Author’s note: This takes place directly after the end of Part Five and it’s a really long part, too. Please read the other five parts before this one, or it won’t make much sense.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Six

It was going on about eight o’clock at night when the siren in Hellboy’s room went off and the words ‘CODE RED… CODE RED…CODE RED…’ flashed across a screen.

Damn,” Hellboy thought to himself, “They sure as hell won’t let me out to play, but when there’s some stupid monster… ” He didn’t complete the thought, but just continued lying on the bed staring at the ceiling.

There came a knock at the door. Hellboy assuming this was his father rolled over on his bed and faced the wall. Eventually the person who had knocked pulled open the heavy metal door and entered.

“Well, Hellboy, what are you going to do? Pull the ‘Achilles in his tent’ routine? Or are you going to come?” It was Lee, the FBI liaison.

Hellboy rolled over and sat up. Lee sat down on the bed next to him.

“Well, I may as well go,” grunted Hellboy, “It’s the only way I ever get out of here.”

He bent over and pulled on his boots, laced them up and tied them. It always amazed Lee how he managed to do that basically using his left hand with only just a little assistance from his unwieldy-sized right hand.

“What’s the problem this time?” he asked while he finished lacing and tying the boots.

Lee got up from the bed, “Seems there’s some sort of poltergeist entity running around the stacks of the main research library of the New York Public Library. Right now it appears to be not doing much more than shoving books off shelves. But the disturbances have been increasing in frequency and a security guard was knocked on the head pretty hard by quite a large tome.”

Hellboy stood up, retrieved his belt from a hook on the wall and strapped it on. He shrugged into his large coat and turned to Lee.

“Well, let’s go. Sounds like an appropriate case for Halloween. Should be a piece of cake and maybe I’ll get back in time to catch some horror movie on late night TV. That’s about the only entertainment I get around here.”

They made their way up to the garage that held the black unmarked sedans and garbage trucks that were their typical vehicles of transport. The FBI kept promising Hellboy that they would give the Bureau a specially-designed truck that would include permanently installed equipment and more easily accommodate his size, but they had yet to do that.

Hellboy had been almost seven feet tall since he was fifteen years old, but what he had not gained in height over the decades he had certainly gained in sheer bulk and he found it cumbersome cramming himself into the back of one of these trucks along with the equipment and rolling munitions cases that had to be placed in the truck along with him.

Somehow, this evening, everything seemed more annoying than usual. He wearily climbed into the back of the truck and was somewhat surprised when Lee climbed in with him. Hellboy craned his head back out the rear entrance of the truck.

“Pop’s not coming this time?” He said looking around.

“No, he’s not feeling very well this evening,” Lee said, handing Hellboy a folder, “This really should be pretty easy to take care of. I suspect that this entity is more disgruntled than anything else. Your father already has done some research and this folder contains everything you need to know.” They both sat on a bench along one side of the truck.

The agent who was to drive Hellboy’s truck got into the front cab and pushed a button that raised the rear doors. They pulled out of the garage and, along with two of the black sedans, drove out the main entrance to the property heading for the highways that would lead from Newark into Manhattan.

Hellboy didn’t say anything for a while, but after about fifteen minutes he turned to Lee.

“I know that I shouldn’t have been so hard on Pop, but boy was I pissed. I didn’t really think that what I had done earlier was all that bad.”

“Neither did he, Hellboy,” Lee said, shifting his weight on the uncomfortable bench he was sitting on. “This cancellation of your Halloween night out was not his idea. Frankly, there are some in the FBI that are out to jump all over him the minute you do anything the least little bit off the wall. And he would never be able to just quit like he did when you were five years old. For one thing, he just doesn’t have the money to live on his own with you and for another thing, regardless of him being ‘officially’ your adoptive father, I doubt the feds would let him just up and take off with you.”

Hellboy, who had been looking down at the floor of the truck while Lee had been speaking, looked up at him and nodded his head.

Lee shifted on the bench again. “Jesus, no wonder you find this damn truck so uncomfortable. I’ll try to shove through another request for a larger truck.”

He stood up, stretched and then sat down on the bench again a little closer to where Hellboy was scrunched up.

“Look, Hellboy, if Trevor ever quit or, heaven forbid, got fired he would never be able to keep custody of you. And could you imagine him trying to sue the government over custody rights? What court would even accept a case like this?”

