Author’s note: This takes place directly after the end of Part Six and it won’t make much sense if you haven’t read the previous parts. Hellboy is dealing with a whole lot of ‘growing pains’: his first romance with a young woman and another person who enters his life who will upset the balance of his relationship with his father. Hellboy is going to become frustrated and, as he said about himself, he doesn’t deal well with frustration.

Reminder: the date at the beginning of this part is November 1, 1978.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Seven

It wasn’t quite seven in the morning when Hellboy awoke from a rather heated dream about Kate Corrigan. He smiled to himself and rolled over onto his stomach, wondering about what had happened the night before. He was just beginning to realize that their relationship was very different now from the ‘little sister’, ‘big brother’ relationship it had been in 1959 when Katie had been eight years old.

Hellboy closed his eyes, attempting to fall back asleep and return to that interesting dream he had been having. Soon his breathing became deep and regular; he even began to snore.

But several minutes after having fallen asleep again his rest obviously became disturbed by something troubling; he groaned incoherently and tossed in his sleep. He rolled over onto his back clutching his pillow to his chest, muttering indiscriminate words.

He blinked tears away as he finally woke up. The details of the nightmare were already receding from his conscious memory. The only thing that he could recall was the absolute fear of it all and the knowledge that something dreadful was to happen on November 1st.

“Damn,” he groaned as he sat up and tried to calm the racing of his heart. He hadn’t had that nightmare in years, not since Trevor Broom had almost died from an allergic reaction to a medication while he was in the hospital in 1959.

Hellboy’s fight with Broom the day before and his emotional encounter with him in the wee hours of November 1st were probably what had triggered a recurrence of this nightmare. He looked at the time; it was only ten minutes after seven. He had barely managed to have around three hours of sleep since returning back to Bureau headquarters after his Halloween ‘job’.

Hellboy was usually the ‘late to bed, late to rise’ type. He punched his pillow back into shape, lay back down and tried to go back to sleep. It was no good. Just like in the past, he was not able fall asleep again after having this terrible dream.

He got up, took a very cold shower to drive both the grogginess and the nightmare out of his head, and got dressed. He knew that the main kitchen wouldn’t have even started preparing his breakfast this early.

Hellboy decided to see if his father was eating his own breakfast yet. He might be able to snitch a few muffins from his father’s breakfast until the kitchen prepared his pancakes.

He really just wanted to see him; in the past this had been one of the ways that he had been able to drive away the fear that this nightmare always made him feel.

However, when he arrived to his father’s sleeping quarters he could see that the cart that would have been used to bring him his breakfast was already rolled back out into the corridor for maintenance to clear away. Knocking on the door received no answer; his father must have already gone to his office for the day.

Hellboy poked around in the basket on the cart and discovered two uneaten croissants; not particularly his favorite pastry, but he was hungry.

He then wandered down the corridor, eventually coming to a staff kitchen/break-room where sometimes a pot of coffee could be found in the morning. When he arrived there he poured himself a big mug of black coffee.

Since the chairs at the table in this small kitchen were not designed for someone the size of Hellboy to sit in, he stood at the counter as he drank his coffee and ate his croissants. As he was doing this one of the staff carpenters entered to get a cup of coffee.

“Morning, Hellboy,” he said as he walked in, “Up early aren’t you? I heard about your job last night and would’ve thought you’d still be in bed after that one.”

“Hey, Carl,” Hellboy took another big gulp of his coffee, “Just woke up early; couldn’t get back to sleep after that.”

“Been around your father’s office this morning?” Carl said as he poured some milk into his coffee, “Funny thing he’s doing to it, dismantling all those bookcases to install that enormous aquarium.”

“When’d he start that, Carl? I was just in his office a little past three this morning and it was just the same as usual.” Hellboy poured himself a fresh mug of coffee.

Carl drank from his cup of coffee. “He came around five this morning to get us started. It’s going to be a huge job. We’ve got to re-install all those bookcases someplace else in the office and that tank he’s putting in is enormous. It’s going to take up a whole wall.”

