Alucard kicked in the cabin door, splintering it.
For a moment, he stood at the door, Jackal extended, clutching Integra in his other arm. He looked around frantically, pointing his weapon in every direction, as if he expected a vampire or a hoard of ghouls to be laying in wait for him. But the cabin was empty, just as they'd left it.
He rushed inside to the fireplace. In between the sofa and the fire place was small coffee table. Alucard tossed the coffee table across the room effortlessly, and it crashed against the floor.
Alucard knelt down and gingerly deposited Integra on the floor, opening his coat to look at her. Integra's lips, ears and fingers were blue. Her unfocused eyes staring at nothing. Her flesh was puffy, and instead of a warm honey, her skin was mostly red.
He grimaced. Alucard had spent enough of WWII in the snow watching soldiers freeze to death to know the symptoms of on-set organ failure due to hypothermia. Her blood vessels, which should have been constricted to keep her internal organs warm, were relaxing as her body gave up, sending her blood rushing back into her skin, causing the swelling and redness. Soon, ice crystals would form in her blood cells. Clinical death could begin at any time.
Snatching up the discarded coffee table pieces, Alucard flung them into the fireplace. The wood shattered. With a hiss and glow of his red eyes, the wood in the fire place erupted into furious flames. He went into the kitchen and took the kettle from the stove. He jiggled it, hearing water inside, and went to the fire to hang it over the flame.
He went to the windows, pulled down the drapes and came back to his master. Kneeling beside her once more, he unwrapped her completely from his damp coat and, taking care not to disturb her modesty (he had the numbing sense these would be her final moments alive, and the notion those moments might be spoiled by his unintentional fondling mortified intensely him in a way he couldn't put into words) he placed her on top of one of the dry drape panels. Now covered, he rubbed her torso furiously, trying to create friction.
"Talk to me," he asked to which she responded with silence.
Alucard's mind was reeling. He began to ask himself; If it came down to it…could he turn her into a vampire, against her wishes, to save her life?
Just the idea left a bitter taste in his mouth; it defied his own principals, his own code. Spreading vampirism to humans was an act subject to his deeply personal, delicate and ever-changing values. But consent, however misinformed, was paramount and always had been. Integra never wanted to be a vampire. She had said so plainly in no uncertain terms.
Alucard looked anxiously at the tea kettle, waiting.
Bastard! Gutless son of a bitch! Alucard reeled in fury. All the years I have hunted for a worthy foe and I have found him at long last…a cunning strategist who used all his resources carefully to elude my detection.
He disarmed us and stalked us without ever leaving a trace. Not a foolish fledgling. Not like those immature things I've grown accustomed to killing, who challenge me directly with their bloated egos, seeking recognition and celebrity. He's a sophisticated hunter who let his power do the work without ever exposing himself. Clever. Cowardly, but clever. But he isn't hunting us for thrills, he isn't hunting us for glory. He means to kill Integra and I. Quietly. Effectively. A worthy foe, indeed. A very powerful, level-headed and patient vampire to be sure.
And I have no time for him. I have no time.
Integra's silence was maddening. Alucard tried to talk to Integra, tried to coax her into staying awake. It had worked for a little while on their journey. Then she became delirious, hostile, though Alucard would be hard pressed to understand Integra's gibberish, even with the advantage of knowing her thoughts. Now she lapsed in and out of consciousness. She'd been quiet for the last two miles.
Thoughts of futility crept into Alucard's panicked mind.
That vampire must die. If he's powerful enough to cloud my perception, certainly he is powerful enough to confuse the mind of a helicopter pilot and cause him to crash. No wonder Hellsing has not come to our rescue. How many have been lost trying to fly here? How many have met their death in this fog, their instruments failing? How many boats have sunk?
He paced, waiting for the kettle to make some sound.
Hunting my foe blindly in the woods means leaving Integra behind, exposed. She can't possibly accompany me. It means abandoning her, but leaving this island means killing that vampire first.
Having decided he'd waited long enough, Alucard plucked the tea kettle from above the fire, although it had not begun to whistle, and he set it on the floor. He took one of the unused drapes and tore it into strips, then soaked them in the hot water and scrunched them into loose balls. Then he parted Integra's coverings and exposed her nakedness again.
Mindful of her breast, he lifted one arm and pressed one warm, wet ball of fabric into her armpit, then pressed her arm to her side. He did the same with the other arm.
"Forgive me," Alucard asked, though he suspected Integra could not hear him.
He took her ankles in hand and spread her legs. Carefully, he pressed another ball of hot, wet fabric between her thighs, putting pressure on her soft womanhood, making sure there was ample contact. He watched her virgin lips part slightly from his ministrations with a twinge of excitement. Then he pressed her knees tightly together and he exhaled in relief when her flesh was concealed again. He wrapped her back up tightly and tied her knees together with another strip of fabric. Then he put the kettle back over the fire. He would have to constantly change out the fabric as Integra's body sapped its warmth.