He reached out and touched Hellboy’s shoulder. “Every time certain people in the FBI get upset with you, he gets the brunt of it. You’ve got to start thinking more about the consequences of your actions than you have been. I’ve been watching you grow and change over the years and most of these changes have been good ones. I’m certainly proud of how well you are growing up, but you still have a long way to go. You really must learn to be more responsible for how you act. What you wanted to accomplish this morning was really quite a laudable thing. But your father is not an unreasonable man and I feel that if you had tried to approach him in a different way, things would have turned out very differently, both for you and him.”

Hellboy sighed and looked down at his boots. “When I get angry I don’t think, I just do. And I always end up saying things I wish I had never said. But, you know, Lee, this time I did try to talk to Father earlier in the week. He was just too darn busy fooling around with that fish guy to listen to what I had to say. I just couldn’t take seeing that poor guy stuck in that damn tank for one more minute, even if it did cost me my Halloween party.”

Just as he was finished speaking the garbage truck and the two black sedans pulled onto Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and pulled up in front of the beautiful building that was the main library for the New York Public Library.

Lee pulled out some sort of two-way radio and spoke to the driver of the truck. The truck and the two cars then pulled around to a rear, employee-only entrance to the building. The rear doors of the truck were let down and Lee exited, indicating to Hellboy to stay in the truck. Lee then went to the entrance and rang a bell. He was let in, was there for several minutes, and then came back out. He climbed back into the truck, the rear doors were raised again and the truck and the two sedans pulled away.

“Well, that takes care of this part of the evening,” Lee said, “I told you that this job would be a real easy one. That folder I gave you contains all the details of what happened in there when you fought that poltergeist and, of course, the Bureau will expect a full typed report of this job sometime tomorrow. Especially the reason why it took you until two in the morning to banish that noisy ghost. The director of the library’s a friend of mine and he’s willing to go along with this.”

Hellboy just stared at Lee, getting the distinct impression that his evening was going to be very different than he had been expecting after he stormed out of his father’s office. Eventually the vehicles pulled into a street that was at the rear entrance of a very exclusive bar and restaurant in Manhattan.

“Your father really meant this all to be a kind of surprise. He went to a lot of trouble and money to rent out this restaurant for a special Halloween party for you and your buddies. I wasn’t about to see all that money go down the drain because a few idiots in the FBI think you needed to be taught a lesson. And both Trevor and I do think you deserve a night out. Just remember that as far as I or your father are concerned you’re not attending a party, you’re fighting a poltergeist in the library.”

The rear doors to the truck were let down again and Lee climbed out and beckoned for Hellboy to do the same.

“Now, go have some fun Cinderella. Don’t lose that folder and make sure you destroy it after you write up that report on the poltergeist infested library.”

Hellboy stuffed the folder into one of the larger pockets of his coat. He started to walk into the rear entrance of the restaurant. He stopped and walked back.

“Lee, I… I…” Hellboy stopped not knowing what exactly to say.

Lee waved a hand, “Go on in. Go have some fun; get drunk and dance the night away with some pretty girl.”

Hellboy grinned, “Go on, yourself. Who’d dance with me, anyway? The getting drunk part should be easy, though.”

With that Hellboy turned and walked into the restaurant. There were a lot more people there than he had expected. Most were dressed in some costume or another.

Along with his current colleagues, there were some older retired and semi-retired agents, including Frank Dixon who Hellboy had served with in Argentina in the mid-fifties. There was the now retired senator who had been so inimical to Hellboy when he had been five years old and his son, Steven, a former FBI agent whose life Hellboy had saved in Argentina. The senator, who was close to 80 years old at this point in time, now counted Hellboy and Trevor Broom among his most treasured friends. His son Steven, who always claimed that meeting Hellboy was the one thing that really focused his direction in life, had eventually left the FBI to work in civil rights organizations.

Hellboy was stunned at the size and scope of this affair. There were even the nurses, some now retired, who had befriended Hellboy when his father had been hospitalized for so long in 1959 for cancer. Before he could even speak he was surrounded by a large group of well-wishers. One woman forced herself through the crowd and dragged Hellboy off to the dance floor. It took him a few seconds to recognize Kate Corrigan under the rather gaudy, but authentic, Romanian costume she had on. Her face was beautifully made up and she had on a shoulder-length, curly black wig.

Hellboy really did end up having the time of his life; he did get quite drunk and if he didn’t dance all night long with Kate, it was because of trying to play pool and darts with his buddies (he wasn’t really very good) or dancing with some of the other women (he was better at dancing than pool or darts).

The waiters and waitresses had been paid a lot of extra money by Trevor Broom not to inquire too closely into the large guy in the funny red costume. They were doing an excellent job of keeping everyone entertained. At one point Hellboy finally got Kate to a table in a corner away from everyone where they could speak together quietly.

