Author's note: Depressing one-shots are loads of fun. AU, I suppose.

Disclaimer: I don't own Hellsing.

The grave was practically unmarked; there was no ornamentation, no decoration, no epitaph. It was a soldier's tombstone, intended for a pauper, not a king. It suited her more than any memorial could have. It would not do to have her remember by the caliber of her grave, by her wealth and the will she left behind.

The white roses surrounding her grave were almost a parody of what she was, mocking the steel of her nature.

If they wanted to honor her, they should have left an iron rod beside her grave, her strength and honor placed in front of her; or a blade of silver, double-edged and lethal, cutting away at the enemy just as surely as it would fray the bearer. Fennel for strength, nasturtium for conquest and victory in battle—never a rose. She would never be a rose.

She would never have the audacity to parade herself about as a rose. Her purity was not a state of mind but a state of being.

Inscribed upon the stone was her name: Integra Fairbrooks Wingate Hellsing. Integra Hellsing. He wondered if she would be amused or annoyed that they had not put any dates on her grave. His lips twitched as he attempted to grin as yet another human escaped him through the gentle hands of death.

Death who denied no one, death who defied everyone, death who avoided nothing but the shadows of shadows, the wraiths left to starve as the earth fell into the hands of the dark angel.

"For you, I have killed myself for thirty years…. Does that mean nothing?" His voice was a whisper, dark as the night surrounding him, shielding him from view. The roses stared back at him; he could see them wilting, the petals readying to drop one by one, so that they might decorate the grim reaper's scythe as he split his victim's throat, or be wrapped around his noose as he prepared to strangle his victim. Only a fool would place flowers beside a grave. A silver bullet would be far more practical.

He could smell the rot of corpses beneath him—empty shells of what used to be human fading away, fading as they left him for the angel of their deaths. He cocked his gun, pointing it at the dirt where his master began to rot; his teeth glistened as he smiled. If only his bullets could reach so high as to pierce death's heart. Then everyone would be like him. Everyone would be trapped like him, feel the walls of their suffocating prison and lose themselves to the claustrophobia.

"You could have at least left me the pleasure of shooting you myself." He pulled the trigger, letting the bullet slide into the earth, falling short of her dark coffin, the black cocoon where she hid her transformation, the one she would not emerge from. If he aimed hard, would he kill the being who mocked him, who shunned him, who constantly deprived him?

His crimson duster looked almost like blood in the eyes of the roses—the sunset of a battle, where all the corpses are bleeding and not a single man survives, where you can no longer see the difference between the earth and the sky, where the boundary between them simply melts away and becomes nothing but a memory.

"I offered you eternity! And this is how you choose to mock me?" Another bullet slid into the earth, a dark hole that seemed to open up a second darker night sky. Through those holes, he could almost see the angel's obsidian eyes twinkling in laughter.

"This is how you choose to leave me?" The silver bullet clinked this time against the outer layer of her coffin, of the coffin he could have given her.

The immortality he could have offered her. The choice he had given her. The honor he would have bestowed on her.

The pale hands he could have stolen her from, the dark eyes that he would fool with all his guile, laughing as he twisted her out of his hands and into his own. He looked down to his gloved hands, holding nothing but a shining silver gun.

She chose her own coffin. She chose him instead of Alucard, smiling as she walked past him, lighting yet another Cuban cigar as she went, failing to wave goodbye as she marched out of his kingdom.

She never was one for sentimentalities. Even as a young girl, when he first met her, she had always been stoic and dogmatic. 'Search and Destroy' had not been born overnight; it wasn't her nature to take survivors. True justice did not show mercy, so neither would she—a monster was a monster and that was all. Nothing more nothing less. A pair of glasses, a Cuban cigar, and a pair of ice-cold blue eyes were all the definition that was needed.

She would never have allowed her decisions to be made for her, no matter who had the gall to say they had the right. Her uncle, Iscariot, her butler—even Alucard would be ignored for her own stubborn resolve.

