I'm in love with Hellsing, so shoot me. With amazing characters, intriguing story, and rampant lunacy, how can you go wrong? Anyhow, I wrote this fic (and perhaps will write others) exploring episode 10, Master of Monster. It's a big character-builder for Integra, who had formerly been taken for granted as the tough Hellsing boss who somehow convinces Alucard to -- usually -- do what she says. I really like this episode, and the fact that you can use it to explore a lot of the other characters' opinions of Integral. So, that's what I'm doing.

Alucard goes first, because at first I thought I couldn't write him at all, because he's Totally Flipping Crazy. But then in a sudden stroke of epiphany after an RP with my Erin-neesama, I realized the perfect angle to take when I jabbed the cattle prod of my fanfiction into the mad chaos that surely dwells inside his head. If you'll pardon the metaphor.

The title probably doesn't mean what you think it means.

by Kay Willow

Alucard stood witness to the humming of the machines and the fluttering of the surgeons, and wished them all away in his mind. They were foolish, unnecessary creatures. Integral needed none of them to survive.

He was perfectly content now. Only hours before he had been seized with a rare fury, but serenity ruled him now. With his limited precognition, he suspected that he would soon be happier than he had been in centuries, but right now, he was quite at peace.

The police-girl had stood by his side earlier, but she had left at some point. That didn't matter. Seras showed promise, but still took too much for granted -- she understood nothing. Her presence had only been a distraction, full of thoughts of guilt and fear and confusion and jealousy that tugged at him from what he really wanted to feel.

Integral's mind was in turmoil, and Alucard was pleased by what he found there.

He had known from the beginning that the creature calling herself Laura had been lying. But he hadn't interfered, coaxed into silence by the gut feeling that something interesting came his way, and curiosity had always been a powerful motivation for Alucard. Incognito had certainly been interesting.

But he hadn't expected Integra to be caught so off-guard. And he hadn't expected her to stab herself.

Alucard usually wasn't so inaccurate at predicting the future.

The results hadn't been that bad, though. Integra would survive, and her attacker had been killed in a manner fitting one who had preyed upon Alucard's Master. And now she was aware, above all else, of her own mortality.

And that was the source of her distress.

He could feel her restless thoughts, even now, as the surgeons fought their unnecessary fight to save a life not in danger. She wondered, Am I really as strong as I thought I was? Powerless as I was to defend myself, can I really call myself a knight worthy of my title? Is this the best that a mere human can do against undead foes?

Lurking at the back of her consciousness was the newfound knowledge: I can die.

Alucard absorbed all this with a supreme sense of satisfaction. It was rare indeed to see his Master in such a state: not only doubting herself, but vulnerable. He almost envied the surgeons -- really, he thought with a smirk, it should be him there; who better to care for Integra's lovely neck than her pet vampire? -- but he had time enough yet. He could afford to be patient.

In the meantime, Integra's mind was too conflicted to heal properly. As much as he was enjoying the show, he was responsible for her well being, and he knew exactly how to help her.

Sleep, he whispered to her subconsciousness. Sleep easy, and remember your strength.

Almost immediately, the difference made itself known, to his senses if not physically. He drew her into her memories, taking her back to the first time he had ever seen the proof of her strength of will. Ten years ago, when a little girl with a man's gun had shouted her defiance at the indestructible vampire who had claimed her as his own, and in the doing claimed him for hers...

He continued to watch, entranced by the play of things on and under the surface of her mind as she relived that time. Integral lived a lie; she maintained to be the cold and unfeeling vessel of her position, but there was great passion running untapped under that neutral surface. Passion to inspire thousands, civilian and warrior alike; passion to command armies and win respect...

Passion even, he believed, to make her a truly formidable vampire. One with style and brilliance, the way Nosferatu had been in the beginning, before these pathetic Freaks and their filthy Ghouls came to sully the name of the predator.

Getting ahead of himself again.

He could hear the echoes of his starved self in her mind. Others might have felt embarrassed or critical, watching their own behavior in such an unhinged and yet critical moment. Alucard simply felt again that rushing surge of hunger and possessiveness that he had first experienced ten years ago, knowing that this sturdy girl-child had awoken him and that he wanted the one with that delicious blood to be his, even if it was Lionel Hellsing's daughter.

And the message behind the words that the demon spoke to the child was this: "Call upon me whenever you wish, and I will save you from whatever threatens you, and the only thing you will owe me in return is everything that you are."

Lesser humans had fallen before that hidden price, countless times in Alucard's many years. Integra had not been fooled, even as a child, even for a moment. Bright and clever and proud, defiant even in the face of her worst nightmare, she had stood her ground and maintained her principles.

