Elizabeth scratched her black gloved hands as she walked briskly down the street in the cold January air. New Jersey's winters, she had learned were quite harsh, not only to humans, but to people like her as well. Even the fire within her thin, pale body wasn't keeping her warm. She tightened her wool, long-sleeved knee length coat over her body and rounded a corner. She wasn't sure where she was going, and at the moment, she wasn't exactly sure that it mattered. She sniffed a little, rubbing her hand over her now cherry red nose and shivering. She continued to walk, though now slowing her pace, now that she was away from the Bureau.
Stopping, she turned towards the street and looked both ways before crossing it. It was late, after midnight, and the nightlife in Newark was just getting underway. It wouldn't calm down until about three or four in the morning, but she didn't mind it. She could sit in the park for another three hours or so, watch the cars go by, the stray animals walk along the sidewalk. She could watch the pimps with their prostitutes work the streets. She could watch all of that.
Because in the long run, they probably had it better off than she did most of the time.
After all, she was pretty sure that one of those prostitutes hadn't killed 32 people.
And she was almost positive that that same prostitute had killed their mother, father, and brother.
Liz shook her head and crossed the street finally, heading towards a park that divided four streets at once. It was a small island of grass, trees, and benches placed right in the middle of one of the busiest sections of town. But it was her favorite place because of that. She could go there, watch the life, and leave her worries and horrid memories behind at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Or could she?
She sniffed again, rubbing her nose. It was becoming numb, but, once again, she didn't mind, or didn't care...either one, she wasn't sure if there was a difference anymore.
She'd gone back to the Bureau again. "Only for the weekend," she'd told everyone, but she knew that she'd be there a lot longer than two days. And she was doubly sure that everyone else there knew it too. After all, taking out an entire city block, not to mention the psychiatric ward which she had checked herself into, was pretty traumatizing. She'd been doing so well the past few months. She'd been learning to control her 'gift' or 'curse' or whatever people cared to call it. There were times she was grateful for the ability, but more often then not, she wished that she'd never been born with pyrokenesis. She must have killed about 60 people already. And all of them were innocent.
Sighting a bench, she headed for it and sank down onto the hard wood, bringing her knees up to her chest, continuing to observe everything around her. She wasn't in the greatest section of town, and she knew that if anyone found out that she'd been traipsing around here at this time of night, she'd get the yelling of her life. From the Professor, Hellboy, the agents...she was pretty certain she was safe from Abe though. She let out a small chuckle at that thought. She wasn't sure if Abe had the ability to yell at anyone. No, Abe was the one she went to when she had something serious to talk about. He was good like that, the older brother type.
She let out another breath of air, purely to see the steam come from her mouth. She felt a child like wonder well up within her and she smiled. Funny, how blowing some air and creating steam could have such and effect on a person. Clearing her throat, she raised her eyebrows and looked around, making sure that no one would be able to see what she was about to do. When she was satisfied that those around would not be able to see, she curled her knees tighter to her chest and placed her right hand on the inside of her lap. Looking at it expectantly, she waited, and two seconds later, beautiful ice colored flame shot from her finger tips, wrapping themselves around her fingers, knuckles, and finally, her entire hand. Shaking her head, she closed her hand, willing the fire to go away.
Why had it happened?
She struggled within herself and her memories to find the answer. All she remembered was...well, sleeping. Sleeping and dreaming a wonderful dream. Those had been frequent lately, which she was gracious for. Nightmares had a tendency to wake her up, and what would greet her would be her blanket on fire, or some other object aflame. But no, the past couple of weeks, her dreams had been blissfully happy. She'd dreamed of her parents, her brother, Christmas, making snowmen with her brother, going shopping with her parents...
But of course, all this was before she turned 11.
But it still didn't make since...and to turn to such a dream...of her second episode...or was it her third? She couldn't remember. The kids...those merciless children, chasing after her, cornering her for no reason, and then...picking up a stone and throwing it at her. Liz gingerly touched the small scar on her forehead as the dream and memory came flooding back to her.
Those four kids, she'd later learned, had been burned alive there on the spot. All because they'd teased her. She couldn't imagine what she could do now with her pyro abilities if something worse happened. To her or to someone else...
"Here we go," she whispered to herself, allowing her body to relax into the bench, putting her legs down so that her feet could touch the cold earth beneath her. She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned her head back, looking up into the clear black night. The stars were especially bright tonight, it being a new moon. She picked out a few constellations...Orion, The Big and Little Dippers, Gemini...and she wasn't positive, but she was pretty sure she saw Mars, it's faint red glow evident against the other white stars.
She hated thinking about these things. Everytime her episodes were brought up, she felt as though she were asking for pity, or even expecting it. The truth was though, she didn't want it. She didn't want pity or sympathy or any of those other things. She only wanted to be understood, accepted, taught.
She closed her blue eyes and let out a loud sigh, allowing her thoughts to wander to anything...anything but her tragic past.
So of course, they wandered to Hellboy. Liz groaned in complaint and frustration. Even when she tried to think about something happy, her mind always managed to divert itself back to two of the main points in her life: Her Pyrokenesis and the Bureau...or more to the point, HB.
