As an heiress to a shadowy organization, Integra prided herself on a lack of fear, the ability to remain composed in the face of danger; be it midian, werekin or any other sort of night abiding creature.
But any reasonably sane human would have been, at least, the slightest bit disconcerted at the sight of a coffin rattling ominously, in the middle of a dark, basement dwelling room. Even more so at how the casket promptly lunged sideways, gaining a few inches into the air, as if whatever was inside was trying to escape. The stringy bits of red mist, seeking purchase through the fine cracks of the lid, as well as the muted sounds of grumbling from its depths, truly added to the marvelous effect of horror.
She had never seen Seras act like this before, never. Her resting place was always quiet, no signs of nightmares despite the blood running from her eyes, when Integra pushed the coffin open.
The coffin jerked across the stone again, prompting a chill up the spine; one that Integra scolded herself for. Foolish, feeling like frightened child in front of the vampire she had been personally rearing for the last seven years. Seras could not
(and would not)
Bidding away sensations of dread, she approached where Seras lay, and placed her hand upon the smooth, black wood. “Seras.”
The movement ceased. There was a shuffling noise from beyond the lid, and a watery sniff. Somehow, this was more alarming than the earlier puppet-like movements of her coffin.
“Are you alright?”
Another sniff, more shuffling, and, “Yes, Master.”
She was once told, by Seras herself, that nightmares amongst the undead were quite common. Even the more jaded folk, who acted like they were above everyone else, were often plagued by memories of their past, rolling through their sleeping skull on indefinite repeat.
Yet, Seras’ own were, as noted, quiet. If they were particularly bad, she cried silently in her slumber. The clipped, short response told Integra that this was an especially nasty case, one that has never happened before; at least, she had yet to witness such an episode.
Without bothering to give her pet a warning, Integra pushed the heavy slab lid aside, ignoring Seras’ squeaky, weak protests all the while. She was dismayed to note that instead of the usual slowly drying twin streaks of blood, the vampire’s face was streaked with gore; streams that fell in rivets from her tear ducts, gravity forcing them down the side of her face to stain her ears and hair. It was a horrific sight, not the typical watery crimson that was only slightly thicker than human tears, but real chunks of cloying, clotting blood.
“Oh! Um--!” Seras quickly set to work scrubbing the mess away, shadows neatly pulling the red from her skin with the efficiency of a soapy cloth. Her gaze went to the blood bag in Integra’s hand, now long forgotten by its holder. “I see you finally managed to get some time off of work.”
On these rare occasions, Integra took up the opportunity to feed Seras herself, a habit brought up years ago; not that it mattered at the moment. Flatly disregarding the comment, she looked to Seras sternly and repeated, “Are you alright? Answer me honestly this time.”
The look she received was that of goggle-eyed surprise. Seras wiped away the rest of her tears before replying. “I just had a nightmare.”
“Obviously. But you’ve never had one this bad before, haven’t you?”
“I have, before,” Seras started hesitantly, slowly sitting up. “Just...not while I worked under you.”
An inquiry to what it was about what was a strong temptation, so strong that although Integra had already decided not to ask, Seras had surely felt the question anyhow; as, not a moment after Integra had thought it, she was doubly alarmed to watch as more thick globs began to pool on the ancient vampire’s lower lids.
So strange was the occurrence of witnessing nightwalker cry first hand, as even as human-like as Seras often was - particularly when she simpered over a fictional character dying in a favourite book - her face didn’t crumple in the way mortal’s usually did. An eerie image of a stone-faced, beautiful creature who did not make a sound, didn’t even furrow her brows or squint to hold back the tears, as her lifeforce poured from her eyes in the mock form of the tale of holy statues that wept blood.
An eerie image to most; to Integra, something that made her act before thinking, as she had leaned forward and swept Seras up into her arms before she could consciously be aware of what she had done.
“M-Master--?” the bundle of vampire in her grasp gasped out, with half a pondering tilt and half a surprised yelp.
Her suit was quickly being stained with maroon muck, something that Integra paid no mind to. She was not especially good at this, this whole comforting thing; even with Seras’ influence, as smothering as the damn woman was. But she could recall the handful of times she had awoken in such a state, shortly after the night with Richard, night terrors of the bound corpse only just being that, and her wicked Uncle fulfilling his mission. Every one of those jolting awakenings had been met with Seras, who offered quiet words, a cup of calming tea if it had been especially awful, and a shadow-formed blanket curling around her young Master, cool and soothing enough to lull her back to a more peaceful dreamland.
She didn’t mind returning the favour.
Seras did not, for once, return the embrace, as if afraid to, but instead curled into Integra, as much as the walls of the coffin between them allowed. The flow of tears soon ceased.
Even as they did, Integra did not relinquish her hold. She drew Seras closer, fingers curling into her silly uniform as tufts of white-blonde hair rested under her chin; and soon, the utter absence of movement told her that the girl had fallen back asleep, as she had before under Seras’ care.
Carefully, Integra deposited her servant back into the coffin, allowing herself another forbidden act of selfishness, a simple caress to the apple of her elder’s cheek as she laid her head down into the velvet interior. The blood from her second bout was drying, sinking into her flesh.
She wiped away at the last of the flaky red, before leaning herself into the casket
(No, no no, you can’t, you musn’t, please don’t )
And pulling herself away.
Instead of doing what temptations were leading her to do, she situated everything back properly, settled the blood bag beside the coffin, and with a quiet hope of, “ Sweet dreams ” left the slumbering midian to what she hoped were better places.