The two family members got into the car and made their way silently to the hospital. It was an expected silence for this sort of trip. It was not a happy visit to hear the cries of a newborn being welcomed into the world and family. It wasn't a visit to take a family member back home from getting a cast or appendix removed. It wasn't the sad pain filled trek to see a dying loved one or a visit to sort out how the recently deceased is to be taken care of. No it was a different sort of pain filled event. A pain known as the in between. A pain that came from knowing the one you cared about was alive. But that same beloved one was not living a life. They stuck to bed with tubes and wires attached to their bodies. The only things keeping what you could call alive. A beep on the screen. A beep is what said they were alive. Just that and nothing else. No movement of hands and feet running and catching during a rousing game of basketball. Not a trace of a smile or clever wink that told the world to try to guess the hidden joke that lay inside their mind. Not even the ability to breathe the fresh sweet air that surrounds this area on one's own.
That was the so called life being led by their beloved one, named Jasper. Jasper, Lucinda and Jane's only surviving brother. Who had been in the coma for so long that many believed he shall not ever wake. Inside hidden deep in the darker truths of their minds Gabriel, Jane and Lucinda both felt this. But call it love, blind hope or plain stubbornness the kept the machines going. Keeping Jasper with them in the hopes that a metal contraption can bring their family member back to them alive and awake.
"Hello Mr. Van Helsing and nice to see you again Lucinda. Where's Jane? Seems unlike her to be skipping out on today of all days." Nurse Dally asked in her quaint little accent that exemplified the O's in her words.
"Jane's in Egypt for school work. She sends her hellos to you and all the other nurses."
"Well that does sound exciting for her and tell her she's sweet to still think of us busybodies." She joked. "My what lovely sunflowers you got there. I take it they're for your brother now."
"Yes, they are. The daffodils I brought him last time, I don't think he cared much for them. I thought these ones…would make him happier."
"Aren't you the little considerate one." She said smiling. "You and your father know the layout better than our veteran doctors. Don't suppose you still need me to take you to the ward do ya?"
"if you would like to come with us we don't mind." Van Helsing said offered politely to the veteran nurse.
"Oh I'd love to but Jody had to leave early to attend a lecture for her class leaving me to man the desk all on my lonesome. But I promise to take a break sometime and come by to check on you guys later. Now how does that sound?"
"That's very kind of you Ms. Dally." Gabriel said as he took his youngest by the shoulders and steered her towards the ward in question.
"Don't mention it Mr. Van Helsing." Nurse Dally finished before having to answer the beeping of the phone at her desk. The two went on the familiar trail. It was strangely quiet that day they thought. And soon they found out why it was so. They were the only ones that had a relative in this section of the hospital. It was a small hospital in a small populated area. The amount of coma induced patients was near the single digit area. Right now it was just the resting and hopefully recover ward of a single patient. Jasper.
His hair has grown much longer since the last time they saw him. Thought his sister. Perhaps he would like it better if his hair was cut much shorter than the last time we had it cut? She said this to her father as she began to arrange the flowers in his room. Her father spoke softly in his agreement as he stood at the foot of the bed gazing at his son. Deep sadness and guilt hidden deep through his eyes came forth as he looked at the state of his son. His last son…in pain.
Gabriel dare not say what he was thinking in that ward during their visit. For it would upset the both of them had he said such thoughts aloud on this a day that his youngest seemed most hopeful of her brother's condition. Yes, very hopeful as she smiled and spoke to her brother as if the both of them were talking in a normal conversation with him adding on to it. He watched as she read to him from his favorite story, Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck. The hours how they ticked by and soon it was time for them to leave the hospital. Lucinda kissed her brother's cheek and promised to return at the same time next weekend. The two then left heavy in heart at the lack of change in Jasper's condition.
The ride home was quiet and the house they returned to was quiet for the guests knew that it was a day that was best left that way. And with that quiet sleep came in a tedious and off putting way.
The next two months had become good to all of those in that area of the world. Near the end of those two months the family spent time with another family. Liz Sherman, Hellboy's wife and mother of his two children thought it would be a good day to come down and surprise him with a visit from her and their kids, Chrissa and Trevor. Trevor was the eldest of the twins and the one that resembled the most in looks to his father. He had bright red skin, horns (he shaved down as well), and cloven feet. But his personality and mannerisms were that of a calm and peaceful boy. Chrissa, Chrissa was another story. It was a surprise that she only inherited two physical characteristics from her father and they were the yellow eyes and on occasion a tail, on occasion meaning that her tail was not always visible to everyone. Mainly she looked like her mother and both the kids had ability with fire. However if anyone was to ask about her personality it would be called the real twin of Hellboy. She had his stubbornness, rash attitude and temper. She also had this sort of likability about her that once again she had in common with her father. Hopefully that will continue to stick as she grows up.
