All characters © Hirano Kouta
A Predilection to Annoy
Alucard ran a slim white finger over the bookshelf's side in Arthur's office.
"I am well aware of your proclivity to disregard tidiness Arthur, but don't you think this shelf is rather dusty?" he asked, holding up his finger for the master to see.
"Ah, so it seems," Arthur Hellsing replied from behind his desk, glancing at the blackened digit. "I'll have Walter on that next week."
The vampire blew on his finger to rid it of dust. "Why not have him get the job done today, Master? Besides," he added, "There's not much to do on a day like this."
And he was right. Moderately large raindrops showered the Hellsing estate in monotonous pitters and patters, and the sky was overcast with clouds of the dreariest steel-gray.
Arthur took a sip from his mug, which most likely contained a substance other than coffee, and closed his eyes. "Oh, I thought you knew, Alucard," he replied offhandedly. "Walter's got a spot of the grippe. Won't have him back for another few days."
"Oh?" Alucard raised an eyebrow, and his lips turned up just enough for a pointed incisor to become visible. "How uncharacteristic of him, the invincible Angel of Death," he smirked.
With a halfhearted sigh, Arthur advised, "Don't do anything bad to him—you know I get nervous when you get that look in your eye."
"I wouldn't dream of it, Master," the vampire said, as he faded into the wall of Arthur's study and out of view. The steady fall of rain seemed even louder in the wake of his departure.
Walter's door was unlocked, surprisingly, and Alucard let himself into the boy's quarters (of course, it didn't matter even if the door had been locked). Hellsing's teenage trashman was lying with his legs crossed atop his bed, fully clothed save for the fingerless leather gloves that generally covered his hands. Now a book and a rumpled Kleenex took the place of the gloves.
"The grippe," Alucard repeated as he entered the bedroom. "Another name for the illness influenza. Supposedly a rather un-enjoyable infirmity for humans, I've heard."
Upon the vampire's entrance Walter scowled, burying his nose deeper into the pages of his book. "You're the last person I want to see now," he muttered darkly.
Alucard took no note of the idle threat, smirked, and merely inquired, "Lying on top of the covers generally defeats the purpose of the bed, don't you think?"
Walter opened his mouth, presumably to answer, but coughed hoarsely instead and shivered. Alucard frowned and flipped the end of his scarf over one shoulder, as it had been sliding down.
"That didn't sound very good, Angel."
"Since when did you care?" Walter snorted. "I highly doubt a vampire can show compassion over something as little as-as…eh…"
Alucard cocked his head. "Yes?"
The end of that sentence, whatever it had been, was never voiced. Walter turned his head sharply to sneeze, dropping his book in the process. After a pause and a slight hitching of the breath, two more followed. Alucard merely blinked and waited for Walter to finish.
"If I wasn't already damned to hell, I believe the proper term for that would be 'bless you," he remarked amusedly, when the sneezing subsided, earning another pernicious glare from Walter. Obviously the decline of his health also affected his temperament.
"Oh, will you sod off already?" he asked with recalcitrance. The Kleenex muffled his irritated tone, provoking another grin from Alucard—the kind of grin he generally saved for his prey before devouring them.
He stared at Walter for a minute, deliberating silently. "Hm. I think I will make you soup, as it is customary for humans to do when they are ill," he said finally.
"W-what?" Walter spluttered suddenly, crossing his arms. He hadn't been expecting that one. "Don't shit me! You can't even cook!"
"Ah-ah," Alucard held a hand out, fingers splayed, in front of Walter's face. "You shouldn't get so agitated, Angel. I can feel your fever going up. Besides I think you would rather have me prepare your meal than Arthur."
On that topic the vampire did have a point…no further comment necessary. All in all, the situation looked grave either way. On the bed, Walter silently fumed, caving. "Do what you want then," he snapped. "Bloody vampire. See if I keep it down."
About an hour later Alucard visited Walter again, this time supporting a steaming bowl with his bare hands. By now Walter lacked the energy to sit up, so he merely turned his head in the vampire's direction.
"What the hell happened to your face, Alucard?" he croaked. Alucard grinned and, with an obscenely long tongue, licked the side of his cheek. The whole left side of his face was softly smoking as it regenerated, but Walter could see that the unhealed part was blackened and peeling.
"It seems that I wasn't as familiar with the modern human appliances as I'd initially thought," Alucard mused, setting down the soup. "Maybe I should ask Master if I can get a new Thompson made with that kind of stove-power; it would work wonders on the freaks…"
"You know what? I don't even want to know," Walter half grumbled-half sighed, struggling to sit up. "It's beyond me why I'm about to actually eat something you've made, but I still don't trust you." Alucard chuckled.
Nonetheless Walter was the Angel of Death, said to fear nothing and said to laugh in the face of peril, whatever peril it may be. That included drinking soup made by a sadistic vampire on the better end of five hundred years old.
With just an inkling of tentativeness, Walter spooned some of the soup, trying not to notice the dark, gristly color it had. Alucard sat back and crossed his thin arms, watching this spectacle. His eyes were lidded with an abstruse humor as Walter took a sip.
Walter paused for a minute. "Well…I haven't chucked it yet, and I don't appear to be suffering any internal damage of the sorts," he stated bluntly. Alucard grinned at the tacit approval.
"So I take it the soup is satisfactory, then?" he asked. Walter didn't miss the hint of smugness to his tone.
"Tch. Probably had one of the maids make it for you," was the reply. The soup felt quite good as it went down his aching throat, so Walter blew on another spoonful before taking another sip.
Alucard's eyebrows went up, and he tilted his head to the side. "That does sound like something I would do. However…" he trailed off, "The maids were currently, ah, unavailable." His eyes strayed to the floor above, where Arthur's office was located.
Once finished with the soup Walter laid back against his pillow, closing his eyes and sighing. "Bug off already, vampire. I'm tired." He opened one eye cynically. "And no, I won't admit that your soup was half-decent." The eye shut.
Alucard rose lithely, ends of his white tailcoat billowing around his knees. "As you wish, Angel," he replied, leaving Walter to his dreams with the rain pattering against the window outside.
The next evening…
The weather was still damp and sodden, although the rainfall had let up considerably. Arthur was just finishing some papers for the Council that had been due a few days ago when Alucard entered his office.
"You called for me, Master?"
Arthur smoothed back a rogue strand of blonde hair, laid down his pen, and propped a cupped hand beneath his chin. "Yes, Alucard," he began. "I wish to discuss with you the issue about Walter," Arthur continued, frowning. Alucard waited patiently for his master to finish.
"The grippe generally afflicts its patients for a week or more," the head of Hellsing remarked. "I find it strange that Walter was coming down with the illness only yesterday morning, and yet he's prancing about the estate, smoking and cursing like a sailor as he usually does."
Arthur paused, regarding his servant who appeared to be biting back a rather guilty grin.
"Alucard. You fed him blood, didn't you?"
The vampire widened his eyes, looking for all the more like the little girl his form suggested albeit for the fangs. "Who, me, Master?" he inquired insidiously. "I wouldn't dream of it." But they both knew that statement was as false as the form Alucard took.
He sighed. "Yes, I gave him blood," the vampire admitted. "But just a little. Don't tell me you haven't done the same, Master."
With a slump of his shoulders, Arthur acknowledged defeat; most unbecoming for the master to fall to the servant. "I've only taken a little, when I need it," he told Alucard. "And Walter wonders why I never get sick—he probably thinks it's because of all the brandy. People have been searching for how to cure the cold for centuries…who knew the answer lies right inside their own bodies?"