Author's note: This story takes place after "Surprise", but it is not necessary to read that story before this one. However, it is rather important to read "Magic" and "The Magic Returns" to understand what's going on.
Disclaimer: I don't own Hellboy and Company. No suing, ok?
It's about a quarter to 12 and it's New Year's Eve. I'm standing in the dark family room looking through the large plate glass window, spinning my ring around my finger. I can hear Dick Clark's Rocking New Year's Eve in the background. I'm looking over the lake, and the moon is playing peek-a-boo behind the clouds. Those clouds dropped a couple of inches of snow on the ground earlier this evening so everything is glowing a blue-white color whenever the moon manages to emerge. The view is stunning, and I wish I had someone to share this with. Technically, I do have someone, but he's been gone since Christmas. So, I stand here alone, wishing he was here and trying to avoid sleep.
During the day it's not so bad. I can keep myself busy and try to ignore the ache I feel when he's gone. But night is a different story. At night I have nothing to truly distract me from the emptiness. And sleep is even worse. When I sleep he comes to me in my dreams and does things that make me want him even more. So, now I stand here looking at a magical view waiting for Dick Clark to announce the New Year with no one to share it with.
I jump and then turn around. My heart has just taken off for the moon.
"But not as beautiful as you."
There he is, standing in the darkened room. The moon comes out and floods the room with its light. It makes it look like he's glowing. This has got to be a dream.
"I'm no dream," he says as he takes off a glove, drops it, and steps forward. He touches my cheek.
"AAHHH! Your hand is like ice," I yell in surprise, jumping back. "What have you been doing? How did you get here? For that matter, how did you get in here?"
"I walked," he answers. "The kitchen door was unlocked."
"You walked?" I ask in bewilderment. "Manning just let you walk here?"
"Well, no," he replies. "Manning doesn't know I'm here."
"They just let you walk out?" I ask suspiciously.
"No," he says.
"Then how did you get out?"
"Hellboy," he says simply waving an extremely graceful hand. "Aren't you going to kiss me hello?"
"Not until you defrost a little," I retort.
"I can think of a way to warm up," he says.
"Not on my body, you're not. Shower," I order. I grab his upper arm, turn him around and start pushing him toward the bathroom. I notice that there's snow on his shoulders. "Did you walk the whole 15 miles?"
"Yes," he answers as I get him into the bathroom. Shaking my head, I push him toward the shower.
"I'll go make you something warm to drink," I tell him. "Do you have a preference?"
"Hot chocolate?" he asks.
"Fine," I say. "You take your shower and I'll get the hot chocolate."
I turn and leave. My cheek is still cold from where he touched it. I head for the kitchen and start to make the hot chocolate. I can hear the shower going. Several minutes later, the hot chocolate is ready and I can still hear the water running. I pick up Abe's cup and take it into the bathroom. I notice that he's stripped off everything, including his shorts. I walk past the shower, not daring to look in, and put the cup on the counter. As I walk back past the shower, I hear it open and a second later he's dragging me in by the arm.
"AAAHHHH! Abe, I'm getting wet!" I yell at him.
"Yes, so?" he replies with a smile on his face.
"I'm still wearing my clothes," I point out.
"Somehow," he says as he lowers his face to mine, "I'm not seeing this as a problem."
He kisses me and anything I was about to say simply disappears. The feeling of his warm wet skin under my hands is enough to make me forget my own name. He gets my shirt off fairly easily, but wet jeans tend to stick like glue. He kneels down and peels them off of me. After they're gone, all that's left are my bra and panties. He stays on his knees and starts exploring me with his mouth. I can barely breathe, and I definitely can't think straight. He starts exploring with his fingers under the panties as his mouth finds the clasp to my bra. He's driving me crazy and darn it all if I'm not going to give as good as I get. I reach down and gently stroke his gills. Before I can blink the undergarments are gone and he's standing up, taking me up into his arms. He pushes me against the wall and starts passionately kissing me. The wall is cold and I don't care. My feet are no longer touching the floor; so I wrap my legs around him. I think I hear something.
