Crazed laughter bounced off stone walls, ricocheting from the granite like the bullets which flew in a flurry of metal around the room. Missing half a nose, one eye, and most of his jaw, Alucard shouldn't have been creating such a rich, maniacal sound, if he was human. But in moments like this, as in all moments, he was far from the shores of humanity. A bullet careened through his spinal column, and he fell awkwardly to the side, bits of pale bone drenched in red poking out from his coat; the laughter did not stop. Instead it intensified, as the soulless body of the No-Life King began to reform.

Pulling back into the shape of a man, Alucard did not expend much effort. Those wraiths that would throw their inconsequential weight against his desire to take a physical shape, the psyches of the dogs he put out of their misery, were no longer there. He had grown accustomed to the struggle, which he would undoubtedly win every time, and it was easier now he had no lives to replace the ones he destroyed. His mind was quiet. Those years, seeming to last both only a second and an eternity, changed him as nothing else could. In that battle his guarantee of winning was no longer valid, and he had to face the ghosts that kept him going. A face constantly invaded his thoughts, beginning when the world lost its reality. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and an easy smile haunted the corridors of his brain, confronting him when he least expected it, strengthening him when he needed it most, and driving him onward in his battle. By the conclusion of his ordeal, standing over the ethereal bodies of his demons, Alucard finally admitted he needed someone else. When he could once again impose upon the land of the living, he anticipated with dread the departure of his muse, protector, and treasure. He was pleasantly surprised: She would not leave him.

Alucard had not seen Seras in days; he had not spent time with her at all since his return. She seemed the same, but the faces did not match. She was congruent on the surface, but something was off; something was wrong. It plagued him at night. In his blood-spattered dreams those two apparitions, all mouths and eyes and hair, would simply stare at each other—so close, but yet so very different. He would be battling for his very existence, and call for her, only to have the other turn its head in response, the abomination answering for the angel.

The laughter died, replaced by the faint snapping and popping of bones returning to their sockets, and the resonant clicks of empty ammunition magazines. Spine back in place, Alucard flickered, and the ghouls died. One more flicker, a smattering of blood on grooved stone, and silence descended upon the room. She appeared before him, radiant in her glory, and a strange, true smile turned the lips of the great vampire. He would return to the manor, mission accomplished, not speaking to anyone besides Integra, closing himself in his basement sanctuary, but he would not be alone. No, he was never alone anymore, the many cacophonous voices replaced by one light soprano which would lull him to sleep until the next night. She was all he needed.