Disclaimer: I do not own either Buffy: the Vampire Slayer or Hellboy and I probably never will.
A/N: This takes place a while after Oz left Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and shortly after the first Hellboy movie.
Tom Manning attempted to regain control the meeting but was having difficulties. Liz Sherman had yet again threatened to leave the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense and Hellboy had yet again gotten upset and thrown a chair through a wall. Abe Sapien was trying to calm the big red demon down but was having no luck.
Having finally had enough, Manning banged his fists on the table and roared, "That's it!" Suddenly remembering that there was someone else in the room, all eyes turned to Manning. "We have more things to discuss," he continued in his normal voice, seeing that the attention was back on him. "We have a new addition to the BPRD and to your team. He will be arriving tomorrow and I expect you all to be on your best behavior." Having finished speaking, Manning collected his belongings and left the room quickly before madness descended again.
"A new team member?" questioned Hellboy. "What for? We're great together. We don't need anyone else."
"Maybe he's coming to replace me?" suggested Liz, looking at the table so she wouldn't have to see the hurt look on Hellboy's face.
"Why'd you have to say that?" he whined. Then, turning to Abe, he continued, "Why'd she have to say that?"
"I think we should all remain calm," suggested Abe. "Liz, perhaps you should stay at the Bureau until we see our new team member in action, to make sure he is a suitable addition to the team. Then, if he is, it would be a good time for you to take a vacation."
"Sure," said Liz, "I'll wait for the new team member."
X X X
Oz looked around the BPRD and had to admit that he was impressed. He had been in government buildings before but nothing this impressive. Even the Initiative had nothing on this place. For starters, this place was massive and classy looking, with large marble pillars. Also, he had to give them credit for hiding in plain sight; the Initiative had found it necessary to hide underground.
After being kidnapped and experimented on … tortured by … the Initiative, Oz had sworn that he would steer clear of all government agencies dealing with the supernatural but Professor Broom had been convincing. The professor had approached him a few months previously just outside the D'ansongo Menaka Animal Reserve in Mali. He had been living there for the past year. After spending a considerable amount of time in Tibet, he had learned almost entirely how to control his wolf side. Now he could remain in his human form no matter which phase the moon was in and he could turn into his wolf form at any time yet still remain in control. He always found it unnerving yet slightly liberating to be himself in his wolf form. He could reason just like himself but his senses were sharper and he was more impulsive and animalistic with less control over his emotions. Although he remained alert enough not to harm the animals in the Reserve, he enjoyed chasing them and being around them in his wolf state.
Professor Broom had come to him and offered him a job at the BPRD. Oz had originally slammed the door in the professor's face but, after realizing that he wasn't going anywhere, Oz let the man in and agreed to hear him out. After hearing the professor explain what the BPRD was, Oz found himself intrigued and eager to hear more. He still felt reservations though about joining. He didn't want to be some freak at this place who would be treated as a leper. It was only after he was told that Hellboy was a part of the BPRD that he agreed to consider the position. Professor Broom had left him with some files and Oz had given it some real thought.
And now, here he was. He had been very upset to hear about the professor's death but was glad to be here. Ever since he had left the Scoobies, he had missed helping people in a team. He had missed having a team. He would occasionally help out the random village in his travels but he had done those things alone. He was looking forward to working with Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman. He wouldn't be some freak here; he would be just another freak.
"You must be Daniel Osbourne. Welcome to the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense." Oz was startled out of his thoughts by a middle-aged, balding man standing in front of him, wearing a suit, and holding out his hand for a handshake.
"Uh, yeah," he replied taking the man's hand. "Call me Oz."
"Well, Oz, I am Tom Manning, the director of the BPRD," said Manning, slowly steering Oz into a conference room. "This is Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and Liz Sherman," he continued, pointing to each in turn. They were all seated around the conference table and looking at Oz curiously.
"Hey," called out Hellboy, "I thought we were getting a new agent today. Where is the guy?"
"Well," answered Manning, irritated, "this is Daniel Osbourne—"
"—Oz," interrupted Oz.
"—Oz," corrected Manning. "He's the new member on your team."
"What?" asked Hellboy, laughing uncontrollably. "This guy? He's like three feet tall. I could break him like a toothpick. How much does he weigh? Fifty pounds? Are you kidding me? You know, Manning, I never thought you had a sense of humor, but clearly I was wrong. This is hilarious."
