I do not own Hellsing.
The night passed by without further event for Walter, though he did not sleep at all well despite it. He tossed and turned in his sleep and woke up several times over the passage of the evening, his old eyes snapping open from fitful sleep to stare out defiantly into the darkness whilst his ears strained to hear any sounds. None were present whenever he did this and he tried to settle down, reminding himself that he needs his rest at his age.
You see, his lack of sleep is not born from fear of Alucard nor did it actually have anything to do with the Count; though it goes without saying that Alucard would certainly be cause for an uneasy nights rest for most people Walter was a rare exception to that rule because he had literally grown numb to it, for he had long ago accepted what Alucard was and did and he had experienced what the vampire could do since he was a boy – no, the Count could not sway him through fear.
But the sorry truth that Walter had to admit to himself was that he was getting old now, he was forcing himself to cope with more than he could handle without feeling the side effects more keenly than he previously had as a younger man.
He lay back after a quick glance at his bedside clock. It was the early hours of the morning and he would have to rise shortly to begin work once again. Though he had trained himself well over the long years of his life to be efficient in all of his roles at Hellsing he could not supress a grimace of resentment at the prospect of managing a full days work ahead of him on such poor sleep.
But as he closed his eyes he once again reminded himself he was but the family Butler and he had nothing but his duties to define himself with. For some people the job they did was no true guide to define them, but to willingly make oneself be a servant to another man and give up independent prospects for the sake of making another man's life easier was not truly a 'job' but a state of mind.
So for Walter Dornez, tired though he may be, this was simply the way life was and it would not do to fail in his duty.
He managed another hour of peaceful rest before he was woken by the alarm. Refreshed and alert he set about preparing himself for today might bring about an end to this madness that was gripping the household.
Whilst Walter had spent the night in fitful rest Alucard had sat upon his throne and looked through the walls at the household.
It brought about some satisfaction to his troubled mind that he could now claim that all this was as much his as Integra's and he was pleased at how obliging Integra had been by in providing his new guards.
When his mercenaries arrived things would change around here, he already had some plans in mind and he was now contemplating them amongst other things.
He knew that the men under his command would be nothing but the best that money could buy, and he anticipated that there would be little trouble in getting them to cooperate once they met him in person, but how he was going to make use of that command was now presenting itself as a problem for him.
He had to shake his head in wonder at his former Master's guile – no wonder Integra had been so obliging when she'd seen a loophole that there was no way for him to exploit without ruining everything he'd accomplished.
If the Round Table discovered he was out of her control then they would remove Integra and attempt to restrain him. Their efforts would be in vain of course; he would not allow them to take her and the only one who he would ever allow to kill him was Integra herself, if she could. But if he fought them, they would not stop until they found a way to defeat him and it would break Integra's heart to be the cause of the death he would bring upon them for their attempts.
Though maybe that Judas Priest that Iscariot boasted of might be worthy of that singular challenge one day but that chance was a slim one; he'd met the man briefly and in that short time he'd decided that the Priest simply was not good enough to have that privilege, for he was but a fanatic Holy man who only saw him as a monster he had to kill as part of his purpose.
Whilst Alucard appreciated the rather true and honest intentions Anderson had to kill him for being what he was and to do it in the name of God, the Priest still lacked the personal spark of noble conviction to risk all he held dear if it meant the chance of killing him. It lacked drama and the inspiring conviction he so rarely saw in humans these days…
It was that spark that Abraham Van Hellsing had shown on that night so many years ago when Alucard had found himself bested and shamed by a mere human and he hoped Integra would share that conviction if she would not accept his alternative offer.
It was a sorry state of affairs, Alucard thought with a wry smile as he sipped from his wineglass; for despite how well it was all going for him at the moment nothing was right about this situation at all.
He was the great survivor; a Count who commanded fear and respect, who had commanded armies and drunk the blood of nations. He was the embodiment of a truly powerful man and a force to be reckoned with by anyone's standards… yet no amount of power could get him what he now longed to have and his power was too great to be met by anyone who might seek to kill him and end his existence along with the problem.
A great span of years he'd been imprisoned and several Master's he'd wished dead only to be locked away each time, his opportunities for vengeance robbed by fate and father time.
Then to find one Master in whom he felt desire she would neither share nor accept, her refusal forcing him to take measures that now made her the unfortunate victim of a family grudge gone so far it had become a form of madness for him…
and now to be free and in charge, dictating in this household as he once had in his own realm only to discover that his power was useless unless he wanted to make open war with England, the cost of which would be to lose any chance of changing the woman's mind about the sort of creature he was…!
Alucards teeth bared and he threw his wineglass away with a snarl of anger. All this time he'd imprisoned and all this effort and patience he'd put into freeing himself – and for what?
He all but threw himself off his own chair, propelling himself up off the wooden armrests. He looked around desperately as though seeking some answer upon the walls, a hidden clue to help solve the predicament he'd found himself in… all he knew was blood and violence! Making war with England would have been a fine thing if Integra was not so bound to her duty for her country, but he dared not risk making the choice that most appealed to him – it was not worth it… not at the cost of his purpose for freeing himself!
