HELLBOY'S FAMILY

Author’s notes: This makes connections to the Parts from Part Sixteen onward, especially Parts Twenty and Twenty-Three. It really won’t make sense if you haven’t read Part Twenty-Three.

Reminder: Kate Corrigan is not an original character of mine. She is a character from the original comics that Guillermo del Toro opted not to use in the film adaptation of Hellboy. What is original to me is the past relationship I generate between Kate and Hellboy; in the original comics they are shown to have a uniquely deep friendship as adults. Major Frank Dixon is an original character of mine, first appearing in Chapter Four of Hellboy’s Family.

The idea of giant rats derives from one of the short stories in Hellboy: Odd Jobs, but how I use them connects more to the non-human characters in the original comics who keep trying to remind Hellboy of his ‘true’ destiny. The now disused Old Croton Aqueduct is filled with all sorts of underground chambers. Even though Saint Nicholas Park was created during the construction of the aqueduct and the presence of chambers would be plausible, I’m mostly making up the stuff below.

Warning: Heed the ‘T’ (PG13) rating. Sexual attraction and activity will be hinted at, but will never become graphic; language may become slightly more emphatic, but still not a lot of swearing.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Twenty-Four

Hellboy walked closer to Saint Nicholas Park and peered into the darkness. Walking up to him, Abe handed back Kate’s hair clasp and placed an arm around his shoulders. Abe could sense the tension thrumming through Hellboy’s body; the overwhelming need to do something straightforwardly physical rather than waiting for Abe to pore over another map. Patiently awaiting the results of painstaking research was not one of Hellboy’s strongest virtues.

“Let’s get back to the truck, Red. The angle we are viewing this park does not show the full extent of its size; as I recall from my maps, it may not be very wide from east to west, but it is fourteen blocks long. Rushing right into it will not help us find them any faster.”

With great reluctance, Hellboy turned away from the park that might contain the location where Kate and Mindy were being imprisoned. Accompanied by the other BPRD agents, Hellboy and Abe returned to the truck where Trevor Broom was eagerly awaiting any information they might have found.

Broom may not have seemed as impatient as his adopted son, but Kate Corrigan had been both the daughter of his late colleague and Broom’s protégée since age nineteen; he felt a definite paternal anxiety where her welfare was concerned. As Hellboy and Abe climbed back in, Broom stood up from the bench where he was seated, immediately aware that something important had been discovered.

“Look what the cat dragged in, Pop.” Hellboy showed him the hair clasp, which Broom recognized immediately as belonging to Kate. “The cute little thing dropped it right at my feet. And it was white; just like Abe said it was going to be.”

Broom turned toward Abe, who was already heading toward a bench-like table at the front of the truck that was strewn with maps and other schematics. “Did this help you discover anything further?”

“Yes, indeed, Professor,” Abe said as he seated himself at this table. “The minute I touched that hair clasp I knew they were being held somewhere below the surface of Saint Nicholas Park.”

Abe pulled out a detailed map of the underground structures in this park. Broom bent over the table to look closer at this map. “How certain are you that this park is the location?”

“Very certain, Professor. The impression I received from touching the hair clasp was quite strong.” Abe gestured toward the map, “However, no matter how clear this impression, I am as yet unable to conclude which of these underground chambers is their exact location. I must ponder this further.”

Having collapsed on to the long bench where Broom had been seated earlier, Hellboy slumped down nervously fidgeting with Kate’s hair clasp in his left hand. Refraining from his earlier pacing, he tried to keep calm, eventually slipping the clasp into an inner pocket of his coat to ensure its safekeeping. Sensing that Hellboy needed some encouragement, Trevor Broom came and sat down next to him.

Hellboy looked up as Broom sat, noting for the first time how exhausted his adoptive father appeared. “Who knows how long Abe’s going to be, Father. This bench pulls out into a kind of bed and I’ve seen blankets and stuff in one of the storage bays. Why don’t you get some sleep?”

Broom shook his head. “I don’t think I could any more sleep right now with Kate in trouble than I could when you were at death’s door last month in Boston. It’s a comfort just to sit here with you and feel that Abe is accomplishing more to track Kate and Mindy than we ever could. And I’m certain Walter Carlton is sitting up, just as wide awake as I, awaiting any news of Mindy.”

As Broom finished speaking, Hellboy leaned in closer to him and buried his face in the crook between Broom’s neck and shoulder. Feeling it wiser not to say anything until Hellboy was calmer, Broom brought his arms up and held him tight. Hellboy had not seemed this agitated during a field operation since he witnessed his first man being killed when he was just short of his tenth birthday; this had happened on his first trip with Trevor Broom to Argentina in November of 1954.