It was always her choice. Every moment that he asked her, attempted to manipulate her, she would smile and say nothing. She would blow smoke from her teeth as she held the Cuban cigar aloft, blue eyes gleaming dangerously behind her glasses. The cinders would crumble down her fingers, staining the white gloves that covered them. It was the only answer she ever gave.

It was never his decision to make.

He didn't hear the police girl approach him; it was only when he smelled the amaranth that he turned. His gun was loaded and held in one hand, its aim centered straight at her heart. She said nothing, her arms full of the plant—purple flowers in full bloom. Her blue eyes met his, reminding him of a different, sharper pair of blue eyes glaring down at him.

Her own gloves were covered in potting soil, smelling like the wet earth beneath him, not at all like the vampire he had intended to create. Both a disappointment and a triumph, his fledgling was nothing he had expected, or wanted.

She moved past him and placed the vegetation in front of the wilting roses. She knelt beside the stone for a moment before stepping back in line with him, lightly brushing the dirt off her grass-stained knees.

"What are you doing here, police girl?" he asked in a threatening tone, sneering at his fledgling in distaste. She stared past him, watching the grave of her master's master with vague, obscure blue eyes. Once, he would have called them sickeningly innocent—but they had aged far more than any human could have within the past thirty years.

"Paying my respects, master." She had turned to look up at him; he wondered when she had changed from the naïve, annoying, bothersome girl he had turned into a vampire. Distantly, he felt a vague sense of pride—if only for a moment.

"That sounds so human, police girl. Haven't I taught you better?" He watched as she stiffened, her muscles tensing as she absorbed yet another insult. She had been battered with so many, her armor had grown surprisingly thin in his absence.

"I went to the service," she said, once more purposefully ignoring him, breathing in the scent of earth and dying flowers. "It was a load of bullshit. They don't—didn't know her…. It was mainly a bunch of blokes from the government anyway; I'm not even sure why I went. But I did." She sighed, staring down at the white roses again. She reached out and held a single white petal in her fingertips; she released it with another sigh and shook her head.

Alucard watched as she stood once again, leaving the roses unmolested as her attention turned back to him. "The open casket was the worst part. They always say you're supposed to look peaceful, or something like that…. She looked like a painted corpse—the embalming fluids made it so she didn't smell human anymore. She was so pale behind that make-up…."

An empty shell was all that was left of her—a painted empty shell was what they left. Alucard painted corpses with their own blood; humans painted them with plaster. Humans had a fascination for the artificial 'new' smells that left him sick.

"Funerals used to make sense. I don't know why they even have them even more. It's bullshit, all of it; it's all fake. The priest, the casket, the flowers… all of it. It was like… it wasn't even her anymore."

He smiled. "What did you expect, police girl? Did you expect to see her again?" He was almost amused him to see the pain in her eyes—good. He wanted someone to suffer.

"Yes," she whispered softly, her eyes full of crimson tears.

"You're an idiot, police girl." He laughed at the indignant rage displayed on her girlish features—far too innocent to belong to a true monster.

"Then what are you doing here, master? Aren't you waiting for her, too?" The rage in her voice was more controlled than he expected—more pointed and sharp than it had ever been before. Perhaps a part of her did belong to him after all.

"Don't lie to me. You can insult me, you can degrade me—do whatever the hell you want. I don't care. But don't lie to me. I deserve that, at least." She snapped as he opened his mouth to answer.

"Lie to you? Lying is for humans. I don't need to lie. Let alone to you, police girl." His reply caused a snarl to issue from the police girl's throat. Her teeth bared as she turned from his master's grave.

"Is it because she said no? Is it because she left without you, without me—left us to fend for ourselves?" The police girl smiled wistfully as she examined his thoughts with ease, without the crutch of telepathy. Even when reading her mind, Alucard hardly knew her.

"What would you know about that, police girl? What could you possibly know with that thick head of yours?" The night breeze amplified his enraged words, ramming into the younger, weaker vampire with the entirety of their wrath.

"People always say that the Hellsing organization would never have survived without you, master. That you were the only thing that kept us going, the only thing that kept us fighting; you were our nightmare and our strength. Without you, Hellsing would have fallen to pieces. But I wonder—do they realize what you are without the Hellsing organization? That you are just as dependent on them as they were on you?"