"Red!" admonished Liz. Crossing the room to Oz and holding out her hand, Liz greeted Oz warmly. "It's nice to meet you. Welcome to the team."
Oz took her hand and shook it, responding with a quiet "thanks."
"I am going to finish showing Mr. Os—Oz—around," chimed in Manning. With that he turned to leave and left Oz to follow him. With a half smile and a shrug aimed at the team, Oz turned to follow.
"Please tell me he's joking," said Hellboy. "I mean, how is that kid going to be useful? Did you see how tiny he was? This has to be a joke. If he puts that kid on the team, he'll be putting people in danger. And not just us, but the people we're supposed to be protecting too."
"If I may," interjected Abe, holding one webbed finger up into the air. "Although I am unaware of what Mr. Osbourne's abilities are, I am aware that Professor Broom believed he had great potential and recruited him himself. I trust that Professor Broom had a good reason for choosing Mr. Osbourne."
"Wait," cut in Hellboy. "Father picked out Oz?"
"Yes," answered Abe.
"So, maybe you should give this guy a chance," reasoned Liz.
X X X
"So," asked Hellboy, sitting in the back of his limousine, a.k.a. a dump truck, "what's the mission? Where are we going?"
"We're going to the Pine Barrens," announced Manning. He then added, under his breath, "For G-d knows what reason."
"The what?" asked Hellboy, wearing his ignorance proudly, like a badge of courage.
"The Pine Barrens," answered Abe. "Honestly, you live in New Jersey, Red. You should know some of the geographical sites around the state." Hellboy just shrugged in response but Abe continued unfazed. "The Pine Barrens is a forested area along the coast of southern New Jersey. It is also sometimes referred to as the Pinelands, however the name Pine Barrens has persisted because the name refers to the area's acidic, sandy, nutrient-poor soil and the prevalence of Pitch Pines, a rare pygmy plant. Due to the poor soil in the Pine Barrens, crops and other conventional plants cannot be grown there but other plants, such as orchids and pines, thrive. Unlike most areas in New Jersey, the Pine Barrens remain largely undeveloped."
Before Abe could continue, Hellboy cut in, "Please stop. As fascinating as this geography lesson is, none of this tells me why we're going there."
"I assume it has something to do with the Jersey Devil," cut in Liz. Looking to include the team's newest member, she added, "What do you think Oz?"
Somewhat disappointing Liz, Oz merely shrugged and said, "could be."
"The Jersey Devil? That doesn't really exist, does it?" questioned Hellboy skeptically.
"No. He doesn't. Just like you don't exist," deadpanned Manning.
Hellboy just chuckled and lit his cigar. Leaning back, Hellboy blew a smoke ring and closed his eyes. "Continue," he said.
"Well," continued Abe pretending that the entire conversation that began after his Pine Barrens explanation had never happened, "the Jersey Devil is a cryptid that lives in the Pine Barrens. Although no one is entirely sure of the origins of the Jersey Devil, he was possibly born in the early 1700's to 'Mother Leeds,' a woman who was believed to have been a witch. The Jersey Devil, also called the Leeds Devil, is believed to have been her thirteenth child. Physically, he is red-skinned with cloven hooves and wings. Sightings have been reported as early as 1735 and have continued through today."
"Today?" asked Liz. "Is that why we're heading out there?"
"I didn't mean today literally, Liz," said Abe, clearly frustrated with always being the only one to know what was going on. "We are not going to the Pine Barrens to hunt the Jersey Devil but to help him."
"Hm," contributed Oz.
"Why?" asked Hellboy, sparing an annoyed glance at Oz.
"The BPRD made a deal with the Jersey Devil in the 1960's," explained Manning, "that he could continue to live in the Pine Barrens as long as he stopped abducting and eating people. In return, we wouldn't hunt him and we would protect him from other hunters."
"You made a deal with this thing?" asked a perplexed Hellboy. "Once you have to say 'stop' abducting and eating people and not just 'don't,' I think the demon loses his right not to be killed."
"He is a sorely misunderstood creature," posited Abe. "Humans were always trying to kill him so he, therefore, never realized that it was wrong to hunt and kill humans. He was just following the example set for him."
"Anyway, we have had some reports of hunters in the Pine Barrens looking to kill the Jersey Devil once and for all," continued Manning. "As per our agreement, we are going to help him and that is final. No more questions."
