I wake up in a hospital bed. Why is it that almost every time I get any where the BPRD or its agents, I end up flat on my back, with an IV in me and wearing one of these awful hospital gowns? At least this time I'm just tired, not badly hurt. I do a double check to be sure. I look around and realize that I'm in a real hospital, not back at the bureau. Grandmother is sitting next to me, watching.
"Hi," is all I can manage. It feels like I've been chewing on a bail of cotton. I try to get the saliva going so I don't sound like I've swallowed a frog.
"Good afternoon, Margaret," she replies. "You know, child, if you wanted me to visit, all you had to do was ask."
"Sorry," I say with a weak smile. "How long have I been here?"
"Dr. Manning called me on the second to tell me where you were," she answers. "Today's the fourth."
"Did he tell you how I got here?" I ask.
"He did give me a brief description," she answers. "Where's your ring?"
My heart sinks to the vicinity of the sub-basement of the building. I can't look at her, so I turn toward the window.
"I gave it back to Abe," I tell her quietly.
"Was this because you didn't think you'd survive or because of something he did?"
"A little of both," I answer.
"Well, you obviously survived, so now you just have to forgive him," she says.
"But…" I start to object, looking back at her.
"'But' nothing, child," she admonishes. "If I've learned one thing in the seven and half decades on this planet, it's this. You always forgive the ones you love."
"I'm not sure he'll feel the same," I reply quietly.
"I wouldn't be so sure of that, child," she answers with a knowing smile.
"What are you up to, Grandmother?" I demand as I struggle to sit up.
"Me?" she says with a fake look of innocence on her face. "I'm not up to anything at all."
Before I can start interrogating her, the doctor walks in. He pokes and prods and asks the usual questions. When I ask when I can go home, he signs the release papers right then and there. I do have to wait for the nurse to come in and get the IV out of me and then I take a quick shower and get dressed. When I come out, Grandmother is just hanging up her cell phone.
"Who was that?" I ask.
"Sharon," she says. "She's going to meet us for dinner."
She gives me another look.
"Is that all you have to wear?" she asks in a rather disdainful voice.
"I packed for going out into the desert, Grandmother, not a show opening," I answer.
"Very well," she sighs. "Are you about ready to go?"
I nod as the nurse arrives with a wheelchair. I get the obligatory ride down to the limo and then we're off to Manhattan. We arrive at the restaurant shortly after 5:00. We spend the next couple of hours talking and playing with Vicki. She's gotten so big in the past six and a half months. Sharon even demonstrates that Vicki can crawl now. It's amazing to watch, and it makes me want one of my own again.
But what if Abe is still mad at me? What if he doesn't want anything to do with me? What if he doesn't want me back? What if…?
"Maggie," says Sharon breaking into my reverie. "When do I get to meet Abe?"
"Ummm," is all I can manage. Luckily, the server arrives wanting to know if we want dessert. Before I can say anything, both Grandmother and Sharon say no.
"Ok, who are you and what have you done with my family?" I jokingly ask.
They both just look at me and smile.
"We don't want to wear you out, child," says Grandmother.
"Dessert won't wear me out," I sulk.
"It's getting close to Vicki's bed time," Sharon says.
I sigh and give in. I am feeling a little tired anyways. We say our goodbyes and then Grandmother and I head back to New Jersey. A short time later, I'm at my front door.
"Would you like to come in, Grandmother?" I ask. "I think I have chocolate fudge ripple hiding in the back of the freezer."
"That's quite all right, child," she says. "You just go get some rest. I'll call you soon."
She gives me a quick peck on the cheek and gets back into the limo. A few moments later, the taillights disappear around the bend, and I'm standing alone in the cold. I sigh and head inside. I start heading for the staircase, when I notice a faint glow coming from the family room. I do a quick "check," but there's no one there. I put my bag down and quietly go into the family room.