Even though they both had been enjoying themselves immensely, each knew that the other was troubled about something. He looked closer at her face as she drank from her pint of beer and thought that he could see the shadow of a bruise under the bright makeup on her left cheek.

He reached out with his left hand, cupping her chin in his hand, and pulled her face closer to his. She tried to turn away, but he was gently insistent that she let him look.

“Hey, Katie, who the hell slapped you? It wasn’t that David was it? I never really much liked what you told me about him.”

Kate smiled a lop-sided, half rueful grin. “Let’s just say that David and I aren’t seeing each other any more.”

Hellboy dropped his hand from Kate’s chin. But then he leaned in, drew her closer, and gently kissed the bruised cheek.

“Sweetie, how could anyone want to hurt you? You’re one of the best.”

She shrugged, “David’s not a bad sort really. He just couldn’t take the pressure of having a girlfriend with a mind of her own. We had a big fight because he wanted me to give everything up to marry him and be a stay-at-home mom. I couldn’t sacrifice my career for any man. That’s one reason why these relationships of mine never last very long.”

“Still, that’s no reason to hit you,” growled Hellboy, “If I had known…”

“That’s one reason why I didn’t want to tell you,” Kate looked up into Hellboy’s face and smiled, “But don’t worry about me, I can take care of myself. He probably wasn’t able to sit down again for week after he slapped me. I bet he’ll never hit a poor, defenseless woman again. At least not one who was taught by a master how to defend herself.”

Kate unexpectedly leaned over, threw her arms around Hellboy’s neck and kissed his cheek. He smiled at her, remembering the first time she had done that when she had been eight years old and he fourteen, back when they first met in 1959.

“What was that for?” he whispered in her ear.

“Because I think you’re real nice.” Kate then took Hellboy’s face in her hands and kissed him long and hard directly on the mouth. Now, this wasn’t exactly the first time that they had ever kissed in recent years, but Hellboy realized that this time was very different.

He wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but realized that he liked it. When Kate pulled away from the kiss, Hellboy wrapped his left arm around her waist and pulled her into his lap. Kate laid her head on his chest and they didn’t speak for a long time.

It was Kate who first broke the silence. “I think I needed that. I needed to be kissed, to be held by someone who doesn’t want me to be something I’m not; who doesn’t want more from me than I can give; who isn’t going to hurt me.”

Hellboy bent down his head and kissed her again, holding her even closer.

“You know I would never, ever do anything to hurt you,” he said after they had finished this second, even longer kiss.

Kate nodded. “But that’s what’s so great about you, Hellboy. No matter how big and scary-looking you are, no matter how huge your temper tantrums, you wouldn’t really even hurt a damn fly unless it was some demonic monster threatening the rest of us.”

She slid from his lap back into her own seat at the table. “And don’t worry, I’ll never ask more from you than you can give either. But I wouldn’t mind a little romance from you once in a while; I’m sure that that would be a real adventure. However, there’s one thing that I know: you’ve got a heart the size of the Atlantic Ocean; someday you will really fall in love with someone and when you do you will fall hard.”

Hellboy laughed and shook his head, “Things are different with you Kate because you’ve known me for so long, but what girl would really want a guy like me?”

Kate patted his cheek, “Someday the right girl will come along and I think you’ll both be surprised at the intensity of your feelings for each other. That will be the time for me to back off and go back to being your ‘little sister’.”

She reached into the pocket of the colorful skirt she was wearing and fetched out a deck of Tarot cards and started to shuffle them. “It’s your turn now, big guy. Madame Kate, the gypsy fortune-teller, already senses that something is bothering you. How’s about telling her your problems?”

Hellboy got up from the table and fetched a couple more pints of beer. When he returned he took a long drink from his before speaking.

“Jeez, I can’t hide anything from you, can I Kate? Pop and I had a really bad dust-up earlier, but I can’t tell you what it was about. But, like always, it was mostly my own fault and ended up with me saying things I never should have said. I liked what you said earlier about me not even hurting a fly. I wish that could be true, but it’s not. And most of the time who I end up hurting when I fly off on these tantrums of mine is poor Father.”

He took another drink of his beer. “In a way, I’ll never be sorry for what I did that caused so much trouble. But all I really ended up accomplishing was getting Pop in trouble with the FBI. Again. No one knows better than you do just what Father means to me, but there are times when I can’t get what he sees in me that’s worth loving so much. That’s worth spending half his savings on a party like this; a party that I don’t even deserve.”

Kate didn’t say anything to all of this. Rather she dealt out three cards from the deck that she had been shuffling: Ace of Pentacles, Six of Pentacles, Temperance.

