Stray Cat Strut?

Chapter Three: Of Smiles and Fangs

If Seras was completely honest with her self then the nights spent looking over Schrödinger were not half bad. True, he could annoy the hell out of Sir Integra when she tried to have a peaceful dinner, only to end up shot several times before he retreated and whined at his watcher's feet. Or when he decided to see what Alucard was up to usually resulted in her being belittled by her Master.

"Can't you at least keep him entertained, police girl?" The great Nosferatu had said, a glint of murder sparkling behind his dark bangs.

The young vampiress tried to explain that she was entertaining the cat, but he could be in two places at one time! Her maker did not accept excuses though, and told her that she needed to try harder.

But other than his curiosity getting the better of him, Schro usually tailed behind Seras like a happy shadow. He paid heed to all she would tell him and usually stayed out of trouble, as long as there was something to keep his attention. The young woman supposed having grown up in an orphanage and boasting a great love for cats all her life had somehow prepped her for this supervision. If she wanted to keep him distracted for a few hours, for instance, then she would simply rent a couple children's movies from town and sit him in front of one of the mansion's large television screens.

"Doc vould never let me vatch any Disney fvilms," Schrödinger had confessed to her one night, "He said it vas bad propaganda."

"You're kidding!" Seras exclaimed, "Your own father kept cartoons away from you?"

"Vell, he vasn't vreally mein fvather. But he vas like vone," the boy's eyes seemed to drift, not paying as much attention to the animated movie which flickered colors around the large dark lounge.

"Yeah… even so, that just seems cruel."

"It vas vhat it vas," Schro shrugged, "I don't mind zhough, because now I can vatch zhese for zhe fvirst time vith you!" He was absolutely beaming, a halo of the television's lights illuminating his hair.

So to say the least he had grown on her. He was downright adorable at times and his curiosity could be used to teach him a few manners, though the police girl guessed that was only because of how fond the boy was of her. Alucard had even gone so far as to title him "Your ward," when he spoke of the cat to her.

It came to pass that the residents and employees of the estate grew used to the Nazi clad youth. And though his mannerisms were immature at best, he still was easy to fall in love with, especially now that he wasn't working for the enemy. Even so, there was still one inhabitant of Hellsing Manor who could firmly state that she was displeased with the boy's continued occupancy.

"Are you absolutely certain this is a good idea, vampire?" Integra asked of her eldest servant, watching from high above as Seras navigated her way through the estate's hedge maze, Schrödinger jumping all about her and laughing playfully, "I don't entirely trust the boy."

"He's blindly infatuated with my fledgling," Alucard answered simply, "As long as he thinks it is what she wants, he'll follow through. So I suggest you present it as such."

"We'll see… And what of the plan to contain him? Have you come up with anything yet?"

"Seras has bought us much time so far, but it has not been enough for me or your men to figure out a way. This plan is to keep him by us and provide more ample time to develop a means."

"I still dislike it," the director huffed, a twinge of annoyance being sparked as she saw Seras bump into the feline child and both hitting the ground, laughing, "he has no manners, flaunts his powers with out a care for decency, interrupts my men constantly, and doesn't show a shred of remorse for the crimes he has committed against God and man."

"All in all," Alucard summed up, amusement dripping off of his voice, "he is a creature much like myself."

Integra swiftly directed her remaining eye toward her undead king, suppressed rage boiling just beneath the breaking point.

He bowed deeply and made his way out of her presence, but not before asking, "So, do I have your blessing to send them up?"

She looked back out onto the sunlit grounds, watching as Seras helped her young friend back to his feet, "We'll do whatever you like to buy us more time," and just as Alucard was about to walk quite literally through her office door she announced, "But I will not have him wearing those absurd garments!"

Meanwhile, down in the elaborate hedge maze, Seras and Schro had become quite lost. They had agreed to suppress their supernatural abilities as best they could so as to navigate their way properly through. However, when reducing their senses to an almost human state, the blonde duo had discovered themselves be quite bumbling. Still, that wasn't to say the activity was not fun.

"I am such a nitwit when it comes to puzzles and mazes, I was never any good at them in the orphanage," Seras half criticized, half joked about her own shortcomings, "It just goes to show how much I have come to rely on my powers."

"You zhink you 'ave it bad?" the boy whined, "I 'ave never actually done zhis before! I 'ave alvays had my pover to be everyvher und novhere, so only being here is wery strange to me. 'Ave ve gone down zhat vay yet?"

"No idea," Seras sighed, "might be as good a choice as any at this point."

And though it took them much longer than they would have liked to admit, the pair had finally reached the large garden fountain in a clearing at the center of the maze. Schro immediately ran toward the flowing water full of delighted laughter and leapt up onto the seat-like edges surrounding the spring. He circled around it several times, tracing his now ungloved hand like a fin through the thin curtains of water. Seras observed him with the enchantment one might have when taking a child to the fair for the first time.

