Title: Empty Room With A Song
Category: Anime/Manga » Hellsing
There it was again. The song. The black and white keys pulling sound from the wires within the piano. She was there. Her song was there.
The teen's muscles flexed under his letterman's jacket, which had his last name sown into the back in large silver letters. The black wool that made up the rest of the jacket blended into the shadows the boy crouched in, as had become custom since the first time he had heard the enchanting song and arrived in time to see the black haired girl run out of the room when his presence had become known. Now he slowly stood, praying to God that his knees would not crack, and he edged towards the area the music was originating from. The school's music room was pitch black, bringing a new respect for the one playing from the boy. He swallowed as he saw that he was not going to be discovered. His eyes had become used to the darkness, and they saw the outline of a white collar and the white star on the converse the other teen was wearing. The boy who wore the name Anderson on his back, could see the head before him sway with the music, he could hear her content sigh, he could hear his own rampant heart thudding between his ears…as he stretched out his hand and hesitated, pulling his hand back a few inches, and then he extended his fingers. Quickly, he caught a hold of the shoulder, and the two gasped in unison. This he had expected, and he opened his mouth to begin his hurried apology, but what he had not expected was a strong, good sized fist swinging around and clipping him in the head, breaking the contact between the two. Stunned, Anderson clutched his head in disbelief while the figure seated at the piano jumped up and stumbled over a misplaced chair, landing on the floor with a loud thump.
"Are you alright?" Anderson called out in alarm, concern obvious in his tone, and the teen followed the direction the other had taken. But the teen on the floor scrambled out of his reach. The door was only a few strides away when Anderson's football training surfaced and, after a short sprint and a wild leap over a chair that the one he was perusing threw in his path, Anderson's hands caught the girl and pinned her against the wall. Suddenly anxious about how aggressive all of this seemed, the boy's other hand swept over the wall to find the light switch. He grunted with pain and effort when a powerful struggle began, almost causing him to abandon the light switch. But he was able to click it before bringing both of his hands to the surprisingly ungirlish shoulders and the monstrous strength the figure was showing as it pushed the six-foot-four teen away.
Then the light illuminated the room, blinding its occupants for a breathless second.
Anderson's jaw dropped in horror when very familiar red eyes were glaring at him instead of the kind and timid eyes he had expected. His mortification grew as his knowledge of the teen in front of him rose in his mind. The girl he had been longing after…was in fact a boy…a boy who was also a senior, the same age as Anderson…and was also a well known delinquent…a gangster who came to school in blood stained clothes. Vlad A. Dracula, a.k.a. the Hell Dog from the streets. And, good gracious God almighty, he had thought this thug was his mysterious crush…the silent, phantom girl who played beautifully haunting music just after the sun set…
Anderson jolted back into reality when a pale fist formed in his vision and then, a split second later, struck him in the face, knocking him to the floor. He sat there, dazed into a stupor as the other boy approached. Vlad's arm extended and he caught one of the chairs, dragging it behind himself as he did not slow his steps. The chair left the ground, rising above Vlad's head as he towered over the felled teen, red eyes flaring with murderous intent. Green eyes turned upward at the image of death and Anderson's eyes sparked. The chair descended with a roar from the black haired boy.
There was a choking gasp as Anderson lunged forward, head-butting Vlad in the stomach. The chair grazed the football player's back before it clattered harmlessly to the floor, Vlad Dracula gagging and crashing to the tile with the much larger boy falling on top of him. The two wrestled on the ground without a different result. Anderson had the upper hand in size and in his position. But Vlad continued to thrash under the boy, hissing in frustration as this failed to deter Anderson who brought a heavy knee to the boy's back when Vlad managed to flip onto his stomach. Leaning to apply pressure, he heard the boy's back crackle a few times.
Coughing with a reddening face, Vlad resorted to cussing at the other teen, gasping out the words as breathing became increasingly more difficult.
"Get off! Fuckin' bastard! Get off of me! You're Goddamn heavy!"
A palm forced Vlad's face into the floor while Anderson scowled, disgusted by the boy.
"How dare you take the Lord's name in vain? A runt like you…!" Anderson was cut off as a renewed bout of thrashing commenced.
"BASTARD! GET OFF OF ME!"
Anderson grabbed the other boy's shoulders and shook him until he was quiet, yelling at him as Vlad's head lolled. "A girly little runt! How dare you! You ignorant piece of heathen trash!"
