Hellboy watched as John went about his normal duties of dishing out breakfast, with his normal smile, and his normal walk, and his normal banter, and instantly knew that something was very wrong. He bantered back and pretended to ignore the man, as he always did while filing his horns, but his eyes were glued to the agent’s reflection in the mirror. Everything about Meyers was forced right then, forced and false as if he was keeping a vital secret from Hellboy.

Which he was, of course. That, Hellboy also knew right away because he could smell the deceit and anxiety from across the room. A handy little talent that he didn’t tell anyone about. Turning off the sander, he set it down with a thump and crossed the room, careful of the cats in the way, and headed for the large bowl of pancakes. He sat and said, “So Meyers. What’s got you all worked up?”

John stopped short in the process of filling a plate for himself, a habit they’d gotten into shortly after he’d joined the team, and sighed. “I should’ve known that you’d know.”

“That’s right, Boyscout,” Hellboy replied, flashing him a grin.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

That threw Hellboy for a loop because one thing that Meyers did, constantly and without relief sometimes, was talk. The kid talked about anything and everything, going on and on and on and on about subjects that would’ve made Father proud. Mostly subjects that Hellboy had no interest in whatsoever, but strangely, he found the sound of Meyers’ voice soothing and so let him ramble.

Watching as Meyers continued to stack his plate and then sat down across the small table from him, Hellboy contemplated his next move. If it were Liz who wouldn’t talk, all he would have to do was tickle her with his tail until she begged for mercy and then spilled the beans. If it were Abe, he’d threaten to dump some of those books of his in the tank. But Meyers…

Hellboy straightened in surprise when he realized that he had no idea how to make the human talk about something he didn’t want to talk about. It had simply never come up before. Shrugging, he started eating, ignoring the suspicious look the young man sent his way as nothing more was said on the subject. They ate in mostly companionable silence, though Meyers was now more obviously miserable, since he didn’t have to hide his misery.

His tail snaked out and grabbed the milk just as Meyers reached for it. He grinned at the exasperation his actions prompted and protested, “Hey, I’m thirsty.”

“Great. I’ll go get another gallon,” John replied, snorting.

Hellboy’s grin increased and he watched the other man leave the room for the kitchen. The grin faded as he took in the fact that reverse psychology didn’t work.

Time to plot.

* * * *

“He’s not talking to me, or Liz,” Hellboy explained. “We both know something big’s going on with the kid, but he ain’t sayin’ a thing about it.”

Abe blinked at him a few times, then said, “So you want me to see what’s going on with him.”

“Yeah. You know, just make sure he isn’t in trouble or nothing.”

“Not a chance, HB.”

“Ah come on, Abe, it’s for his own good!”

“Forget it.”

Glaring, Hellboy pointed out, “What if he is in trouble? What if, if Manning’s going to give him the boot or what if some demon’s taken root in his mind and he’s fighting for his very sanity?”

Abe laughed, a soft, musical sound. “I should think that if such were the case, I would be able to sense it without any trouble at all. No, you’re not going to use me to invade his privacy, Red. You’ll just have to find another way.”

Strike two.

Chomping on the unlit cigar, Hellboy stalked out of the study where Abe still lived and headed back to Liz’s quarters for another conference. She’d tried talking to Meyers the day before, taking him out for coffee in a nice little café in the city, but all the agent would say was that he had a decision to make. And from what Liz said, Meyers had been pretty upset that he’d told her even that much and shut up tight like a clam.

What the hell kind of decision could Meyers have to make that would get him into such a lather? He wasn’t dating anyone, and Hellboy firmly quelled the automatic jealousy at the thought that Meyers would start doing just that at some point in time, so marriage wasn’t on the horizon. He was working where he wanted to work, and getting himself into trouble on a pretty regular basis, so it wasn’t like he was lacking adventure or a challenge. Manning was an okay guy, even if he was a pretentious asshole about eighty percent of the time, so Meyers’ boss wasn’t the problem.

The only thing that he could think of, was that it had to do with family, but he didn’t know anything about the agent’s family. Well, except that Liz had told him about Meyers’ uncle raising him. And for whatever reason, his own Father had made sure that any snooping Hellboy did about Meyers on the FBI or BPRD systems, or any of the rest of the team for that matter, raised red flags all over the damn place.

“He didn’t go for it, huh?”