Upon the small one's sixth orbit he stopped dead in his tracks and lowered his ears in displeasure, staring right over Seras' shoulder. Her head snapped around quickly just in time to see her Master Alucard passing through one of the hedge walls, as if it were mist. "Ah! Master, good afternoon!"

Alucard pushed his orange welder's shades high up the ridge of his nose before answering his young pupil, "You are a vampire, you idiot, there is no such thing as a good afternoon for either you or myself. The sun will sap your strength if you walk in its annoying light for too long, and will make you a much easier target for your foes."

"Vhat fv'oes?" Schrödinger interrupted before his female friend could come up with an apology, "I know ov no fv'oes approaching Hellsing. I exist in all places und in no places, und I tell you zhere are no great fv'oes coming your vay." He had hopped down off of the fountain and came to stand defiantly beneath Alucard's unimpressed gaze.

"I might be speaking of the only serious foe remaining to us," the tallest spoke dangerously calm, "Who runs up and down our halls singing praise to a long dead idealism; or blearing his best renditions of his dead comrade's favorite German operas."

"Me?" the boy asked innocently enough.

"Him, Master?" she inquired just as soon.

"Or so our virgin madam feels so," Alucard said with a grin, enjoying how annoyed Schro looked at his Mistress' thoughts, "Police girl, your presence is required at Sir Hellsing's office to receive your next mission briefing. I don't suggest having her wait long." His meaning was clear to her, to stop suppressing her powers out in the middle of the day and to get back inside.

"R-right! My Master! Come on Schro, let's go see what Sir Integra wants," the young vampiress advocated and set off out of the maze and to the mansion, boyish cat at her heels.

Alucard watched the two leave the limitations of his physical eyes before closing them and smiling, "Do I displease you somehow?" he asked aloud, directing his steadfast question just behind his back.

"Ve vere having fvun," Schrödinger huffed behind the larger frame, arms crossed in a clearly immature fashion, "Vhy did you fveel zhe need to butt in?"

"Could this be jealousy I hear in your voice, boy?"

"Me?! Jealous ov you? Ha! I just don't like you intervrupting us."

"It is you who interrupts us. You who comes between me and my creation, between my Master and myself, and between my Master and my fledgling. You seem to forget you are a trespasser and a guest here, no matter how lost you are in the fabric of reality."

"So? Vhat is your point?"

"Only that Seras Victoria already has us in her heart, and you are but a passing phase to her. Ah," Alucard turned about face, "but it seems the look on your scowling little face already knows that if I give the word then she will drop you with out hesitation. She belongs to me and no matter how much you want her, I will always be her preferred company."

"You dried up old vamp!" the boy shouted, throwing his arms into the air, "Seras is my fvriend! She vould never abandon me on just a stupid order! You… you think just because you don't fveed on me zhat I can't hurt you?! Vell I can! I can exist inside your next meal und have you lap me up vith out your knowledge! Doc suggested it many times to Herr Major, but he vanted your death to be your v'own downfall! I can kill you again ifv I vanted to! So don't you dare-"

In a flash of red and white his blonde head was torn from his shoulders and tossed onto the top of the large fountain, followed immediately by his twitching body toppling over into the disturbed pool. What was once clear crystal waters were soon deep crimson gushers.

"You should learn, boy," the red clad vampire said, stowing his oversized pistol back inside his coat, "that no one who resides on this estate, nay, in my territory may give me an order, other than the head mistress," the Mad King jeered and left the bloody scene behind, not very much feeling up to conversing with the brash child any longer, "A little too much like myself, though altogether different. Hmm…"

Meanwhile Seras and Schro had just entered the mansion, door closing behind them.

"Wow, Master wasn't kidding, I can already feel my strength returning now that we are inside. I hadn't noticed that the sun could sap it like that," the young draculina noted, setting foot on the first step of the massive stairs.

"Yeah…" Schro half committed, ears folded close to his skull.

"I mean, sure, I have been in the sunlight before, but I never really paid much attention to its affects on me after becoming a vampire. I guess you learn something new every day, right?"

"Sure…"

"Hm? Something on your mind?" the happy unwoman asked, a bit of concern dampening her mood.

"Ah? Oh, its nozhing, its nozhing! I vas just seeing, um, vhat everyone vas up to," he laughed cheerfully and closed his eyes as he followed her assent.

"Oh?" her tone suddenly became stern and big sister like, "You aren't bothering anyone, right? You know how much trouble we both get into whenever you do."

"Jeez, Fräulein, lighten up, ja? I'm just taking a look avround," he really wasn't at first, but as he said it sure enough there was a Schrödinger lurking in just about every dark corner of the mansion. "Und just so you know, all ov your equipment has been polished up und vreloaded."

