WHAT IS REAL

Southofoz

Summary Ė This is a classic SND cross-over BatB/Hellboy rated PG. set at the beginning of TLBL, and I have placed Hellboy in the same time frame and in this Universe things go slightly differently. I have taken certain scenes from the Hellboy movie and they happen from Vincentís prospective .

(Excerpts from Hellboy novelization by Yvonne Navarro and characters created by Guillermo Del Toro and the ĎVelveteen Rabbití by Margery Williams (slightly altered quotes for obvious reasons) Ė no copyright infringement intended

*****

"What is Real?" asked the rabbit one day.

Real isnít how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "Itís a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, REALLY loves you. Then you become Real. And once you are Real you canít be ugly, except to people who donít understand. Once you are real you canít become unreal again. It lasts for always."

*****

Prologue

As Bachís music floated throughout the chamber, Vincent held Catherine close. The fragrance of her hair, the warmth of her body, so close to his, was intoxicating. He nuzzled the top of her head and placed a kiss there. Catherine leaned closer to him, her head on his chest, a hand resting on his thigh. This intimate touch was tantalizing proof of how close they had become and he sighed with complete contentment.

Vincent found it difficult to believe what had finally occurred between them, was it a dream? Or had they finally been swept away Ė by the night Ė and the stars Ė and each other. This new dimension to their relationship, this deeper and more complete joining, had enhanced the peace in his soul and sang throughout his body assuring him that he had not dreamed it. Like any other man in love he had at last joined with the woman he adored Ė with no fear of the uncontrollable outbursts, or loss of self, that he had been afraid of for so long. Now this last barrier had been crossed. After what had happened a few weeks ago, Vincent had finally made a decision to let go of the restraints that had been instilled in him for so long, and this would be a decision that in time would change both their lives.

"How do you feel?í Catherine asked.

Vincent lifted his head, closing his eyes, trying to find words to express how he felt, but none came. "There are no words" he murmured into her hair, as his hand possessively stroked her shoulder, in a gesture that expressed how he reveled in this new intimacy.

"Try one." Catherine commanded, gently, unwilling to allow him to retreat into his own private thoughts. Even now that they had shared everything she would not, could not, let him withdraw again. He drew Catherine closer, his breath in her ear causing ecstatic chills to run down her spine.

"Blessed," he breathed

Catherine closed her eyes, savoring this moment and the bliss that she felt with the man she loved more than life itself. Content in the knowledge that at last Vincent knew what joys could be found in a loverís armsÖ

 

Chapter One

Mouse hurried through the tunnels in search of Vincent. "Gotta tell Vincent, heíll know what to do." He muttered to himself.

He went to Fatherís study and stood at the top of the stairs "Mouse, is something wrong?" Father asked, looking up from the book he was reading.

"Need Vincent," Mouse mumbled. He looked around Fatherís study, realized Vincent wasnít there, and turned and left the chamber.

"Itís Halloween Mouse, Vincent is Ö" but Mouse had already disappeared. "Above with Catherine," Father finished, to an empty room.

Mouse hurried to the entrance of Catherineís Apartment, and waited impatiently, pacing and muttering to himself. "Vincent better now. Getting stronger every day, can help Mouse, must help. Not just Mouse but everyone."

****

Vincent and Catherine walked slowly through the tunnels, unwilling to let this evening end. Catherine had her arm through Vincentís and they were both smiling. This last year had been a difficult one for them both, and so they had decided that this night of costumes and fun was just what they needed.

Catherine had chosen a costume for Vincent this year that suited him perfectly, and he had even agreed to wear it just to please her. He was dressed as a Cavalier, and looked very handsome and much like a musketeer. He had even agreed to wear the feathered hat that came with the outfit that set off his cloak so well.

Catherine was dressed as a wealthy lady of the French court. Her gown was emerald green, with cream lace on the sleeves and across the bodice. When Vincent had first seen her he had remarked how the color made her eyes glow. Her golden-brown hair was arranged in tight ringlets about her face, and decorated with pearls. She looked beautiful and radiant on the arm of her companion.

They had left the Brennan party, which they had attended every year since having first met Brigit OíDonnell. The rest of the evening, they had spent walking through the city streets, and then finally, as always on this night they ended the evening by strolling through the park, holding hands and talking softly together. They both looked forward to this night every year and now that Vincent was fully recovered from his illness, they had made the most of every moment.

When Vincent escorted her to her basement, they found a sleeping Mouse curled up in the doorway. Vincent bent over and shook him gently.

"Mouse, Mouse, is something wrong?"