As he held on to Hellboy in much the same way as he had that time in Argentina, Broom’s mind drifted back to the trip that began Hellboy’s career as a monster hunter and paranormal investigator.

By the end of 1954, Bureau operations in Argentina seemed to be basically under control; so Broom had decided to bring Hellboy, accompanied by other senior agents, on one of his trips there. Unfortunately, as soon as they had arrived to the BPRD’s secret mountain headquarters in Córdoba, they were attacked without warning by a large group of hideous black creatures. Hellboy was startled when the driver of their jeep, an agent he had been very close to, was unexpectedly ripped to shreds right in front of him. Clinging to Trevor Broom, Hellboy turned his face away from this terrifying sight.

Major Frank Dixon, one of the commanders in Argentina of the BPRD’s operations against the Nazi occultists hiding there, had not been at all impressed with the powerful-looking Hellboy’s reaction to this attack. Having never met Hellboy before and only knowing a very little about him, Major Dixon had no idea this 6’ 2” red-skinned, horned creature was basically an inexperienced nine-year-old boy shrinking away from the slaughter of a man he had cared for as an uncle.

Broom vividly recalled Hellboy pulling away from him at this criticism of his actions. Turning to face Major Dixon, he swore he would never show fear again if Dixon let him join the other men in fighting off the monstrous creatures who were still attacking. Even though Hellboy was armed, it had not been Broom’s original intention to have him join directly in the fighting on that trip. But Hellboy was not about to allow his adoptive father to be in jeopardy if he could protect him. And protect him he did; even to the point of using his own body to shield Trevor Broom from the vicious attacks.

Hellboy became noted, even at that young age, as one of the most intrepid and dauntless agents the BPRD possessed. Just as he had promised Major Dixon, who became his first commanding officer in Argentina and one of his closest friends, Hellboy never again exhibited fear during a mission.

Not, at least, until now, thought Broom as he sat with Hellboy. He wished he knew the right words to help ease Hellboy’s anguish. Just as Broom was thinking this he felt Hellboy stir. Hugging Broom so tightly he almost squeezed the breath out of him, Hellboy whispered into his ear, “Thank you, Father.”

Broom sighed, wishing there was more he could have done to deserve Hellboy’s gratitude than just sit there on a bench with him. Almost as if Hellboy knew what he was thinking, he sat up and smiled slightly at Broom. “You always manage to be around when I need you the most, don’t you, Pop?”

Hellboy stood, stretched, and then sat back down with a sigh, “I feel so useless, Father, so helpless. Haven’t felt this helpless since you had cancer back in ’59. Right now I feel like tearing that entire park apart until I find Kate and Mindy. I’m going to go crazy if something doesn’t happen soon.”

Broom wrapped his right arm around Hellboy’s shoulders, “I’m sure that Abe will come up with something that will lead to their location, Son. Then you can finally bust into that chamber, tear apart as many of those wretched rats as you desire, and, of course, rescue Kate and Mindy in the process.”

This rather violent statement spoken in the dry British accent of the usually pacifist Broom made Hellboy look down at him. “You’re just as worried about Kate as I am, aren’t you, Pop?”

“Of course, I am, Son. And even though we don’t know her as well as we know Kate, I am sure we are both just as worried about Mindy Carlton.”

Hellboy nodded, “It’s bad enough these bastard rats had to grab Kate just because she knows me. But, in a way, it’s even worse with Mindy; the poor kid only met me once and look where it got her.”

Still having his arm around Hellboy, Broom yawned wearily and passed his left hand over his face. Hellboy shifted and laid Broom’s head on his shoulder. “C’mon, Pop, close your eyes for a little bit. It’s not going to do you any good if you wear yourself out.”

Even though it felt so good to lay his head down and close his eyes, Broom still did not fall asleep. Instead he found himself thinking over everything that had happened in those eight weeks since they first discovered Abraham Sapien. He also was beginning to wonder about the current status of Hellboy’s relationship with Kate Corrigan. The realization was beginning to dawn on him that Hellboy’s feelings for Kate were now much deeper than brotherly affection.

For a while Hellboy hoped that Broom had, indeed, fallen asleep. But it wasn’t long before he felt Broom lift his head off of his shoulder and sit up. “Still can’t sleep, huh, Pop? Wish you’d try.”