"You should have been taught respect, police girl," muttered Alucard as his smile became crueler while he thought of what the Germans must have done to her.

"War is cruel, master. I can't afford respect anymore." She smiled, letting out a single laugh before calming back into the tense silence.

"I am the no-life king, the nightwalker, shadow of shadows. I need no one. Not even you, police girl," he snarled, spinning on his companion and drawing his silver gun against her forehead. "You are weak, and it would only take one bullet to send you to Hell. What do you say to that, Seras Victoria?" He laughed as he saw her eyes widen in fear—the fear of all creatures confronted with death.

"You are a liar, master; you need us, you need all of us. Every goddamn one of us! Even me, your lowly fledgling!" She spat on the ground, next to his polished black boots. "Don't lie to yourself, and don't even try to lie to me."

The trigger was so tempting—what was one more corpse to him, anyway? The earth had plenty of room for another dead body. And yet he saw the angel of death laughing behind him, waiting patiently for the gun to fire so he could collect his next victim, so he could take one more thing away from Alucard. Slowly but surely, he drew the gun away from his fledgling's head until it hung awkwardly at his side.

The police girl cried out with relief and fell onto the grass where she began to shake; his apathy and contempt swelled like a great sea about him as he stared at his little disappointment. "You were always so promising," he muttered, before shaking his head and turning to walk away.

"I always knew you loved her," she said when he had walked a mere five paces. "It was obvious, if you knew how to look. Perhaps only I saw it; after all I have a unique viewpoint, trapped as I am between humanity and immortality. I see everything. I know you think I'm stupid, and I might not be a genius or anything, but I'm not blind, master."

Alucard stopped walking, his gun trapped at his side like a caged beast aching for the kill. His head turned so his crimson eyes might see her face—see those naïve blue eyes staring sadly after him. Even his enemies hadn't had the gall to pity him.

"It was little moments, the insignificant stuff that made it so blatant—the little details that gave you away. The way you would talk to her, look at her…. You bowed. You,who gives respect to no one. I know you loved her."

The silver bullet was aching to fly, to transform into the white dove so that it might find freedom in his fledgling's death, so that one of them might find bliss.

"What would a lowly fledgling know?" he snarled, turning back to her, walking the distance to her within the span of a moment—passing through the unnecessary distance, folding it in two until it disappeared altogether.

"You'd be surprised, master." Those blue eyes still stared up at him in blinding intensity. Would it be a crime to blind them? "You know, I used to hate her because of you. Oh, yes, I am capable of hate, master. You've underestimated me so long; I didn't think you would have ever noticed."

Alucard grinned like the infamous Cheshire cat ready for the strike, disappearing into one form or another, leading Alice down the winding trail of her doom. He began to laugh. To the roses he looked like insanity—not a god or a demon; just pure insanity. Insanity come to slaughter them all.

"I fantasized about murdering her once or twice; just an idle daydream to pass the time. Every time I couldn't find you, every time I was left alone in the dark, wandering the halls looking for someone to talk to…. She was always on my mind, one way or another." The police girl was darker than he had thought; her mind was a labyrinth, dark corners still left unexplored even by the light of the sun.

"Walter is what stopped me; he was always there for me, when you weren't. In some ways, he was my master in everything except title. He taught me… everything I know. And I knew that if Integra were to die, I would lose Walter—more importantly, he would have to kill me. That's all that stopped me, for a long time. It was only Walter that stood in my way."

He could almost see his bitter fledgling sneaking into his master's room to slit her throat, to bathe in her noble blood, to be sanctified by Hellsing blood. And yet as she said this, she almost looked poignant—even as her eyes gazed over the name of Integra Hellsing.

"But things changed. I loved her, master. Just as much as you or anyone else did—I couldn't help it. None of us can help it. I would have been willing to die for her just as much as I would have for you. Walter deserted me, but Integra—she never left. She was always there for me, and I will never forget that." Once more she almost looked pitying at Alucard, as if he were missing some important detail, some obvious fact….