Mouse woke suddenly. When he saw Vincent, he smiled, still sleep drugged. "Vincent, you look different. Like Ö likeÖ"

"Like a Musketeer?" Catherine suggested,

Mouse smiled sleepily, "No, like a picture in that book."

"What book Mouse?" Vincent asked,

A puzzled frown creased Mouseís brow, and suddenly he declared with triumph, "Puss in Boots!"

Vincent laughed tolerantly, as Mouse got to his feet and pointed to the top of Vincentís head, "Nice hat," he remarked offhandedly as he dusted himself off.

Catherine giggled, "The idea was a Musketeer, Mouse."

"Donít know that story; only know ĎPuss in Bootsí and Vincent looks like him." Mouse asserted. Then suddenly Mouse remembered why he had come looking for Vincent, "Where you been? Was looking for you!"

"What is it Mouse?" Vincent asked, concerned by Mouseís fear. If Mouse was afraid then it must be truly something to be worried about.

"Something very, very bad in the tunnels."

"Something bad?" Vincent asked.

"Yes, Vincent, come now," as he spoke Mouse pulled on Vincentís arm.

"What do you mean bad, Mouse?" Vincent asked reluctant to leave Catherine.

"Bad. Really, really bad! címon!" Mouse was tugging on Vincentís cloak now.

Vincent turned to Catherine with an apologetic grin. "I must go Catherine Iím sorryÖ"

"I know," she smiled up at him, her eyes shining with love. "It was a wonderful evening."

"Yes, it was." Vincent murmured his eyes unable to leave hers. "I will come to you later." And there was an unspoken promise in his words and Catherineís heart skipped a beat. He removed the hat, gave it to her, and squeezed her hand. She knew he wanted to kiss her but he was still not comfortable showing affection when someone else was near.

"Iíll be awake." Catherine promised with a secret smile. And for a moment it was as though the world only existed for them alone.

Mouse looked from one to the other, shook his head, unable to comprehend the meaning of the moment and demanded, "Yeah, yeah nice time. Fun dress-up, Vincent come, now!"

With an apologetic smile and another gentle squeeze of her hand, Vincent followed Mouse, leaving Catherine to watch as his cloaked figure disappeared into the darkness.

With a sigh and a smile, remembering the night just passed and with hopes of Vincentís swift return, Catherine went up the iron ladder to her apartment, to wait in anticipation.

******

Mouse was hurrying ahead of Vincent, and it wasnít until he realized they were going toward the subway, that he asked. "Mouse what is down here?"

Looking back quickly, Mouse murmured. "Something very bad Ė worse than bad Ė worse than worst Ö"

"But what is it Mouse?"

"Dunno," Mouse answered, but kept going.

Realizing he wouldnít get any more out of his friend, Vincent kept silent until Mouse came to one of the entrances to the subways. It was a hub of sorts, where all the subway lines converged, and Vincent began to feel a sense of something nearby that he couldnít recognize.

"Theyíre there." Mouse pointed through a gap in the wall.

"This is beneath the old orphanage, just above the old reservoir." Vincent mused looking around.

"Yeah, and theyíre in there." Mouse was still pointing, but kept his face averted.

"Who?"

The young man looked up at his friend with revulsion. "Not who, what. Things bad things,"

Vincent then began to sense something that could only be described as pure evil approaching from the darkness and he couldnít help emitting a low growl from deep within his throat.

"Yeah, worse than bad," Mouse agreed.

Vincent felt Mouseís fear rising, but he turned to the youth and asked. "Can you tell me what these bad things are Mouse, and how you knew they were here?"

"Was looking for stuff in the subway last night and heard a big noise. When Mouse looked Ö A big Ďthingí came out of there," he pointed at the dark gap in the wall, "and it fought with another big thing. Looked like a man but red Ė but was not a man."

"Go on Mouse." Vincent urged gently.

"Watched the fight, the red man killed the Ďthingí and then went away. Then more Ďthingsí started moving around in there." And Mouseís finger shook as it still pointed toward the dark recess.

Vincent placed a hand on his friendís shoulder and felt Mouse trembling. "I will stay here, you go back Mouse."

Strangely there was no argument from Mouse, who looked at the hole in the wall and then at Vincent. With a nod, he turned and scurried away. He did not look back, content in the knowledge that Vincent would handle the situation and keep these intruders away from their home.

Vincent stayed and watched the area for almost an hour until finally his enhanced sight picked up a group of five men making their way toward him along the railway line. It was clear to him that three were ordinary men but two of the group was not. They climbed through the entrance and continued on into another chamber. Vincent slipped across the tracks, just after a train passed and put his back against the wall just outside of the chamber and listened. He heard water dripping and then snatches of conversations.