Alucard sat on the floor and did nothing but wait.
He looked down between his legs, embarrassed.
He looked at Integra, laying unconscious.
With hesitation, he reached between his thighs and adjusted his swollen sex. He then put his own red coat back on and smoothed the fabric over his front to conceal his guilty but insistent erection.
So, nosferatu. What will it be? Will you leave your wife and children behind to fight the enemy, or will you huddle with them in the dark until the invaders come and burn your kingdom down, drag you away and rape you and all that you cherish?
As the hours passed and Alucard unwrapped and re-wrapped his master, changing out her dressings, re-warming them with fresh hot water, replacing those dressings against Integra's tempting little treasures, his ache became more demanding until he found himself reluctant to continue.
His shaking hands clawed his thighs up and down, drawing his own blood in frustration.
Alucard paced around the cabin, looking out the windows. A good fight would distract him. He used the powers in his mind, sending telepathic threats and taunts in every direction, hoping to feel the enemy vampire's ire rising. But nothing.
In time, Alucard found he couldn't avoid Integra without neglecting her re-warming. He resume changing her dressings. Now, he found it nearly an impossible task. As her slender human body began to recover and heat up, her skin changed tones from deathly blue to a warm and inviting honey gold, though her hands and feet remained discolored. Alucard made new wrappings for her hands and feet, trying to warm them faster.
As fresh heat flowed through Integra's body, she stirred very slightly, though she never really woke up. She responded to his curious little touches, groaning and sighing in approval in a contented voice that drove him absolutely mad. God, that was the voice he'd wanted to hear when she shared her blood with him! Relaxed, content, pleased. His angry sex demanded relief.
He paced again. He stood in the corner and tried to clear his mind. His hands twitched, wanting to touch himself, though there wasn't privacy for that.
He turned around and looked at Integra miserably. Dare he? While she slept?
He then thought of going outside into the snow and sinking his traitorous body in the snow until the cold robbed him of excitement, but he doubted it would be effective. The cold didn't bother him enough.
The tea kettle whistled again. With a growl, he returned to his excruciating duty.
He soaked a new set of drape scraps and turned to look down at his master, sleeping before the fire, cocooned in the heavy drapes.
God, he couldn't do it again.
"It wasn't like this the first time, when the helicopter crashed," Alucard told her angrily, defensively, kneeling on the floor before her. "We weren't in the water as long. All I had to do was dry you off and…and here we were." He parted her coverings and closed his eyes briefly when her soft breasts were revealed. "Taking your clothes off was the most satisfying thing I've ever done."
He lifted her arm. He knuckle brushed the side of her breast. He paused. He touched her breast again with his knuckle. He licked his lips.
He tried to refocus. He pushed a new, warm cloth in between her side and her arm. "There. Isn't that better?" He moved over to the other side and repeated the same excruciating task. He tried to remain focused on the cloth, but he just stared at her pointed nipples in hunger, moving slowly, clumsily.
He crawled to her legs and, shaking, took each ankle in hand.
He paused, exhaling.
Just peeking at her soft mound, just barely adorned with golden hair, was agony. He closed his eyes, lifted her ankles and spread her legs and settled her feet back down on the floor, freshly warmed cloth scrap in hand. He opened his eyes, about to press it back against her when he froze.
Alucard just sat there, his master bared in all her naked, human imperfection, transfixed.
His hips jerked slightly. He felt himself leaking. All instinct screamed at him to act, mount, fuck, impregnate. She was his! There were teeth marks all over her, gentle bites, love bites, vampire bites. He had claimed her long ago and never taken his pleasure.
His hand drifted up his thigh. He paused just before he reached his own throb.
He sank his hand into the flesh of his bleeding thigh, digging in his claws, hissing.
You'll never be a desirable, rutting human man. You're just a dog now, he cruelly chastised himself. She already told you she didn't want you. You are an impotent freak–her female intuition instinctively senses your inferiority and she has rejected you. BUT YOU CHOSE THIS. You chose blood over sex, fledglings over children, slaves over lovers. Look at you, leaking all over the floor, yearning to be human. Just spill on the floor if you can't hold it in. Or cut it off. She'll cut it off if FOR YOU if you're too much of a coward to do it. She'll certainly cut it off if you touch her.
Even so, his eyes were wide, pupils wide, red. He licked his lips. God. Oh God. Just a taste, then. Just a kiss, something very gentle. Something submissive.
Don't you touch her, his mind warned him. Don't you dare. That's not submission.
Alucard rocked back and forth in misery. Just a kiss. Just a kiss on her sweet virginity…
Don't cross that line. You'll ruin her. For what? You won't get any pleasure out of it and neither will she.
His breath hitching, Alucard placed his hands on the floor and leaned closer to her.
Just a kiss.
Just a little taste.