The occupants of the garbage truck fell silent, each in their own little world, as they continued driving to the Pine Barrens. Abe was sitting still going over all the information he knew about the Pine Barrens, the Jersey Devil, carbon dating, the Beatles, and the Spanish civil war. He was very adept at multi-tasking. Manning was thinking about all the paperwork he had left on his desk to file, not to mention the paperwork he would have to file on tonight's outing.
Unbeknownst to Liz and Hellboy, but beknownst to us, they were both thinking similar things. Both were preoccupied with their relationship. Liz, yet again, wanted to leave and Hellboy, yet again, did not want her to leave. She was just so tired of being a freak and with all the control she had been learning, she just wanted a chance to try and live a normal life. She understood why Hellboy was so angry and upset about her wanting to leave. He didn't understand what it was like to want a normal life and to see that goalpost so near. He would never be able to live a normal life. And that is what hurt his feelings so much-part of a normal life for Liz meant not seeing him.
Hellboy was also concerned about the new team member. Liz had stayed only to meet him. Hellboy had seen how Liz was trying to include the tacit man in their conversations and he was worried that perhaps Liz liked this new man. This man seemed completely normal, like all the other human agents. He was someone who could help Liz achieve a normal life.
Oz was completely unaware of Hellboy glaring at him. All he could think about were these hunters. He kept cogitating the different reasons that hunters could want to kill the Jersey Devil. All he could come up with were: the thrill of the hunt, paranoia and panic over the unnatural, and, lastly, the hope of monetary compensation. There was a lot of money in the sale of supernatural and paranormal items. Oz truly hoped that the Jersey Devil was being hunted out of fear and nothing else. Fear could be forgiven. Hunting due to fear was an irrational yet incredibly human response to a perceived danger. Hunting for fun and a thrill was wrong but there was something Oz found enticing about it. It was animalistic and, ever since Oz had incorporated his human side with his wolf side, he understood it fully.
The possibility that was truly upsetting Oz, and the one that seemed the most likely to him, was that the Jersey Devil was being hunted. Greed was one of the seven deadly sins for a reason and both Oz's human side and his wolf side loathed the idea. It brought back painful memories of Kane, the avaricious hunter who had attempted to kill Oz for his pelt in Sunnydale and then tracked him through Europe four years later. Oz had never been a materialistic person and he just could not comprehend killing another creature for money.
Suddenly the truck screeched to a halt, throwing Oz out of his seat. Hellboy just laughed as the tiny man picked himself off the floor of the garbage truck. "We're here," announced Manning needlessly.
As they all got out of the truck, Manning began to close the doors with himself still inside.
"What are you doing?" asked Liz.
"Um, I'm staying here," answered Manning. "You can contact me by radio." Liz just rolled her eyes and waved goodbye.
Once they were all in the forest, Hellboy took lead and began looking for a trail he could follow. Following non-disguised footprints and broken branches, Hellboy took them deeper into the forest. Although they were all content following Hellboy, they continuously had to shush him. He kept attempting to discuss Liz's decision to leave and Liz and Abe kept telling him that now was not the time for this conversation. Oz remained silent, merely listening to his teammates' conversation and getting to understand each of them a bit better.
After about twenty minutes of following Hellboy, Oz said "wait" and stopped walking. Despite the hushed volume of Oz's command, they all heard and turned.
"What's up?" asked Hellboy curious to hear what the young man had seen.
"Path goes this way," said Oz pointing perpendicular to their chosen path.
"What are you seeing that I'm not?" questioned Hellboy suspiciously.
Oz just shrugged in lieu of an answer and followed his chosen path. Mimicking Oz's shrug, Liz turned to follow, trailed closely by Abe. Although Abe did not know what had made Oz change their direction he sensed nothing dishonest in the man and knew that he must be on the team for a reason. When they returned to the BPRD, Abe would ask to see his personnel file. With everything that had been going on, he had become distracted and neglected to check out their new team member. When Myers had joined the BPRD, he had known everything there was to know about the man before he had even entered the building for the first time.
Hellboy just stood in disbelief, unsure of why Liz and Abe were following the new team member who had done nothing yet to prove that he should be there. Shrugging his shoulders, Hellboy followed. He didn't want to stay by himself. And they would see that he had chosen the correct path. Once Oz's path fizzled out, Liz and Abe would be sorry they had followed him.
They followed Oz for approximately a half an hour in utter silence. Oz's quiet was making the rest of the team jumpy because they were unsure if he was always this quiet or if it was because he was anxious. Every three or four minutes Oz would put up a hand to stop them and sniff at the air, sometimes turning in a circle as he did so.
