The first time she sees red is in the dark halls of an abandoned hospital.
Seras picks up her cannon and does what needs to be done, like always, repeating the mantra that has kept her going for the last ten years: My job is to protect the public. I serve and protect.
Alucard's mind answers her, resounding and firm. No. You have only one mission. Seek and destroy.
He watches her charge and attack as she dodges the bullets that fly past her head while she fires her own, taking the undead beings down one after one. Bodies splatter against the walls and floors, sharp fragments of dust grazing her skin. His gaze digs into her back.
You need to be faster than that if you want to survive, Police Girl.
Something inside of her has switched off and something new fuels her step. Her body is faster than lightning, her boots sliding across the floor with a squeak.
Don’t you want that, Serás Victoria?
His mind is heavy upon hers and she tastes blood as her teeth graze her bottom lip, elongated and aching. Alucard is still behind her at the end of the hallway, watching her with glowing eyes through tinted lenses, his hands in his pockets. His delight reaches her but she pushes it back.
A part of her feels good and it’s equally terrifying and satisfying.
Her new instincts drive her on as she makes her way through the bodies with deadly force, dust and sand scattering around her, digging into the decaying corpses with a resounding growl, rotting flesh shredding between her teeth. It feels unsatisfying, dry - a part of her would be disgusted, but it feeds something inside until all she sees is red.
Is this what the world looks like to him?
When she straightens up, heaving a breath and feeling raw strength coiling her muscles, she feels the suction and weight of his aura surrounding her.
He comes to her with a satisfied glow in his eyes and a wide grin. A gloved hand lands on top of her hair, then slides down to the side of her face. His mind is everywhere around hers, curiously prying at hers.
Her throat aches.
His teeth glints in the low light, the barely visible veins on his bared neck catching her attention. A part of her, the part of her that she no longer recognizes, wants to tear into it and feel his skin give and break, only for her and the starving being residing inside of her.
His grin widens at this thought. The red haze fades, leaving her empty and boneless. Seras averts her gaze, straightening up as his hand withdraws.
You’re not human anymore, he tells her afterward, with a sharp nudge of his mind in her direction when she scrambles to her feet to follow him.
When she crawls out of the cupboard in the hotel room, everything is soaked in red. He made sure she didn't have to watch.
The stench hits her like a punch to the gut, her new instincts taking in the situation. She swallows the saliva pooling in her mouth and her empty stomach twists, but the sight in front of her abruptly chokes those instincts out. Dread fills her throat instead.
Humans, innocent humans who won’t return home from work tonight, leaving families and children behind, fatherless children. The words spill out of her without stop, the same old tired helpless rage turning into tears; misdirected.
She never could stand by and say nothing. She had to speak up every time, even when it cost her a broken tooth at the orphanage, gnawing hunger and isolation.
Alucard grabs her by her uniform and she can’t help it. All that sorrow spill out of her eyes without restraint. She's just that child again, weak and angry in the hands of someone who could crush her ribcage with a single shove of his hand.
Bared, she cries, without knowing who or what she is mourning.
His eyes widen at the sight of her tears, and for a moment they gaze at each other, a vampire and his fledgling, a monster to a monster who clings to her humanity - his eyes are wide and red and hurt, mirroring her own.
Seras regrets it already before his grip loosens and he drops her on the floor; she knows he has no choice either way. He has never punished her, never retaliated, and she regrets causing this scene. She knows what needs to be done, and she will follow him. Yet, when he calls his own Master to reaffirm his orders, the same cold dread settles in her stomach.
She squeezes her eyes shut and wishes that Sir Integra would make him settle down, but the woman has gone off the deep end, driven by his words. There is no room for Seras but to hide in their shadows, waiting for them to ride out their madness together.
After the words from his Master, Alucard smiles again, and every pull of his trigger is for her.
He makes his way out to the hallway, grinning and unstoppable. Seras pushes the mental link between them away; his mind is a dark cloud that devours everything in its way.
The blood splatters at her feet and she can’t breathe, pressing herself against the wall to stay out of his way - as if he would ever miss a target - cold sweat running down her back.
She tells herself the same thing she has told herself over and over, tears burning. I’m here. I’m alive.
What happened then is not actually real; it’s a bad dream she had in another lifetime. It only turns real if she allows herself to linger on it, then it will open its jaws wide and swallow her whole, if she makes the mistake to slip and follow that path back to the deepest pits of her mind.