Scowling, Hellboy shook his head and flopped down on her bed, the furniture groaning a loud protest, but holding. “Not for a second. What’re we going to do?”

Leaning over to kiss his forehead, Liz answered, “Wait until he’s ready to talk to us, I guess.”

“No way. If we do that, he’ll make the wrong decision, whatever it is,” Hellboy countered.

Liz laughed and shook her head fondly. “You’re impossible.”

He grinned and rolled onto his side to tweak her nose. “And you know it, sister.”

It was amazing how drastically their love had change over the last six months. It had gone from smoldering passion where they couldn’t stop jumping each other, to a solid, comfortable love that was going to last the rest of their lives…in a completely platonic fashion. He almost grinned at the bizarre twist his sex-and-love-life had taken. They were more comfortable around each other now than they’d ever been before and that still took him by surprise.

Liz had likened it one night to the fire that they were both so intimately connected with: together, they had burned too bright and hot to last as lovers. But as friends and siblings, the love would be ever-present and keep them connected.

Win some, lose some, was Hellboy’s philosophy, even if it had taken him a couple of months to come to that realization. They were both happy and content with the new phase of their relationship and that was all that really mattered.

Coming back to the present, he complained, “We have to find out what’s going on!”

“He is allowed to have a private life you know,” she teased.

“No he’s not.”

“Ooh. Possessive much?”

“Liz, come on, I’m dying here!”

She laughed again and stretched out beside him. “All right, here’s what we do.”

“What?” Hellboy demanded.

“Find John…”

“Yeah?”

“Make sure he can’t get away.”

“Okay.”

“Then ask him what the problem is.”

He glared at her. “You are no help at all, you know that?”

* * * *

John knew that he wasn’t going to last too much longer without spilling his guts to HB; especially with all those looks that had been thrown his way the last twenty-four hours. It should be impossible for a demon of Hellboy’s size and demeanor to look so pathetically hurt like that, it really should.

Sighing, he opened the file for the hundredth time and re-read his job offer. It would be a good move for his career, no doubt about that. Agent-In-Charge of the New York Serialized Crimes Unit. He would get to work as a ‘real’ agent, out in the open, stopping madmen from hurting innocent civilians. He would get respect for his work. He would get a hefty pay-raise. He would have people working under him, maybe even people looking up to him for advice and guidance and help.

All of those things were far more tempting than John wanted to admit.

If he stayed at the BPRD, he had to deal with Manning’s foul temper and superiority complex. He had to ignore the snide and irritating looks and comments from the other agents about being HB’s babysitter. Not to mention the innuendo that he was more than that and had no other real skills. If he stayed, he had to work in the dark without any recognition whatsoever for any contribution that he made to saving the world on a pretty regular basis.

All of which sucked.

Sighing again, he scanned through the paperwork that reminded him of the deadline for his decision…one more day. He only had one more day to make a life-altering decision. And he knew that it was going to alter more than just his life if he left. Not in a huge way or anything, it would be more inconvenient than anything else, and that was the most disheartening thing about the whole situation.

He’d been with the BPRD for seven months and it had been one of the best times of his life, it really had. Liz and Abe were wonderful friends, and he would do anything for them. Clay had only been able to resume administrative duties, thanks to his brush with death, but they were peers and Clay treated him well. He was one of the few agents who did. Hellboy…well, there lay the problem.

A big problem to go with a big demon. He was in love with Hellboy and had been pretty much since Day One, when Clay had introduced them and the demon had been working out in his room. From that very first moment, John had wanted, no, he’d needed to do his very best to make sure that HB had the necessary backup, even if the other didn’t think it was necessary. Which he never did, of course.

The relationship between Liz and HB was difficult to witness, but he was honestly happy that two of the people he loved most in the world were happy together. Jealous as hell, but happy. And if he left, he wouldn’t have to see it and feel the knife cut even deeper. He could be happy for them at a distance, which was perhaps the biggest benefit of all.

“You’re an idiot,” he muttered, closing the file.

The thing that hurt the worst wasn’t being around Hellboy and Liz. No, the thing that cut him to ribbons was that if he left, Hellboy’s life would just go on as it always had. He hadn’t made any dent in the demon at all. Oh, HB liked him, well enough, and joked with him in that easy way he had with those on the ‘inner circle,’ but that was it. If John left, he would get another babysitter who would be on the outside for a while, but then let in because at heart, HB couldn’t stand to see anyone alone and out of place. HB was too often both to allow others to stay in that kind of situation if there was something he could do about it.

