Author’s notes: This part follows directly after Part Thirty-Three, but first makes connections back to Part Thirty.

Reminder: ‘Lee’, an original character of mine, is a politician who had served during the Second World War under the code name of ‘L.’ or ‘Lee’. He will be FBI liaison until the advent of Tom Manning in 1984. I have not yet identified him in my Hellboy fics by other than his code name. A member of the House of Representatives in 1949, in 1978 he is a retired Senator. Nurse Martha Wilson and Doctor Robert Patterson from the BPRD facility in Boston first appeared in my Hellboy fic A Tale of ‘Demon’ Rights. In my slightly alternate universe, combining movieverse and comicverse elements, Boston had been BPRD headquarters in the 1950s.

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

Following Trevor Broom’s departure, Walter Carlton could hear Mindy weeping in her bedroom alcove, the walls in her apartment being very thin. He wished more than anything that he could comfort her, but understood she wished to be left alone. After what seemed a long time, Mindy became silent. Quietly opening her bedroom door to check on her, Carlton found that she had finally fallen asleep.

The telephone on her nightstand had a very long cord, so he decided to take it back into the living room with him; if it rang, he could answer it without disturbing her. Just about twenty minutes later, he managed to snatch up the telephone receiver on its first ring.

“Melinda Carlton’s apartment,” he announced.

“Trevor Broom here. I just wanted to let you know as soon as possible that everything is fine and I’m heading back home to Newark. My son and his friends will be joining me there. I hope your daughter is starting to feel better.”

“I’m afraid she’s not doing very well, but this welcome news may help. I’d like to be able to meet your son again, to thank him in person; and I’m sure Mindy feels the same. Would that be possible?”

“Yes, of course, Mr. Carlton; the sooner, the better, in fact. Some kind of closure will help you both deal with these recent events. Will four o’clock tomorrow afternoon be acceptable? If so, I will send a car to pick you up at that time. You could have supper with us while we discuss options.”

Carlton wondered what these ‘options’ would entail. Mindy and he, if unintentionally, had learned of the existence of a top-secret government bureau along with its supposedly non-existent and officially unacknowledged non-human agents.

He gladly accepted the invitation; dinner with Trevor Broom, Hellboy, and Abe was certain to be a more interesting and pleasant way to be debriefed than many other methods the FBI could offer.

Lee, the FBI liaison, had originally intended only a brief visit to the Newark BPRD headquarters before returning to his offices in Washington. After discovering Kate Corrigan had been one of the women seized by the rats, he anxiously prolonged his visit to Newark. He had known both Kate and Hellboy from their youths and, never having had children of his own, felt just as panicked about them when they were in danger as Trevor Broom did or Walter Carlton felt about Mindy.

Kate and her mother, Cybil, had never met Lee in his capacity of FBI liaison while Richard Corrigan worked as a consultant for the Bureau. After the death of Richard in 1959, Trevor Broom had tried to keep in touch with the wife and child of his former colleague and friend. Yet, Cybil Corrigan wanted to forget all about her late husband’s connection to the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense; especially the existence of its director, Trevor Broom, and Broom’s weird adopted son.

Lee had introduced himself to Cybil and Kate after Richard Corrigan’s death as ‘John Peterson’, purportedly a colleague from the university where Richard had taught folklore. This ‘John’ kept in touch with them as much as possible.

In this manner, Lee monitored Kate and her mother over the years and kept Trevor Broom and Hellboy informed of their welfare. Even though his visits were sporadic at best, ‘Uncle John’ had been the closest thing Kate had to a father between age eight and when she left home at age nineteen.

When Kate had turned sixteen, ‘John’ made her aware of his other identities and his connection to Trevor Broom’s Bureau. It became a comfort to her to have at least one person who knew of the existence of Hellboy and understood how much her penpal-only friend ‘Frank’ meant to her.

Memories of his earlier relationship with Kate Corrigan and Hellboy filled Lee with a restless energy, making his own small office in the Newark facility feel too claustrophobic. He left word with the main security desk that he would await any news in Trevor Broom’s larger office.

Every so often, he would go into a nearby staff kitchen to make a pot of coffee. He would then go back to Broom’s office and sit pensively staring into the fire while drinking the coffee. Managing to doze off a couple of times, he was still too nervous to want to go into the private guest quarters reserved for him and try to get some real sleep.