Alucard walks on ahead, bones crunching underneath his soles and Seras swallows every word, every instinct, avoiding the trail of blood and brain substance he’s left behind. Her chest is tight and her vision blurry.
She can pretend, but every bullet snapping into another human skull shakes her to the core and her legs almost wobble.
You should have stayed in that cupboard, something taunts her.
She is on the edge, a cry coiling at the back of her tongue, but there is no room for that. No one in this organization would appreciate another display of weakness. They expect her to pull herself together and carry on, like they all do.
Her Master’s mind that is usually no further than a thought away, reachable like an invisible thread, now scorches her if she dares to approach it. He has only one objective.
She knows what she is supposed to do: secure the coffins and leave – he has given her a way out of this, she doesn’t need to stay to see the rest, but she is not about to let him face off with whatever is out there alone. She will not be a coward this time.
She knows what must be done, so she grasps her Harkonnen and makes her way outside.
Following in his trail and his shadow, all she sees is red.
Integra touches her, gently. When the haze lifts another time, she is standing in a hallway with her body pressed to hers, breathing heavily. A sweep of blonde hair in her vision, human warmth radiating into her. Seras could be swallowed up by that embrace, that sudden drop of humanity in this vast sea of monstrosity. She wants Integra to touch her again, to hold her forever.
Her taste lingers on her tongue, a few drops given to her in a glass at supper and she finds herself gulping it down with bottomless appetite, licking the glass clean.
Alucard’s mind is never far away, watching as if he can feel the taste, too.
Alucard barely touches her at all. When he does, it’s with restraint. A hand clasping the front of her uniform back then in his sudden fit of emotions, or his hand brushing her shoulder as he tells her something about a mission.
But his mind does. It drifts into hers, it pulls her in like the suction of a black hole.
Early in the mornings she finds herself thinking about him, about Sir Integra, and she cradles the Harkonnen in her arms. She presses her hand against herself and the thoughts of them cloud her mind. It makes white flicker beneath her eyelids if she allows herself to slip.
Biting her lip until it bleeds, she ignores the taste, eyes fluttering shut, thighs trembling and clenching the Harkonnen between her legs. What lingers on her mind is only shadows, no discernible forms left, her mind spiraling away. She doesn't know what she feels, only the depth of it spreading across her body.
She stares at the ceiling of her coffin, alone in the space that surrounds her completely. Yet, these days her mind moves freely across time and space. She has never felt so light before.
Her mind is as entangled with her Master as he is with his Master – the three of them are entwined in a bond she can’t bend or break, an invisible thread that is tangible some days; it twists and coils between them all.
She can pull it if she wants, if she dares, to feel the overwhelming presence that is Alucard, heavy enough to force her mind to instant withdrawal if he is in a difficult mood, subduing her with a flicker of his thoughts, leaving her cowering and breathless.
Sometimes, he lets her a bit closer. Sometimes, his guard slips just a little, and she slips closer; like the way his mind intrudes upon hers without warning or afterthought.
Sometimes, she catches him dreaming. It’s a risky undertaking to even attempt to tug at the link at those times; her Master is so rarely unguarded.
Once, she manages to see something. She slips through the dreamscape of dark forms, the suffocating fog surrounding his mind, the screeching of something she can’t discern, and there – there is something. Many times she has tried without seeing anything at all, but now she does.
There is a young woman, standing in the shade of a burning sunrise, a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors dancing across her skin. Seras counts the different colors, fixated by the beauty of them. She has almost forgotten what sunlight really feels like.
Her mental inhale and confusion rouses him.
Alucard's mind razes hers, wiping it clean of every thought until she’s clutching her head in her hands, panting in the darkness of her coffin, feeling the storm like a suffocating cloud – before it eventually ebbs, and she’s whispering mental apologies.
I’m sorry, Master. I didn’t mean to.
His heavy presence withdraws, leaving her achingly empty, like the phantom ache of a hole blown wide through her chest. Pain brings her back, her teeth grazing her skin, biting slightly. The trickling taste of her own blood soothes her slightly.
It appeases him to feel this from her.
She squeezes her eyelids tightly together, trying to force the thought of her off her mind before he can catch on, but his mind has withdrawn completely.
The woman in his dreams looks much like herself.
