A/N: Anastasia Bransfield is a canon character created by Christopher Golden who appeared in two of his Hellboy novelizations (see The Lost Army and The Dragon Pool). She is mentioned once in the comics (see Abe Sapien: The Drowning) and is also mentioned in Hellboy's biography in The Companion. There are slight spoilers for The Lost Army and The Dragon Pool in this, but nothing major.
Originally posted under a different account and written in October 2009. Cover art by persephohi on DeviantArt.
Feel For You
Somehow or other, he had found himself in the same situation... again.
Hellboy wondered briefly how it was that every five years or so, give or take a few here and there, some peculiarity or other would crop up that would make Anastasia turn to him for help again. It didn't seem to matter how much time had passed between them since the last time. She'd call him up as if it were only yesterday they had last spoken to each other, tell him what was up, and he'd just pack a few essentials and set off to find her. Nothing to it.
He supposed it must be the universe's way of torturing him. "It's been a while since he's last seen her," those superior beings probably mused from up high on their little perches. "Let's stir up her dig and have him run halfway across the world to help her."
Which was almost exactly what had happened this time around. He'd been in Libya with Clark and Waller when he got her call. Needless to say, he'd immediately set off to find her in New Zealand. At least it wasn't in Egypt or the Himalayas this time—giant spiders and dragon kings he could very well do without.
And to think that it was his job that was supposed to be this exciting. How she stumbled upon these things on her own accord, he would never know. He didn't want to think of her as a living magnet that attracted them, but he had to admit that she went asking for trouble every time some new, exotic legend had sparked her interest.
So it was that when he'd finally arrived at the excavation site, and she had turned around to greet him, her strawberry blond hair glinting in the sunlight and her smile widening at the sight of him, his heart felt like it had nearly been cleaved in two. Damn her and what she did to him. He thought he'd gotten over that effect she had on him.
"I'm so glad you're here," she said warmly, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tightly. "It's been so long."
"Too long." He had to remember to swallow as he carefully put his arms around her and hugged her back. "It's great to see you again, Stasia."
"It's great to see you too." She drew back to look at him with a large smile. "You haven't changed a bit."
"Neither have you," he replied steadily, though it was more a lie than the truth. She was growing older; it was blatantly apparent. Her eyes and lips crinkled with faint wrinkles like the last time he'd seen her, only more pronounced. She even had a few streaks of grey in her hair this time around.
He didn't want to think about how old she might be the next time he'd see her—if he'd see her again.
"Come on," she said then, taking her hand in his and leading him towards the tents. "We've been waiting for you. Griff's the one who saw them, so he ought to be the one to tell you first-hand what happened."
The situation was grave—innocent people had died—but he couldn't help but notice how frail and small her hand was in his. Time passed far too quickly for someone who hadn't changed in over half a century. He resisted the urge to squeeze her hand as he let her lead him inside, and she pulled the tent flap back for him to enter first.
He nodded politely to the few people who had already gathered. After the necessary introductions were over and done with, he opted to sit on the other side of the tent. Anastasia sat across from him, beside Griff, who cleared his throat importantly and began to explain what had happened two days ago.
But Hellboy's mind began to wander after the first few sentences. It didn't help that Griff's voice was an annoying mumble that quickly got on his nerves. He had to clench his teeth together to stifle a yawn, and he saw Anastasia's lips quirk slightly in amusement. He flashed her a quick grin and winked, then immediately chastised himself for doing so.
He knew that they shouldn't encourage each other—they'd agreed on it the last time they'd met, after all—but that didn't stop the pang of nostalgia as he openly stared at her from across the room. He found it more difficult than ever to pay attention to Griff's droning monotone as he explained what they'd be up against.
For Hellboy recalled hot summer nights when the only cover they had was the canopy of the stars above them, cold winters wrapped up in parkas and furs and each other's warmth, long and exhausting days of digging and poring over old manuscripts (though he did not participate in the latter with much enthusiasm), with only the occasional phone call to drag them out of their dreamland and bring them back to reality.
He started violently, causing the edge of the tent to rustle behind him. "What?" he said quickly, looking around the room at large. He avoided looking at Anastasia.
Griff's eyes narrowed in disapproval. "Did you even hear what I just said?"
No, I didn't, because I was too busy admiring Stasia from across the room to listen to a Maori legend I already know about, you damn bastard.
"Sure I did," Hellboy drawled with a lazy flick of his tail. "So when do we get cracking already? I'm on a tight schedule, you know."
Griff blinked, raising a grizzled brow, but decided to let the matter slide as he proceeded to explain the outline of their plan.
Across the room, Anastasia's eyes caught Hellboy's again. They exchanged a glance—it was only a glance—and the pang of nostalgia returned.
Her lips quirked into a mischievous, knowing grin. His returning smirk, however, was more like a grimace of pain.
If only he still wasn't in love with her.