A/N: hi everybody, long time no read, eh? *ducks arrows and axes* OI! If you kill me now you'll never know how the story ends! I'm SOOO sorry I've been gone for so long but it would seem fate said: "Wait, you mean everything's going smoothly in your life? You're happy with how things are? We can't have that!" And then everything went to hell in a hand-basket and I'm still wading through all of the crap while trying to get everything settled. So I haven't had much time to write even though I do so every time I get the chance.
In the last chapter it might appear to some like Roxanne only knew the Dawson's for a few years, that's a typo and its fixed here.
Thoughts & conversations telepathically with Abe are italic
Anyway here's chapter 8, ENJOY!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything...yet *unrolls plans for time machine*
Chapter 8: Understandings
B.P.R.D. Thursday, 11:15 am
Abe was in his tank reading like he did every other day, but today something was different. Today Roxanne sat on the couch across from him; glasses perched on her nose which was buried in a book. They had come to the library after breakfast and had sat in silence since, finding each other's company relaxing. Occasionally Roxanne got up to turn the pages of his books for him and Abe would glance at her, or his attention would be drawn to her when she would shift on the couch or adjust her glasses and each time he looked at her his eyes would linger a little longer than before. Through his observing he noticed that she seemed distracted by something, her eyes would often stray from her book and look around; more often than not she would look at him before quickly looking back to her book when their eyes met. It was after one of these moments that Abe decided to see what was bothering her.
"Are you alright Roxanne?" He questioned. "You seem troubled."
"Oh, I'm fine Abe. Just thinking is all." She replied quickly.
"Do you mind if I ask what you were thinking about?"
"Not at all." She replied looking at him and removing her glasses. "Yesterday after dinner Red told me to "watch what I think" around you. Why would he say that?"
"Well, he would say that because I have the ability to enter the minds of others and know what they're thinking and or converse with them." He said watching to see how she would react.
"Really?" Roxanne asked to which Abe nodded. "Have you ever gone into my mind?"
"No." Abe said firmly. "I rarely go into someone's mind without their permission because I find it incredibly rude. And I only really go into Red's mind without permission because how angry he get's is amusing to me." Roxanne nodded in understanding.
"Can you hear someone if they call your name mentally?" She asked as Abe climbed out of the tank and dried himself before coming down the stairs.
"Yes, I can also hear them if they're mentally yelling." He said as he sat next to her on the couch.
"Interesting, mind if I try?"
"Go right ahead." Abe said.
Abe? Can you hear me? God I feel stupid talking to myself. Came Roxanne's voice in his mind.
Hello Roxanne. And I assure you; you are far from stupid. Abe replied watching Roxanne's eyes widen and a grin spread across her face.
That's so cool!
I'm glad you think so.
How long can you talk like this?
As long as I want.
That's amazing, what's your range?
Thank you and I could hear Hawthorn for over two hundred miles without any strain when we tested it. But I was wondering if I could ask you a few question of my own. Abe said with slight hesitation.
Sure, what about? Roxanne replied leaning back on the couch.
About yesterday, but only if you're comfortable with it.
Go right ahead. Roxanne said.
Please tell me if I'm over stepping but I can't help but wonder how you know Mr. and Mrs. Dawson and how much they know about you?
I've no problem telling you that. You already know my parents were born and raised in Bridgeport and they moved out to Colorado when my Dad joined the army. Well, the Dawson's used to teach at my parents' high school, plus they were friends of my dad's parents so they were really close to my mom and dad growing up. After my parents got married-which Mr. and Mrs. D say they knew was going to happen from the instant the two met-they became like adoptive members of the family I guess. By that time my grandparents had passed away and I guess they kinda filled that role, so by the time I was born they were a Permanente fixture. They always visited us in Colorado during the holidays and we'd go see them during the summer. Since they knew me since I was born they knew about my abilities and because I couldn't control them when I was little they would always try to keep me from getting upset so my powers didn't go haywire by way of bribing me with candy. A slight smile crossed Roxanne's face but was quickly replaced with a frown as she continued.
Then after my parents died the Dawson's fought for custody of me but lost because Dolore had managed to get his hands on my parents will beforehand and changed it to make him my guardian. Like I said before I couldn't care less who I was going with because I was too upset at the time, though I did always wonder why a stranger was my guardian over two people I knew my whole life. But anyway that's off topic. So I said goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. D and went with Dolore.