Not long after 4:00am, some of the agents who had been with Trevor Broom in Harlem returned to the Bureau for food and rest as others were sent in their place. One of these agents awoke Lee from a light doze and informed him of what was then going on and how close they were to their goal.

Even without any particular psychic ability, Lee’s many decades of acquaintance with Trevor Broom had developed in him a certain empathic resonance with the emotional states of people he cared for. Just about 7:00am, the tense knot of apprehension that had been sitting like a rock on his chest lessened considerably and he finally fell into a deep sleep. It was not quite an hour later when he was awakened by the ringing of the telephone on Broom’s desk.

Almost knocking it over in his haste to answer it, he found that it was the guard stationed at the desk at the main upper-level entrance. The longed-for good tidings driving away any residual weariness, Lee exited the office—feeling much happier than when he had entered it almost eleven hours earlier.

First going to his guest quarters to freshen up a little and straighten out his rumpled suit, Lee then made his way up to the main facility garage. The black sedan that contained Trevor Broom and the two agents who had gone with him pulled in first, since the location of Mindy Carlton’s apartment in Greenwich Village was closer to Newark than Harlem.

Noticing when he stepped forward to greet Broom how exhausted his friend and colleague appeared, Lee suggested that Broom immediately retire to get some sleep. Objecting to this at first, as he had never seen Kate since Hellboy and Abe rescued her, Broom finally gave in. He was only three years older than Lee, but at that point those three years felt more like three centuries. After filling Lee in on what he knew of Hellboy and Kate’s condition and praising Abe’s assistance, Broom withdrew to sleep.

Hellboy, Abe, and Kate started to come awake as the truck pulled into the main Bureau facility garage. In many ways, it had been a healing rest for all concerned, especially for Kate Corrigan.

Having only dreamlike impressions of his most recent encounter with Malachy, Hellboy still understood that this odd being had something to do with the more than naturally therapeutic nature of this rest. Even Lucky, the stray white cat Hellboy had adopted, was found later to have had all evidence of fleas and other ailments ameliorated.

Since Hellboy’s truck and the other sedans would probably be pulling into the same garage where Lee was already located, he decided to wait for them. They were only around fifteen to twenty minutes behind Trevor Broom, but to Lee it seemed more like fifteen hours. Even though Broom had earlier informed him that, as far as he knew, Kate was little the worse for her horrifying experience, Lee was desperate to see for himself that she was safe.

When the still new-looking sanitation truck pulled in at last, Lee hurried over to the location where the driver had pulled over for the three passengers in the rear to disembark. Climbing into the back of the truck the minute the rear doors opened, he saw Kate sitting upon the blanket-strewn bench; sleepy and disheveled-looking, but essentially unharmed. Unable to hold back his tears, Lee threw himself onto the bench next to her and clutched her in a fierce embrace.

Feeling awkward, since he had only met Lee a few times until the briefing for this mission, Abe moved toward the front of the truck and started to collect up all the maps and diagrams he had used earlier. Hellboy was never one who dealt easily with distraught people or strong emotions; he beat a hasty retreat and went to join Abe, leaving Lee alone with Kate.

Having seen too much in his long career, Lee was not generally prone to tears. Hellboy hadn’t seen him this distressed since his wife, a woman Hellboy only ever knew as ‘Aunt Polly’, died of ovarian cancer during Hellboy’s second mission into Argentina in 1955. Pulling out a handkerchief after he let go of Kate, Lee blew his nose noisily and made a great effort to regain control.

It had been extremely difficult for Kate to witness Lee becoming this upset. Hugging him even closer, she tearfully whispered something in his ear of which Hellboy could only make out a few words.

“You do seem to have a lot of different names, don’t you, Lee?” Hellboy said, walking back over to the bench and laying his left hand on Lee’s shoulder, “I forgot all about ‘Uncle John’.”

“God, that was a long time ago, wasn’t it?” Lee mumbled, gently disengaging from Kate’s embrace.

Stuffing the handkerchief back into a jacket pocket, Lee smiled up at Hellboy. “I never doubted that you could pull this off, Hellboy, but I’m sure as hell glad it’s over. I hope the truck came in handy.”

“Sure did, Uncle Lee,” Hellboy grinned, “But not as handy as Abe over there. I don’t think I could’ve ‘pulled this off’, as you put it, without him.”

