HELLBOY'S FAMILY

Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Thirty-Two, but makes connections back to events of earlier parts. Malachy (pronounced Ma-la-kee) is an original character of mine. The name just popped into my head and is not connected to anything outside of the fact that I thought it sounded vaguely Biblical. Kate Corrigan is from Mike Mignola’s original Hellboy comics, but I’m solely to blame for how she is used here.

Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry: Part Thirty-Three

While Hellboy and Abe had been below the surface of Saint Nicholas Park, the morning had become brighter and brighter, even though the sun had yet to rise. When the FBI had become aware of the success of their incursion into that underground chamber, they decided to cordon off that block of Saint Nicholas Avenue where the garbage truck and other Bureau vehicles were still parked in front of the ‘fish-fry’ restaurant near 145th Street. Initially considering moving the vehicles along Saint Nicholas closer to the location of the park, they decided to have the group walk back to the truck.

Right after Abe had walked past the red truck so admired by Hellboy, a Bureau agent came up to him with the same disguise he had worn when he met Walter Carlton. Stoically Abe again buried himself under the false beard, dark glasses, hat, and overcoat; grateful that the weather was now colder than it had been the evening before when the disguise had seemed so suffocating.

As Hellboy, Kate, Abe, and the other BPRD agents walked along the cordoned-off block, this was the first time Kate truly became aware that she had been held in a chamber below the streets of Harlem. Like Trevor Broom, she had occasion as a lecturer to visit the campus of the CUNY Graduate Center, whose spires she now realized overlooked the location of her imprisonment. The familiarity of the neighborhood just lent another layer of unreality to her memories of her strange captor.

Just before they crossed from the west side of Saint Nicholas to the east where the truck was parked, Hellboy, who still held Kate’s hand in his own, noted that her hand was trembling. Looking down at her in concern, he could see that her face had become very pale.

“Katie, do you feel okay?” he asked, beginning to worry even more when she stumbled as she walked.

“No, not really,” Kate stopped walking and looked up at the now cloaked Hellboy. She couldn’t see his face because of his hood, but could sense his concern, “Oh, don’t sound so worried. I don’t think there’s anything really wrong with me. I’m just tired.”

As she was speaking, the group crossed over Saint Nicholas to the location of Hellboy’s garbage truck. Kate realized immediately that this vehicle was not the same beat-up truck Hellboy usually used. Earlier, when Hellboy and Abe had gone out to look for the prophesied ‘white cat’, Trevor Broom had cleaned up after Abe’s weird illness; returning the truck to its original pristine newness.

“Blue, Katie’s not feeling so great,” Hellboy said to Abe, who had arrived with the other agents just a little ahead of them, “Could you give her a quick check just to make sure it’s nothing to worry about?”

It intrigued Kate that the slender fish-man, now buried under that weird disguise, was able to give her a physical examination without ever touching her. He merely removed a leather glove and slowly passed his right hand, webbed fingers hyper-extended, in the air over her head and chest.

After a few moments, he shook his head, “I don’t sense anything major, Red. She seems to be merely exhausted from her ordeal. I earlier had a chance to examine Mindy Carlton and remarked the same fatigue in her. Right now, the best thing Professor Corrigan can do is sleep. However, a visit within the next few days to the Bureau Medical Wing would be a wise precaution.”

Kate nodded, “Those rats may have been supernatural creatures, but they used a good, old-fashioned knockout drug when they grabbed us. Side effects of that may have to do with our current malaise. What’s the most interesting thing, though, is what happened with the nausea and headaches that plagued us when we first woke up. Just about the time I was going to throw up violently, it all faded as if it had never occurred. I found out later that the same thing had happened to Mindy.”

An agent in the cab of the garbage truck lowered the rear doors so they could enter the truck.

Hellboy, to Kate’s amusement, insisted on taking her into his arms and carrying her up into the gleaming vehicle as if she were a bride being carried over the threshold. No one was in the truck, as Trevor Broom, and the two agents who had gone with him, had yet to return from transporting Mindy Carlton back to her apartment in Greenwich Village.

Hellboy placed Kate down on the bench Trevor Broom had been sleeping on earlier; it was still made up into a bed. Removing his cloak, he tossed it onto his seat, which was just in front of the bench.

“God, Hellboy, where’d you manage to get this fancy set of wheels?” Kate laughed, as she sleepily gazed around the elaborately equipped laboratory that was housed in the truck.

“It was supposed to be a birthday present from Lee,” Hellboy replied, as he adjusted the pillows and covered Kate with the blanket, “But he gave it to me early so’s I could…” Hellboy trailed off as he realized that Kate had already fallen fast asleep.