For now she is a unaverage middle school student who is glad to be visiting her father and her role model. Yep that's right role model. If you were thinking Hellboy was her role model. Then you would be thinking incorrectly. Sure, she loves and admires her father and like him she dreamed of one day joining the B.P.R.D like him. But when it came down to role model she thought of Lucinda as one. Since Lucinda was kind, strong in her own right, fun and treats her like the little sister that is always wanted around by her big sister.
"Hey Daddy!" Chrissa yelled as she leapt from the car and into her Dad's arms.
"Matchstick!" He called to her arms open wide for an oncoming hug. Tahat was soon delivered by his little girl. The smile widened as he saw his wife and son getting out of the car.
"Thought you could use some reinforcement Red." Liz said to him as she walked over and kissed him.
"Normally I can handle things on my own, but this time. I could use some back up." He said huskily to his wife. Boy did he miss her.
"Don't get too ahead of yourself there Red." His wife teased. Chrissa and Trevor went into the house to say hello to the others. Leaving their parents alone to talk. "So how's Gabriel doing?" She asked him.
"About as you can expect. When one of his daughters has been threatened with a near death experience and the other is all the way in Egypt."
"I can guess that much. But I meant Jasper..." Hellboy took a breath before answering her.
"I don't know. That is the one thing that he has decided to keep to himself." Liz looked downcast. "Come on Babe lets go inside before Chrissa decides to burn the house down." A fire alarm blares from inside the house and a cloud of smoke begins to escape from a few windows. Shouts accompanied it. Yelling put it out put it out!
"I think we're already too late Red."
"It wasn't my fault!"
"I guess we should find the extinguisher."
The fire it turns out wasn't as bad as parents tend to think in their minds. It wasn't even all of their daughter's fault. In fact it was mostly the fault of Delia Deetz.
"I'm sorry for this whole mess Gabriel, Hellboy, Liz. I guess in hindsight it wasn't a very good idea to have a moving parts sculpture with a fireworks display and to have it lite inside the house by a budding pyrokentic." Delia said as she looked around the partially burnt room where her sculpture lay in partially melted heap looking more like batter.
"Don't worry Dad. Nothing got scorched beyond repair that you can't fix it. And I have already called the fire department to tell them it was a false alarm, informed Carl, Barbra and Adam to calm down Victor, who at the moment is doing deep breathing exercises to slow down the pacing of his heart along with Grandpa." Lucinda informed her father while beating a quick retreat with Chrissa at her heels to the Neitherworld.
"Hey Uncle BJ! Guess whose visiting?" Lucinda sang to her uncle.
"It better not be your Great Aunt Zephora. She's gotten worse with old age and I'm not just talking about her face lift flops." Beetlejuice grumbled as he kept searching through the closet for his left shoe. It went running from his dirty feet smell.
"It's not Aunt Zephora, it's your apprentice." Beetlejuice stopped his pursuit of the now long forgotten shoe. His face donned the look of a serious man as he acted like a vulture circling Chrissa for inspection.
Chrissa was like an apprentice to Beetlejuice in the art of pranking. One of the other reasons that she liked to hang out with Lucinda was being able to hang out with Beetlejuice. The three were an amazing prank team. In fact so great were there pranking abilities that in some places they were forbidden to be together in fear that they will burn the place down and then some to come.
"Alright Private Burn Well, are you ready for this the battlefield of pranks?"
"I am ready Major General Beetlejuice." Chrissa replied with confidence border lining on cockiness well used in her family.
"That's Major Commander General Beetlejuice to you Private! And don't you forget it! This isn't going to be some nabby pabby fly in an ice cube trick this is going to be a high grade, no holds barrage that we must throw at our enemy full force! Do you understand me private! I said. DO YOU UNDERSTAND ME PRIAVTE?!" He said this so loud that the very earth shook awakening the wrath of several car alarms in the process. But it was nothing a button on a car key chain couldn't fix.
"I understand you well Major Commander General Beetlejuice!"
"Good let's go out there and start this prank war!" Beetlejuice then turned into an army tank with Chrissa at the wheel. He reeved up with the need for speed before bursting through the wall of the building leaving a perfect outline of his tank self. Lucinda sighed but floated through the hole in the wall. She stopped for a second to peek her head through the wall.
