Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters. If I did, Alucard and Integra would've been shagging long ago…
Everywhere in the mall, the time of the year would be obvious. Strings of lights adorned shop windows, paper snowflakes dangling from the ceiling and various holiday icons pictured every direction you turned. It was crowded compared to the usual shoppers, shouldering their way through with the same intense gaze scanning the merchandise as a lioness on the hunt. Contrary to the Christmas cheer insisted upon by the media, shoppers were cutthroat to give their loved ones that elusive perfect gift.
A Black Friday, Cyber Monday, after Halloween, after Christmas, back to school shopping veteran, Seras Victoria knew better than to brave December alone in the mall. So, she recruited.
"If I get you something, does that make me obligated to get Mr. Vernedette something?" The call came from the next aisle over.
"Of course not, Sir Integra. I'd imagine it would hurt his feelings, but you don't have to."
"I don't really care about his feelings. If I bought for every soldier, I'd be broke."
Seras shrugged off the callous response… Before squealing, grabbing, and running over to Sir Integra.
"Aren't these adorable?" Integra waited until she calmed down a little bit before looking over the reindeer antlers with jingle bells on a head band.
"I should get a pair for Master for Christmas! He'd look so cute in them!"
Sir Integra could only smirk, turning back to the bestsellers shelf.
"I think he'd appreciate a bit more than a few dollars."
"Wha, what do you mean?"
"I mean you can't buy Alucard a single damn present now that he's found out about returns and store credit," Seras visibly wilted.
"Oh," she trudged back to the display and set the antlers back, "Then what am I supposed to get him? I have to get him something."
"Try a prostitute. He seems to enjoy the entertainment and dinner combo."
Seras wasn't about to risk looking at her, in case that wasn't her morbid dry humor.
"I always find Walter hard to shop for," Integra confessed as they walked out of the store.
"Yes. He always says he doesn't want anything but that won't stop me." Seras gave an excited gasp, pointing innocently.
"Oh look, it's Santa!"
In the center of the mall was the typical set-up of a "winter wonderland", complete with a giant comfortable throne. Elves helped organize the line of children, taking pictures and handing out candy canes. And in the midst of it all was the Big Man, dressed in red with a snow white beard. A hearty "ho ho ho" echoed throughout the commons and Seras smiled, reminiscing her own childhood briefly.
"Oh to be little again, huh, Sir? Anyway, I think I only have to hit a couple more shops…" She stopped, not feeling like she was being followed, "Sir…?" She turned around.
Integra was frozen stiff, staring at St. Nicholas with the saucer–sized eyes of a deer at an oncoming car. Her heart was pounding harder than a jack hammer attacking the Great Wall of China. Her leg muscles were tensed up as though she was going to bolt, but remained firmly planted.
The strange scent of fear unexpectedly came from her and Seras couldn't help but stare at her commanding officer. She was…afraid? That didn't make sense, but what else would explain the reaction Sir Integra was having.
They returned later that night, Sir Integra not saying a word about what happened in the mall. The boys were busy trying to set up the tree…rather, Pip and Walter were trying to set up the tree while Alucard lounged on the couch.
"…you're doing it wrong," he grumbled.
"Well you're welcome to give it a try," Walter huffed, trying to keep the tree upright. Alucard humored the idea for a moment.
Sir Integra made her way up the staircase wordlessly, looking rather disgusted with herself. Seras sighed, stashed the presents by the basement stairs, and then took a seat on the couch.
"I guess zere's a Grinch in every 'ouse'old," Pip mused.
"I'm not a Grinch," Alucard insisted grouchily, "I just don't celebrate pagan holidays obscured by Catholics in honor of the birth of the Son of God who was actually born in July and infused with commercialism and capitalistic aggression," he sighed, leaning back, "Unlike you three I remember a time when Christmas was actually about good will towards men and giving from the heart. "Gift of the Magi" and all that jazz."