Abe nodded processing the new information when a new question came to mind. I understand, but how did you find the Dawson's again after leaving Dolore?
Roxanne nodded and began again. Years later when doing the file digging that lead me to discover the reason my parents died I found who my real legal guardians were: Susan R. Dawson and Baxter A. Dawson. That pissed me off even more and added to my drive to leave. So after I left and got my dad's bike back I decided to head to Bridgeport because the anniversary was coming up. I got there about two weeks early so I made a stone hut in a secluded area outside town to stay in. The day of the anniversary I went into town and found a flower stand that sold my mom's favorite flowers, black roses. So I went to the cemetery and when driving up to the plots my parents and brother were in I noticed two people standing at them. I thought it might have been Dolore's people so I went further up the road, parked, doubled back on foot and hid behind the same mausoleum that you did. I was expecting a fight so imagine my surprise when the two people I thought I'd never see again were standing not twenty yards from me. I watched them put flowers on the graves and Mr. D held Mrs. D when she started to cry then they said a few words I couldn't hear and left a few minutes later.
Why didn't you tell them you were there? Abe Questioned.
I figured it would be best if they didn't know, that way Dolore couldn't give them any trouble. Anyway I paid my yearly visit, put the roses down by the one the Dawsons had left then headed out. Now don't get me wrong, I love rock and dirt but after two weeks outside I missed having a bed and blankets so I decided to go to the small Inn I remembered seeing next to the flower stand earlier that day and spend a few days resting there. And as for what happened after that...I think it would be easier to show you rather than describe it.
Roxanne held out her right hand to Abe who placed his hand in her's. A stream of images flashed in front of his eyes before settling on the scene Roxanne wanted to show him.
A very tired Roxanne climbed off her motorcycle and locked up her bike and helmet before walking into the Inn, adjusting the straps to her backpack. The lobby was warmly decorated Roxanne noted as she made her way toward the young woman behind reception desk. She was about to ask for a room when a gleaming plaque on the wall behind the woman caught her attention and made her freeze. On it in flowing script were the words; Proprietors of the Ugly Duckling: Susan R. Dawson & Baxter A. Dawson. Roxanne remained frozen in place as a hundred thoughts ran through her mind, the main one being "oh shit." After a few minutes of debating whether to run or not Roxanne realized the woman was talking to her.
"-Help you with Miss?" The blond asked. "Hello? Are you alright?"
"Uh, what?" Roxanne asked snapping out of her funk.
"What can I help you with?" The woman asked again, much slower.
"Um, Are Susan and Baxter Dawson here?" Roxanne asked nervously looking around as if the elderly couple might pop out of the woodwork. The receptionist gave her an odd look, silently asking her business with the innkeepers.
"I'm an old student of theirs." Roxanne said deciding to lie rather than explain how she was like an unofficial grandchild to the ex-teachers and technically their goddaughter, but wasn't legally because of an evil scheming piece of-she mentally cut off the thought and focused on the woman again.
"I'll check if they're here." She said before walking through a door behind her chair. As soon as she left the room Roxanne ran to a mirror hanging above the fire place across the lobby, dropped her bag by the roaring fire and checked her appearance. Her short hair was sticking up at odd angels due to the helmet, she looked much more exhausted than she felt, half the collar of her leather jacket was sticking straight up and she could feel the layer of dirt clinging to her skin. Normally she didn't mind the dirt but she hadn't seen the Dawson's in eight years and wanted to look semi-decent. She quickly combed her fingers through her hair and smoothed it down, fixed the collar of her jacket, then used her powers to remove the dirt from her face and hands and sent it out the door, into the street. She was trying to think of a way to make her scars less noticeable when she heard two people enter the room behind her and one of them clear their throat. She quickly shoved her scarred hands into her pockets as she spun around on her heel to find a much greyer version of Susan and Baxter Dawson standing by the reception desk.
"Dear," Mrs. Dawson said-just as kind as Roxanne remembered. "Do you think you could step away from the fire? It's casting a shadow over you and we can't tell who you are."
Roxanne mentally slapped herself foe her mistake and nodded and spoke her voice shaking. "Of-of c-course."