"Over here," a soft voice said.

Another manís voice spoke sarcastically. "You said those eggs needed dark and humid, well they hit the jackpot."

Then the soft voice again, "Thereís a pulse Ė there, a cistern on the other side," then a pause, "all the eggs are there."

The same man again, in an official tone. "We should go back and request a special permit. A type twoÖ" but his comment was interrupted by the sound of pounding and the very stones at Vincentís back shook.

Vincent was puzzled. Eggs, what eggs? What was happening here?

When the pounding stopped a deep voice rumbled. "You guys comin or what?"

Vincent heard the men enter yet another chamber and he followed, staying just out of sight, the two strange Ďmení puzzled him but he heard them being referred to as Red and Blue. The large man ĎRedí lifted a heavy grate from the floor with little effort. Vincent knew that even he would have trouble with something that size. Then with a grunt it was cast aside, while the other man ĎBlueí removed all but his lower garments and Vincent saw him clearly in the light from above. He was indeed blue with markings all over his body which was hairless, and his eyes were large round black orbs. Red cracked two chemical lights across his arm and when they glowed he dropped them into the cistern.

"Here you go, Doctor. This should cover your tail fin Ė itís a bone from Saint Dionysius, on loan from the Vatican. Looks like a pinkie." The deep voice rumbled.

Blue sighed and took the offering and wrapped it around his wrist as he murmured. "Remind me why I keep doing this."

"Rotten eggs and the safety of mankind," Red replied simply.

Strange, Vincent thought, these people were helping mankind? They are not the evil he constantly sensed in the chamber, like an ache at the back of his head.

As he thought this, Blue dove into the cistern, unafraid and unfazed by what might be lurking just beneath the surface.

The group then began to search the area, laying down more of the strange lights and Vincent slipped back out of the chamber so he would not be detected.

Then Vincent heard a manís voice yelling, "Redís on the move Iíll cover him." and the sound of feet echoing into the distance.

What happened next disturbed Vincent more than he could ever express, mostly because he could not have saved the men who were horribly mutilated by two grotesque creatures. Vincent had taken a swift peek around the wall at a strange sound, just as one of the creatures attacked the men left behind to protect Blue, and what he saw made his blood run cold.

They were large dog-like creatures, larger than a man, grey in color and appeared reptilian. There were long tendrils protruding from their ugly heads that writhed like snakes, and they had three eyes on each side of their faces above a vicious, many fanged maw. They were the stuff of nightmares and they attacked without warning or mercy.

Vincent couldnít move, the stench of blood and evil made him feel physically ill, but he knew he couldnít help the men who were being attacked, and survive. His instincts told him that he would lose against these creatures, and even though it went against everything he believed in, he knew he must stay out of this conflict. He also had an almost uncontrollable urge to flee this place and never look back, but he overcame it. The smaller of the two strangers, the one called Blue was down in the murky waters of the cistern alone, and he could need Vincentís help.

After the terrible screams ceased, and he felt the creatures leave the vicinity, Vincent went through the opening in the wall. He watched from the shadows Blue emerged from the cistern, gasping and injured, and very frightened.

Vincent watched from the deep shadows as Blue pressed a button on his belt, but the fear coming from this gentle creature was more than Vincent could bear. So he made a decision to approach him.

The fish-man was gasping and obviously in pain, when Vincent made his way to him quietly, making sure his hood was in place. He tore strips from his white shirt as he whispered. "Please donít be afraid Ö"

Large black eyes turned to him, and a gasp escaped the lipless mouth. "Who are you?" the soft, gentle voice asked.

"Vincent,"

"Iím Abe, Abraham Sapien, Where did you come from? You are not evil," and Abe lifted a hand palm outward toward Vincent.

"No, I live here in these tunnels." Vincent murmured, as he bandaged the gaping wound across Abrahamís bare chest.

"You must be very careful, Vincent, There is great evil here."

"I know." Vincentís deep voice was filled with revulsion, his teeth clenched against the inner turmoil this experience was causing in him.

"You can sense it too," it wasnít a question,

"Yes."

Abraham put a hand on Vincentís arm and suddenly all of Vincentís memories seemed to rush through his mind. He began to feel dizzy. He looked down at Abraham, whose eyes were closed and in that instant Vincent realized that Abraham must be gifted with telepathy and was quickly learning everything about Vincentís entire life. Then finally Abraham opened his eyes.