“I did try,” Broom said with a shrug. “It just didn’t work very well.” He looked up at Hellboy who was obviously just as sleepless as he was himself. “Son, I know this may not be the best time in the world to bring this up, but if there’s something you need to talk about I’m ready to listen. There really can be no excuse for me putting you off because I was engrossed in working with Abe. No wonder you were so upset with the amount of time I was spending with him; please forgive me.”

For the first time in what seemed like days, Hellboy laughed. “Jeez, Pop, if that’s the worst thing I’ll ever have to forgive you for…” Leaving the statement unfinished, he hesitated for a moment before going on. “Kate; I wanted to talk to you about Kate.”

“I thought maybe that was it.” Grinning shyly at Hellboy, Broom blushed slightly before continuing, “After all, Kate is not actually your sister; she has developed into an attractive young woman and you, despite your own reservations, are not unattractive yourself. When did all this start?”

Grinning back, Hellboy couldn’t help finding this unexpected ‘birds-and-bees’ conversation amusing, “It sort of started at that Halloween party. Wouldn’t have even crossed my mind, though, if Kate hadn’t started kissing me first. We haven’t seen each other since that party, so it hasn’t really gone much of anywhere; at least not yet.”

Broom gave Hellboy an appraising look, “How serious is this infatuation, Son? I suppose I should have entertained the idea of something like this happening between you. This is undoubtedly an issue I should have addressed before it came to this advanced stage.”

Standing up from the bench, the grin fell from Hellboy’s face. “You don’t approve,” he stated flatly.

Still seated, Broom shook his head. “Son, don’t put words in my mouth; at this point I neither approve nor disapprove. I don’t have much experience in this aspect of life; things have changed so greatly since I was younger. Are you sure you are reading Kate’s signals accurately?”

Abe, still struggling to clarify the impressions gathered from Kate’s hair clasp, had barely registered the ebb and flow of silence and conversation between Broom and Hellboy. Suddenly becoming aware that their conversation had changed into something more discordant, he looked up from his maps.

“Look, Pop,” Hellboy snapped, “Maybe I don’t have ‘much experience in this aspect of life’ either, but I’m not stupid. When Kate said she wouldn’t mind having ‘a little romance’ with me, she meant a hell of a lot more than sitting under some dumb tree reading mushy poetry to each other. I don’t …”

Broom flinched, almost as if he had been slapped, “Please, don’t say another word. I …” his voice, already almost inaudible, trailed off. He took a deep breath, “I need to go out and get some air.”

Abe, having dropped a large portion of his carefully constructed mental shields in his telepathic search for Kate and Mindy, found himself unexpectedly overwhelmed by a tide of intense emotions radiating from Trevor Broom. But what came through was not so much anger as profound grief.

Before Hellboy could even react to the tension that had developed between them, Trevor Broom got up from the bench and climbed out of the still open rear door of the parked truck onto the sidewalk. Hellboy couldn’t quite make out what the two agents guarding the truck said to Broom, but he heard Broom’s reply, “Leave me; I wish to be alone.” Broom’s footsteps then retreated into the distance.

“Smooth move, Red,” Hellboy swung around at Abe’s voice, “Did you ever consider that maybe a young Professor Broom did sit under a ‘dumb tree reading mushy poetry’ to someone? A woman he was engaged to marry and who died before he even got much beyond some passionate kissing?”

“Shit, I forgot about that,” Hellboy groaned. He then began to follow after Trevor Broom.

Abe tried to stop him. “I think it may be wiser to wait for the Professor to calm down, Red.”

“It’s not safe in this neighborhood this late after midnight,” Hellboy countered, “Must be three in the morning by now.” Stopping only to throw on the cloak he had worn when he met Walter Carlton, Hellboy climbed out of the truck and found out from the agents in which direction Broom had walked.

These agents were supposed to accompany Hellboy everywhere he went, but they didn’t need to be psychic to figure out that there had been some sort of altercation between Hellboy and the Professor. Wisely, they decided it would be better to let Hellboy follow his father than to risk trying to stop him.

Trevor Broom, with little conscious intent on his part, had crossed Saint Nicholas Avenue and ended up walking in the same direction that Hellboy and Abe had gone when they encountered the white cat. Finding that he was fighting a losing battle against tears, Broom stopped just past the darkened recesses of the entrance to the Harlem School of the Arts. He was so distracted as to be unaware of Hellboy’s approach; Hellboy could walk very quietly when he chose.

As Hellboy drew nearer, he could hear the sound of weeping. This sound cut through him like a knife.

When he had been very young, there were times when he inadvertently caused his adoptive father pain because of the disproportionate size of his stone hand. When he became older there were times when he had said things in anger to Broom that he immediately regretted saying. For some reason Hellboy couldn’t quite fathom, what had happened between them just now seemed far worse.

