Another almost mythical, idealized figure of violence, vitriol and masculinity, completely at odds with Integra's cold and soft haughtiness, the Paladin Iscariot was out of control. Like Alucard.
They had fought for hours. Well into the dawn, a red cusp was creeping over the horizon in a thin slice of plasma. Even though England was soggy from several days' rain, Alucard felt the moisture evaporate from his lips, his skin raw and cracking. The sun could not harm him in his advanced state, but it still stung his sensitive nocturnal skin. He had to squint his eyes to see. When this battle was over, he would have blisters to nurse.
Anderson kept putting his back to the sun, forcing Alucard to continually advance into the glaring dawn.
Alucard had no bullets left. His guns were discarded, laying forgotten in the grass. Anderson's infinite arsenal of blades was also exhausted. The two monsters, grotesque parodies of men, fought on with their bare hands. Between grunts, they had taunted each other, but the glee eventually evaporated from their voices. For the past half hour, neither had spoken.
Anderson's jaw had unhinged from the skull, and was hanging by a flap of flesh. White bones jutted from his raw knuckles.
Alucard's left leg was partially severed at the ankle, and he dragged the lifeless foot with him by the skin of his boot. His neck was sliced open, exposing the windpipe and esophagus, and the gash traveled over his collarbone and into his chest. His usually neat suit was mostly shredded. His discolored flesh morphed into maggots and tried to cling to his skin and regenerate, but he was losing strength, and they fell from him as he moved, instantly burning up into cinders in the dawn.
Neither opponent was regenerating their wounds with any speed. The warriors limped and struggled.
Give up, Alucard thought to himself. Give up and die. But he continued to advance into the blinding sun, despite the pain. Under his clothes, his legs trembled and ached. He might not have any say if he died today or not. His immortal body was in very real danger of collapsing.
Suddenly, Anderson's body went slack.
Alucard almost fell forward. Anderson's hands around Alucard's throat relaxed. The priest expelled an involuntary sigh, and as his legs buckled, he collapsed against Alucard's stomach and slid down his body until he crumpled into a heap on the grass. "It dinna' matter... how much abuse ye take," he gasped, blood on his teeth. "Ye just stand here. 'Aye could take ye' head clean off...you'd just stand there...." He lay face up in the grass, eyes squeezed shut tightly in agony, arms and legs twisted in the most unnatural way, pools of deep red seeping around him.
The sun felt hot on his scalp. The vampire let his inky hair fall into his face, shielding his delicate red eyes.
Below him, Anderson breathed deeply. The open wounds pumped thick, red blood, which spilled into the grass.
For a moment, Alucard stood over his quarry in dizzy, unbelieving glory. His shame and self doubt immediately evaporated. He felt giddy with power. How perfect it all was. The broken limbs, the exposed ivory throat, the pools of blood, the supple flesh, the shredding clothing. He knew what had to be done. The one thing had been longing for, days upon days, aching for, thirsting for. And Anderson must have had an inclination of what the consequences would be if he tried to fight him to the death and lost, so that when Alucard sunk to his knees and positioned himself over his fallen opponent, Anderson didn't even open his eyes or flinch.
Alucard leaned in. He hesitated for a moment, inhaling the bouquet of old and new blood, sweat and soil. Anderson's scent was thick and hot. Heat radiated off his skin, warmer then the sun's rays, and Alucard could not help but lean closer and absorb that heat. The vampire planted his gloved hands in the grass on either side of the man's head, and lowered his mouth towards his face. He dragged his tongue over the man's dirty, bloody muzzle. He almost laughed when Anderson's expression screwed up in disgust, but he didn't move. "Just do it quickly," Anderson said between clenched teeth.
But Alucard wasn't having any of that. Again, he slid his tongue over the priest's mouth, feeling the man purse his lips together tightly. Alucard lifted Anderson's limp wrist and sucked a bloody finger into his mouth. He swirled his tongue around the captive digit and released it with a soft, but audible pop. The taste of fresh blood began to revive Alucard. He felt his body slowly reforming, and pleasant buzz filled him, increasing his heart beat, igniting his senses.
Fresh, warm blood. A living, breathing victim.
Alucard lavished attention on Anderson's bloody knuckles, lapping up the warm blood that pulsed from the broken skin. Anderson began to tug his arm away, but Alucard kept the man's wrist clamped in his inhuman grip. As the vampire's saliva began to heal the wounds, Anderson relaxed again. Alucard made a low noise, almost a growl. He could barely contain his hunger. With his victim subdued and relaxed, he nosed around the man's chest, hunting for other open wounds to lick. He followed streams of blood to their sources. He had learned the value of being patient while he fed, learned the joy of taking his time. He would not gulp and suck this time.