Black eyes fixed on blue, "I will keep your secret Vincent. But you must know you are not alone, not anymore." He placed Vincentís hand between both of his own webbed ones and sights and sounds began to flood Vincentís mind. A lonely life of a creature living in a water tank, long years of solitude, and then a small and gentle man wearing glasses appeared. A child with skin as red as blood, horns protruding from his head and a hand much too large for his body, entered into the memories. Then years of companionship as the demon child grew to the man he now was.

The visions faded and then Abraham said. "There is something more you must know." Vincent felt as though he was on the top of a train that had suddenly turned onto another line and his perspective changed and he saw what had been going on here tonight. An evil had risen from antiquity, and after escaping its confinement was now wreaking havoc in the New York subways. The eggs that were mentioned had been laid by the creature known as Sammael and it was this ĎHound of Resurrectioní that had killed the men so cruelly and had made Vincent fear for his own life.

The link between them was broken suddenly as the sound of a deep voice calling "Man down! Do you read! Do you read? Quarry! Moss! Do you read me?" echoed throughout the tunnels. Then "Abe can you hear me!"

"Unless you want to meet my large friend, I suggest you leave." Abe said softly with pain in his voice.

Vincent lifted his head and said. "The large red man?"

"Yes, he will be here soon."

With a nod Vincent, totally overwhelmed by what he had seen tonight murmured, "It was an Ė unexpected pleasure to meet you Abraham."

"You too Vincent," Abrahamís black eyes blinked sideways and he smiled weakly.

With a last nod to his new friend, Vincent quickly melted back into the shadows, still reluctant to leave Abraham alone. But when Abraham was joined by the man he called Red, Vincent slipped away into the tunnels wondering how he was going to explain to Catherine how he had torn his shirt.

 

Chapter Two

A young woman approached the culvert in Central Park, and when she came to the Iron Gate, she flipped the release and the iron door slid open. She paused at the entrance, unsure. Then with a deep sigh, she began to walk toward the central hub of the community, shining a torch before her. She stopped at the first pipe she came to and tapped out the code she had been given with the torch, and waited.

It wasnít long before she saw the light of what she first she thought was a torch but as the large shadowed figure came closer she realized it was a crude lantern. He came toward her, walking with lithe grace. A dark cloak covered him from head to toe, swaying as he moved. About ten paces away he stopped, and simply stood waiting.

"Youíre Vincent." The young woman asserted.

"Yes."

"Iím Liz."

"Where did you get the code to call for me Liz? You are not a Helper."

"Abe gave it to me."

Vincent came a few steps closer, his concern for his new friend overcoming his caution, "Abraham, is he well?"

"Recovering, but he has to stay in his tank until heís stronger."

Vincent nodded; it had been over a week since he had seen the battle above the reservoir, and he had wondered a great deal about this odd group. He also sensed something strange within this young woman. Although unlike Vincent and the other two men, she was perfectly normal on the surface.

Liz was relieved and yet amazed. This man seemed exactly as Abe had described him. Although his face was still hidden in the shadows of his hood, she was well aware of what was concealed. However she was more concerned that he might not help her, than with his appearance. But if anyone could help Red, it was Vincent.

"I have this friend," she stated without preamble. "He just lost his father, and well Ö itís hit him pretty hard. Abe Ö well Abe said you might be able to help."

"How can I help?" Vincent asked, unsure, but willing to do what he could to help this unusual group of people. He had thought he was alone and now suddenly, there were others, not exactly like him, but with the same disadvantages. And he felt akin to them in ways he couldnít fathom.

Liz looked around at the walls, the floor and down the tunnels, "I donít think heíd have any trouble coming here."

"Who?" Vincent asked

"My friend, HB."

"HB?"

"Hellboy, we call him Red or HB."

Vincent fell silent. The tunnel world had heard rumors concerning someone by that name for many years, but everyone Vincent included had thought he was a myth. But now so much was falling into place.

Unfamiliar with Vincentís perpetual pauses, Liz took his silence as disapproval. "Look I came here because Abe said you and HB might have something in common, and that you might be able to help him. If youíre gonna go all self-righteous on me Ö"

Vincent raised his hand and stepped forward. "No please, you misunderstand. I like so many others thought your friend only a myth and I was just wondering why someone would be called such a thing."

"Hellboy is Ė what heís called Ė well because thatís where he comes from." Liz said bluntly.

"I see," Vincent murmured, his mind trying to understand.

"So, will you talk to him?"

"Of course," Vincent was not one to discount the possibility of any kind of life or the origin of such a life. He wondered however how he would explain this new development to Catherine who was not quite as accepting of such things as he.

