-1In Another World: Hellboy II

Alternate Ending / Universe

Author's Note: Even I'm not really sure where I'm going with this. Ah well. Hopefully it will be one of those rare stories I finish!

--

Prologue: In which everyone lives happily ever after.

"Kill me. You must. I will not stop."

"Sorry. I win. You live." He turned his back.

Scruples abandoned for the cause, his hand closed around his knife. He staggered to his feet and moved forward.

Pain exploded in his hand, and rivers of blood flowed and fell from his palm to create a lake on the stone floor. Nuada ground his teeth, making no sound, not surrendering the knife until the wound opened his veins from his palm to the middle of his forearm. As it clattered to the floor, the prince grasped his arm and sucked in a breath, holding it. He felt his pulse thunder, the adrenaline of the fight pushing his lifeblood out faster. He saw the edges of his vision blur and dim, and he raised his gaze to his sister, where she stood on the platform with her knife in her arm. Betrayed, he swayed dizzily, then lurched forward.

The red demon caught him, holding him for a moment.

"It is either us, or them," he whispered. "Which holocaust will you chose?" As the darkness threatened him, he let his head fall forward, brow resting on the demon's shoulder. Why was such a wound causing so much trouble? He did not hear Nuala cry out after the initial cut, and she was steady on her feet when he saw her.

His dear sister was forcing all of the pain and sensory ill-effects of the wound through the link to him, and she did not keep her share. She allowed him to do it a few times during battle, and it saved his life. The least he could do, he supposed, was return the favour now.

Hellboy lowered him to the ground and set him on his back. Liz was at their side, kneeling to bandage the wound.

Dizzy, Nuada swatted at her hands. "I have more blood in me than she has in her. Attend her first."

"Abe is with her," she spat. "Hold still, you pointy-eared little shit."

He found he had no reply to that. Instead, he lay still and concentrated on staying awake. He had to know what was to happen to he and his sister, now.

Liz tore strips of cloth from her pants, shaking the dust out and using them to wrap around Nuada's arm. She made it a point to avoid being gentle, wrenching his arm straight and synching the cloth tightly around it.

He bit back a wave of nausea, vision swimming. He closed his eyes and suppressed a tremor. When he opened his eyes again, his beloved sister and the fish of her dreams stood behind them. Nuala had no eyes for him, no gaze of sympathy, no apology. The nausea returned full-force, and he clenched his teeth to avoid removing the contents of his stomach all over Liz.

"Guess we have to make sure he is looked after properly," Hellboy muttered, glowering at the elf. "We can let the Bureau do that."

The Bureau? He raised his good hand and grasped Elizabeth's hand firmly. "And Nuala?"

Red drew back his right hand to deliver a pounding for the offence of grabbing his woman, but a gesture from Liz prevented him.

"Nuala and I were thinking that we might find time for each other outside of a… professional relationship," Abe offered. "We thought perhaps we might travel, starting with Ireland."

"Abraham will keep good care of me," she added coldly.

"The best," he punctuated without her chill tone.

Nuada accepted this. "Good. I dare say he will."

"That mean you're leaving the Bureau?" Hellboy asked.

"It does," Abe shared a look and a smile with Nuala.

"Good. Me too." he grunted. "Liz, let's stay here. There's plenty of room to grow, for us, and for the baby."

She smiled a rare bright smile, and tucked her arm in his. "Babies. And we can live wherever you want. I'll go anywhere with you. "

He blinked in shock for a moment, then grinned widely and swept her up into a full hug. "Babies? Two? We're definitely staying here, now! I'll build us a house and a fence and stuff to climb on and this is going to be great!"

Nuala shared another look with Abe, holding his hand gently.

"We could all stay here in Ireland," Abe said quietly. "There's a world here, for those who are… different. Plenty of space to grow for all of us."

Red grinned at them. "Well, how bout that. Okay. We need to make sure this pointy-eared ninja is locked up properly, then we quit and run away to our own little patch of the green isle?"

"Yes," Abe agreed.

Liz beamed at him.

And that's what they did.

--

Chapter One:

The Prince's Madness

There was a time when Prince Nuada Silverlance wanted to live. This was no longer that time.

For the first few days, he paced his cell, testing it for weaknesses. The food they brought to him was revolting-- their meat was days old, cut with horrible things and cooked far too long. Their bread was sickly sweet and insubstantial, and on their vegetables and fruit he could taste the putrid chemicals used to grow and process them. He tried at first, but it twisted his insides and he could not keep it down. He could hardly stand their water, but it sustained him for weeks. Finally, his system began to acclimate a little, and he could keep down some of the vegetables-- but it took effort. His discipline only kept him alive.

His inability to take food had a predictably adverse effect on his ability to heal. In any other circumstance, it would take a healthy male elf a week to recover from such a brutal wound; however, his weakness did not permit this. The wound became infected, and the human doctors treated it with a derivative of a mould, which began to grow in his blood. The doctors thought this marvellous, and harvested the new penicillin from his blood through a machine, even as it ate away at his natural defences and made him ill. If they had not been so interested in his blood for this reason, Nuada was sure no one would have noticed him suffering.

Elves live for a very long time. Elves only need to eat once every few days to stay strong and healthy. Elves thrive in the sun and the forest, can see in all but the purest darkness, love music and dancing, love life and living things.