As open as Broom had always been in showing Hellboy the extent of his love, he still had a tendency toward a very British reserve in dealing with his more negative emotions. Hellboy could barely remember a time when he had heard Broom weeping quite so vehemently.

Broom was even more distraught than when Hellboy had found him in tears praying in the chapel on the morning of November 1st—the morning after that fateful Halloween party. This thought served to remind Hellboy that one of the things his adoptive father had been grieving over that morning was the long-ago death of the only woman he had ever loved. Broom had so seldom referred to this old grief that Hellboy didn’t even know her name.

Noting that Broom still seemed to be unaware of having been followed, Hellboy ducked into the darkness of the oddly angled entrance of the art school. From there he could still keep a watchful eye on Broom without intruding his possibly unwelcome presence. With the hood up, his black cloak made him almost invisible in that dark corner; an unseen guard insuring that none molested Trevor Broom.

After a while Broom’s sobs died down and he just stood, unmoving. He eventually disentwined the rosary he always had wrapped around his right wrist and began to pray silently. Hellboy had himself memorized the entirety of the rosary prayers when Broom had been hospitalized in 1959; he assumed that Broom was probably reciting the portion entitled the ‘Sorrowful Mysteries’.

As Hellboy stood guard, an odd memory started to push its way into his mind; a memory of being lost in a freezing darkness uncertain of his identity or even of his sheer existence. There had been a terrible voice claiming him as son—a voice as cold and suffocating as the darkness surrounding him.

Hellboy had only one anchor to hold on to in this nightmare that was no nightmare, but was a hideous, life-threatening reality he seemed unable to escape: it was another voice—a very different voice from the dark, evil voice of the demon possessing him. It was a voice that wept and prayed—rebuking the demon that had taken his son from him; begging his beloved son to return to him.

Regardless of Father Ed Kelly’s powerful exorcisms or the excellent medical care to be had in the Boston BPRD Medical Wing, Hellboy knew he had eventually been saved by Trevor Boom’s great love and absolute refusal to let any demon, no matter how potent, take his son from him. Yet, it was not until this moment of standing on a sidewalk in Harlem, listening to his father weep, that Hellboy could consciously recall very much from those four days in November when he had lain trapped in a coma.

“Father, I never meant to hurt you,” he muttered, “Oh, God, how can it be so easy to hurt someone when you don’t even mean to?” He didn’t realize he had spoken aloud until he saw Trevor Broom’s back stiffen in surprise at the unexpected voice.

“Son, it is easier to hurt those you care for than those who mean little to you,” Broom replied quietly, without turning to face him. “It is important to remember this if you truly wish to have a romantic relationship with Kate; or with any woman, for that matter.” He returned to his interrupted prayers.

Just as Hellboy was contemplating stepping out from the corner, there came a tiny mew of pain. Looking down, he noted that he had managed to tread on the tail of the little dirty white cat that had mysteriously produced Kate’s hair clasp earlier. Hellboy picked up the not quite full-grown cat and held it gently in his stone hand. The cat promptly curled up in the palm of this huge hand and started to groom itself, purring loudly; this contrast between bright red and dirty white interested Hellboy.

In the past, the only pet Hellboy ever had was a dog that Broom purchased for him when they resided in New Mexico. However, Mac, as Hellboy named this dog, had to remain behind when Broom and Hellboy moved to Washington, D.C. just after Hellboy’s fifth birthday. After the move to Boston at the end of 1950, having pets just didn’t seem practical; especially when Hellboy began spending so much time in Argentina after 1954.

Hellboy was surprised, that unlike most stray cats, this cat did not dash away in fear. It just seemed to enjoy the attention he was giving it. When he started petting it with his left hand, the cat purred even more loudly, rubbing itself against the stone fingers of the huge hand that held it.

“So, is that the mysterious white cat prophesied so fervently by Abe?”

Hellboy looked up from the cat he was petting; he had been so engrossed with it he hadn’t noticed Trevor Broom had completed his prayers. “Yeah, it’s that cat. Kind of looks hungry to me and I’d like to bring it back to the truck; see if I can find some food for it.” Hellboy looked into his father’s face and then looked away. He didn’t like seeing the obvious traces of tears that were still there.

Hellboy placed the cat into one of the large pockets of his cloak, where it seemed perfectly contented to stay. Broom started to walk back in the direction toward the truck when Hellboy stopped him. “Father, I’m so sorry and somehow it seems even worse that I don’t even know her name.”