Without another word, Liz turned and began to walk back down the tunnel and Vincent heard her say softly to her self, "Now all I have to do is convince him to come here."

 

*****

Liz walked passed the conference room where Manning the new leader of their group was briefing the agents who would be going to Moscow to walk into a trap laid for them. Just as she passed the door she heard Manning say. "Hellboyís coming." And she knew that before that happened she had to talk to him. She found Hellboy standing in front of the desk of his adopted father, Professor Broom, staring down at a book.

She knew he needed comforting after the cruel murder of the man he had always known as his father, but didnít know what to say or do to help him, all she could offer was, "Hi."

"Hi." His deep voice rumbled, as he turned to face her.

"IíveÖchanged my mind." She said softly," Iíll come to Moscow, if youíre still going."

"I am Ö" he said softly, then he paused before going on, as though what he had to say was difficult to voice, "but I have something to say," He faced her as though he was bracing himself, putting his hands on his hips in an endearing, telling gesture.

Liz had never seen him this way, no ready quip or sarcastic comment Ė so unsure of himself and her heart ached. He was born Ė or brought here from wherever Ė in 1944 and that made him old enough to be her grandfather, but she had grown up with him and sometimes he seemed even younger than she was. And although he fought monsters for a living there was an innate innocence about him that was totally endearing. "I understand what you donít like about me," he said, watching her face, but he wouldnít listen when she tried to disagree. "I do. What I am makes you feel a little out of place, out thereÖ"

"Red, I donítÖ"

"Listen," he cut in softly, and stepped down closer to her, "Iím not like Myers. He makes you feel like you belong out there, which is good, really."

Liz knew that the new Agent sent to baby-sit Red was making him feel threatened but there was nothing she could to about that. She didnít know what to say to ease Redís pain as he continued.

Moving his hand in front of his face he spoke with a pain in his voice that she had never heard there before. "I wish I could do something about this, but I canít." then his usual wit emerging, even in his grief and he grinned. "But I can promise you two things Ė one, Iíll always look this good," and Liz had to laugh softly at that. Then he lifted her chin with his, warmer than human, hand as he finished with, "and two, Iíll never give up on you Ė ever."

There was such an intense look in his golden eyes that she could not take her gaze from his. "I like that," she replied pleased, and never having been good with words, she put a hand on his arm.

"Good," he murmured with a smile.

She looked up at him then and added, "Red I need you to meet someone before we go; someone I think will help you understand some things."

 

Chapter Three

Catherine was late meeting him and Vincent was concerned. But then he heard her footsteps hurrying toward him, and she was in his arms in moments.

"What is it, Catherine?" Vincent asked as he saw the concern on her face, again reminded of the loss of their bond. Even though their new intimacy gave him certain hints to her state of mind, it did not show him as much as he had once seen. Perhaps with this new aspect of their relationship the loss was inconsequential compared to what they had gained.

"Joe was in an accident. Heís in critical condition."

"Oh, Catherine, Iím so sorry. I know how much you care for Joe Maxwell."

"Yes," she agreed and laid her head on his shoulder. She couldnít decide how to tell him the other reason for her worry. She was glad that he would only believe it was simply for Joe that she was so preoccupied. She hadnít even overcome her own shock about her pregnancy yet. That Vincent was still not recovered and could be disturbed by the thought of a baby was more than she could deal with at the moment. So she changed the subject. "Whatís this about?" she asked looking up at his face.

"Iím not sure what to expect, but I want you to meet a young woman Catherine. I think you can help her. She seems very troubled."

From the end of the tunnel only moments later, two people emerged from the darkness, coming into view and instantly Vincent sensed the same dampened evil he had felt some nights ago, yet there was no threat. It was as though, just as he must always suppress his primal side, so this man kept the evil hidden behind a locked door of which he alone had the key.

As the two approached Ė one large bulk and the other a slight yet tall figure, he felt Catherineís hand slide into his. "Vincent?"

"Itís all right, Catherine," he squeezed her hand in reassurance and began to make his way toward them, and Catherine stayed close at his side.

Vincent walked slowly, taking in the strangerís appearance, from the top of his head and the stubs of what appeared to be horns that had been sawn off or filed down, to an over large right hand, which looked like red stone down to the black leather pants and heavy black boots. This was the being he had seen in Abrahamís memories, and he felt an instant kinship with him. The other man seemed to be doing the same, his strange golden eyes moving from the top of Vincentís golden mane, down to his thick sheepskin boots.

