Maxwell was lounging in Integra's office after hours yet again. Their arguments over cooperation between their organizations had degraded into a religious mini-war, and now they were down to insults and the occasional lewd remark from Maxwell. They had both grown tired by this time and the situation was becoming slightly out of control.
"You have no sense of honor. When my father died…" Integra began.
Maxwell interrupted with an elaborate fake yawn. "You're not going to tell me that boring story again about crawling through the air vents and releasing your inner vampire, are you?"
"You're a despicable person," spat Integra.
He shrugged and eyed her up and down. "You're lucky you were still young and thin when it happened. You could never fit into those vents now."
Sir Integra nearly jumped out of her chair. "The size of my body is none of your concern!"
She sat down again. "Anyway, you clearly have no idea how the ventilation system here works. Seras and Walter went through it themselves when the Valentine Brothers were attacking."
"Well if that chesty vampire fits I guess anyone could. But you don't really mean that old man took the trip also?"
"Certainly he did. Walter's quite healthy for his age."
"You're making this up," said Maxwell. "Even if you could still fit in there, you'd get lost."
"Don't be stupid. I could still get all the way from here to the basement in less than twenty minutes," she said.
Maxwell laughed derisively.
"I'll bet you I can," she said. "A real bet. And when you lose, you will give me a private tour of Iscariot's secret headquarters."
"I don't suppose that's meant as an amusing euphemism?" he asked hopefully.
He grinned after a while, narrowing one eye. "Very well. And when you lose…"
He leaned over and whispered into her ear.
She pulled away quickly. "In your dreams."
"In the good ones, yes."
"It doesn't matter, because I am not going to lose," said Integra.
She marched over to the air vent set into the wall, dragging a chair over to facilitate climbing. She checked her watch. "It's midnight. I have twenty minutes to get there."
"I'm coming with you, you realize," he said. "Or how will I know you didn't lie?"
"Fine," she sighed. "But I'll have to go first; you really would get us lost."
She clambering up into the vent and began crawling through it with Maxwell literally on her heels.
"I told you I could fit," she said. "Now keep your hands and eyes to yourself."
"How will you know what I do with my eyes?" he asked just loud enough for her to hear.
"I'm glad I always wear trousers," she muttered.
"Unlike your junior bloodsucker," replied Maxwell. "That butler must have had quite a view the night the Valentines showed up."
"Walter's much too refined to do anything you would do," replied Integra, taking a left turn at the next branch.
"She made him go first then?" asked Maxwell
She was silent for a moment. "Well, no, she didn't. I remember that I saw her face, and then he pushed her out onto the floor."
"Pushed which part of her?" asked Maxwell lewdly.
"Walter had his mind on Hellsing's impending doom, not on anything disgusting."
"You'd be surprised what men think of when they're facing death," said Maxwell as they turned right and descended.
"You're going to find out if you don't shut up," retorted Integra. "And get your hand off my leg."
One more sharp descent and they were passing through a large open space by another vent.
"This must be Seras's room," said Integra triumphantly. She checked her watch. "And it's only been ten minutes. I win."
Maxwell pressed his face against the grille. "She's right there, and that coffin she sleeps in. You do win."
Integra laughed. "I told you," she said in a whisper. "Now we turn around and leave, quietly, before she notices us."
A feminine voice came through the vent then. "I'm very disappointed in you, Walter," Seras was saying.
"Your butler must be in there," muttered Maxwell.
"He's probably got another big gun for her to look at," said Integra.
"I'll bet he does," said Maxwell in an unmistakable tone.
"He's our weapons expert, you pinheaded deviant. Now back up," said Integra.
The voice sounded louder now, "You've been a very, very bad butler."
"What the hell is she going on about?" asked Integra. "He's one of the only good butlers left in England."
"Have I really?" asked a lower voice.
"I'll get her for this later," muttered Integra. "Insulting Walter."
"I think you deserve to be disciplined," Seras's voice continued.
Maxwell had his face pressed up against the grille again.
"It's the Hellsings' job to discipline their staff!" muttered Integra. "She should be reporting him to me."
"She'd have to put regular clothes on first," said Maxwell.
"What?" replied Integra.
"She's got this black leather outfit on right now, and your butler has his shirt off,"
"That's not a very funny joke, Maxwell. That kind of mental picture I—" she broke off as she pushed her head next to his to look into the room.
"Oh God," muttered Integra immediately, squeezing her eyes shut. "Let's get out of here, now!"
"Wait, I want to see what she does with those handcuffs," Maxwell was saying.
Integra's eyes flew open. "She does not have—" Integra groaned. "Yes she does. Move!"
Maxwell began crawling again with visible reluctance, Integra urging him on with dire threats.
"I will never forgive you for putting me up to this," she yelled as she pushed him out onto her office floor.
"I did not put you up to this," he snapped. "And I'm the one who's stuck sneaking you into the Vatican now."
Integra nodded. "Yes, and we leave tonight."
"Tonight?" asked Maxwell.
"Absolutely," she replied firmly. "Because thanks to you I am never going to be able to look my perverted old butler or that sleazy police girl in the eye again."