Author's Note – Originally written for the third-person sample of a character application to play Hellboy in a Live-Journal-based rpg, but then life got in the way and I never submitted the app. I still like this little short story, though. Thought others might too.
Disclaimer – "Hellboy" and all related characters, events, and concepts belong to Mike Mignola. I get no monetary benefit from this. My benefit is the enjoyment of dealing with beloved characters.
"Saint Leonard's Lilies"
Hellboy trudged through the Brooklyn snow, hooves sinking three to four inches with each step. He carried with him a small bouquet of white lilies, special lilies-of-the-valley that he'd brought with him all the way from England. Miraculously, they'd survived the trip. Or perhaps . . . not so miraculously.
He'd picked them in West Sussex, after all. From that field in Saint Leonard's Wood.
He didn't have to read the headstones to find the one he wanted. He knew where he was going. He could walk there with his eyes closed. Finally, he knelt down by one in particular, brushing the snow from its face with thick stone fingers. Professor Trevor William Bruttenholm, 1918-1994. His stone hand rested against the rough granite as he laid down the bouquet with his flesh hand.
"Sorry I haven't been to visit for a while. Things have been . . . busy." He looked down at the flowers, fingering one snow-white petal. "Remember you telling me once that white lilies were your favorite flower." He looked up at the headstone as if he could look at the face of the man he'd called "father" for as long as he could remember, the human who had raised him and loved him as a son, regardless of his origin or any doomsday prophesies. "It was after you had me to see the Osiris Club, wasn't it? Were they your favorite before that, or was that why?"
Silence. Not that he'd expected an answer. Just . . . it needed to be asked. It was times like now that he wished Father was still alive. There were some things he just couldn't talk to anyone else about, not even Abe or Kate, and he would have dearly loved to have the man's wisdom on some of the things he'd discovered in the past six years since the man's death.
"Can't remember if I ever told you. I met the son of that old buddy of yours, Frost. The guy's a priest. Kinda roundaboutly apologized for all the grief his dad gave us over me. Guess he had fair reason, though." Sitting back, Hellboy looked at his stone hand, clenching it in a fist at the memory of that conversation. He wanted to be angry – and he was – but after a moment, the fist loosened, the stone arm falling to rest on his thigh. "There's more . . . a lot more . . . more than I think I could even explain in one sitting. I'm still trying to sort it all out."
The voice was a faint whisper from somewhere close to his left. And low to the ground. Hellboy looked and saw a snowshoe hare gazing back up at him with a glint of something unnatural in its black eyes.
"He worries about you."
Hellboy had been spoken to by the restless dead and other supernatural forces by way of random animals too many times to be fazed by a talking rabbit. He nodded but was interrupted from replying.
"As well he should."
This whisper came from high on his right. A hawk stared at him from a low branch of the tree that grew behind Bruttenholm's grave. It cocked its head at him, almost as if in challenge.
"Anung un Rama."
Hellboy scowled, snatching up a rock by his knee and chucking it at the bird without thinking. "Shaddup."
The hawk squawked indignantly as it dodged the rock, then dove at him. He put up his stone hand to shield his face, but it passed harmlessly over, wings brushing his head. An instant later, something screamed. He looked in time to see the hare carried off by the hawk. He stared after the two for an instant, then shook his head and turned back to the tombstone.
"I've left the BPRD, sir. Thought you should know. I don't know for how long. Maybe for good, maybe not. Too much has happened, and I need a break. Gonna finally go visit Africa again. You know I haven't been since you took me there as a kid? Yeah, weird. Been to England a lot, been all over Europe, but never been back to Africa. So I'm gonna go, and then see where I wind up. I might be gone a while, I don't know. I'll be sure to come by and tell you all about it when I get back, though. I'm sure it'll make a great story."
A wind had begun to pick up, and Hellboy climbed to his feet, turning up the collar of his coat. He stared down at the tombstone. "I miss you, Father. And I don't think I ever really got the chance to say it . . . I never really understood. For everything you taught me, and everything you did for me . . . thank you." There was more he wanted to say, much more . . . but he honestly didn't know how nor really where to start. And he didn't need to be overheard by whatever forces were still lingering in the area.
He cast one last look in the direction the hawk had flown, then turned and made his way back out of the cemetery.