In the middle of the tunnel they came face to face. Two figures, both the same height and build Ė one, wearing a leather coat and with skin the color of blood, the other with long golden hair and wearing a black cloak Ė two very different men, but both so very much alike beneath the surface.

There was a moment of silence, as these two faced each other, "I guess youíre Vincent." Hellboyís deep voice rumbled and the oversized stone hand was thrust toward Vincent. Golden eyes looked down at Liz, "I thought Liz was playiní a joke on me, but youíre real."

"Yes," Vincent replied taking the hand that was offered to him. He grasped it firmly, unafraid to cause any damage, realizing that it would take more than his sharp claws to pierce this hand. Although it looked capable of crushing anything it held. Vincent felt only a normal pressure on his flesh.

"Just call me Red, thatís what my friends call me." Hellboy asserted with a friendly smile.

"Welcome Red, this is Catherine," Vincent smiled down at her with love and pride on his face.

"Call me Cathy." Catherine suggested, stretching out her hand to have it taken by a large red one. It felt like stone, but it was surprisingly warmer than a human hand, almost hot in fact.

Hellboy nodded, and before he could say anything by way of introduction, Liz declared, "Iím Liz," and grasped Catherineís hand and shook it once.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Liz." Catherine said, with a welcoming smile, noticing that even Lizís flesh was hotter than normal.

"Please come with us," Vincent asked and turned, beckoning the newcomers to follow.

As they walked through the tunnels, Hellboy positioned himself beside Vincent, as Catherine slowed to walk behind and next to Liz.

"So whatís your story?" Hellboy asked as he walked next to Vincent.

With a tolerant smile and a nod toward his new friend, Vincent answered simply, "I was found as a baby, and brought here. I have lived here all my life. I have no idea where I was born, or who my parents were."

"Gee, no idea where ya came from, or why you are like you are?"

"No," Vincent responded softly.

"Yeah, well, I was brought from some Hell Dimension as a baby."

Vincent turned to his new friend. "We all have evil within us. It is how well we control it that makes us the men we are, good or evil. I think you have more than your fair share of evil to control, my friend."

Hellboy laughed, "You sound like you know that real well."

"Yes," Vincent answered his recent illness uppermost in his mind.

After walking through the tunnels for some time making small talk, they came to Vincentís chamber. The table had been set for four, a steaming pot of tea, and some of Williamís best cakes had been arranged in the middle of it.

"Gee, a tea party!" Hellboy declared, pleasantly surprised, as he walked into the room and around the table. Liz followed him while Vincent and Catherine stood by the entrance.

"Please, make yourselves comfortable," Vincent said, coming into the room and indicating the laden table.

Vincent removed Catherineís cream coat and then his cloak, laying them over the back of one of the chairs.

Hellboy watched this and took his coat off, and then put his hands on Lizís shoulders to remove her dark coat. She turned to him with a questioning look, and without a word removed her own coat, but handed it to him. Looking around the room for a place to put the coats, Hellboy simply threw them on the bed and then sat in one of the large chairs at the table.

What followed was a very unusual tea party. Catherine and Vincent tried to make polite conversation. While completely out of his depth, Hellboy broke first one of the china cups, and then the teapot. Until finally Liz groaned, jumped up from the table, grabbed her coat, and fled the room.

Hellboy got to his feet to follow her, "Liz!" But a gentle, yet firm hand came to his arm stopping him. He stared into Vincentís expressive sad eyes.

Catherine picked up her cream coat and murmured. "Iíll talk to her," And she left the chamber.

Hellboy slumped down on Vincentís bed, his head down and his elbows on his thighs, his large hand covering his normal one. "I canít even have a simple tea party with friends without makin a mess ní breakin things," he moaned.

Vincent came over to the bed and sat beside the distraught young demon.

"What is troubling you my friend?"

Hellboy lifted his hands in surrender. "Everything!" he declared with a helpless shrug.

"You love her very much donít you?" Vincent murmured softly.

"Yeah, Iíd go into hell itself for her."

"I understand." Vincentís voice was soft and full of compassion.

"Yíknow, before I saw you and Cathy tígether, I had no hope about Liz and me but now Ö"

"Catherine is a very special woman, and so is Liz,"

Hellboy grinned ironically "I guess they have to be, to be a part of our lives donít they?"

"Yes," Vincent agreed with an answering smile.

There was silence between them for a few moments. Finally Hellboy looked up at Vincent and said. "I donít usually scare easy Ö well never really. I can face soul eating monsters and giant beasties without a second thought and I know exactly what to do, and Iíve fought my share, but with Liz Ė I get all confusedÖ"

"Hmm," Vincent agreed.

