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Lookabout

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Title: Lookabout
Category: Anime/Manga » Hellsing
Author: death-in-the-orchard
Published: 09-18-12
Chapters: 1, Words: 3,131

 

Little Arthur Hellsing had just learned something incredibly exciting. He had learned how to play a new game.

While visiting a widower whose wife Van Hellsing had made an attempt to save, Abraham had shut himself up with the widower in the parlor to discuss the deterioration of the late Mrs. Edeson's health and her eventual transformation into a ghoul. Little Arthur had been brought to play with the Edeson children, whom he had been acquainted with ever since Mrs. Edeson had caught his father's attention. But on this day, the children introduced him to a new game, a silly game that reduced him to giggles when he thought of how odd purposely hiding an object was. He had often sought to find possessions he had misplaced, but he had never thought that there could ever be a situation when he might hide the possession instead. It was strange and new, and in all ways, very, very fun. He had a grand time in the Edeson nursery, seeking out little toys, books, or crayons one of the children would hide when the others weren't looking. He never found any of the objects himself, but that was no matter. He knew how the game was played, so as soon as Arthur got home he was quite eager to test his skill at hiding an object – there were so many different objects he could think of, and his little mind imagined hiding all of them in different places.

The child was certain his father would enjoy playing this game.

So little Arthur presented himself in his father's study the next morning, a proud grin pinching his cheeks as the rosiness of youth colored them. The smile amused Abraham, and he set down his work and grinned back at Arthur, waiting for the little boy to speak.

"Father- Father I want to play a game with you." The blushed excitement preserved Abraham's smile, but some of the joy behind the expression dulled. He would have to decline for now and find a more appropriate time to play with his son.

Then the man's expression faltered. Arthur had puckered his brow with a tight little frown and had begun to fidget. "But Father…I already started the game."

This behavior and something in the child's tone made Abraham pause. Not wanting to worry Arthur or make the boy feel that he did not want to play with him, Hellsing tried to recover with another tender smile. "I'll play with you after dinner. How does that sound, Arthur? You wouldn't mind waiting until I'm finished with my work? Father is just very busy today."

Arthur mumbled something and twisted the tip of his little shoe into the rug, wringing his soft looking hands. Hellsing enjoyed the cherishable infant expressions of emotion that would only grow to look odd as the body reached adulthood. The boy would only be this age once, that in itself made every childish moment precious. With a gesture of his hand encouraging the little Hellsing to ask his nurse to read him a story, Van Hellsing watched the boy drag his feet towards the door before it shut and left Hellsing alone in his study.

Several hours passed before Abraham opened a drawer in his desk, his eyes on a document while his hand reached down and patted the wood it found. The hand stopped for a moment, as if startled, and then blunt fingers nimbly pattered up and down the length of the drawer until Hellsing was forced to break away from a sentence and inspect why his hand was unable to find what it was looking for. The lips that had just begun to form a frown, loosened, and the brows that had been knitted together, parted. Cobalt eyes peered blankly into the empty drawer and then blinked as seconds pulled one another into the present, time passing while the journal continued to be absent. It took a moment for him to lose the assumption that the journal was actually sitting in the drawer and that it was simply blending into the color of the wood.

"No, no, no…" A hum entered the drawer to search for the journal as Abraham leaned down and tilted his head to see the back of the compartment. No, the journal had not stuck to any side of the drawer. …But this was impossible. The dead could rise, he knew that for a fact, but the journal could not have left this drawer. His memory was very accurate, and he knew- he was absolutely certain that he had placed the journal inside this drawer - just as he always did - after returning from the Edeson home the other night.

A rough hand pulled the drawer from the desk, leaving the compartment empty, and a brief investigation confirmed that the journal had not somehow lodged itself behind the drawer. Minutes later the great mahogany desk had been dissected and its contents idled about in neat little stacks on the wooden floor, with a fat stack sitting on Van Hellsing's chair and several other piles reclining on the surface of the gutted desk.

Blue eyes had inspected each notebook and none of them had been identified as the missing journal. No…no, this was not like him to lose something so important. Notes he had compiled for the past four months were missing. No! He could not allow himself to lose this journal. Too many deaths depended on those notes in order to allow their innocent souls to rest in peace.

After shuffling through some loose papers and reassembling his desk, Abraham began to work on his cabinets and shelves. When he reached parts of the study he had not touched in weeks, the master bedroom and the contents of its various bookshelves and compartments found themselves being similarly disemboweled.

Hours. Hours passed and still he did not find the journal. Abraham's knees ached from kneeling on wooden floors, and his mind squirmed as his conscience gnawed at him while his pride lay prostrated before his faith, begging God to let him find the book in the mahogany drawer awaiting him in his study.

