Author’s notes: Much of the backstory I give to Trevor Broom is loosely based on material derived from the biography Guillermo del Toro developed for the character in the film. As far as I am aware, the identification of his religious faith as Catholic derives from the movie and not from the original comics where no mention of his religion was made.
Interestingly enough, Guillermo del Toro’s biography of Trevor Broom identifies his estranged father’s faith as Anglican and gives no explanation as to why the son would be Catholic. Therefore, in my own movieverse fanfictions I have decided to make Trevor Broom an adolescent convert to Catholicism.
Disclaimer: The last time I looked, these characters still weren’t mine. Darn it.
Merry Christmas to Mike Mignola, Guillermo del Toro, and to all those who love the characters they have gifted us with.
Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense
Newark, New Jersey
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Hellboy walked out onto the roof.
Once again, he found that he needed to be alone just after Midnight Mass was over. This was his first Christmas with Liz after they had been married the previous March, the second after Trevor Broom had been murdered in November the year before.
The weather this year was very different from what it had been the Christmas after his father’s death. He remembered coming to sit on the roof in the wee hours of Christmas morning the previous year and being greeted with clear skies, bright stars, and a beautiful full moon.
Now the weather was warm for December, damp and drizzly; and if there was a moon, it was obscured by an overcast sky.
Last Christmas had been filled both with the intense grief of his father’s death and with the just as intense joy of his engagement to marry Liz.
In some ways, the intensity of both feelings had faded; and, to be truly honest, this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. A developing ability to pull back from his emotions had helped him cope better with the ups and downs of this past year than would have been true previously.
Yet, more often than not, he was still struggling with jealousy each time he thought that some man, other than Abe, was noticing Liz. He was also convinced it was nothing short of the miraculous that their nine-month old marriage was managing to survive these more than occasional outbursts of his.
And, up until last year, nothing had ever been more miraculous than the days leading up to Christmas. No matter how tumultuous his relationship with Trevor Broom or with Liz had become, his birthday and Christmas Eve were always special days to be shared with them and the others he was close to.
His father was now dead; murdered in a way he was still convinced he was partially to blame for. Marriage with Liz, which should be making him ecstatically happy, was currently being undermined by his own silly insecurities.
Last Christmas, the brilliant clarity of the stars and moon had helped him feel a little less sad about his father’s death and more hopeful about his engagement to Liz. This Christmas, the overly warm, humid weather with its misty precipitation was mirroring his increasingly gloomy thoughts.
Heedless of the wet state of its flat surface, Hellboy sat on the edge of the roof; trying to ignore the damp that was penetrating through the leather of his long, tan coat.
Closing his eyes, he tried to encourage a pleasant memory of Trevor Broom connected to Christmas.
This ostensibly was the reason for his retreat alone onto the roof, rather than his feelings over another Bureau agent, Walter Stone, who had dared to speak with Liz after Midnight Mass had let out.
Standing before the brightly burning fireplace in his office, Trevor Broom poured out two small glasses of the clear, syrupy liquor. Handing one of these to Hellboy, he sniffed at the liquor in his own glass. “Anisette still smells like licorice to me. I can’t claim to like it very much. My grandfather always had more of a taste for sweet liquors than I did.”
“Well, I can’t claim to like this stuff much either, Pop,” Hellboy laughed, “Never cared for booze that tasted like candy; especially not licorice. So, why do we always have to drink it after Midnight Mass?”
Moving to one of the leather couches in the rear of the office that was near that side of the fireplace, Trevor Broom sat down on the left-hand end; indicating for Hellboy to join him. As he took a tiny sip of his drink, he felt the couch sag slightly as his oversized adopted son eased himself down.
They sat together in a companionable silence for a few moments, as Hellboy took his own small mouthful from the glass in his left hand. “You may not be aware, Son,” Trevor Broom broke into this silence after taking another taste of his anisette, “that my grandfather and I took a tour of Europe together after my conversion to Catholicism. This was just after my seventeenth birthday and was so arranged that we would spend Christmas in Rome.”
“Rather than spending our time in some fancy hotel, we stayed in a family-run pensione in an older section of the city. It was Elisabetta Mittiga, the signora of the establishment and a wonderfully warm, friendly woman, who introduced us to the tradition of greeting Christmas morning with a small glass of anisette after arriving back from Midnight Mass.”
This revelation surprised Hellboy, who knew little of his father’s youth beyond the fact that an incident in his childhood had estranged his parents, leaving him to be raised by his paternal grandfather.
“As I indicated earlier,” Broom continued, “My dear grandfather found sweet liquors more to his palate than I did. Yet, I had such fond memories of Signora Mittiga and her homemade anisette that I searched high and low the next year for a bottle of this liquor to give Grandfather for Christmas. Believe me, it seemed to take forever to find a brand of anisette available in England that was suitable for drinking as opposed to a flavoring for making Italian-style biscuits.”