If he could not make her change her mind about him then these efforts would all be in vain; he might as well kill her now and have done with it… but he did not want to kill her.
But he was a monster! All he knew was how to wage war and kill… these things gave him great pleasure, great fulfilment and to kill an enemy was a great relief in moments of boredom.
He groaned, why did fate have to rob him of happiness and freedom no matter which choices he made!
"What does it take!" he roared into the ceiling as though he were making demands of God himself "Unable to have my way as a slave, unable to do so even now that I'm free! Can I not for once have satisfaction? Can I not have peace on my terms for once?" he demanded "How the hell can I win when I have no way to fight?" he looked down at the remains of the blood and glassware on the floor, suddenly and quite inexplicably infuriated by the sight of it.
"Why does fate have-to-be-so-difficult?" he slammed a foot down upon the floor for each word he snarled and in his anger he ground the glass to even smaller shards underneath his boot.
He stopped and stared, amazed at his anger and stunned at his own behaviour… what was happening to him? He felt like he was losing his mind and yet he had never before held such a position of assurance in this household…!
A terrible thought crossed his mind.
Oh no, was that it? Was he doomed to never have a chance at happiness unless it was the form of bondage and an unrequited desire for something he could not have? Had Integra Hellsing somehow… won, despite all of his efforts and cunning…? Would he face eternity alone, tormented by the knowledge he had been bested twice?
He eyes widened in horror at the prospect and his hand trembled…. He clenched it into a fist.
If she was right and had been all along… then what he was doing to her was never going to work…
He spat angrily at the notion. He was free damn it – and nothing was going to change that! He had an oath to keep and the Hellsings would suffer humiliation for what they had done to him and he would make her beg his forgiveness! They had to suffer and she had to change!
…she had to change, or would have to kill her…
It had to work… hadn't he managed to find a way to love her though he had been a slave to her will…?
All it had taken was time.
But the time it might take was something she did not have. Time was of the essence; after all Integra wasn't going to stay young forever and neither was Walter and he had the feeling the butler was up to something. His old mind had been closed to the Count for these past few days but the look of anger in his eyes hadn't gone unnoticed by Alucard.
And he knew Walter too well not to suspect the man of some trickery. Walter was an exceptional man when it came to formulating a plan and executing it at the right moment.
Well whatever it was, he would wait and analyse the situation as it came. Humans were difficult to read, and both Walter and Integra were harder still.
They could teach him a thing or two about a lightning quick response when it came to meeting a threat, but he could teach them more than a few things when it came to subtlety and manipulating events to play a certain course.
It was what made this game so… fascinating.
He grinned. He had a plan of his own now; let Walter play his game to save Integra, Alucard would let him do as he pleased for now, because ultimately both men knew it all came down to Integra and the choice that she made on the matter, she wanted to escape and beat him - he could practically hear her subconscious screaming at her to do her duty and keep England safe from him but he could play the Hellsings at their own game too.
It was sooner than expected, he had to admit, but the time was coming for Integra to make her choice.
If it came to a decision then Integra, like all the Hellsing's before her, would obviously pick her duty to her Country over any personal feelings about him… if she actually still had any at this point.
But Alucard already knew this so he would have to change that question to a one that would suit his purposes better and keep her here.
The question he would pose for her was this; would she be so willing to put her country first if it meant abandoning Walter and Seras to him in doing so?
Integra opened her eyes and stretched with a yawn, the evening didn't seem long enough these days. She was a creature of habit and (no matter how many others thought that she was mistaken!) the right time to rise to start work was midday as far as she was concerned.
So getting up at seven was a struggle for her. She rose from her bed and groaned as she rubbed her sore back, it was times like this that she felt particularly sorry for Seras and her endowment. The Police girl had considerably large breasts and Integra spared a thought for her and winced with pity at how Seras' back must suffer for the cost of having such a burden constantly upon her.
Still, Seras was a vampire and they had balance and strength than no human could hope to possess - no matter how hard they trained or practised!
Perhaps Seras didn't feel the weight of them so much now that she wasn't human, she certainly never mentioned any such discomfort around her.
Integra missed her and she was worried for what might be happening to the girl. Walter hadn't spoken of her but she knew why, it was probably because he was trying not to worry her. But she didn't like her butler's charity nor did she want it; she knew better than anyone that by the blood they had mixed her Police girl was Alucard's property, but she knew where the girl allegiance lay too.
She would have put everything she had on the bet that that was reason Alucard had secluded her and spent so much time with her. He was trying to get Seras on his side of the negotiating table. Well, he could try but it certainly would take more than threats and hot air to change that girls opinions and if he struck her...
Her teeth clenched. If Alucard dared to strike that girl then Integra would pay him back a thousand fold when she found a way to reassert herself as both the ruler of the Hellsing Organisation and his Master.
The arrival of those mercenaries would be an important moment; if she could get them to side with her then she might yet be able to make this into a workable short term solution and though the thought of any more negotiation with Alucard galled her she needed more time to finish her search for what she hoped would be their solution to this mess.
She hadn't been idle this last week; whenever she couldn't sleep or when she was certain that the Count was asleep himself she would take her business to the library and she would go through as many of her families occult tomes as she could manage trying to find anything that might mention Alucard's locking runes.