Hellsing stood beside the desk, exhaustion staring down at the brass handle attached to the dark wood. With a mental sigh, he reached for the handle and pulled the drawer open…

Of course it was still empty.

It had remained empty throughout the day, and now it was dinner and he needed to spend some time with his son. Though this was a time Abraham usually looked forward to, the unpleasantness of his day soured his mood. While Arthur twittered on about a nursery story, Van Hellsing could only think of the missing journal and the face of the distraught Mr. Edeson, and the sight of the widower's stained handkerchief dapping at old, puffy eyes. The image made him cringe.

Arthur was already confused by his father's lack of interest, for the story he was telling was unquestionably superior to all the other stories in the world, so when he observed the cringe and saw his father rub at his face in a peculiar way, the child stopped talking and watched Abraham's fingers massage a tired eye.

"Father, what is it? What has happened?"

Jerked from his thoughts as if from an unpleasant dream, Abraham stiffened and his uncovered eye found the child. Caught in such a state, Hellsing took a deep breath, quickly placing one hand in his lap and his other on the table – in the positions they would normally be in – and he hid his troubles with a pleasant mask. "But Arthur, you were just telling me something interesting. Go on, I want to hear-" What had the boy been talking about? Abraham was not given the chance to remember when Arthur failed to let go of his curiosity.

"You looked tired before. I was wondering what had made you so tired, Father. Will you be too tired to play Lookabout with me?"

The name grated against the man's fatigue as he was reminded of the hours (the many countless hours!) he had spent looking for his missing journal. He shook his head, both to rid himself of his immediate distaste for the game and to answer, but then he froze, his eyes caught on the edge of his son's chair. Then blue irises and steady pupils landed on the boy, appearing to be puzzled by a thought. Suspicion finally entered, and Hellsing's features flattened.

He spoke very gently, his feelings numbed as his brain focused on digesting what he had just been thinking. "Arthur…have you seen Father's leather journal – the one with the latch?"

Small blue eyes stared blankly, and then blinked when Arthur recalled the journal. "Oh, yes. I saw it this morning."

This morning! "Where, Arthur? Where did you see Father's journal?" Arthur seemed to be deep in thought and wasn't answering. The weighing suspense curled the hand Abraham had placed on the table into a fist, like a hair that had been lowered into a flame. "Did you see it in my desk, Arthur? It's a very important journal, and Father needs to find it."

The boy was looking at him again, his pink lips pursed. "I know where it is, but I can't tell you."

Hellsing said nothing for a moment, searching the little face that resembled his own. "Arthur…what is stopping you from telling me where you saw my journal?"

A slouching Arthur huffed and squirmed, and then took a breath and held it so that his cheeks became round.

"Arthur. Where did you see my journal? I need it for my work - it's crucial for what I'm working on. I've been looking for it all day."

"-And you haven't found it?" Arthur sat up in his chair with his eyes wide and staring, allowing his cheeks to deflate in order to gap at his father. Abraham was ruffled by his son's amazement. He chewed his lip before responding.

"No. I haven't. That's why I would like you to tell me where you saw it this morning…" Hellsing's voice trailed off and he frowned at the sudden flush of joy that had brightened Arthur's cheeks and leapt from his mouth as a string of giggles. The father, for the moment, appreciated his son's childish traits less than he usually did while he waited for Arthur to give him an explanation for this behavior.

"Oh- Oh, Father! I'm sorry I'm too good at Lookabout! I never meant to be so good at it! I've only played it at the Edeson's – so I never knew!"

Van Hellsing's elbows were planted on the dining table and his face was hidden in his hands. Soon he began to massage both his eyes with his palms; then he leaned back in his chair, took a breath that lifted the corners of his mouth, and let out a great sigh of relief. He continued to smile at the proud little Hellsing as Arthur remained oblivious of all the trouble he had given the larger Hellsing today. Abraham wasn't angry. Arthur had never meant any harm. It was merely something any child might be capable of, and it left Abraham's chest warm with amusement.

He asked the boy to reveal the hiding place he had chosen, and they went together to retrieve it from beneath one of his reading chairs' cushions, and Van Hellsing returned it to his drawer and patted it shut. When Arthur asked to be allowed to pick something else to hide so they might be able to play the game properly, Abraham told Arthur that everything in Father's library, in Father's study, and in Father's bedroom was off limits, but the boy was free to hide anything else anywhere he liked.

The boy laughed with excitement and scampered from the room to begin the new game of Lookabout. To catch up on his work, Van Hellsing situated himself behind his desk, took out his important journal, paused to smile at the leather covered, pulled out the documents he had been reading, and undid the journal's latch. Because he was distracted, he was not aware that a quarter of an hour had passed. Somewhere in the back of his mind, perhaps, he was thinking of how glad he was that Arthur took so long to hide the object, but in the front of his mind the man focused on Mrs. Edeson's case.