Standing up again from the couch, Trevor Broom raised his glass. “Grandfather, I once more toast you and the memory of our Christmas in Rome. I don’t like anisette any better than I did the year I gave you this bottle and I wish you had lived long enough to finish it.”
Tilting his head back, he drank the rest of the anisette in his glass. Standing up as his father made this toast, Hellboy drained his own glass at the same time; trying not to make a funny face as a licorice-scented waft tickled his nasal passages.
Trevor Broom took both glasses to return them to the tray that still contained the large bottle he had decanted the anisette from. Hellboy stooped to look closer at the bottle. “Jeez, Pop, you mean to say that this is the same bottle of stuff you gave your grandfather?”
“Certainly it is,” Broom replied, as he re-corked the bottle and returned it to the cabinet where he had a few bottles of alcoholic beverages. “As you can see it is a large bottle. Since Grandfather’s death in 1936, I have only taken a small glass of it right after Midnight Mass. In a way, I almost feel that the five minutes it takes me to drink it are five more minutes spent with the grandfather who raised me.”
He wasn’t exactly sure where that memory of his first Christmas in Newark with Trevor Broom had come from. He hadn’t thought about that bottle of anisette in years; but recalled that when they had finished it the next year his father had not replaced it.
“Are you going to sit out here all night, H.B.? It’s starting to rain harder, you know.” Liz’s voice broke into Hellboy’s reverie. Getting up from the edge of the roof, Hellboy turned to find her near the door into the building, dressed in a waterproof coat and standing under a large black umbrella.
Without a word, Hellboy followed Liz back into the building. Before they descended the stairwell just inside the entrance, Hellboy stooped down and gave her a long, gentle kiss; careful not to drip water on her from his now soaked coat.
“C’mon, Lizzie,” he whispered in her ear, “Let’s go and sit by the fire in the office until I dry off.”
After they had entered the office, Liz threw a few more logs onto the now dim fire as Hellboy went to the rear of the office to hang his coat somewhere to dry.
To his surprise, as he moved back toward the front of the office, he saw a tray on his late father’s desk with two small glasses and an unopened bottle of DuBouchett Anisette; exactly the same brand Trevor Broom had once purchased in England for his grandfather.
Picking up the bottle, Hellboy turned toward Liz. “Do you know where this came from?”
She shrugged. “It wasn’t here when I went out to look for you.”
Suddenly smiling, Hellboy broke the seal on the bottle and uncorked it. Filling the two small glasses with the clear, syrupy liquor, he handed one to Liz.
“Let’s sit down, Liz, and I’ll share a story my father told me about his one Christmas in Rome.”
They sat down together on the same leather couch he had long ago sat with his father when he first heard the story. Sniffing at her drink and then taking a little taste, Liz smiled. “Yum, this tastes something like licorice. I’ve always loved licorice.”
Hellboy laughed. “I still don’t much care for licorice; but you know, this anisette stuff grows on you.”
While they sat quietly enjoying their drinks, Hellboy related to Liz the story his father had told him about a similar bottle of anisette.
“You know, Lizzie,” he said in conclusion, “my father said that every time he had a glass of this stuff after Midnight Mass it was like spending another five minutes with his grandfather. I still can’t claim to like booze that tastes too much like candy, but I would drink a whole gallon of anisette if I actually could have five more minutes with my father.”
Taking their glasses and setting them down on a table next to the couch, Liz moved closer to Hellboy and leaned her head on his shoulder. “What would you do with those five minutes if you got them?” she asked after a long moment of silence.
As Hellboy pulled Liz closer to him, she just barely heard his answer. “I’d tell him that I loved him.”
Liz kissed his cheek. “I think you just did, H.B.”
Exhaling a breath that was half a sigh and half a laugh, Hellboy shook his head. “I would’ve liked to’ve been able to say it when he could still hear it.”
“I think he heard you,” Liz said as she once more kissed his cheek.
Getting up from the couch again, Hellboy moved to re-cork the new bottle of anisette that had appeared so mysteriously.
“Yeah, Lizzie; maybe you’re right. Maybe he did hear me.”
As he stood looking at the bottle in his hand, Christmas once again began to feel miraculous to him.
Author’s afterword: I hope all are having a great Christmas (or whatever winter solstice holiday you celebrate). This little story is dedicated to Elisabetta Mittiga, the Italian-born grandmother who introduced me the tradition of drinking anisette after Midnight Mass. She may never have resided in Rome, but she was, indeed, a wonderfully warm, friendly woman.
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