human motives, and she should not project her own concerns on to him. Just because she couldn't conjure up an heir in a single night didn't mean she had to be jealous of him for doing so. There were many things he could do that she would never be able to.

But there was another thing…. She was his master; but now he was Seras' master. He was not merely her servant any longer. She supposed that would change things. She sighed. Just when she'd begun to learn the rules, it looked as though everything were about to change again.

"Your orders, my master?" Alucard said, having entered the room silently while she was lost in her thoughts.

Well, maybe not everything had changed.

She decided to ignore him for a moment. Not that Alucard ever betrayed a lack of confidence, but she felt he should be squirming right now. She took advantage of the lull to take out a cigar and light it. He had once told her that vampires do not make plans. Everything they do is spur of the moment. Perhaps she was over-thinking this, and what had happened with Seras last week was merely a gut reaction. Simply a natural response to the smell of blood and the opportunity. Not unlike his split-second decision to follow her, and not Uncle Richard. She had been grateful for that one, of course.

But if he was just toying with her…well, two could play at that game.

"How is the draculina?" she said, still not looking at him. Instead, she watched the puff of smoke rise. She knew that when she did turn to face him, he would be as composed as always.

"The police girl is doing well. She's been practicing at the firing range, and learning to let go of her human training."

He sounded pleased with himself. "Is that so?" She turned to look at him; same as always. "You may find that it is not so easy to be the master of a vampire."

He had the gall to smirk back at her. "Not all vampires are as difficult as I am."

"Don't sound so proud of yourself."

"But I've had a wonderful master, so I'm sure I'll know what to do," he continued smoothly. "Besides, this is only temporary."

"Temporary?" she asked, looking at him sharply.

"Once she's ready, she'll be free. I'm only her master now, while she has not yet tasted blood. Or rather…my blood."

"Hmmm, perhaps I should try that." She smiled at him, her eyes as cold as ever. For the first time, he was thrown.

"Try…what…master?" he said carefully.

"Not your blood, vampire." Her smile was still in place. He did not relax, though there was little in his demeanor to give away his nervousness. She knew him too well.

"The 'temporary' part. Perhaps I should not be your master permanently. Set you free some day."

His façade fell away. He dropped to one knee and bowed his head low. "No, Master. Do not cast me aside. As long as I can still serve you, you have a duty towards me. Do not abandon it."

She stood, and looked down at him. "So be it. But do not forget who your master is, Servant."

"Never. I will not forget, Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing." He stood and faced her.

"That will be all. Your order is to train the draculina properly. It seems that the Hellsing Organization will have two loyal vampires now."

"Yes, Master." His smile was back. He bowed gracefully to her and then left.

She sat back down. Perhaps…perhaps she could get used to this. But her foreboding did not go away.