"Did you hear something?" I ask, panting, as he works on my ear and neck.
"No," he answers. "And neither did you."
He starts kissing my mouth again to stop any further conversation. He slowly starts lowering me. I know it's very close. I can feel it. I tremble with anticipation.
"Hey, Abe you in…Yeow," says Hellboy. I hear the bathroom door shut, and I can hear Hellboy talking to someone outside. "He's not in there."
Abe lowers me to the floor and I can feel tears of frustration forming in my eyes. I desperately hold him as emotions and hormones course through my body.
"What do you mean he's not in there?" I hear Manning respond. "I can hear the shower going."
"Oh, the shower, yeah, right," Hellboy answers, stalling Manning. "Well, let's just say I've seen enough to make Liz want to wash my eyes out with soap."
Abe just holds me until I stop shaking. The argument in the hallway rages on.
"Out of my way, Hellboy," Manning orders.
"I don't think that's a good idea," says Hellboy.
"I know he's in there," Manning says hotly.
"How do you know he's even here?" Hellboy asks.
"Well, for one, where else would he be?" replies Manning. "Second, I saw his footsteps leading right up to the door. And thirdly, I just found his glove in the family room. We've searched the rest of the house and there's no other sign of him. So he has to be in there."
I've finally stopped shaking. I sigh and step out of the shower. Abe turns off the water, and follows me out. I dry off, put my hair up into a towel, and put on the robe that's hanging on the back of the door. I've never been so glad to keep a guest robe here. I step out of the bathroom, push past Hellboy who's blocking the door, and shut the door behind me.
"I suppose you have a reason for trespassing on my property, Dr. Manning?" I ask coldly.
"I'm looking for Abe," he answers. "And don't deny that he's here. I have evidence."
He waves the glove in my face. I snatch it out of his hand.
"At what point did I deny that he's here?" I demand.
"Well, you haven't actually," he stammers.
"You haven't answered my question, Dr. Manning," I say. "Is there a reason for you trespassing?"
"Yes there is," he replies. "We need Abe for a mission."
"Another mission?" I ask in frustration. Considering what I almost had, I'm not looking forward to any more dreams. "You just came back from a mission. Doesn't he ever get a break?"
"Well, normally yes he would, but paranormal activity seems to be increasing," he answers. "Now where is he?"
"Here," says Abe as he opens the door. His skin is still shiny from the water. I hand him his glove.
Hellboy steps out of the way of the door. The hallway was never designed to hold this many people in one spot. And with Hellboy here, it's getting claustrophobic. Manning looks at Abe and then looks at me. Comprehension starts to dawn across his face. He starts to flush as he figures out why Abe and I are a bit damp.
"Ah, yes, well, good," he stammers again. He hands Abe a manila folder. "Here, read this."
"Might I suggest that we move this little meeting out to the family room," I say, waving my hand toward the end of the hall.
Manning nods turns and walks away. Soon we're in the family room, Dick Clark announced the New Year some time ago, so the TV's been turned off. There are several more agents wandering around including John and Liz. John seems a bit startled that I'm only wearing a robe and a towel. Liz smiles knowingly. Abe sits in one of the chairs and opens the folder. I go over and glance at the report he's reading. The photograph that's in the folder catches my attention.
"May I see the picture, please?" I ask as I hold my hand toward Abe.
Without looking up, he hands it to me. I take a good look at it and my blood runs cold. The picture is a bit out of focus, but the creatures in it are still discernable enough to recognize.
"Has Guillermo seen this picture?" I ask Manning.
"No, he hasn't," he answers.
"Why hasn't he?"
"He's in Mexico visiting family right now," Manning replies. I had forgotten about his trip.
"Where was this picture taken?" I ask as I hand him the photograph.
"Death Valley," he answers.
"Give me fifteen minutes," I tell him as I turn and start to head upstairs. "I'll be ready to go by then."
