It sure took me a while to submit this chapter, but, well, last weeks of university were draining - with projects to finish and show to run, there was not much time for writing. But now we're back on the track. And there will be no Nuada in this chapter, but finally somethings will get to be explained.
He stared at the water woman in front of him and though the stabbing pain in his hands and his thigh one question came to the forefront of his mind.
"How… what are you doing here, Olga?"
Rusalka smiled at him from behind the glass, as always amused with him.
"It came to my attention that you needed me, boy," she answered in a breathy whisper.
Oh, of course, Tik. Little bug was fast.
"But this place… it's not a good place for you," John remembered that once he said the same thing to the unicorn. "The base is not a good place for the Others. Director…"
"It became a much better place lately, it would seem," she laughed gently at his confusion. "As your little messenger assured me."
Of course, Tik. That little bug!
"John, what the hell is going in? Are you alright, man?"
Kowalski's voice was loud in the room and tuned out anything that John wanted to say. All the lights in the brain of the young agent fired up when the major closed up on him, eyebrows pulled together, face pinched in worry.
"I fucking told you to stay in the Infirmary, didn't I? Fuck, Librarian… the fuck?"
The flow of words stopped instantly and John had a split second to react. Before he even knew what he was doing he threw one of his hurting hands up and shouted: "Tom, no! It's alright!" And fucking Ouch! that hurt!
Olga looked unimpressed.
John couldn't do much from his kneeling position, not with his leg and now hands pulsing with pain. It was fairly humiliating that the only thing that he could do to get the man's attention was to grab one of his side pockets with trembling fingers, like a child.
"Please, Tom, she's… not a threat."
He was going to say "safe", but changed his mind at the last moment. No Other Kin took lightly to being underestimated. And Olga was very old and very scary.
But it did the job, at least it seemed so. Kowalski stopped with one hand on the holster, standing stiff as a board between John and the glass container, staring at the apparition of the woman that calmly looked back. Truth to be told, sitting on the floor in the shadow of this man… John felt somewhat safer. His body still hurt and he was still terrified, and Olga's ominous words still played on replay in his mind… But Kowalski was just so - there. He was the steadiest person young agent has ever known, an unmovable force that wouldn't let anyone hurt him.
Even if this silent assessment between the man and water spirit took its time. They stared at one another for at least full minute and only after confirming what he needed to confirm, major visibly relaxed his shoulders.
"You are the woman from Great Falls," he stated harshly. "The one with all the answers."
"And you are his friend," Olga replied calmly. "The one who cares."
They both nodded and fell silent. John didn't have a clue what just transpired in front on his eyes, because, as if on cue the atmosphere in the room almost visibly lightened. He was about to mention it too when another bout of pain ripped through his left hand and he could actually swear that one of his bones snapped.
Kowalski was by his side in a second, concerned and oh so scary.
"Johnny? John! What the fuck is going on here?" He reached out, but then pulled his hands back, as if he wasn't sure that his touch wouldn't make the matters worse. Like a child trying to catch a wounded sparrow.
"It's the prince," the answer came from behind the glass. "He forgets that he is not alone anymore… or maybe not. Maybe he remembers."
"What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" The major was visibly agitated. He finally decided to stop being a baby and grabbed John by the shoulders, trying to pull him to his feet.
"It means," Olga leaned closer, face almost touching the glass, "that the prince found the other half of his heart. And that he is not happy about the person who is in the possession of it."
Kowalski's face did a strange little tic – as if two or more expressions suddenly clashed in a fight for dominance. He looked to the water spirit then back to John; he rubbed his face with one big hand.
"Director has to fucking know about this," he finally decided.
"Tom…" John tried to speak.
"To Infirmary first with you, Boss."
Younger agent managed to uncurl from the miserable ball his body decided to form and looked at the mountain of a friend with pleasing eyes.
"Send someone to check on him. Just tell them to be careful. He is not in the best of moods."
The last one slipped out without his will. What didn't change the fact that John was sure it was the truth. And it scared the hell out of him.
Doctor Feehney's diagnosis was short and to the point. She looked at the x-rays of both o John's hands and announced:
"Right hand is okay, just bruises. Left one, tough, was not so lucky. Middle and ring fingers are sprained; I can see a hair fracture on the intermediate phalange of your index finger. You'll get painkillers and will have to wear them bound for a couple of weeks. Luckily there's no setting necessary."
And then she looked at John who was seated on a chair in the middle of her office and all but vibrating out of his skin. It didn't yet happen only because Kowalski was standing right behind him with a steady hand keeping his shoulder from shaking.