"Ah! That's great! Not that I have been bored or anything but I really do like my job. It'll be a nice change of pace to get some fresh night air, you know?"

"Hmm…"

"Yes? You seem to be thinking a lot, Schro."

"Vell, I vas vondering…" he seemed to be distracted again, or perhaps he just had his mind full.

"Wondering?..." she urged on.

"Um, say Seras? You vouldn't mind if I came along to vatch you vork, vright?"

"Watch me on the job, huh?..." she had to think of it for a moment. He seemed so sincere, though this was odd because he could easily watch the happening of the entire world and did not need permission, so why ask now? She put this puzzling question to him, "Well, even if I told you no it's not like that would stop you anyhow."

"Yes it vould!" the feline exclaimed, something like offence splattered against his voice, "Ifv you said no, zhen I vould have to vrespect you…" He seemed to blush now, but he had turned away to face their flank so fast that Seras wasn't sure.

"Ah, well, thank you, that's very sweet of you Schro," she said, genuinely surprised but also quite flattered by his innocent respect for her. Yes, he could be rather adorable. Now if only she could get him to respect everyone in the manor the same way he respected her, or at least leave Sir Integra alone, then she could report that she had made some real progress other than that he loved animated cats singing jazz music.

"Zhank you…" he whispered so quiet only the supernatural could have picked it up. Though what was really bothering him was how hard his heart was pounding in his chest, he couldn't recall ever feeling so flustered before. It was both annoying and exciting at the same time.

They eventually arrived at the boss' large wooden door. Seras asked the boy to please respect Sir Hellsing and not get either of them in trouble, and Schrödinger more than happily agreed to watch his new found English manners, crude as they might be. "I'm becoming a vright limey," he whispered to himself as Seras knocked upon and slowly opened the door to the well furbished office.

"Sir Integra, you summoned me?" the former police officer put forth courteously. Schro was trying his best to stay quiet and still by his friend's side, though his eyes flashed toward every shiny object in the room… how fun they looked to him…

"I called for both of you," Integra corrected curtly, "for I have two orders of business to discuss. The first being your new assignment; we have received intelligence four days ago of a disturbance in the graveyards just south of Padlock Wood. The general public believed it to be the work of grave robbers, for who else would unearth the dead in this day and age? But our sources revealed the work of necromancy. Someone has been raising the dead of not just human beings, but also the corpses of animals from surrounding pet cemeteries.

"A team of seven men were dispatched from Hellsing headquarters two days ago, though we have not received even the smallest transmission since they sent word that they were about to engage. I feel that there is more to this case than just plain necromancy. Therefore your mission is to search for and deal with the offender, find out what happened to my men, and if at all possible, rescue them."

"Rodger!" Seras saluted, then made to leave, but Integra spoke up sternly,

"I am not finished yet, police girl."

"Oh, my apologies, ma'am!"

Schro was doing his best not to snigger, and it showed on his face.

"Right…" the director steamed, "Now as for the second order of business, Ms. Victoria, I have received your request for a pay raise, and quite frankly I am disposed to decline at this time. The only way you can increase your wages is for you to step up in rank, which would give you seniority over some of my men, and truth be told you have yet to show any proper leadership skills."

Seras looked the most affronted Schrödinger had ever seen her, but she had stayed her mouth, so he followed suit.

"However," Integra continued, "I am willing to give you the chance to prove an aptitude for these skill to me," her eye shot to the cat child for a slight moment, then returned to her subordinate, "Does this sound fair?"

The undead blonde girl went from insulted to caught off guard. Her boss had never ask her for her opinion on any matter, well, as far as decision making went anyway, "Yes, that would be generous of you…"

"Then to test your worth as a leader, I will assign one individual to work directly under you for your mission in Padlock Wood. And since you," she redirected her obviously displeased gaze onto the cat boy, "have yet to earn your keep with in my home, I am ordering you to work under Seras Victoria. Bu-"

"V'Really?!" the youth shouted, jumping up into the air and whooping for joy, "Do you v'really mean-"

Integra slammed a stone hard fist onto her desk top to silence the boy, which surprisingly worked wonders, "We will have none of that nonsense! If you are to work under my employ then you will obey my commands! Are we clear, brat?"

The boy straightened up immediately, as loud, unexpected sounds tended to startle him. It was a cat thing, after all. "Ah! Cl-clear!"

Now it was Seras' turn to try not to giggle.

"Seras," Integra, addressed slowly, not taking her sight off of the youngest looking one in the room, "do you accept these conditions?"

The young vampire didn't even have to consider it, "Yes sir! I accept!"

"Good," the Cyclops of a woman said simply, "Then, brat," she was speaking to Schro again, "My first order for you is to change out of those unsightly cloths, I will not have an employee of the Hellsing Organization in such distasteful garments!"