Title: Under the Milky Way
Author: bnomiko
Rating: R to NC-17
Pairing(s): Trevor + Sypha + Alucard, Trevor x Alucard
Spoilers: through the end of S3 + some referencing of S4
Disclaimer: "Under the Milky Way" is performed and recorded by The Church. "How to Save a Life" is performed and recorded by The Fray. Castlevania is the creation and property of Konami. Castlevania (animated series) is the creation and property of Netflix. This is a not-for-profit fanwork and I do not own any of these characters.
Summary: After the events of Lindenfeld, all Trevor and Sypha wanted was to return to the closest thing they had to "home," but Alucard has not fared well in their absence. "You wanted to save the world, remember?" " He also needed it. He needed us." Post S3 animation canon based.
Archived at: http://www.phenixsol.com/Miko/FF/

* * *

Under the Milky Way

Ch. 2: Where did I go wrong? I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness

* * *

The pair returned to the castle and did a little light cleanup while waiting for Alucard to return, but as afternoon faded into evening and then into night, he did not show. Looking out the windows, they could see torchlight around the area of the Hold, so it seemed that Alucard had opted to continue doing repairs instead of settling down for the night. As the hour grew late, the lovers decided to retire for the evening; they'd try to catch up with their companion again the next day.

Both were tired - exhausted, really - but sleep did not come easily. Sypha stared at the ceiling for countless minutes, listening to Trevor's slowing breathing, wondering if he'd fallen asleep or if he was just faking, but then he rolled towards her and whispered, "Sypha, you asleep?"

"How could I be? After everything that's happened... I was looking forward to coming back here, of all places, how crazy is that?" she blurted out in exasperation.

"Because of Alucard?"

"That's part of it. He's our friend. I thought he'd be happy to see us. But now, I just feel like... we've failed him."

"If those people outside betrayed him, that's on them, not us."

"I know. But I can't help but think, if only we'd been here, they wouldn't have dared to attack him."

Trevor's eyes darted to the side table. He couldn't see them in the dark, but he knew the box and cuffs were sitting there; he wasn't sure of how to best dispose of them yet. "Maybe. Hard to say. We still don't know what exactly happened. But right now, it doesn't seem like he wants to talk about it... or about anything, to anyone at all. The booze doesn't help, either - he's a lousy drunk." Trevor paused slightly, then added in a softer voice, "I mean, I get it. When you're alone, miserable, or it just seems that nothing will ever go your way, numbness is preferable, even if it doesn't last."

Sypha held a breath. As a Speaker, she didn't grow up with a home in a traditional sense, but they had a strong sense of community, and all looked out for one another as family. She couldn't ever have imagined losing so much of that that the bottle was the only place to turn to for solace. She thought about Trevor saying that no one was ever lonely in his house, but Alucard had been, even with the two of them by his side; he had to be the loneliest person she'd ever met. And Trevor understood better than anyone what it was like to lose everything. If she could just get Alucard to stay put and at least listen to them, if Trevor could just open up to him a little too... "You think he'll start drinking again tomorrow morning?'

"Judging by the state of the kitchen, absolutely."

"We'll head down there as soon as we're up, then," she decided. "Wake me if you wake up first."

Trevor groaned. "Ugh, all right. But I doubt he'll want to talk."

"That's fine. At the very least... he shouldn't be alone."

* * *

Sypha didn't remember falling asleep after that but when Trevor shook her awake the next morning, it occurred to her that they hadn't asked Alucard if it was okay that they stay... and yet he hadn't barged in in the middle of the night to kick them out, either.

They went downstairs and found their quarry in the kitchen, still in his dirty coat, flanked by bottles and the pair of dolls and face down on the table, and Trevor had to wonder if he'd simply spent the night like that. He was pretty certain that vampires couldn't die of alcohol poisoning, though he still felt compelled to confirm that yes, Alucard was still breathing. Not wanting to disturb him further in case this was what passed as sleep for him, Trevor and Sypha cleared off enough space to sit down as well, and waited.

Alucard eventually stirred and got up, disappearing into the wine cellar for a while before wandering off outside, all while actively ignoring them, but this time the pair began trailing after him.

