An Old Flame

AN: Since I'm pretty sure the Hellsing Manga is set in 2000; that's the time frame I'm going for with this fic- hence why the system specs are so... dated.

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.

Integra stood in her office, scowling. There it sat, in its cardboard box... mocking her. It was a very evil device, an invention of man that its own creators secretly feared. Surely that was the reason for those movies like The Terminator and The Matrix. It was evil; it was trying to take over the world. And now, now it was sitting in her office... and there wasn't a blessed thing she could do about it.

The lady knight reread her letter. "Performance analysts have marked a significant problem in the communication and integration of our various governmental branches. To rectify this, and keep our intelligence organizations as up to date as possible, Her Majesty has commissioned the creation of a secure online database containing all reports and records from the various branches of British intelligence.

"To aid in this new endeavor, a state of the art desktop computer has been shipped to the head of each agency. Please set up yours, log onto the official website (Web Address, User Name and Password are being sent via bonded courier and should arrive with in two to three days of this package) and begin inputting your division's records. Her Majesty thanks you for your timely compliance..."

The letter came down, and Integra stared at the box once more. She'd put this off as long as she could. The bonded courier had just dropped of the other package, and the knight realized that the time had finally come. With a heavy sigh, Integra walked over to the box and opened up the top of it. One by one, she pulled out the items inside and piled them neatly on the floor. Then the lady knight pulled out the 'setup diagram' and began to look it over.

As luck would have it, at that very moment, there was a knock on her door. Setting the diagram aside, Integra called out, "Yes, who is it?" If interrupted under other circumstances, the lady knight would've been short and a bit perturbed. However, given her current endeavor, she was just glad for the excuse to put things off a little bit longer.

"Your new captain," Pip's voice answered back. "It's pay day, and some of the boys are starting to get a little... impatient. Thought I'd come by and see if I could get the checks a little early."

Safely concealed within her empty office, the 'woman of steel' rolled her eyes. Her men would've never even thought to ask for their pay. No they would've patiently waited until it was doled out at the appointed time. Of course her men were loyal patriots- not simply hired guns.

But Integra needed those hired guns. Her own forces had been too badly depleted by the secret war they fought; and- until she could fill the roster again -she needed Pip's 'Wild Geese' to supplement her forces. And that meant making the occasional concession. Integra sighed again. "Come on in- door's open," she called back as she turned and opened up one of the draws in her desk.

Pip entered the office to find his boss facing away from him- her form bent slightly as she fished around in one of her desk draws. The long time player's eyes instinctively went to the lady knight's rear; and before he even realized that he was 'checking out' his boss, his lip had already curled into an approving grin. Fortunately, he recognized this and managed to wipe the grin from his face before Integra turned around and held out a stack of envelops.

"Here- all of your geese's pay checks. Now, if you don't mind, I'm rather busy."

Pip knew Integra well enough to detect the slightly elevated strain in her voice. Was she upset with him? Had she caught him checking her out? No, he was fairly certain that if that was the problem she would've commented on it. Something else was adding to the lady knight's already, near perpetually stressed demeanor. "Is something wrong?"

Integra didn't reply, but she did narrow her eyes at the merc in a 'none of your business' kind of way.

And Pip, getting the message, let the question drop without further pressing. Instead he politely thanked his boss and turned to leave. However that was when Lady Luck played her final card of the day, for- rather than simply continuing out the door -Pip tried to ease the tension between him and his boss with an offhanded observation. "Nice new computer, by the way."

At this Integra's eyes widened. "What about the computer?" she replied, her voice tinged with a slightly defensive tone.

"Oh, nothing," Pip responded. "I just caught sight of the box," he continued averting his gaze over to the piece of cardboard, "and... Well, it's a nice PC is all- New Windows ME, Pentium 3 processor, 256 megabytes of ram, 40 gigabyte hard drive."

To Integra, the stats mine as well of been said in Greek... or a foreign language that she actually hadn't had to learn as part of her extracurricular, incantation training. To her, a 'bite' was a form of assault quickly followed by blood sucking and (usually) ghoulification. Still, she knew that they meant something, and what was more... Pip seemed to know exactly what that something was. "So," the lady knight began slowly, almost hesitantly. "You know a good deal about computers?"

Pip finally turned back to his boss. "Er, not really... Just some basic stuff. I set up a website for my... ah, 'business' a while back- Marvelous Mercs dot com. Thought it might be a good way to attract some new clientèle."

"Marvelous Mercs?" Integra questioned, a single eyebrow arched upward.

"Yeah well, it was originally Wild Geese dot com. But that title proved a bit... misleading," Pip answered but didn't bother elaborating further.