Roxanne scowled. Why is it that she could address hundreds of powerful, unruly teenagers without flinching and yet she adopted a stutter when in front of the only two people in the world she still trusted? Pathetic, she growled mentally. She cleared her throat and began again as she edged away from the fire. "I'm not really an ex-student of yours, but you do know me. You many not recognize me right awa-"
Roxanne was cut off by a sharp gasp and an expletive. Mrs. Dawson had a hand covering her mouth and Mr. Dawson's eyes were as wide as dinner plates, his mouth working furiously as if he was trying to speak, both wore matching expressions of shock.
"Roxanne?" Mr. Dawson asked a moment, his voice quite and astounded. "Little Roxie Stryker? Is that you?"
"Hi Mr. and Mrs. D. long time no see, eh?" She offered with a sheepish grin. Tears welled up in Mrs. Dawson's eyes as she and Mr. Dawson quickly made their way to Roxanne, who moved to meet them. The moment she was within grabbing distance Mrs. Dawson seized the teen in a hug and held her tight as Mr. Dawson placed a hand on both their shoulders.
I can't believe it, it's really you." The elderly woman whispered as the tears flowed down her cheeks and Roxanne returned the hug.
"When he took you away all those years ago we thought we'd never see you again." Mr. Dawson's voice was thick with emotion as he spoke.
"Neither did I." Roxanne said. "But we won't have to worry about that anymore. I can come and go as I please now."
Mrs. Dawson let go of Roxanne to wipe her tears away and looked up at the teenager with a smile, when her husband spoke softly. "You look so much like your father. They hair they eyes, even the-"
"Oh my word! Roxanne Megan Stryker what have you done to your hair? And how on earth did you get so many scars?" Mrs. Dawson demanded instantly shifting into mothering mode when she noticed how the ends of the teen's hair barley reached the nape of her neck and the pale scars that marred her skin that wasn't covered up.
"uh...I got it cut." Roxanne said finding her boots very interesting. Has that scuff on the right toe always been there?
"I can see that." Mrs. Dawson said placing her hands on her hips. "But why?"
"It was necessary?" The Geomancer offered, grinning weakly.
"But you had such long, beautiful hair." The older woman said disapprovingly. "And don't think I've forgotten about the scars! What happened? You look like you were in an explosion."
If only you knew. Roxanne thought as Mrs. Dawson began tilting her head this way and that to better observe the blemishes as Mr. Dawson took her right wrist and pulled her hand from her pocket to examine the marks that covered her knuckles.
"Been in a few fights, Roxie?" He asked raising an eyebrow.
"A fair few." She affirmed. The teen sighed and dragged a hand down her face. "It's all related actually to why I'm here and not with Dolore. It's a kinda long story so I think we should sit down before I start."
The trio sat by the fire and Roxanne began the same tale that she told the others, starting with when she went with Dolore. She was completely honest with the Dawson's though she made sure to down play the danger she was often in and harsher aspects of The Base. She completely skipped over the tattoo her jacket sleeve was hiding and how she now had her Father's motorcycle. After all she didn't care if they knew about what training she had given and received but if they found out she had been tattooed by that mad man when she was only nine and she drove a motorcycle across the country, under a fake driver's license no less...all hell would break loose. The elderly couple listened intently as Roxanne spoke and when she finished they didn't speak for a few minutes, taking some time to let everything Roxanne had said sink in. After a moment Mrs. Dawson stood and hugged Roxanne.
"I'm so sorry you've had to go through all that, sweetheart. But at least the worst is behind you now." She said as she released the girl.
"What do you plan to do now though? Are you going to stay in Bridgeport or go back to Fort Collins?" Mr. Dawson asked.
"Neither." Was the quick answer. "Going back to Colorado would be too painful and I can't stay here because Dolore would find me and send a team to take me back. I have a pretty substantial supply of money so I think it would be best if I keep traveling. I have the motorcycle now so it-"
Roxanne froze when she realized her mistake. "Crap" She muttered
"What do you mean you have a motorcycle?" Mrs. Dawson asked in an icy tone. Roxanne blushed and gave a nervous laugh.
"Well, remember that Harley my dad had?"
