Disclaimer: Hellboy, Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien and the BPRD are owned by Mike Mignola and Dark Horse Publications for the comics, and by Guillermo Del Toro, Revolution and Universal Studios for the feature films. Only the story is mine.
A/N: This is a new expanded re-write, because the chapter really needed improvement.
Here it was, the day of first experiences that Hellboy had never before faced – but without a second of hesitation, he realized that he'd always wanted this. Best thing to do was to throw himself right into all of it, he figured, no matter how much it scared him.
It scared him that he might be too clumsy to handle his newborn twins, on his first full day of living with them in his previous bachelor pad. He'd learned over the hours not to rely on Liz to remind him of some things that were mostly common sense. Their baby son Trevor, was of course, named after Pop. Their new daughter was called Gentan, just because they liked the name. His Babe, Liz – was doing a pretty good job of hiding that she was a little scared, too. He was in awe of her courage for having given birth to their infants, and he needed her not to be afraid, now.
Red closely watched Liz doing the 'maintenance' care that needed constant repeats. It hadn't all flown out of his head. He'd paid attention to nurse Sheila McEvoy's practical training sessions in the weeks before the births. A lot more than Liz, he was the one who had to be shown the correct way to hold a life-sized baby doll, how to give bottle feedings, how to do the bathing and change the diapers. Everything was so damned small! He tried to think of ways to perform those soft tasks without the need to use the rough stone of his right hand. Home was no place to show that frustration. He'd figure it out. This tiny girl and boy who had just entered his world, had put a kink in his confidence, like nothing else could ever do.
But he was great at one thing. And it made Liz look just as pleased as if he had been taking over half of everything there was to do. Red carried a little blanket with him all the time. For the fourth time that day, he wrapped up his stone hand, leaned into the cribs, and carefully took both babies into his arms to the truck bed. Setting them down on the pillows, he lay close beside, propped up on his right elbow. And he just stared. All lost in wonder and fascination at his children, who were mostly human, and a quarter of – him. His heart swelled with the pure fact that they had come, were right here in front of him. Their little round sleeping faces were coloured not quite as deeply as his own red, and under the gentle touch of his fingertips, they were so soft, so smooth and soft.
Liz had crept silently over the bed to join him.
"See how they turn their heads when you touch?" she whispered.
Red smiled and nodded. "It means they're looking for a breast."
Taking care not to wake them, Liz slipped off the babies' cotton caps, bringing a broader smile from her husband. He smoothed down the peaks of fine fuzz that promised to grow into the rich black that he and Liz shared.
"They're going to have your ears, Babe."
"No," she teased, "I still see the little points."
Together, they loosened the swaddling from their babies' arms, to uncover four irresistible tiny hands barely peeping out of flannel sleeves. A reverent joy filled them as they caressed and studied pudgy curled fists, tender and dimpled, and admired the perfection of dainty fingers tipped with miniscule nails. The little ones became restless, uttering breathy newborn grunts. Picked up and held against their parents' chests, the twins signalled their readiness to eat, with thready little cries.
"Right on time," said Liz, as Red helped her off the bed's tailgate. They headed together for the bottle station. Cuddling both babies, Red returned his wife's smile as she took bottles of formula from the warmer.
He kissed their fragrant, fuzzy heads, murmuring, "I've never done anything better than this."
Now that it was officially the very first evening, both Liz and Hellboy were apprehensive that a separate test of hours had begun – and the difference from every other brand new challenge of this first day was – that they were to try to sleep intermittently through the night.
With the slumbering babies' cribs close by, the new parents kept awkwardly alert. As they sat up in bed together at this very early evening hour, they felt delighted, but again, a little scared.
"We're gonna laugh at ourselves after we get easy with this." Red drew her head to rest on his shoulder.
"I know it's paranoid, but I don't feel right, sleeping," Liz worried, "They'll be up early, and before that, they need feeding every two hours."
"We'll take turns," he comforted, setting the alarm clock to buzz.
But attuned to every sound, real or imagined, the parents' nervous sleep was broken until there seemed no point in trying. They stayed awake, seated on the tailgate under a blanket, to watch over the cribs. It was just too exciting - this new, intense love. They accomplished all the feedings in the soothing semi-darkness, moving from the bed to the couches.
By the middle of the night, Red had lost his self doubts. Holding Trevor on his shoulder, he tapped and rubbed his little back until he heard a small gurgle.
"That's my boy," he smiled.
They again put the content babies back into their cribs, and Red pulled up chairs so he and Liz could sit close by and watch them sleep.
"When Pop found me," Hellboy said quietly, "I was already pretty fast, he told me, and I could jump and climb like a cat."
"I've heard," his wife acknowledged, "The professor and I had some talks over the years. But you were more of a toddler, not a newborn?"
"I don't know," he shrugged. "How could anybody know?"
"So, we have an idea what to expect?" Liz peered closer into the cribs.
"Geez, I wish."
Liz was grateful for HQ staff nurse Sheila's assignment to visit, monitor and provide instruction. Sheila was likewise glad and intrigued to be chosen to help Liz with the care of such unique infants, but it took her a little while to be comfortable in Hellboy's presence. The first time she had ever seen the Bureau's star investigator, he'd been running hard through a corridor, chasing some creature that had escaped a laboratory. She clearly remembered his booming voice as he shouted for everyone to get out of his way, his ferocious expression, and the oversized firearm in his huge stone hand. It had taken her several minutes to stop shaking.
But for a demon, he was friendly enough, and Sheila found him to be as willing a father as she had ever seen. He couldn't have known that his initial impression on her had been seen as so barbaric. Liz greeted her one day as she arrived, and pointed to the couch, where Hellboy was quite at ease with his own inventive solution for feeding both babies at the same time. Sheila walked over to evaluate. With the twins reclined inside his right arm, Red held one formula bottle in his flesh hand, and the other in a coil of his agile tail. He grinned up at the nurse.