"You sound like a Christmas special," Walter teased, untangling the Christmas lights. Alucard scowled. Seras pulled at her skirt.
"Master, something strange happened with Sir Integra at the mall…"
"She doesn't wear boxers as underwear; she uses them as shorts because they're comfortable to sleep in."
"…not that," Seras sighed, "When we were walking through the mall…and passed Santa Claus… She froze up like she was…afraid."
Walter and Pip paused, staring at her. Alucard scowled.
"We don't discuss that in this house." Walter said curtly. Seras blinked.
"Santa Clause? Why not?"
"Because he is a sick, sick freak," Alucard snarled, "Beckoning children to sit on his lap and confide their desires to him… Sneaking into their homes as they sleep, leaving "presents under their tree"…"
"Only you can take something so innocent and pure and corrupt it, Master," Seras muttered.
"I'm sorry, mon chére, but I'm with Alucard on zis one. Zat entire song is a tribute to 'ow creepy he is. I can't blame ze director; I'm scared shitless of guys in red coats after seeing 'im in action, too," Pip gestured towards Alucard.
Seras shook her head.
"I…I just can't fathom how the woman that has the world's most powerful vampire on a leash could be afraid of some saint." Alucard snorted disgustedly.
Walter finished untangling, smoothly whipping them around the tree as if they were his monowires.
"Like the majority of her scars from childhood, it started with Richard…"
The Hellsing manor, usually demure in its interior, was coming to life in the face of the holiday season. Walter went mad with the decorations, outdoing even the North Pole in a cozy, magical atmosphere. Christmas carols drifted from room to room and hummed under the breath of many an occupant. Even Arthur's office, usually unadorned, was covered with dozens of paper snowflake cut-outs, displaying his daughter's careful designs. Hot cocoa with marshmallows and candy canes were always on hand; yes, it was quite a fantastical home for the five-year-old Integra.
"On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, fiiiiive gooooold riiiiings. Four calling birds, two French hens, three turtle gloves, and a cartridge in a pair of treeeees. On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me… Uncle Richie, what comes next?"
"A pair of earplugs, and a rag to shove into your logorrheatic pie hole," he snarled under his breath.
With Arthur working on some "important mission" and the butler off for Christmas shopping, Richard had been put in charge of insuring Integra didn't hurt herself in some idiotic accident planned by her underdeveloped and rather retarded child brain. Currently she was coloring a print-out picture of a reindeer for the side of her father's computer, singing a bastardized version of a song.
Did children ever shut up?
Integra gazed up at him with the kind of starry-eyed wonder Richard attributed to animated specials or especially drunk women.
"How many what?"
"How many more days until Christmas?" She said impatiently.
"Not soon enough," Richard glanced at his watch, "Five days."
"Five whole days?"
"No, five partial days," Richard said dryly. It went, like so many things, over Integra's head.
Already practically at Richard's feet, she pulled closer, resting her head on his knee. Richard cringed.
"Uncle Richie…does Santa Clause really give out coal to bad children? How does he know if I've been nice?"
"Santa Clause is a ruse, my dear, clever propaganda to insure that children behave," he grumbled. Integra blinked.
"Papa says that Santa Clause is real," she said matter-of-factly. As if Arthur had never been wrong in his life.
"Your papa also says that vampires are real…" Richard paused, thinking for a moment.
Then he got an idea. An awful idea. Richard got a wonderful, awful idea. He grinned, stroking Integra's hair roughly.
"Of course he's right, Santa Clause is real. But don't you ever wonder how he gets to every boy and girl around the world in one night? Why he has to come down the chimney instead of strolling through the front door? Why he's so secretive about his identity and work?"
Integra stared, then slowly shook her head. Richard chortled.
"Well, my pretty little niece, that's because Santa Clause," he leaned down a mere inch from her face, "…is a vampire."
Her body went rigid with terror, goading Richard on.