"Yes, we remember the death trap." Mr. Dawson said his tone as disapproving as his wife's.
"Um...it's mine now and I've been riding it. Actually, that's how I got here."
"But you're only sixteen, that's barely old enough to get a permit let alone a driver's license." Mr. Dawson said. Roxanne rubbed the back of her neck nervously.
'Well, to you two I'm sixteen but to anyone else who asks I'm nineteen." She explained.
You have a fake driver's license?" Mrs. Dawson said horrified.
"Uh...licenses. I actually have three; I just prefer the one that says I'm nineteen." Roxanne admitted.
"Why three?" Mr. Dawson questioned. "Wouldn't one suffice?"
"Each one has a different age, name and state of residence one it. I have one that says I'm nineteen year old Samantha Green from Texas, another says I'm a twenty-one year old from New York named Elizabeth Downey and the last one is from California for Jane Swift and says I'm twenty-five."
"Who in their right mind would believe you're twenty-five? You would barely pass for eighteen in my book."
Roxanne smiled at the ex-teachers. "True, but you've known me for most of my life. And I suppose the scars help me look older." She shrugged.
"How can you be so nonchalant about them?" Mrs. Dawson said taking Roxanne's hand and running her fingers over the scarred knuckles. "They must have been so painful..."
"They were at one point but now...I guess I kinda see them not as flaws, but something that tells you who I am." After thinking for a few more minutes both the Dawsons nodded, as if they under stood.
The image faded as Abe looked up to see emerald eyes looking back at him. He noticed he was once again still holding her hand in his but instead of releasing it he gently traced the marks on the back of her hand. "They tell others who you are?"
She smiled at the contact. "Yes. Look at them and tell me what you see, how do you think I got each one? How are they different? What does each one lead you to believe about me?"
He continued to run his fingers over her hand, learning the contour of each scar before speaking. "The ones on your knuckles are from fighting, hitting things, people. That tells me you know how to defend yourself. This one here," He flipped her hand over and caressed a jagged scar that ran down from the base of her index finger and curved up toward her thumb.
"Some kind of tool accident, most likely a screwdriver. So you've spent a large amount of time building things." He ran his hand up to her wrist, and Roxanne removed the granite to reveal her forearm. Abe couldn't help but notice the slight shudder she gave when his cool fingers closed gently around the discoloration that ran in a ragged circle around her wrist. "You have these on both wrists and they appear to be from friction burns, but they've faded quite a lot. That leads me to believe that you were regularly put under restraints and you struggled against them. Which makes me think that you were...tortured, but because of the fading it shows it was years ago."
Abe's next stop was Roxanne's mid-forearm where a cordlike track wound twice around it. "A defensive wound," He murmured more to himself that to Roxanne. "From something like a whip or chain. But it wasn't yourself you were defending, was it? You would have just moved but...you were protecting someone else, weren't you?"
Abe looked up at Roxanne, who nodded. "My second in command favored physical punishment as a means of discipline. I was walking by when a new recruit dropped his gun during a drill; Hyde was on him instantly, him and his stupid whip. The recruit was nine years old at the most and...He reminded me so much of Patrick..." She looked down and swallowed before speaking. "So I stepped in. I made Hyde stand down and started keeping more of an eye on him after that." Roxanne finished as quietly as she began; it appeared she was having difficulty controlling her breathing as she spoke. Abe nodded when something else caught his eye. He lifted his hand and gently tilted Roxanne's head so that the right side of her jaw caught the light. A slim, white scar began just below her ear, ran under the corner of her jaw and continued on the underside of her jaw-directly against the bone-where it ended just before the curve of her chin. With all of Abe's medical experience he could easily tell how the young woman had acquired that particular injury, and he noted how it was placed in such a way that you wouldn't notice it unless you were looking for it. That reaffirmed Abe in his conclusion that someone had carefully placed it there.
"A scalpel." He whispered, stroking the raised skin, completely unaware of the effect his touches were having on Roxanne. "This was made by a practiced hand with a scalpel...you truly were tortured, weren't you?"
"It's not as bad as you think." Roxanne's voice was shaking. "This was from the beginning of my rebellious days. And trust me when I say, I gave as good as I got." She gave a low chuckle. "I don't think Hyde's nose will ever be the same."
