-dogeza mode- I'm sorryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy. I'm so completely unreliable. ;_; I swear, I meant to finish this before going to Japan, but things got so crazy…well, on a happier note, that means I don't have to rush things. But I'm still so very sorry. I'll get right to this.~

"Sir Integra Hellsing, I'm going to have to kill you."

Serena's announcement, delivered coolly and forthrightly, threw the room into suffocating silence. Seras looked at Alucard, Alucard looked at Serena, and Serena looked at Integra.

Integra looked at nothing.

Ah, so I'm the bait. Her blue eyes, focused on nothing in particular, steeled over as she felt the beginnings of a familiar smirk lift her lips. It's appropriate. I don't know why these fools are making such a big deal out of it, though.

And then, Oh, God. I hope Alucard doesn't overreact.

Cringing inwardly at her mental simulation of such an outcome, Integra shook herself and shifted her gaze around the room. No one had moved; the tension was palpable.

"Well?" she demanded of the sparse bounty hunter, who was still scrutinizing her. "Weren't you going to add a little bit to that statement, Miss Gray?"

Serena made a big show of shoving her blankets aside and standing. Finally, with one last luxurious crack of her neck, she responded, "What? Something like 'Gotcha there!' or perhaps even mundane text-speak?" Her voice rose to a warbled pitch. "LOL! JKaaaaaaay!" Integra ground her teeth, but the Starver's ditzy façade dropped at an alarming rate as she stated flatly, "No. I'm afraid there will be nothing like that, dear. You will have to die; Ame is far too perceptive in her many years of experience to fall for some half-assed possum trick."

"I agree." Alucard's voice caused Integra to jump apprehensively; she had been certain the next thing to be heard in his rumbling bass tone would be melodramatic threats as to Serena's fate, should she follow through on her words.

Apparently thinking along the same lines, Serena gaped at Alucard. "You…do?"

"Of course," came the reply. "I've talked with the crone—" a pointed nod at Yumi, who simply uttered a curt sigh. "—and fully understand the depth of Ame's cunning and sharp senses. It would be a stupid and pointless waste of our opportunity to fake Integra's death; Death is something Ame is all too well acquainted with, as a predator of the weak." An age-old grin of exuberance split his features. "Our opponent is a powerful one," he added with the barest hint of a snarl in his voice. "I've never met her like before."

"I'm sure that we are all very happy for you, Alucard," Yumi cut in coolly. "But, yes. Integra, I'm afraid that there isn't another way around this. Ame expects you dead; you cannot be brought to her any other way."

"…"

She didn't really feel anything; the threat of death had been a constant element of her work when she was alive. Frankly, if Integra Hellsing had to say anything about the verdict of her impending end, it would be that Fate had certainly taken its damned time in the matter.

After all, I don't even have a heartbeat to stop anymore, the former knight thought with a wry smile. Then, she addressed Serena, "It looks as though fortune is smiling on you; my protection isn't needed. I couldn't have promised so much if it were, you see."

"Aww, now you're just being modest, dearie," Serena cooed. "But we'll forgive you for that."

Integra arched a brow. "Hardly. I just know that if Alucard wanted to kill you, I wouldn't be strong enough to stop him. I certainly can't order him around anymore."

"You're wrong, draculina," Alucard interjected, curling a lip in Serena's direction. "Integra Hellsing spares no character for modesty. She is, however—" His gaze shifted to capture Integra, smoldering in the faux darkness of the room and stealing her breath away. "—incredibly oblivious."

As Integra struggled to suppress the fevered memories her former servant's complicated gaze had coaxed to the surface, Serena slowly clapped her hands.

"I think you've hit the nail on the head, pumpkin. Why don't you cure her of that?"

"That," Alucard stated without averting his eyes. "Is business that I would define to be 'personal'. Still, you have my word that it shall be addressed in as timely a manner as possible."

"Enough!"

While the heated promises laden in Alucard's gaze burned her cheeks, Integra turned gratefully to Yumi. The Ancient One seemed to be in habit of swooping to her rescue, and she hadn't the dignity to spare to begrudge this fact. The fact remained that this admirable example of a proper British woman empathized with her, and did not share enjoyment of the same frivolities that her other companions did.

"Alucard, we haven't the time for this." Yumi stood to her full height, stopping short of the former's chin by a hair's breadth. Her conventionally mild lavender gaze was firm and reprimanding, and Integra found herself silently cheering her compatriot on.

"Haven't we?" the vampire lord echoed coolly.

Of course not, you arrogant ass! Integra ground her teeth.

Yumi didn't even blink. "Not in the slightest. This situation is dire."

That's right, Yumi. Stand your ground. As someone with the rare claim of seniority over this upstart, I leave it to you to put him in his place.

"I suppose you have a point, crone," Alucard conceded.

After centuries of unlife, I'm amazed at your minute perception. Integra found herself nodding minutely, thoroughly satisfied with Yumi's strength of character.

"Of course I do," the ancient draculina said. Then, an impish grin crossed her features. "You can flirt with Integra later."

"W-why…you…" Reduced to a ball of stuttering shock by this ultimate betrayal, Integra could only gape in horror as Yumi joined her lewd-minded antagonists

"Traitorous witch?" the latter suggested helpfully, and Integra jerked her head in numb affirmation. Now that even an ancient of millennial wisdom and perception was addressing this—issue, it suddenly seemed a little too real for her. The world spun dizzyingly, until gentle hands anchored her by the shoulders and drew her back to the now-somber gaze of the Nightingale. "Integra—" Her voice was silken, soothing and warm like a mug of tea on an irritated throat. "I make light of the situation, but in reality, you could not be more blessed by it."

"Blessed?" Integra blinked, realizing suddenly that these words were spoken only in the conclave of her deepest thoughts. Yumi had not done her the embarrassment of speaking aloud. This conversation was…private.

"You should never disown the feelings in your heart, be it beating or not, Yumi continued, her words accompanied with a motherly smile. Love is an element that transcends Death. Consider it…your secret weapon. And believe me, my dear—Death is a reality that you must face all too soon. It will ravage you, and terrify you; you will be lost, Integra. But you are blessed, because he will surely find you again."

"He will?"

Drawn like a moth to its fiery death, Integra's eyes fixated on Alucard. Every fiber in her being spat upon Yumi's words; love had been a weakling's hobby, something she sneered upon in public, but secretly regretted her inability to access. To love was an ability she had sacrificed long ago for her duties; to love Alucard was…was…

Fire and ice cascaded in unison, a complicated shock of shivers down her spine…because at that moment, Alucard's eyes met hers with purpose, fixating her and driving all thought and breath from her body. His gaze spoke neither of bloodlust, nor the pride of a nightmarish beast towards its master; it was a promise, an oath of passion and loyalty that he emphasized with resonant words in her heart and mind:

"I will always find you, Integra. Death cannot keep me from your side. Nothing can."

'Twas a short chapter. –shot- I meant it to be longer. I swear. I meant this chapter to cover strategies and stuff…but it got mushy instead. Bah. Don't hate me.