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my red self

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Integra stares grimly at the expense report on her desk, trying to ignore the pain cramping her stomach. All she really wants to do is curl up in her bed and sleep for days, but there’s too much work to be done. She’s been the director of the Hellsing Organization for less than a month and she’ll be damned if something as minor as her menstrual cycle is going to interfere with her ability to carry out her duties.

Then again, with a vampire in the house, nothing involving blood seems minor. She made sure to get up early this morning so she could do as much of the day’s schoolwork and paperwork as possible while Alucard was asleep, but now the daylight is fading. He’ll be here to see her soon, and he’ll be hungry. The blood bag waiting for him on her desk seems so insubstantial compared to a live human.

A live, virginal, female human at what Walter has for the last year delicately called her time of the month.

Maybe Alucard won’t notice. No, of course he will. Blood is blood, and he’s a vampire. The half-healed wound on her arm throbs in time with her heartbeat as she remembers the gleefully obscene way he licked her blood off the floor in the dungeon. This is so much more horribly intimate. He’s unlikely to kill her outright, she’s reasonably sure of that, but there are worse things he could do. Can she really trust him to remain well-behaved when her own body is betraying her?

It isn’t fair, she thinks mutinously. Her father and grandfather never had to think about this. Walter doesn’t have to think about this. None of the other Hellsing employees have to think about this. Oh, God, maybe that’s why they’re all male.

Well, she can’t just hide from Alucard for a week out of every month. Best to find out now how he’ll react. Even in the worst-case scenario, she’s not completely defenseless; her tie pin is a sterling silver cross, and there’s a loaded gun in the desk. Neither will stop him, but they might buy her some time.

Someone knocks on the door. Integra briefly prays for it to be Walter, then steels herself and says, “Come in.”

Alucard doesn’t even bother opening the door before stepping through it, as if to prove that nothing can keep him out. “Good evening, my master.”

“Good evening.” She’s tempted to just throw the blood bag at him from here, but no. She's not going to act like she’s afraid of him. “I’ve got your breakfast.”

“Thank you.” He approaches the desk. Integra crosses her legs, resisting the urge to shrink back into her chair. “What are we doing tonight?”

“I’m waiting on a phonecall.” She can’t look away from his hands as he picks up the blood bag. His fingers could wrap all the way around her neck, her wrists, her ankles, could tear through her clothes and skin like tissue paper. “I’ve sent some men to inquire about a suspicious death in Swindon. If they think it’s vampire activity we’ll investigate further, and then—”

“And then we hunt,” Alucard finishes with obvious relish. He’s standing right by her chair. Why does he have to get so close? Can’t he just take the blood bag and leave?

“Yes. Then we hunt.” Surely he’ll go now.

He doesn’t. Instead he leans closer, looming over her. He’s so tall. “Are you injured? I can smell your blood.”

Goddammit. Integra grits her teeth, fists clenching in her lap. If only she were wearing something that could provide more protection than her suit. Chainmail, perhaps. “I’m on my period.”

“Ah,” Alucard says. He seems unfazed, which isn’t reassuring. “Of course. I beg your pardon. It has been a very long time since I was last in the company of a lady.”

“Right. Well.” That’s what worries her. Integra focuses on maintaining her composure and not wondering what it means that he thinks of her as a lady. She reminds herself of the gun in her desk, the cross at her throat. At least she won’t be easy prey. “Does it bother you?”

“What?”

“That I’m…bleeding.” Her mouth is dry, but she keeps her eyes fixed on his. “That you can smell it.”

Alucard tilts his head. “Oh? Are you concerned that my monstrous hunger might overcome my better judgement and cause me to find you irresistibly tempting?” He sounds faintly mocking. Light glints off his fangs.

The gun is in the left-hand drawer. Integra says carefully, “I don’t think you would kill me.”

His eyes widen, and she knows he understands. He straightens up and takes a step back, and for a moment he’s perfectly still, studying her intently. Integra holds her breath, poised to reach for the gun. All she can hear is her heart pounding.

Then, for the first time since leaving the dungeon, Alucard kneels at her feet. “Master,” he says softly. “Please forgive me for making you uncomfortable. You have my word that I will never do anything to harm you in any way.”

Integra blinks, taken aback. “Oh. That’s—that’s good.” He certainly seems sincere. The tension in the room evaporates, and she suddenly feels a bit silly. “Never mind. I was overreacting.”

“You have every right to be concerned for your safety,” Alucard says. “I’d forgotten you hardly know me. It was not my intention to frighten you.”

Integra doesn’t entirely believe him, but she appreciates the sentiment. “Don’t worry about it. Um, you can go now. I’ll let you know when I hear from Swindon.”

He rises and bows. “I will await your orders, my master.”

“Fine.” She turns back to the stack of papers on her desk, grateful for the distraction of work. “And Alucard?”

“Yes?”

“Thank you.”

He uses the door properly as he leaves.