Finally Oz stopped and pointed through the trees. The four snuck forward, keeping silent, and looked through the bushes, careful to stay hidden. Through the foliage they say 15 men dressed in military fatigues. The uniforms were not the U.S. army though. This was some paramilitary group. And, to complete the look, each of them had a nasty looking rifle in their hands and a sidearm attached to their thighs.
Seeing how prepared these men were and how organized, Oz was certain that they were here in the Pine Barrens to hunt the Jersey Devil for monetary profit. It disgusted him.
Hellboy motioned for the others to stay where they were and to stay silent. He slowly circled the group, looking for the best entrance point. Once he had found it, rather than making a sneaky entrance, he stood up to his full height and strode into the clearing as if he owned it.
"Hey," he called, brandishing his cigar in the air, "does anybody have a light?"
Immediately, the men began shooting, assuming that they were in serious trouble and that they had seen the Jersey Devil. Well, one of their assumptions was right.
Hellboy rolled out of the way of their bullets and returned fire. He tried to refrain from killing any of them but it was hard to fire back, disarming the men without killing them, and protect himself at the same time. None of his shots alone would be fatal but they could be if left untreated. Hellboy managed to take nine of the hunters out of play before he was shot in the chest. After all these years, it still amazed Hellboy that a piece of metal so small could hurt him so much. He knew that he would be alright but the pain was immense. He went down and the six remaining hunters began to circle him, with their weapons trained on him. From somewhere to his right, he heard Liz scream out "Red!" worriedly, anguish and anger clear in her voice. Suddenly, there were only five men standing around him.
The other man had been taken down so quickly, Hellboy did not even see what had happened. The men around him were too shocked to do anything for a few seconds and those few seconds were all their opponent needed to take out another one of them. This time Hellboy did see what happened. A giant wolf leaped at the man, clawing at him, creating giant red slashes on his body, dripping blood.
Oz was careful not to use his teeth. These men would survive this and he did not want them to survive it as werewolves. Men like this would give werewolves a bad name. He could hear the guns being fired and smell the gunpowder and feel the bullets lift his fur as they whizzed by him but he was unaffected. After his time evading Kane, Oz had become rather skilled at avoiding bullets while in his wolf form. He was too quick for them. One second he would be on top of their fallen comrade and the next he was on another man who had been standing only seconds before.
Oz knew he had to be careful. He could feel the wolf raging to be fully released, to kill, to feast. He took out five of the men and there was only one left. Oz immediately didn't like this man. He felt his hackles rise and he circled the man, who was out of bullets, warily. He knew why he didn't like this man. He felt like an alpha. This man was the head of the pack. He was the captain of the faux soldiers. Oz growled menacingly, low and guttural. Foamy white saliva dripped between his canines and his yellow eyes held a promise of violence and pain.
With one final growl, Oz launched himself at the alpha, images of Kane flashing through his mind. Kane in a forest holding a rifle, hunting. Kane grinning arrogantly. Kane shooting at him. Kane. Kane. Kane. Unable to and unwilling to control his wolf side anymore, Oz let the wolf out of the cage. He began mauling the man terribly in the face and torso. While Oz's human side was sickened by the blood in his mouth and the terrified and pained screams of his victim, the wolf side relished it.
Ending his wolf side's antics, Oz told himself to "finish it" and he promptly ripped out the man's throat. Sensing another threat, Oz spun and was at the barrel end of Hellboy's "Big Baby." Oz immediately bowed in obeisance, stretching his front paws forward. He turned up the edges of his mouth in a smile to placate Hellboy whom he immediately sensed as his alpha. It was odd. Buffy used to be his alpha and it had taken some time for her to assume that role but after just one day at the BPRD, Hellboy was already his recognized and respected alpha.
He heard a noise and glancing to his left, he saw the other members of his new pack emerge. "Red," pleaded Liz, "don't."
"Don't what?" asked Hellboy. "This big dog killed that guy."
"That big dog saved your life," pointed out Liz. "Also, it's Oz."
"Huh?" asked Hellboy, sure he had heard her wrong.
"Well, it seems that Daniel Osbourne is a lycanthrope," explained Abe. Seeing Hellboy's confused face, he clarified: "a werewolf."
"It's not a full moon," remarked Hellboy smugly, thinking he had information that Abe didn't.
"I am aware of that," responded Abe, "however, there have been documented cases where a werewolf develops such strong control over his wolf-side that he is able to transform at any point in time. I am assuming that Oz is one such werewolf. That must be why Professor Broom recruited him."