“Thanks for the news, Carl,” Hellboy said as he gulped down what was left of the coffee in his mug. He tossed the mug into the small sink in the kitchen, leaving it for someone else to clean up. “I guess I’d better go and see what’s going on.”

Hellboy left Carl behind in the staff kitchen and walked down the corridor that led toward his father’s office. Even though it was still not quite eight in the morning, the renovations in the office were in full swing.

The large, golden oak double-doors that led into the office were fully opened and fastened in some manner to the corridor wall to keep them from swinging closed. A variety of carpenters and other types of workmen were bustling in and out with equipment and building materials.

He found out from the men working in the office that Broom was not there. He had no urge to go to the main kitchen to pester them to cook his breakfast early, so he walked into the Medical Wing and made his way to the chapel that was located there.

Even though Hellboy was trying not to think about it, he was still greatly disturbed by the nightmare that had interrupted his sleep. When his father had been hospitalized for cancer in the Boston facility where they had resided in 1959, he found spending time praying in the chapel a great comfort. He felt the need for that comfort again.

When Hellboy entered the chapel the first thing that he noticed was Trevor Broom kneeling in prayer in front of a large wooden crucifix. His face was buried in his hands and as far as Hellboy could tell he was weeping.

It did not appear that Broom had heard Hellboy walk in. Hellboy knelt next to him, unsure what he should do or say. He reached out and touched Broom’s shoulder.

Broom looked up, startled, his eyes filled with tears.

“Father, what’s wrong?” Hellboy never recalled seeing his father quite so distressed before. He hated seeing him like this.

Broom leaned over and embraced Hellboy tightly. “I’ve lost so many of the important people in my life. Thank God, I still have you.”

Hellboy sighed; he wished he knew what to say at times like this. After returning the hug he stood up and went to a rack of votive candles and lit one. Broom came over and stood next to him. Hellboy didn’t look up, but Broom could see tears in his eyes.

“Father,” he said, after a long period of silent contemplation of the candle, “Tell me about something good that happened on November 1st; I’ve always been so afraid of this day.”

Broom smiled ruefully, “This is not a day that I think of or speak of willingly. In the past it always seemed that all of the worst things that happened to me occurred on this day.”

He reached down and lit several candles of his own. “It was the day in my childhood when my two younger sisters died and spelled the beginning of the end of my relationship with my parents; it was the day the man who raised me, my dear Grandfather, died; it was the day that the only woman I ever loved died.”

He then fell so silent that Hellboy, who now wished he had never brought the topic up, thought that he had finished speaking. But after a while Broom continued, “But there is one good thing I can tell you about this day: it is the day on which I was born.”

This surprising statement made Hellboy recall his first birthday in December of 1945 when he had asked Broom when his own birthday was. Broom had said that he would much prefer to celebrate the day on which he had found his son instead of the day of his own birth. He then asked him never to bring it up again.

Broom smiled sadly at Hellboy. “I wish I could be more encouraging, but I’m afraid I have never found this day to be an auspicious one. And it didn’t help that I fell asleep again after eating breakfast this morning and had a terrible nightmare.”

Even though Hellboy was still disturbed by his own nightmare, he was glad that Broom had told him about his birthday. Somehow that did make this day seem less alarming.

Hellboy turned toward Broom. “Come on, Pop. Let’s get out of here. I’m going to the kitchen to pester them into making my pancakes now. I’m starved.”

Broom smiled at Hellboy. “May I join you? For some reason I find that I am hungry again and wouldn’t mind a few of your pancakes.”

“Sure, Pop. Why not?” Hellboy and Broom walked out into the main corridor of the Medical Wing and then exited, heading for the main kitchen. After Hellboy had informed the cooks that he wished to have his breakfast a little earlier than usual, he and Broom proceeded to his room to wait for the arrival of the food.