"Do you want to die, police girl?" he asked slowly, wondering if that's what made her provoke him, toy him with confessions and dreams of murder, something that should not have bothered him.

"We all want to die, master," she replied commendably quickly—almost a reply to an order from a military officer rather than a death threat.

'We all want to die, master.' Once again, the police girl hit the nail on the head without even trying. He had never thought she was stupid—he may have called her a moron, but she was far from stupid, and she was even further from innocent. Seras would also never be a rose; Seras was the silver bullet in a loaded gun.

Despite what her eyes would tell him, despite the human phrases and expressions spewing from her mouth, she was no foolish virgin. Perhaps he had known that the moment he had pulled the trigger and sent his silver bullet flying through her lung, dooming her to either travel with him for all eternity or die as a pathetic, lowly, human.

Even then she had not been innocent.

"She wouldn't have been a good vampire, master," she said finally, her eyes drifting towards the night sky, taking in the pinpoints of light.

"What makes you think that?" he asked pointedly, thinking how ironic it was that she should say that.

"When you made me a vampire, master. That night in Cheddar, I didn't want to die. I would have done anything not to die; I wanted to cheat him out of all that he had taken from me by taking my own life away from him. He stole my parents, so I paid him back by stealing my own mortality—that night with the robbery, it should have been his eye that I skewered. Death was hideous and I never wanted to be near it again. I hadn't realized how many times I would see him if I went with you instead…. Kind of funny how that happens."

Her smile was still so wide, so childlike that he could hardly believe her his kin; sometimes he didn't believe it. Her hair was too blonde, and her eyes too big—she was no creature of the night.

"Not everyone is born a vampire, master."

"No one is born a vampire, police girl." He was getting tired of her, his fledgling with her blue eyes that looked wrong. They were the wrong eyes, the wrong shade of blue, the wrong edge of fire. They were not the eyes he was looking for.

"She couldn't have become one of us, no matter how many times you offered your own blood. No matter how many times you tempted her, no matter how long you spent with her, she would always say no. It was in her blood. She was the last Hellsing, the final heir. Our kind doesn't mix."

Alucard had no conscience. A monster didn't need a moral compass to point his way. But sometimes he thought the police girl decided to take the job on as her own—his blue-eyed conscience.

"She would have thought it was a weakness to give into you; you could not have changed her mind, Alucard. She would have sooner stabbed herself through the neck than become anyone's fledgling. Even yours." Her eyes were locked on his as she spoke, all hints of sadness gone, replaced with cold iron.

A mere sword could not conquer her—she was stronger than any fashioned metal, sharper than any blade. A rapier would not have defeated her.

"She was stronger than that; she didn't have to say yes like I did…."

He remembered the first time he saw her, young and terrified, tumbling into the abyss where he waited for freedom—where he had ached for twenty years to unleash his vengeance and soothe the need for blood. The thirst was overpowering. He had been ripped apart by hunger for so long that he felt himself turning into his need. He hid himself in the guise of a corpse, rotting away until they came back for him.

He had not been expecting a little girl, the heir of Hellsing, to come running down into his lair. Glasses and hair askew, she had crawled towards him in dismay; apparently she had not been expecting a corpse. Perhaps a shining prince, her knight in white armor, armed and smiling ready to protect her from imminent death.

Of course, it wasn't too long before more humans had shown up; armed with pistols, they had quickly taken over the room, their eyes wild and bloodshot. The man in charge seemed to be the most stressed of all of them, and he looked rather relieved to see the blonde little girl sitting helpless beside a dead body. Weakened and apathetic as he was, Alucard could still make out the maggot's thoughts on how it would be all too easy.

Alucard hated the needlessly conceited, the arrogant carnival freaks who couldn't even dream of true power, of hatred or glory, of endless night. They only thought they were a nightmare—but they were still so tainted by the light. The sweating man would have made a great maggot. Pure scum in the making.

She stood proudly even as they shot at her, grazing her cheek, dropping blood onto the floor. The blood of a virgin, of a Hellsing, of amaranth. It tasted strangely metallic, perhaps reflecting once more on the silver that ran through her. The purity that ran through it proved her to be a virgin still—not surprising, as she was so young… and throughout it all was a fire that refused to be extinguished.

