A/N: Unstoppable little investigator that she is, Liz and Hellboy's daughter discovers how to apply a useful paranormal ability. But it could take some time to get it right. Her twin brother is not impressed. [If you please, read and review.]
Gentan left her own bedroom with a plan to visit Trevor down the hall. Not a sisterly afternoon visit, really – she was after something else. His door was half open for a change, and his electric guitar was silent.
"Shssh!" Her twin brother walked part way to meet her. "Don't be so loud. Close the door. Mom is sleeping."
"I have to show you something!"
Trevor tilted a wary expression at her state of enthusiasm. "What, this time?"
"I need your big mirror again," she said, proceeding straight to business. "You should let me take it to my room." She pulled the wheeled stand away from the wall to the area of most light and adjusted the frame position to reflect her in full length. "Okay, I'm ready," she announced, but her intended audience had wandered away to resume his previous activity of re-stringing his instrument.
"Trev, you can do that after. Come here."
"Come look at this," she insisted.
Her twin moved at a glacial pace to her side and tossed a disinterested glance at her and her mirrored image.
"Trev, don't look like that! I know you watch yourself pretending rock star with your guitar!"
"You're always telling me what to do," Trevor grumbled. "And you're always studying weird stuff that nobody asked you to do!"
"Be nice, and look here," she beckoned, sweetening her tone. "Remember about my glamour?"
"No, because nothing happened." He noted her dressed in a regular shirt and jeans, nothing special, unclear what else he should see.
"I'm learning how to do it. Look."
"That's what you said last time," Trevor droned, then lurched to attention. "What did you do to the mirror? Change it back!"
But now he had to look. His sister was very still, keeping her spooky glazed stare straight ahead on her reflection and smiling at herself.
"Do you see?" she asked.
"You look like Mom!" Trevor yelped his discovery, "but not old like her." Coming nearer, he looked from the mirror's surface to his twin. He was himself, but her face had gone from red to almost white. "You have no more horns. What did you do?"
"Look, now look at my back!" Gentan ordered, gleeful shivers overtaking her.
"You're bossy. Did you know that?" Trevor retorted with one of his mother's oft-used expressions.
"Just look! Tell me what you see!"
Trevor sighed, giving her his report of the obvious. "Your tail. Like always."
"Crap! Crap!" Gentan spouted, snatching up the end of her tail and glaring as though it had just grown onto her body.
"You're sick!" pronounced her brother. "Don't give it to me."
Gentan shot another look into the mirror, uttering a deflated gasp at her failure to hold the glamour.
"I wanna tell you more -" she entreated.
"No!" Trevor shot back, feeling he'd played her incomprehensible game long enough.
"Just listen! It's about magic. It's about what we can do, better than-"
"Stop it, and go away!"
"No! It's a good thing!" Gentan pressed, staying her ground. "And it's fun!"
Trevor tired of her pesty persuasion and turned his back, but she drew close behind him.
"We're only seven years old, and look what we can do!" she persisted, downright evangelical.
"I still think you're weird."
"I won't tell Mom," she promised playfully, poking his shoulder. "C'mon, do it."
Why he obeyed when he didn't care to, was something else he didn't know. Maybe it would make her happy enough to go away. He raised his cupped hands to cover his mouth, and within seconds, thin blue flames licked through his fingers. His showman emerged as he rearranged his child's gaze into ominous narrowed coals, glowering above his fingertips, while Gentan giggled with delight at the display. He lowered his hands and drew a full breath into his mouth, pulling in and extinguishing his fire.
"You have magic, too," she held out, hoping to bring him around.
"Mom doesn't say that."
"If you studied more about everything, more than just music, you would know that nobody else but you and Mom can do that, just like what I can do now!" Her frustration with his dense refusal to understand the priceless knowledge she offered, made her forget to whisper. "I can teach you, when I get really good!"
"Teach me what?"
"How to do glamour. You could get another kind of face, everything!"
"I like my face the way it is."
She petulantly rolled her demon-hybrid eyes at having to revisit all she had confided days before, and now, she couldn't resist impressing him with something new. "Tell me what Daddy looks like!" she challenged.
Trevor frowned, sensing another browbeating to come. "Dad looks like – Dad."
"Do you see that he really has long, long horns and a king's crown with fire on his head?"
"No!" His resentment of her shocking claim and boastful attitude was building to a point of near combustion. But he held it down, as Mom had warned he must.
"I see it. You can't because Daddy has magic and glamour. I can help you to see it."
Certain only that he didn't want any of this, Trevor hardened his young features into a mask of annoyance and disbelief, and whipped his tail in angry arcs.
"All the books say that I mature faster than you because I'm a girl!" Gentan argued, her voice rising with conviction. "That means you aren't as smart as me now, but I can teach you about our magic, and who Daddy really is!"