"It's true, it's true. Your father's been hunting him for years. Every year this nosferatu comes to the homes of the naughty children, his hair and beard white from starvation, and tears open their throats, guzzling down their blood. That's why his coat's red, you see, and no amount of milk or cookies can quench his thirst," Richard leaned back, "The sack is to dispose of the bodies and those eight "tiny" reindeer? His ghouls. Rudolph the Red was once a very proud Viking… Anyway, I'm digressing. Surely you haven't done anything that would incur the wrath of Saint Nikolas, right? You've been a perfect little angel so Mr. Clause doesn't come this year…right?"
Integra stared at him, looking like she was about to cry. She nodded uncertainly.
"Good. Run along now, and don't sing. That lets him know where you are," Integra jumped to her feet, running for the door. Richard snickered, then added as a precaution, "Don't go and tell your father or Walter now, or I'll have to call Santa Clause and tell him you've been naughty!" Oh what fun he'd have with this…
Walter returned, showing off the "Stop Here Santa" sign he had gotten at the mall to Integra and assuring her he was going to put it up on the roof so he knew where to come. He nor Arthur understood why she burst into tears and ran away.
"It might've been remedied, had that not been the year an especially cruel newborn heard that there was a young Hellsing and decided to dress up as Santa to lure her to him to kill. She staked him to death, sure…but not after seeing a few maids and a chef staying late slaughtered in front of her eyes," Walter sighed, putting the angel with an AK-47 on the top of the Christmas tree, "Seven years. Seven years we dealt with similar attacks on Christmas Eve. Possibly the first case in which a rational twelve-year-old believed in Santa Clause, and was worse off because of it."
"Least she's functional now. Used to not be able to pry the gun out of her hand from just after Thanksgiving to New Year's Day," Alucard remarked.
Seras continued to stare in horror, on the verge of tears.
"Her uncle…was a monster. Stealing her child-like wonder and innocence for his own twisted amusement…"
"Yeah, we all caught onto that after he tried to kill her in the basement," Alucard got to his feet, "All this talk of stolen innocence and famous icons of a capitalistic first world makes me thirsty. I'm going to go get something to drink, then throw change in an alley to watch hobos fight to the death for it."
"Zat's ze spirit," Pip said dryly, before pocketing a spring of mistletoe.
December 24th came and Sir Integral Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing was ready for it. Half a dozen guns within arm's reach, stakes adorning her belt, a few flasks of holy water, a couple books of matches, and many crosses throughout her body. She sat perched on the couch, bathed in the light of the Christmas tree as she glanced around, alert for anything unusual. This would be a lot easier to pinpoint if they had a chimney…
"Should I be concerned, my master? Your heart's pounding like an agitated woodpecker." Alucard remarked as he formed behind her. She smirked.
"I'm not surprised. My body's not used to so much caffeine. Can't afford to fall asleep tonight," she glanced down at the Jackal in his hand, "Going somewhere?"
"I'm off to massacre your torment so you can have a good night's sleep," Integra sighed, shaking her head.
"Alucard, you and I both know Santa Clause doesn't exist. It's just a persona that others like to don and have particularly used it against the Hellsing Organization." Alucard frowned.
"What if everyone's wrong, Integra?" He looked gravely at her, "Saint Nicholas has been dead for centuries…so has Vlad the Impaler, yet here I stand. Yes, this worldly character might be the greatest hoax of fairy tale proportions…but he might also be a very old vampire using his wits to keep himself alive, drinking the blood of virgin youth to retain enough strength to scour the globe."
"…are you saying you believe in Santa?"
"I'm Sant-ogstic; I'm not saying that Santa Clause is real, nor am I denying that he isn't," he flicked the safety off, "Either way, I will not permit him to exist any longer; he is a danger to my kingly status, and his exploitation of children to satisfy his pedophilia fetish is deplorable."
"Says the sadist," Integra pulled out a cigar and lit it, keeping the pistol in her hand, "Good luck, Servant."