"And…and what harm…was…I…!" Anderson realized Vlad was speaking so he stopped shaking him. Alarm widened the green eyes as he realized the boy was wheezing disturbingly, and Anderson eased up the amount of weight he was leaning on Vlad. "What harm….came from my playing the fuckin' piano?" he panted, squirming a little. "Fuckin' ass hole!"
There was quiet, with the exception of Vlad's panting and his snarls. Anderson's mind was blank as he stared down at the teen, remembering the song he had fallen in love with…and the girl. His eyes ran over the lengthy black hair covering most of the boy's face. Then they moved to his clothes and he realized how thin and boney the boy was. His black sweatshirt was torn and smudged with dirt and the white collar had marks of blood spatter on the back of it.
"So…" he began quietly while Vlad continued to squirm uncomfortably. "…you really are the one who has been in here."
Vlad paused and then sneered at the floor. "Dumbass. Who else? You've been watching me and now you've caught me…I know your kind. You'll spread this around to anyone who's willing to listen, that 'Hell Dog Vlad does this or that.'" He growled as he continued. "Worthless bastards, all of you. You have nothing more fulfilling in your lives other than finding ways to ruin the lives of those living outside the laws of society, eh? Now…get off of me! Fat ass!"
"I'm not fat!" Anderson spat back but then he was quiet, mulling over what this all meant. Guilt began to bite at him. "I didn't come here to expose you…I came here because…just to find out who was playing the music…"
"Bullshit! It was you! You came here two nights ago! It was you, wasn't it? Don't lie!"
"I'm not!" Anderson scowled with a huff of annoyance. "I came here to see who was playing the piano!"
"Liar! You knew! Bastard! YOU KNEW!"
"NO! I thought it was a girl playing! Not you! If I knew it was you, I wouldn't have even bothered coming back!"
"Dumbass! I'm not a girl!"
"I know that." The blonde boy sighed and his attention returned to the other boy's clothes. His nose crinkled a little. "You're filthy."
Vlad flinched and hissed back. "Go fuck yourself, rich boy! And….GET OFF OF ME!"
Anderson pressed more of his weight on the boy when he struggled, chuckling with a smug grin when the delinquent yowled in outrage. "You really are dirty…" he stared at the clothes and moved his knee as he felt the prominent ribs beneath them. "…and scrawny."
"Shut up and get off! Faggot!"
"You shut up."
"I would if you would get your heavy carcass off of me! How much do you rich boys eat? Damn it!"
Grumbling to himself, Anderson lessened the weight but refused to free the boy entirely, earning a few extra curses. "Stop cussing. It's crude and…"
"Shove it rich boy."
The weight returned until Vlad gasped in pain, then Anderson reduced it. "Why don't I wash out your mouth with a bar of soup and you can take the rest home with you and do something about these clothes. There's holes in them too."
"And your hair…it needs to be brushed…"
Anderson smiled as he knew he was pushing down the delinquent's pride, and he laughed. "Go back to the streets, it's where you belong anyway. From the looks…and smell of you, you probably live in a gutter…eh? Hell Dog?"
"I'LL FUCKING MURDER YOU WHEN YOUR FUCKING FAT ASS STOPS CRUSHING ME!" The boy shrieked, kicking at the nearby chair, sending it flying. Anderson wrapped his arms around the struggling creature, shocked by his increased strength, but easily overcoming it. "WHAT RIGHT DO YOU HAVE TO DO ANYTHING? SO WHAT IF I SNUCK IN HERE? ARE YOU GOING TO REPORT ME FOR TRESSPASSING AFTER SCHOOL HOURS? BIG, FUCKING, RICH-BOY, JOCK! SOME DAY I'M GOING TO KILL ALL OF YOU BASTARDS! I WILL! I SWEAR I'LL GET YOU ALL!"
Frightened by the wild behavior and the death threats, without thinking, Anderson grabbed the boy's hair and shoved his head into the floor, once, and then a second time as he cursed. But Anderson's blood ran cold when the body suddenly went limp.
Within the quiet, the haunting music rose in Anderson's mind. His hands released the black locks and he got off of Vlad, sitting to the side of the boy. Nudging the body didn't produce any result other than a pained groan, and as time passed, Anderson's eyes ran over the dirt smudged clothes and the marks of blood, recalling the nameless music and the girl he had once believed to be the one playing it. "Are you still planning on killing me?"