It was not a family curse that had bound him to Hellsing that day. It was her blood, that first taste that had allowed him to call her master with pride. He slaughtered for her, he made corpses for her—he would search and destroy only for her.

That first moment when he bowed before her, his mouth stretched into a maniacal, relieved grin, he felt her ice blue eyes staring down at him. He knew then that there would be no mercy for anyone, no matter what they had done, not matter who they were. She would not show mercy. Her eyes were cruel and heartless, and within them he saw his own reflection.

She was the true heir of Hellsing, the only one left throughout the centuries and the only one he would ever content himself to serve.

There were times when he forgot she was human, just for tiny, crucial moments. He would forget that blue is not the color of death, that it does not show all the cruelty and hatred that his own crimson eyes revealed. Small details such as those would slip away with the cool night breeze and the scent of a Cuban cigar.

She would smile as the moonlight flashed against her glasses, soot dribbling onto her plain white gloves. He wondered, at these times, if Walter himself knew just how different his master was, and how at times, one would have to remind themself of her humanity. A perfect shot, a merciless smile, and the eternal orders of 'search and destroy' were always contradicting her mortality.

Did Walter realize, even as he betrayed her, exactly what kind of an enemy he had made? The lethal power that he had unleashed against himself; the icy blue fire that burned within her eyes, the flames ready to engulf him within a single sighting—did he realize? There was no mercy for Walter; only a deep pit where they would place his grave. And maybe not even that. Walter was a fool.

He wondered if the German realized what he had played with when she shot him in the face, if he finally realized that he was not the one he should fear—that he was not the one who was capable of delivering the final blow. Alucard liked toying with his victims—taunting them, lecturing them, letting them believe it just might be possible to defeat him. They were arrogant plague rats that had grown fat on the bones of civilians; Alucard was merely teaching them a lesson.

Integra had no patience for deceit—her greatest downfall had always been her impatience. She would shoot before her enemy had the chance to look her full in the face; she didn't need to see the whites of their eyes to place a silver bullet in their hearts. There was no amused smile, no expression at all—only a puff of smoke from a half-eaten cigar.

Alucard was the shadow of shadows, the nightwalker, the darkest nightmare in the child's mind. He was the one to strike fear in the enemies' hearts; whether they were human or inhuman, he was the tool used to make them wary. And yet, he was not the one they should fear—after all, he was nothing but a tool. The will, the sword, the fire was his master. She was the one who directed the aim of the bullet: she was the one to fear. And yet, conceited as they were, they never quite understood that small fact.

They would come, grinning madly, almost as mad as himself, calling him the only power left within Hellsing, the life-force of the organization. Without him, Hellsing would crumble to dust. What fools—what conceited fools. It always made Alucard laugh, knowing that idiots still existed only for his amusement. He never told them, even as he shot them to pieces, just how wrong they were.

As their blood poured from their ruptured vessels, he would whisper that the left hand of God had come for them, the angel of death with the bloodied chord in her hands, her circular glasses shining, no expression on her solemn face. But they only saw the shapeless demon in her stead. What fools.

The rotting fools.

Alucard was the monster in the closet, hid away from the world for fear of discovery. He was the lies she hid, the secrets she concealed—all the things she didn't want seen. As ironic as it was, Alucard, abomination against God himself, was her Achilles' Heel. He was the weakness she could not afford to show to her Queen, her ministers, her round table.

They knew he existed as one knows that death and corpses exist—and yet they had never truly seen what he was capable of. They did not know the extent of his horrors, his shapeless guise, filled with all-seeing eyes that could pin down a man and make him spill his heart's blood to gain mercy. He was the shadow that existed within their beating hearts, hiding itself in the corners—just out of sight, out of thought.

The wider world did not know about vampires because she did not want them to. She did not want them to find him and realize what he was, because it just might destroy her. Where a sword failed they might succeed, and Integra never let anyone else win the game.