John didn’t kid himself that what had happened in Russia had anything to do with him. It hadn’t really been his voice that had reached Hellboy, it had been his father’s, Professor Blume’s sentiments shouted by John. Just as it had been Professor Blume’s Rosary to remind HB that he had a choice, that destiny was malleable. John had been incidental to the whole thing, in the way while those of real power fought for the fate of the world.

And though John was confident in his professional abilities under normal circumstances, they were pretty useless when it came to fighting demons and evil magicians and anyone else who tried to raise the forces of Evil to harm the world. He was pretty useless to the team all around.

Abe could talk all he wanted about John being pure of heart, but it wasn’t his heart that Hellboy had gone for when all was said and done. It had been Liz. And the casual friendship that had developed on the demon’s part for him told John that leaving wouldn’t do any damage more than the inconvenience to find someone to work with HB.

A knock at his door startled him and John called out, “Who is it?”

“It’s Abe. May I come in?”

Standing hurriedly, John grabbed the file and shoved it into his desk drawer across the room. He didn’t want Abe to accidentally touch it and find out what was going on. This was a decision he had to make on his own. After taking a moment to calm down and compose himself, John crossed to the door and opened it, smiling at his friend. “It’s a little late, but sure. Come in.”

Abe blinked at him a couple of times his brow furrowing briefly before stepping inside the small, neat quarters. “I apologize for the late hour. HB was…concerned…about you and thought I might be of some assistance.”

That figured. Hellboy hadn’t at all liked the information freeze and had already enlisted Liz to try and get him to spill the beans. Shrugging, John replied, “It’s nothing that anyone can help with, really. And I’m just about set with my decision anyhow.”

“It would perhaps be a good thing, for you to talk with someone about a momentous decision.”

John drew back out of range and said, “You can’t help, Abe, but thanks.”

The amphibian stared at him for a long moment before suggesting, “Before you leave, you should ask Hellboy about how he feels about Liz these days.”

Wondering if maybe someone was putting something in Abe’s tank to grow his powers, John didn’t really hear the last part of Abe’s words. All he really noticed was that Abe knew he was leaving. “Look, I don’t want you to say anything to the others, please. I’ll tell them on my own, okay?”

With a sad air, Abe nodded and agreed, “As you will. But John, I will miss you and our conversations greatly. And the civilizing affect you have on Red. He’s almost…human…with you around.”

“Thanks,” John answered, a brief smile lifting his lips. “I appreciate you saying so.”

“I mean it.”

John nodded and watched as Abe left the room without trying to touch him, grateful that at least his feelings for Hellboy were still a secret. He would have to find the right time to tell Liz and HB about leaving. He snorted and thought wryly, Well, at least you’ve made your decision.

That was when the alarm went off.

* * * *

“What do we got?” Hellboy demanded.

Manning grimaced and answered, “A very large reptilian demon of some kind wreaking havoc in Central Park. Just got the report that two civilians have been killed and three more injured.”

Hellboy snorted. “Beautiful. All right, let’s load up.”

It was a rush to get the equipment and weapons set up in the ‘trash’ truck, their primary form of transportation. A lot of the stuff had been cleared out for a refit and hadn’t yet been replaced. Hellboy concentrated on stocking The Samaritan with his all-purpose bullets that were filled with silver, holy water, and garlic, and making sure he had extra ammo on hand if he needed them.

Liz and Abe chatted quietly as the truck moved at a decent clip through the late-night streets on its way to the Park. Meyers though…Hellboy frowned as he noticed the young man just staring into space. Usually he was alert and responsive when a job came up. His dark eyes were always in motion, taking everything in and not missing a detail. His body language was tense, but not stiff, the weight resting on the balls of his feet as if ready for a fight. None of that was present, this time though, and it was disturbing to see him just…not there.

Worried, Hellboy snapped, “Meyers! You with us or what?”

Flinching at the literal growl of his name, Meyers turned big, hurt eyes on him before gathering his composure around him like an almost visible shield. “Yeah, I’m here. Sorry.”

“Forget it,” Hellboy said, by way of apology. He noticed Abe and Liz’s disapproving looks and wondered, How the hell did I become the bad guy here? Out loud, he asked, “So Abe, you got any ideas yet?”

“It’s a little too soon to tell, HB,” Abe replied in that infuriatingly calm tone of his.