"How am I doin', Sheila?"
"Um - everybody looks happy!"
In a month, the twins' own hands were clutching their bottles, and caving them in with the strength of their grips. When Liz' long hair came under attack in the unrelenting pull of little fingers, she needed Hellboy to tease open the baby fists.
"Oohh," she moaned, rubbing her head, "I should cut my hair."
"No, don't do that, Liz," Red implored, holding their daughter a safe distance away. "Keep it, but just tie it back?"
His eyes were so earnest, she nodded to agree. Since they were both looking more wrung out by their 'round the clock child care duties, she did want to hang onto every bit of attractiveness possible. She was feeling a little dumpy, less the sleek sylph that she used to be.
Sheila came bearing a gift in a small shopping cart, and introduced Red to a device custom made for him.
"And what's this?" he asked with amused suspicion, holding up the weighty apparatus of thick straps and fitted panels, "you gonna put me in harness?"
"Well, yes," she smiled. "It goes like this -" and she put his arms through a wide pair of padded nylon straps, arranging them to lie on his shoulders, with reinforcement panels covering him like a ballistic vest. She brought two strap sets forward, and snapped the ends together at his chest and waist. He looked at Liz, then back at Sheila.
"This is made to hold two framed nylon seats, so you can carry the twins in front. Do you like it?"
"I'm going to try it out right now!" he exclaimed.
Liz watched closely as her husband firmly slotted the baby seats into the chest panel. She brought Gentan to him and lowered her carefully into one seat, adjusting her legs and tail through the openings.
Sheila balanced the load by setting Trevor into the adjoining carrier.
"They can ride facing out, the way they are now, or facing you," Sheila explained. "Either position, they have the comfort of hearing your heartbeat."
Convinced of the carrier's strength, Red turned to his wife.
"I'm going for a walk, Liz." He patted her cheek. "Take a nap."
Liz and Sheila watched him leave, then looked at each other, giggling.
"I'm not strong enough for that," Liz said, "and hopefully, will never get so wide. Now, I'm really looking forward to that nap."
The women said their goodbyes, and Liz slid gratefully under her blankets.
Striding through the corridors, Hellboy found that he really liked this hands free way of carrying the kids. They could move their arms and legs as they pleased, and he could breathe in the nice soap scent of their hair. As he strolled, they seemed to pay attention to the inflections of his voice while he explained the surroundings to them.
Crap. There was Agent Brown, hurrying up to him. Clingy, nosey and gabby, he could do without.
"Oh! Hellboy! Can I see, please?" she asked excitedly, as four gold-brown wide eyes stared back at the sharpness of her voice. She cooed over their wealth of black hair and the style of their sleepers. She wasn't sure how else she should comment about the babies' smooth red complexions, their little tails contentedly curling, and small forming buds of horns. "Just so precious!" she complimented. "Where do you take them around here?"
"They just like to be on the move," Red answered, as she fell into step beside him.
"There isn't much here, to interest babies, I'm afraid."
"Think they know the difference?" He wished she'd get lost.
"Where are you going, now?"
"Maybe the transport garage."
"Why there?" she asked.
"Cause they haven't seen it yet."
"Well, how old are they now?"
"Just hit six weeks," replied the father.
Agent Brown's eyebrows shot up as she silently estimated the weight of each child to be some twenty pounds.
"They are big, aren't they?"
"Not to me."
"Oh, of course not!" Brown blushed at her own ineffectual attempts to keep up the small talk. "You must have been-"
"Yeah, I must have," he interrupted flatly, throwing a big wave to a couple of mechanics up ahead. "Gotta leave."
"Hey, Red!" The men were on the approach.
Sensing that more questions would be unwelcome, Brown went on her way.
Reaching Hellboy, mechanic Marquez took a good look, and doubled over.
"Mano, I am never going to your tailor!"
Red burst out laughing nearly as hard, but the kids didn't seem to mind.
"You're wearing a 'Spud' creation," offered Chadwick, making a circle around Red. "Did he sign it?"
"I might just get him to do that. Is he in?"
They ambled into Transport, to Spud Andersen's office. When he looked up from his desk, the sight of Red and babies took the big Swede millwright by surprise.
"Got a minute?" grinned the demon.
More staffers gathered around to see him and check out the twins. That was time well spent, but Red decided that the big garage smelled too much of fuel and paint, and headed elsewhere.
The best place would be the library, to get in a visit with Uncle Abe.
Abe Sapien set down his reading as he saw his friend come through the tall golden doors with his children fixed onto his chest.
"Well, that is ingenious! Tell me about – um.." he faltered.
"I don't know what to call it," Red answered. "Good gift from our nurse."
They chose to sit on the steps below the inviting fireplace. Red carefully checked for the safety of his kids' dangling legs.
"You are quite the natural father, Red," Abe smiled. "They are so serene with you."
"That won't last much longer." Red nodded knowingly to his best friend. "Time for chow is coming soon."
Trevor and Gentan dozed as the men caught up with each other.
"I had a month to learn this much of the ropes. I got the word. Pretty soon, Liz will have to be on her own at home."
"Oh, but not all on her own," the merman began. "There is-"
Abe's duty alarm suddenly sounded with its repetitive low buzz and flashing blue light. As the babies became instantly restless at the new noise, Red covered their ears.
Abe called to him, "Red, you're needed, too!"
"Aw, crap!" Sensing their father's agitation, the twins began to whine.
Hellboy jumped up to leave the library and get on his way home, restricting his walk to a fast, smooth stride, with the babies at full howl.
"Dad has to go to work, Babes," he apologized, "Could you pleeease keep it down, just a little?"