When I walk in, I stop in dumbfounded surprise. I can hear Pachelbel's cannon in D playing quietly in the background. There are strands of small white lights strung around the room making it look like there are stars in my house. Next to the plate glass window is a table with two plates on it and a pair of lit candles. The moon is somewhere between full and half and is reflecting off of the lake. I notice that there is something on the plates, and I take a step closer. I can smell chocolate. I move even closer. I get about half way across the room.
"Do you like it?"
I stop short.
"Does Manning know you're here?"
"No, he doesn't."
"So how long before the warden starts looking for you?"
"He's in Washington, D.C. for some sort of special meeting with the president. He's not due back until the day after tomorrow."
"Good place for him."
"Do you like it?" he repeats.
I turn toward his voice. He's hiding in the shadows near the door. At first, I'm surprised that I didn't hear his respirator when I walked in. Then I realize he's not wearing it. In fact, all he's wearing are his shorts.
"It's beautiful," I answer.
I feel my heart starting to race. He walks toward me. The way the light plays off of his mottled skin takes my breath away. As he gets closer, I swallow hard. I want to touch him so bad it hurts. Then he does something totally unexpected. He drops to his knees and takes my hands into his own.
"Please forgive me."
"How did you manage all of this?" I ask looking around. "I'm pretty sure the doors were locked this time.
"Guillermo, Liz and John helped," he says. "Forgive me, please."
"Well, that explains how you got past the locked doors."
"Please, please forgive me," he says with a pained voice. I look at him for a moment more.
"Of course," I breathe.
He stands, takes me into his arms and kisses me. His tongue gently caresses my half opened lips. He probes into my mouth and I open wider. He has one hand behind my head, tangled in my hair and the other is working its way down past my waistband. My hands start working their way up his arms toward his neck.
I all but bite him with surprise. We part and I look around him toward where the sound came from. Wizard is sitting in the doorway, staring at us with his baleful yellow eyes.
I realize he's hungry about one second before I remember that I asked Helen to feed him.
"Oh, geez," I say in near panic. "Helen is going to be here soon to feed Wizard. You need to hide."
"No she's not," he says as he gently nuzzles my ear. I feel my eyes roll back, my lungs quickly draw in more air than normal and my knees go weak. "Your Grandmother called her to let her know that you'd be home tonight."
"Then I guess I'd better feed him, or we're not going to get any peace," I say as I reluctantly pull away from him.
I quickly go to the kitchen and feed Wizard and then all but run back to the family room. I don't see him at first, and then I see movement near the window. I make record time crossing the room to him, but instead of taking me into his arms, he pulls out one of the chairs at the table. I look at him inquisitively but he just makes a graceful wave at the chair, inviting me to sit. I sit and watch as he gracefully takes the seat across from me. I finally look down at the plate and now I know where the smell of chocolate was coming from.
"If these are what I think they are," I tell him, as I stare at the four perfect pieces of chocolate delight on the plate in front of me, "you are so incredibly forgiven that you could get away with almost anything right now."
I hear him give a low chuckle as he picks up one of the truffles off of my plate. He holds it in front of me and slowly, ever so slowly, he brings it up to my mouth.
"Dark chocolate raspberry truffles," he says quietly just as the chocolate delight touches my lips.
Without taking my eyes off of him, I open my mouth and take a bite out of the truffle. I have to close my eyes with the pure delight as the silky smooth texture of chocolate heaven melts on my tongue. I finish the rest of the truffle with a couple more bites, savoring each bit. Before he can pull his hand back I grab his wrist and lick the chocolate off of his finger tips. I hear him shifting in his seat. I look at him with half lidded eyes.
"What's the matter?" I ask in a hushed voice.
"Foam neoprene really doesn't stretch," he says in an almost pained voice.
Without letting go of his hand, I stand and come around to his side of the table. I bend over, and with my free hand, I unzip his shorts.
"Does that help?" I whisper.
"A bit," he whispers back.
"Good," I say as I straddle him and sit on his lap.
I let go of his hand and pick up one of the truffles off of his plate. He starts to caress my thighs.
"Your turn," I croon seductively.
