Hellboy hadn’t bothered to look over at Myers as the young FBI agent delivered his breakfast. Something in John’s voice, however, made him look at his ‘babysitter’ closely.
“You okay, Squirt?” He asked, watching from the shadows as Myers fussed with setting out the food.
“Oh, I’m fine, Red,” John responded easily. “Just overslept is all.”
Only because he was watching carefully did Hellboy notice that Myers’ hands were shaking. The sight disturbed him more than he thought it would. Since Liz had left – again – he’d been spending a lot of time with Myers… and finding he didn’t miss Liz nearly as much as he thought he would.
“Uh-huh,” Hellboy grunted in reply. Gently pushing a pregnant tabby out of his way, he lumbered over to the chow. “Oatmeal again? Sheesh. Don’t those idiots in the kitchen know I’m a demon, not a horse?”
“Sorry, Red,” John said apologetically, Hellboy’s quip not even producing a hint of a smile.
HB circled Myers. Something was off - the young man’s boyish good looks were frayed around the edges and there were dark circles under his eyes. Or, rather, a circle under his eye. The agent moved so that Hellboy could only see the one side of him, fueling the growing feeling that something was terribly wrong.
“At least tell me you brought the maple syrup,” Hellboy whined. With a grace learned from his cats, he prowled closer to Myers.
“Right here, Red,” John assured him, holding up a gallon container of Mrs. Butterworth’s.
“Gotcha,” Hellboy crowed. Darting forward, he grabbed John’s arm, infinitely careful for all that he was using his massive stone hand.
“Red, what are you doing?” John asked, voice rising as struggled to break Hellboy’s grip.
“You’ve never lied to me before, Squirt,” Hellboy explained. “Kinda like to nip that type of behavior in the bud.”
As he spoke, HB slowly and inexorably pulled Myers into the light. For all his FBI training, John was incapable of stopping him. Agent or no, Myers was still human – no match against the strength of a determined demon.
While he positioned John so he could get a good look at him, Hellboy noticed Myers continued keeping his face turned to the side. “Nah-huh, not this time, pal.” He reached out with his free hand and gently tilted the agent’s face so that he could see it.
The whole left side of John’s face was purple. Hellboy winced. His own skin didn’t exactly bruise, but he’d been battered enough during his missions for the BPRD that he could certainly sympathize.
“I ran into a door,” John explained defensively, not waiting for the demon to ask.
Disappointed in the agent, HB shook his head. “Try again, buddy boy. I know people tend to look at my pretty face and think that nothing that looks this good could possibly be intelligent, but I’m no dummy.” His voice became steely. “What happened to you?”
“I. Ran. Into. A. Door.” Jon repeated belligerently as he could, considering he was dangling in the grip of a 6’9” demon.
Hellboy growled and snapped his tail. He *really* didn’t like being lied to. The sound abruptly stopped, however, as he realized that John was gasping in pain. He looked at where his hand gripped Myers’ arm. Okay, he’d tightened his grip a bit because he was angry, but it should be nowhere *near* tight enough to hurt anybody, even a fragile human.
“What’s goin’ on here?” HB asked under his breath. Shifting his grip, Hellboy pushed the fabric of Myers’ sleeve out of the way and took a closer look. More bruises. This time, in the shape of a hand.
Or, from the number of marks, maybe more than one hand.
A low rumbling filled Hellboy’s quarters and, at first, he didn’t even connect the sound with his own growling. Instead, he was focused on ripping away the fabric of Myers’ other sleeve. The rumbling got louder as Hellboy discovered a matching set of finger-shaped bruises ringing that wrist.
“Last time I looked,” he snarled, “Doors didn’t have hands.”
John just turned his face away. Unfortunately for the FBI agent, the movement exposed a bite mark on his neck.
Hellboy hissed and reached to touch, but Myers had reached his limit. With a strength born of desperation, he pulled away from the demon.
“Don’t!” He cried out, backing away from HB in an almost crab-like fashion. “Just... don’t. No more touching.”
HB desperately wished for a cigar. He needed to chew on something as an outlet for his concern and frustration. Normally, he’d just make sarcastic remarks but couldn’t this time. John was obviously too close to the edge.
“John, what happened to you?” The demon asked in a gentle voice usually only reserved for his cats. “Just tell your ol’ pal Hellboy who hurt you and I’ll tear them limb from limb.”
Myers’ response was a bitter laugh. “No, you won’t.”
