Seras lay back on her bed, her eyes closed as she silently wished for sleep to come. Her red eyes popped open, and with a disgusted sigh the blonde haired girl sat back up. One of the things she most disliked about being a vampire was the absolute inability to sleep during the nighttime. Every now and then she tried it, but it never seemed to work.
She climbed out of her bed and took a look around her room. Stone walls, softened a bit by the drapes, a table and chair, and the massive coffin/bed were the only things in her little monk’s cell of a room. Seras sighed, and decided to go see if anyone else was up.
She stepped out into the dark corridor and suddenly a deep voice intoned from right behind her, “Good evening, Miss Victoria.”
"Eep!" Seras whirled around to see Walter standing right behind her. She grabbed her chest and squeaked, “Don’t do that!”
Completely deadpan, the formally dressed Walter replied, “Miss Integra is up as well. I believe she’s out on the balcony and was going to be having some tea.” With that, he turned around and left as silently as he came.
Seras watched him walk away before recovering enough to call out, “Thank you.” Under her breath she muttered, “How does he do that?”
If she still felt the cold, the pervasive chill that lingered in the hallways would have bothered her. As it was, Seras barely felt it, though that was a bit of a blessing and a curse. As the weeks passed, she began to understand more and more what her new state of being meant. And she wasn’t too sure if she liked it very much.
She could feel the deeper cold out of the balcony before Seras saw her, sitting at the iron table looking out into the pitch darkness. Integra was dressed in rumpled pajamas, not at all what Seras would have expected the cool, controlled Integra to be wearing. Then again, Hellsing’s leader had been surprising her a lot, these days.
Integra sat at the table, once again mentally tallying all of their losses. ‘So many dead and gravely wounded,’ she thought back to the attack on the headquarters of the Hellsing organization, ‘and it’s all my fault.’ She rested her head in her hands as she thought, ‘We’ve gotten soft, let our defenses down. In my father’s era, this would never have happened.’
She saw the shadowy figure hesitantly standing in the doorway, and Integra’s reaction was completely instinctive, the gun pulled out of her pajama top and leveled at the shocked young woman who was standing there.
A somewhat paler than usual Seras held her hands up, “I surrender.” She was still dressed in her police uniform, the Hellsing patch prominently on display.
Integra kept the gun pointed at her for a moment, then she slowly lowered it. “Sorry,” she said to her quietly. ‘I’m far too jumpy tonight,’ Integra thought grimly as she put the gun away, ‘I’m going to shoot someone if I’m not careful.’
“I didn’t mean to intrude,” Seras said softly, and Integra saw an endearing mix of shyness and nervousness on her face. “I’ll leave if you like,” she offered.
“Stay, please,” Integra said to her quietly, “I could use the company.”
Seras pulled out one of the old chairs almost silently and then sat down with a remarkable amount of grace. The girl had so many hidden depths, and Integra had found herself noticing them more and more often.
“Thanks,” Seras smiled. She looked at Integra with those scarlet eyes, and Integra still found her so difficult to read. “I miss being able to sleep at night,” Seras said softly, looking away from her and out into the black night.
The dim light made Seras look sad, shadowing her face and making her look a bit more human. “I found I got used to it,” Integra said quietly, “the nature of our duty demands these late nights. But it isn’t an easy adaptation.”
“At least you had a choice in the matter,” Seras answered, and Integra could hear a bit of bitterness in her voice.
Integra stiffened a bit, “Not really.”
Seras winced upon seeing Integra’s reaction. ‘Stupid, stupid, stupid,’ she silently cursed herself, ‘could you have said anything to her that would be more tactless right now?’ She opened her mouth to say something, then closed it helplessly.
Integra looked down at the table, and Seras could see the strain on her face. “I suppose I could have ran away from home, that’s about the only way out I could have taken,” Integra said, and more quietly, “Who knows, maybe Hellsing would have been the better for it.”
“That’s not true!” Seras quickly protested, only to be cut off by the sudden cry of an owl passig by overhead.
Seras looked around carefully and noticed a thermos sitting by the table. Opening it up she smelled the sweet scent of an English tea, already mixed and ready and beside it, packets of sugar and cream. She looked a question at Integra, at her short nod she poured them each a cup.
Seras took a deep breath and spoke quite intensely, “There was no way that you could have known what they were going to do.”
“I should have,” Integra angrily insisted, “I should have known that one day the freaks would discover our headquarters, and then attack it.” Seras was shocked to see a single tear trickle down Integra’s cheek, “I should have been able to save them.”
“You were the one,” Seras quietly said as she looked across the table at her, “who had to shoot the... ghouls, weren’t you?” She remembered seeing the transformed Hellsing troopers, feeling the sick horror of having to destroy them. What must it have been like to have been doing that as the troopers commander?