"Shove it." Vlad retorted weakly and he cringed at the pain in his head. "Damn you."
Anderson was quiet, looking at the teen before him. "What's the name of that song?"
The boy didn't respond for a moment as he tried to sit up but decided to remain laying flat on the ground for a while longer. "What are you going on about now?"
Anderson frowned, but pressed on. "What is the name of the song you played on the piano? The one you were playing before I stopped you?"
Vlad mumbled something incoherent, making Anderson growl and repeat himself again. "Doesn't have one. It's not even a song…I just came up with it..."
Anderson's eyes widened in disbelief, then they narrowed. The boy had to be lying. The song was so…beautiful…he couldn't have come up with it. He couldn't have…it desecrated the song…this boy. Anderson scowled with his glare, but Vlad didn't hear it as he focused on his pounding head with his eyes closed. Something like a whimper began in his throat, but he swallowed it instantly, gagging on bile that replaced it.
"Ow, fuck." His hand touched his head gingerly as he maneuvered to his side, curling up slightly. "Shit, rich-boy, what did you fuckin' do? Give me a concussion? You foot-ball bast…"
"I'm not rich…but…" Anderson tried not to feel sorry for the miserable boy and he swallowed. "…how did you know I'm on the football team?"
"Everyone knows you, Anderson. And it doesn't hurt that your name's on the front and the back of your jacket. Bet…" he coughed and then sneered unpleasantly. "…bet you're as famous as I am here."
"Red eyes are prominent features…" Anderson muttered back. Vlad quieted at this and his body relaxed on the tile for a few moments, then he sat up slowly, making Anderson uneasy.
"What time is it?"
Anderson didn't answer, not expecting such a casual question, and stared dumbly at Vlad until the boy scowled at him. "You have a watch, I can see it on your wrist."
Anderson looked at the time and told the other boy that it was approaching seven o'clock. There was a sharp curse that made Anderson flinch, while Vlad stood, glancing at the window angrily. "Now I'm late, dumbass. This is just great. Freakin' perfect."
"What? What're you late for?" Anderson followed the boy who was striding to the door. He received a daggered glare and stopped.
"I'm going to miss something important, thanks to you, bastard." Then Vlad was gone, and as minutes passed, Anderson turned off the lights and went home.
Many students turned around in their seats to stare and gape at the delinquent who was hovering over Alexander Anderson who wore the same expression as he looked up at the infuriated face. "You owe me 500 dollars, rich-boy."
"What?" Anderson blurted out along with half the class. Instantly a buzz of whispers filled the room.
'Drugs?' 'Alex? No way man, never. He's quarterback.' 'Isn't that Hell…?' 'Shh! He'll kill you! I hear he brings knives to school. He's crazy.'
The room fell into silence under the crimson gaze and many returned to getting out their supplies for their art class. Six students sat on stools around Anderson's table, but half of these students got up and left when Vlad shoved a boy sitting next to Anderson, demanding that he find a new seat. Anderson just stared with wide, lifeless eyes as the delinquent settled next to him. He swallowed his nervousness, trying to coax some aggression into his voice. "I don't owe you anything, runt. This isn't your class anyway…what are you doing here?"
"Actually, I attend this class as well, dumbass. I usually sit at the table over there." A finger indicated an empty table in the corner of the room, darkened by shadows. "And you owe me for hospital bills. Your fat ass gave me a concussion."
"Oh." Anderson looked around as a few people started to whisper again, then he realized the extra comment and hissed back. "I'm not fat, you're freakishly thin. When was the last time you ate a descent meal? Or a meal at all?"
"Shut up. You owe me 500 dollars. I'm not going to be able to eat for a while if you don't pay me, you ass. I'm sure you can spare a few bucks, fatty."
"I'm not fat! And even if I really did give you a concussion…" The rest of the students at the table left. "…it wouldn't cost 500 dollars. The doctor would just tell you to rest, they don't push up the bill with costs for bandages or medication unless you got some pain pills…and they don't try to rip off people who look like they live off the streets."
"Shut up, God damn it. You will pay for the expenses. I didn't come to you looking for a fight, you came to me, so you have to pay for…"
"I did not come to you looking for a fight!"
"Then why the hell did you…?"