That was when he knew that he had to have her, whatever the cost to himself. It went beyond his bond to the Hellsing family, the bond that said that he would serve them until the Hellsing lord chose to serve him; beyond the thought that perhaps he could trick freedom and independence from her. In that one moment, the demon's game had been turned back upon him.

Perhaps something gave him away, some less than subtle touch against her mind or subconscious and primitive instinct enlightening her to his presence, but all at once Integral's awareness sought and found his own. Alucard allowed it, and saw the real woman superimposed over her childhood form.

::I am being treated like a child,:: she said to him, but there was nothing of anger in her tone.

::No,:: he told her, unable to stop from smiling. ::You still are a child.::

Instead of fighting, or denying, what he knew to be only too true, Sir Integral Wingates Hellsing closed her eyes and smiled. She faded again, allowing ten years ago to once again permeate her mind, and a thirteen-year-old girl who had wanted a knight in shining armor and found instead a vampire clothed in ruin managed to say sincerely, "Thank you."

It would only be a matter of time now before she awoke, if she were close enough to consciousness to address him so collectedly. He waited only until the surgeons backed away, nodding to each other proudly as if her very existence was due to their valiant battle, never knowing that her survival would have been certain regardless of their efforts.

He left her then. Leaning away from the wall where he had settled himself hours earlier and remained for the duration of the surgery, he swept to the door and out into the hallway, swiftly to avoid being spotted by her sharp eyes as she woke. It would perhaps have been easier to simply phase through the wall and into the shadows beyond, but some whimsy suggested that he leave in the normal way -- the human way -- in tribute to his Master, who was human and yet commanded his respect.

As he paced down the aisle of marble pillars, a grin of ferocious, animal satisfaction split his lips. Today had seemed at first to be a failure, but it was turning out to be a great victory indeed.

It was regretful that some of that spark, the confidence that glowed within his Master, would fade after today, but that was inevitable. All children had to grow up sooner or later, and Integra had finally learned the ultimate lesson of childhood, that of mortality.

Perhaps now her reckless behavior and disregard for her own safety would be tempered with the adult realization that death is always possible. She had worried everyone, put herself in danger time and again, never seemed to think that she might suffer the consequence for her zealous choices; work always came first, and then country, and then and only then self. A new order of priorities, brought by the reality of how life worked, would only do everyone good.

But that was not why Alucard smiled.

Today, too, his Master had learned that she was human. All the titles, all the armies, and all the marksmanship in the world would not be enough to guarantee her a victory against something with the abnormal strength and abilities of a Freak. Today, his Master had learned that as a mere human, she would always find herself falling short of what was needed, weak and helpless under the power of those she lived to destroy.

Every time she thought about this day, what would come to mind was her frailty. And she would remember Alucard, who she owed her life to several times over, and think of his virility, and wonder if being human was really worth the cross she had to bear...

Alucard had been patient, and more than patient; he had waited ten years for this moment to come. The moment when Integral's faith in her own humanity would falter.

It wouldn't be much longer now. The uncertainty would gnaw at her. Integral would sooner die than admit defeat, but this was an unusual battlefield, and Alucard was not the kind of opponent she was used to facing. Victory did not have to mean remaining human until the bitter end.

Someday soon, she would come to him. Tired of her childhood and frustrated by her powerlessness, she would seek that which only Alucard could give her. For ten years, he had waited for this chance, when the child who was no longer a child would say to the demon, "Show me what you have to offer."

He had been her slave for ten years, partly because of the geis that bound him to the Hellsing line, and partly because he enjoyed hunting the Freaks and Ghouls that defiled the term "undead" with their shallow and fleeting pleasures. But mostly he had served her as dutifully as his nature would allow because he knew that someday the tables would be turned, and she would kneel to him in supplication.

Perhaps not even for long. Sir Integral Wingates Hellsing was too proud; although he would certainly revel in every instance that brought the word to her lips, no matter how grudgingly, she would not call him Master longer than she had to. He had every expectation that in a very short while she would find the independence that the police-girl Seras had not yet thought to seek, and he would not be even remotely disappointed.

Alucard had always preferred the thrill of the game to the spoils of war.

"Oh, yes," he told the still and waiting air of the corridor, grinning further. "My Master will make a magnificent vampire, indeed."

The game had begun.

There we are! My first Hellsing fic! I'm planning on doing more -- another from Walter's POV, and another from Seras', also taking place during this critical episode. I may start writing others, assuming my Hellsing adoration doesn't fade, and my Megami Kouhosei obsession doesn't start up again in a convenient amount of time.

What do you think, minna-san?