Abe, who had just finished rearranging the papers on the table, walked over. “Like I said before, Red, we both contributed. It was a good test of our new partnership and I’m glad my inexperience did not jeopardize our efforts too much. I certainly need a lot more practice. Though, one could hope that the next code-red not hit so close to home.”

Smiling, Lee stood up and took Abe’s webbed right hand in both his own. “Just about a half hour ago, I spoke with Trevor when he returned. He had nothing but praise for your actions, Abe. I wish there was something more I could do than just say ‘thank you’. If there’s anything you ever need, just ask, and I will make every effort to obtain it. Welcome to our odd little family.”

Abe smiled back. “I do not recall much of my previous life, but I have seen enough since my arrival here to know that a ‘family’, no matter how ‘odd’ or ‘little’, is a good thing to have. I look forward to learning how I can better become a part of it. Right now, that is all I need.”

“Right now,” said Kate, standing and stretching, “All I need is to get out of this truck and find a hot shower and a warm bed. Thank God, I always keep some clothes and toiletries here.”

Hellboy helped Kate down out of the truck, Lee noticing an extra solicitousness on Hellboy’s part. Curious about the current state of their relationship, Lee recalled hearing some rumors about Hellboy and Kate’s more than friendly behavior at the Halloween party in October. Thinking it better to keep his observations to himself for the time being, he followed Abe out of the truck.

The minute Abe descended into the main Bureau facility, he raided a refrigerator in the Medical Wing where there was always a cache of rotten eggs placed there by a nurse who owned what Hellboy always called ‘a lizardy thing’. Having satiated his hunger for the time being, Abe retreated to his own quarters to take a very long cool shower before going to sleep in the private portion of his aquarium.

Kate intrigued Lee by giving Hellboy a passionate kiss after he helped her out of the truck. First taken by security to a storage area to retrieve her belongings, she disappeared into the tiny belowground guest quarters assigned to her. After showering, feeling clean for the first time in over twelve hours, she ate a snack sent to her from the main kitchen and then fell asleep on the warmly snug cot.

Though completely exhausted, Hellboy was too hungry to sleep. First checking that Trevor Broom had indeed arrived back, he went to the main kitchen to get them to make his usual breakfast.

Hellboy later found himself alone in his room; surrounded by bowls of food, a pot of coffee, and many televisions blaring programs and commercials. Movement caught his eye from a set near the table where he was wolfing down syrupy pancakes, buttered toast, and crispy bacon; a flailing-armed, turtle-necked guy in a sports jacket was shouting, “Crazy Eddie! His prices are in-sa-a-ne!

He usually got a kick out of these commercials for the local electronics chain, but was still nursing a slight headache. He recalled the last thing he had watched on that particular television had been a Charlie Chaplin movie broadcast late Sunday evening. As it was still tuned into WOR-TV, Hellboy got up to change the channel; not wanting to be inundated with the usually banal local programming Channel 9 broadcast in the morning interspersed with any more of the strident commercials.

Randomly flipping the dial, Hellboy tuned into Channel 2 still in the midst of the CBS Morning News. Usually able to tune out droning newscasts, Hellboy’s ears pricked up. When he understood what was being broadcast, he jumped up from the table, shoved a blank tape in his VHS machine, and pressed the record button. He sat down again, picking up his fork and continued eating his pancakes.

“… Melinda Carlton, the young waitress allegedly seized last evening by giant rats from a Greenwich Village diner, is now known to be at home in her apartment. Any attempts by members of our news team to contact her have been thwarted by the FBI; who is now claiming that ‘Mindy’, as she is known by her friends and family, was nothing more than a victim of unknown practical jokers in costumes.”

“Many have claimed, both in the Greenwich Village region near New York University and in Harlem near Saint Nicholas Park, to have seen weird occurrences and strange beings all evening long and into today’s morning hours. In both locations, the FBI and additional agents blocked journalists and other witnesses from a closer view. As a result, there are no visuals that entirely prove these claims.”

“The whereabouts of Professor Kate Corrigan, a lecturer on folklore at New York University, are still unknown at the time of this broadcast. Some have maintained that the rats seized her from the diner at the same time as the waitress, but the FBI categorically denies this. At present, Professor Corrigan is officially on sabbatical from the university. The head of the Anthropology Department claims that she has yet to return from a recent research trip to Hungary and refuses to make further comment.”