"It was the piano…"
There was a feral hiss that drowned out the rest of the noise in the room. When the teacher entered, she hesitated at the door from her back office, intimidated by the graveyard silence. Her eyes traveled about the room, finding it unbalanced…one of the tables that was usually full was practically empty. Her eyes widened as they recognized the two unlikely occupants, and she slowly turned to the board to write down the schedule for the day. She couldn't move the boys as she had allowed the students to pick their own seats and changing that now would only hint to discrimination, so she held her tongue.
The little Freshmen girls timidly shuffled out of the two boys' way when they begrudgingly went to the side of the room to pick up the assignment they were supposed to finish in class. They were transitional pencil drawings, in which one image was drawn morphing into another as its shape twisted and changed in pictures separating it from the final image it would turn into. In five panels, for example, a tree would be drawn warping into the form of a woman, and the perfect form of a woman would be drawn in the last panel. Vlad dithered for a moment, glaring at his picture and then Anderson's back as the football quarterback returned to his empty table. With a sigh, dark locks covered the teen's features as he snatched up his picture along with a sharpened pencil and a chunk of eraser from a tin can in the middle of the table by the stack of artwork.
Anderson glanced absently at the paper that lowered beside him, but his eyes froze on the almost finished artwork and his lips parted. There was a hideous ogre with knurled, twisting wooden horns and in the following panels it warped into the form of a magnificent black dragon that had graphite blood coloring its pointed fangs. His shoulders shivered slightly and his eyes traced up to the crimson pair that was glaring at him.
"Not a word, rich-boy, or I'll kick that stool out from under you…and then you'll have a headache like mine."
"But it is." Anderson's glasses glinted in the light, catching Vlad's attention and he eyed them with little interest.
"You were wearing contacts yesterday."
Flinching, Anderson's pencil was posed just above his paper and he moved it to the side before he answered. "I had practice yesterday."
"Hm." Red eyes fell to the other boy's paper and they dulled for a moment. A pale hand raised and a finger pointed at the art. "And what the hell is that supposed to be? It looks like a freakin' dung beetle."
Anderson inhaled sharply and frowned at the teen, gritting his teeth as he stubbornly resumed his work. "It is a beetle…it's a ladybug."
Vlad stared at Anderson blankly as the other ignored him, but he stabbed his paper when a sudden muffled laugh erupted from the dark haired boy's arm where his face was hidden. Several other eyes moved from their papers to observe the strange phenomenon. Hell Dog didn't laugh often when the object of humor didn't involve blood and some form of violence. But now he laughed at the quarterback's ladybug and the teacher came to investigate.
"What's going on?" she said pointedly to Vlad but was ignored. She gave the same question to Anderson and received a grumble.
"He thinks my art sucks." The teen debated on whether he should hit the other boy or scribble on his beetle, but he did neither when the art teacher clasped his shoulder and gave him some reassuring praise.
"It's a great piece of work. You can tell you put a lot of effort into it."
A snort from the arm ruined the reassurance and both Anderson and the teacher glared at Vlad who was still hiding his face in his arm, slouched over his own picture. Anderson's eyes glinted at the paper and he quickly grabbed it and drew it out from under the arm, also drawing a gasp from Vlad who shot up and tried to claim the paper from Anderson's hands. But Anderson immediately gave it to the teacher who stepped back out of Vlad's reach. She straightened the paper and stared down at it until she realized Vlad had gotten up and was now standing behind her, an aura of evil looming over her. The woman set her jaw and tightened her grip on the paper as a pale hand tugged on it.
"Is this why you never turn in your work?" There was a hard tug on the paper as more students turned to watch what was happening. People started talking about the paper. "Are you embarrassed?"
There were several gasps as the paper tore, but the loudest came from Anderson and the teacher. From her lifeless hands, Vlad snatched back the remaining pieces of paper and tore them apart. He stalked to the trash can by the door and threw the shredded paper into it before leaving the room.
There was murmuring in the room as the shaken teacher walked over to the trash can, followed by a large part of the class, but she left the pieces inside, seeing that fixing the drawing was nearly impossible. She sighed with disappointment and went back to Anderson who was staring at the table with dimmed eyes.
"He's a troubled kid. Don't blame yourself, okay? Alex?"