Nuada supposed he was no longer an elf. He was some wretched thing, confined to the fluorescent lights of a man-made box without enough room to stretch out his legs, without enough room to exercise or walk. In the course of a few months, he withered and became, if possible, paler than he had ever been. His nails and hair grew long and unkempt.

When his sister visited last, he had been a fourteen-stone force of nature. Then she went so far away the link between them faded, and he was alone for the first time in thousands of years. The dreadful silence and the constant sickness of the man-made medicine in his blood drove him mad. By the end of the second year, he dropped to nine-stone, and spent a great deal of his time folded on the tiny, hard mat they provided to him as a bed. The useless blanket provided little comfort, and the constant electric light burned his eyes to dimness.

After five years, the begging began. At first, it had been in English, then in French, then in a slew of human languages, and finally he begged in Elvish, not knowing any more where he was.

"Please, clean water. Water from a stream and not plastic. Water which is the tears of heaven, and not the blood of earth. A drop. Only a drop, please."

"Please, the sun. Show me the sunlight, let it warm me. It is so cold here, and I am so sick. I need the sun."

"S'vous plait, pour me laisser se tenir et marcher. Mon corps fait mal avec le froid et cette maladie."

"Misericordia, un foglio da un albero reale, un foglio di erba o un fiore da un campo bruciato con cemento."

"Mercê, o som dos pássaros. A canção da terra quietted pelos pés do homem."

"Anarion gwanno. Gurth ne am nin. Anarion… gwanno."

Please just let me die.

The wound on his arm wound not heal properly. The human doctors did surgery after surgery to correct it, but it only stiffened worse with pain and atrophy, and they would not let him have the herbs he knew would cure it. Instead, the ache ate into his shoulder, then his neck, then his chest, then his heart. He screamed until he had no more voice.

Finally, after five and one half years-- a blink in the age of elves-- Prince Nuada Silverlance collapsed, helpless, wasted, weak. He closed his eyes and, though he continued to breath, he did not open them again. That evening, he was transferred to a private room in the Bureau's hospital, where he remained, as still as death.

--

Hellboy, Nuala, and Abraham secured special accommodations through Johann Krauss to travel to the United States by air, with the intention of visiting friends at the Bureau and checking up on Nuada in his resort confinement. Elizabeth remained at the Ireland house to look after the kids-- both of them healthy, spirited six-year-olds with fire in their hearts and at their fingertips. They made their parents very proud.

Nuala (now the elven High Queen) and Abraham were unable to have children due to their unique physiologies. With this concern, they had approached several respected members of the elven community. All of the answers were the same-- Elven children were rare as it was. Seek an elvish father or an ichthyo sapien mother. There was no other way. Abe hoped to raid his old library and spend time with old colleagues, and Nuala wished dearly to see her brother again, as well as to hunt through the North American underground community for a male elf with a healthy dose of understanding.

Red wanted to visit the grave of his father and to see his cats. Also, to kick the shit out of Nuada again, if the opportunity presented itself.

As the plane approached the shore of Greenland, trouble began. When the link to her brother re-established itself, Nuala cried out sharply, then clamped one hand over her mouth. Wordlessly, Abe reached over and put his hand on her back; he gave a yelp of dismay and pulled his hand back, startled.

"What, what is it?" Red demanded.

Blue rubbed Nuala's back comfortingly, but could do nothing.

"An illness. My brother is deathly ill, and he is in great pain. Our link, he has abandoned it." Nuala did not suffer from the loss of their link, as she had replaced it immediately with one between she and Abe. The silence she heard from her brother echoed like the silence of a corpse interred in a cathedral, but for the waves of blinding pain that flowed freely from him. She reached through the link and sent him her strength, offering to take some of the pain, wanting to know what was wrong.

The link remained silent, but did not break. She felt numbness and shock through it, then wordless fear. There was deep love, too, as well as forgiveness, which she did not understand. The pain was gone, however.

Let me carry some of this burden with you, brother.

The response was confused, raving. Love sister, protect sister, dear sister, keep away, cool hands on fevered brow, have you seen the sun kill himself? A drop of heaven-tears, a drop only, I burn in your world of hate. Trees, where are the trees, so far away from me, I wither, I wither and I die. Oh Gods, I cannot see Your faces, I cannot feel Your will. Though my forest is ash and dust, in its graveyard, dwell I must, til once again, bless'd and strong-- Pain through the link blinded her momentarily, and she whimpered until it curbed sharply. Mustn't share, dear sister, it will drive you mad as I. A drop only, only one from the tears of heaven, give me respite, give me death. The Gods turn away from this earth.

She sent feelings of comfort, of safety to him, and felt the link tremble like a caged bird. I am only hours away from you. We will help you. Hold on, my brave brother.

It is too late. I am not an elf anymore. Go far from here, so when I die you will live. When I die. I want to die. Fly away, little bird, dear sister. For the bird song, I sigh. There is no more music in this world. Why won't they let me die?

Her cracked her heart in two, and she began to weep quietly. "Hurry, please hurry, they're hurting him!"

Abe's hands stilled on her back, and she felt him trying to relieve her fear and tension. Unable to do so, he turned to Hellboy. "We need to be there already. I believe this aircraft is capable of a higher speed?"

"It is when I drive," he answered quite seriously, and moved towards the cockpit. There were the sounds of the pilot and copilot protesting, the impacts of a slight scuffle, then the pilot scurried into the cabin looking frightened.

Abraham, who would usually sigh a long-suffering sigh at such antics, welcomed the change as the plane tilted a little and accelerated.