Integra didn’t answer her aloud, she just nodded miserably. More tears began to trickle down, and she shook in her seat.
Seras got up from her chair, going around to where Integra sat. She gently wrapped her arms around her, and weakly Integra tried to pull away. Seras kept her grip, and Integra relaxed, sobbing softly into her shoulder.
“There, there,” Seras murmured softly, “there, there.” When the tears finally slowed down to a mere trickle, Seras loosened her grip and stood up. The tea had gone cold, so she poured a bit more into each of their cups before returning to her seat.
“Thank you,” Integra said to her softly. There was a bit of red to her cheeks, her eyes puffy, but somehow she looked a bit better to Seras.
“Pouring out tea isn’t all that hard,” Seras smiled at her, deliberately choosing to pretend to misunderstand her.
A ghost of a smile appearing on Integra’s face was reward enough for the feeble attempt at comedy. They both drank their tea silently for awhile, each simply enjoying having some company for this long night.
Seras sipped, and sighed to herself happily. At Integra’s questioning glance she explained, “I was a bit worried that I couldn’t have tea any more. I’m glad I was wrong.”
“Vampires can generally handle most kinds of fluids,” Integra spoke softly, “I understand you tried tomato juice, too.”
Seras found herself blushing, “Talk about a stereotypical drink to order.”
Integra’s smile was a bit more natural looking this time. “I suppose so,” she smiled, “but it could have been worse. You could have ordered a Bloody Mary.”
Seras looked at her blankly in surprise, then she chuckled softly. “I guess you’re right,” she smiled at her warmly. She noticed that Integra had finished off her cup and picked up the thermos, “Would you like more tea?”
“Yes, please,” Integra said, holding her cup out to be refilled. ‘I’m sitting here, having tea with one of Hellsing’s two vampires,’ she thought, ‘and what’s really strange is that it doesn’t even strike me as odd any more.’
Seras poured herself another cup, then proceeded to put an appalling amount of sugar into it with a bit of cream. ‘I keep forgetting how young she really is,’ Integra thought, watching Seras drinking her cup of sugar water happily.
“What?” Seras noticed her gaze on her, her red eyes rising to meet her own. “I didn’t spill any on myself, did I?” she asked, worriedly looking down at her front for any signs of stains.
Integra found her gaze following Seras’s and her vision filled with Seras’s not unimpressive bust. She looked up guiltily, “No, you’re fine.”
Seras looked at her a bit oddly, but decided let it go. A blushed colored Integra’s cheeks as she sipped her tea, ‘I can’t believe I did that. Yes, she’s cute, but she’s also my subordinate. It would be completely inappropriate to even think about it...’
“Drink your tea before it gets cold,” Seras reminded her gently, and Integra realized that she had been sitting there staring into her tea cup for the last few minutes.
She drank, and Integra felt the warmth spread through her. She sighed softly, then smiled at Seras. “Thank you,” and she drank a bit more.
Integra could see Seras looking at her worriedly. “You should really try to get some sleep,” she said to her quietly.
Integra shuddered visibly. “No, I don’t think so,” she answered her, “when I close my eyes all I see are the officers who died.” Silently, she thought, ‘The ones I failed.’
Seras sighed softly. “Well, if you aren’t going to sleep tonight, let’s try to take your mind off things,” she said, polishing off her tea and standing up.
“What?” Integra asked, surprised. She wasn’t sure if she liked the look that was in the young woman’s eyes.
“Why don’t you go get dressed,” Seras smiled at her, “and we’ll go out for a while.” She looked around, “I think it couldn’t hurt for you to get out of here for a while.”
“I’m needed here,” Integra said intensely, “there may be an emergency.”
Integra was startled by the gentle smile Seras gave her. “Back at the Locket,” she said to her quietly, “you said you needed a friend." A bit more seriously, "As a friend, I’m telling you that you really need a break.”
Integra hesitated for a moment, then she surprised herself by answering, “Yes.”
Seras smiled happily, “Good. Meet me out front in ten minutes?”
“Sure,” Integra smiled, and almost laughed as Seras bounced away. She strode to her room, dressing quickly. She felt a bit better in the coal gray suit, a bit more in control. She went out into the hallway and wasn’t too surprised to see Walter there.
“Are you going out, Ms Integra?” he asked calmly.
“Yes,” Integra answered simply, “my cellphone and pager will both be on if needed.”
“Good,” Walter nodded with a great deal of dignity. He took a few steps, “I’m sure Ms Victoria will take good care of you.”
Before Integra could ask what he meant by that, he was gone.