HELLBOY'S FAMILY

Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Twenty-Four. The unconsummated relationship between Trevor Broom and Lady Elizabeth Colton, which was mentioned in the previous part, is my own twist on biographical material provided for the character by Guillermo del Toro on the DVD. What I believe original to me is Broom’s conversion to Catholicism.

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

Trevor Broom, still kneeling next to the bench, touched Hellboy’s knee. “I am, and will always be, proud of you and proud to call you my son. There are absolutely no secrets buried deep within your subconscious that if revealed would make me any less so.”

Hellboy stooped and kissed Broom’s forehead. “I know you feel that way, Father. But there’s a lot of things I don’t know and I wish I could leave it that way. I’ve always liked my ‘mysterious origins’ staying mysterious. I know you get really bothered when people call me stuff like ‘creature’, ‘thing’, or ‘monster’. But look at me, Father; really look at me. That’s exactly what I am and the day may come when you’ll regret you didn’t destroy me instead of adopting me.”

Standing up, Broom placed a hand on Hellboy’s shoulder. “You are no ‘monster’, Son. It is your actions that define who you are and not your origins, no matter how demonic these origins may be.”

During this interchange, neither Broom nor Hellboy noticed that Abe had climbed out of the truck in order to give them privacy. Just then he climbed back in, carrying several bundles. Broom walked over to Abe and relieved him of the grocery bags. These were mainly filled with snacks, some of which had already been distributed to the other agents on the operation. Almost everyone had missed supper when the call came in and were more than famished. There were also supplies for the white cat that was nestled asleep in the pocket of the cloak Hellboy had yet to remove.

Trevor Broom felt it might be wise to leave Hellboy alone for a while; not wishing him to feel compelled to make a particular choice. Taking some of the snacks from the bags, he went out of the truck to check that all of his agents had been fed and to eat a little something himself.

Getting up and digging in one of the bags, Hellboy produced a package of his favorite brand of tortilla chips and a jar of super-spicy salsa. Sighing, he tossed these items back into the bag. Instead of eating anything, he dug around in the bags until he found a can of tuna cat food.

Abe made a face at the fishy smell produced when Hellboy opened the can with a newly purchased can opener he also found in the bag. “Why cat food, Red? I never realized you had such odd tastes.”

“It’s not for me.” Searching further in the bags, Hellboy found some plastic utensils and plates. Scooping out the tuna onto one of these plates, he placed it on the counter on the opposite side of the truck from the bench he had been sitting on. To Abe’s surprise, he reached into the left-hand pocket of his cloak and removed a white cat, which ‘mfffft’ sleepily at being disturbed from its warm nest.

“Is that the cat we encountered earlier?” Abe looked more closely at the white cat, which he had not actually seen himself outside of his psychic prediction of it. Taking it from Hellboy, he noted that it did indeed have blue eyes and its white fur was somewhat grimy.

The cat squirmed frantically in his hands, having caught a whiff of the pungent smelling cat food. When placed on the counter, the cat immediately started wolfing down the rare treat. It wasn’t very often that a stray cat got a chance to eat premium tuna cat food.

Pulling open storage bays where he thought he had seen some canisters, Hellboy eventually located some emergency water rations. This storage bay was also to include food, but Lee had not known the new truck would go into service so soon and had not finished equipping it. Locating an appropriate container, Hellboy poured some of this water into it and put in on the counter next to the cat.

While the cat was busy eating, Abe had looked into the other bags and noticed the cat litter. He then discovered a bag of Cheese Doodles, one of his own guilty pleasures, and munched several handfuls of the neon-orange colored corn puffs. Abe would usually have to contend with Hellboy for such snacks, but it was obvious that the big guy, even if he was hungry, was too upset to want to eat.

