Down Time

Disclaimer: I don't own any material contained within this story. All copyrighted content remains the property of the person, people, or organization that holds the copyright. This story is solely for fun.

AN:Yeah, this one's going to be a little silly. But I'm not sure if it's quite "crack". I have tried to keep the Hellsing crew at least somewhat IC... you know, IF you can get over the fact that they're actually playing Apples to Apples at one point. :P

Integra sat behind her desk and stared intently at her phone, willing the wretched thing to ring. However the inanimate object stubbornly refused to obey her unspoken order, and finally the lady knight sighed and broke eye contact. It was just bloody ridiculous! Over a full month without any action- and here she'd always thought that evil never took a holiday. She sighed again and then looked around her office.

Alucard was sitting directly across the desk from her. His body was slumped, and his hat had been leaned forward- blocking sight of his eyes. If he were anyone else, she'd have suspected he'd fallen asleep. But she knew him too well for that. He was just... waiting- like her. The second that phone rang he'd be ready to dispatch any targets with his usual psychotic glee.

Behind Alucard, Seras sat on the couch- her hands folded in her lap. Next to her sat the Frenchman- who seemed to be the most lively member of the group. And why shouldn't he be? The mercenaries were all paid by the day. It didn't matter whether they saw any fighting or not; they still cashed the same paycheck.

In fact Integra briefly wondered why Pip was in the room at all. Her two vampiric 'pets' naturally gravitated to her side with nothing else to occupy their time, and after a month without a mission they would doubtless be running out of things to keep them busy. But, she'd have figured Pip would be enjoying his down time in the nearest bar... or brothel. Instead he was just sitting there, doing nothing- just like the rest of them.

Integra then observed Pip moving his neck as if he had a crick in it. The Frenchman's gaze stopped and lingered on Seras's ample endowments for a brief second, and Integra's question was answered. The Frenchman was in her office because that was where the Police Girl was, and he wanted to be near her.

Having looked around her office and found that everything was still just as dull as it had been, the lady knight's gaze slowly began to drift back to her phone. Really, it was ridiculous. How long could it possibly take for an undead outbreak? Weren't there any mad scientists or wannabe necromancers left in the world?!

Pip yawned and used the opportunity to (not nearly as subtly and smoothly as he thought) maneuver his arm behind Seras. He inched it forward slowly; and then, just as he was about to make physical contact and rest his hand on the small girl's far shoulder, she suddenly bolted upright.

"Bloody Hell," she growled, and Pip opened his mouth to attempt an apology. (He wasn't exactly thrilled with the idea of receiving another demonstration- like the last time he'd tried to touch her without permission.) However, before Pip had the chance to say anything Seras continued, "I mean I enjoyed the break in hostilities as much as anyone... but it's been over two bloody fortnights!"

"Calm yourself, Police Girl," Alucard said in a low, almost peaceful voice. "The flies will come in time... we just have to be good spiders until our guests arrive." Alucard's body failed to move, but his mouth broke into a wide, toothy smile.

Seras sighed. "That may be, Master... But do we have to just sit here and do nothing until something happens? Can't we do something to help pass the time?"

At this, Alucard finally sat up. He locked a lecherous grin on his fledgling. "Oh, I can think of a few... fun ways to pass time... if you're really interested, Young One."

Seras took a step back. What had she said? What was she getting herself into?! She certainly hadn't meant... whatever it was her master was thinking about. "Um... I-I was talking about... Like, playing a game or something."

Alucard stood up and began to draw near his fledgling. "A game, huh? I know of some particularly... diverting ones."

Pip shifted uncomfortably on the couch. He didn't much like what was going on... but he also didn't have a death wish. And since- despite his best efforts -he and Seras weren't technically involved, it wasn't really his place to interfere anyway... not unless his Mignonette asked him to.

Integra, however, had no such fears about overstepping boundaries. "Alucard, stop that before you give the poor girl a heart attack," the lady knight commanded, interrupting the stammering response of the room's slowly retreating fledgling.

"Yes, Master," Alucard replied and turned away from Seras. He was obviously not concerned about giving the Police Girl a heart attack. She was a vampire after all. Besides, he'd been around long enough to know the difference between fear... and apprehension. But an order was an order.

When Alucard sat back down, a very bored Integra decided that she mine as well hear Seras out. "So, Police Girl, what did you actually have in mind?"

Seras remained silent for a moment- though whether this was due to her thinking quietly or still recovering from Alucard's previous 'advances', Integra didn't know. "How about Apples to Apples?" Seras finally asked as her face brightened.

"Apples to Apples?" Integra repeated the words which somehow felt strange as they rolled off her tongue.

"Oh, it's a fun game," Seras continued, her face now a glow with almost childlike excitement. "It's a word game. You all have a hand of cards, and you try to best match them to the card on the table."

Seras looked around and found herself staring into some rather unconvinced faces. "It... it really is fun," she tried coaxing.

"Not as much as my games, I'm sure." Alucard replied in a voice that sounded as if he were talking more to himself- though everyone in the room still heard the statement.

"Oh come on, pleeeaaase?" Seras responded.

Integra sighed. "Fine- go get the game and we'll give it a try."

Once again Seras's face lit up, and she rushed out of the room.

The game was winding down now, and Integra had to admit (at least to herself) that she'd actually come to enjoy it. It was kind of... fun trying to match up the adjectives and nouns, and it provided some psychological insights as well- since the 'judge' switched each round and one got to see how different people reacted to the different possible matches. But there was also another reason that the lady knight was enjoying the game... she was winning. Well, technically she was tied. Both her and Alucard had seven matches, and each of them only needed one more to win. However, she was ahead of Seras and Pip- who only had five and four matches respectively, and Integra still felt sure she could win.