It turned out Alucard spent his mornings foraging in the forest. Being drunk didn't affect his ability to pick herbs or pull root vegetables or gather eggs from the chickens roosting under one of the castle's overhangs. Trevor couldn't help but whisper to Sypha, "Hope he grabs a little extra," even if that was only wishful thinking. Bad enough that they'd simply stayed the night without asking, they weren't going to help themselves to his meal too.

But the blond did seem to be picking up more than one person could eat, though he still made no attempt to engage in conversation. But Sypha was starting to notice, he'd peek back at them every once in a while, when he thought they might not be looking, as if confirming they were still there.

They found themselves back in the kitchen after a half-hour or so outside. Alucard promptly fetched a new bottle from the seemingly endless supply in the cellar and began downing it, before turning to the ingredients he'd gathered. Watching him attempt to peel parsley root while squinting at it, Sypha couldn't hold back any longer.

"May I help with that?" she asked, extending her hand.

The redhead was glad Alucard had never been good at hiding his emotions from her. He clearly wanted to refuse, but at the same time, he was obviously tempted by the offer. So she patiently waited. It would've been easy enough to reach out and take the kitchen knife and make the decision for him, but she knew, it had to be his decision.

After what felt like several minutes, Alucard put down the knife and the vegetables, and turned his attention to the eggs instead.

"What can I do?" Trevor asked. It was awkward being the only one now standing around with no task at hand.

Sypha looked in the basket on the counter. "Tear up some herbs, I suppose?"

Trevor shrugged, then began doing exactly that. It was a far cry from hunting night creatures, but better than doing nothing to contribute at all.

The half-vampire had indeed gathered enough for three. It wasn't a fancy meal, just eggs with a side of roasted vegetables and a slice of salted pork, but it was tastier and fresher than anything Trevor and Sypha had eaten in many days. Sypha had been a little worried that Alucard would take his meal and escape into the wine cellar, but he sat at the table and dined with them, even if he didn't join in their small talk.

Alucard continued nursing his wine as Sypha one-sidedly recounted a few of the things they'd encountered during their travels. He looked somewhat distracted, his eyes downcast and his expression melancholy, but every once in a while those liquid gold eyes would flick up to meet hers, so she took that as encouragement to continue. She tried to keep the stories lighthearted, but when the tales began to run dry and the wine ran low, Alucard pushed his nearly empty bottle to the center of the table, got up, and began heading outside again. Anticipating that he was likely heading back down into the Hold, Trevor decided to join him and help out while Sypha stayed behind to tidy up the kitchen a bit.

Much to Trevor's surprise, Alucard hadn't just stalked off; it almost seemed as if the blond was waiting just outside the gates for him to catch up. Wondering if he could be close to a breakthrough, the brunet quickly strode to his comrade's side, then accompanied him into an area of the woods where earlier, he'd seen stacks of rough hewn lumber likely slated for repairs.

"Shall I help you carry some of these to the Hold?" Trevor asked, looking around. It really was impressive how much work a single man could do when he had nothing else to focus on.

Alucard took a breath, then bent down to pick something up, his fingers slowly curling around it. With Sypha back at the castle, he couldn't have asked for a more perfect set up. Though... it had been nice, cooking a meal together, sitting down and eating to a backdrop of Sypha's stories. Even if it had only been for an hour or two, for the first time in months, he'd almost felt... normal. But he knew it was only a respite, not enough to change anything, least of all his mind. "No."

"No?" Trevor parroted back, turning just in time to barely catch sight of a piece of wood being swung at him. Only his reflexes, honed by years of training and months of active combat, saved him from being smashed in the face, but he still went tumbling back from just how quickly he'd twisted to avoid it. "Wha... what the hell?!"

Alucard's lips tightened into a thin line. Without another word, he blurred and shot forward in a burst of speed, trying to tag Trevor from behind as he got up, but his aim was off and the hunter had already anticipated the move, so his swing caught nothing but empty air.

Trevor cursed under his breath and instinctively surveyed the scene. There was the expected collection of wood cutting tools under a tree and stacks of wood boards and debris around - tripping hazards, his brain helpfully supplied - otherwise they were in a large clearing, perfect for combat. He was armed as usual, with one whip coiled at his hip and the other one strapped behind his back, as well as a few throwing knives, but he really didn't want to break out any of his weapons... it was still registering that Alucard had attacked him for some reason, and he didn't know why.