Removing a low-sided plastic pan from the medical supplies, Hellboy proceeded to fill it with some of the cat litter. He thought to himself that he would definitely have to thank Lee for having the new truck so well equipped. He then recalled how Lee had begged him to find Kate and get her back, how Walter Carlton was counting on all of them to save his daughter, Mindy. He felt more than guilty for hesitating to try anything that Abe felt would further their search.

Hellboy was now more than used to Abe projecting thoughts into his head; but this was really just a form of surface communication and the direction was just one way—from Abe’s mind to Hellboy’s. This time Abe wanted to connect to Hellboy’s mind in a much more profound way; making Hellboy’s memories his own by creating a direct two-way channel. He hoped to establish a stronger psychic link to Kate and Mindy that would reveal to him the location in the park where they were hidden.

Hellboy’s primary fear was that unpalatable truths might be revealed, but he suddenly thought of other things that could go wrong with this mind linking. What if the horrible demon that had possessed him before never really went away and he went berserk again? What if there were other wretched things hiding deep in his mind that could lash out at Abe’s mind during this connection?

Still considering all the things that could go wrong, Hellboy moved to where there was a series of overhead cages along the front of the truck. He was really glad to see these. In the past, it had been more than awkward in his smaller truck to transport animals—whether they were animals in use by the BPRD in the course of their work or animals rescued by them from various nefarious rituals.

Opening one of the larger cages, Hellboy lifted the pan of litter into it. He then removed his cloak, arranging it next to the pan as a cushion for the bottom of the cage. Returning to the cat, which had consumed all of the tuna and drank most of the water, he watched it grooming its whiskers and face. Hellboy gently picked up the cat and held it to his ear, listening to its contented purring.

“Poor thing looks a little dirty, don’t you think, Blue? Wonder if there’s a way to give it a bath?” Hellboy knew that fussing with the little cat was mainly a distraction from the hard choice Abe had put before him. He also knew he was just delaying the inevitable decision that needed to be made.

“If I recall correctly, Red, there is ‘tearless’ disinfectant shampoo and jugs of distilled water in the medical supplies. That counter where you fed the cat lifts up and there is a removable basin. I insist that you allow me to bathe the cat while you sit down and find something to eat. No matter how little appetite you have, your body is starving; I can literally sense this physiological need and you are not doing yourself any good by refusing your body the nutrition it needs.”

“Okay, Blue, I’ll eat.” After giving the cat over to Abe, he returned to the bags of snacks and removed the tortilla chips, spicy salsa, and his favorite brand of mozzarella string cheese. Trevor Broom was more than pleased when he returned into the truck to find that Hellboy was eating something.

Suddenly the truck was filled with the disconsolate yowling of a cat that did not like being plunged into a basin of cool water by a being with cold hands. The poor cat definitely preferred the warmer, drier hands and toasty warm pocket of the other who had held it.

Abe looked up from what he was doing when Trevor Broom walked in. “Professor, this cat definitely has fleas. I am assuming with all of this fuss over the little thing that Red is planning on keeping it. It needs to visit a veterinarian for shots and defleaing. By the way, Red, I remember enough of my animal anatomy studies to see you have a little boy cat here.”

Broom noticed the cat’s white fur looked a lot cleaner when Abe rinsed out the shampoo. By this time the cat had stopped crying and just looked resigned to its ignominious fate. When Abe was finished, he located some cloths and used one of these to dry some of the water from the again struggling cat’s sopping wet fur. He then handed the cat, along with a fresh cloth, over to Hellboy, who sat down in his seat with the cat in his lap and rubbed it down with the dry cloth.

Even though the cat was pleased to again be in Hellboy’s warmer hands, it eventually pushed away the cloth and curling up in Hellboy’s lap groomed itself dry with its tongue. Hellboy gently stroked the still slightly damp cat with his left hand and it started kneading his lap, purring happily. While Hellboy was busy with his new pet, Abe cleaned up the mess he had made while bathing the cat, wiping up the puddles on the countertop and dumping out the basin full of dirty water outside.