“Elizabeth; Lady Elizabeth Colton,” Broom spoke in a voice so low that Hellboy had to listen closely to hear him, “And she was a ‘lady’ in every sense of that word; more beautiful than I ever deserved and with an extraordinary mind as well. Since she was not yet twenty-one when she agreed to marry me, her father was able to insist on a separation. My own family had some claims to aristocracy, but the ennoblement gained by my grandfather on the field of battle and in the fields of Arctic exploration was not high enough for Elizabeth’s father whose noble title was an inherited one.”

Broom touched the rosary that he again had wrapped about his wrist. “Her father also highly disapproved of my chosen career of ‘dabbling in things the Good Lord meant us to stay away from’ and of my conversion from the true Anglican faith to ‘that wretched Papist nonsense’.”

Blinking away tears that threatened to fall once again, Broom went on, “Elizabeth and I had never officially broken off the engagement. We planned on marrying after she turned twenty-one and her father could no longer interfere. Her inheritance was directly entailed and her father could not even disinherit her in disapproval. She, of course, died during our time of separation. I had gone overseas, both to further my own researches and to distract myself from the pain of that separation. By the time I found out of her illness, it was too late to get back to England. I even missed the funeral.”

Pulling out a handkerchief from a vest pocket, Broom blew his nose. “Son, don’t blame yourself for what happened. It was a terrible combination of frayed nerves, ill timing on my part, and ill-judged comments on both our parts. It was certainly not your intention to trample any memories that were sacred to me of my relationship with Elizabeth. This pain is an old one not caused by you, even if what you said caused it to resurge. It amazes me how much her loss can still hurt after forty years.”

Reaching out, Hellboy pulled Trevor Broom into a bone-crunching bear hug. However, a muffled ‘mew’ of displeasure from the cat still ensconced in the pocket of Hellboy’s cloak caused him to release Broom before he either bruised Broom’s ribs or inadvertently crushed the cat.

Broom smiled at Hellboy, “Let’s get back to the truck. I’ll send an agent to look for cat food and litter. There should be one of those 24-hr convenience stores around here somewhere.”

Hellboy looked over at Broom as they walked, “Litter, huh? You’ll let me keep the cat? I wouldn’t mind having a pet again, you know. Kind of missed it when we had to leave Mac in New Mexico.”

“Son, I think a cat would be a perfect pet for you to have in an underground facility. I’ll get Lee to make sure the FBI won’t interfere. What are you going to name it?”

Hellboy gently stroked the cat in his pocket with his left hand. “Lucky; I think I’ll call it Lucky. Certainly brought us some good luck, didn’t it?”

When they returned to the truck, Broom stopped to speak to an agent about picking up supplies for the unexpected new pet. Hellboy climbed into the truck to find Abe impatiently awaiting his return.

“I hope you’ve made it up with the Professor, Red, but I’m glad you finally decided to wander back here. I think I could use your help. I’m just not getting anywhere with these idiotic maps.”

“Pop’s okay; not really mad at me to begin with. I’ll tell you about it later; I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you knew what he just told me.” Hellboy looked at Abe who seemed even more exhausted then he had been before. “What kind of help do you need from me, anyway? I don’t see that there’s much I can do expect tear those stupid rats apart when you finally figure out where they are hiding.”

Trevor Broom had just re-entered the truck as Abe replied to Hellboy. “Look, Red, I seem to only be able to just get so far and then it’s like I hit this weird wall. The hair clasp helped immensely, but I still feel like I’m groping for an abstraction. I’m just not getting enough sense of the reality of Kate or Mindy to be able to establish the psychic link that I need. You know both of them, especially Kate, in a way that I do not. Allow me complete access to your mind and your memories; that may be the one boost I need to break through that wall.”

To Trevor Boom’s amazement Hellboy sank down on to the bench where they had been seated earlier and dropped his head into his huge stone hand. “Ask me to do anything else, Blue. Ask me to break down doors, beat the crap out of monsters, or shoot the Samaritan at some terrifying black demon; just don’t ask me to do that. I can’t do it; I just can’t.”

Broom knelt down next to him, “But this is for Kate, Son; won’t you do it for Kate? You haven’t been afraid of anything since you were nine; what can be so terrifying about letting Abe into your mind?”

Hellboy looked down at his huge stone hand. “There’s only one thing I’ve really been afraid of, Father: your disappointment when you finally find out what I truly am. Who knows what secret crap is really hidden deep inside my mind? I’m afraid neither one of us will like what Abe finds if he digs too deep.”

More to come…

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