"Aunt Lydia is not going to like this one bit. Oh well I'm not the one who has to come home to her mad." She brushed off and then left. Not ten minutes later did Lydia come down the stairs feeling refreshed and well rested from getting a good night's sleep after a whole two days of cramming fashions on a deadline. That was the mood she had until she looked up and saw the tank shaped hole in the wall. Once that can of worms was opened the crap hit the fan and Lydia went boom.
The trio soon found their way to the new Neitherworld outdoor shopping center. A place that had yet sampled their brand of pranking and was ripe for the reaping of belly cramps and screams of fright.
"Ahh the smell of pranks to come. Such a wonderful thing isn't it Chrissa."
"You bet BJ. So what's first on the list? Funhouse mirror bit? Attack food? Oh Oh Oh I know the 3D flamer? Come on we haven't used that one in a long time."
"All excellent ideas that will be used but it's so hard to choose which one to use first." He gave a thought provoking pose before he called out to his niece. "Louie, what do you think?" Lucinda looked off guard at her uncle. "Which prank do you think is the best to go first with?"
"Prank? Oh the first prank! Yes, well. Uncle BJ, the truth of the matter is that I am going to sit this one out." Chrissa and Beetlejuice looked well…shocked when Lucinda said she was going to be sitting one of their legendary prank wars. This was unheard of and felt unnatural to boot. Chrissa did a double take of the surroundings to make sure the world wasn't ending. So far it wasn't time for that yet. Nope everything was about where it should be, except for the oddly placed The World is at its End sign. But it was only one part of a two part sign for an environment friendly store. The second part read 'if you don't be smart and buy our earth saving products.'
"Ah Louie, did we do something to offend you?" he asked worried about her.
"No. No it's nothing like that Uncle BJ. I just want to look around all the stores before we get banned. You two can go ahead and start the prank war. I promise I'll catch up later."
"Okay. Go ahead and leave us alone to our devices." Beetlejuice grumbled. Lucinda kissed his cheek
"I know being left to your own devices is your favorite way to prank." She said it before running off in the other direction.
"Thank you Uncle BJ! I promise to catch up with you and Chrissa later!" Chrissa looked crestfallen at the lack of time she was going to spend with her friend. But thanks to some well-placed vendors, street performers and a fire hydrant it didn't take long for the prank wars to begin.
Lucinda carefully made her way down the winding and twisting streets of the shopping center. She was looking along the lines of stores for a particular store. A gardening store that was large enough to be declared a miniature rainforest. Inside it laid stone fountains and statues from every era of time amidst the plants cultivated from every corner of the Neitherworld and our world. Past the stone and metal sundials there laid two ponds where demon koi swam along fire lilies and singing shadow vines that grew over an iron gazebo that lay in the center of these two ponds. Lucinda walked into the gazebo that was heavily covered with vines that created a curtain over the structure. She looked not once but twice behind her and to the side before departing into the shadow enclosed structure far from the prying eyes of any who may have been watching.
Inside the blanketed iron and vine covered walls there was darkness and yet tiny dots of light peeked out from where it could. Sometimes through holes and other lights went through a single leaf. This gave the inside of the structure a beautiful effect. Due to the deep purple coloring of the leaves it shined well and created a hazy dusk. Such beauty one would see gazing at the sunsets of the deserts of southwest America in the summertime. Instantly the effect created peace inside of Lucinda's soul.
"You came." A voice in the shadows called out to her. She turned to face the intruder of her sanctuary. He came over towards her. With the sudden movement he made shifting the vines away the lights glazed over his body adding further depth the animal like movements he made.
"Of course I did. I said I would come and I did." She said with her arms crossed over her chest. Her eyes they did not meet his. But he gazed at her through half lidded eyes. From the tips of her black cowgirl boots and up to the hem of her dress that was just above her knee. His eyes traveled further up the red, black and orange dress to her smooth and clear neck. Oh how he longed to bite, nip and suck on the unclaimed skin to take his hands and glide the jacket of hers off her shoulders by just a little allowing him to find more uncharted fields to…
"Vlad." She spoke and lost his more heated thoughts. "Please tell me that you are not thinking what I think you're thinking?" She asked him this time looking up into his eyes.
"If that you are a far more alluring temptress now that I have you to take my heart." He said this while in slow tantalizing motions pulled her closer to him. His smile growing as he leaned in closer to her and kissed her lips and attempted to kiss further down to her neck.