"Why are you doing this?" Trevor asked hoarsely. "What did I do?"

Instead of a verbal response the sharp end of Alucard's stick grazed past Trevor's ear, and the brunet had had enough. Gathering his legs under him, he dashed off to one side, grabbing onto a branch of about equal size as the one the half-vampire wielded, and met him head on.

They'd sparred before of course. Alucard was the better swordsman. But he was also mostly drunk and not in peak shape. Both men's branches snapped after a few quick swings; Trevor decided two shorter sticks worked just fine for him since he was ambidextrous but Alucard had no difficulty rearming himself as there were plenty more branches in the area.

Trevor ground his teeth. Though Alucard healed incredibly quickly from most injuries, Trevor truly didn't want to hurt his friend. Which meant he had to prioritize disarming and immobilizing him. Disarming would be easy enough, given that they weren't using durable weapons. Immobilizing would be a bit tougher; Trevor's thoughts strayed momentarily to the cuffs still sitting in the bedroom. He spat on the ground in disgust.

He aimed his attacks for Alucard's right arm, his sword arm, which worked out better than he'd originally expected, as the branches simply weren't sturdy enough to take blows along their length. So when the blond went to defend, the fact that Trevor had stuck with using a shorter pair of sticks meant he could snap Alucard's in half again while only chipping away parts of his.

Predictably, Alucard sped away for another, but Trevor was ready for it, dropping one of his sticks in exchange for the whip at his side. With a quick crack he shattered the branch that Alucard had most likely been aiming for, then caught and flung another nearby branch out of the clearing. But he knew he couldn't clear the whole area, and Alucard was inhumanly fast, so that would only buy him some time. Trevor had to think of some way to incapacitate him while doing as little damage as possible.

If only Sypha were here, an ice or even a lightning spell would help, he thought as Alucard successfully rearmed himself, then sped right towards him again.

Trevor slid his feet apart to try and brace for the hits he knew were coming. He parried a sweeping strike, then crossed his sticks to block a downward blow. He was successful in sidestepping a couple of stabs but just as he went to square himself back up against his opponent, his left foot slipped on some debris and he suddenly found himself falling backwards, with Alucard simultaneously moving forward to take advantage of the opening. On pure instinct, Trevor spun the broken branch in his hand and got it in front of his body just as Alucard leapt on him.

The wind got knocked out of the brunet on impact, but he caught his breath a moment later, to find that the sharp point of the branch he'd been wielding was now speared into Alucard's chest.

Trevor's eyes widened - somehow, despite everything he'd sworn not to do - he'd managed to stake his friend. And Alucard was apparently making no effort to back off and recover; in fact, he was now pressing down on the broader man with all his weight and even forcibly holding his arms in place.

As Trevor saw the branch sink in another half inch, as blood began trickling down to stain his sleeves and dampen his arm, he lifted his gaze to look the other man in the eye and ask, "Are you seriously using me to kill yourself?"

Alucard didn't respond, but his face was eerily calm, his eyes slightly glazed over, and not just from alcohol.

Trevor strained to free his arms, but it was incredibly painful. Alucard had him pinned down quite effectively, his extended claws digging into his forearm and bicep. It was the absolute strangest position Trevor had ever found himself in - pinned down by an opponent who was doing everything he could to stake himself.

Well, if he couldn't use his arms, then legs would have to do. With as much power as he muster, Trevor kneed the blond in the abdomen, then tried it again when he still refused to budge.

"Just finish it, Belmont. Do it! You can even add my skull to your trophy case if you want," Alucard hissed in his face, blood starting to drip from his mouth.

"You fucker, I don't want your skull!" the hunter spat back, before deciding to use that as inspiration to simply headbutt his opponent.

That was enough to loosen Alucard's hold so that Trevor could plant both feet into the half-vampire's midsection and throw him overhead.

"How do you think I would feel, staking one of my only friends? You selfish bastard!" Trevor yelled as Alucard leapt back onto his feet, the wound on his chest already starting to close up.

"How do you think I felt, staking my own father?! But you're the one who told me to stop whining about it."