Grumbling to himself, Hellboy prowled the inside of the truck and was out the door the second that it stopped moving and the blue siren-light flashed the all-clear.

Manning joined them in back of the truck and announced, “This was the last attack site. Start here and find the damn thing, then put it down.”

“Aw really? I was kinda looking forward to making it into a pet,” Hellboy needled.

Glowering, Manning just stabbed a finger at the park.

Sauntering away from the older man, Hellboy stopped at the bloody mess of grass and dirt a few yards away. He squatted down and noticed the long gashes in the dirt indicating really big freakin’ claws. “Great.”

The others arrived a second later and Abe knelt beside him, a webbed hand hovering over the area. “Raw instinct. Wild. Evil. Blood-thirsty…in the literal sense. I think…it feeds off the blood.”

Hellboy grimaced. “A blood-sucking crocodile. Wonderful. Got a direction?”

The hand lowered, but didn’t touch the ground as Abe replied, “Towards the moon.”

“Okay, I got it from here,” Hellboy said.

He knew that Meyers would ignore him and do his best to keep up, following from a distance when Hellboy outdistanced him. He counted on it like he’d never counted on back-up before in his life. Setting off at a fast pace, it was easy for him to follow the trail that led directly along the moon’s path through the Park. The ground was torn up by the long claws used even for running. There weren’t, thankfully, any more deaths or injuries to come up against.

One thing he really couldn’t stand was seeing some fragile human in pieces because some cousin of his had a hankering for human flesh or worse…cats.

The trail stopped abruptly and Hellboy frowned, looking around. He spotted Meyers about a quarter mile behind but doggedly pursuing and grinned. “Keep at it, Boyscout.”

The humor left as he tried to figure out where the demon had disappeared to. Touching his communicator, he asked, “Hey Abe. This thing can’t teleport or something, can it?”

“Nooo,” came the thoughtful response. “Why?”

“Because it just van…gah!”

Hellboy collapsed to the ground as something really heavy landed on him from above, knocking him flat. Pain seared through his back as claws slashed through him, his skin sliced with ease by one of his own. Howling in pain and anger, Hellboy smashed his elbow back, connecting hard with something. He did it again and again and finally, the thing jumped off him.

Staggering to his feet, Hellboy pulled out his gun, but he was jumped before he could fire. Facing the thing, Hellboy got an up-close and personal look at the massive jaw filled with a double row of fangs. It was kind of like a croc, except way the hell bigger and uglier, not to mention a lot more mobile, which sucked.

“Get. Off. Me!” Hellboy snarled, punching the thing in the face with his stone fist.

It rolled off him, dazed by the blows, but only for a few seconds. Long enough for Hellboy to get back on his feet and make a run for his weapon lying at the base of the tree where the thing had been hiding. There wasn’t enough time to get there, though, because it was on him again. He just barely managed to grab the snout and keep those wickedly sharp looking teeth from snapping around his neck.

Hazard bonus for this one, no damn doubt about it! he thought crazily as his knee slammed into the thick torso.

Hellboy grunted in surprise and strain when an additional weight drove the thing even closer and he struggled to keep his hold on it. He had the brief glimpse of Meyers’ pale face and the flash of white hands digging into the demon’s eyes from above.

The creature howled in agony as the big eyes were gouged by human fingers. It jumped off him and Hellboy had the sickening sight of John being tossed around like he was some bronco rider.

Panic surged through him, focusing Hellboy. He leaped for his gun, cocked the trigger and aimed it within three seconds. He couldn’t shoot though, not with Meyers attached to the thing’s back like a leech. “Meyers! Let go, damn it!”

His shout became moot because the demon slammed the agent into a tree just then. Hellboy heard a few cracks and crunches and fury lit through him. The second the demon leaped for him, he fired the gun, taking off half its head in shot after shot. Kicking it for good measure on his way to Meyers’ still body proved that it was dead.

Kneeling beside the young man, Hellboy was afraid at first that John was dead, he looked so broken. The right arm was bent at a very wrong angle and his face was bashed and bloody, probably from the demon slamming its head backwards into the human to get loose. There were small slices all through the shirt, blood soaking the remains of it. That was when Hellboy realized that the demon had had some kind of spiked armor and John had leaped directly on it to protect him.

“Oh God,” he breathed, shocked at the extent of the damage. Louder, he exclaimed, “Man down! Get a damn ambulance here now!”