Anderson nodded his head as the teacher went around the room, quieting the other students. His eyes slowly moved back to the trashcan and then to his own paper. The music from the night before and the art piece moved through his mind as his ears rung with the muffled laughter. Blinking, he stood up quietly and moved to the trashcan and set to removing the individual slips of torn paper. He ignored the eyes that stared at him, and brushed off the teacher's hand when she tried to stop him. In the end, he was allowed to do as he wished and he soon brought the pile of paper to his table. He got up and retrieved an identical piece of paper and set to work, piecing together the difficult puzzle Vlad's outburst had left behind. The teacher came by and, without a word, left a stick of glue by his arm and told him that he could finish his own art piece another day if he needed more time. Anderson only nodded and uncapped the glue stick.
Vlad was staring at the diamond holes in the lunch table that let him see his scuffed converse. He frowned at the obvious holes in the shoes, covering one up with the other shoe as he tried to see what they had looked like when they had been new, but the sudden appearance of a plastic wrapped sandwich blocked his view, erasing his frown and replacing it with a look of surprise. The teens that had been talking loudly around him stopped and stared at the intruder and then the sandwich, then Vlad who lifted his head to gaze up at Anderson, perplexed.
"What's this for?"
Anderson waited for a moment, looking at the scarlet eyes as they failed to waver or turn away. "Generally it's for eating."
"Shut up." Vlad snapped back and he glared at the sandwich with a scowl.
"Look," Anderson fixed his glasses and sat down in the empty spot next to the boy. Vlad shot him a look of warning but he ignored it. "…I'm sorry about what happened in class."
"Shut up, fat ass. Take your fat food and leave me alone." He pushed the sandwich in front of Anderson and mumbled to himself. "Go draw lady bugs or whatever the hell it was you were trying to draw."
"It was a lady bug."
"No shit… That's what I said."
A small group had gathered around the two teens and Anderson glanced at them warily. All of them seemed to be rather intimidating delinquents. "Now go, rich-boy, before you lose your sandwich and your wallet."
Anderson stood up and stared down the individuals in the group, making them back up a few steps and break their forming ring. Vlad's eyes went to Anderson's cold expression before it faded away and the jock pushed the sandwich in front of the pale teen.
"I don't think I have to worry about that."
Vlad didn't respond as Anderson walked away, but a few of the boys around him hissed in outrage and Vlad's attention turned to them. They demanded that he teach Anderson not to look down on their group. Vlad shook his head. When one called him a wuss, he snarled at them, making them stumble and trip over their own feet, falling on the ground.
"You have to do something." One of the teens went to Vlad's side, but the crimson eyes remained on the table. "Fine." The voice said. "I'll do it." Before Vlad could react, the sandwich was in the boy's fist and it was soon hurled at Anderson's head. Vlad stared at Anderson as he stopped in the middle of the quad, rubbing his head. He just picked up the sandwich and tossed it into a trashcan before continuing on his way.
When the boy who had thrown the sandwich smiled, he lost a front tooth as Vlad's fist soon bloodied the smile. Writhing on the floor, clutching his mouth, the boy howled in pain while his companions backed away in fear as the Hell Dog stood over his victim. "I was going to eat that, idiot."
"You…you're gonna get it, you know." One of the boys managed to squeak, earning a glare. "You can't act like this and skip out on fights too. Alucard…"
"You're not allowed to use that name." Vlad hissed, and then scowled, repulsed by the cowardly shiver that ran through the teen that had been speaking. "I'm leaving. You all can go to fuckin' hell for all I care…useless bastards." The other boys were left in dumb silence as he walked away, disappearing into the crowded quad as the bell for the end of lunch and the passing period rang out above them.
Stopped in a line backed up behind a stop sign, Anderson gazed out the front window as his windshield wipers beat at the glass. His elbow rested on the armrest separating the passenger and driver seats, and his hand was cupping his cheek. Something suddenly rapped at his window and he started, sitting up and turning his head to the glass. Vlad moved his hand, telling the teen to lower the window. When Anderson complied, Vlad leaned through the window and glanced around the car interior before looking at the expectant green eyes. "I need at least half of the money by Friday."
Anderson stared for a moment. "What?" His mind went back to this morning and he frowned. "A concussion doesn't cost…"
A black sleeve went through the window, dripping water on the leather seat. A few fingers wriggled out from the sleeve, revealing the bandages. Anderson was quiet. "You didn't give me more than a headache…I already told you I missed something important because of our…confrontation." He hesitated and shook his arm so that the sleeve covered his hand again. "You know what type of…extra curricular activities I'm in…"
"Oh." Anderson breathed, dread beginning to weigh on him. But this was interrupted as a few horns honked behind them. Vlad looked through the back window and then returned his eyes to Anderson.