"Excuse me?" Manning calls after me. "I don't recall asking for your assistance on this case."
"You don't have choice," I respond, looking back at him. "You need an Earth Mage to handle this case, and I'm the only one available."
I turn and continue to head upstairs before Manning can come up with any more objections. True to my word, I'm dressed and packed in fifteen minutes. I quickly fire off an email to Helen telling her that I'll be gone for an indeterminate amount of time and if she'd please feed Wizard. After I turn off the computer, I turn and look at Manning.
"Ok, I'm ready to go," I tell him. He doesn't look very happy, but he just nods and we head out. When we get outside, I notice that the vehicles are parked on the street. I also notice that the footsteps in the snow lead from the gate, and the gate has been bent out of shape. I turn and glare at Hellboy.
"Hey, you're the one who didn't answer the buzzer," he says as he shrugs. So that was the noise I didn't hear.
After we're through the gate, he tries to push it back in place, but the damage is still obvious. I just snort my disgust with twin jets of breath billowing around me. I just look at the gate and reshape the metal back the way it's supposed to be. After I'm done, I feel a little light headed. Abe puts his arm around me and then leads me to the cab of the garbage truck.
I climb in and a few minutes later we're on the road. About half an hour later, we arrive at the airport and pull up to a gate that leads to a restricted area. After we're through the gate, we drive onto the tarmac and up to a cargo plane. On the side of the plane is panted a hand holding a sword handle. The garbage truck is backed up to the open ramp of the plane, and there's a lot of activity from the agents making sure the area is secure. Which seems kind of silly since the airport is closed and there's no one here. I get out and wait at the base of the ramp. A short time later, the back of the truck is opened and Hellboy and Abe exit. I look at Abe in amazement. He's wearing what he normally wears, and yet I'm standing here dressed like an Inuit. We walk up the ramp together.
"Doesn't the cold bother you?" I ask him.
"Not really," he answers.
A moment later we're in the plane and seated on a bench next to the bulkhead toward the back of the plane. Within fifteen minutes we're taking off for California. After we reach cruising altitude, Manning gets up and walks over to me. He drops the manila folder in my lap.
"All right," he says. "Please, explain to me why we need you along when you haven't even read the report on these monsters."
"They aren't monsters, Dr. Manning," I explain as I pull the picture from the folder. "They're Earth Wyrms."
"Excuse me?" asks Hellboy. "These aren't like any worms I've ever seen."
"And that's the way it should be," I say. "By the way, these Wyrms are spelled with a 'y', not an 'o'. They are magical creatures that live under the most fertile areas of the world. Typically, they stay underground except to mate."
"So this is some sort of mating ritual that's going on?" Manning asks. I shake my head.
"It can't be," I answer. "They only mate during mid summer, not winter. And even if you did see them, there would only be a few at a time. There's at least twenty in this photo. There's something wrong. We need to find out what it is and try and fix it."
"I know how to fix it," says Hellboy as he pats the Samaritan.
"You try that, and I'll tie your tail in a knot," I warn him. "Wyrms are actually a very important part of the ecosystems they live in. Like a regular worm, they keep the soil aerated and they help break down the leaf litter on the forest floor. They usually live under rain forests, but because humans have been destroying the forests so quickly, the Wyrms numbers have been dropping."
"If they live under rain forests, what are they doing in Death Valley?" asks John.
"Good question," I answer. "I haven't a clue. We'll just have to wait until we get there to find out."
I let out a sudden yawn that catches even me by surprise. I stretch and stand up.
"I'm sorry, but it's very late and I am extremely tired," I say. "Is there somewhere I can get some sleep?"
"I'll show you," says Liz as she stands and heads toward the cockpit. Right before we reach the cockpit, we come to an area that has beds bolted to the wall. Currently, they're folded up against the wall to make more room. Liz shows me how to lower one and lock it into place. I thank her, crawl onto the narrow cot, and promptly fall into a deep, restful sleep.