Author’s notes: This follows directly after Part Eighteen. A reminder: this is taking place sometime in the middle weeks of December of 1978.

P.S.: Sorry this update has taken so long. I’ve had lots of ideas, but not much of an idea how to write them down.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Nineteen

Hellboy had been correct: he did not like the answer that his father had received about Kate Corrigan’s return to New York.

Frankly, ‘not like’ was a bit of an understatement. Hellboy was both panicked and angry: panicked at the idea that something just might happen to ‘his Katie’ and furiously angry that these paranormal interlopers would dare to go after people he knew. Hellboy was well aware that it was no coincidence that these creatures had, out of all of the millions in New York City, seized upon two out of the very small number of people in the city he was acquainted with.

Trevor Broom, Hellboy, Abe, Lee, and the other BPRD agents made their way up from the underground facility to the garages that contained the garbage trucks and other vehicles they used for transport. Just as they arrived Trevor Broom pulled Abe aside.

“Not that I blame him,” Broom whispered to Abe, “But I’m not completely comfortable with Hellboy’s mood. Kate Corrigan means a lot to him and for some reason that I’m not completely aware of he also seems to have some attachment to this waitress. Do me a really big favor and keep him on track. I don’t want him doing anything stupid. He does have a tendency at times to let his emotions run away with him. He may appear invincible, but as we have learned recently he is not as indestructible as he would like to think he is.”

Abe just nodded and went to join Hellboy. As they proceeded to climb up into the garbage truck they usually used for transportation, Lee stopped them.

“Hellboy, we both have known Katie a long time. She may not work directly with us, but she does know how to handle herself out there. I’m not saying that it’s not going to be dicey, but things may not be as desperate as they appear.”

Hellboy smiled slightly for the first time since finding out who the giant rat-like creatures had taken, but before he could think of anything to say in reply, Lee gestured for Hellboy and Abe to follow him to the part of the garage where spare vehicles were kept. Trevor Broom followed as well, wondering what Lee was up to. They stopped in front of very large, obviously brand-new, garbage truck.

Hellboy stared in amazement at the sheer size of this vehicle as Lee continued speaking. “I found that the damn FBI was not about to pitch in money for a new, more comfortable, means of transportation for you. So, I pulled in some favors from friends of mine, got the truck specially designed and equipped, and basically paid for the thing with my own money. It was supposed to be a surprise for your birthday, but I figure now is as good a time as any to break the thing in.”

Hellboy stopped staring at the truck and turned to stare, speechless, at Lee and then turned to whisper to Trevor Broom. “Pop, did you know about this?”

Broom, who was as speechless as Hellboy, just shook his head.

Lee, pretending to ignore the exchange that had just occurred between Broom and Hellboy, opened up the front cab of the enormous truck and pushed a button that caused the back end doors to open so that Hellboy and Abe could enter the gleaming vehicle.

“Most of the installed equipment is self-explanatory. There is also a place to strap in and secure your rolling munitions cases and a place for Hellboy to sit that is going to be a lot more comfortable than the bench that was in his old truck. However, knowing how restless Hellboy can be, this truck has been designed so that he can stand and walk around without knocking the equipment over or be crowded by the tank and first-aid equipment installed for Abe’s use.”

Lee raised his hand as Hellboy turned toward him again. “I remember Katie’s father Richard Corrigan, remember how excited he was when his wife gave birth to a little baby girl, remember how you got Katie through the trauma of her father’s illness and death at a time when you had enough on your plate just dealing with Trevor’s own illness. I don’t need any thanks from you for the new truck. Just find Katie and get her back; that’s all I ask.”

Since they were not going to be traveling very far, Abe decided to forgo entering into the tank in the truck. Both he and Hellboy moved around the interior of the new vehicle admiring all of the specially designed equipment. Hellboy realized that most of this equipment was way over his head and left it for Abe to figure all this stuff out. Hellboy just enjoyed having some real space to stretch out in and a comfortable seat. He had pulled back the panel that covered over a long two-way mirrored window and looked out at the passing scenery; he loved finally being able to see out as he traveled.

After a short while he sighed and yanked the panel closed; at one time he would have been absolutely fascinated with this window that he could see out of, but no one on the outside could see anything but a mirrored logo for Squeaky Clean Waste Management Services. Right now the only thing on his mind was a way to get Katie and Mindy, the waitress, away from the creatures who had seized them.

Abe, who was sitting in another smaller chair designed for his more slender frame, watched Hellboy and wondered just how close this relationship with ‘his Katie’ was.

Abe had yet to meet Kate Corrigan. But when he had earlier been playing a somewhat childish game of reading other people’s thoughts, he had come to the realization that Hellboy’s feelings for Kate were going through some sort of upheaval that even Hellboy was not completely certain of. At that time Abe had sensed distinct ‘big brother’ feelings that were still very prominent mixed up with a more recent recognition of a newfound sexual attraction toward his no-longer-so-little ‘sister’.

He would really have liked to know exactly what was running through Hellboy’s mind right now, but had promised him that he would never again read his thoughts without permission or an emergency need-to-know crisis. But neither did he want to come right out and ask him; it was not difficult to tell that Hellboy was very troubled and prying might just be an invitation for another temperamental outburst; these outbursts had become all too frequent recently even without the stress of someone he obviously cared for being endangered.