They sat down together at the table in Hellboy’s room where he usually took his meals, drinking mugs of coffee that they had picked up from the small staff kitchen. While they were waiting for the food to arrive Hellboy told Broom that he had already seen his office that morning and asked whether the aquarium he was installing had to do with Abe.

Broom nodded. “While you were away last night I really thought about what I wanted to do with Abe. I totally agree with you that it is time that we let him out of the those small tanks in the Medical Wing and familiarize him with the rest of the Bureau personnel.”

Broom took another sip of his coffee. “Our researches have shown that Abe can breathe and function out of water almost like a human, and, indeed, he shows some human DNA in his genetic makeup. However, he appears to need to spend significant time in water for optimal physical health. There is a relatively unused space right next to my office. We are going to turn that into a private room for Abe. The large aquarium that I am having installed will have outlets either into this room or into my office.”

Just then Hellboy’s breakfast arrived. Broom helped himself to three of the pancakes, two pieces of toast, and a few slices of bacon. All the rest of the large bowls filled with food were for Hellboy who was now ravenously hungry.

While they were eating Broom continued his explanation.

“I wish at this point to spend significant time with Abe. Even though he seems to understand perfectly well what is being said to him, he does not appear to be able to speak. Since physical examinations have shown fully developed vocal chords, either this lack of speech is atrophy due to disuse or isolation for over a century has caused him to forget how to speak. I wish to start working with him, teaching him to communicate first through a kind of sign language, hoping eventually to lead him to oral communication.”

Hellboy, who up until this time was too busy wolfing down pancakes to speak, laughed. “Bet you’re going to use that same sign language you used to teach me to talk. What are you going to use for an office until this stuff is finished? From what I saw this morning you’re not going to be able to use your office for some time.”

Broom started in on the last of the three pancakes he had taken. “For a lot of my work I could use the small desk that I have in my sleeping quarters. For work that needs more space I have obtained Lee’s permission to use his office; he’s not planning on being around again for a while. I have taken from my office sufficient reference works to tide me over and, of course, my most important tools are the books that I always keep in that box I tote around with me out in the field.”

He used his napkin to wipe maple syrup off of his fingers. “There’s been something strange going on with Abe ever since you brought him back from that trip to the Medical Wing staff kitchen. He keeps pointing into his mouth, smacking his lips, and rubbing his stomach. But we can’t figure out what he wants us to feed him. What was it that he ate when he was with you?”

Hellboy grinned at Broom. “Rotten eggs. There’s this nurse that works here that keeps this lizzardy thing as a pet that likes to eat them, so there’s always a container of the smelly things in the staff refrigerator. Abe wolfed down four of them before I could get the container away from him. I was afraid that he would make himself sick if he ate too many of them all at once.”

Broom poured himself a fresh cup of coffee from the supply that had been sent for Hellboy’s breakfast. Hellboy got up from the table and fetched a container of milk from the small refrigerator that was in his room.

Broom nodded his thanks and addressed Hellboy while he was stirring the milk into his coffee. “It seems to me,” he said with a little smile, “That there was an infant demon who I had to stop from eating too many Baby Ruth candy bars for that exact same reason.”

After Broom was done with his coffee he left to start teaching Abe this sign language. When Hellboy was finished with his breakfast, he found himself sufficiently relaxed to be able take a long nap to make up for the lack of sleep the night before. His dreams were again filled with interesting encounters with Kate rather than disturbing nightmares.

Trevor Broom had the federal government send him some extra workmen in order to get the aquarium installed as soon as possible and also to get Abe’s private room renovated and furnished quickly. He then decided to keep some of these extra men as the permanent staff that would work keeping Abe’s aquarium maintained and clean.

When the renovations to Broom’s office and Abe’s new private quarters were complete, this aquarium was a beauty to behold. The light and reflections cast into Broom’s office from the water behind this wall of glass that looked out into his office was quite beautiful.

Broom loved just to look at this beautiful aquarium, but it was made even more interesting and wonderful to behold when Abe began to use it. It became even more obvious how graceful he was when he could glide around through the water instead of being confined to tanks so small that he barely had room to move.

