Title: Things Unsought
Characters: Integra Hellsing, Seras Victoria
Word Count: 1,066
Rating: PG
Warnings: Spoilers for volume 2, set just before the Wild Geese arrive.
Summary: Sometimes what you need comes from an unexpected source and self analysis leads to the oddest places.
Notes: Originally posted in my personal journal on August 4, 2007.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters, events, and settings are property of Kohta Hirano and various publishers. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made.

Seras paused before the office door, uncertain if it was actually a good idea to interrupt Integral while she was working. Remembering the concern in Walter’s eyes when she’d spoken with him earlier that night, Sears inhaled deeply and knocked on the door. The response was slow in coming and carried none of the irritation Integral usually expressed when her work was disturbed.

Closing the door softly behind her, Seras crossed the room to stand before the desk. Integral continued to write and Seras allowed her eyes to wander, taking a quick inventory of the desk. Instead of the usual stacks of books and files the surface was nearly empty. A sheaf of paper headed with the Hellsing crest lay on the right, accompanied b a stack of blank envelopes. On the left sat a smaller stack of envelopes that had been addressed and sealed. Near the letter Integral was currently writing lay a list of names and addressed. Some of the names had been crossed off, but many remained.

Allowing her curiosity to get the better of her, Seras stepped closer to the desk in order to read the list. The names of the dead. Seras sighed, no wonder Walter was concerned. It seemed that Integral had taken Sir Irons’ words for truth, accepting his accusation that she should have planned for the possibility of an attack upon Hellsing itself. Her expression in the seconds before she took the gun from Sir Irons had reminded Seras just how young her commander really was. Apparently Integral felt that informing each soldier’s family of his death was her responsibility as well.

Integral set down her pen and placed the letter aside to dry before turning her attention to Seras. “It’s late, what do you need?” She sounded more exhausted than annoyed by the interruption.

“Need?” Seras blinked. “No, sir. I’m fine. Or rather I’m as well as can be expected, given the circumstances.” She shifted from foot to foot, trying to determine the best way to explain her intrusion. “Actually, I came to see how you were doing.”

Integral’s eyes narrowed, “Walter put you up to this, didn’t he?”

“He’s worried about you and I don’t blame him.” She paused, trying to soften her tone, “You look terrible, sir.”

“I fail to see how this is your concern, Officer Victoria.”

Seras squared her shoulders and moved a pace closer to the desk, forcing the other woman to look upward to maintain eye contact. “In the four days since the Valentine brothers’ attack you’ve left most of your meals untouched and have barely slept. You’ve spent most of your time in the library searching for information on Millennium or in here working on those letters.” Seras paused to draw a breath she did not need. “People can’t live like that.”

“This from the vampire who refuses to drink blood.” One corner of her mouth twitched in what might have been a smirk, but the expression disappeared as quickly as it had come.

Seras felt her back stiffen, but forced her voice to remain calm, “That is entirely different from your refusal to come to terms with what happened here.”

A surge of anger brought Integral to her feet. “What would you have me do, Seras?” she snarled. “How do you expect me to ‘come to terms’ with the fact that I murdered eighty-six of my men?”

Seras closed her eyes and drew in a calming breath before meeting Integral’s gaze. “You did not murder them.”

“But --”

“No.” She leaned forward, fists resting on Integral’s desk, gauging her commander’s response as she continued, “Those men died fighting for something they believed in. Orders or no orders, the wouldn’t have stayed to defend the mansion if that wasn’t a sacrifice they were willing to make.”

Integral sighed, shaking her head as she turned away from her desk. “I’m still responsible.”

“Why?” Seras’ frustration leaked into her voice. “You didn’t order the attack on the mansion. You didn’t create that army of ghouls. How can you possibly think you’re responsible for this?”

“I was their commander. They trusted me; believed I would not spend their lives without good cause. Instead, I allowed them to be butchered like cattle on our own grounds.” She rested her forehead against the window, fingertips tracing the grain of the wooden sill. “I failed. Completely.”

Seras felt Integral tense as she laid her hand lightly on the other woman’s shoulder. “No.” Integral turned to look at her, confusion and suspicion warred in her eyes as Seras continued, “You saved me.”

Sure of her commander’s attention, Seras pulled away before continuing, “When the Hellsing soldiers started rising a ghouls my only thought was ‘It’s happened again’.”

She closed her eyes, gathering her thoughts. “I felt so helpless. Watching them shamble toward me I was frozen, knowing there was nothing I could do. But as they started to claw at me something inside me woke up. Mind still frozen, I could only watch as my body tore through the ghouls my comrades had become. It was frightening at first because I didn’t want to believe myself capable of that kind of destruction. But the longer I watched, the more entranced I became. My world narrowed until nothing was left but the joy of destruction for its own sake. I can’t remember ever feeling like that before the night in Badrick. That time I nearly died before I came back to myself.”

Seras raised her eyes to hold Integral’s gaze. “You risked yourself to call me back from that madness. For that alone I would follow you.”

Integral’s eyes widened slightly at that admission before she was able to bring her expression back under her control. “What are you getting at?”

Noting the apprehension in her commander’s voice Sears considered her words before replying. “Until recently I had no idea that the creatures the Hellsing Organization was founded to combat even existed. Now I am one. As it stands, I am bound to you as an extension of my Master’s services to the Hellsings. I would serve you of my own will.”

Seras stood as still as possible, waiting for Integral’s response. As the silence lengthened Seras began to wonder if she has made a serious error in her offer. Then the other woman’s mouth curved into a small, calculating smile.

“What terms do you propose, Police Girl?”