It was an ordinary night in the Hellsing manor. Integra sat behind her desk, doing the endless paperwork that plagued her. Walter was dusting something in the corner of the room in which Integra sat, and Alucard watched from the shadows. Integra sighed and placed her head in her hands, elbows resting on the hard desk top. Her suit jacket lay across the back of the chair where she had shrugged out of it and her shoes lay discarded beneath the heavy desk. Her socked feet made a raspy sound against the carpet as she pulled her feet under her chair.
"Shall I get you an aspirin, Sir?" Walter asked, looking over his shoulder at Integra. She just shook her head and placed her glasses on the desk beside her papers.
"I am fine, thank you, Walter." She said, keeping her eyes tightly closed as though the light hurt them.
"Perhaps a cigar and a breath of fresh air on the terrace would help?" He said, returning to the dust on the massive bookshelf. Integra nodded a bit to herself and slipped her shoes back on, snatching up a cigar and her glasses on her way to the large French doors. She stepped outside into the cool night air, the humidity clinging to her skin even through her clothes. She cut the cigar and allowed the discarded snippet to fall to the ground. It landed in a flowerbed. She didn't care.
She lit the tip of the cigar and inhaled deeply, the thick smoke filling her lungs with a comforting burn. She sent a smoke ring to envelop the crescent moon and felt the nicotine start to relax her.
"You dropped something." A dark velvet voice said as the end of the cigar fell to the railing of the balcony. She looked up into a sea of blackness with red eyes and sighed. She took another draw on the cigar and flicked the ashes over the balcony.
"Fetch." She said sardonically as she nudged the previously discarded lump of tobacco and paper off of the ledge. The black cloud with red eyes didn't move.
She chose to ignore the shadow and finished her cigar in silence. She headed back inside, closing the door on half of the shadow. It simply chuckled as it melted through the wood and glass. Walter was gone from the room and on her desk sat a pair of small white pills and a glass of water. Integra took the pills and emptied the glass.
The shadow poured itself into a chair across from her desk, forming into the shape of a man in a red jacket and hat. He smiled a crooked smile at her.
"Don't you have small children to scare?" she asked.
"No, but I do have a rather bored and tense Master to attend to however she wishes." The smile became less crooked and more lewd. She was tempted to put a bullet in the center of that smooth forehead of his, but thought better of it. Walter had just cleaned the bookshelf behind him. She watched him for a few long moments, debating on shooting him anyway, then shook her head and stood. She filed away the papers and picked her jacket up from the back of the chair. She looked at the clock. It was far past midnight and yet still rather early for her to be retiring. She looked at the red-clad figure in the chair.
"I am going to bed." She said.
"Shall I accompany you?" He smiled. She ignored him and walked out of the office and toward the stairs to her room.
She could feel him following her up the stairs and stumbled, caught halfway in a daydream that she had no right to conjure. He was at her side in an instant, catching her before she had a chance to fall. He shook his head and scooped her up. She protested but he refused to put her down until they reached the top of the stairs. She hoped that he contributed her increased heart rate to the humiliation of falling and not to its true cause.
Being in his arms after the brief but clear mental escapade sent her heart fluttering. She hated it and felt like an idiotic teenage girl as she straightened her clothes.
"My, my, Master. What has you so flustered?" Alucard asked, a chuckle in his voice.
"Damn stairs…" She muttered, glaring at the offending structure. He smirked at her.
"The next time you wish to be carried to bed, all you have to do is ask." He said, scooping her up again and taking her to her room. She snarled at him and pushed at his chest, but never ordered him to release her. He set her on her feet just outside of her bedroom door and smiled again. She snarled something under her breath and slammed the door behind her. She heard his laughter from the other side of the thick wooden door and grimaced.
As she showered and dressed for bed, she found herself torn between thankfulness and annoyance that she had banished him entirely from her chambers. She was thankful because only God knows what would happen if Alucard caught her in such a weak moment, but then again, she vaguely longed for it.
One of the consequences of her job was the lack of companionship it allowed. Of course, she had Walter, but he was more of a paternal figure than anything. Alucard was the only other male that she had regular contact with, and he was a monster. She frowned as she climbed into bed, setting her glasses on the nightstand. She saw the way the moonlight streamed in the window and caught in the lenses and was overcome suddenly with nostalgia and a sense of being denied a great happiness. She knew it was just a case of 'the grass is always greener' but she briefly wondered what life would have been like, had she been born just a normal girl, into a normal family. She slid down into her bed, pulling the covers up to her chin as her mind wandered.
In her daydream, she was an average girl in a home in the country. In the daydream, her father was a wealthy businessman and her mother was never around. It made things simpler. She found it hard to imagine a character that she had never met.
In the daydream, her father had sent her out of the house for fresh air and sunshine. She was walking through the forest when she came on a man singing a familiar song. All that was visible of him was the red of his hat. She walked slowly around to see his face. The man in the red hat also had a red cloak, rather old fashioned, draped around his shoulders.
"Hello." He said in her daydream.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"Your humble servant, my lady." He said, kissing her hand.
The daydream broke as she realized how idiotic it was. She cursed inwardly as she started poking holes in her own fantasy. As it crumbled around her, she slowly became aware of how badly she hated being alone right then. She cleared her mind of everything but her loneliness and called out to the only other lonely soul she knew.