“We’re on the way, HB,” Liz’s worried voice answered. “How is he?”

Hellboy swallowed and reached out, touching a single finger to the strangely unmarked throat. Relief at finding a pulse made his knees weak and he knew it was a good thing he was already kneeling. “He’s alive. Other than that…I don’t know.”

“Two minutes, HB,” Liz promised.

Meyers’ eyes fluttered open a second later and a smile surfaced as he met Hellboy’s gaze. “You’re okay.”

The whisper was barely audible, but Hellboy heard it. Swallowing heavily, Hellboy nodded and agreed, “Too tough for an ugly croc to get me, Boyscout, you should know that. Hey, you want a new pair of boots?”

The smile grew, but then Meyers faded into unconsciousness.

Hellboy had never felt so helpless in his life.

* * * *

Liz would never forget the sight of Hellboy kneeling beside John for the rest of her life. There had been a shattered look in his changeable eyes that she’d never before seen, as if he’d just realized his heart and had it snatched away. Which was probably pretty accurate, she thought later. Usually Hellboy needed to be hit over the head with a 2x4 to understand things of the emotional nature.

She had kept him out of the paramedics’ way as they’d carefully triaged and then strapped John into a backboard to load him into the ambulance. Hellboy’s tail had slid around her waist, the only concession he’d given to his own injuries, using her for balance as they’d gone more slowly to the trash truck, which had arrived while John was being looked at.

On the truck, Hellboy had submitted with unusual ease to being treated, which caused her and Abe to exchange worried looks. A quiet Hellboy was never a good thing. The tail didn’t leave her waist though, so she’d taken that as a positive sign.

And now they were back at the BPRD waiting for word. Manning hadn’t called yet to let them know how John was fairing, though Clay had updated them to the fact that John was in surgery for internal injuries. Hellboy was sitting on his bed, surrounded by the cats, who seemed to know that he needed comforting.

Sighing, she glanced at Abe and asked, “What are we going to do?”

“Nothing we can do,” he answered, just as quiet. “The big ape needs time to adjust.”

Half-smiling, she said, “He didn’t react this way to finding out he was in love with me.”

One of Abe’s hands ghosted over her face and he replied, “Different kinds of love, Liz. Apples and oranges.”

“Yeah, I know,” she agreed, wistful. Just because she wasn’t in love with HB anymore didn’t mean that she didn’t miss the way they’d been together. Her bed was certainly a lot emptier these days.

“Hey Liz?”

Glancing over at HB to find him standing, and how silently he could move still surprised her sometimes, she replied, “Yeah, Red?”

“Can you go to the hospital for me?”

She knew just how much it cost Red to ask that and nodded right away. “What about you?”

“I’ll be outside, on the roof. But when Meyers comes out of it, he should see a friendly face,” Hellboy answered, walking over to them. “I’ve still got my communicator on, so let me know when he’s in a room, and which one.”

“Of course.”

“Thanks.”

Liz smiled as he gently chucked her on the chin, a fraction of his usual energy coming up. “I’ll walk you out.”

* * * *

John had been injured in a lot of different places with plenty of broken bones over the years. It had just never been all at the same time. When he finally drifted up through the fog, it was to feel a dull, throbbing pain through most of his body. It was one of those deep aches that left a person winded and in more pain than seemed possible, despite the heavy drugs that he knew he had to be on.

The first thing he noticed after the pain was that he was holding something in his hand, but it didn’t feel like anything that he could remember. Curiosity demanded that he open his eyes and see what that something was, so after a few minutes of struggling, he managed to do so. To his complete and utter shock, he was holding Hellboy’s tail and the demon himself was sleeping awkwardly in a hospital chair that barely contained his weight, right beside the bed.

Hellboy a lot better than John would’ve expected, given how the reptilian demon had been all over him. Then again, he was wearing his standard trenchcoat, probably in case he had to make a fast exit, and that covered a lot of sins. Aside from a large bruise on his cheek, Hellboy looked completely unharmed and that caused him to sigh in relief. He’d been positive that he’d arrive too late to stop the other from being chomped into little pieces.

The tail twitched in his hands and John’s fingers instinctively closed around it. One of Hellboy’s eyes cracked open and for a long moment, they just stared at each other. Then John smiled and whispered, “Hey. You’re all right.”

Hellboy stood and moved to stand beside the bed. “You know, if you wanted time off, there’s easier ways of getting it.”