"I didn't throw the sandwich."
"Yeah…it's…okay." Anderson managed as Vlad began to withdraw from the window. Biting his lip, the sound of the crashing rain returned to his ears and his hand shot out, catching the other boy's sweatshirt, surprising him. "I'll give you a ride. It's pouring out there."
"What?" Vlad looked around, eyes darting to the honking cars. "No. Let me go!"
"Get in the car, runt. You're soaking wet."
"Shut up, fat ass! Let me go!"
The chorus of horns grew and finally the boy caved. "Fine! I'll get in! Let me open the door, or do you want me to climb through the window?"
Anderson ignored the biting sarcasm and he narrowed his eyes. "You're just going to run."
"I won't run. Damn it. Let me go! Can't you hear that?"
Anderson let go of the sweatshirt. Soon the car door opened and Vlad squelched into the seat and shut it with a hiss as the window closed beside him. "Now go, fat ass. We have the whole school backed up behind us by now."
Anderson drove to the stop sign, stopped, as was according with the law, and then continued down the road. Quiet resumed with the absence of the honking horns and Anderson looked at the fuming teen. "Where should I drive?"
"To the corner, pull over and let me out."
"No. I'm taking you home."
"You sure as hell are not, fatty. You're letting me out of this damn car. Your leather seats are covered in water now."
"I'm not fat. Haven't you ever heard of muscle? Or even food? I swear, when was the last time you bathed or ate?"
"Shut it, porky rich-bastard."
"Fine." Anderson passed the corner, making Vlad snarl at him. "I'll take you to my house then."
"Are you kidnapping me? Feakin' ladybug drawing creep!"
Anderson couldn't help but smile at this and he nodded. "Sure. I'm going to do all sorts of terrible things to you too, like feed you and make you take a shower."
"I'll kill you one of these days, Anderson."
"But then you'd never get the money."
Vlad grumbled to himself while Anderson lost his humor. "What happened to your hand anyway? And those bandages don't look like they came from a hospital. What are you trying to get at by demanding I pay for imaginary hospital bills?"
"Dislocated a few fingers…" Anderson jolted. "…I can't work for a few days and I'm going to miss other meetings now because of it. You can just pay half of the money…I said 500 because I figured you'd refuse and demand to pay a lower price."
Disturbed, Anderson didn't respond. Finally he looked at Vlad who was staring out the window. There was still blood on his collar… "Fine." Anderson faced straight ahead when Vlad looked at him. "I'll pay 250…but I really can't afford 500, you know? That's a lot of money all at once…"
"250 is more than I was hoping for."
The two didn't speak as they went through two green lights and were stopped by a red. "Are you really taking me to your house?"
"Mhm, yeah." Anderson pushed down on the pedal when the light turned green. "Unless you tell me where you live."
Vlad was quiet. "Your family's not going to appreciate this."
"It's just me, my mom, and my sister when she comes back on the weekends from college. If you find any clothes or stuff in here, it's hers. She stuffs her clothes into garbage bags to bring them home to wash them in our washing machine." Anderson paused and looked at Vlad's clothes before returning his eyes to the road. "We can wash your clothes too…since they got all wet in the rain." He added the last part when Vlad growled. Then the boys were quiet until they pulled up to a gate that opened for them, revealing a long, winding drive way, surrounded by trees. Vlad looked around in awe, then peeked at Anderson.
"You really are rich."
"Damn fat rich-boy."
"I'm not fat."
Vlad returned to watching the passing trees. "Where's your dad?"
"He's on a business trip…be back in a few weeks."
"I won't scare your mom?"
"No. My mom's pretty nice to everyone…but she's a bit strict. That's why you'll have to shower and borrow some clothes before she comes home."
"She works too?"
"Yeah, though we don't need the money. She just likes her job."
They pulled into the garaged, passing a fountain that sat on an island before the front door. The two entered the house through a door in the garage and Anderson immediately shoed Vlad upstairs to use one of the showers, showing him where the towels were. While the boy was enjoying the warm water, Anderson slipped into the bathroom and put some jeans and a clean shirt on the counter by the white, marble sink and then ducked out of the room and headed for the kitchen to heat up some Campbell's Chunky soup. He grimaced after pouring the container into a larger bowl and covering it in the microwave. Vlad was going to enjoy calling him a fat football player after this. The Campbell's Chunky commercial had damned his soul. He groaned but set to making his own bowl of soup, having wasted his lunch searching for Vlad.