There was a gunshot wound that hadn't healed up all the way, low in the priest's belly. Alucard latched onto the wound and began to suck, slowly. The more he drank, the more powerful he felt. And there was so much more left. These were tiny nicks and scratches. There were gallons and gallons left, potentially hours of pleasure. He felt himself shuddering in ecstasy. Just the anticipation was causing ripples of pleasure to race though his body.
Anderson began to twist weakly in uncomfortable disgust. "Why den ye just suck my cock while ye down there, too, ye faggot?"
Alucard stirred from his foggy, ecstasy-laced feeding. That was a very tempting invitation. Alucard released the wound and let his head rest on the priests thigh. "Hmm," he considered lustily. He hungrily nuzzled his nose and mouth against the front of the priests trousers, finding it warm.
Anderson began to wrench his body violently, finally finding the will power to try and get up. "You repulsive...!"
It had been a while. Alucard could still remember his own throat fucked raw as a small boy by his captor. At first he had been ashamed by what they forced him to do, but through the years he had discovered how powerful it made him feel when he could suck his jailers off to a pitiful, wailing orgasm. They all thought they were so powerful and intimidating, but no one's intimidating when they're thrusting their pathetic, tiny dick in your mouth, whimpering like a baby.
Anderson's arms and legs were broken. For all his struggling, he could not resist, and there was no reason for Alucard to stop. And as the vampire thought about it, the more he wanted it. He didn't necessarily wanted the man's foul seed in his mouth as much as he just wanted to hear Anderson beg and moan against his will. That was his favorite noise. He'd do anything to hear that beautiful sound. Hungrily, and delirious with bloodlust, Alucard moved to grab the man's fly with his teeth.
"Enough. Compose yourself and return to my heel."
Alucard's arousal vanished and his blood turned iced cold as he heard Integra's voice behind him. His spine straightened, but he didn't get up, or turn to meet her eyes.
Before he could even finish thinking to himself that he didn't care what she had seen or what she might think, he heard her snap her fingers, and he was crouching at her side. His eyes were fixed on the grass. He flinched when she unexpectedly reached down and hooked her finger into his cravat and tugged him closer. His face came in contact with her thigh. She kept him pressed there. Her leg was warm against his cheek. Inside her flesh, he could hear the dull pounding of blood pumping angrily in her veins.
"I hope this has satisfied your foolish curiosity," Integra said coldly. "I expect you'll conduct yourself with restraint from now on--or you will suffer the consequences."
Alucard was ready to nod when he realized she was speaking to Anderson.
Anderson lay motionless in the grass. He was looking at the woman and the vampire, breathing quietly in humiliated relief.
Integra didn't wait for Anderson to answer. She turned sharply, wordlessly, away from both the defeated man and the vampire and descended down the hill to the car that awaited her.
Alucard was covered in severe burns.
He marveled at them in baffled wonderment--that he had sustained them at all in the first place, and also that they still remained even hours after he had taken shelter indoors, and also that they ached and stung so. His masterful undead body was a magnificent specimen of everything a vampire could be. But his wrists and neck were covered in swollen welts that couldn't be willed away.
He stood in a guest bathroom in the Hellsing mansion, digging through the medicine cabinet. He had no idea what he was looking for, or even if a human remedy would sooth his wounds. He warily eyed plain bottles and plastic jugs, having no idea what any of these chemicals did. Cautiously, he reached for the hydrogen peroxide.
"Don't do that!"
Alucard turned suddenly.
A young Integra, no more than seventeen, stood in the door. "That'll just make it worse. What happened to you?" she demanded.
Alucard shut the cabinet door and put his hands behind his back. "Nothing." The truth was, he had procrastinated in his duties the night before while hunting down stray ghouls. He had known a vampire must be producing the ghouls, but he had neglected to hunt it down fast enough because he became fixated on a lone human woman running away from the slow, undead creatures. She had already been bitten by them. Odds were at the rate she was experiencing blood loss she would die soon. Instead of helping her, he remained in the shadows, engrossed in her panicked fleeing, trying to mentally calculate how long she might have and how her infected blood might taste. He hadn't fed in a long while. And yet, he made no move. He waited, and as the ghouls overtook her, he watched in frustration and hunger. When it was over, he wiped out the monsters that remained, and well into the dawn he finally destroyed the vampire.
"Nothing?" Integra asked incredulously. "Your face is all red."
Alucard hadn't noticed the burns on his face--he couldn't see his reflection in the mirror.
She wore her university uniform--a plain brown suit that fit her generous female body. However, she had taken to wearing the male student's uniform with the slacks instead of the skirt, and that robbed him of the pleasure of seeing her long, slender legs. He speculated she went to these lengths to cover her body to end the stares of the men around her--including his, from time to time. For many years, he had lusted after her blood and had spent many hours tracing the blue veins of her throat with his eyes. But recently, his eyes had begun to trace the rise and fall and rise of her breasts.