She'd gotten off to a rocky start, but she'd caught up once she accepted the fact that in this particular game she couldn't just insist that her answer was right and that everyone else had to go along with it. No, she had to try to put herself into the judge's shoes and guess their opinion. It had taken time to learn to do that; but, as always, the lady knight had adapted and was quickly overcoming. She'd caught up and passed both Seras and Pip. And now, now she was only one match away from securing her victory. There was only one problem.

It was impossible for her to win the current round, for it was her turn to judge. But as long as Alucard didn't win the match, she had a chance... more than a chance. She would win; she was sure of it. She just had to make sure Alucard didn't win the next match. And really, how hard could that be? After all, SHE was the judge. She just had to figure out which card was his... and then NOT pick it. Integra's lip curled as she realized this and reached for the red pile.

They were playing Apple Turnovers, a variation of the game that Seras said she preferred since (in her opinion) it was more fun to match adjectives to nouns than the other way around. And since none of the other three were even sure what the girl was bloody talking about before they started playing, they went along with her recommendation.

Integra pulled the card up and looked at it. Then the slightly smug grin fell from her face and was replaced by a momentary look of surprise and shock. Slowly, ever so slowly, her hand came down- revealing the card to the rest of the players, who also seemed momentarily fazed by it.

Then Alucard's chuckling broke the almost eerie quiet that had settled over the group. Obviously the No-Life King felt somewhat amused that he was actually featured in a card game... Yes, upon the noun card that Integra had pulled, the words "Count Dracula" were emblazoned clearly at the top.

Integra couldn't believe it. Out of all the cards in all the piles in all the world, WHY did he have to end up in hers? "Well, Master, here you go," Alucard said, as he slid a green adjective card over to her. Two more cards- Seras's and Pip's -soon joined the one Integra's servant had chosen to describe himself. The lady knight scooped up the three cards and shuffled them as best she could- as per the rules' instructions. Then slowly- with an emotion approaching near dread -she flipped up the first one.

"Frightening." That was what the first card proclaimed as it laid there in plain view of everyone in the room. And Integra quickly decided that, no matter what, she could not choose THAT card. To do so would be to admit that her pet frightened her, and that... that was something she certainly could not do.

Sure Pip would have no idea that Alucard was really Dracula, and Integra doubted that the Police Girl had yet figured it out. But she knew who her servant was... and what was worse was that he knew that she knew. No, she certainly couldn't pick the first card. But maybe the second one would help her out?

"Romantic." That was what the second card claimed, and Integra internally scoffed. A lot of help that did her. If anything this card was worse than the first. How could she possibly agree that her pet was romantic without doing irrevocable damage to their current relationship? She couldn't, and so... she could not choose the second card either. There was now one card left, and Integra found herself subconsciously stalling for time.

What if the third card was as bad as the first two? Then what? What would she do then? What could she do then? She had to pick a card. The lady knight did her best to hide her emotions as she took an unusually long breath. And then she finally flipped the last card.

"Annoying." That was the description on the third card, and Integra felt so relieved that she would've leapt for joy... if she permitted herself such frivolous indulgences. Finally, there was a card she could choose without causing an imbalance to her current relationship with Alucard.

She smirked and looked over at her pet, fully expecting to relish the look of disappointment on his face. Doubtless he'd been enjoying watching her squirm. But then Integra's smirk fell for the second time that night, for she found Alucard grinning back at her and lightly tapping his stack of cards.

Of course- Alucard, himself, was the one who put in the 'annoying' card. Who else would've? It was not like Dracula was often portrayed as an annoying character. No... No one that didn't know Alucard and how he loved- absolutely loved –to torment her would've thrown in THAT card.

Well that was just great- a fine predicament she was in. She could either loose to her servant... or admit that she found him frightening or romantic. Some choice, that was.

For what felt like an eternity Integra just sat there- staring at the cards. Then, eventually her servant spoke. "Come on, Master. You're holding up the game. What's so difficult anyway?" he taunted in his usually smug sounding voice.

Bloody vampire. Oh, he knew what was so difficult. In fact, if it hadn't of been for the fact that Seras was the one who suggested the game, Integra would've suspected Alucard of staging the whole scenario just to watch her reaction to it.

But, as much as she hated to admit it, he did have a point. There was no apparent reason for the hold up. Her initial reaction at seeing the card with the king of vampires' name on it could be explained away simply by the irony that she- the head of a vampire slaying organization -should pull the card. But this stalling was another story. And the longer it went on, the worse it would be. Eventually the stalling itself would be even worse than the cards she had to choose between. So, Integra finally gritted her teeth, reached forward and chose the only card she really could.

"You... You think Dracula's annoying?" Pip couldn't help but question as a confused look hung over both his and Seras's faces. "Why annoying?" he continued.

"I do not need to explain myself to you. I am the judge, and my decision is final," Integra growled with more venom than she'd intended. Then she pushed herself away from her large desk and walked out of the room- doing her best to keep her emotions under control. She wanted to storm out, but that... that would simply not do.

"You know, I never would've imagined winning a game of Apples to Apples could be so... satisfying. That was a good suggestion you had, Police Girl," Alucard commented just loud enough for his retreating master to hear.

Seras smiled happily. "Th-thank you, Master. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much."

(Well, what did you think? Please review and let me know if you liked it, thanks.

Have a good day, and God bless.

Metropolis Kid.)