Meanwhile, Vlad was smelling the bottles of shampoo and conditioner, choosing to use the ones that had the best scent. It had been ages since he'd taken a real shower, resorting to washing his hair in the sink with a bar of soap. This was paradise for his grimy skin, so a smile played at his lips without his permission. He thought of the piano and looked down at his swollen hand, losing his smile. He turned off the water and opened the curtain, grabbing the green towel from the towel rack and drying himself off. After scowling at how big the clothes were, rolling up the jeans a few times to make them fit, he glanced at the mirror and paused. He touched his wet hair thoughtfully, amazed at how sleek and smooth it was…he could run his fingers all the way through it. He shook his head and hung up his towel before opening the door.
Vlad entered the kitchen and smiled smugly when he saw Anderson sitting with a spoon in his mouth, looking at him in surprise. He swallowed and asked the boy how he had found the kitchen.
"I have a nose."
"Oh." Anderson put the spoon in his soup and gestured towards Vlad's share.
"Why are you eating?"
"Because my lunch was spent on finding you…and I had to wait in line to buy your food."
"Why didn't you buy your own food when you bought the sandwich?" Vlad sat down and spooned some soup into his mouth while Anderson ate his with a frown. "Where're my clothes, kidnapper?"
"Oh!" Anderson's eyes flew wide and he put his spoon down to fix his glasses which had slipped. "I forgot to put them in the wash, I'll be right back."
The dark haired teen smirked to himself when the other dashed out of the room, beginning to eat his soup again. Suddenly someone grabbed the back of his head and he choked on the soup as his face crashed into the granite counter, barely missing his bowl of soup. A hand grabbed his bandages. Red eyes flew opened and a broken cry alerted Anderson who ran from the laundry room back to the kitchen and watched in horror as his mother cuffed Vlad's wrists together while the teen coughed and struggled to breath.
"Oh shut up." The woman hit Vlad on the back, clearing his throat. Swallowing, the boy coughed again and took a shaky breath, panting as his head moved, trying to see who had attacked him, instead he found Anderson in the doorway.
"Mom! What are you doing?"
"Mom?" Vlad spat out the spoon and waited for the woman to release him, cringing as his hand throbbed. "That was dangerous, I had a spoon in my mouth and I almost choked…"
The hand let go of him and he was able to sit up and face the woman. His mouth formed an 'o' as his eyes filled with dread. "Anderson…you didn't tell me you mom was the chief of police…the Integra Anderson."
"I…didn't think…it'd matter." Anderson said quietly, still in shock. Vlad moved his arms and frowned at how uncomfortable the cuffs were. Integra looked at her son in surprise at the familiarity the two had with one another.
"You know this delinquent?" She frowned when Anderson nodded. "Why is he in our house?"
"I was giving him something to eat and…" Anderson began, but Vlad cut him off.
"He kidnapped me because I wouldn't tell him where I lived. Making me eat soup was part of his plan for torturing me. I haven't done anything illegal, so…can I go now?"
"No." Integra moved around the stool Vlad was perched on, her eyes full of hate. Vlad accepted the look without batting an eye. "What is your real name? Hell Dog? Alucard? Those are fakes, right?"
Anderson edged into the room and he surprised his mother by standing next to the black haired boy. "His name is Vlad, but why are you interrogating him? He hasn't done anything…"
"He's the crazy one I told you about," Integra suddenly stepped towards them and she forced her hand in front of her son's face, showing the large crescent, dotted scar. "He's the one who bit me."
Anderson's eyes widened and he turned around to look at Vlad who was shaking his head, his hair hanging before his face. "That was four years ago…I was thirteen years old! You're a freakin' scary old bitch to a thirteen year old kid. You cornered me and I fought back."
"Don't call my mother a bitch!" Anderson cut in defensively, and his mother scowled as well, bringing her hand to her side.
"You still bit me."
"Do you want me to apologize?"
Taken aback, the woman stammered something and then glared at her son as if he were the one who had scared her for life. "Why did you bring him here? He's a criminal."
