A/N: So, this is chapter two. I'm totally skipping things that I have to do to write this. It's like a bug, I just can't stop!
I choose my friends for their good looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
She awaited him with all the grace that had been bred into her from her birth. Her arms were loosely folded, her shirt was starched beautifully white and her scarf was arranged meticulously. Her legs crossed delicately in a flight of ladylike fancy, contrasting completely with the thick suit pants she wore. She had taken off her thick jacket in favour of the beautiful early summer sun shining down on the outdoor cafe where she sat. They had decided on a neutral location to sign their treaties, and so she found herself in a tiny, beautiful village along the French countryside. Her waiter was a young fellow with a dark hair and thin beard, his longish hair pulled into a knot at the top of his head. Every once and a while, when he caught her eye, he gave her a very wide, very white smile. She wasn't sure at this moment if he was smitten with her, or if he was just a very friendly young man. She assumed it was the latter. Her suits intimidated most people.
She adjusted her glasses and took a moment to appreciate her surroundings. Thick old trees grew like giant umbrellas over the streets and the lazy, warm breeze smelt distinctly of petunias. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath appreciatively. Though she loved London, its odour of smoke and ash was why she herself still kept house outside of town though it was sometimes not convenient for the amount of political work she had to do. She could have moved into a posh house in the city, separated herself from her Vampires and simply pulled the executive strings from afar. She opened her eyes once more and smirked slightly. She really only had to see himwhen the Blood Seals needed to be renewed. Otherwise, she could have led a more or less normal life as a politician who lead an organisation whose mission it was to terminate the undead. She smiled fully now. She could be like Batman. Posh woman by day, undead hunter by night.
However, she could never do that. Though he tested her, teased her, offered her immortality on a daily basis and probably spied on her while she was in the shower or undressing, she had become rather fond of being protected by the King of Nosferatus. Sometimes, meaningless banter with Alucard was what kept her sane. She had no idea if he appreciated it as much as she did, but she would never tell him that. That was part of their game. Not to mention Seras would probably wind up stringing Captain Bernadette up by his testicles if she were not there to intervene with threats of docking the Captain's pay for his ridiculous antics. She shook her head. She often felt more like a babysitter to these rough hired men and undead individuals than anything else.
She checked the small gold watch on her wrist. Ten to three. As usual, the man was late. Today, though, she did not mind as much as she usually did. He had been sensible enough to keep her waiting in a very pleasant place instead of some stark, boring room like he normally did. She always let him pick the endroit, or so she told herself. Admittedly, though, he tended to pick the venue for her. Only her pride as a well-bred Englishwoman kept her from fighting something so trivial as a meeting place. Had she been born under any other name, she would have fought him tooth and nail. She trusted Enrico Maxwell and his plethora of religious zealots just about as far as she could throw them, which considering the giant ego they had (Maxwell in particular) was not very far at all.
After their rather explosive introduction two years ago at the British museum, she hoped he would have the sense this time to keep his own 'pets' at home. Walter had accompanied her on this sojourn to France, and she hoped Maxwell had the decency to bring someone who had self control. Walter had stayed at the hotel in favour of his ailing health. She worried about him, really. He was getting on in years. She quite loved him like a daughter to a father. He had taken her in when her father had passed away, and had raised her to be the woman she was today. She loved her biological father, but she still held immature resentment for him deep down in her heart of hearts for leaving her at such a young age. She knew it wasn't healthy nor grown up of her to do so, but many habits die hard. Walter C. Dorneaz had been there when no one else was.
Her eyes darkened a little as she remembered the taunting voice of her uncle. She had been so scared, barely fourteen years old, having to crawl through the vents to get away from him. Shooting a man in the head at such a young age had both been her saviour and the thing that ruined her. Alucard had respected her for her bloody deed, and that made her all the more aware of how revolting it was. She had committed murder. Even if it was for self defence, she had taken a life. She still carried the nauseating feeling of being rejected immediately from innocence into the murky fires of purgatory to this day.
She was drawn out of her reverie at the sounds of heavy boots tapping in an impossibly light way along the wood veranda outside of the cafe. Here we go, she thought, taking out a cigarillo and placing it to her lips. She had just lit the tip when a man joined her at the small, round table, quietly putting a black briefcase and some loose papers on it. Just before he sat down, he fished in the back pocket of his ludicrous royal purple trousers and pulled out a small white pack of foreign cigarettes. He then plopped himself casually as you please into his seat and lit one.
"Enjoying the air?", he asked her lightly, his heavily accented voice spilling across the silence like spilled milk. He would always play this game, this farce of friendliness. He would be charming with her, gallant even, until it aggravated her so much that she snapped and was short with him. Then the poison hiding behind his smooth face would rear its head and spit its toxins. They had once even come to blows. He had hit her, hard, across her face, sending her glasses flying across the room to shatter on the floor. She had slowly turned her head, wiping the blood off of her face. Instead of hitting him in retaliation, she smiled. That day, she had won that game.
