But It's Always Nice to Come Home

AN: Well the stuff to update my PC came in a little earlier than expected, so I was able to get that mostly taken care of by the weekend and make my usual updating schedule after all. :)

He was being hunted, and he knew it. He didn't even have to look back to see the dark form swooping from rooftop to rooftop. Somehow he could just sense it; he could feel its eyes burrowing through the back of his neck, peering into his black and twisted soul.

The dummy and his accomplice ran. But they'd been running for awhile now, and they were starting to get tired. They'd arrived at the agreed upon location only to find the buyers tied up and hanging upside down from lampposts, like cocooned insects caught in a spiders web. Scarface and his 'hired hand' hadn't bothered to stick around to greet the one who'd captured their buyers. They already knew who it was: no brightly colored, red and blue, friendly neighborhood Spiderman... but a fearsome Dark Knight who hid in the shadows and struck without warning. He was a predator, and they... they were his prey. And like all good prey, they knew when to run.

They were exhausted now. The wooden puppet's mouth hung open and though no breath flowed from it, one could still hear the psychotic doll panting... just as the ventriloquist was. They couldn't outrun their pursuer; they knew that now. And that meant that their only chance was to try to hide. They ducked down one alley, and then another, and another. But the shadow which pursued them drew ever closer.

And then the two ducked into another alleyway... only to be stopped dead in their tracks by what they saw. For there, standing before them with a wide, smug and intimidating grin was the 'crazy gitch' who'd blown off Scarface's hand the night before.

"No," the puppet 'gasped'. "No, it can't ge," he cried in astonishment. "I-I killed you!"

"Yes you did... and I think it's time I returned the favor," the lady knight replied as she leveled her Walther PPK.

The pair turned to run, but their exit was cut off as the one who'd been pursuing them suddenly dropped down behind them. And it was then that they realized that Gotham's master of the night had not been trying to catch them after all. He'd been herding them into a trap, like a pack of wolves chasing a deer.

The Dark Knight's eyes narrowed, and the bookish ventriloquist nearly wet himself. Little did he know that the displeased look wasn't targeted at him.

Integra rolled her own eyes at her temporary partner's ban on killing. She hadn't been in the city for very long, but she could still tell that crime was like a malignant cancer in Gotham. The wise surgeon would cut it out so that the healing process could begin. Even still, she also recognized that she was a 'guest' of the city, and so she subjected her own philosophy to that of her host's.

The pistol angled slightly to the right. And then a shot pierced the night air, and the wooden doll's head flew off its body and rolled around in the gutter.

"Scarface?" the ventriloquist called in shock, forgetting to wrap his bleeding hand. "NOOOOOO!" he cried as he fell to his knees and wept for a moment. "No, I-I can still save him," the obviously delusional man stated as he rose and rushed towards the puppet's head... only to have Batman karate chop his neck and knock him out.

Once the criminal was unconscious. Gotham's guardian pulled a spool of gauss from one of the compartments in his belt and set about field dressing the man's wound. "You didn't have to shoot him," the Dark Knight stated in an obviously displeased tone.

"He's lucky he got off so easily," Integra replied coolly. "I'm a firm believer in what the Bible says: 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' If we'd been in England he'd be the one with a whole in his head, not the doll."

"Speaking of which," Integra continued as she bent down to fish inside said doll's jacket. "We'd better be getting this back to the museum," she finished as she extracted a thin, sharp and slightly curved piece of green, lightly glowing metal.

It was late night - or early morning, depending on how one looked at it - when Integra returned to her hotel. And she was feeling rather tired as she entered her room, but it was a good kind of tired. It was the kind of tired that was accompanied by a feeling of accomplishment, the kind of tired she was accustomed to but hadn't experienced since she'd been sent on her royal imposed exile three days earlier.

The Lady knight let out a satisfied sigh. Her vacation wasn't really so bad, and Gotham wasn't nearly as boring as she'd been expecting. Perhaps she'd even entangle herself in a few more of the local boy's cases while she was there. The last one - despite getting shot up and covered in mud - had been rather fun. Besides, she could just picture the look on the 'Bat's' face when she showed up at his next crime scene. Integra smiled a devilish smile as she thought about that.

But then she wiped the smile from her face. Such things were considerations for another time. Even on vacation, Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing still had her sense of duty. And now, now that the holy artifact was safe once more, it was time to check in and see how things were going back home.

Integra booted up her laptop, and logged into her internet email account. Seras's last update was already there waiting for her. Things were still going fine on the business and paper work end, and the lady knight was a little relieved to find that the more sane of her two vampires wasn't losing her marbles after all.

Seras had confronted Alucard about the disturbing dreams; and, under direct orders, he'd confessed to being the culprit behind them. At which point Seras had given him strict orders to stay out of her head from there on. Seras said that her master had objected to such a restriction being placed upon their 'bond', but Integra new he'd obey the order regardless... at least until she came home and relieved Seras of her temporary command over the monster.

Integra briefly wondered what punishment she should administer to Alucard upon her return, as she'd told Seras she would, but then the lady knight decided against punishing the vampire herself. She was on vacation. Seras was the one in charge. Dealing with Alucard was the fledgling's responsibility... for now. She should come up with the punishment on her own, and Integra told her as much in her follow up email.