Integra did not believe in hypocrisy, but she did believe in Alucard. Even his fledgling earned her respect in time—perhaps only because she was his kin, or perhaps she recognized the fire behind those wide blue eyes, the dark hellfire ready to be unleashed upon the world. To the outer world he was Hellsing's pet, Integra's indulgence. The Vatican hated her for it; the Vatican would kill her for him because he walked with shoulders squared among her fellows.

In actuality, there were only three true soldiers of Hellsing. Integra, Alucard, Seras. All the rest had nothing to do with the reality of its ideas and essence. They had nothing to do with what Hellsing was. They may have glimpsed it, in the midst of battles, while their city burned beneath the wrath of resurrected ambitions. But they did not understand it like they had. They could not stare at the sun without blinding themselves.

Perhaps that's why Integra fought so hard to protect him, ensuring the country, the world, knew how invaluable he was even as he tore their citizens apart, ensuring they saw what she saw as he drank their people's blood, that they could see the truth through her pale blue eyes. A monster was a monster. Monsters must be destroyed. That was her one and only destiny.

Alucard was a monster, and yet Integra fought beside him, raised her sword above his head and shouted her orders, condemning her enemies to death with his silver bullets. They never spoke of the day when she would have to kill him, the day when she would raise a gun to his head and whisper, "Well done, Alucard."

He had expected it. She was no hypocrite. And yet, the blow never came. Was never mentioned. Was never implied within actions and conversations.

For Integra, a skeleton in a closet was no monster—merely a weakness.

"You know, she even told me before she came back that she was the end," said the fledgling, still staring at the grave deep in thought.

Alucard wondered why she was still there, dressed in Hellsing uniform, standing by as if waiting to be ordered on a mission. Did old habits truly die so hard? Would she stand there for all eternity, awaiting the next round of 'Search and Destroy'? Would he?

"After her, it would become the government's problem, and the lineage of hunters would end. We would end. The government won't use us, not unless it's to their own gain. The government can be corrupted; we're a dangerous power, especially if placed in their hands. I don't think I'll be out hunting vampires anymore."

Alucard caught sight of the roses once again, of his fledgling, of his master's grave. He had never expected this to be one of the outcomes. Integra had seemed at times just as immortal and inhuman as himself.

"It's why I brought amaranth. A rose is all and good—pure and innocent, untouchable by the evils of the world. But it was the immortality of amaranth that reminded me of her. Supposedly, it never dies, you know. Just like you and me. I think it represents the road she chose not to take. Who knows. Maybe they gave her amaranth in Heaven."

He hadn't noticed it when he returned to her, his body weary of death, so much death. To him, she was as she had always been, sharp and lethal, sleeping within her bed, an eye patch covering one of her crystal blue eyes. He hadn't noticed the age, the wearing down of her body—after all, thirty years wasn't so long for Alucard. Compare thirty with five hundred, and thirty was the blink of an eye. A dream, a fantasy.

She still tried to act as if she was twenty. Accidents were bound to happen. And neither Seras nor he had noticed until it was too late. It was, after all, only a matter of time until she was worn down to her very bones. It was pneumonia, or so the police girl said—she had been out too long. It was cold, she was old, and her immune system wasn't what it used to be.

She had been walking outside and he had forgotten the ice, the winter's cool ice beneath their feet. She slipped down the stairs, her body twisting as she fell down the sharp edges, breaking her bones all along the way. How was Alucard to know what killed humans and what didn't? He still saw the little girl. He couldn't tell the difference.

For weeks, Alucard had to simply watch her die, waste away in a plain white bed, refusing pain medication and attempting to stand on her twisted ankles, all the while insisting that everyone stop sending her 'those damn Hallmark cards' and 'those putrid balloons'. She coughed and hacked and continued to whither whilst Alucard sat and watched her fade.

He offered again. It wasn't the first time. He had stared into her one blue eye and told her that it might be her last chance. Human blood wouldn't save her. Their I.V.s wouldn't save her. He, however could. What did she have left besides him, besides the police girl? A dying organization, a few scattered mercenaries, a slowly dusting fortune—that wasn't worth dying for.

She instead asked him for a cigar and a match.