Not wanting to go any farther from her than he had to, Hellboy sat on the floor next to the bench. Tenderly taking a hold of her right hand, he watched her sleep. After some time had gone by, Abe climbed in. Hellboy wondered where he had gotten to, but then realized that Abe had made himself scarce in order to give him some privacy with Kate.

After removing his uncomfortable disguise, Abe sat on the floor next to Hellboy. “The Professor just phoned to inform the agents here that he successfully returned Mindy Carlton to her father, who was still waiting for her in her apartment,” Abe informed him in a low voice. “Having been made aware of the successful outcome of our operation, the Professor decided that rather than returning here, he will meet us back at the Bureau in Newark.”

As Abe spoke, Kate muttered something in her sleep but did not awaken. Raising the hand he was holding to his lips, Hellboy refrained from kissing it; not wanting to disturb Kate. Carefully letting go, he stood up from the floor and went to his seat. Abe followed suit and returned to his own seat. Hellboy spoke quietly into his walkie-talkie, urging the driver of the truck to maneuver the large vehicle as carefully as possible not to jostle Kate.

It was not until the truck and other vehicles were under way that Hellboy arose from his seat and walked over to kneel next to where Abe was sitting. “Blue, I’ll take back every nasty thing I ever said about ‘this damn psychic hocus-pocus of yours’. If it weren’t for you we never would’ve…”

Abe placed a webbed hand on Hellboy’s shoulder, “We both contributed something, Red. Isn’t that what partners are supposed to do? Yet, I am concerned that what you referred to last night as my ‘so-called gift’ is still more ‘so-called’ than anything else. I now realize that I actually had established a psychic link at that point in time with Professor Corrigan and Mindy Carlton; but it was uncontrolled and poorly focused. This is probably the best explanation for my sudden illness. I was experiencing the drug-induced headaches and nausea they should have been suffering. It is obvious to me that I need a lot more practice if I am truly to be useful to you as a partner.”

“Abe,” a sleepy voice cut in from the bench, “Stop calling me Professor Corrigan. I’m usually ‘Kate’ to guys who help save me from giant rats.”

Chuckling at this interruption, Hellboy turned to look at Kate, but she had already rolled over and fallen back to sleep again. He turned back to Abe. “Maybe you do need more practice, Blue, but I still never would’ve found Kate if it weren’t for you.”

“I would think that my associates and I deserve some thanks, too,” Hellboy looked up to find Malachy seated at the table at the front of the truck that was still strewn with maps of Saint Nicholas Park.

Hellboy walked up to him, finding his appearance even more ethereal and indefinable than before, “Well, I suppose you do; at least you got rid of furball’s guards for us. But, you know, I kind of expected a little more help in that chamber.”

Malachy, now more solid, pushed back his long white hair, “What makes you think we didn’t help? When you called on us, we came to you. We also helped boost your psychic connection to Abe.”

Hellboy shook his head, “I never called on you. I just…” Malachy’s appearance suddenly became so brilliant that Hellboy and Abe were almost blinded. Falling to his knees, Hellboy threw up his left hand to shade his eyes. “Aw, shit, you’re Saint Michael, aren’t you?”

“A mere avatar only,” replied Malachy, as the effulgence of light faded, “Even you could not withstand his full manifestation. Just a small glimpse of his true being would fill most people with abject fear. This is why my associates and I seldom function on this plane of existence. But this case was unique, as I stated before. The enemy had flouted divine decrees against direct supernatural interference in human affairs; it had to be dealt with. Yet, the choices made in that chamber had to be your choices, the defiance your defiance. We came to your assistance when you chose to call on us.”

Still on his knees, Hellboy looked over at the sleeping Kate, “Glad you did; I really needed the help.”

Malachy smiled, “We are always there to help you, Hellboy, even if usually in a less direct manner. Remember, Michael is the patron saint of all those who protect frail humanity from that which harms.”

Becoming curious over Abe’s uncharacteristic silence, Hellboy turned toward him and found that he was slumped down in his seat, fast asleep. Realizing that he was now essentially alone with Malachy, he turned back to him, “That idiotic demonic rat kept going on and on about my destiny. If I don’t really know who or what I am now, how can I know what my destiny should be? Do you know?”

Malachy looked deep into Hellboy’s golden eyes. “Who you are now is easy to see: you are a peculiar combination of your unique origins, how you were raised by the man who adopted you, and your own freely-chosen actions. You do, indeed, have a destiny, but what that destiny should be can only be determined by you yourself.”

Sighing, Hellboy stood up and collapsed down into his seat, bowing his head. “But what if I’m nothing more than a demon from Hell, with only one destiny and no choice about it?”

“All sentient beings have a choice, Hellboy,” replied Malachy, coming to stand next to Hellboy’s seat. “You are no different. When I look into your heart, I see many things: envy, anger, fear, jealousy; but, over and above all of these, I see love. There is no love in Hell. Love only comes from Heaven and is something that must be freely given and freely accepted by those who choose to do so.”