“Interesting cards,” she muttered, “One would think that your essential nature would be described by the Ace of Wands, which represents the element of Fire, rather than Ace of Pentacles, which is Earth. But, then again, one of your essential attributes is that you are fireproof. Earth doesn’t exactly burn easily. But Earth is also a very grounded and centered type of energy and maybe you need to seek more of that in your life.”

“Now the Six of Pentacles: I think that would represent you helping and protecting others, but you notice that in this picture here the person who is doing the helping is almost completely covered by a huge red robe. In general, you must be hidden from those very people whom you are helping. They cannot know who you really are. And not only are you hidden from them, you are also somewhat hidden from yourself.”

“However, in the card Temperance is where you find the Fire that is also an essential part of your nature. One of the functions of Temperance is wrath, but if you are well tempered and centered in yourself we are speaking of justified wrath and not the more unjustified anger of a temper tantrum. But this card, I believe, also tells me what your father really sees in you that is worth loving so much: he sees something very special that is hidden from most others, even from you yourself. And I think it interesting that the figure in this card represents the Archangel Michael.”

Hellboy laughed at this. “I’ve been looking for years at that huge statue Pop has in his office of Saint Michael slaying Satan as the dragon. You really think he sees that in me?”

Kate looked up from her perusal of the cards, “I’m being really serious, Hellboy.”

He laughed even harder. “Jeez, Kate, I think we’re both drunk; that’s what I think.”

Just as he was speaking, Martha Wilson walked up to them. She had been the head nurse in the BPRD medical facility in Boston where Trevor Broom and Kate’s own father had both been hospitalized in 1959.

“I’m not as young as I once was, H.B., and I can’t stay much longer. But I do believe you owe me another dance before I take off.”

She took Hellboy by the arm and led him off to the dance floor.

“Little Katie’s certainly growed up to be a pretty one, hasn’t she?” she said as they started dancing together, “You two seemed pretty cozy over there in that corner all by yourselves, but we can’t let Kate Corrigan monopolize you all night, can we?”

Martha swore that Hellboy would have been blushing, if his skin color weren’t already so red to begin with. “How many people do you think saw us, Marty?”

She laughed, “I would say just about everyone. You two weren’t exactly that discreet. How long has this been going on, anyway? Should we be planning a wedding soon?”

Hellboy leaned in and pecked Martha on the cheek. “Now, Marty, you know that you’ve always been my only girl, right? Katie and me, we’re still just friends, real good friends you understand, but not really much more than that. It’s just that we both needed something from each other tonight and the kinds of things that you need when you’re twenty-eight and thirty-four are a bit different from when you’re eight and fourteen.”

“Well, you two looked real cute together is all I have to say.” Martha had known Hellboy during one of the hardest years of his life. She also noticed that he was troubled about something despite his obvious enjoyment of the party. “How’s your father doing? I kind of expected to see him here tonight. I hope all is well with him.”

Hellboy continued to dance in silence for a while. “I suppose he probably would have been here tonight, and Lee as well, if everything had gone as Pop had planned,” he finally said, “But things didn’t go as he had planned and it’s mostly my fault that things didn’t work out. But if you’re worried about his health, that seems to be pretty good right now. His primary problem just seems to be me.”

As the dance came to an end Martha patted Hellboy’s shoulder, “As long as I’ve know you two, you have always managed to work out your difficulties. I’m sure that this time won’t be any different.”

“I’m sure you’re right, Marty,” he said, “But I owe him a really big apology, and knowing that he will forgive me like he always does just makes it that much harder.”

A few minutes later Hellboy helped Martha on with her coat. “Marty, I can’t thank you enough for coming all this way just for me. I just wish Father could have been here. He would have loved to have seen you again.”

Martha kissed him on the cheek, “Look, H.B., when you decide to worry about your father you always worry way too much. It’s not often that your father gets to give you a party like this. Stop worrying about what happened and enjoy the rest of it.”

As Hellboy had always found Martha’s advice to him in the past to be good advice, he did just that. He really threw himself into the party for the rest of the night and enjoyed himself like he had almost never had in his life before.

It was almost too soon by the time 2:00am rolled around and it was time for him to leave, having finally banished the ‘disgruntled poltergeist’ from the library. He patted his coat pocket to make sure that he still had the folder of ‘research’ his father had put together.

Before he left he went and shook the hands of all the waiters and kissed the hands of all the waitresses. One waitress giggled, “Are you as sexy out of that interesting costume as you are in it, big guy?”