The visuals on the screen then switched from the talking head of the news commentator to grainy pictures of Hellboy’s new garbage truck, several shots of himself obscured by his cloak, and one shot of Abe in his false beard, dark hat, and overcoat. One of these photographs had been partially blocked by agents on the scene. All that could be made out was a large gloved man completely covered by a black hooded cloak, walking hand-in-hand with a woman whose face could not be seen.

While these various shots were being shown, the news commentary continued.

“According to reports, Professor Corrigan is well acquainted with a renowned professor of folklore at New York University, the English-born Trevor Broom. Yet, for several decades, rumors have connected this distinguished British scholar to a mysterious government agency reputedly formed in the 1940s to fight against supernatural threats. The FBI vehemently disavows the existence of this so-called ‘Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense’. It has been noted that sanitation trucks often appear in locations where citizens claim activity by this alleged bureau.”

The visuals switched to some foreign country. “On the international scene, in other breaking news…” Hellboy pressed the stop button on his VHS.

He again reached for that set and switched to another channel, no longer paying any attention to what was on the screen. He ate a few more mouthfuls of food; but found that major exhaustion was finally kicking in. He pulled off his boots and lying on his rumpled bed, fell into a deep slumber.

After hours of uninterrupted sleep filled with pleasant dreams of Kate Corrigan, he awoke; for once, his heart was pounding from something other than gut-wrenching dread. Gone were his recent nightmares about his right hand, never to return again until almost twenty-six years later.

Taking a brief shower, he then dressed himself in a fresh pair of black leather pants and tee shirt; eventually making his way to the Medical Wing where his new pet cat Lucky was quarantined until it was determined to be free of diseases, fleas, and other parasites.

He located the little white cat in a small cage in one of the research facilities, still none too happy at having been poked, prodded and given shots around ten minutes before by a consultant veterinarian. Hellboy’s cloak and a plastic pan of fresh litter were in the cage with the cat.

Hellboy smiled at Dr. Cobb, who was cleaning the area that the now departed veterinarian had used to examine the cat. “So, how’s my little pussy doing?” he asked, poking the forefinger of his left hand into the cat’s cage and attempting to stroke the still disgruntled cat, who angrily swatted at the finger.

Dr. Cobb, who always got along with Hellboy well enough, smiled back. “Healthier than we expected. You’d never think this cat had been a stray. I think he will be released to you sometime tomorrow. While you’re at it, remind Professor Corrigan to come and see us. We didn’t want to bother her today, but it would be a good idea for her to have a physical examination before she departs.”

Nodding his acknowledgement of the request, Hellboy walked out of the research facility and departed the Medical Wing. Rather than returning to his own room, Hellboy decided to go to his father’s office. He needed to think about his quickly developing relationship with Kate Corrigan and he always found the office a great place for those rare times when he needed some peace and quiet. As much as he loved his collection of televisions, his own room was sometimes a bit too chaotic for introspection.

And Hellboy felt sure that some thinking needed to be done. While they had been searching for Kate, all he could think about was rescuing her; and when she was rescued and everything was finally over, he discovered he could barely put two rational thoughts together when she was anywhere near him.

Regardless of his inexperience in matters of the heart, Hellboy was aware of what Kate wanted of him. He was also more than aware that he desired to do what she wanted. His attempt to get her to move to California and forget all about him had been half-hearted at best; one kiss from Kate had too easily dissuaded him from convincing her that this would be in her best interest.

Apart from the affection and attraction he felt for Kate, Hellboy really wanted nothing more than to do what was right by her. He was yet to be completely convinced that a sexual relationship with him was the best thing for her; then again, it was hard to turn her down when she made it so clear that this was exactly what she wanted from him.

When he reached his father’s office, unusual for that time of day, it was empty.

Too restless to sit down, he threw some logs on the fire and just stood staring at it. After a long time, the door to the office opened and Lee walked in. He was accompanied by Martha Wilson, head nurse of the Boston BPRD Medical Wing before her retirement, and Doctor Robert Patterson, still the chief surgeon in Boston.