Yanking open the panel that allowed him to look outside, Hellboy stared, unseeing, for a long while at the highway scenery going by. “Malachy, I don’t really need much to make me happy,” he finally said, “A good movie, a nice cold bottle of beer, a bowl of my favorite chili, a Baby Ruth bar, kissing Katie, knowing people I care about are safe. But what I really want most is for Father to be proud of me. What if that furball was right and I do something that really messes things up?”

Malachy knelt by Hellboy, placing a hand on his knee, “Remember, your biggest weakness is jealousy. Try to keep only love in your heart; for if you ever allow jealousy to grow, things may not be so well.”

A loud mewing unexpectedly occurred at that moment. In Hellboy’s excitement over rescuing Kate and subsequent conversation with Malachy, he totally forgot the white kitten he had named ‘Lucky’; his new pet that was then ensconced in one of the overhead animal cages in the front of the truck.

Hellboy had originally placed his cloak in the cage for Lucky to lie on, but an agent had removed it when it was given to Hellboy to wear after the successful termination of the operation. The kitten was now sitting disconsolately on the bare metal bottom of the cage next to the pan of litter.

Getting up from his chair, Hellboy opened the cage and lifted Lucky down from it. The minute Lucky was again held in Hellboy’s warm hands, he stopped crying and started purring. Holding the cat in the stone palm of his huge right hand, Hellboy retrieved the cloak and relined the cage with it.

He then dug around in the bag on the table that still contained the food purchased the night before. There was no more cat food in the bag, but there was another package of Hellboy’s favorite brand of mozzarella string cheese; something guaranteed to be an extremely rare treat for a stray cat.

Malachy had sat back down at the table, watching with amusement Hellboy’s almost maternal care of his new pet. “Is this kitten one of the associates you keep talking about, Malachy?” Hellboy inquired, as he sat down in his chair with Lucky in his lap and broke off pieces of the stringy, but delicious cheese to feed to the now ecstatic white kitten.

Malachy shook his head. “Often when we need to check things out we manifest as cats and mingle with the strays in a particular location. We first encountered this kitten with an eye for shiny objects in early November when we were tracking odd behavior among the city’s rat population. Last night we merely encouraged him to give you the hair clasp he had found in the park earlier that evening.”

“Was it you who put the idea in Abe’s head that we had to go looking for a white cat?” Hellboy asked, as he hungrily ate a little of the string cheese himself.

“No, that ‘prediction’ was totally due to his own formidable psychic powers. It saved us from having to find a way to coax you out of the truck to find the hair clasp. We were not initially planning on intervening any further than to make sure the kitten left the clasp where you could find it; at least not until your companion inadvertently astral-projected into the chamber where the women were imprisoned and alerted the rat that you were closer than he assumed.”

“And that’s when you snuck yourself into my truck in your kitty-cat form.” Hellboy grinned, as he continued feeding Lucky, taking occasional nibbles of the cheese himself. It was not long before the entire package of mozzarella was consumed.

Noticing that Abe and Kate were still fast asleep, Hellboy got up from his seat when the kitten was finished eating. After retrieving the same plastic bowl and jug of water used the night before, he gave Lucky some water to drink before he again placed the kitten back into the metal cage. After climbing into the pan of litter to perform necessary postprandial functions and scratching to bury the results, Lucky curled up in the cloak that was again at the bottom of the cage and went to sleep.

Poking his left forefinger through the front of the cage, Hellboy gently stroked the drowsing kitten, which purred happily at this attention. He then went back to his seat on the truck, falling asleep right after he sat down.

As he drifted into dreams, he heard a not-unfamiliar voice speak, “Farewell; take good care of our little kleptomaniac, won’t you? Beware of leaving shiny objects around. He does seem to like them.”

Hellboy, Abe, and Kate continued sleeping until the truck pulled into the main aboveground garage at the Newark Bureau headquarters.

More to come…

Author’s afterword: Sorry this ended up posted later than I originally wanted to. I sing a lot of concerts this time of year and just didn’t have time to post anything on Christmas. Originally, I was going to make this longer and have it be the last part of Chapter Five, but decided to post these completed pages before New Year’s since the system is coming down on 12/30 (at least for posting and editing). Since I have another concert to prepare for New Year’s Eve, it will probably be after the first of the year before I finish up Chapter Five: Abe Sapien: Sibling Rivalry.

Of all of the Hellboy fanfictions I’ve written, this chapter of Hellboy’s Family will be the one I will miss the most when it is finished. It was fun writing it, I hope it was fun reading it. Thanks to all who have done so and I hope you all have a prosperous and happy New Year.

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