The Ichthyo Sapien's hand followed the contours of the scar along Roxanne's jaw then came to rest on her cheek. He lifted his eyes slightly and saw her's were close as she breathed deeply. "Are you alright Roxanne?"
She swallowed thickly. "Yes, it's just...I've never let...I mean, no one's ever..." She took a deep breath before trying again. "They're very sensitive."
It was when Roxanne opened her eyes and he was faced with two shining emeralds that he noticed how close they were to each other.
Abe was fascinated, he before only saw them as scars, deformities, now he realized they told a story, Roxanne's story. In a few short minutes of observing her scars he had learned more about Roxanne's character than he would have in an entire day's worth of conversing. She was creative, strong, and stubborn to a fault, she could be a savior or a terror, too strong willed to ever be broken, and at times she was infuriatingly defiant. He had garnered this and more for his examination. Abe opened his mouth to speak but for once he found words had deserted him so he decided to follow his instincts. Without any hesitation Abe leaned forward and wrapped Roxanne in his arms. He felt her entire body stiffen at the contact before relaxing into his arms and returning his embrace. She rested her head against his shoulder and Abe could tell through their still linked minds she knew what he was trying to convey through the hug.
The two remained like this for an unknown period of time when a topic Abe had been thinking of earlier came to mind. One he felt was serious and needed to be discussed. And though he hated to spoil the moment, now seemed like the time to do it as she seemed much more open than before.
"Roxanne?" He said gently.
"Hmm?" Was the content response.
"I was wondering if I could talk to you about something else." He was unsure of how exactly to begin. "It's rather important." Roxanne shot up out of his arms and looked Abe in the eye giving the psychic her undivided attention.
"What's wrong?" She asked immediately, he could sense her mind jumping to horrible conclusions.
"Oh nothing! Everything's fine." He assured, pushing away his thought about how he missed the contact they had just shared. "There's just something I'd like to propose to you."
"I'm listening." Roxanne said relaxing again.
"Well you see, the mishap with the tank yesterday could have been a lot worse than it was."
"True." She said with a nod.
"Also there may be missions where prolonged exposure to bodies of water and or swimming is required."
"You don't suppose I could skip those?" She gave him a lopsided grin. Abe shook his head.
"So, I think it would be in your best interest if you became more comfortable around water."
"I agree, but how? If you recall I'm not exactly excited about jumping into water." She blushed and looked away while speaking.
"Well, I would be more than happy to teach you how to swim if you like."
"You don't have to do that, I don't want to burden you." She protested. "I could go and-"
"But I'd like to." Abe cut in. "That way it's someone you know teaching you, the lessons can be schedule around missions and the pond around back is perfect for learning to swim."
"And you wouldn't mind?"
"Not at all."
"When do you think we should start then?" She asked with a slight smile.
"I'm guessing you don't own a bathing suit," Abe said, to which Rose nodded.
"But I'm going shopping with Liz today, so I'll just pick one up then."
"Liz is taking you shopping?" He tried to hide his disbelief.
"Yeah, apparently my clothes are "too ratty even for her"."
"What time are you going at?" He asked.
"About noon. And I have no idea when we'll be back."
"How about tomorrow then? Around two? That way the water can warm up."
"Sounds good. Though, I probably won't be a very eager student." Roxanne said looking away. Abe placed a hand on her shoulder and opened his mouth to respond when Liz walked in followed by Red. Roxanne stood and Abe followed out of habit.
"Hey Abe, hey Roxanne," Liz said. She turned to the brunet. "Ready to go?"
"Yup." Roxanne then turned back to Abe and hesitated a moment before wrapping her arms around Abe's waist in a surprise hug. He started then immediately returned the embrace, disregarding that his friends were in the room and smirking at them. He did however, notice Hellboy lean over and whisper something to Liz, who nodded back. After a moment Roxanne pulled back and looked down blushing.
"I'll uh, see you when I get back Abe." She smiled at him and the Ichthyo Sapien felt the corners of his mouth twitch briefly.
"What? Don't I get a hug?" Red demanded, smirk still in place. Roxanne merely grinned, rolled her eyes and smacked him on the arm. "Bye you Big Red Monkey."
"Alright we'll be back in a few hours." Liz addressed the boys. "You guys need anything?"