Pitter-patter, pitter-patter – Abraham's eyes left the journal when Arthur stopped at the door, knocked, and then opened it before his father had given him permission to come in. Arthur's cheeks were redder than ever and he was panting lightly. "Alright Father. I hid it, now you have to find it."

"And that's how the game goes?" Abraham smiled to humor the boy.

"Yes! So now you have to 'look about' for the object I hid."

"And am I allowed to know what that object is? How will I know what to look for if you don't tell me?" He propped his chin up on his woven fingers, observing the cherishable infant behavior-

"Oh! I forgot! I hid Father's vampire in- Oh wait, I can't tell you where."

"You…you hid my what?" Abraham's smile was gone and his chin left his fingers.

"I hid Alucard."

The study was silent. There were many strange things implied in this statement - made stranger by the fact that it was a six year old child that was speaking. For a second time that night, Abraham Van Hellsing planted his elbows on a wooden surface and buried his face in his hands.

Oh dear.

*~*~::..+..::~*~*

The boy refused to tell the man where he had hidden the No-Life-King. To Arthur, Alucard was a possession, so the vampire was an object like a toy or a book. Van Hellsing had never taught the boy to fear Alucard, though Arthur knew that the creature was a monster, and he had never taught Arthur to think of Alucard as a person, because he did not want Arthur to believe that the creature was human. Hellsing had thought Arthur was too young to learn about the darker malevolent nature that dwells within the undead, so the boy was still ignorant of supernatural species altogether. But now he had used the vampire as a plaything…

Alucard could not threaten the boy in any way. The demon could not touch him. But it nevertheless disturbed Hellsing that his son was comfortable enough around Alucard to order the vampire to hide in whatever place the boy had chosen.

The most disturbing detail the man discovered after Arthur had refused to give him any hints concerning the general direction of Alucard's location, was that Arthur's command was just as strong as any order Abraham could give the vampire. Abraham ordered Alucard to come to him, but not even a shadow of the creature appeared. The vampire could not stop hiding itself from Hellsing. It could not even leave the spot Arthur had chosen.

Abraham's face darkened. The seal would have to be tweaked…whenever he managed to uncover the miserable beast.

Once again, Hellsing was not angry. Abraham did not care that Arthur had no respect for the vampire. Alucard was a slave. A slave did not need the respect of his future master. But Abraham became irritated when he had to request that some of his men join him in his search after two quarters of an hour of wandering and worsening the pain in his knees failed to produce his irreplaceable slave.

Alucard was not in the nursery, though Arthur had giggled when Abraham searched under his bed – leading the man to believe that he had been getting close. Alucard was not in the kitchen. Several bathrooms, halls, closets, and bedrooms were examined, all of their various hiding places were scrutinized, but no evidence of the vampire was found. Abraham came to regret his son's intelligence.

More men were called for. House servants were assembled and awakened, while Arthur was interrogated, found to be defiant, and then put to bed without a story - for causing more trouble than his father was able to tolerate.

Yes. The seal would have to be altered as soon as Abraham was able to find the blasted creature. The mansion had been picked apart, and still Alucard eluded the searchers.

At eleven o'clock, Van Hellsing called off the search and many of the volunteers meandered off to find their beds. Abraham inspected various hiding places that might have been overlooked as he made his way to his bedroom, but he went to bed without finding the No-Life-King.

The next day he was supposed to receive an old friend. Hellsing hoped to find Alucard before Dr. Seward's arrival.

He did not.

Dr. Seward had been sitting in the waiting room for a few minutes before Abraham entered, but after Seward had risen from the couch and they had shaken hands, Van Hellsing paused. Without offering any explanation, Hellsing stepped forward and immediately lowered himself to the floor in order to peer under the couch his guest had just been occupying.

Muscles made tense by impatience and the strain of suppressed rage, the feigned indifference in the pale face poorly masked how the nosferatu felt at the moment his master's face finally appeared before him. The glare that had been fixed on John Seward's shoes, and which had been transferred to Abraham's boots before hiding itself behind the indifferent mask, returned in a much weaker form when fangs parted and a low voice growled, "Fourteen hours… Fourteen. Hours."

Hellsing frowned and said nothing, rising to his feet and turning to see Seward's look of bewilderment, and then the disturbance that twitched the corner of his lip, and finally the second wave of surprise when Van Hellsing led Dr. Seward from the room as if Count Dracula had not just been discovered lying under his couch.

The door shut and did not open again until the fuming demon had counted out twenty-six hours. After this much time had passed, Alucard was sent out with a band of Hellsing's men to track down Mrs. Edeson's killer.