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Prompt: Steam

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Prompt: Steam

They'd been asking the same question since I was fifteen.

Why did I keep Alucard active when Midian activity was so low? While they always appreciated the difficult circumstances of his resurrection, they were not entirely comfortable with his continued existence in my life. They thought he was dangerous, and I don't disagree, but he poses no threat to the organization. Year after year they swallowed insistent reasoning that I kept him around for the sake of politics and research. He kept our enemies at bay and was a helpful source for understanding the vampire's nature. After all, my tutelage had been cut short with Father's death and Walter had only ever been an assassin. He knew how to kill vampires, but he didn't know (or care) about how they organized or their minds worked.

I never told them the truth. It being that I needed him. I could no more cut off a limb than put Alucard back in that dank cell. He had been the few constants in my life since the death of my father, him along with Walter. For as much as I trusted and even loved Walter, he could not be my right hand as he had been for my father.

As always, these evaluations made me tired. Walter had once told me they would not be necessary were it not for Alucard's presence in my day to day life. Once he'd suggested I at least regulate Alucard to his lair until his services were needed. While I'd tried that method for a couple weeks the fact that I'd visited with him almost every evening had made the experiment quite moot.

Upon arriving home, I told Walter to manage any calls and that I was not to be disturbed save for urgent business. I felt raw from stifled emotion and undue speculation. Had I not yet proven myself? Will they always see me as a little girl hiding behind a monster? Can't they see that we stand shoulder to shoulder, united by the bondage of faith and loyalty?

In my bedroom, Alucard was sprawled in the bed with the window's curtains shut tightly again the midday sun. He was sleeping, though he looked dead. While he was awake, he breathed out of certain necessity and habit, but while slumbering that reflex was absent. It used to bother me, and perhaps that was their point. Yet he had been part of my life for the past eight years, and I found it perfectly absurd that I should still be disturbed by the small details of his monstrosity.

Alucard always attended to me after these conferences. Sometimes we talked, other times we were lovers. When I was much younger, unnerved by the thorough examination of my mental state, he'd held me while I'd sobbed in frustration. Today I was not given to talking, lovemaking, or crying. Instead I undressed and was not one bit surprised when Alucard began to stir by the point that I was stripped down to my underwear. He watched, his eyes sleepy and sensual, but he didn't say a word.

"I'm drawing a bath," I told him as I unhooked my bra's front clasp.

As though he'd anticipated my decision, there was a bottle of wine and box of cigars on the sink's counter. The cork had already been popped and I shook my head as I extracted a cigar. It was too early to drink. Bloody fool. I smiled briefly, fondly, and began to pin up my hair as it had just been washed last night.

Sitting on the tub's edge, I turned on the faucet, smoked, and watched it fill with water after plugging the drain. I'd forgone the tap for cold and the bathroom quickly filled with steam. It made me sweat and perhaps it was the fragrance of my body that drew Alucard's attention. He leaned in the doorway and was alluring with his messy hair, tired eyes, and rumpled clothes. His cravat was missing along with his suit's jacket, and his collar was open to reveal the pale column of his throat. I wondered if his appearance was purposefully seductive.

"Same old shit?" Alucard asked. His voice was soft, deep, and the ghost of Romania in his inflection seemed a bit stronger than usual.

I blushed and was very thankful for the increasing humidity in the room.

"Indeed," I replied. "Perhaps someday they'll believe that you won't snap and attempt to conquer England again."

The joke fell flat under the weight of his scowl. For once I wished he'd retort with some perverted teasing, but instead he was just silent for a long time.

"Why don't you?" He asked.

"Eh?"

"By all rights, you could have put me back in that cell once your leadership was secured. I would have gone willingly," Alucard elaborated quietly.

"Don't be ridiculous," I scoffed. "I would never demand such a thing."

"Why? No one would fault your decision, in fact they'd likely praise it."

"The day I care what others think is the day they put me in the ground. Anyway I ne--" I stopped short as I reevaluated what I was about to say. My feelings had transgressed past mere need ages ago. I didn't just need him like a guard dog by my side or the sinister shadow at my back. Alucard was so much more than a weapon to me. So I took a deep breath and tipped my hand once and for all.

"You must realize that I love you," I told him and was proud by the matter-of-fact tone in which I delivered my confession.

Alucard looked utterly lost as my words were amplified by the room's natural acoustics. Yet something in his countenance relaxed and he came to me. He knelt by my side and wrapped his long arms around my waist. I sighed as he pressed his face against my bare stomach and inhaled softly.

No other words were to be spoken. I stroked his hair and watched the tub's water level continue to rise. Even after I turned off the tap, we did not relinquish our positions. By the time I'd finished my cigar, I'd lost the mood for the bath and dropped it in the water. I gently raised Alucard's head and he rose slowly without prompt. His eyes followed my gestures as I discarded my underwear and walked back into the bedroom. He joined me in bed, as nude as I, and we slept well into the afternoon.

Finis.