"Shut up!" Trevor exploded, aware that he had been the butt of a condescending insult. "Go away!"
Both children abruptly froze silent at a hard rap on the door. Their father entered and stood like a tower, crossing his arms.
"What's the yelling about?" No hint of humour softened his calmly delivered demand.
"Just a game, Daddy," Gentan smiled sweetly, unconcerned with what he might have overheard of her personal mission. "We thought you were out."
"I was out," Hellboy said, his eyes methodically roving the room, "but not far away." Finding no singeing or wreckage, he settled on his twins. Trevor's expression had gone from stormy to dejected, while Gentan continued to hold her smile until her cheeks hurt.
"Mom's taking a nap," she chirped helpfully. He nodded, but went on studying them as his silence drew heavily on. Gentan squirmed. Trevor simply stood looking back at him, a wounded spirit.
Finally he spoke, weighting each word. "Before you fight, come see me first."
The children stood motionless, digesting. It didn't feel like a threat to punish, just a little scary in a strange way. Gentan attempted to charm away the unease with her most adoring smile.
"Can I go, now, Daddy?" Slipping out and behind her father, she turned to make a swift, catty gesture to Trevor, pointing her index fingers high up from her temples.
Set up to stare searchingly at his father, Trevor felt reasonably sure that he would never see him as anything different than now.
"I'm going to ask her, too," Hellboy said evenly. "What was going on here?"
Trevor looked down at the floor to sort his thoughts. There was so much to say, but he muttered only, "She said she was smarter than me."
"M-hm. Does that bother you?"
"No." Trevor raised a sombre face. "Do I get trouble?"
"No trouble," Hellboy assured. "Anything you wanna tell me?"
"No trouble." He smiled at his son and waited for the cloud to lift. "Catch ya later."
Hellboy went next to the master bedroom to find his wife, who wasn't there. Going from the hallway into the living room, Hellboy started as a voice piped up, "Looking for me?"
"Always," he grinned, seeing Liz pop her head up over the back of a couch.
"I fell asleep," she said, sitting up and sliding aside for him. When he joined her, she fell to regarding him with a darkly seductive gaze. Appreciating one of her best attractions, he smiled and let himself be lost awhile in the welcoming lure of her eyes. She sidled up closer.
"You have the look," she whispered, hooking a hand over his shoulder, "of a man who's been dispensing sage wisdom."
He threw her a wry little double take. "I never had to, until I got women."
Her eyes crinkled at his wit. "What's been happening?"
"Not sure. I heard them in his room. Cats and dogs. He's not saying much, but I get the idea that his sister is walking all over him."
"That's been - fairly constant of her lately, in spite of me taking her aside. She's pretty smug about being ahead of her school year, and Trevor. Poor little guy."
"He's my big seven year old. I won't let him feel like a 'poor little guy'."
"Right," Liz agreed. "Good."
"I'm going to ask you to find out what's turning Genny into a mean girl, Babe, while I take care of the other half."
"I'll get right on it, Lover," she vowed, and shut her eyes, mentally lining up the possible complications. The interruption of his parting kiss on her forehead nicely surprised her. Liz then sat puzzling over why her husband had grabbed a seat cushion from the couch and gone off again towards the hallway. Scant moments later, she watched Red, Trevor and the cushion pass by her seated position and heard her son's "Bye, Mom," before the duo headed out the door.
"Dad, I like when we go up here. Are you going to smoke?" Trevor asked as he preceded his father climbing upward on a semi-dark spiral staircase.
"What about it?" Hellboy chuckled.
"I wanna try it, too."
"Not a good idea at your age, or mine, either."
"Then why do you do it?" They arrived at the rooftop door. Trevor stepped outside, eager to be part of this special place again, just him and Dad.
"It's kinda stupid, but I like it anyway."
"You're not stupid, Dad."
"Well, I've done some stupid stuff in my time, but thanks, Son."
Hellboy handed Trevor the thick square cushion, then himself took a seat at the edge of the roof's sheer drop. Placing the cushion next to his father, the youngster sat a little taller, kicking the brick wall below with the heels of his runners.
"We could play catch here, and bat some balls to all the way out there!" he crowed, pointing.
"Not here. See why?" Hellboy asked, lighting up a cigar.
"Maybe falling off," Trevor acknowledged, "and losing the baseballs. Not good."
"And maybe bonking somebody down there, in the head," added his father.
Continuing the rhythmic muted thumping of his shoes, Trevor watched his Dad with a kind of fascination, until he looked back at him.
"I like watching all the cars and trucks, from up this high," Trevor enthused, "Where are they all going?"
"Maybe to New York, or Connecticut, lots of places."
"I want to go lots of places, too."