Hellboy turned toward them; both surprised and pleased to see his old friends. In many ways Martha had been almost like a mother to him when Boston had been Bureau headquarters in the 1950s and, in spite of a rough beginning to their relationship, he was just as close to Bob Patterson.

Giving Martha a quick squeeze and shaking Bob’s hand, Hellboy couldn’t help smiling in spite of his earlier pensive mood. Bob leaned toward Hellboy and whispered something. Hellboy stared at him and then at a slightly blushing Martha Wilson. “And I want you to be my best man,” Bob added.

“Jesus, Bob, when’d all this start?” Hellboy finally managed to get out.

Bob put an arm around Martha’s shoulder, grinning at the look on Hellboy’s face.

“We first met during the war,” he replied, “However, we decided to keep it essentially platonic then. After all, I was her commanding officer; and even though we left the military in 1951 when we went to work for the Bureau in Boston, we thought it best to keep it quiet until at least one of us retired.”

Hellboy gave Martha another huge hug—this time noticing the delicately designed diamond engagement ring on her left hand. “So, when’s the big event? Does Pop know about it yet?”

“This Saturday; if you don’t mind sharing your birthday with us, H.B.,” replied Martha, as she managed to escape his bone-crushing hug. “We decided to do it quietly here, instead of in Boston; most of the Bureau personnel we want to attend are in Newark anyway. As for your other question: no, your father doesn’t know about it yet. He needs to know, especially since he’s giving me away. And I thought Katie maybe wouldn’t mind being my maid of honor.”

“No, Marty, I wouldn’t mind,” interrupted Kate, who had just walked in while Martha was speaking, “And even though Hellboy sends you more flowers in any given year than the most romantic of lovers, I doubt he’s the one you’re marrying. So who’s the lucky guy?”

Laughing, Bob Patterson raised his hand. “Guilty, as charged.”

Kate looked closer at him; she didn’t know him as well as Hellboy did and wondered if Hellboy had ever suspected a relationship of this type between these long-time acquaintances.

Hellboy noticed that Kate looked a lot more rested. She was wearing a clean pair of jeans and a red custom-made tee shirt Hellboy had given her the previous Christmas. There was a quotation inscribed on the front: “And with all that, who is there who believes in vampires?” Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Which question was answered on the back of the shirt: “I do.” Kate Corrigan, Scholar of the Undead.

Martha ran to give Kate a hug. She and Bob had known Kate ever since 1959 when her father, Richard Corrigan, had been admitted to the Boston BPRD Medical Wing in hopes that a still experimental surgical technique would stabilize his cardiac condition. Like Trevor Broom and Hellboy, they retained a keen interest in the welfare of Richard’s bereaved daughter after his death and tried to keep in touch as much as possible.

Bob turned toward Hellboy. “The Bureau facility in Boston had been put on alert last night that additional agents might be needed to get an ‘incident’ under control in Manhattan. Martha and I had no idea that Kate was involved until Lee told us when we arrived here today. I’m almost glad we didn’t know the details. Martha probably would have died from worry.”

After kissing Martha’s cheek, Kate pulled away from the hug and stared at the recently installed aquarium in Trevor Broom’s office. “What’s with this huge empty tank, Hellboy? Is Trevor planning on collecting tropical fish? And what’s with the bookstands facing it?”

Hellboy laughed, “Nah, no fish; just one fish-man who likes to read and who’s probably still sleeping in the part you can’t see from here.”

“A fish-man?” Martha peered into the depths of Abe’s tank. “Is this the same fish-man you and Trevor spoke so highly of when you were recuperating in Boston back in November?”

“Recuperating?” Kate looked at Martha and Bob, and then back at Hellboy, “Recuperating from what?”

“Um, long story; very long story,” Hellboy replied, fidgeting his tail back and forth; a sure sign that this ‘long story’ bothered him, “It all happened when you were still in some godforsaken Hungarian backwater searching for vampires and Pop didn’t want to worry you if he didn’t have to. Let’s just say that I’ll never ignore anything Abe ever has to say to me ever again.”

Hellboy turned away from Kate and tossed a few more logs on the fire. When he turned back to her, he grinned slightly, “I’m glad as hell things worked out better today.”

A slight splash of water heralded the appearance of Abe Sapien in the ‘public’ part of his aquarium.