Abe could enter this aquarium either from his own private quarters via a stairway that led up to an entrance that opened onto the top of the aquarium or from the upper mezzanine of Broom’s office that had access to this same entrance.

Most of this aquarium could be seen from Broom’s office, but there was a section that could only be seen from Abe’s quarters. This would give him privacy in the aquarium when he wished it. This private section had a passage into the rest of the aquarium that due to an interesting optical illusion could not be seen from Broom’s side.

Abe’s quarters would be furnished just as all the personal sleeping quarters would be, including a bed, which he could use to sleep if he wished. However, in general, Abe preferred sleeping in water.

Hellboy entered into his father’s office late one morning. This was around three days after Abe had moved out of the Medical Wing into his own quarters and starting using the aquarium. Hellboy found Abe sitting in the office and Trevor Broom was working with him reinforcing the sign language he had been teaching him to communicate with.

Abe looked up as Hellboy walked in and gestured something at him using the sign language. Hellboy had to grin; even though he hadn’t seen that sign language in at least 30 years he understood what Abe had ‘said’ to him.

((Good morning to you too, Abe,)) Hellboy signed back.

Trevor Broom had been so concentrated on what he had been doing with Abe that he had not noticed Hellboy until Abe ‘spoke’ to him.

“Good morning, Son,” he said looking up.

“Morning, Pop,” Hellboy said as he walked over to the large desk where Trevor Broom and Abe were seated. “Mind if I sit in and watch for a while. It’s kind of fun seeing this stuff again. Brings back lots of old memories.”

“Certainly. Stay as long as you like,” Broom said, gesturing at one of the very large chairs in the office designed especially for Hellboy.

“You might find this interesting,” Broom continued, “I’m finding out all sorts of intriguing things about Abe. Even though he doesn’t speak he appears to understand what is spoken to him perfectly well, especially if you speak in English. However, if you speak in another language he understands your general thought even though he seems not to understand any language other than English.”

“It’s almost as if he can read your thoughts directly. I’m hoping to coax him to start speaking soon. I really do think he must have known how to do it at one time. I have even found that he can write as well as read text in English. He has obviously had some kind of education in the past.” Broom turned back to what he had been doing with Abe.

Hellboy made himself comfortable in his chair and watched them work together for a long time. He noticed that Broom worked with Abe in a way that was a little different than he had worked with himself when he was little.

When Broom had first taught this same sign language to Hellboy they both used the sign language to communicate; Broom then slowly introduced communicating to him orally until Hellboy could understand spoken English. Broom then switched to communicating to Hellboy only by speaking to him, eventually hoping to teach Hellboy to speak himself.

With Abe, since he already understood spoken English, as soon as Broom had taught him the most important ‘signs’ he immediately switched to communicating to Abe using spoken English. The whole process was going along much faster than it had with Hellboy. Whereas Broom had first started working with Hellboy when Hellboy had been an infant it was obvious that Abe, regardless of his inability to speak, was developmentally an adult.

Watching all of this brought a whole train of memories into Hellboy’s mind; memories of a time that he hadn’t thought about in a long time. He suddenly heaved a huge sigh.

Broom turned toward Hellboy. “Son, if you’re bored you don’t have to stay any longer.”

Hellboy looked up, the look on his face not being one that Broom could read easily. He stood up and walked out of Broom’s office without another word.

Broom turned back to Abe. “I wonder what that was all about,” he said, more to himself than to the fish man he was seated with.

((Hellboy was not bored,)) signed Abe, ((He was sad.))

Broom looked at Abe in surprise. “Can you actually read what he was feeling that clearly? Can you tell me what he was sad about?”

Abe nodded. ((He was remembering when you taught him this sign language. When he was still small enough to sit in your lap. He sometimes misses those days.))

Trevor Broom looked down at his hands. “I miss those days, too, Abe.”

He stood up. “I think we are finished for right now. You can return to your aquarium. I need to go and speak with Hellboy. I do believe I owe my son an apology.”

More to come…

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