"If he has so much control, then why did he kill that guy? And why isn't he turning back?" questioned Hellboy.
"Two good questions," said Abe. "And I do not have an answer to either of them."
"I might have an answer to the second one," said Liz wryly. She tossed a bundle of clothes to Oz and turning to Hellboy, said, "Let him go behind the bushes."
Hellboy slowly lowered his gun and the instant the barrel was pointed at the ground, the wolf in front of him grabbed the bundle of clothes in his jaws and bounded into the bushes. Less than two minutes later, Oz emerged wearing his pants and pulling on his shirt. There were patches of blood on him, especially on his face.
"Sorry about that," he said quietly, nodding towards the body of the captain. "We should take care of them," he continued, motioning to the wounded men lying on the ground, groaning and attempting to stop their own bleeding.
"Ah, yes," said Abe, as if he had forgotten something. He pulled a thing metal rod out of his pocket and proceeded to unfold it, making it longer and longer. Finally, he handed it to Hellboy, who just looked at it as if it were an alien from outer space.
"What the hell am I supposed to do with this?" asked Hellboy.
"It is a locater-beacon," explained Abe. "Jam it into the ground and the helicopter that the BPRD is sending will be able to find these men." Hellboy jammed it into the ground with a slight grunt.
"When does the helicopter get here?" asked Liz.
"I don't know," answered Abe. "We should get back to the truck though."
"Wait," hissed Hellboy, holding up one finger. "Are you telling me that there is a helicopter coming and we still have to ride in that stupid garbage truck?"
"Yes," responded an unfazed Abe. With that, he began walking back the way they had come with Oz and Liz in his wake. Hellboy rolled his eyes once, sighed, and then followed.
They walked back to the truck in silence but, once they were inside, the questions began.
"So, you're a werewolf?" began Liz.
"Yeah," replied Oz.
"How long has that been going on?" she asked.
"A while," he answered.
"What's a while?"
"Junior year of high school."
"How long ago was that?"
"What's a while?" By this point, Liz was getting really frustrated. At first she had thought Oz's silence was mysterious and charming but right now it was downright annoying.
"Nine years," answered Oz.
"Wait, what happened? How did the mission go?" asked Manning. The team just ignored him.
"How were you bitten?" asked Abe.
"Tickled my cousin."
Before Abe could ask Oz to elaborate, Hellboy asked, "Where did you get bitten?"
"At my aunt's house," answered Oz, knowing full well that that had not been what his alpha had meant.
"What happened back there?" asked Liz seriously.
"That's what I want to know," exclaimed Manning. They continued ignoring him.
Oz just shrugged, unwilling to discuss having murdered someone.
"A shrug isn't an answer," pointed out Hellboy.
"He was their leader," said Oz.
"So?" asked Liz at the same time Manning asked, "who was whose leader?"
"He reminded me of someone I used to know," he confessed.
"Who?" asked Liz, not letting up at all.
There was a long pause while everyone waited for Oz to elucidate who Kane was. Finally realizing that he wasn't going to, Liz sighed and asked, while rolling her eyes, "Who's Kane?"
"He's a hunter," said Oz. "He tracked me through Europe trying to kill me so he could sell my pelt on the black market."
"That's horrible," sympathized Liz.
"I don't usually kill people," volunteered Oz.
And just like that the conversation was over and they spent the rest of the ride back discussing trivial things and ignoring all of Manning's attempts to find out what happened. Hellboy dominated the conversation and Oz just listened. Hellboy decided that he liked Oz. The kid never interrupted him and almost seemed to revere him. Almost. He had also gotten carried away in the heat of battle in the past and he couldn't blame the kid for that. Besides, the kid had saved his life.
X X X
Months passed and Oz became a part of the team. Liz did leave, but then she came back, but then she left again, but then she came back again. Oz got along pretty well with everyone. He and Liz liked to do their nails together. He and Abe liked to have intellectual conversations, although no one else at the BPRD believed Abe when he said that he had conversations with the quiet man. He and Hellboy would watch action movies together and would sometimes spar. Them sparring always made everyone laugh because of their size difference. Oz looked liked a child next to Hellboy.
Oz really liked his new pack. Although there were times that he really missed running around free in the wild, chasing bunnies and digging holes, he found new things to enjoy. Maybe one day he would move on but, for now, he was content exactly where he was.
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