"Will someone tell me how you managed to injure yourself so quickly after our last meeting?" the woman asked.
"I fell," was out of John's mouth before he managed to stop it.
He could practically hear the major smirking behind his back. Way to go, scout, you could come up with something more than the most common excuse known to humanity.
"You fell," the doctor repeated after him, eyebrows going up.
"I will say it while there's still time," Kowalski cut in. "I am not his abusive boyfriend."
John moaned and hunched, hiding his face behind the right hand; the left was resting on his knee, swathed in bandages and stiff. He was still in pain, even though he's got some painkillers already. He was impossibly tired all of a sudden and his head was a mess. He needed to talk to Olga. He needed to talk to Nuada.
He needed to know what the hell was going on with him. With them. No, with him.
Him only, the elf had nothing to do with it!
"It's a good idea to go and inform the Director, kid," Kowalski proposed, patting the younger agent on the back.
But John shook him off and stood up, reaching for the crutch.
"Yeah, you do that," he said. "I have someone to talk with first."
"Thank you, Tom, I appreciate your help. Now go." He nodded his thanks to the elderly doctor. "Thank you, doc; I will try not to injure myself further."
She smiled to him, but it was a tight, nervous little smile. John took it for what it was worth, after all his smile was exactly the same.
"Just to sum it up," he spoke to the room at large. "When you said 'He is for you' you didn't man it in the plural way, did you?"
The room answered with an echo, but other than that remained silent. It was a big space, an underground pool that was built especially so that Abe could stretch out in a space that wasn't limited with glass walls at the arm-reach. It was connected to most of the building with a net of water pipe-like "corridors", which led to the strategic points of the base – like the one in the library or the one in the armoury. After Hellboy and his family left the pool fell into disuse for a short time – no one really wanted to use it. People felt awkward swimming in something that for the longest time was considered someone else's home-slash-bed.
But after a while some younger agents started visiting the place, not knowing about its origin, and Director Hart was convinced to leave it open for the staff.
John stopped at the edge of the pool, leaning on the crutch and staring accusingly at the bluish water below. The pool, unlike any other public installation, was not illuminated from above, but from below. With pale-blue luminescent lights that made Olga's sudden appearance seem even more creepy and spiritual than it usually was.
There was no plants in this water, John was sure that the filters were working fine, but in some way rusalka brought her reeds and duckweed with her to help her body define itself. She rose from the surface of the water with grace and, as it was her custom, leaned his way, resting her hands on the edge of the pool.
"He is for you," she repeated slowly. "And you are for him."
"And you didn't think to add that little bit of information in the beginning?" John bit out. He was surprised by the harsh tone of his voice, and even more at the hot feeling of frustration and anger that flowed through him. "That his revival means that I will be cursed with sharing… whatever am I sharing with him?"
He was digging his own grave and he knew it; one didn't simply raise their voice at the Others, especially as old as this one. Most of the Kin were very quick to reflect any strong emotions back at the sender – while adding something of their own on the way.
But Olga kept her calm and just blinked slowly at him.
"You are not cursed, boy," she said. "Of course you were chosen by Her, there was no other option available."
"Of course…?" the agent struggled to understand it all. To stop himself from shouting, from demanding reason and normality back. "What does that even mean? And what does it mean with the heart thing? How can I be… Oh God, tell me it was some sort of an euphemism!"
'Other half of his heart' sounded too weird, too… binding. To John it sounded like some worn out metaphor from a romance novel; something too uncomfortable to think about. He was no one's heart!
Olga flinched slightly, when the God's name was mentioned, but John couldn't bring himself to feel bad about it. It was a testament of how shaken he has been, to forget simple courtesy of not speaking of things that Kin found uncomfortable. Rusalka had to see it too, because she didn't scold him for it – on the contrary, her impassive expression cracked a little and a tiny bit of pity shined through.
"Sidhe have no souls, Johnny," she spoke quietly, as if revealing some kind of a secret to him. "None of the Kin has, you know about it. They have fire that keeps them going, what we call 'hearts'. It's the will that keeps them alive. But sometimes the 'heart' is faulty and sometimes it splits itself. Humans call them twins."
John had to sit down for that. For one thing, his leg was starting to hurt again; for another, it would suck majorly if he fainted and fell back on the hard tile.
"Like Nuada and his sister," he concluded, lowering himself carefully. "They were twins. And the documents say that they felt things together. Like in the old tales…"
No, that was just no!
"You see them as two," Olga nodded to his thoughts. "While in fact they were one. Together they were one person, Johnny. The heart splits in opposites, womanly and manly, light and dark, good and bad."