"I…I…" Anderson backed into the counter, not knowing how to answer. "Because of me…his hand…the picture and the piano…"
"Anderson!" Vlad glared at the boy who jumped, but Integra stopped him from continuing.
"What? Say something that makes sense!"
"I was going to drive him home because it was raining so hard and he didn't have an umbrella! But he wouldn't tell me where he lived so I told him I was going to take him here and make him clean himself up and eat some food. He hasn't done anything. Because of me his hand was…"
"Anderson! Shut up!" the room lost its volume and blue and green eyes focused on the handcuffed teen who wobbled on his stool once. "Let me go home, alright? I'll walk. I don't mind rain."
"No." Integra grabbed the boy's shoulder, undeterred by how boney it was. "You're going to tell me where you live, the names of your parents, your name, and then I'm going to drive you home and have a good long talk with your parents or guardians." Blue stared into the red. "Now, speak."
"How about you drive me home and we can talk in the car…you can keep me handcuffed…but I want my clothes back….they're mine."
Integra blinked and removed her hand from the boy, stepping away. She jerked at the familiar shirt and jeans and shot a reproachful look to her son. "Fine."
"But I was going to put them in the wash…" Anderson argued.
"No. You'll bring the clothes now so he can change, then we'll go."
"Do as I say, Alexander!"
Integra ordered Anderson make sure Vlad didn't escape, so he was in the room as the boy changed back into his own grubby clothes. His caved stomach sent chills down Anderson's spine and he had to look away as Vlad finished.
He walked with Vlad to the car, watched as his mother cuffed the teen and helped him into the back of her police vehicle, and then waved at the pale face that gazed at him as the car drove away, painfully reminded that Vlad's injured hand was being crushed against the seat.
Vlad was quiet as no questions were asked until they left the gate and hit the public roads.
"Where do you live?"
"Downtown." Integra turned into a separate road.
"What's your name?"
"Vladimir Alucard Dracula."
"Not Hell Dog?" She put in spitefully. Vlad merely shook his head and looked out the window. It was still raining.
"What are your parents' names?"
"My father's was Vlad. My mother's was Sierra."
Integra's mouth twitched and she looked at her mirror to see the boy sitting in the back seat. She noticed the smudges on his sweatshirt and the hungry look in his eyes. "Was?"
"They died when I was ten."
"Who do you live with now?" Integra sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. She opened them and looked at the empty road before them.
"What's his name?"
"I'll have to talk to him when we…"
"You can't." Vlad cut in.
"Why?" Integra's eyes went to the mirror again.
"He's in the hospital at the moment. He had a stroke, but he's stable…."
Integra continued in a softer voice. "Then I'll have to visit him there."
"I said he was stable…but you still can't talk to him. He has been in a comma for almost a year now."
"And so you've been allowed to run rampant?" The woman scoffed at the circumstances and moved her scared hand.
Vlad didn't answer and neither spoke until Integra needed more directions. Vlad told her when to turn and anything else she needed. They arrived at their destination thirty minutes after leaving the house. Integra's eyes glazed over as she looked at the run down and barely habitable apartment complex, flinching as a drunk stumbled and fell off the curb, hitting the concrete on the street, hard. Vlad noticed where her attention was and he smirked.
"Ignore him, he's like a cockroach. If they dropped an atom bomb on this town, he'd be the only survivor. Can you uncuff me now?"
"Is that a whore on that corner?" Integra stared at the scantily dressed individual and looked doubtfully at the boy behind her. His face was lined with disgust.
"That's a man."
Integra's eyes went wide and she stiffly turned to look at the mini skirt again. "Good Lord."
"He's still a whore though. They like to trick people…it's pretty funny when you hear the guys scream when they find out."
Integra felt bile rise in the back of her throat as the boy chuckled, and she undid her seatbelt and got out of the car and let Vlad out. He rubbed his wrists, wincing as he grazed his injured hand, and started to walk away.
Integra stared after him emptily, moving her scared hand as she tried to recall her hatred for the boy, but found that she couldn't as all of the humans in the area saw her car and slowly slunk away in the shadows.
"He really lives in Hell, doesn't he?" She shuddered and got back into her car.
Vlad reached his door, pondering what had happened that day, wondering why the woman hadn't doubted his story and then how he was going to pay rent and his uncle's medical expenses with his busted hand.
At least it had stopped raining.