I place the chocolate to his lips. He quickly finishes it in two bites.
"Did you even taste that?" I quietly laugh.
Instead of answering, he starts licking the chocolate off of my fingers. I gasp as my nerves start to tingle and I can feel my hips curve instinctively toward him. I can feel something very hard in front of me. I pull my fingers out of his mouth and start kissing him, tasting the chocolate still on his lips and licking it off of him. I trace his jaw line with my fingers toward his gills. He grabs my hips and pushes me forward so I have no doubt about what the hard thing is. My want for him is so strong I can barely breathe.
Suddenly, he grabs my hands and gently pushes me away. Before I can say anything, he puts a finger to my lips. I start kissing that finger, then licking it and eventually sucking on it. I can see his gills flare fully out from his neck. I try and reach for them, but he stops me. He forces my hands down.
"Behave," he says.
I just raise an eyebrow and give him a crooked smile. He reaches behind me and pulls something off of the table. I'm fully expecting another truffle, but instead it's a small velvet covered box. My breath catches in my throat. He opens it, revealing the ring I gave back to him.
"Will you please marry me?" he asks.
"Yes," I answer without hesitation
He carefully removes the ring from the box and then gently returns it to my finger. I'm shaking so hard I'm surprised he is able to do it so easily. When he's done he lets the box drop to the floor.
"Now, where were we?" he asks quietly as he pulls me closer.
Our lips meet and all rational thought stops. I carefully trace the fins on his back working my way up to his gills. His hands are up my shirt exploring and undoing my bra. He's touching me in ways that make it even harder to breath. I finally reach his gills and my shirt and bra disappear. Our bare chests touch and every nerve in my body starts to sing. Suddenly, one of his arms is under my backside and the other is behind my back as he stands up with me. I wrap my legs around him as he carries me over to the couch and gently lays me down on it with him on top of me. He presses his hips into me and I squeeze my legs and push my hips toward him in response. Then I reach down and start trying to loosen his shorts.
I can hear the phone ringing in the next room.
"Ignore it," he whispers in my ear as he starts to nibble on it.
"Not a problem," I barely manage to gasp out as the phone continues to ring.
One of his hands starts to explore down my bare front, brushing his fingers past spots that make me gasp, until it finds the button on my pants. He unbuttons and unzips my pants and then the hand starts to explore inside of them. I hear a moan and I realize that I made it. I arch my back, pressing myself into him. Every part of me is screaming for him to ease the tension, to finally have him. He starts pulling my pants down. I start trying to do the same with his shorts.
The answering machine picks up and a panicky voice starts talking. "Miss Cavendish, it's Helen. Some men were here claiming to be from the FBI. They had badges and guns. They were looking for you. I told them that you weren't here, but they didn't believe me. They're headed for the house. Please get out of there if you can hear me. I'm calling the police now" Click.
Abe pulls back as I whimper. I lie there panting trying to regain something that resembles composure. After a few deep breaths, I've regained enough control to "check." Sure enough, there's a half dozen people marching through the half melted snow up towards the house. They're being led by Manning.
"The warden's back," I tell him. "And he's probably looking for you."
"Damn," he mutters.
With a sigh, he gets up and goes to where he took his gear off and starts to get redressed. I get up and look for my own clothing. I finally find them hanging off of the poker next to the fireplace. Not a bad toss, considering it's half way across the room from the table. I get my clothes back on just as there's a loud knock at the front door. I go and answer it.
"Where is he?" demands Manning without preamble. I can see the other agents behind him. I don't know any of them.
"Here," says Abe from behind me. Manning tries to push the door open further, but it won't budge.
"Dr. Manning, what gives you the right to trespass onto my property and scare one of my employees half to death?" I demand myself. I'm frustrated and furious. Manning stops pushing at the door and stares at me for a minute. "Are you aware that police are now on their way? And where the police go, the media usually isn't too far behind?"
At that moment, the gate opens and a four door sedan with a handicap license plate pulls up the drive. Since I didn't open the gate myself, there's only one person that it could be. I "check." Sure enough, it's him. The car pulls up and Guillermo gets out.