"Yeah, when you can drive."
"I'll have a garbage truck, like you!"
Hellboy chuckled. "The truck isn't as much fun as it looks."
"A helicopter," he suggested, as he stopped kicking and pulled his shoulders up to his ears.
"It's just the wind."
Hellboy gave a light tap to Trevor's back. "Com'ere."
Scooped against his father's warm side, Trevor sensed this was different from the way that Genny got next to Dad. Now, the big stone hand was resting lightly on his shoulder as Dad drew on his cigar and looked out over the early summer scenery. Trevor rocked onto his palms and stared forward as well. It was a thing men did, Trevor had seen around the Bureau, to hit each other a little bit before they showed that they really liked the other guy. Only, Dad had to be more careful because he was so strong. Dad had told him that it wasn't a thing to do to Mom or Genny, or any girls, so it was just for him and Dad. Trevor liked it that way.
Wordless long minutes went by as Trevor took in the outdoor sights of the city. The limits of the view didn't matter. Pigeons. There were lots of pigeons who never flew in the blowing treetops like other birds but instead, they liked walking among the miniature-sized pedestrians on the sidewalks below. Some of them were walking dogs on leashes. All kinds of dogs. He counted all the windows he could see in the tall apartment building one street over.
Then side by side, father and son began to talk over whatever Trevor wanted to lead into, making face contact only intermittently. He didn't know why, but he felt much better like this, than when most people sitting or standing opposite him wanted him to talk, except for Fletch. But that was talk with his favourite teacher about learning his guitar, and it was easy.
"You don't ask me what I'm thinking about, like Mom does," he suddenly decided to say.
"I figure you'll tell me - if you want to."
"I don't know what to say when she asks me. Then she waits and waits."
"She asks me too, sometimes. And then she finds out there isn't much in here," Dad grinned, his finger tapping his head. Trevor laughed out loud, along with his father. "But I like it because Mom loves us and she asks because she's interested in us, and she's supposed to be, you know?"
Trevor appeared to look blankly ahead, but nodded. Hellboy could almost hear the head gears whirring before his son broached glumly, "It's not like that when Genny does it."
"That's 'cause she's a little kid. It takes everybody time to learn about all the right ways to treat each other."
"Me, too, I guess," Trevor sighed.
"Aw, you're doing all right."
"She tells me things about us, and you – and it makes me feel bad."
"Yeah, like that you really look all different to her, but I'm not smart enough to see, so she'll teach me."
"Our family isn't like everybody else you've seen around here, that's for sure," Dad told him frankly. "If you ever want to know why, I'll tell you when you're older." Then, he let his eyes speak his promise to understand and protect. "Right now, you only have to be a kid, have fun, and you don't need to think about what Genny says."
"She talks like there's nothing important but magic, and that word I can't remember." Trevor's memory banks blew open. "She can make herself almost look like Mom, except she has spots all over, and she doesn't want her tail anymore..." Hellboy steeled himself as his son's interpretations tore at his insides. He could make sense enough of what Gentan was up to, and the burden she was piling on her brother. He listened without interruption or overt reaction to Trevor's account until he finished with, "but that's her right to free speech. She doesn't like me anymore, and I don't like her."
"Ohh, boy," Red muttered under his breath. Then he gripped the back of Trevor's shirt and thankfully heard him laugh as he gave him a couple of playful sideways shakes.
"You guys not liking each other, could change back any time. Getting hungry?"
Trevor's eyes gleamed at the prospect of supper. He gave his father a companionable push back before the two stood up and headed to the access door.
Red kept Trevor at his back as they descended the narrow iron steps.
"The right to free speech, huh?" His voice echoed slightly in the stairwell silo.
"That's from civics, Dad."
"Good job. Grab me if I fall?"
"Haha, good luck with that!"
"Haha, smartass, we're both in trouble! Got Mom's cushion all dirty."
Liz hadn't expected an easy time with Gentan, having no idea what awaited her as she stood outside her iron-willed daughter's bedroom door. She knocked and called her name.
"Mom, don't come in!"
"Because I haven't got it right, yet – but almost."
"Genny, I'm ready to respect your privacy sometimes, but you have to tell me about important things. That's our rule."
"You'll be mad!"
"Oh, now I am coming in." Liz hoped as she pushed against the door, that her husband's edict to the kids would hold firm – there was never to be disrespect or violence of any kind against their mother. For Hellboy, it was imperative instruction after Gentan had proven she was capable of striking him in anger. She had acted under Azzael's retreating influence, but it was a fact nonetheless.
"Okay!" came Gentan's plaintive answer. "I'll show you, Mom..."
As Liz stepped into the room, she stopped short and immediately fought to hold her reactions in check. It had to be her daughter she beheld, now a partially pale-skinned child version of herself, who stood proudly looking back at her. Speechless, Liz approached, calming herself against betraying her inner alarm.