"Not yet Vald." She pushed him away to look at him seriously. He was miffed in a small way that he was denied something that he dearly wanted. "We still have to talk about well…about us."
"What do you want to talk about then? Certainly not a break up. Perhaps we are to talk about the way your eyes would create the most beautiful illusion of light even within the darkest of coffins?" he said casting an innocent smile her way with reward of a blush on her once pale cheeks. "Or perhaps…" Lucinda felt the weight of a pull towards the wall of leaves. Her head rested against the firm garden structure as he came closer to her not breaking contact with her eyes. There came the crackling desire lighting its way throughout their bodies waiting for that tiny spark of connection to ignite. "How the rush of blood through your veins fills me with a hunger of a different source…" A deep breath was released and then brought back in to her body giving her the strength to separate from the Count.
"I'm being serious Vlad. We need to talk about this relationship working out. I mean it is not like we can just go about this as if it can stay secret forever. My father will find out. Either he will find out on his own accord. Or he will find out with the backing of some of the most famous and infamous supernatural icons of the world. Hellboy is here and he despite my father's best attempts to hide it is really here to keep a watch on me since I started high school. He knows you have been sneaking into our house. Just not what you do when you sneak into our house. Oh god there is another reason for him to think ill of you."
"Your father will be hell bent on keeping us apart."
"You really feel the need to say that as if I don't know that?" Obviously there was a fair amount of stress starting to bubble forth inside of her. Having to keep a relationship secret from everyone you know for two months is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do. When the relationship has things in common with tragedy based plays that makes it even harder to deal with in secret. One would hope that it does not become a family tradition.
"Pentru totdeauna meu (my forever) please do not kill me if the translation is wrong. I googled it) Please calm your pulsing blood. I do not wish to get into that stage of our relationship until I know that you are ready."
"Just because I am curious about this and it will probably relax me a bit to know. What is it about blood sharing that is different from just…"
"Attacking someone or gaining it from a non-associated third person? If it is attacking or drinking from someone that has no real effect in a vampires life is just a meal. Nothing more, nothing less." She gives him a look and he corrects himself. "Usually it means nothing more or less. But blood sharing is something far more personal to us vampires. It is our way of sharing an intimacy of deep spiritual meaning of the souls."
"Is it similar to a marriage ceremony?" She asked with an absent mind as she looked at her ring finger.
"It often is the step that comes before a marriage ceremony. A step I wish to take with you one day." His eyes were smoldering as they looked at hers. No hint of a joke or tease could be seen from even the most cynical of people.
"We have only been dating two months. That's not exactly something we need to be thinking about right now." Lucinda was careful to keep her voice down but it still had a hint of a near shout. "We have time and judging by you we certainly have a good amount of time till then." She was starting to get nervous again. Dracula gathered her into his arms and held her for a second or two.
"You are right we have time. But I like you do not wish to keep what we feel for each other a secret pentru totdeauna meu. Both of us will tell your father together tonight. Gaberial will no doubt have a near heart attack from the news. But I have a serious disbelief that it will hurt the right hand of god in such a way." He said the last bit with a hint of distaste, but it disappeared when he saw the look of relief in his girlfriend's eyes.
"Are the two of you planning to tell Gabbie at dinner or after dinner?" The look of relief escaped the two of them as they now found out about two newcomers into the gazebo. Beetlejuice and Chrissa had followed Lucinda there and listened to everything that had been said between the two. "Because I would say after dinner that way everyone won't accidently choke on their food from the surprise news."
"Uncle Beetlejuice, Chrissa…Vlad, my boyfriend."
"We heard." Chrissa said as she walked over to the vampire king with her hands in the pocket of her jacket giving her an intimidating appearance. "So you're the vampire king, Dracula or Vlad as you have been going by." Her arms were now folded over her chest as she gave him the once over.
"Yes. And you are Chrissa, daughter of Hellboy and Elizabeth Sherman and someone that Lucinda speaks of fondly." His smile widened to show his eye teeth.
"Flatter maybe nice, but it's not going to get you far in this case. Mr. Van Helsing will be certain to attest to that. He also may threaten your afterlife after he finds out that you have been seeing his daughter behind his back for two months."
"It is not as if I have deflowered her without a prospect of marriage. Nor have I threatened her during the course of our relationship in any shape of manner. At least a lethal threat I have not uttered towards her."
"Might give a point, but for him giving you his okay to continue dating her. That's going to be difficult very difficult. I would say try to get her sister to help get your case some leverage, but that may be close to unlikely."