"Yes, actually", she said with real truth, "This village is a most delightful place. I was admiring the trees along the road, there. Such strong oaks. Time and nature seem to have been unable to harm them, or even change them in any way. They weather life's battles against death and disease and grow taller and stronger for it…" she cast a significant look in Maxwell's direction, "It is a most admirable accomplishment, don't you think?".
Though Maxwell was an egotistical man, he was anything but dimwitted. He caught her meaning and smiled in a very patronising way. "Yes…" he replied slowly, turning his head slightly to the side like an interested cat, "though their growth is unfortunately a futile effort. They weather the world, but everything must die. I hear they have plans to widen the road here, make it more… Accessible…" he gestured to the great oaks around them, "Their time is most likely coming to an end… Though they are strong, the wills of manare stronger."
Integra very much doubted that when he said "man" he meant it literally. She narrowed her eyes ever so slightly, yet kept the entertained expression on her face. "And yet… There is still nature, who does not judge or count its dead, and continues blindly while the trees are left to rustle in the wind, and then be crushed to dust."
She could almost see the tiny spark of indignant anger in his eyes. She liked this game. They stared for a long time at each other blowing smoke into the air, two dragons hoarding over their pride like gold. Finally, she smiled more fully, honestly satisfied with the spark of anger she had caused him, and looked down questioningly towards the papers and the briefcase that sat between them. He returned her smile with a false one and pulled the objects towards him.
"I do believe we have a treaty to sign.." he said, waving his hand lazily, "we certainly don't want any… Accidents, like we have had in the past, do we?".
Integra couldn't stop her lips instinctively pursing tight at the mention of 'accidents'. "Quite", she said, desperately trying to keep her voice calm. She did not want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that Anderson's murder of her men still hurt her.
"I was present with His Holiness, the Pope as he sanctioned these agreements. His Holiness had been in contact with your Queen", he said the words as if it were a bad taste in his mouth, "to negotiate various borderlines and protocol manoeuvres in areas of neutrality. As it stands, everything from England, Westward to Belgium, the Netherlands, and the northern countries are under Hellsing jurisdiction… Everything else, save for France, Switzerland and Germany, are under the jurisdiction of the Holy Catholic Church. Those three countries preferred to remain neutral, having their own methods of despatching the undead." His eyes flashed.
She knew for a fact that Iscariot overstepped its boundaries, particularly in neutral zones. She was almost tempted to challenge her enemy in this, but knew her resources were too far stretched as it was to engage in a rivalry with the Iscariots on neutral soil. Let the Iscariots dust the French earth with the ashes of the damned. One day, all would be dust.
"This document details the points I just made. Read it carefully, Miss Hellsing, I'm sure you don't want to miss anything…", he talked to her as though he was helping a child with their homework. He deliberately left out her title, which irked her far less than his terrible, patronising tone. She decided to gently take the papers from his hand, and billow out her anger in cigarillo smoke.
She read through the document with the trained eye of someone who was used to catching clauses where they would hurt. She read on and on, until she caught a section that made her pause in confusion and righteous anger. "What is this?", she demanded of him, her voice deadly soft. He smiled, and she realized he had been waiting for her to find this clause.
"You see, Integra… The Queen and His Holiness feel as though the relationship between we, the Iscariots, and you Hellsing dogs is a bit… Ah, strained…" he drew a long breath of cigarette smoke, as though her anger was the nicotine he inhaled into his lungs. "Clashing religious beliefs aside, they both feel as though there is far too much in-fighting while both organisations carry the same goal; To search and destroy the undead and salt the earth with their dust. Therefore, they both decided on a healthy solution. Would you care to read it to me, I'm not quite clear on the exact wording…" he trailed off and gazed at her with a happiness that was almost out of place.
Her gaze was as cold and hard as granite. With as much casualty as she could, she read out the following clause;
"By order of His Holiness, the Pope, and Her Majesty, the Queen of England;
Should the leaders of either Section XIII, the Iscariots, or the Hellsing Organisation come to a point of inability to lead (by sickness or insanity) their troops in their mission against the undead, the director still retaining their health and sanity must then take the life of the other director, to assure that no confidential information be leaked to the public, for risk of causing mass mayhem and panic."
She looked up at Maxwell after reading it out loud, and raised her eyebrows. Inside, she was secretly broiled with shock and the slight sting of betrayal from the lack of warning from her Queen. "What does it say, 'by sickness or insanity'? Does that mean I get to put a bullet in your head right this moment on the argument that you are insane?" she asked drily.
He laughed at this. It was a cruel sound. "No, unfortunately, Miss Hellsing, that would be far too obvious. Though…" his voice seemed to drop an octave with a sudden deep passion that he hadn't expressed before, "time and effort can do anything to people, can't it?".
Integra signed the treaty, ill at ease. Maxwell's quiet promise replayed over and over in her mind.