"I guess I wasn't fast enough," he says, looking at the scene in front of him.
Manning turns around and I can tell that he's getting ready to lay into Guillermo. I open the door the rest of the way.
"All right," I order, "everybody in."
Manning turns and stares at me while Guillermo starts making his way up the stairs.
"Well," I say. "Are you coming in or not? I don't feel like heating the whole world."
Some time later, and after a couple of lengthy phone calls to the police and Helen explaining that the "FBI" men were cousins playing a very poor joke, Guillermo, Manning, Abe and I are seated in the family room while the other agents mostly just stand around. The regular lights have been turned on while the small white lights have been unplugged and the candles have been blown out. The curtains have been shut, too. I've also had time to calm down and regain my composure.
"Dr. Manning," I begin, "was there a reason for this intrusion?"
"I've come for Abe," he answers.
"Why?" I ask. "Is there another mission you need him to go on?
"Well, no," he starts.
"Then please explain to me why you felt it necessary to scare my ranch manager out of her wits," I demand.
"We can't get past the gate without the code or someone else opening it," he answers. "So we had to go through the ranch."
"But if Abe isn't needed for a mission, why bother coming to get him at all?" I ask.
"Because he's supposed to be at the bureau," he replies. "That's where he belongs."
"So he's not supposed to leave except for missions?" I inquire.
"Something like that, yes," he replies.
"I was unaware that Abe was a prisoner," I respond. "I was given the impression that he was an agent like any one of these men."
I wave my hand in the general direction of the agents standing around the room. Manning looks distinctly uncomfortable and Guillermo looks like he's having the time of his life.
"Well, there are special extenuating circumstances with Abe and Hellboy," he says.
"I can understand you trying to keep them from public view, Dr. Manning," I tell him. "What I don't understand is why you feel it necessary to keep them locked up. If they're agents, then don't they have the right to go into the outside world provided that precautions have been made?"
"You don't understand…" he starts.
"You're right, Dr. Manning, I don't understand," I interrupt. "I don't understand how you can treat two sentient beings like they're nothing more than trained animals."
"I do not treat them like trained animals," Manning replies hotly.
"Yes, you do," Abe interjects.
"What is he doing here?" Manning asks, ignoring Abe's comment and obviously trying to gain the upper hand by changing the subject.
"That is between Abe and me," I reply coldly.
"This is hardly a controlled situation, Miss Cavendish," Manning continues on his attack.
"We're hardly in the public view here, Dr. Manning," I counter.
"He still could have been seen," he attacks.
"By whom? A rogue raccoon?" I ask. "In case you haven't noticed, the closest neighbor I have is the ranch manager and her family. And only she comes up here to feed the cat when I'm gone.
"Then she could have seen him when she came to feed the cat tonight," he argues.
"Except that she had been informed of my return, and therefore knew that she didn't need to make the hike up here," I tell him.
We sit there for several minutes staring at each other. We're at an impasse and I'm not really in the mood to continue this conversation anyways. Guillermo's watch suddenly goes off. He quickly turns it off and looks at Abe.
"I guess it's time to come and get you," he says smiling. Standing up, he continues, "Shall we go then?"
He starts heading for the door. Abe stands and starts to follow him. I follow both of them to the front door. Manning comes trailing behind.
"This isn't over, Miss Cavendish," he says.
"You're right, Dr. Manning," I reply. "It isn't over by a long shot."
I kiss Abe good night and then watch him crawl into the back of Guillermo's sedan. He lies down on the seat and Guillermo covers him with a blanket. A few minutes later, cars from the bureau arrive and take Manning and the other agents away. And once again, I'm standing alone in the cold.
Author's note: A couple of things. 1) I did take a little artistic license with Maggie's hospital stay. Chances are they would have kept her for another day, but I figured people would rather read about her meeting with Abe than another 24 hours in the hospital. 2) There will be at least one if not two more stories involving Maggie and the gang.