John laughed, then groaned, complaining, “Please don’t make me laugh!”

“Sorry, Squirt,” Hellboy apologized, grinning briefly. “Broken ribs are a bitch, I know.”

“So what else is wrong with me? How long am I laid up?” John asked, almost afraid of the answer.

Hellboy’s tail twitched again, but all he said was, “About a month. You took some internal damage, so that’ll take the longest to heal up. Your arm was dislocated, but not broken, and the ribs’ll hurt, but they didn’t get too badly busted up so you don’t have to worry about puncturing a lung or anything. We’ll be up and at ‘em in no time.”

Arching an eyebrow, John questioned, “We?”

“Well yeah. You don’t think I’m going to work without my partner, do you?” Hellboy replied, gruff and awkward.

Which gave him the perfect opening, despite the fact that he really didn’t want to take it. He wanted Hellboy to scoop him up and hold him forever. Sighing, John announced, “You need a new partner anyhow, because I’m leaving the BPRD.”

Hellboy didn’t move except for his tail, which twitched out of John’s grip altogether, the only sign of agitation. “What’re you talking about?”

“I got a job offer back at the FBI. It’s a great opportunity that I really can’t afford to miss,” John answered truthfully. Not that he wouldn’t miss it in a heartbeat if Hellboy asked him to stay, but the likelihood of that was…

“Don’t take it.”

…a lot higher than he’d thought, apparently. John blinked at Hellboy in shock for a long minute then asked, “Excuse me?”

“I said, don’t take it,” Hellboy repeated, tail swishing as he paced away. He stopped at the window, staring out of it for a few seconds before turning back and exclaiming, “I don’t want a new damn partner, Meyers, I just got you broken in. Heh. No pun intended.”

John’s lips twitched into a grin despite himself and the seriousness of the situation. Beating it back, he said, “Red, look, I can find you someone that will be a lot better at this stuff than I am. Someone stronger than me, who can watch your back for real.”

“You watch it just fine, Meyers,” Hellboy growled.

Exasperated, John countered, “Obviously not, or I wouldn’t be in this hospital bed! Hellboy, just listen to me, okay? You don’t…you don’t need me, not really, and I can do more good by giving you a proper partner who can really help the team. You don’t have to tell me how, how inadequate I am for this job, I hear it from everyone else, every day. And I knew it when I took the position, too. I tried to get Professor Blume to reconsider, but he wouldn’t.”

Hellboy had stopped short in his pacing and his jaw had actually dropped a couple of notches by the time John finished speaking. “Is that what’s been going on in your noggin? And who’s been saying that shit? Because it ain’t true!”

John sighed, not feeling anywhere near up to this conversation, but he knew it had to be done. If he’d been slower, if he hadn’t been able to distract the demon in time, Hellboy could be dead. That wasn’t anything that bore thinking about, so he said stubbornly, “Yes it is, and you know it. I could’ve gotten you killed because I wasn’t fast enough!”

“No human is fast enough to keep up with me, Meyers, none of you. But you know what? All these years I been doing this, you’re the only one who’s tried,” Hellboy snapped. “If I’d been smarter, I’d’ve noticed that a lot damn sooner and told you so. If I had, you wouldn’t be trying to slink outta here with your tail between your legs.”

“I don’t have a tail.”

“Shut up and listen.”

The glare aimed at him was full force and even though John knew that Hellboy wouldn’t hurt him, he shut up. This was obviously important to the demon.

“You’ve been right in my damn face from the first time you couldn’t take your eyes off my horns. You never listen to me. You always go head first into danger. You take my shit when you should punch me in the kisser. You do an impossible job the best you can every damn time and for no thanks from anyone, let alone me. You’re an all around pain in the ass, Meyers and…I love you.”

John frowned, not getting the joke. He’d obviously missed something, somewhere, because what Hellboy had just said made no sense at all. “Huh?”

Growling, Hellboy returned to the bed and sat on it, putting a large hand carefully on John’s chest. John stared at the demon as he leaned closer, bending down towards him. His eyes widened as he had the inane thought, I wish I’d brushed my teeth recently.

Then he was given the softest, most gentle kiss that he’d ever had in his life and whimpered in need at the contact. It deepened after that, but remained incredibly gentle, especially considering the strength Hellboy possessed. His mouth opened on a gasp and Hellboy’s tongue slid inside, exploring. John shuddered at the feel of the large tongue filling his mouth and started kissing back, needing more and not feeling any pain as the kiss deepened further.