"Abe said youíd be able to help me understand some things, so shoot Ö" He turned his golden gaze on his companion and waited patiently for the answers he so desperately needed.

"Your friend gives me a great deal of credit." Vincent murmured.

"You and Catherine seem Ė really good together."

"Yes," Vincent looked down at his own hands. "But it has not been easy."

"Huh," Hellboy grunted. "When is it with chicks?"

Vincent looked up, and realized that this man was more like a brother to him than anyone he had ever met. Unlike Charles, this young man had a very similar inner struggle to fight, as Vincent did himself.

"All I can tell you is to love with all that is within you, and you will be able to overcome whatever comes. I have found that we choose to be who we are. What we are or where we came from has no bearing on that."

Hellboy was staring at the floor. "Father wouldíve said something like that heíd have been able to help me. He knew everything Ö"

Vincent smiled thinking of his own father, and the mistakes he had made concerning Vincent and Catherineís relationship, but in the end Father had learned to accept them. "Fathers can only guide us so far. Then we must make our own choices and our own mistakes."

Golden eyes met blue. "So you think thereís a chance for someone like me with Liz?"

Vincent looked away, remembering his own difficult beginnings with Catherine. "I believe that Liz cares for you deeply, and she knows you care for her." Vincent turned to face his companion and finished with. "That is the best place to begin."

*****

Catherine hurried after Liz, worried that she would make the wrong turn and become lost. "Liz please, wait!"

Liz stopped in the middle of the tunnel, and turned to face Catherine, her face stricken and tears in her eyes.

Catherine came up to her and said. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Liz sighed and brushed the tears away angrily. "I have known him all my life. He never changes. Heís always so good at killing things. Some very scary things, but when it comes to everyday stuff, he just doesnít seem to get it, ya know? I know he cares for me, maybe too much, but I donít know how I feel about him, except sometimes he just drives me crazy."

Catherine put an arm around the distraught young woman and said. "Letís take a walk, and you can tell me all about it."

Some time later as they sat by the beauty of the falls, Liz had told Catherine everything about her life, and that they were going to Moscow to face an evil supernatural villain. They didnít know what to expect there, accept that it had something to do with Red and only he could stop it but she was worried. There was silence between them, as Catherine digested it all.

Catherine felt it a moot point to mention how she didnít believe in half of what Liz had told her, so she kept her mind on the things she could understand. "You are going into a dangerous situation Liz, and you and Hellboy need each other, now more than ever. Now is not the time to be making decisions about the future. You can only think of now. You know how he feels about you, but you need to let him know how you feel about him."

"But thatís just it, I donít know how I feel about him. I love him; of course I do, but is it as a brother or Ö something else?"

Catherine sighed deeply. "Maybe one day soon you will know."

"Yeah, maybe one day, if I live that long."

Catherine embraced the young woman, and just at that moment Hellboy and Vincent came through the cavern entrance.

"Címon Liz we leave for Moscow in the morning." Hellboy declared, reaching out a hand to help Liz to her feet, and this time she took it and allowed him to help her up.

Vincent and Catherine accompanied their new friends back to the tunnel entrance. Catherine embraced Liz, while Vincent took the large red stone hand, of the man he now considered his brother, in his own equally different hands, in farewell.

They watched as these two new friends made their way out of the tunnels, both wondering if they would ever see them again.

Some nights later there was an eclipse, where the moon turned red, accompanied by an earthquake with an epicenter just outside of Moscow. As suddenly as it began however, it ceased and the moon returned to its usual color and the earth settled back to its gentle rotation around the sun.

 

Chapter Four

Catherine and Vincent were taking a walk through the park arm in arm when a garbage truck came down the road.

"Vincent!" Catherine warned, as it came in their directions and then pulled to a stop only a few feet away.

 

Vincent stood his ground. "Itís all right Catherine." and watched as the back of the truck opened and three people came out. Two Catherine knew; the third was a slight figure, wearing a strange apparatus around his neck and his body was covered in a black wetsuit.

Catherine was pleased to see that Liz had her hand in that of Hellboy, and there was a smile on her face. Hellboy seemed very pleased with himself and Catherine didnít need to ask to know why.

When they met and greetings were exchanged, Catherine was introduced to the third member of the group, Abraham Sapien. When he took her hand in one of his webbed ones, Catherine felt a strange tingling sensation along the back of her neck and he gasped, his dark eyes going first to her and then to Vincent.