Martha and Bob moved closer to the glass wall and admired the slender figure in tight fitting black shorts lazily drifting back and forth in the tank, the interior lights causing his gray-blue skin to glisten. Kate also moved closer. She had met Abe earlier that day; but now reveled in the chance to see him in his more natural element, finding the fish-man extremely attractive.

“Greetings, Nurse Wilson and Doctor Patterson,” Abe’s voice sounded hollow and tinny-sounding due to the recently installed speaker system that allowed him to be heard underwater, “I am glad of the opportunity to finally be introduced.”

Even though Abe had never met any personnel from Boston, Trevor Broom had told him about the most important BPRD personnel stationed in other locations. He recognized Bob and Martha from official portraits he had been shown of these personnel.

Waving at them as he glided into a graceful summersault, he then swam to the top of the tank, eventually exiting it and climbing down the spiral staircase in the rear of the office. He had dried off and was now wearing a longer pair of black pants and a black shirt, made of the same skin-fittingly tight material that his swimming trunks had been.

Hellboy and Lee introduced Abe. They then launched into a detailed explanation to Martha and Bob of everything that had happened over the past two days. Noticing that Hellboy seemed reluctant to go into too much detail over his final struggle with the demonic rat, Martha wondered if there was more to this incident than his usual monster bashing. Even though he seemed happy enough, at the same time she sensed an underlying uncertainty or hesitation over something.

Martha managed to pull Hellboy aside at a point when Bob, Lee and Kate were deep in conversation with Abe. “Okay; what’s up? I can tell you’re about ready to explode with something.”

Grinning, Hellboy leaned down and kissed her cheek. “I know you can, Marty. You always could.”

“C’mon, H.B.,” Martha said, just a little louder, “Why don’t you take a minute and show me this chapel I’m supposed to be getting married in. After that I wouldn’t mind you rustling me up a cup of coffee.”

With a slight wink at Bob Patterson, Martha walked out of the office with Hellboy following behind. Five minutes later, she found herself seated in a chair in the front row of the chapel. Hellboy, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of her, picked lint off the carpet with the fingers of his left hand.

After a few moments, he looked up into her face, marveling how unchanged she was—even though she was much older than when they had first met. Dressed in jeans and a navy blue pullover sweater, her now graying hair pulled back in it’s usual bun, she reminded him so much of the woman he had met in Boston on Thanksgiving Day in 1951 when he was six years old and already over six feet tall.

And just like that day in 1951, Hellboy eventually blurted out everything that was on his mind. Whatever it was that he admitted to Martha about his feelings for Kate and his strange confrontation with the demonic rat that had seized her, she never told to anyone. Yet, he never forgot her simple words of wisdom—words that eased much of his anxiety both over past actions and future intentions.

Kate Corrigan and Elizabeth Sherman, the woman Hellboy eventually wed, would both assert that he was always the most gentle of lovers. Regardless of how sarcastic, juvenile, and argumentative he could be at times, he always treated them as if their love for him was something priceless and special; a treasure never to be taken for granted.

And even though Hellboy’s relationship with Trevor Broom became somewhat unstable in later years, this advice from Martha and other future advice helped keep it from degenerating completely.

About an hour after they had left, Hellboy and Martha returned to the office, Hellboy bearing a tray of coffee for everyone. They were just about to enter when Trevor Broom arrived. Shifting his cane to his left hand, Broom pulled the door open for them and entered in behind them. Just as he was planning to inquire after Kate, he saw her standing near Abe’s tank speaking with Abe, Lee, and Bob.

As soon as Kate noticed that Trevor Broom had walked in, she launched herself into his arms—knocking the cane out of Broom’s hand in the process. For some years, they had been relating to each other more as adult colleagues. Yet, at this point, Kate could feel nothing more than the joy of being held in the arms of one who had looked on her as an almost daughter since she was nineteen.

Too moved to even speak, Trevor Broom held on to her for a very long time. “My dear,” Broom said, as he finally let go, “If I was younger, I never would have retired to bed before seeing you; no matter how exhausted I felt. I’m just not as strong as I once was.”

Kate shook her head, as she stooped to retrieve the cane Broom had dropped when they embraced. Kissing his cheek as she returned it, she said with a smile, “After everything you went through to effect Mindy’s and my rescue, Trevor, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for.”