It was hard and tiring work; she had studied many of those books from childhood at her fathers insistence but she had been so young at the time that she hadn't understood much of their content and she could hardly remember which books she had read now except for the few that she'd had to study more than once.
Now she was older she understood more of what she'd studied so far but she'd learned nothing that she could use to help her figure out how those blasted control restrictions worked! It seemed that there was no manual for Alucard in her library and Walter had confessed to her when she'd asked him about it that he hadn't ever seen such a book like that in the families library.
She was frustrated with that – her great grandfather had been a learned genius and he'd been quite the one for recording things for later study. He'd been the one to bind Alucard into service, so why on earth would he choose to not make an instruction manual to help his descendants restrain Alucard if he went rogue?
After showering, dressing and combing out the tangles in her hair the iron willed Lady sat and looked down at her memos for the day. She had little to do which was good; monitor the finance for a schedules meeting in a few weeks time, see to it that the supplies were running steady and the usual browsing and cross checking any vampire related activity in her majesties borders. Two of those she could use the hired aides for, the vampire search would be an excellent excuse to let her browse through the library for that book.
She summoned Walter and within a minute he was at her service, clean shaven and smart as a brass button. She envied Walter sometimes; he made getting up early and doing boring routine seem so effortless… she wished she a better way to thank him than words.
"Walter?" she said softly "How are you feeling?"
The butler smiled, but the cheeriness seemed forced "I'm perfectly fine my Lady. Is something the matter?"
Integra shook her head but kept her gaze on his eyes… yes she thought to herself, yes something was the matter. She could see how Walter was carefully keeping his face guarded, and his act of casual attendance to her whims was just that, an act.
He was hiding something from her… was this yet another act of kindness about something that might give her cause for worry? Well if it was then she fed up of all this damn charity and pity he'd been giving her of late!
"Walter, I think I need a walk. Would you care to join me?" it was not really a request and her butler took the hint.
"It would be my pleasure Sir. Give me a few minutes and I shall escort you wherever it pleases you." He replied with a slightly cheeky smile.
"Why a few minutes?" she asked.
"Why my dear Sir Integra, it is morning and a Tuesday. You always take tea on a Tuesday."
She did no such thing and she was about to say as such but she let it go and dismissed him to go and make some. He must have figured he'd been caught out by her and wanted a few moments to formulate an apology, Integra thought. Ah well, it was good of him to be graceful about it.
As Walter set the kettle to boil and then grabbed two items he'd left on the side and ran down the stairs to the sublevels as quickly as he could. Sprinting as quickly as he could and keeping his steps as light as possible on the stone floor he made his way to Seras' chamber.
He paused to catch his breath and then rapped on the door. He waited a moment and hesitantly pushed it open worried he might be intruding on her dressing. However he only had moments before he had to be back upstairs and communication with the girl would be difficult given that Alucard would likely hear anything that transpired between them through the connection he had with Seras.
But he had taken the precautions. He rapped on her coffin smartly.
"Mm?" he heard a muffled and sleepy voice mumble beneath the lid.
He smiled and opened the coffin just a little "I know you don't sleep well Miss Victoria, so I left something on the side for you."
She groaned and protested "Walter I was sleeping fine! Why did you-?"
"I'm rather pressed for time my dear, I'm needed upstairs." He interrupted her "humour me, would you? I'm sure you'll thank me tonight."
With that he left to attend his duty with Integra. Seras blinked away sleep from underneath her coffin before she opened it a crack and poked her head out to look blearily at whatever it was the Walter had left.
She groaned when she saw the bucket of ice with a packet of blood sitting inside it chilly recess, but then she saw the letter beneath it and she got out of her coffin to get it.
Looking at it she frowned at what Walter had written.
'We have guests today. Would you mind keeping Alucard busy whilst they're here; it's a rather important meeting and I have to justify the costs of hiring mercenaries – they're rather expensive.
No distractions please.'
Seras frowned at it and put the letter down. Alucard never usually interrupted meetings… but she supposed Walter had his reasons for asking. Her Master would be pretty pissed if he didn't get his mercenaries after all. Though she confessed she didn't like the sound of it. Mercenaries brought thoughts and images of lecherous thugs into her head.
She shuddered at the thoughts of them… they were probably all scarred and rude and hairy! And she was going to have to work alongside these men? People who fought for money had no honour; they were not to be trusted.
She sighed at the state of affairs. No, between her two Masters contesting for power and her loneliness and the prospect of meeting the mercenaries… things were not good these days and they seemed to be getting worse.
But, she consoled herself, perhaps they would improve. Maybe Walter and Integra would figure something out, maybe her Master would have a change of heart, maybe things would go back to how they used to be…
She lowered her head. Yeah right she thought bitterly and maybe those mercenaries will prove me wrong about them too.
Okay, there we are. Sorry it took so long to post - thank you everyone who has reviewed so far! It really helps when I read them and think 'yeah, and now you're keeping them waiting for the next chap... get writing you!' lol
So as usual, please R&R
... why? I don't know... because you really REALLY like me?