Alucard realized he was staring and looked down at the floor. He couldn't help but be overwhelmed by her sometimes. As if their bond wasn't painful enough already. When she had been a child, they had shared a close, intimate relationship and he relished in her adoration and attention and thought her affections were limitless, so he offered his immortality to her and was prepared to take the little girl as his vampire bride. Her rejection was crushing.
Since then, she immersed herself in studies and devoted herself to Hellsing and there was little time for her vampire pet. Years had passed and she had become a virtual stranger to him, and he to her. The trust was gone. In its place was a strained but professional civility, with all the warm of an ice cube. If he touched her, she would tense up. Yet, there had been a time when he fell asleep in her small arms.
Integra eyed Alucard's face suspiciously. "You look gaunt. When was the last time you fed?"
Alucard scowled at her. "None of your business."
"Ah. I thought so."
"How often I feed is none of your business."
Integra said, "I know you don't like bagged blood--but you need to feed more frequently because....because this happens. You become susceptible to injury."
Alucard said evenly, "I think you should finger yourself more frequently, because if you wait too long to get off, you get bitchy."
The young Integra pursed her lips. "None of my business. Got it." There was quick flash of hurt in her eyes, but it vanished quickly. Whatever compassion she had felt for his injuries was gone now. She turned quickly and walked out the door.
He watched her go with regret.
In the late hours of the morning, Alucard had taken refuge in a infrequently used guest bedroom. He pulled all the drapes shut until the room was nearly black, then he weakly collapsed on the bed and stared at the ceiling for a long time. He hadn't slept in three days, not since the day Integra had given him the bag of her blood, and the exhaustion was creeping up on him. That botched feeding had only been three days ago? It felt like a lifetime now.
Sitting up, Alucard gingerly shrugged out of his long red coat and stripped out of his bloody ragged shirt and draped in on the bed. Blood ran down his mangled torso. He had started to regenerate slowly from his prolonged battle with Anderson, but it was as if his body had no motivation to do so quickly. He tried to patch together his gaping throat wounds with his hands, feeling the flesh fuse back into place with a little encouragement. He would clean himself up as best he could, then decide what to do.
His first idea was to hide here. Just for a few hours, and see if Integra came looking for him, and then he could test her temperature. Or, he could seek her out immediately and make an impassioned plea for another chance. Or he could just go back to his coffin and go to sleep, forget this whole day and pretend it never happened, and maybe Integra wouldn't bring it up again. Or, he could walk to her office, accept his dismissal and leave quietly.
He had been willing to die for her just a few hours ago.
Maybe, Alucard rationalized, leaving Hellsing was for the best. He could form a new identity. Maybe he could make himself into a man. A man someone could respect. A man maybe even Integra could respect. He tried to imagine what a man Integra could respect would look like. Something human, he imagined. Something that didn't look like him.
He would never be a man.
He wasn't capable of being a man Integra could respect.
He looked at his ungloved hands. There was blood and dirt under his yellowed, elongated vampire finger nails. He sat down on the bed, looking at his hands with nervous a obsessive interest.
"Messy," Integra chastised.
Alucard craned his neck.
She was standing in the doorway, arms folded. She had taken a shower, and her hair was still damp. It was pinned neatly in a swept up bun, stray white tendrils framing her face. She had changed into a sharp, black suite, nicely pressed. Neat and proper, that was Integra's way.
Tucked under her arm was small clutch of papers. "You've always been very good at making things messy," she chided.
Alucard's body was badly wounded. Gnarly slashes and sopping open gashes crept up his neck and down his white chest. He had several gaping stab wounds in his stomach and flanks. For the most part, he had stopped bleeding, but the flesh was not yet fused together. But there was blood smeared over some of the blankets, and it had pooled on the floor by his feet as he had tended his injuries. Alucard felt underdressed and disgusting in comparison to his very polished looking master. He glanced at his raggedly shirt and coat on the bed. Normally he could regenerate his clothing as well as his body, but he was exhausted. He doubted he could do either. He decided against putting the clothes back on.
Integra noticed him eyeing the clothing, saw how he made no move to dress himself. They had never shared such an intimacy that they paraded in front of each other in various stages of undress and she had never seen her vampire without all his clothes. She had always been mildly curious about his build under those heavy Victorian layers. His exposed, white skin and lean muscles pleased her, even while they were marred in injuries.
Integra adjusted her glasses. She realized she had been staring. She didn't want Alucard to notice. But Alucard seemed anxious to look anywhere but at her. His eyes fixated on his hands folded limply in his lap. "I notice you have papers," he murmured.
To be continued....
From here on out, the chapters are going to be rated "M", so if you're looking for them in the future, keep that in mind. Night.