Disclaimer: Hellboy, Abe Sapien and the B.P.R.D. are owned by Mike Mignola and Dark Horse publications for the comics, and by screenwriter/director Guillermo del Toro, Revolution Studios and Universal Studios for the feature films. Only this work of fiction is mine.

The sky appeared so black above, that Hellboy would have believed himself blind, if not for the blurred dots of stars. He strained to pull himself up, but his body refused to obey. He tried to remember why he was laid out like this on the forest floor, when the inflamed pain under his left arm reminded him. His locator was signalling, but there was nothing he could do about it.

"Snakebit," he thought...That must be it. And he knew that the scaly predator was still coiled against his left side beneath his coat, keeping itself warm against the night chill. He felt the expanding muscular stretch of the creature as it adjusted for comfort. Even if he could chase it off, Hellboy would still be paralyzed here – for how long? As his mind raced for options, he found that he could, with hard concentration, move some fingers. Whatever disturbing the sleeping snake might bring, he had to take the chance. He forced his stone hand to creep with frustrating slow progress to his right waist, where the Samaritan was holstered. He managed to release the top flap and ease out the firearm. It fell to the leaf litter at his side. Now what? The trigger guard was a fit only for his left hand.

Things could turn on a dime. At sunset, he'd already been walking for some time with his tracking receiver in hand. Figuring he might finally get a signal by switching through the channels again, he'd found a fallen tree to sit on, and surprised a snake that was settling into its nighttime digs. He hadn't thought much of the blinding-fast strike until he found himself sliding, all limp, to the ground. Then the little shit had the stones to slither down into his coat and stay there.

A little more of his muscular control was returning, as he kept trying for movement. His body's recovery from the poison was taking it's sweet time, all right. Grasping the Samaritan as well as possible, he was able to push it only to the midpoint of his abdomen with his stone hand, until the weapon overturned and dropped off his left hip. Hellboy's deadly companion continued to sleep against his ribs, enjoying the heat of his skin. It sure wasn't afraid of him, and could be replenishing its supply of venom, or maybe was still well-armed. He didn't want another shot.

Hellboy's flesh hand was slowly feeling the ground to find the Samaritan and work his fingers into a grip around it, when he heard a rustling in the leaves. The misty moonlight outlined the tips of silvery wild fur, raised stiffly over the neck and shoulders of the lead wolf. Able to just raise his head, Hellboy watched it warily stalk to him with its muzzle low, nostrils twitching.

"Ah, crap," he muttered.

It's amber eyes never blinked, fixed on him while it picked up one front paw and placed it noiselessly forward. It froze with the other paw lifted when it heard Hellboy draw in a breath.

"You'll be sorry!" he scowled, with all the force of his voice. The wolf was a statue.

The rest of the pack gathered closer on silent feet with shoulders hunched forward, all intent on their alpha. The loud prey didn't run. When their leader made his move, they would join right in to finish the kill together.

"Think about it!" he yelled, ready to intimidate with whatever his body would allow. The alpha's long legs went rigid. Its ears flattened and fangs were on show. Hellboy already knew that his arm couldn't yet lift the Samaritan. But he had something else. As quickly as the wolf leaped over him, Hellboy's tail whipped a coil around its neck. The alpha's strangled yelp as it was thrashed to the ground, scattered the bewildered pack. The demon arced back his tail and pitched the captured animal high toward the wolf circle, where it crashed in a tangle of legs.

"Told ya!" he shouted after them. "Take your boss and go home!"

Hellboy congratulated himself for being a genius at ground fighting. After all the werewolves, vampires, witches, gods and hell-demons he had fought in his career, today his attackers were cute little earthly woodland critters. But damn! They were all biters.

Something mischievous was brewing in him. That snake of his was done snuggling.

His stone fingers, still less than flexible, searched his duster pocket to find a whole cigar. Hellboy's bigger hand wasn't his choice for lighting his Zippo, but he'd do it. Pulling open the hinged cover with his teeth, he got the cigar in his mouth with a little trouble and waited for the flame, his oversized finger making clumsy work of flicking the wheel against the flint. At last, he drew the smoke deeply in and exhaled the cloud with a satisfied sigh. Then, opening a gap at the left side of his coat, he blew stream after choking stream of cigar smoke into the bed of the reptile. It didn't take long before he felt the snake straighten its coils and make its lazy way up his side to raise the edge of the heavy fabric, where its triangular head emerged into fresh air. Its belly scales undulating across his shirt, it slithered down his other side to the ground and disappeared into the dark low foliage.

He found he could almost bend his legs. Helluva snake. Now he had a freed up locator, and could just reach it.

"Uh – I have a little problem..."

Hellboy spent two hours in the Bureau's medical wing with Abe Sapien hovering until he was back to normal, and pestering him for the full story.

"I refuse to believe that it's too embarrassing for you to give all the details, Red," Abe insisted, as the best friends left the wing together.

"Yeah, it is. The smallest normal being I ever crossed, flattened me!"

"But from a medical standpoint, I'm practically your physician!"

Hellboy grinned. "Okay, Brother. See, here's why I'll never go camping without a cigar..."