Wishing to conceal his self-consciousness at these heightened emotions, Hellboy had busied himself setting up a table and chairs in front of the fire. After retrieving his cane from Kate, Broom turned to find that Bob and Martha had seated themselves at the table and were now deep in mugs of coffee. He moved to greet them, wondering what had brought them to Newark at such an interesting time.

Abe and Kate watched Hellboy, who had heated a pot of water on a hob in the fireplace, expertly fuss with a teapot. Kate smiled, knowing why he was such an old hand at tea brewing; but this unexpected culinary talent surprised Abe. Then a vivid picture came into his mind of a much younger, but only slightly smaller, Hellboy carrying a tray of tea along a hospital corridor and almost walking into a young girl. He realized this was probably a remnant of the Kate-related memories he had absorbed from Hellboy during the earlier melding of their minds.

Soon everyone was seated together at the table, some partaking of the coffee and others the excellent tea Hellboy had just prepared. As Hellboy looked around him, he began to think that maybe his thirty-fourth birthday on Saturday might herald the arrival of a new and better time in his life.

Epilogue—December 2004

Hellboy stood staring into the fireplace in his father’s office. The spot where he was standing was almost exactly the location where he had breakfasted in 1978 when Trevor Broom had informed him of the discovery of a fish-man who had been dubbed Abraham Sapien. Sometimes that fateful morning seemed like just yesterday, rather than more than twenty-six years before.

It was his birthday again and he couldn’t help recalling his birthday in 1978. Lee had sent him off on a minor mission that ended up being more of a wild goose chase than anything else. When he had returned hours later, he found that his old bed was gone and a red truck set up in its place; completely adapted into the perfect bed for someone of his size and weight.

He later learned that Abe, with Trevor Broom’s assistance, had spent all of his Bureau allowance in purchasing the truck so admired by Hellboy the morning they rescued Kate. In the cab of the truck, he discovered a basket containing four gray-striped kittens, the accompanying note identifying them as a gift from ‘your forever friends, Walt and Mindy’.

As Hellboy stood and pondered these memories, he came to realize that the closing of the year 1978 had contained the seeds of dreams that were later fulfilled, solemn promises that were later broken, and nightmares that later came true.

His friendship with Kate Corrigan had managed to survive the ups and downs of a romantic relationship not destined to last. His relationship with his ‘brother’ Abe Sapien had survived the frictions of two almost opposite personalities. Mindy and Walter Carlton had indeed remained ‘forever friends’ and Mindy named her first son Trevor. Bob Patterson and Martha Wilson had always retained a significant relationship with him until they passed away.

Hellboy’s thoughts then led him to the last time he had seen the one he always called ‘Lee’—the day of Trevor Broom’s funeral. For his nightmares, both about the ‘Right Hand of Doom’ and of something terrible happening on November 1st, had come true in the most devastating way.

As Hellboy stooped to examine the faded patch of blood on the red carpet where Trevor Broom had been stabbed to death, Abe Sapien walked in looking for him. Abe was still recovering from his recent severe injuries, but had been let out of the Medical Wing to attend Hellboy’s sixtieth birthday party.

“C’mon, Red, we’ve got all the makings for a great party, but no guest of honor. I’m sure the Professor would not have wanted you to pine like this.”

Hellboy got up from his kneeling position. To Abe’s surprise, he was smiling. “Not exactly pining, Blue, just sort of thinking. I’m planning on popping Liz the question tonight; think she’ll say yes?”

“I’m certain she will. And I don’t even need to use my bigwig special psychic powers to read that one. You two have literally been glowing ever since you returned from Moscow.”

Turning to leave the office with Abe, Hellboy also turned away from broken promises. As much as he regretted these, he knew there was no way to change the past—only to move ahead into his future.

The man that he had called his father was gone, but Hellboy was glad that he still had his ‘brother’ Abe at his side to face that future with him.

End of Chapter Five

Author’s afterword: I never intended Chapter Five to be quite so long, but am not disappointed with how it turned out. It’s the longest sustained narrative I have ever written and I would like to thank all of you who have stuck it out until the end. Thanks, especially, to those who have encouraged me with your reviews and other communications.

For those of you who are interested, my fic Flowers for Mother: A Hellboy Tale of Thanksgiving tells in more detail of Hellboy’s relationship with Martha Wilson. It was the first fic that I wrote where an original character took center stage.

Next Chapter: Six: Liz Sherman.

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