"Why didn't I think of telling Jane first!" Lucinda exclaimed as she tapped her forehead. Think could've had a V8 style. "I should talk to her. No wait I can't talk to her about this."
"Why not? She's normally a good listener." Chrissa asked.
"But she is the one who is most displeased about me going to school with the vampire king and she would be the last person to say anything good about our relationship." This realization brought Lucinda to sit upon the iron ledge in sinking morale. She could feel the cold touch of her boyfriend's hands as they grasped hers. "We must have overlooked someone to help us. Uncle Bj?"
"Forget about it Louie I'm not going to give my support to this relationship." He spoke with such affirmation that Lucinda had to do a double take. Her uncle was stone cold serious. "In fact I am going to tell your father about this as soon as we leave which is right now." Beetlejuice took hold of his niece's arm and began his march back to Doomie. Lucinda in her shock didn't give him much of a struggle. Vlad didn't try to grab her away from the ghost. He figured by doing that he would prove more of an obstacle to their relationship. He was going to bide his time and allow some cooling to be done with the family and then he shall come to Lucinda and together prove that he was not a threat to her.
Doomie nearly drove right into the family room of the house mostly due to the real driver than himself this time. Of course the near miss of his family room did not sit well with Gabriel.
"What is the meaning of nearly driving into my house again?!" He yells at the ghost. Beetlejuice doesn't respond with his usual quick wit (what he believes is quick wit) instead he floated with Lucinda in tow into the house.
"Gaberial your daughter has something to say to you." All the eyes of the house turn to look at her and well. Her tongue became tied and she couldn't seem to speak. "Fine, I'll tell him. Your daughter and that Drac brat have been secretly dating for two months." Silence as serious as a heart attack came through the room.
"Elephant in the room. Did he just say what I think he just say?" Hellboy asks while his wife looked closely at Van Helsing. His head was down to the point where you could only see the end of his chin. His face would not reveal how it felt but you can be sure that it was not going to be one of enthusiasm at the news. The in-laws were the second to break the silence with trying to calm down Charles as he felt his heart stop. The Maitland's attempted to help but soon were shouting at each other over how they could have missed that. Then Hellboy brought his gun out of the holster and wished to move from his spot but Liz kept him back forcing another argument to ensue. Lydia, while this was going on, tries to get the noise to cease was finding her own voice rising every minute. The only ones who kept quiet were Van Helsing, Beetlejuice and Lucinda.
What brought this whole circus of voices down for the count were the simple sounds of an everyday occurrence. (Ding, dong) Lydia seeing herself as the only calm one in the group fetched the door open and well it wasn't the pizza delivery guy standing there.
"I believe your husband has forgotten someone." Vald stood at the doorway with Chrissa right next to him. She did not look scared or frightened. Instead she looked bored.
"Beetlejuice you left Chrissa at the Neitherworld Mall!" Lydia shouted. A crash of a coffee cup hurdled by the force of a rushing parent could be heard as Mother and Father rushed to the door. Liz hugged her daughter and Hellboy stared at the teen vampire with a somewhat perplexed expression that was soon trigger happy.
"Are you alright Chrissa?" Her father asked. Chrissa shrugged as if it was no big deal.
"Why shouldn't I be? It's not the first time someone has left without me at a store. You left me at the cigar store alone for three hours last week." Liz looks sharply at the father of their children. Knowing he was in trouble he thanks Vlad for bringing Chrissa home and then quickly went inside to tell Van Helsing that it was Vlad at the door.
The monster hunter still in his odd expression no one could really identify, he moved silently to the door and then did something that to this day will forever be written in the history books as something truly mind numbing. Gabriel Van Helsing, former monster hunter and enemy of the big time baddies let the king of all vampires into his home. To repeat again Dracula has been invited into Van Helsing's house. Everyone stepped back in disbelief including Vlad. He entered the room a bit cautionary mind you as there were a number of individuals who were not in favor of his presence. Not that it bothered him much as there were a few who didn't. One of them his girlfriend was the one who made him feel welcomed the most.
"If you could please follow me Dracula, we have much to discuss." He said it almost civilly, but there was enough implied that it caused a shiver of fear to run through his young daughter. She was certain that her father might actually kill him.
"Do not fear for me pentru totdeauna meu, your father is not an irrational man. I will come back." It was then that Gabriel and Dracula disappeared into a room leaving everyone to speculate what has caused Gabriel's erratic behavior.