"It had to be done, and you know it!"

"Yes. And I did it - I drove in that stake. I had to listen to sound of it tearing through his flesh, the sound of his heartbeat slowing," Alucard howled, his eyes starting to mist up. He angrily ground the heel of his hands against them, trying to force them to stop watering. He was so sick of the tears. And he knew if Trevor saw them, this chance would slip away completely. "I'm so tired of this. Finish this - end it!"

Trevor's jaw went slack for a moment. He fumbled for something intelligent to say. "I... I'm sorry," was all he could manage. Though he hadn't said anything at the time - well, other than to run his mouth and tell Alucard not to get weepy about it - he'd known what an enormous ask it was for Alucard to kill his father. Trevor shouldn't have blown it off right after, but it had been awkward for him too, considering he'd lopped off Dracula's head when it looked like his dying body was reaching out for revenge when in retrospect, it was more likely he'd been trying to embrace his child one last time...

Sypha was right, we shouldn't have left, the brunet scolded himself. Of course he wasn't okay, but he knew we wanted to leave and wasn't going to ask us to stay, either. Shit!

Something blurred before him and there was a feral snarl, and suddenly Trevor was no longer facing a man, but a wolf. A cold shiver ran through the hunter's body. Now Alucard wouldn't need to look for a weapon, his teeth would be more than enough. Trevor rolled out of the way just as the white furred form leapt at him. He managed to snag a new branch - too short to be of much use, but at least without a pointy broken end - just as Alucard leapt again, slamming into him and staggering him. Trevor tried to reorient himself as quickly as possible, but Alucard was much faster, darting in while snapping those razor sharp teeth, so Trevor had no choice but to shove the branch in between those jaws to prevent injury to himself. Then he beat feet, trying to find something else he could use or in lieu of that, at least put enough distance between them so that he could fully bring his whip to bear.

Alucard swung his head violently, shaking the splinters of wood out of his maw. Then he turned his golden eyes in the direction the hunter had run, only to be rewarded by the tip of a leather whip snapping across the top of his muzzle, drawing blood and a high pitched yelp of pain.

"I don't want to do this!" Trevor yelled across the span, once he'd reached the edge of the clearing. "Let us help you, please."

With a howl, Alucard flung himself forward at a full gallop, ignoring Trevor's pleas.

Trevor may not have wanted to continue, but he was over his hesitation about not injuring the other man. If he had to beat him unconscious, if that was the only way to stop this crazed behavior, then, he would do just that. Stretching the thong of his whip between his two hands, he took full stock of his surroundings, then sent the whip's fall flying at his target while kicking the first few yards of the thong upward as well.

The whip tangled up in three of Alucard's legs, tripping him mid-stride, while the segment closest to Trevor looped over a sturdy low hanging branch above him; with a sharp, firm tug the wolf was effectively swung upwards to dangle upside down by his legs.

It wasn't going to hold for long, and Trevor knew it. But it only needed to hold long enough.

Alucard shape-shifted back into human form to free himself from his predicament, just in time to barely catch the sight of Trevor swinging the poll end of a splitting maul into the side of his head. The force of the blow knocked the other side of his head into the trunk of the tree as well, effectively double concussing him, just as he slipped loose from the loops of the whip and crashed head first into the ground.

Hope I didn't overdo it, Trevor thought with a wince, as he quickly knelt down to confirm that Alucard was still alive. He'd seen Alucard's head get slammed into stone columns and wrought iron before, and he'd taken at least a good two dozen bone-crushing hits from Dracula himself, so Trevor doubted this would do any lasting damage. Well... hopefully it wouldn't. Alucard was definitely out cold though, so at least he wouldn't cause any more trouble for the moment.

* * *

"What happened? Were you attacked?" Sypha predictably screeched as Trevor's heavy footfalls heralded his return with Alucard limp in his arms, his moonlight hair streaked with blood.

"Yeah, you could say that. He attacked me," Trevor reported.

Sypha stared at her boyfriend as if he'd grown a second head. "What?"

"I'll explain in a minute. I need to put him down because even though he's practically bones, he's still a lot to carry around when I have holes in my arms."