No! You've proven yourself to be too irresponsible for that privilege. Lovemaking is for men. You are not a man. Castration in the fate of all domesticated animals. If you can't conduct yourself properly, go to the kitchen and perform your duty and cut it off.
Alucard shut his eyes.
You're a cock-sucking faggot. You could barely keep it up, even when you were a man. Illona was very nice about it, but she laughed at you behind your back. Do you think those children were even yours?
Alucard breathed in relief as he felt his sex wilting.
He continued to coach himself mentally until he was calm again.
Outside, the wind whistled.
The shutters on the cabin trembled a bit. Alucard looked up at the windows, watching the snow whisk by.
When he felt serene, he resumed his task peacefully, clinically.
The cloth was cold now, so he poured fresh warm water on it and nestled it between Integra's legs without flinching. He closed her legs gently and wrapped her back up, picked her up in his arms and settled her down on the sofa, where her warmth could be further contained.
Kneeling next to the sofa, he settled his cheek on the cushion near her face and did nothing. He stared at her mouth.
Integra groaned. Her eyes fluttered open, though the world was blurry. She felt intense pain in her extremities. She licked her dry lips. She was so thirsty. How long had she been out? She felt very ill.
"Drink," Alucard urged from the blurry world, cradling her head in his hand, pressing something wet to her lips.
Integra grunted, disoriented. "No!" She spat out the liquid as it splashed on her lips. Her hands flew up and she knocked the ceramic coffee mug from Alucard's hands. It fell to the floor and the handle broke, the liquid spilling on the floor.
"It's just water," Alucard said weakly.
Integra tentatively licked her lips again. "Not blood?"
"I would not do that to you," Alucard said. "Lay still. I'll get more." He went away. Integra could hear a tea kettle opening up, water pouring out.
Integra let her head roll to the side, her head pounding. She was laying on the sofa again. Odd, how much time she had spent laying there this month. Her hands and feet burned. She tried to flex her fingers and toes, and in response she felt a buzzing pain worse than an electrocution. "Oh God!" she gasped. "Oh God, oh God, my hands…my feet…."
"You have frost bite," Alucard explained, returning with a new cup. "Drink. Please drink. You've been out for two days."
Integra allowed Alucard to tilt her head up. She feverishly gulped the water.
"I thought you would die from hypothermia, then I thought you would die from dehydration." Alucard sounded…far away. "Now your frost bite commands all my attention. Your skin is black on your hands and feet. The cold killed the tissue."
Integra swallowed the last of the water, grimacing. "The pain I feel…?"
Alucard nodded. "Nerve damage. I've been watching for signs of gangrene."
She shut her eyes. "Oh God. Both hands? Both feet?"
"Your toes and fingers," Alucard confirmed regretfully. "Black."
"Don't despair," Alucard encouraged her. "All that stands between you and a hospital is one undead freak. Just as soon as I turn him to dust….,"He paused to wipe Integra's mouth with his thumb. "…we're going to be rescued."
"I'll be left with useless stumps," Integra sighed. "So much for fencing and shooting. You'll have a quadriplegic cripple for a master."
"Only if it comes to amputation."
"Do you have any doubt it will?" Integra asked. "The first sign of gangrene–I mean the very first sign…"
"I won't let it spread," Alucard promised. He walked away somewhere. "I'll prepare something for you to eat."
Integra rested silently for a while. "Thank you," she said finally. "For taking care of me."
"I did a poor job," Alucard said. "I was preoccupied with something else…I didn't notice the frost bite until…"
"I am alive." She smirked. "I didn't think…I would really live. I slipped into that water thinking…"
"I will never let you die," Alucard vowed. He stood before the window, looking out in the black forest, out at the unseen enemy. "I will never let you die."
"I wish there was some brandy," Integra said regretfully the next day later. "Scotch."
"You don't handle scotch well," Alucard said, bringing her a wooden spoon from the kitchen. "If I recall." He took her hand, full of black fingers, into his. "I can put you out, if you prefer. In fact I'd rather."
"Please don't," Integra urged.
"Just one little bite." Alucard caressed her wrist. "I can put you right out. You won't feel anything."
"I'm afraid of the oxytocin," Integra confessed. "Please, at least let me keep my wits."
"As you wish, master." He pressed the wooden spoon between her lips. "Bite."
She did. She closed her eyes.
Alucard lifted Integra's gnarled hand to his mouth. He examined it closely. Once, he had kissed and adored this hand. This hand had provided him nourishment.
He singled out her black pinky, speckled with gangrene, and bit it off.
The scream that erupted from Integra's throat rattled the windows.
The dead flesh did not bleed. The vampire dislodged the severed finger from his jaws and set it aside in a bowl.
Alucard moved onto the next finger. He bit quickly, his teeth slicing through skin and bone.
Integra thrashed, screaming, Alucard pinning her down. Her legs kicked reflexively and Alucard absorbed her blows without flinching. He moved onto the next hand.
To be continued…