And Integra didn't press the issue- being too concerned with the internal struggle playing out in her mind. Here she'd been presented with a wonderful opportunity to have someone else hook up that blasted, robotized 'secretary'. However, asking for Pip's help, or even ordering it, could place them in a bit of a precarious situation.

They'd dated before- years before. And now the lady knight felt as if she needed to maintain a cold detachment from the man- lest he get the wrong impression. She had hired him after all, and there were plenty of other mercenary bands in the world- none she would've trusted though. But she trusted Pip. She knew Pip- her old boyfriend, her first crush. She knew him well, and she trusted him. However, she didn't want to run the risk of ending up back in a romantic relationship with the man. It would've been confusing, problematic... not to mention improper- since he was now one of her employees.

Still... he was already helping her defend the crown- putting his life on the line to fight along side her. How much danger could there possibly be in him helping her with something as simple as hooking up a computer? "Well, in that case, maybe you could put the thing together... sounds like you might enjoy it," Integra replied doing her best to keep her tone neutral and detached... and not wholly succeeding.

Pip smiled back at the lady knight, and she found herself both pleasant surprised... and upset that the roguish look brought back such fond memories. "I'd be glad to help you out," the merc replied as he stuffed the envelops into one of his pockets and walked over to the desktop's tower.

"And that's how you get online," Pip said as he hunched over the lady knight and watched her open up the PC's web browser. The two were very close- so close in fact that Integra's scent flooded the merc's senses, bringing with it a feeling of nostalgia. In seven years she hadn't changed her shampoo, or perfume... or whatever it was that gave her that unique and pleasant aroma. And Pip's mind flooded with memories of stolen kisses, dinner dates... and the two of them snuggled together on his family's couch.

The memories were pleasant ones, but they still caused him to pull back- straightening up behind the lady knight. It would be so easy... too easy to forget the time they were in and lean forward to plant a peck on Tegra's cheek. 'Tegra'? Pip realized that he'd even slipped back into thinking of Integra by the pet name he'd once given her. But somehow it no longer seemed to fit. He briefly stared at the knight- knowing that he was safely out of her peripheral vision.

This was not his 'Tegra'- not any more. She'd changed, and so had he. No, not his Tegra... but rather his boss, Sir Integra. That was who she was, who she'd become. But what if...? "Do you ever think about it?" Pip asked, seemingly out of the blue; and Integra turned her head to face him.

Their interactions over the last hour had become less strained, more comfortable; and the lady knight had thought that her initial fears, about having to keep her old flame at arm's length, had been unfounded. As he'd taken the time to carefully explain some of the more simple PC operations, she'd even half-forgotten that they'd been romantically involved at all- being so caught up in the thrill of learning something new. So, Pip's question not only came as a surprise; it also confused the lady knight. "About what?"

"About what would've happened if things had gone... differently- if I'd been able to return to Gresham at the start of the next school year, instead of having to go home and help out my family?"

"No," Integra replied sharply and quickly turned away from the man. Then, after a brief moment, she sighed. "Sometimes," the lady knight corrected. "But things are what they are, and neither of us is the same person we were back then."

"True," Pip consented, and an uneasy air hung between the two for a few seconds.

It was finally broken by Integra. "Besides... I think you've got other romantic 'pursuits' in mind," she said- her voice holding a rare, friendly, slightly playful tone. "I've seen the way you look at the Police Girl."

Once again, Pip's lip curled into a roguish smile. "Noticed that, did you?"

Integra let out a light chuckle. "I'm not nearly as... 'dense' as your men think I am. I notice a lot," she replied. 'I just can't allow myself to comment on it,' she continued within the sanctity of her own mind. Sir Integra had always believed that a proper leader needed to maintain a certain distance from her troops.

"And... you're okay with that?" Pip asked, sounding a bit unsure.

"Of course. We've been... 'broken up' seven times as long as we were ever together. We're both different people, and it's only natural that we'd be interested in other... 'types'."

Pip nodded. His boss's statement made sense. Briefly he considered asking what 'type' she found herself interested in. However, he realized that it was really none of his business, and the question died in his throat. Besides, he still had one good eye; he'd seen the way his boss and that red clad monster of hers acted around each other. And the merc figured he could already guess what Integra's answer would've been- if she'd consented to give him one... which he doubted would've happened.

Yes, they both had new interests to pursue, and what was left between them was not so much lingering love... But rather it was simply the memory of such a thing... a shadow- devoid of both substance and form -of what they'd once shared.

Well, what did you think of it? Did you guys and gals think it was realistic enough- a good 'bridge' between the emotions in Integra's School Daze and the canon pairings? If not, did you at least enjoy the fic itself? Please review and let me know what you thought of this. Thanks. :)

Have a good day, and God bless.

Metropolis Kid.