Then, having learned a tiny bit about enjoying one's time off and delegating authority, Integra put the issue of her pet's games with his temporary 'master' out of her mind and got ready for a peaceful night's rest.

The rest of Integra's vacation had been... interesting to say the least. During her last three nights in Gotham she'd discovered that monstrous mounds of mud and split personality ventriloquists were only the tip of the iceberg. Every night in Gotham was a new adventure, bringing with it a new flavor of insanity - sometimes two or three. Looking back on it, the Mad Hatter - who'd tried to dress her up in a puffy, blur gown and take her to 'Wonderland' - and the Music Meister - whose hypnotic singing cast a spell of control over all who listened to it - were probably the weirdest of the 'rogues gallery' she'd had the chance to meet... though Bane was definitely the most dangerous.

One thing was for sure though. Gotham certainly wasn't boring. Maybe she'd go back some day? Yes, someday... when the Queen saw fit to impose another 'vacation' on her.

Integra's car was coming up the drive way now, Walter driving. They reached the front of the mansion, and the butler dutifully got out. He opened the door for the Lady Hellsing and then collected her bags from the trunk.

Not caring to wait for Walter to get the house door as well, the lady knight opened it herself. She inhaled deeply, the familiar scent of home tickling her olfactory senses. The knight's lip curled slightly. Her vacation hadn't been nearly as bad as she'd thought it would be, but it was still nice to be back home.

It seemed that everything was just the way she'd left it too. The country and her organization hadn't fallen completely apart during her absence. Integra wasn't quite sure how she felt about that. On the one hand it was nice to know she had people she could count on. On the other hand their ability to seemingly get along fine without her made her feel a little less important, a little less critical.

This feeling didn't last long however, as before Walter even had a chance to catch up, Alucard ran in and wrapped his arms around his returning master. He lifted her right off the ground in an undignified, uncharacteristic bear hug.

The monster nearly crushed the knight into him as he momentarily forgot about the difference in their physical strength. "Integra, my master, it's so good to see you," Alucard called out while the woman in his arms gasped for breath. What had gotten into him?

"Air!" Integra finally managed to choke out. Her pet let down immediately and apologized for his outburst. "Alucard, what's wrong with you?" was the lady knight's only response.

"The Police Girl's gone completely insane," Alucard answered.

Integra's face bore a very concerned look. Someone really had to be off their rocker for Alucard to call them insane. "Alucard, what have you done?"

"Me?" he asked, sounding mildly offended. "I've done nothing... well, nothing lately. Three days ago, the girl you left in charge just went bat-shit crazy. She found this..."

The remainder of Alucard's comment was abruptly cut off as Seras suddenly entered the room, a one-eyed puppet sitting on her left, shadowy arm. "Master, where are you? Pip wants to play tiddlywinks again, and... Oh, Sir Integra, I-I didn't know you were back already," the fledgling informed with an embarrassed blush as she maneuvered the doll behind her back.

Integra arched an eyebrow. "Officer Victoria, what's going on here?"

"I... Well... You see... Um, you remember how you told me I should come up with my own punishment for that little dream trick Master pulled? Well, I went on a walk to clear my head and help me think of a good one, and I saw this guy throwing out a one-eyed puppet with long, red hair and... Well I thought of Pip when I saw it, so I asked if I could have it instead. And then, after he gave it to me, I started thinking about how master had tried to make me think I was crazy and decided that the best punishment would be to beat him at his own game. So when I came back..."

"Wait a minute!" Alucard suddenly burst in, advancing slowly on his fledgling. "You mean you were faking it this whole time? The games? The wood oil massage? All that arguing with yourself? That ridiculous 'mission' to hunt down every last termite in London? That mandatory meeting on sexual harassment you made all the guys attend because 'Pip' was singing dirty songs again? You mean that was all a ruse to punish me for a few odd dreams?"

"Now, Master, you have to admit that sexual harassment meeting was still long overdue, and..." Seras was cut off before she could get another word out.

"You little minx," Alucard called out, sounding torn between anger and approval. He was still advancing on Seras, and she was subconsciously retreating now to maintain their distance.

"Now, Master, wait a minute. S-Sir Integra told me to..."

"Oh no, you're not getting off that easily. You were my master, and you had your fun. But now, now, Police Girl, the tables are turned... and I'll have mine!"

Seras eeped and began to run, Alucard following behind her, laughing manically.

Integra merely chuckled and shook her head. She knew her pet wouldn't really hurt his fledgling, though she wasn't positive that Seras knew that. Oh well, regardless of whatever games her pets decided to play, it was good to be home... and back in charge of her organization. The universe's balance had been restored, and once more everything was as it should be.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the last chapter and got a kick out of Integra's return home. Please let me know what you thought of it. Thanks.

Have a good day, and God bless.

Metropolis Kid.

To blue bear: Yeah, it would be pretty interesting to see Walter and Alfred meet up. Hmmmm, maybe in some future story, I'll have that. Anyway, thanks for the review. :) Glad to know you're still enjoying this.