"Mom, I'm doing it better, the more I practice. It's the best thing I ever found!"
"Really?.." Liz said wanly, "turn around?" She studied Gentan clad in her short nightdress. Some large patches of her naturally reddish skin were still visible on her pale back and legs, and a lower portion of her tail was invisible. Then the girl ran to her wall mirror and began probing at her brow. "They're coming back," she sighed at the reappearance of her horns, and stood watching as the pale flesh tone gradually receded from her face.
"It's glamour," Gentan announced. "I know you and Daddy know what that is."
"We know," Liz admitted, "and how do you?"
"Don't be mad."
"I won't. Go ahead."
"I found your passwords for your work reports. And I read about the troll market, and glamour and magic people. I'm like Daddy, so I can have glamour, too."
Liz sat on Gentan's bed to hide the weakness in her knees.
"Why..do you want glamour?"
"Because Daddy has it. I can see him, though, but Trevor can't. I tried to tell him."
Liz admirably kept her outward composure as she absorbed the truth of the new reality her child had brought to their lives. Wasn't it a kind of genius? Gentan began to babble excitedly over her discovery, her thoughts unarranged now that she had a willing audience. Liz turned out her palms, gesturing for her daughter to settle down. Now that it had begun, she must see it through. She was already sadly acquainted with Gentan's absolute belief in and love for her father as Anung un Rama. A hope began to form in Liz that maybe, her daughter's new obsession might lead her away from her susceptibility to the draw of Azzael. Though the elder demon prince hadn't made himself known for the past year, Hellboy had never relaxed his guard over their family.
Liz sat back against the bookcase headboard, certain that she had mastered herself as she smiled across the room at her daughter. Gentan came at a run towards her and climbed eagerly onto her bed to snuggle next to her.
"Mom!" she exclaimed breathlessly, grabbing a purple stuffed rabbit to hug hard. "When I make my glamour perfect, I could go out to real school! I can go to all the places on TV, movies and the internet, and meet those people, and do anything I want!"
Seeking the positives, Liz had to admire Gentan's perseverance and consistent belief in her own abilities. "And who would you like to meet?"
"The President and his kids, and Wolverine! I made a list."
"Of course you have," Liz mused. She then listened to the torrent of Gentan's considered rationale, and found some of it sound to a point. She had intellectually theorized what glamour could do for her, but had assumed that it was hers to command. She was only partly wrong about that, since there was no denying that she had amazingly accomplished this degree of cover.
As her mind churned, a mythological tale stored away in the reaches of her memory floated up and caught Liz by surprise. Pandora's Box. She dared not mention it to Gentan. She would search it and suspect that she was being compared to the fictional woman responsible for opening the prohibited enchanted box which released all evils into the world. Liz would never give her that reason.
"Now, I have a list, too," advised Liz as Gentan lounged beside her. "One. Because you're still a little girl, though an unbelievably ingenious girl who can find her way into anything, you have a lot more to learn about how glamour works before you're ready to try it outside. Two. You won't push this at Trevor, because he has a right to his own interests, and this isn't one of them."
"Mom, those are more rules," Gentan sighed.
"Three. Your Dad and I will do whatever it takes to keep Trevor and you safe. You won't keep secrets about the glamour from me and your father. Nobody lives without rules. You need our help and experience to have what you want, and you'll have to promise me that you understand the rules and will live by them – and with the right cooperative attitude."
"I understand. I promise." She sat up to show a sincerely serious face to her mother. But the next moment, she rejoiced, "Nobody will see the real me when I make my glamour perfect!"
"You're making me think that you don't like the real you." The complexity of her daughter's future plan began to weigh inescapably on Liz.
Gentan felt her mother's concern about to dampen her giddy mood, and scooted up close to her.
"I am happy to look like me and like Daddy, because he's big and strong, and I love him so much," Gentan said with a fond glow. She reached up to pet her mother's cheek. "And I like to look pretty just like you, too, Mom, and now I can." The tender sentiment undercut by shallow feeling flattery, made Liz smile politely.
"How did this happen so soon, Babe?"
"Life would be a lot simpler if we could just forbid our enterprising girl from going more paranormal."
"Ahh, I already know she'd never accept that, not from you, not from me."
"So, I had nothing except to make a comprehensive deal with our near eight year old child."
"To stop being mean to Trevor?"
"That's the easy one. Once she gets her human cover glamour under control, she's going places."
"We can't keep her here forever. She's writing her own ticket. If it takes her until eighteen, might not be the worst thing."
"Until eighteen? You're dreaming, Lover."
"Yeah, dreaming. Wishing that she'd picked up a guitar, too."