Hellboy got up from his seat and stretched. They were heading for that part of New York City’s Greenwich Village that was near NYU main campus and he had a good idea, having very occasionally visited his father or Kate there, how long it would take to arrive from Newark.

He moved to another part of the truck that had a bench for other occupants to sit on if more people needed to be transported in the back of the truck. He sat on it and if he hadn’t been so upset he would have laughed; even this bench was ten times more comfortable than the one that had plagued him for so long in his old truck. To Abe’s surprise Hellboy indicated for Abe to come and join him.

“Great truck, huh, Blue?” Abe knew that Hellboy was avoiding what was really bothering him.

“Yes, Red, this is certainly an impressive vehicle. I am most impressed with the extent of equipment that has been installed and with the fact that the entire vehicle has been designed for retrofitting as new equipment is developed; no expense has been spared in its development.”

Abe looked closer at the despondent red giant sitting next to him; he noticed that Hellboy was avoiding looking at him and that there were at least a dozen conflicting emotions radiating so strongly from Hellboy that no amount of mental shielding could block them.

“Okay, now that we have sufficiently admired our new and improved chariot why don’t you tell me what you really wanted to talk to me about?” Abe inquired after a long moment of silence.

“I didn’t say anything to Pop because I don’t want him to worry, but I don’t like the way this thing is going down, Blue,” Hellboy said, still not looking at him. “Usually an operation this simple, checking out a bunch of creatures who have mostly just been frightening people without really hurting them, is not handled by sending out the big guns right off the bat.”

Hellboy turned toward Abe and looked directly at him for the first time. “Why do I have the nasty feeling that I’m what they’re really after and they’ve taken hostages to make sure I show up?”

Abe pondered this statement. “Yes, I agree; it does look as if these creatures were trying to attract your attention by seizing women you have some emotional investment in.”

Hellboy, using his normal-sized left hand, opened and groped around in one of the pouches of his utility belt. He removed a turquoise and gold-plated shirt stud. Leaning forward he managed in an odd, one-handed way to attach this to the collar of Abe’s tight-fitting spandex shirt in a place where the back of the stud would not irritate Abe’s skin.

Abe looked at the stud, admiring its delicate beauty, intending on asking Hellboy the purpose of this gesture. He looked up at Hellboy, who had an odd, distant expression as if recalling something from the past, but Abe then looked back down in surprise at the stud.

He had first noticed these studs when he and Hellboy had played poker using Professor Broom’s collection of old shirt buttons as chips, but it was not until this moment that he realized that this old-style shirt fastening had a odd familiarity; the familiarity of an item that Abe had lived with every day at some time in his past.

Abe had never spoken to anyone except Professor Broom about the vague, disjointed memories he had of a life he had lived as a human male before he metamorphosed into the being he was now. What memories had broken through, mainly in dreams and nightmares, gave Abe the distinct impression that the man he used to be was not someone to be proud of. He kept reminding himself that Professor Broom was willing to accept him unconditionally as he was now, totally discounting an unremembered life he may have led over a century ago.

All of these thoughts had passed through Abe’s mind very quickly. But Hellboy, noticing a slight hesitation when Abe contemplated the unexpected bestowing of this item, reached out with his left hand and touched Abe’s shoulder. “If you don’t like it, I can take it back.”

“No, actually I find the item quite attractive and am just curious as to the meaning of this gift.” This wasn’t exactly a lie on Abe’s part; he had been intending to inquire on this point before the unexpected and unpleasant encroachment of a nebulous, barely recalled past life.

Hellboy smiled for the first time since entering the truck. “It kind of makes you officially my partner. I’m hoping that it will bring you good luck, too.”

Abe smiled back, fingering the stud as another memory broke through of a distinguished, kind-hearted gentleman—probably Professor Broom’s grandfather, the original owner of the shirt stud. This glimpse of the man who had meant so much to Professor Broom helped to dispel some of the unease that Abe had felt when originally receiving the gift.

“So, Red, how many ‘official’ partners have had this honor bestowed on them?”

“Just one—Dmitri, the guy who taught me Russian. I’ve had plenty of colleagues who have become good friends, Blue, but no one ever came closer than you to what I shared with him. And he always claimed that it was the good luck from that shirt stud that saved his life more than once in Argentina.”

“What happened to him?” Hellboy’s attachment to the memory of this Russian man impressed Abe.

“What else? He went back to Russia after the final defeat of the Nazis in ’58 and someone there eventually found out about his connection to the Bureau. Unfortunately, no amount of ‘luck’ from my buttons could save him from a concentration camp in Siberia. I guess he died there. He must’ve had an inkling of what was going to happen, because he managed to sneak out a package to me; that’s how I ended up with those books in Russian I’ve been teaching you to read.”

Hellboy stood up and pulled open the panel over the window and looked out.

“Well, Brother Blue, we’re almost there. Let’s see if we can’t start coming up with some plans to get Katie and Mindy away from those monsters.”

More to come...

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