Sypha's eyebrow twitched. She looked down, then back up. "I... suppose we could use the room across from ours?"

Trevor turned and hustled upstairs. Seeing no point in being gentle, he simply dumped Alucard on the bed after having kicked the door open. He could hear Sypha hissing at him for it, but he was sore and tired and frustrated. "I'm going to get a drink," the brunet declared.

The Speaker had already begun pulling blankets around and arranging pillows. "You are not! What happened?"

"Like I said, he attacked me. Got me out to the clearing where he'd been harvesting lumber, grabbed a branch, and came at me. He was trying to get me to stake him, damn it!" Since booze wasn't an option yet, he threw himself onto the sofa on the other side of the room, flinging an arm over his eyes and immediately regretting what that sudden movement did to his injuries. "He... you were right. He's still mourning his father. We shouldn't have left. He was never going to stop us or ask us to stay, but he needed us to."

Sypha's expression was grim. She went and grabbed a couple of clean towels, and a nightshirt from the armoire. "Help me get him settled in bed properly, then we'll see to your wounds."

"And then I can have my drink?" It was unfortunate, but if Trevor recalled correctly, he'd finished off what little beer was in the castle months ago, which meant that there was only wine left. It wasn't his favorite, but he couldn't be too picky in this situation.

She considered it. "You could use one. I could almost use one too..."

Despite the situation, he quirked a smile at her. "I could bring up a second glass."

"Tempting, but someone has to nurse you both back to health."

Trevor got back up. "I'll bring one anyway. Just in case."

Getting Alucard's coat and boots off was one thing. His pants were annoyingly tight and had to be peeled off. Trevor didn't get why they had to disrobe him at all, but Sypha wanted a full catalog of any injuries - Trevor figured she just wanted more ammunition to scold him with later - even if the half-vampire could force heal them himself once he awoke.

They'd expected the burns on his wrist and striping up his arms, maybe even the ones on his legs. But both Trevor and Sypha recoiled when they saw that the scarring extended even over his groin. And though neither one said a word as Sypha dressed him and pulled the covers over him, they both had to wonder, how likely was it that he'd been asleep when it happened?

With Alucard attended to, Sypha's attention went to Trevor next. His wounds weren't bad, thankfully. Sypha cleaned him up, bandaged him up, and then released him to get the booze he was clamoring for. He returned with a bottle of red and two glasses, then joined her in her bedside vigil.

She shook her head as Trevor signaled pouring a glass, and sighed. "Just how hard did you hit him to leave him like this?"

"Back of an axe to the head. And he might've hit a tree and then the ground on the way down." That earned quite a sharp glare from Sypha, so Trevor quickly added, "I didn't want to do it. He's a tough bastard, you know that. And it's not like I didn't try talking him down. But after he tried to use me as... I dunno, some sort of convenient stake holder, I said fuck it, I'll just beat him until he stops moving and deal with it later."

"What you meant was, dump him on me to deal with later."

Trevor took a big gulp of wine. "Look, we both know I'm not good at this," he hissed softly, as he looked over at the sleeping body on the bed. "I know how to track creatures of the night, how to kill them. How to survive in the wild. Hand me any weapon, and I'll figure it out. But something like this? This is so far out of my comfort zone... I have no fucking clue what to do."

"Learn to get better at it, then. This isn't something we can brush aside."

Sighing, Trevor rested his chin on his fist. Yes, Alucard was a friend, but Trevor didn't see why his girlfriend couldn't just... give him instructions on exactly what he needed to do or something. She liked ordering people around. And she'd always gotten on better with the half-vampire; his own relationship with Alucard had been adversarial. At worst, Trevor had promised to stake him while Alucard had simultaneously threatened to tear his throat out; at best, they insulted each other like two drunk rivals at a bar. "What am I supposed to do? Buy him a round of beer? Let him beat me up again and get it out of his system?"

"No, silly. Just... spend time with him. Talk to him. Or if he wants to talk, then shut up and listen instead."

"He sure didn't want to talk earlier," the brunet complained gruffly.

"I know. He's hurting, and he's been alone. This is a big readjustment for him."

"This is an adjustment for me, too," Trevor pointed out, staring into the liquid in his glass, as if held any answers. It didn't; it never had. "But... I'll try."