It was the last thing she said. She died the next morning, cigar in her ungloved hand, spilling cinders onto her linens. There was no smile on her face—no expression at all. Even in death she could hide her thoughts from him.

The hospital hadn't kicked him out right away; they thought he was her son. Before, he had been her father, brother—and now, he was her eldest son. Even as they rushed in when the heart monitor went silent, jostled past him, offered condolences, they did not throw him out for being a monster. They pitied him.

Even through their soft, human eyes he saw they pitied him. He had wanted to tear them apart for that; he had bared his teeth, ready to taste their blood. What would she have cared if he tore her world apart? She wasn't there to stop him. She had spited him for Death, and therefore he could do whatever he wished. He could topple their monuments, pillage their cities, ravage their women and she couldn't do a damn thing about it.

It was so very tempting. He could almost see that nurse's sweet blood running down his throat as he consumed her. Through his crimson eyes, the world had been painted red with blood—the blood he could spill, the blood he would spill. He had smiled, his sharp white teeth revealed as his face twisted to accommodate the grin.

That had frightened them, frightened her. She moved back from his master. From his cold, dead master. He didn't want them touching her, didn't want them in the same room as her—they had failed to save her. They didn't have the right to watch her rot.

In the end he had not killed them—the doctors, the nurses, the patients. They had lived to see another desolate sunrise, another barren nightfall.

They weren't worth the effort.

"Where are we going to go, master?" asked the police girl, watching him with her soft blue eyes—the color of robin's eggs, of noon summer skies, of mortality at its peak. The moment when the petals open and a flower begins to bloom, all contained within her naïve eyes.

It had been a long time since he had seen those skies, those soft, summer skies. He looked upwards towards the stars spilled across the sky. The blackness seemed almost alight with the tiny shards of daylight.

Perhaps it was time he went home again. He had never liked England. London was always too busy, too crowded, too modern. But Romania. Romania was dark and cold, still full of dark shadows, though the age of monsters had long since passed. Perhaps it was time to walk among those dark pines again, feeling the snowfall against his skin, watching the frightened villagers cross themselves as they lived in the shadow of his castle.

He missed the holy water they would fling at him; he missed the wafers he would find littered at the bottom of his castle walls. Was it possible to miss such hatred? Anderson was dead, Integra was dead, Walter was dead. He and the police girl were the only ones left standing, left walking in a city of corpses.

"East. It's time I go east once more."

The Hellsing bond was broken, and with it, his loyalty to England. After all, it was just another dotted line on a map that he couldn't read. He would not regret leaving it behind.

The police girl sighed and turned to follow him out of the cemetery. Alucard stopped, drawing his gun from the casing and pointing it at the police girl's head. He couldn't help but smile. Sometimes, he wondered if her stubbornness was really a ruse, after all.

"And where do you think you're going, police girl?" he asked, even as he anticipated the answer.

"Did you really think I'd leave you to fend for yourself, master?" she replied without a hint of guile in her clear, high voice. Her eyes grew wide at the end of the barrel placed at her head.

"I don't need you following me around like some lost puppy. What if someone shot you?"

It was good, the banter. It was their pattern as master and servant. Perhaps they didn't need each other—perhaps he could live without her and her without him. But it was so much easier when they could vent their anger out on one another.

"I'd live. What about you? What if they shot you, master?" Now the smile was mischievous—the smile he remembered from years before, before the Germans had decided to strike, before they had been dragged through yet another pointless human war.

"I'd rip their arms out." He grinned before bringing the silver gun back to his side and turning to walk away, not waiting for his fledgling's footsteps to sound against the soft earth behind him.

"Come, police girl, there's more than this corner of the world, more blood than that which flows through the enemies of England. It is dark and horrifying, but that's how our path has always been. Who knows—perhaps in time, you shall become a true vampire?"

He leaves the roses, he leaves the corpses. He takes only his feet, his guns, and his fledgling. They are the only things he has the patience to carry.

After all, he can't be expected to take everything with him.

Author's note: Yes, that was depressing. Take that, fangirls, that's what happens when I read too much terrible fanfiction. GAH.

Reviews would be dandy