Her servant appeared, sitting at the end of her bed, red coat and hat from her daydream draped over his frame.
"You called." He said, all trace of lechery gone from his tone as he realized that she needed him. He turned and leaned against one poster at the foot of her bed, one foot curling beneath him as he looked at her. She just nodded, letting her mind speak for itself.
He felt her pain and longed to touch her. Even the back of her hand beneath his fingertips would be a blessing, but he knew better than to overstep the boundaries placed between them. He only nodded in recognition of her feelings.
"I understand. Sleep, my Master. You are not alone." He said, ghosting from the end of her bed to the chair by her window. She seemed to be comforted by his presence, just as when she was a child. When she was the littlest leader of Hellsing and just beginning to realize the extent of her responsibility, she had vivid nightmares of her Uncle's return from the grave. On those nights, Alucard would sit in the same chair he relaxed in now and watch her sleep, fighting her nightmares away for her. He had always seen it as a treat then, being able to help the child who had saved him.
Now, however, it troubled him that his Master was fighting herself more than she fought any of her enemies. She denied herself so much, more than she needed to, and while it made him respect her more, it also made his ancient heart ache for her. She caused herself so much pain in the name of duty that it nearly made him cringe. He only wished there was a way for him to help ease her pain.
As she sank into sweet sleep, a way came to him.
She was in the imaginary house in the country, and yet she lived alone in it. She knew that, and on some level, accepted it without question. She could hear echoes of her loneliness in the halls that mirrored those of the Hellsing manor. She slumped down in a chair in the kitchen and rested her head in her hands. A dry sob clawed its way from her throat. She jumped when a hand rested on her shoulder.
"Alucard… what are you doing here?" she asked, looking up at him. His eyes were green instead of red, and the gloves were gone.
"Tending to my master." He said, kneeling and taking a handkerchief from nowhere to dry her tear-stained cheeks. She drew away from him at first, then he placed a hand on her knee and she froze.
"Alucard. Do not touch me." She said, her voice stern and strict. He shook his head.
"This is only a dream, my Master. You created it. Nothing that you do not desire will happen. Now, be still and let me offer what comfort I can." He said, dabbing at her cheeks again. She seemed quieted by that and she cast her eyes around the kitchen. It slowly faded and morphed into the more familiar kitchen in the manor. Then it turned into her bedroom. The chair she was sitting in became her bed and the tears that Alucard set out to dry vanished into thin air. She sighed and took off her glasses. Alucard noticed that the pretty sundress that she was wearing at the start of the dream had stayed the same throughout the transitions.
"I am tired, Alucard. Leave me be." she said, lying back on the bed, her slim form parallel with the pillows. He shook his head and sat beside her, taking her hand and placing it in his own, resting their intertwined fingers on the smooth coverlet.
"If you truly wanted to be alone, you would be." he said simply. He let his thumb rub small circles on the back of her hand. She closed her pretty blue eyes and appraised what she truly wanted and what she didn't. Then she sat up. He watched her as she willed herself into an upright position, not really moving in any way at all. He found himself as entranced by her dream as she seemed to be. Her eyes drank him in, starting with his orange eyes. They turned green under her gaze. His hat and coat melted and shimmered away into nothingness. He couldn't resist smiling at her in a way that usually made her glare at him, but this time her expression was thoughtful. She leaned in slowly, eyes closing and lips parting softly. His heart caught fire in his chest as he leaned in, his lips brushing hers. She sighed and pulled away.
"Why is it you?" she asked.
"I do not know." He said, "Although I find myself greatly pleased that you are willing to allow me to star in your dream."
"Alucard, be serious." She said, "Since this is a dream, that means that I know the answer, so why you?"
"Maybe you only think that you know the answer. What will you do if you find that I have no answer for you?"
She just watched him.
"This isn't just a dream, is it, Alucard? You're in my thoughts right now." She said. He nodded.
"I will leave if that is what you wish, but if you even think that you want me to stay, say it." He challenged, seeing the barest hint of hesitation in her eyes. She shook her head.
"Then order me to leave." He said again, daring her to come to a decision. She shook her head again, looking away.
"Integra, tell me what you want." He nearly pleaded. She just looked into his eyes, her own brimming with tears. He leaned forward and kissed her roughly, looking at her face again once it was over. He steeled himself for the slap that he knew would follow, but it never did. She just looked down at the blanket between them, swimming in self loathing. She was weak. Too weak to tell him to stay, too weak to tell him to leave… She was trapped and there was no way out that would make him continue to respect her like he always had. He sighed and stood.
"One word. One word is all that I ask. Go or stay. Tell me now." He said, his voice even and cold as he towered over her. She felt small and helpless, knowing his gaze was fully on her and he was waiting for his orders. The Iron Maiden was nowhere in sight, she was just Integra. She bit the inside of her lip and looked up at him and uttered a single syllable. He smiled.
"There is my Master." He said as he obeyed.
There's my 'Lady and the Tiger' ending… hope it didn't infuriate you guys… I just couldn't figure out which way she answered. I couldn't decide whether she was tired of fighting herself and the world and gave herself up to one night of consequence free passion, or if she would cling to her strength and her morals and deny both him and herself the relief of companionship, even for a night.