John was vaguely aware of an annoying noise and belatedly realized that someone was pounding on the door. He jerked away from Hellboy with a start and the demon growled in displeasure, trying to restart the kiss. John barely avoided it and the warm, insistent mouth landed on his neck. He groaned in pleasure as Hellboy promptly latched onto the skin there and sucked on it.

When the pounding increased and he heard voices outside, John managed to gasp, “Door! Red! You’ve got to get out of here!”

Hellboy sat up and glared at the door, even as he was on his feet and heading for the window. Throwing it open, he turned back to John and pointed at him. “Don’t you take that stinkin’ job!”

Grinning foolishly, John promised, “I won’t. Now get lost.”

The demon was gone a split second before the door burst open, nurses and doctors piling inside and instantly coming over to his bed. He endured the questions and poking and prodding with the same stupid grin, not breathing a word as to where the unusual rash on his throat had come from.

* * * *

John hid a grin at Hellboy’s overprotective hovering and said mildly, “You’re going to trip me so that I fall on my own face if you keep that close the whole way there.”

Hellboy instantly backed off, then growled softly as he caught Liz and John’s grins. “Great. Now I have to put up with both of ya.”

“Well, only if you want to,” John replied demurely. It was just too easy. “It’s not like you have to stick around. We didn’t really make any plans.”

A helpless look surface immediately on Hellboy’s face as he tried to figure out the supposed dilemma of what to say to that.

Liz burst out laughing and slid between them, taking an arm of each and scolding, “Don’t tease the animals, John.”

“Oh very funny,” Hellboy grumbled.

Grinning, John replied, “I thought so.”

“Ya know, Boyscout, payback’s a bitch.”

The promise in Hellboy’s eyes was enough to give John a shiver and he quickly looked away. Thankfully, they’d arrived at Hellboy’s quarters and he wouldn’t have long to finally finish what they’d started a little over a month ago in the hospital.

“And on that very interesting note, I will see you two tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the day after that,” Liz announced, practically dancing out of range.

“Women.”

John grinned in agreement at the sentiment, then gasped in surprise when he was lifted up and over Hellboy’s shoulder. Carefully, he noted, Hellboy wasn’t taking any chances with him the first day out of the hospital. Grinning mischievously at HB’s backside, he stretched and was just barely able to grab the tail.

“Hey! What the hell!?” Hellboy demanded, turning around to kick the door shut. “Leggo!”

“Just some insurance.”

“Meyers, come on, let go of me!”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Oh yeah?”

John had just enough time to think, Uh oh, before his legs were grabbed and he was dangled over Hellboy’s shoulder, completely in the air. He maintained his hold on the tail, still grinning wildly. It was the most fun he’d had in over a month, after all, and he wasn’t even sore, well, not really. “Stalemate.”

A chuckle rumbled through the air and Hellboy answered, “Yeah, I think you’re right, Squirt. Tell you what, you let go of my tail and I’ll drop you on the bed.”

“You drop me on the bed and I’ll let go of your tail,” John countered.

Hellboy shifted so that John was held over the bed and gently put him down. Once prone, John let go of the tail, staring at HB upside down as the demon turned to face him.

Sitting on the bed beside him, Hellboy smirked, “You’re some negotiator, Boyscout.”

John grinned and said agreeably, “Top of my class.”

They stared at each other for a long moment before Hellboy continued, “I’m not real good with, you know, any of this.”

Putting his hand on Hellboy’s thigh, John smiled at him. “Me, either. I think we’ll be okay, though.”

A strangely gentle smile surfaced on Hellboy’s face, completely out of place on the demonic visage, as was the love that showed from the changeable golden eyes. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” John confirmed. He shifted so his head was on Hellboy’s thigh, giving him an up close and personal view of the demon’s crotch, and he asked lazily, “So. What do you want to do, my first night back?”

“I think that look on your face means I’m in trouble.”

“Well, I wouldn’t just take without asking, that would be rude.”

“Politeness is overrated.”

Chuckling, John worked on undoing the belt and zipper, feeling the large cock beneath hardening as he did so. Yanking his shirt up and off and throwing it aside, Hellboy’s breathing increased just from his doing that and John paused just to feel the other’s body, rubbing his hands over the hard length and then between HB’s thighs, making no move to do more than that.

