Integra took a long, deep puff from her cigar, savoring the smooth taste as she tapped the smoldering end over an already overflowing ashtray. Her spectacles glinted in the afternoon light as she tipped her chin up, enforcing her air of authority over the girl that sat across the massive mahogany desk. She wrinkled her nose imperceptibly at the almost painfully bright shock of electric blue hair that the beaming girl sported.
"So," the imposing woman drawled, smoke rolling from her lips, "you're interested in a job as a maid."
The girl nodded. "Yup,"
Integra began leafing through a stack of papers sitting before her, her eyes flickering up to the prospect before her every now and then. She picked up her quill pen and began scanning through the documents, pausing every now and then to sign her name with an elegant, fluid hand, for the most part ignoring the little female in front of her.
The girl sat quietly, hands folded neatly in her lap, legs crossed, peering curiously around the office with bright, inquisitive eyes.
"How old are you?" Integra abruptly asked in a rather hard tone, pausing from her paperwork long enough to fixate her cold stare on the girl. She looked her up and down, taking note of the way her previously relaxed frame tensed at the question.
"Sixteen." Her reply was clear, and she looked the imposing woman square in the eye, matching her confident stare.
Integra scoffed. Sixteen. Such a young, impressionable age. She may not have spent her teenage years the way most girls did, but that didn't mean she was naïve to teenage behavior. Rebellious, impulsive, irresponsible, and hormonal . None qualities that went over well in the Hellsing manor… particularly hormonal.
"That's awfully young to be applying for such a taxing job," She said carefully. "Especially with schoolwork and a social life to worry about." Integra had never had to worry about either factors, but she pushed that little detail aside.
"I know the implications that go with my age." The girl's even tone suggested she had picked up on what Integra was getting at. She got the feeling that this wasn't the first time that age had been a problem for this particular child. "You needn't worry about school. I'm taking the year off; teaching myself." Integra doubted that was legal. Then again, she doubted that much of what went on inside this organization was legal either.
"If you'd like, I could tell you that I'm really eighteen," she offered with a wily grin after a long pause. "Or twenty-one, if that better suits you." The stern woman couldn't help but smirk back around her cigar. A bit of a smart-ass, eh? She mused to herself.
"I'm assuming you know that this job requires discipline and hard work."
A firm nod.
"And you understand the hours—Evenings and mornings, every day."
"Tell me then, what are your qualifications?"
The girl offered a sheepish smile. "Nothing an employer would consider legitimate, I'm afraid."
Hm. She danced around the fact that this would be her first job quite tactfully. "I see."
Integra steepled her slender fingers, taking a moment to inspect the child from behind her spectacles. She had dark hair, not black by any means, but a deep shade of brown, piled in a hasty bun atop her head with a thick fringe of turquoise brushing just past expressive eyebrows. Her eyes drifted down to the girl's, scrutinizing them as though they held all her secrets. Eyes are, after all, the windows to the soul. They were tipped up like a cat's and fanned by short lashes, bright, clear, and curious, with a soft compassion and ease hiding in their depths. Her skin was a summer tan in full bloom, with a spray of freckle-like blemishes not uncommon to those of sixteen, but held soft and glowing with youth. She had high cheekbones and a long, strong nose, speaking of something other than English in her blood. She was taller than average, though not as tall as Integra, and had a thin body that didn't offer much in the way of curves. All in all, she was a pretty girl if you looked at her the right way. Certainly not something you would stop in the streets for, but she had a certain peculiar loveliness that stemmed from an easy smile and a comfort in her own flawed skin.
The girl sat patiently as Integra sized her up, doing her own evaluation of the commanding woman before her. She was beautiful in a cold, harsh, nearly androgynous way, with piercing, pale eyes and corn-silk hair cascading down her back. She might have thought her a princess if it weren't for the cigar that hung from her lower lip and the masculine suit she had donned. She was an extremely impressive figure, and the child couldn't recall ever seeing anyone quite like this woman who reeked of authority and confidence.
In a mutual silence, Integra contemplated her options so far. Sadly enough, a lanky, inexperienced teenager looking for a summertime job was the best prospect they'd had—The Hellsing Organization tried to keep a low-brow civilian profile, to discourage any unwanted curiosity on the public's part. So, they went about finding groundskeepers, maids, cooks and the like from the civilian population. Most of those who answered the wanted ads were either migrant workers who didn't—or wouldn't—speak a word of English, or buxom porcelain skinned women with skirts far too short and stockings far too high. Both were entirely too taxing for Integra's paper thin patience, though Alucard had casually informed his master many a time that he heartily approved of those French maid types.
The girl shifted a bit under Integra's distracted gaze. She could tell this wasn't going as well as one would hope during an interview. She knew that she really wasn't very qualified for the job, but she had thought this to be the sort of workplace that didn't care much as long as the floors were clean and nothing went missing. But the moment she had been greeted at the towering doors by a rather debonair looking butler and escorted down the plush halls to see 'Sir Integra', she got the feeling that she probably looked like a leper applying to work at a king's castle. Her chances seemed to be diminishing by the second… So, she decided firmly, it was time to talk business.
Integra refocused her surprised gaze on the girl, who now suddenly looked as intent as if she were vowing to come in first in the Tour de France.
"Pardon me?" She asked incredulously.
"I said I'm cheap. Really cheap! I'm sixteen—in my mind, four fifty an hour is a fortune, and I work like it's ten fifty an hour." She sounded like a corner prostitute making a proposition. "I'm sharp, and honest. I know my manners and I know how to stay out of my employer's way. Tell me what to do, and I'll get the job done, clean and simple." Now she seemed like she was appealing to some sort of mafia crime lord.
Integra arched an eyebrow, taken aback by this sudden, blunt display of will, yet thoroughly amused as well.
"I'm prepared to bargain, plead, and, if need be… bribe." The look on her face was so intense, so serious, that there was no way it could be taken as anything by humorous. Integra decided to match her open honesty, stifling a bemused little smirk.
"Are you a virgin?" The blonde woman suddenly asked in all seriousness.
"No." she blurted without skipping a beat.
"Are you a Protestant?"
"Protestant reformed. That counts, right?"
Integra frowned. "Hmm. I suppose it's better than Catholic." Anything was better than Catholic. "Tell me, what is your name, child?"
The girl was thoroughly confused, but could only hope blindly that things were beginning to look in her favor. "My friends call me Cricket, but my employers call me Jane Moore."
Integra leaned back in her oversized chair, grinding her used up cigar into the overloaded ashtray. Perhaps she was just too exhausted to go through another interview, or perhaps she just appreciated how honest the girl was. Either way, the position of maid had just been officially filled.
"Well, Miss Moore," Integra sighed as she stood, "welcome to the Hellsing Organization."
Integra wearily wished she had another cigar as her newest employee, Jane Moore, beamed brighter than any headlights ever could. A vague little voice in the back of her head told her that this was, perhaps, one of the most foolhardy decisions she'd ever made.