Hellboy kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear, “I can certainly promise you that.”

He then went and said his farewells to the guests who were still there, giving Kate a final huge kiss before going out the rear entrance to the waiting garbage truck and sedans.

Luckily for Hellboy, the men who were driving the vehicles, and who had also attended the party, had drunk a lot less than he had. They managed to make it back to Newark in one piece. It was just past 3:00am when they rolled in at the main entrance to the Bureau.

Hellboy had to grin. The only time he ever arrived ‘home’ this late was after an especially arduous job, or after some long international flight, also because of some job. The ‘job’ that he had gone on this past evening had been the most fun he had ever had in his life and he wished that all of his jobs could be this much fun.

He still dreaded having to face his father the next morning, but right now he was too happy to worry much about that. As he passed by the door to his father’s office on his way to his room, he noticed that there still seemed to be a light on inside.

He was curious who could still be using the office this late. He pushed the door open and looked in. He saw Trevor Broom sitting slumped down in his chair, having fallen asleep still holding the book he had been reading.

With a sudden tightening of his chest, Hellboy remembered what the date now was: it was November 1st, the day after Halloween.

For some reason, when Hellboy had been younger, he used to have terrible nightmares related to this particular date. They had become especially frequent when his father had been so ill in 1959. He never could recall details of these dreams; he just remembered that on November 1st something bad was to happen.

Why entering his father’s office on November 1st and seeing him sitting so still brought these terrible dreams to mind he was not sure. All he knew was that he was frightened and wanted his father to wake up and look at him, to see that he was there with him.

He knelt by his sleeping father’s chair and looked into his face. He then gently gathered Trevor Broom into his arms and held him close.

“Father,” he whispered, “It’s me. I’m here. I’ve come back.”

To his ever-lasting relief, Trevor Broom stirred and, opening his eyes, blinked up at him in surprise. “Son? I must have fallen asleep here. What time is it?”

Hellboy didn’t answer him; he just held him closer and started to cry.

“Father, I’m sorry, so very sorry. I never meant it; I never meant any of it. How could I have called you a bastard? How could I?” Hellboy cried even harder.

Trevor Broom was somewhat startled by the vehemence of these emotions. Also, he was by now being hugged very tightly by the somewhat distraught Hellboy, who was no longer paying enough attention to what he was doing with that huge right hand of his.

“Son, it’s not quite necessary to strangle me to show me how sorry you are,” Broom finally managed to gasp out, “Frankly, it’s not the worst thing in the world to call your father a bastard. I did it once myself when I was quite young and my own father had said something I believed unforgivable to my mother.”

At Broom’s rare hint at whatever troubles had cut off his relationship with his own parents at such a young age, Hellboy finally let go of his strangle-hold of him and sat down on the floor next to his father’s chair.

“I’m not sure that I really didn’t deserve to be called a bastard,” Broom continued, “When you were small I allowed those tests on you to go on too long; I really do believe that. And here I was stupidly doing the same thing with poor Abe. I just allow myself to get too wrapped up in my research at times. It’s good sometimes for someone to pull you up short like that and make you take notice of your own actions.”

Hellboy shook his head, “Lee’s right, Father, I should have handled this whole thing differently. I was frustrated and I don’t deal well with that. But when I got really angry it didn’t have anything to do with Abe. I was furious that you were going to allow the FBI to cancel my night out. Whatever you deserve or don’t deserve, I’ve got no right calling you names because of something like that. Especially, when what happened was mostly my own fault anyway.”

Broom looked at Hellboy, who sat hanging his head. “Tell me, Son, if you had it to do all over again, would you bust Abe out of his tank like that?”

Hellboy looked up at him and thought for a while. “Yes, Father, I would.”

“Good,” Broom said getting up from his chair, “I’m very proud of you.”

Hellboy got up from the floor. “You are? Really?”

Broom smiled at him. “Yes I am, really. Let’s go to bed now, I’m sure it’s very late.”

Author’s afterword: If this all seems rather ‘Abeless’ (if not aimless), don’t worry he’ll be back. I’m just setting up several themes that will be worked on later in this chapter and also in subsequent chapters. Also, don’t worry about Hellboy’s little toying with Kate’s affections. Kate, who knows H.B. really well, is so correct that when he finally falls in love, he’s going to fall real hard. Also, I just had so much fun writing that Kate/Hellboy stuff. In the original comic it is probably Kate, and not Liz, who’s worming her way into his heart. But don’t worry, my stories are still mainly ‘movieverse’ and so Liz is looming just around the corner in the next decade (and the next chapter).

More Abe stuff to come… (believe me)

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