"And to you, Master." He said, before vanishing.
Seras made her way quietly up the stairs, aware of Sir Integra's rather disturbing vigil in the living room. She was just going to get something to drink, and then go right back to her room. Sir Integra sat rigidly, her eyes flicking back as Seras came up. She didn't show any sign acknowledging that she was there, but Seras sensed Integra knew. She tiptoed quietly towards the kitchen, before she froze.
Integra, who had been wide awake seconds ago, was now nodding off, her head resting against the back of the couch and her body relaxing. Walter's stories were still fresh in her mind and she reached towards her hip for a gun…only to realize she was in her nightgown. No matter; as long as it was only one, she could-
She pressed up against the wall as the front door opened and shut, her eyes widening in shock as Alucard strolled in with a garbage bag over one shoulder. He set the bag down and approached Integra, clearing the couch of her vampiric WMDs. Gentle as a baby's breath, Alucard adjusted her until she was lying down on the couch, gingerly removing her shoes and glasses and setting them aside.
He went back to the bag and started emptying it, depositing its contents under the Christmas tree. In the glow of the strings of lights, Seras could make out the wrapping paper. Presents, he was putting presents under the Christmas tree… He pulled out the last item from the bag and kicked it aside; walking over to a small table Walter had set up. Seras hadn't thought much about the cookies and milk, chalking it up to sentimental feeling or a midnight snack for himself. Alucard picked up one of the gingerbread men, bit its head off, wrinkled his nose in disgust, and tossed the rest of the cookie back onto the plate. He washed it down with some of the milk, which Seras doubted was any better tasting to him.
Alucard shook out the thing in his hand with a flourish, promptly unfolding a thick blanket. The blanket came down softly over Integra's sleeping body and he tucked it in around her.
An "awwww" slipped out and Alucard went rigid, looking around the room like a wild animal. Seras couldn't help herself.
"Santa Clause?" She asked in her best Cindy Lou Who impersonation.
Alucard's eyes settled on his fledgeling…and narrowed.
"Not a word about this, Police Girl. Not. A. God. Damn. Word." He snarled.
Christmas Day announced itself with Sir Integra swearing up a storm, flying around like an angry hornet just looking for someone to sting. Seras was still awake; Alucard had just gone to bed an hour ago. She rubbed at her eyes as she emerged, careful of the windows.
"Can't believe I fell asleep! And where did all of these goddamn presents come from? Walter, Walter you had to have done this! Who else eats goddamn milk and cookies in this goddamn house?"
Seras smiled to herself, knowing she had caught the culprit in the act of being good.
After all of the personnel were viciously interrogated, Sir Integra relaxed, and the presents were distributed amongst the soldiers (Seras thought it very kind of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to include everyone). Alucard sulked in a corner, suspicious of the parcels she, Integra, and Walter offered to the grumpy No-Life King.
"Thirteen. Thirteen bloody years these presents show up out of nowhere, and not a soul admits to it," Integra muttered, idly watching as Walter explained to Pip how Christmas crackers worked, "What kind of person, dead or undead, breaks into a home just to give gifts?"
"I don't know," Seras said, before beaming at Sir Integra, "But I'd say the Grinch's heart grew three sizes today."
Seras screamed and the brief peace of Christmas was ruined as Integra started screeching at Alucard, who had blown off Seras's arm with his Casull.
Do with this as you wish; does Santa Clause exist alongside Dracula in the Hellsing universe? Would such a horrific childhood trauma cause the Iron Knight to freak out about Christmas? Does Alucard play Santa just to mess with Integra, or does he do it to show the true spirit of Christmas? Was Seras Cindy Lou Who in another life? Is Alucard actually Santa Clause? I don't have any of these answers mind you…but I'm putting out a pint of blood instead of milk and cookies this year, winkwinknudgenudge.
Happy holidays, readers!