She hadn't said anything to him when she'd come back, even though it was evident that he was ecstatic that she was back at the Bureau. And, she was slightly kicking herself now. She was rude, hadn't said a word to him since she'd been carted off to her fire proof room. But she wasn't sure that she wanted to. Everytime she saw him, she felt as though she were looking at a new person. Not physically, but mentally. She'd grown up with him, they'd gotten off to a great start. He was like an older brother to her for so many years. But of course, she'd been oblivious to his true feelings for her. She wasn't sure why. Now that she looked back on it, it was so obvious. He hated it when people took his picture...
But he always let her take as many snap shots of him as she wanted.
There was one time when Dr. Broom had stuck a stick of celery in his face and told him to eat it. HB had told his father that he was out of his mind. "There's no way I'm sticking a tree down my throat," he'd said. Dr. Broom had left the room, shaking his head just as she had come in. And of course, she'd asked HB what was up and HB had told her...Liz shook her head at the random memory. She'd picked up the celery and taken a bite of it, then offered it to HB. At first, he turned his head away from it, but, with a little prodding, Liz had managed to get him to take a couple of bites. Then, she'd left, telling Red that she'd see him later. She chuckled to herself as she stood up. The man had eaten a vegetable for her.
If that wasn't love, she didn't know what was.
She began to walk along the street, looking down at the ground as she did so. She was hoping to find some pennies, as she needed a few Canadian ones to add to her collection. She stopped in front of a brick building, finally seeing a penny and she scooped down to pick it up. As she was coming back up though, her eyes and ears caught the small and faint rocks tumbling from the side of the building. She stood up straight and looked around her, clutching her long sweater coat to her. She licked her lips nervously and looked up...then sighed, cocking her head to the side, her lips curving into an amused, small smile.
There was Red, hanging from the ledge of a brick building, just beginning to pull himself up and over the ledge. Liz also noticed a fire escape and began to walk toward it, not saying anything until she was standing at the top of the stairs, her hands in her pockets, looking at Hellboy expectedly. He looked back at her, slightly surprised, but, to his credit, was covering it rather well.
"Hey'a Liz," he greeted, pulling a cigar and a zippo out of his pocket and lighting up. He inhaled, then exhaled, then looked at her again. "What are you doin' out here so late, huh? Bad part of town, you know..." he looked her up and down, "and cold." Liz stepped forward a couple of steps. "I felt like taking a walk," she answered simply, blowing some more air out and watching her breath take shape in the empty space. "What about you? Why are you out here...you know you're not-"
"Supposed to be out without an escort, yea, I know that bit. Gotten it quite a few times in the past 20 years or so." He flicked the cigar and tossed her a smile, then, put it back in his mouth again, taking a look around the skyline of Newark. Liz did the same, only from the opposite ledge, leaning over it and looking down. There were two people on the street that she could see. Other than that, the sidewalks and pavement were empty. But then again, it was pretty late...almost 2 am if she wasn't mistaken. She smirked.
Both her and HB would be getting quite the lecture when they got back to the Bureau.
"What was going on when I got in today?" she asked finally, turning from the ledge to look at Hellboy. He merely shrugged and took another puff of his cigar, looking away from her. Elizabeth was persistent though. She knew HB's temper like the back of her hand...what ever had upset him right before she had come on the scene was worth more than a shrug.
"What happened?" she asked again, quieter, almost a pleading tone in her voice. And she heard what she was waiting for. The large, relenting sigh that meant Hellboy was going to tell her what she wanted to know.
"Got into an argument with Manning." Hellboy finally turned to face her and put his left hand on his hip and hooked his right thumb through his belt loop. Liz nodded, knowing that the conversation from this point on would be quite sour. She knew Manning. She didn't really like him, but she respected him somewhat. After all, he didn't have to keeping covering up for Hellboy whenever he was spotted in public. But she also knew that that was to protect himself and the FBI more than Hellboy and the Bureau. "What did he say?"
Hellboy swallowed, looking down at the concrete of the rooftop. "He said that I was reckless with the mission...that I was part of the reason the agents died..." He took the cigar out of his mouth finally, rolling it with his left hand. "And that when all of the 'freaks' were captured..." he gave a bitter chuckle, the cigar rolling harder in his hand.
"...there would still be one left." A resounding crack was heard on the rooftop and the cigar dropped down in two pieces, the ashes scattering across the ground. Hellboy looked at it and sighed. "Crap...that was the last one I had on me too..." He leaned down, picking up both ends of the cigars and then stood straight up, glancing at Liz. She was looking at him softly, a sympathetic expression on her face. "Do you believe that?" she asked him finally.
"What, that I'm a freak?"
"No, that you killed those agents."
A long, tense silence followed. Hellboy turned away from her once more, leaning over his own ledge and looking down at the empty street. "I don't know," he finally answered.
Liz scuffed the rooftop with her black leather boots, watching as the small pebbles skipped across the ground. She looked back up, and his back was still to her. "I'm gonna head back now..." she murmured, but didn't make a move to leave. Then, with a hint of amusement, she added "Are you going to follow me back, too?" She could hear the grin in his answer.
She lowered her eyes and smiled, watching her feet as they turned her body around and began taking her towards the fire-escape stairs. "I'll see you back at the Bureau...or Monsters Inc., whichever you prefer to call it..." She stepped onto the first stair and followed the path down four or five flights, jumping over the last two steps and onto the hard tar below her. She came out of the alley, tightening her wool jacket around her and looked both ways before crossing the street. A few moments later, the sounds of building hopping from HB came above her, and she shook her head.
*Could he possibly be any louder?*