John knew where this was going and he didn't want to hear it.
"She was the light to his dark. Pure and kind. She was the better half of him. But the Mother couldn't bring her back, for her body crumbled down. And She couldn't bring him back with only half of a heart."
"You were there when it happened. The unicorn saw your worth; it let you touch it and it choose you."
The air in the room – in the world – seemed to suddenly disappear. John felt like a fish thrown out of water; he gasped for breath and shook, grateful now that he decided to sit down.
"I don't like it," he said and wanted to laugh at how very true and very useless it was in this situation. How it didn't even start to cover how not alright he was with it.
"You were chosen, Johnny," Olga repeated and her shushing Slavic accent turned these words into some kind of a song.
Or a curse.
"You are a good boy."
He wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. Look where being a 'good boy' has got him! First, a secret government agency full of freaks, Russian catacombs full of monsters, an Arctic base full of resentment and smell of unwashed furs, a half-baked mission to Great Falls, Washington, where he met this woman made of water and wet grass. Being a "good boy" haven't got him anything that didn't end up in pain and loneliness!
"I still don't like it. Couldn't he... why couldn't it be one of his kind? I am human, I should not... It shouldn't happen!" he rasped.
"It shouldn't," rusalka agreed, reaching to touch his face. "But, Johnny, pure hearts are so very rare to find."
"And isn't that a marvel that agent Myers someway has managed to live this long?"
John almost jumped out of his skin when the calm, cold voice of Director Hart sounded from behind him. He turned around to see the man standing by the entrance to the pool with his arms crossed and an impassive expression on his face.
Oh God – he thought. This day couldn't get any worse. If they got a letter from Russia saying that Rasputin came back to life and wreaking havoc it wouldn't even put a dent in the badness of the last couple of hours. With an air of resignation around him, John lifted one of his bandaged hands and pointed at the rusalka; who was still present and still naked.
"Director, this is Olga, the… source I told you about. She is very wise," he felt compelled to add. Then he pointed at the man and spoke to Olga. "This is Director Hart, my boss. He… well, he can decide which pole they will send me now to."
He really should keep a backpack by the doors of his room or under the bed; packed with flannel pyjamas, spare socks, slippers and a can of coffee beans. Some sweets. Maybe few photographs to remember his past life when they send him off to Siberia for the rest of eternity.
The Director snorted at his words (actually snorted) which was pretty unusual as far as John's knowledge of the man went. He pushed his glasses higher on his nose and stepped closer to the young agent and water spirit.
"I doubt it will be necessary, major Kowalski assured me that you've learned your lesson the first time around." And wasn't it an actual joke? World was ending. Heart stopped next to John, and if Myers didn't know him well enough he could have sworn that the inch of the difference made him stand in front of him. But that was just silly; Kowalski was protective of his people, Eliah Hart wasn't that sentimental.
That move, however, caused Olga to raise her head and, visibly unhappy with the fact that she had to do it, she rose from the water. John was baffled – for the longest time he was sure that rusalka didn't possess legs – only to be proved wrong when she stood eye to eye with the Director.
"My lady," he inclined his head. "I am a patient man, but the way Other Kin keeps pushing at my employees and the way I run this agency is starting to irritate me."
"She decided you need help," was Olga's answer. Bulletproof as far as John was aware.
Eliah Hart, obviously, was made of different stuff.
"And B.P.R.D would gladly accept that help if informed of it beforehand. You see, it is hard to trust a partner who hides his cards; especially when their help is so costly."
Oh God, this was going downhill. John had half of a thought to start crawling towards the door, but sheer fascination with the encounter of two steely wills rooted him to the spot.
"If we could just sit down and discuss some initial rules of this… co-operation, it would all go much smoother. Don't you think so, lady?"
John was all for it.
That means, for them to talk it all over while he goes to take a nap.
Hopefully it will all turn to be a dream and he'll wake up in his Antarctic base: cold and unhappy, but at least sane.
Thank you for all the reviews, you lovely people you:) I appreciate each and every one of them. Yes, it will take a while for Nuada to come around and John has few more mental breakdowns waiting for him, hopefully you will like it, guys:)
Just a question to all of you lovelies:
As I am mostly assembling my cast out of OC's, I am aware that I may not always get them right. I am trying to make every character count and make them at least a little, well, character:) Major Kowalski, Director Heart, Olga, Tik and Tak, Kowalski's squad... What I want to know is just ,well, am I doing a good job with them? Because as much as the story is focused on John and the Prince,they are always there in the background - and i want them to stay there.