* * *

It's lonely even when you're standing next to him. It's like he's a cold spot in the room. His sadness is like an icy well. It's bottomless... and it swallows up your voice and anything you try to drop into it.

Alucard was sure he wasn't meant to have heard Sypha talking about him when she and Trevor had turned in for the night in the Belmont Hold, but having exceptionally good hearing meant he picked up on a lot of things he probably wasn't meant to be privy to. He wasn't sure if he agreed with her assessment, but it wasn't like he'd had a lot of people to compare himself to either.

He'd grown up surrounded by his parents' love - and despite what people assumed, his father had been kind, patient... crafting toys, playing hide-and-seek in the library, taking him up to the castle's highest balcony to gaze at the stars. They'd both doted on him, educated him thoroughly in etiquette, language, science, philosophy, medicine, and combat. All the things and more that a proper young gentleman would need to succeed in society and the world in general. But he'd rarely been allowed to venture from the castle grounds in his early years, and Dracula as a general rule had not welcomed visitors. Even servants or workers had been a rare sight - although the castle was massive, Dracula's magic and engineering know-how had it made it possible to maintain it with next to no staff. So young Adrian had grown up without playmates or friends or anyone near his age in general.

Nor had he ever met any others like himself, a half-vampires, as conception was incredibly rare in the first place, and if a child did result from such a coupling they were generally abandoned at birth or even killed outright. And as his mother had had such a difficult pregnancy that his father had made full use of his scientific and alchemical knowledge to prevent conception of another child.

To vampires he was nothing more than an ill-begotten half-breed, a lesser being, a mistake barely worth their notice or consideration, other than perhaps as a punchline for a joke. Both he and his mother were derided for simply existing, as it was unheard of to keep a human companion around for so long without turning them. His father made it clear that he would not tolerate disrespect directed towards his family, but all that meant was any remarks would be held back until the king of vampires was well out of earshot.

To humans he was something to be feared, a monster, a God forsaken spawn with strange golden eyes, a wan complexion, and razor sharp fangs that glinted whenever he spoke. It made no difference that he'd spent his teenage years refining his medical knowledge under his mother's tutelage, wanting to help people the way she did, as more often than not he'd ended up relegated to gathering ingredients or mixing medicines behind closed doors. It was an unfortunate reality that his mere presence upset some of her patients.

And then his mother had been arrested and dragged from the cottage in Lupu that she ran her practice from. That was his first failure... he should've been there, but she had sent him off to pick up some medical supplies for her - by the time he'd made it back, the house had been nothing but smoldering ruins. He hadn't even had the chance to attempt to save her from being burned at the stake in Targoviste. By the time he raced home to see his father, Vlad Tepes was already planning his genocidal war against the human race.

And there came his second failure; his protests had died with a single strike from his enraged father. Alucard had taken so much damage, he'd gone into hiding. It took him nearly a year to recover.

He supposed his third failure had been doing precisely what his mother had feared - abandoning Adrian to accept the mantle of Alucard, defining himself as the opposition of his father. Alucard, the sleeping soldier, the tragic prince... the patricide. Truthfully, he didn't like him very much either.

Except Alucard had gained things that Adrian hadn't. Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades had been the closest companions he'd had in his life. Friends, they'd likely correct him, even though that seemed laughable when they'd only brought him along to eliminate Dracula. Even though they'd only known each other a matter of weeks. Even though the two of them had left - together - a little under a month after the deed had been done. If that was what friendship was, perhaps loneliness wasn't such a bad thing after all.

Taka and Sumi had been... what he'd deserved, he supposed. He'd misjudged them terribly. He'd been desperate for companionship, having just had a taste of it only to have it walk away. He'd been a little proud of himself for taking them on as students, to continue the legacy of the Belmonts. So he'd housed them, fed them, trained them, let them wander freely through the libraries and the Hold that had been placed in his care. And in return they'd taken and taken and taken from him, and when he'd had nothing left to give they'd decided he was better off dead, just like his father.

He could've let them kill him. Maybe he should have. Who would have missed him? But he'd promised to be the last protector of the Belmont Hold; even if no one else remembered or cared, that mattered to him...

* * *

Author's Notes:

October 14, 2022