“Meyers!”

John smirked a little, then got to work again and pulled the thick shaft from its confinement. It was a double handful, no doubt about that, and he shivered in anticipation of having it inside him. Pushing onto an elbow, he licked it and found it didn’t taste any different from the flesh of his other lovers, except a little saltier. It was hotter though, definitely, and he continued to taste, licking up the sides until Hellboy was groaning, his fingers twining in John’s hair.

Getting the message, he started sucking on the head, then moved down as far as he could which, granted, wasn’t a lot. He tried to make up for it by reaching into HB’s pants and rubbing his balls, which caused the demon to thrust into his mouth too far. Choking, he pulled off and cleared his throat, apologizing, “Sorry.”

Strong hands gripped him, the stone one beneath him, and shift him until he was straddling Hellboy’s lap. The stone arm slid around his waist, keeping him there, and the other hand moved up to comb through his hair as Hellboy asked, “Do I look like I’m complaining?”

John grinned, relieved, and answered, “Not yet anyhow. I haven’t done this a lot, so I’m probably not that great at it.”

“Jeeze, kid, do you have to be modest even in bed?”

But before John could protest that it wasn’t modesty, Hellboy took his mouth in a fierce kiss. Moaning into it, John opened his mouth for more, his arms winding around Hellboy’s neck for better support. He undulated as much as he could with the stone arm holding him in place, rubbing against HB’s exposed cock and provoking a loud growl. His body jerked from the force of BH literally tearing his pants of in a few quick rips. His boxers were next, and then his shirt and John found himself glad that he could afford replacements.

The stone hand rested on his ass, one of the fingers covering his hole completely, cool against his hot skin and John wriggled against it suggestively. A spurt of pre-come from Hellboy’s cock hit him in the chest and he moaned again, aching for his lover.

Braking off the kiss, Hellboy panted a bit, then gasped, “Not this time, Squirt. When you’re all healed up and we can both enjoy it.”

“But…”

Hellboy resumed the kiss, again stifling his protest and John hoped querulously that HB wouldn’t use that method in public. Then a warm hand surrounded his cock and started stroking, scattering his thoughts entirely. John tightened his arms and thrust into the grip which, in turn, rubbed against Hellboy’s cock. It had been so long, and this was so good, that he couldn’t last. Arching back as orgasm sizzled through him, John shouted and came, spurting against Hellboy. The demon let out a loud groan and came, adding to the mess on their bodies.

Collapsing in Hellboy’s arms, John wrapped his legs around his lover to get as close as possible, holding tight.

Hellboy’s regular hand rubbed up and down his spine as the demon came down off his own orgasm, his breathing slowing and nuzzling at John’s throat, sucking another mark into existence.

“You know, that’s why we were interrupted the first time,” John observed lazily.

Hellboy broke off marking him to ask, “Huh?”

Grinning, John explained, “The wires attached to me, monitoring me in the hospital. The one on my heart went through the roof when you were kissing me. The nurse told me later that they thought I was having a heart attack.”

More than a little smug, Hellboy answered, “You were, just the good kind.”

John yawned, suddenly unable not to, and chuckled as he rested his head on HB’s shoulder, his eyes closing. He’d been up the entire day, after all, first being discharged from the hospital and then meeting with Manning for a couple of hours before having supper with Abe, Liz and Hellboy.

“All right. Time for all good little agents to be in bed,” Hellboy announced, moving until they were lying prone on the bed. Protesting when his lover released him to get off the bed only earned him a fond swat on the thigh and, “Just getting something to clean you up. You humans stink after sex.”

Snorting, John stretched, feeling completely relaxed for the first time since getting that job offer. Longer than that, if he thought about it. HB turned off the lights as he returned to wipe him clean, lingering long enough over his lax cock and balls for it to stir sluggishly. Shivering in reaction, parting his legs to the possessive caress, John stared at the demon through lidded eyes and asked, “You sure you don’t want to…?”

Hellboy’s eyes gleamed in the near dark. “Oh I want to, trust me. But not tonight.”

“Then stop teasing and let’s get to sleep,” John ordered, holding out a hand.

Tossing the washcloth across the room to land unerringly in the hamper, Hellboy slid under the covers with him and gathered John close. Snuggled close to his unusually warm lover, John slid towards sleep, kissing the bare chest. This was a much better opportunity than any job could be.