When he shook Vincentís hand he looked back at Catherine and she felt guilty, but didnít know why. It had been two weeks since she found out about the baby, and she still couldnít find a way to tell Vincent or know how he would react. Vincent had told her about Abeís strange ability and she had a very strong suspicion that the knowledge was no longer hers alone. As she thought this Vincent and Hellboy were talking about something to do with Moscow and a choice and Liz. Who held tightly on to Hellboyís left arm, her expression full of the first bloom of love.

"So between you and Myers I was able to stick that creep Rasputin good and get us out of there, and we wanted to invite you to New Jersey to the Bureau for a celebration." Hellboy said with a bright smile.

"A celebration?" Vincent asked.

"Yeah, saving the world from being sucked into some Hell dimension, and more important Liz and me getting together Ė finally." Hellboy declared proudly, squeezing Lizís hand.

Vincent smiled, pleased for his friends and answered. "We would be glad to come."

"Great, and if you donít mind traveling ala garbage truck, weíll pick you up and bring you back." Hellboy remarked glibly.

Vincent grinned and looked down at Catherine, but her attention was on Abe. "What is it, Catherine?"

"Tell him. " Abe said to Catherine.

Vincent turned a quizzical look at Catherine, who looked away guiltily.

"Come on Red, Liz, we have a celebration to organize and these two young people have to talk."

Hellboy looked at Catherine and then Vincent, and then shrugged Ė it was none of his business. He slapped Vincent on the shoulder and said. "See ya later, buddy."

*****

When the garbage truck had gone, Catherine took Vincentís hand and they walked back toward the tunnels. She had wanted the right time and place to tell Vincent, but as they went through the Iron Gate she knew just the place and led the way.

The Music chamber was quiet. There was no performance tonight but the cushions and blankets were there, and Catherine sat and drew Vincent down beside her.

"Vincent, I have been trying to find the right time to tell you something, but so many things kept getting in the way."

"Just tell me, Catherine." Vincent replied quietly, hoping to ease her concerns.

She looked up into his blue eyes, so open and concerned and she spoke softly, watching his every mannerism. "When Joe was in the explosion, I went to the hospital and they asked me to give bloodÖ"

"Catherine, are you ill?" Vincent asked, taking her hand, his manner obviously deeply concerned.

"No Vincent, Iím not ill. I Ö Iím Ö having a child." Catherine declared, watching his eyes, as they searched her face, his mind obviously trying to come to terms with what she had just said.

"A child?" he echoed, the concern turning to shock, then wonder.

Now that the words were out, Catherine could let some of her joy escape "Yes, isnít it wonderful? I have wanted to tell you for weeks, but well, with you still recovering. I didnít know how. But your new friend made it impossible to hide anymore."

Vincent looked away, then up at the grate above his head and repeated, "A child Ö"

She smiled, watching the emotions play on his face. "Your child, Vincent."

"My Ö child Ö" he breathed, his face flushing and bearing an expression Catherine couldnít interpret.

"Vincent?" She asked concerned.

"A child Ö" he repeated in an awed voice, and then his expression changed to concern. "Catherine, I should have protected you. This was not your choice. "He jumped to his feet and began to pace. "Oh I am a fool, a selfish fool!"

Catherine stood and put a hand on his arm to stop him. "But Vincent, I was protected. Iíve been taking contraceptives for years." He turned to face her, and there were tears in his eyes. "Vincent this child, our child, overcame all the odds."

He took her hands. "I am dreaming I must be."

"No, Vincent you are not dreaming." She squeezed his hand hard and he looked into her eyes with such love, that she felt her heart pounding in her chest.

Before she knew it, she was in his arms, his chin on top of her head, as he murmured. "Catherine Öoh Catherine Ö"over and over again.

Catherine took Vincentís face in her hands and spoke with determination. "And Vincent, as soon as I can, I am leaving my job and Iím coming to live below with you."

Vincent gazed down at her, all his dreams coming true at once, almost too hard to accept." Catherine, are you sure?"

"Yes, I have never been more certain of anything in my life. I want to live with you and our child in your world."

"Then dare I ask you to marry me Catherine?"

In answer, Catherine lifted her head and placed her lips gently on his in a kiss that made the answer brilliantly clear. Vincentís arms came around her firmly, thrilled that all his dreams were coming true and he returned the kiss with equal passion. It was some time before they walked into Fatherís study.

Father was both shocked and elated as they broke the news that they were to be married, but he sat heavily back into his chair when they made the announcement about the baby, wiping his forehead with his handkerchief.

Vincent watched as his father embraced Catherine, his heart full. So much had happened in the past weeks. He had escaped from Hell, just as his new brother Hellboy had done, and had emerged into Heaven. His life could not be any more fulfilling.

*****