Author's note: This is a back to back upload of this and the previous chapter. They were one piece but I decided to split it. For those of you who may be sceptical – punch drunk tired is a real thing, trust me on this. I've been there.
He reached into the case and effortlessly lifted it with one hand. He could hear Jane explaining the specifications and such and one part of his mind filed the information but his was more interested in how the gun fitted in his grip. She had been right when she had said she would make it into an extension of his hand. Not even the newly configured Joshua felt this good. He asked about the ammunition as he slid the magazine home and pulled back the slide.
"It's perfect Jane!"
His excitement was almost palpable and Seras came closer with wide eyes.
"Do you think you could even kill Father Anderson with this gun?" she asked.
"Oh I think so." was the smooth reply.
"It looks like you've outdone yourself Jane." Said Integra, "It's an impressive piece of hardware."
"I'm glad you're satisfied." She said quietly, looking at her hands.
"If I may ask," said Walter. "Why name it the Jackal?"
Jane looked up at him with a crooked grin.
"It's sleek, black and deadly, all I could think of was Anubis, jackal headed god of the afterlife. Guardian to the gates of hell – it seemed fitting"
Walter considered this for a moment and then nodded.
"I can see how that is appropriate."
"Sleek, black and deadly hmmm?" said Alucard, looking Jane up and down.
She glared at him with narrowed eyes and then her expression changed to somewhat troubled as he put the gun inside his coat and turned to leave. Before he took more than two steps she said quietly:
It was the first time she had ever used his name and he stopped and turned back to her.
"It's never been fired with live ammunition. Its design won't let me clamp it in my testing rig and of course there's no way I could fire it with my hands. So you need to take it to the range and go through a few magazines. You can send me a report on anything you might need changing,"
He studied her for a moment and then said:
"Why don't you come along and see for yourself?"
"No! I mean, no thank you, it's late and I have a long drive in the rain. I'll leave you to it, why don't you take Seras or Sir Integra to have a look."
She was suddenly agitated as she gathered up her things and turned to Integra.
"Good night Sir Integra, I'll see myself out."
She was out the door before anyone had a chance to say anything and left them staring at each other.
"I'll attend to it Sir Integra."
Walter quickly slipped out the door after Jane and Integra leaned back in her chair, lighting another cigar. After a few draws, she looked up at Alucard and said:
"I think I will come and take a look at how the Jackal performs if you don't mind."
"Very good Master."
The three of them left and headed through the hallways and towards the firing range.
Meanwhile Jane had made it to the front door but her car wasn't waiting at the steps where she had left it. She jumped as Walter spoke from behind her, having silently caught up.
"I'm afraid that the bridge over the river has been flooded due to all the rain. You won't be able to leave for a while yet, perhaps not at all tonight."
"Is there no way around?"
"Jane, please just call me Jane." She cut him off wearily, realising that she was going nowhere.
"Jane," said Walter gently, "What's the matter? You're perfectly safe here."
"I'm not worried about safe." She muttered.
Despite having had a day's worth of sleep, Jane was still punch drunk with exhaustion and Walter could see that she was nearly sagging with it. He lightly took hold of her elbow and steered her towards a nearby sitting room where there was a fire burning. He sat her down on the sofa and used the house phone to give instructions to one of the maids. Turning back to Jane, he found her sitting in the corner of the sofa with her shoes off and her arms wrapped around her drawn up legs. She looked a picture of abject misery.
Taking the seat opposite her, he regarded her for a while and then said:
"You certainly don't look like someone who just finished a task that they should be proud of."
"Oh I am proud of it." She mumbled.
"Then what's wrong?"
She was silent for so long, he didn't think that she was going to answer him and then she said wryly:
"Would you believe me if I told you that I was jealous?"
"Jealous? I'm not sure I follow."
"I have fired every weapon I have ever customised or rebuilt. I even emptied a magazine on the Joshua rebuild. But I cannot fire the Jackal. That gun is most likely my finest work and I will never be able to pull the trigger. I am very proud of that gun but my father was right – no human could ever fire it."
She rested her head on her knees, hiding her face which was burning with shame. Her tiredness had made her blurt out things that she had not wanted to say but she couldn't take them back now.
"I'm being pretty silly for feeling that way I know." She mumbled.
"You're not being silly. I can understand the need to fire what you made, it's a natural feeling." Walter took a moment to gather his thoughts. "All talent comes at a price, and unfortunately this time it seems that you built better than you expected and now must pay the price for being good at what you do."
A half laugh came up from behind her knees and she lifted her face to look at him.
"You must be one of the few people that understand that. I take it you have a talent of your own that you've paid a price for then?"
"Something like that." He admitted.
She didn't ask him further, a fact for which he was grateful. Instead she turned so that she could look into the fire and watch the dancing flames. The house phone rang a few minutes later and he answered it on the second ring.
"I understand. No, I'll see to it myself, thank you."
He put the phone down and said:
"Your room is ready. Come along, I'll take you up."
She unfolded herself and allowed him to help her up onto her feet. She reached down for her shoes only to find they were already in his hands. Narrowing her eyes, she asked pointedly:
"The bridge isn't really flooded is it?"
"No, it isn't. But even so, I wouldn't let you drive back with you being as tired as you are now. Your brother would have my hide, not to mention Sir Integra."
Shaking her head at the high handed Hellsing treatment, she gave in and allowed him to assist her upstairs and along the hallway to the same room she had occupied during her last visit to the manor.
"At least you didn't take me downstairs." She said vaguely, nearly swaying on her feet.
He gave a short bark of laughter at the memory and told her that he doubted that she'd be a 'downstairs' guest ever again. He then shocked her by saying:
"Pop into the bathroom and change while I call your brother then I'll come in and help you to bed."
"I'm sure I can manage." She said stiffly.
"Actually Jane, you're about ready to drop and I think if you fell down you wouldn't be able to get back up. I don't want you spending the night on the bathroom floor just because you want to be stubborn."
"At least you remembered to call me Jane." She mumbled as she closed the bathroom door.
As she changed into the pyjamas that had been provided, she was chagrined to realise that Walter had been right. She nearly fell over while trying to take her trousers off and ended up sitting on the edge of the bathtub to finish. She opened the door and headed towards the bed when her vision blurred and her knees just refused to hold up any more. The tension of the night coupled with the lack of sleep for the past few days ganged up on her and sent her heading straight to the floor.
She only had a moment to realise that someone had caught her under the arms and then there was feeling of weightlessness as she was lifted. A flutter of scarlet caught the edge of her vision as it faded into black and then she was asleep.
Walter pulled back the covers as Alucard waited with Jane in his arms and then carefully removed her hearing aid. After she was tucked in, Walter turned to leave and said:
"In a moment."
Leaving the door ajar, Walter exited the room and left the vampire towering over the sleeping Jane. Alucard looked down at the human before him. He studied her face and then the hands that had crafted something just for him. He noticed the small dressing in the palm of her hand and guessed the cause. Eventually he bent down and whispered in her left ear:
"Thank you, Jane."