Hellboy stifled a growl. “What makes you say that? You’re on my team – you watch my back and I watch yours. Somebody messes with you and they mess with me. Understand?”
The demon’s response only seemed to aggravate the young man further. “I’m on your team, huh?” He asked in that same harsh tone. Then, apparently switching subjects, went on to add, “Do you know what they say about me?”
“No, John, what?” Seeing that his young friend was still maintaining a fearful pose, Hellboy crouched down so he wasn’t so imposing.
“They say that you’re Hellboy,” John replied, not looking at the large, red form in front of him. “But that I’m Hell’s boy.”
“What?” HB asked, not following the human at all.
Myers smiled but there wasn’t an ounce of joy in it. “I was recruited right out of Quantico, you know. Your father hand-picked me to work with you, to be your partner and friend. The other agents here, they seem to think I was recruited to be something else.”
Hellboy’s stomach did flips but he wanted to make sure he understood what he thought John was implying. “What something else is that?”
The young man swallowed. When he looked up at HB, his eyes were full of tears. “They seem to think that I was brought here to be your… well, to be the FBI’s rent boy….” His voice petered off into a hoarse whisper. “And they decided that if I was good enough to service a demon, then I was good enough to… they…”
Hellboy was moving before he knew it. Gathering Myers up into his arms, he carried him to the converted truck bed that acted as his couch. The low rumbling bass of his growl frightened off the cats and almost covered John’s muted pleas for him to stop. The demon ignored him, making short work of the fabric of the young man’s clothes. Each removed article revealed another bruise or mark, including finger marks that were dark shadows on John’s hips. For once in his life fearful, the demon turned Myers around.
His roar, when he saw where the trail of bruises led, rocked the reinforced steel walls of his quarters as if they were paper.
Hellboy categorically refused to allow John to be removed from his quarters.
Tom Manning, more hands-on in the operations of the BPRD since Professor Brown’s death, had tried reasoning with him but the demon wasn’t the slightest bit interested. He’d tried ordering HB to let them move John into the facility’s infirmary but his orders had fallen on deaf ears. Finally, he’d just glared. The glare hadn’t met with any more success than any of the other tactics but doing it at least made Manning feel better.
“Myers is a human,” he repeated. “He should be seen by doctors trained to treat humans.”
“Abe can fix him,” Hellboy said firmly.
He watched as the blue fish man deftly saw to John’s hurts. Myers had almost panicked when Hellboy’s roar had brought personnel running. Hellboy had taken care of that, putting himself between John and the newcomers, raging at them until Abe was brought. The cool, impersonal touch of the inhuman Ichthyo Sapien calmed the distraught young man, which itself soothed Hellboy.
Manning sighed. Ever since their mission to Russia together, he’d come to a better understanding with Hellboy but the big red lug was far from Manning’s favorite person, demon or no. “At least let us move him to the infirmary. Even you get treated there and the kid deserves the best equipment.”
“The kid deserved NOT to get raped,” Hellboy answered in a barely restrained voice. “And since you already checked and Myers didn’t log out of the BRPD all weekend, we know whatever happened, happened here. My room is the safest place.” He suddenly loomed over Manning. “He stays *here.* Ain’t nobody gonna touch him on my turf.”
“All right,” Manning reluctantly agreed. “He can stay here. I’ll have one of the other agents bring his things.”
Hellboy’s tone had left no room for questions but that didn’t stop Manning. “Why not?”
“Because, I think it was some of your precious agents who did this,” the demon explained, eyeing the doorway balefully. He knew there were FBI personnel right outside, guarding, and, at the moment, wasn’t happy about it.
“Not possible,” Manning denied, shaking his head. “All FBI agents are carefully screened; the ones sent to work for BPRD even more so. None of them are capable of… that.”
“I’m afraid they are,” Abe had finished up with John and moved to join them.
“You read him?” Hellboy asked. The fish man was a psychic and could pick up all sorts of information by touching an object or a person.
Abe nodded sadly. “I couldn’t help it – strong emotions and memories are easier to pick up and John is feeling rather… strongly… right now.”
“How is he doin’?” The demon asked. He’d found a cigar stub somewhere. It wasn’t lit but he had at last found his emotional outlet and was chewing the hell out of it.
“He needed some stitches and will be sore for some time,” Abe explained. “But I read no illness in him, although we will have to be watchful for infection.”
Hellboy frowned. “That wasn’t what I meant.”