Hellboy looked up when Abe was finished. “Well, Blue,” he said, “I named this cat ‘Lucky’ and it seems a pity to waste what it brought us.” He stopped petting the cat and reached inside his coat and brought out Kate’s hair clasp. “What do I need to do?”

Trevor Broom looked over from the bench where he had been seated watching Abe bathe the cat. “Son, I thought you said …”

“I said I can’t do it; never said I won’t.” Hellboy got up and placed the cat into the cage he had prepared for it. Smiling, he watched the cat curiously examine the cloak and pan full of litter, climbing into the pan to relieve itself. After scratching around, burying what it had produced, the cat curled up in the pleasantly warm, familiar-scented cloak and soon drifted off to sleep.

Hellboy turned back to Trevor Broom, “You know, Pop, there’s not much really scares me anymore; I’ve seen too many things, hunted down too many monsters. It’s kind of weird the one thing that still scares me sometimes is what I see when I look in a mirror; that freak with those horns I keep trying to get rid of. But there’s one thing I learned in Argentina when I was nine: the brave guy’s not the one who has no fear; he’s the one who does what he has to—even when he’s afraid.”

Hellboy came and sat on the bench next to Broom; but instead of looking at him he looked down at his boot-shod hooves. “Father, I want you out of here; go in one of the cars with a few of the guys and drive far away. Who knows what might happen? Hell, I wish Abe could go with you too, but it seems I’ve finally found something I can’t fight alone. The rest of the guys should stick around to take me down if I get all crazy like I did in Massachusetts.”

To Hellboy’s wonder, Trevor Broom stood up without word or argument and climbed out of the truck. However, after a few minutes he climbed back in. “Son, I’ve made very specific arrangements with the other agents. You needn’t worry; we will be more prepared than we were in Massachusetts for the possibility of untoward occurrences or erratic behavior on your part. However, I will certainly not permit any agent to ‘take you down’ unless as an absolute last resort.”

Broom sat on the bench again, adamantly crossing his arms over his chest. “As for my driving off and leaving you and Abe here alone, I have no intention of doing so. You may be in need of my help.”

“Get the hell out of here, Pop!” Hellboy shouted, jumping up from his seat on the bench. He brought his huge stone hand crashing down onto the bench next to where Broom was seated, leaving a dent. “It was still my wretched hand that hit you in Massachusetts, no matter how much you say it wasn’t me that did it. What if I kill you this time? How am I supposed to live with myself after that?”

Trevor Broom stood and firmly, but gently placed a restraining hand on Hellboy’s huge stone forearm. It absolutely amazed Abe how he could face down a ‘son’ who was close to a foot taller than he was and almost two hundred pounds heavier.

“Hellboy, sit down. It serves no purpose to become so overwrought.” Nothing ever pulled Hellboy up shorter than Trevor Broom calling him by the name he had given him as an infant, but seldom used. Hellboy collapsed onto the bench and Broom sat next to him. Hellboy looked over at him, but the scars on his right cheek reminded Hellboy that it was his own huge right hand that had caused them. Hellboy went back to contemplating his boots. Neither spoke for a long time.

Hellboy was the first to break that tense silence. “I’m sorry, Father. I’ve got no right to shout at you like that, but I’m worried I could hurt you again.” He still couldn’t bring himself to look at Broom.

“Son, listen to me,” Hellboy looked up as Broom continued, “I am certain that when I die my death will not be at your hands. For some strange reason, ever since I was young, I’ve always had the impression that deep down inside I know exactly how and when I will die. But it’s like a recurring nightmare I can never quite recall. Rest assured, however, that day is still a long way off.”

While Broom and Hellboy spoke together, Abe had moved to his seat on the other side of the truck. Recalling the earlier events in Massachusetts that had ended with him being shot by a possessed Hellboy and with Trevor Broom having a black eye and stitches all down the side of his face, Abe wondered if working with Hellboy would always be this tumultuous.

More to come...

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