After that, she hesitates to climb the thread for days. If he ever catches her lingering on it, she knows his mind will scorch hers again, and she may never recover. So she’ll do what she always does; pick up her weapon at nightfall and carry on.
Seras lies awake in her coffin another morning, her dead heart pounding.
If she reaches out for the person at the furthest end of the thread, her Master’s Master, she will find a way to slip through his presence for the shortest moments, and another aura grazes her mind. Alucard is never far away, guarding Integra’s mind from the same thread that Seras climbs. Sometimes his energy sweeps in, heavy and dark, blocking the mental link.
But Seras has tasted her blood, so the link is reinforced - it flows easily within her, and if she is concentrated enough she can pass through.
Yet, Sir Hellsing can’t respond to Seras in the way she has hoped; the connection seems to meet a dead end. Her brows furrow. Master does it so easily.
Frustrated, Police Girl?
His mental remark reverberates through her. Seras’ eyes open wide in her coffin. Heat rises to her cheeks as Alucard’s presence closes in on her again, but she pushes through.
His amusement fills her when the mental link opens wide and his formless mass finally moves away, leaving the link open and wide for the first time.
Seras holds her breath and climbs. There, she can see Sir Integra, sitting in blinding sunlight at her desk, almost scorching Seras’ mental eyes.
She moves closer, respectfully approaching the aura that is just as imposing as Alucard’s, shyly treading at the outskirts of it. Her Master’s Master doesn’t instantly notice, but she must be well used to this kind of presence. Seras sees her shift, tapping the end of her cigar against her ashtray.
Integra’s energy leaves her breathless in a different way – it’s strong yet human and thus easier to breach, and her entire being pulls her in. Seras sees the long strands of hair, smells the smoke and soap clinging to her as she sits at her desk, her focus shifting from the paperwork to something else.
Seras feels a strong urge to ask for permission and apologize for the intrusion – this is the first and perhaps the last time her Master will ever let her this close.
She imagines burying her face into Integra’s hair and breathing deep, letting her scent envelop her. It feels safe; as long as Sir Integra holds her or is around, nothing bad can happen. She imagines pressing her mouth against that soft skin -
Alucard’s heavy presence is suddenly all around her again and she snaps out of it with a flustered gasp. He sees what she imagines, and his mind presses down upon hers. They both freeze when Integra straightens up at her desk, a wry smile on her lips and her hair billowing in the wind from the open window.
“I thought vampires needed their sleep.”
She’s calm, letting some ash fall into her ashtray, and for the first time Seras feels something else – Integra’s mental presence fanning out across them both. Her Master is suddenly incapacitated, unable to do anything but linger on that mental link and wait, just as breathless as Seras feels.
Integra’s patience wanes. “Alucard,” she berates.
Seras makes a move to tug on the link again, slipping past Alucard. “I’m sorry, Sir Integra,” she immediately apologizes, hoping that somehow it will reach her, but Integra doesn’t seem to notice. “I started it.”
She feels Alucard’s amusement as he speaks up, passing her message along to their Master.
Integra leans back in her chair, her lips curling around her cigar.
“You’re both dismissed for the day.”
Then: “Seras –“
Her body tenses at that name; her name.
“I’m impressed that you managed to slip by Alucard.”
Then, the link abruptly fades and Seras is alone in her coffin again. Alucard is somewhere near, intangible, regaining his full power.
“Master?” she asks quietly.
“Well done, Police Girl.” He doesn’t quite sound like his usual self; he tries, but she feels it. She has taken him by surprise, once again.
Seras dreams of blonde hair and dark writhing tendrils.
She is starving, a bottomless pit growing in her belly and she imagines her Master’s hands, long, bony fingers around her own and a soft, dark neck. A hand strokes her cheek and she clings to it.
She dreams of Sir Integra, her hand cupping her face, the taste of her skin and her blood.
Alucard’s mind is next to hers, making her hips tremble and her thighs shake as he sweeps in across her being. Heat blooms across her face and spreads across her body, filling her with warmth. He has withdrawn, leaving her breathless, staring into the darkness.
She bites her lip when she wakes, letting the familiar, yet repulsive warmth fill her mouth. She knows there is no escape from any of it, from this link that comforts her as much as it leaves her shaking, giving her something to hold onto when she needs to remind herself that she is still alive. The red haze has lifted.
Seras takes a deep breath in the darkness.
Then, she climbs that thread again.