"Yeah, pick me up some Baby Ruths and uh..." Red cast a sidelong glance at Abe. "That other thing."
Liz nodded. "Anything for you Abe?"
"No thank you, Liz." He responded. "Have fun ladies."
"Alright then, let's get going." Liz and Roxanne left the library talking about where they were going to go. Abe however did catch Roxanne's last statement before they left earshot and felt the corners of his lips twitch once again at the faint;
"Hey Liz, can I drive...?"
Abe turned to Hellboy-who was still smirking. "Why are you staring at me?"
"You know for a guy who can't smile, you sure seem to be doing it a lot."
Abe scoffed. "That's preposterous and you know it."
"Hey, whatever you say Abe. Whatever you say." He held his hands up in mock surrender, a smirk gracing his features.
"I know that look, what are you planning?"
"Nothing at all Blue." The smirk turned into a grin and Abe became twice as suspicious.
"It better not be another prank, you remember what Liz said about your little feud."
"Oh I'm done with pranks. Hey, what do you say to a little remodeling planning?" Abe went to question his brother further when Johann walked in holding several rolled up papers.
"Ah, Agent Hellboy, Agent Sapien, I knew I vould find you here. I brought ze blueprints for ze children's room, are you ready to vork on zem?" The medium placed the blueprints on one of the desks and began to spread them out.
"Right, let's get to work!" Hellboy walked over to Johan at the table. "I have two bundles of joy to prepare for!"
Abe sighed and joined the others; he would just have to wait to see what Hellboy was planning. But for now, he had to help plan the home of his soon arriving nieces or nephews.
Abe, Hellboy and Johan were still pouring over the plans for the nursery when they heard familiar voices coming down the hallway.
"-Red would have liked them too." That was definitely Liz's voice.
"I know, but it's best to wait until right before the birth to buy cribs." Apparently the Pyromancer and Geomancer were debating something about cribs for the twins.
"Why is that exactly?" They were right outside the library and the pseudo architects had stopped what they were doing to listen.
"Well, it seems every week there's some type of change. Like "the new model is less bulky", "The last released product had some kind of defect" or "looks at all the new stuff this one does!" I think it would make the most sense to wait a while." Roxanne and Liz entered the room, each carrying a few bags from various stores and apparently oblivious to the men in the room.
"And when did you become the authority on all things infant?" Liz scoffed as she sat down on a couch.
"Never said I was, but that's how it is with all kinds of markets, every six weeks they find some kind of fatal flaw in the design and order a complete re-haul on everything. You have no idea how many times I've had to work on my bike because some new set of "safety regulations"." She made her way over to the far wall and began to peruse the books there.
Liz rolled her eyes. "I'll think about it." She then looked up and noticed the boys. "What are you guys up to?"
"Nothin' much." Red walked over and joined Liz on the couch, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "How was your trip, ladies?"
"Terrifying." Liz deadpanned. "Never get into a car with Roxanne at the wheel."
"Hey!" Came the indignant shout from across the room. "There is nothing wrong with the way I drive!"
"I don't know Roxanne..." Abe joined the conversation from the desk. "If you drive a car like you do a motorcycle then I have to agree with Liz."
"Et tu, Abraham?" Roxanne gasped and placed a hand over her heat. "I honestly don't see what the problem with my driving is."
"You speed, weave in and out of traffic, disregard most stop signs and try to beat the red lights. I'm surprised we didn't crash."
"I was taught tactical driving, I specialized in tactical driving. Meaning lots of swerving and speeding but you get to your destination in one piece." Roxanne plopped down in the armchair, new book in hand. "Besides I've not only, never had an accident but I've never had a ticket. Quite an impressive record considering I've been driving since I was ten."
"Ticket or no ticket, you're not driving me anywhere ever again." Liz shot back. Roxanne opened her mouth to reply when the mission alarm cut through the air.
"Alright, time to go." Hellboy stood, helping Liz to her feet. Roxanne grinned at Abe as everyone made their way out of the library.
"My first mission with you guys. This should be fun."
A/N: Hey, sorry that it's been an entire year since I updated but things are really busy. So I'm sorry to say this story is now on hiatus. Sorry to disappoint but at least there's a new chapter. Feel free to PM/review me your outrage.