Abe sighed, a strange sound coming from a man with gills. “He is… upset. I’ve sedated him for the time being. I think, though, Red is right. John takes great comfort from his presence.”
“Told ya,” Hellboy said, slapping Manning on the shoulder. The human had to work to maintain his balance.
“Did he tell you who it was?” Manning asked Abe. He didn’t bother to quibble with ‘the professor,’ Abe’s psychic skills were far too reliable.
“I was able to see who did it,” Abe responded reluctantly.
“Good,” Hellboy said gleefully. “’Cause I’m gonna make ‘em sorry they were ever born.”
“No you’re not.” Manning said firmly.
Hellboy growled. “I’m not?” He said, a threat creeping into his voice.
“No, you’re not,” Manning repeated. “Those agents are humans and Americans too. I can’t give you cart blanche to execute them, not like with the monsters.”
Hellboy gestured towards John. The young man, deeply sedated, was curled into a ball on the large makeshift couch. A sheet had been draped across his lower body but his torso was exposed. Dark bruises and livid marks marred his fair skin. “Are you saying the men who did this *aren’t* monsters?”
“They’re humans,” Manning said. “They have a right to a trial.”
“Except there won’t be a trial,” Abe said softly. “You can’t risk exposing the department.”
Manning coolly nodded. “No, I can’t. What I can and *will* do, however, is immediately terminate their employment with the FBI.”
“Oh, whatever will they do, wherever will they go?” Hellboy asked sarcastically. “That’s load of crap, Manning! Just because the BPRD is the FBI’s dirty little secret, you’re gonna let those scum get away with what they did to John?”
“And like any other employee who leaves the FBI’s service, whether willingly or not willingly,” Manning continued, as though Hellboy hadn’t interrupted him, “The agents involved will be given an exit interview – and I want Abe here to give it.”
“Huh?” Hellboy’s confusion outweighed his anger – and he wasn’t the only one questioning Manning’s plan.
“Me?” Abe asked. “You always ask me to refrain from reading the staff.”
“Not anymore,” their boss said. “From now on, you’ll read all new agents coming into the project, Abe. After Moss and Quarry died and Clay had to leave because of his injuries, we brought in replacement agents quickly. Too quickly. From now on, I want to insure we have a better match.”
“And the agents that hurt John, the ones I’m to give an exit interview to?” Abe asked softly.
“Make sure they didn’t act alone. Let’s clean up any more problems before they have a chance to get started,” Manning instructed him, then grinned wolfishly. “And, if any of the emotions or trauma you picked up from Agent Myers while treating him happen to – leak – across to the perpetrators while you’re at it, well, let’s just say I’ll be very understanding about that.”
With that surprising revelation, Manning turned and left.
Hellboy grinned. “That sneaky bastard. Gonna make the rapists know what it feels like to be the victim. Now, that’s my kind of justice.” He looked over at his friend in dismay as something occurred to him. “You gonna be up for that, Blue?”
He was surprised to see an approving look on Abe’s face. “Absolutely.” When Hellboy looked at him in surprise, the normally peaceful fish man added, “John’s emotions were rather strong, my friend. I have no qualms in making the guilty ones experience what he endured. Like you said, it *is* justice.”
Abe turned to go, but before he did, he offered one last piece of advice. “Liz didn’t leave us this time because she was afraid, Red. She left because she realized too late that what she truly wanted was no longer hers to claim.” He nodded towards Myers. “Take care of him, Red.”
Hellboy watched contemplatively as the door closed behind Abe. He hated it when Blue got all psychic on him. After a quick check of the perimeter, he approached the couch were John lay sleeping. Three cats, including the pregnant tabby, had curled up with him. Red smiled at the sight. If only….
Moving carefully, Hellboy climbed onto the bed, careful to jostle neither man nor cat. Even so, John stirred in his sleep. He was too heavily drugged to wake fully, but his forehead creased in a frown and he murmured indistinctly.
“Easy there, Squirt, just me,” Hellboy soothed him.
His long tail wrapped across Myers’ body and started stroking his back. The caress calmed John, who subsided into a quieter sleep. Hellboy let out a large, heartfelt sigh.
“What am I gonna do with you?” he asked the sleeping man.
Relationships weren’t Hellboy’s forte. Romantic relationships, even less so. He’d lived among humans all his life but wasn’t himself human. Could he really help John get through the very human trauma of rape?
All he knew for certain was that he sure as hell was gonna try.
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