The biggest problem with working in Antarctica was that it was so damn hot.
Scratch that, Myers thought. The fact that it was so hot was only the second biggest problem with working in Antarctica; the first biggest problem was that no one from the main office believed him when he complained about how hot it really was.
Myers sighed, pushed several strategic buttons on the monitor, and jotted down the time and figures in the official logbook. Before him, the Void pulsed regularly, a slow thrum-thrum-thrumming that vibrated from the sizzling borders of the giant hole in space and time, through the fabric of reality itself, along a seemingly endless tunnel into the abyss. The temperature at the core was 284 degrees Fahrenheit, although the solid-steel room BPRD had built to contain the Void was a comparatively comfortable 102 today. The electric charge around the perimeter was 1252 volts, and the Void had just spat out what looked like an apple core from an alien dimension. All of this was absolutely normal.
The scientists' latest theory was that the Void was nothing more than an interdimensional garbage disposal. Myers was inclined to agree with them most of the time. Every so often something more significant would come through: once a stream of sentient quicksilver, another time a bucket of baby cackleshells, and of course that one time when the acid-coated behemoth stormed right in and proceeded to eat the master computer. They'd been stuck having to measure everything manually for two months after that incident, before the main office was willing to ship something down to the middle of Antarctica's frozen wasteland. That hadn't been fun.
For the most part, though, Void-duty was a boring but regular component of everyone in the Antarctica base's job. The rules were simple: dress for the heat, come armed, and bring a good book because 95% of the time nothing happened.
Today, unfortunately, was one of the days when something happened.
Myers had just been getting to the good part in his book, with the hero and the villain struggling atop the tower for the antidote to the genetically engineered virus that would soon kill them both, when the Void spat something out.
Specifically, the Void spat someone out.
Myers leapt to his feet, gun in hand, the instant the nightmarish black pulses of the Void turned a sickly green color. The green rings of light were first visible as a tiny green dot, infinitely far away, but then they spread out, coming into Myers' dimension at an unthinkable speed, coming faster and faster, closer and closer together, until finally the entire Void glowed bright green. The electric readings were off the chart, the air seemed to boil, and then – suddenly, with a flash of white light – it was over.
The nude body of a man spilled from the opening and collapsed to the ground, trembling and gasping for air.
"Don't move!" Myers demanded, weapon pointed squarely at the man's head. His face was hidden by a cascade of long, pale hair. Myers hit the emergency button and circled around to get a better angle on the man.
The man didn't look like he was getting up any time soon, though. A shiver raked through his body, which was ridiculous given how hot it was in front of the Void. Spasms seemed to be shooting through the man's limbs, but Myers could tell they were involuntary, like the man had no control over his body whatsoever. The man was covered from head to toe in something clear, sticky, and viscous. Goo, Myers concluded. He'd let the scientists work out what it actually was once this latest security threat was dealt with and properly analyzed.
The man twitched again, and this time Myers could see some intention in the movement. It looked like the man was slowly figuring out how to operate his body, like something that had never taken corporeal form before or at least had spent a very long time away from it.
"Freeze," Myers insisted. "I'm warning you. I'll shoot."
The man wheezed one last time and then suddenly went perfectly still and silent.
Myers froze, too, and felt a moment of panic that the man had died. He lowered his weapon a few inches and took a step closer, veering in to check the man's pulse. The man didn't move as Myers reached down, free hand extended toward the ghostly white skin of the man's neck.
And then, suddenly, when Myers was mere inches away, the man's head snapped up, and otherworldly golden eyes bored into Myers.
Myers didn't even have time to react before the man flipped up behind him and caught his arm around Myers' throat from behind. Myers tried to raise his weapon, but it was batted easily out of his hand by what felt like superhuman strength.
"Human," the 'man' hissed, surprisingly in English.
Myers froze. The 'man' was a solid mass of naked muscle against Myers' back, and Myers could feel that any kind of struggle would be hopeless.
"Is there no place left on the planet that your kind hasn't corrupted?" the 'man' asked rhetorically. His arm tightened around Myers' throat.
Myers gasped for air.
Around that time, his back-up arrived, weapons out and ready. Unfortunately, Myers now acted as an effective shield between his allies and his captor. It was not turning out to be one of Myers' better days.
"Let him go, or I'll shoot!" Andersen demanded.
Myers remembered dimly, against the fading blackness, that Andersen was the worst shot in their entire unit.
"Your kind is everywhere," the 'man' hissed against Myers' ear, his lips just brushing the flesh there.
It almost felt nice. Actually, the blackness felt sort of nice, too. Myers forgot all about his impending death, then, as he felt the nothingness slip around him like a warm, welcoming blanket…
And then his captor slumped, staggered, and fell to the ground, right on top of Myers.
Reality came back to Myers in a whoosh of air to his lungs, and he collapsed forward onto his knees, his lungs desperately seeking oxygen once more, his captor still slumped over his back, impossibly heavy.
There was a flurry around him, of men and guns and wild shouts, while Myers tried to piece together what had just happened.
They shot him, Myers' hysterical mind provided. No, it's Andersen. He couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. He must have shot ME.
Myers' hands fumbled over his chest, but he wasn't shot. At the same time, the unit pulled the naked 'man' off his back, and Myers staggered back up to his feet. He took another few strangled breaths, and his head cleared enough to look over his shoulder at the creature who had emerged from the Void. He was now spread out just behind Myers on his back, silky white hair fanned out around his head almost like a halo. His skin was unnaturally pale and, Myers now noticed, his skin was criss-crossed with regular, geometric patterns, almost like an alien tattoo or ritual scarring.
Myers blinked at the creature who had nearly killed him. Like this, he actually looked ethereally beautiful. He also, Myers couldn't help but notice, had a really big dick.
Myers shook his head again to clear it and processed the fact that the 'man,' for lack of a better term, hadn't been shot, either.
Apparently, he'd just fainted.
It was Myers' lucky day.
God, he hated Antarctica.
The 'man' was strapped down onto an examining bed and locked in the strongest holding cell they had, the one that had once housed the behemoth. He remained unconscious the entire time, to everyone's relief.
That afternoon, Dr. Roehrig managed to get a signal out from their shaky internet connection to the secret government satellite overhead. This in itself was nothing sort of a miracle because the thing was always on the fritz. Even all BPRD's funding couldn't make Antarctica wi-fi compliant.
Their new houseguest meant that they had to switch up the rotations, of course. Now both the Void and the prisoner needed to be under twenty-four-hour surveillance. Although, frankly, their prisoner wasn't looking so good, so it might all be a moot point very shortly. That happened a lot; things emerged from the Void that just weren't adapted to live on earth, and they withered away pretty quickly.
Myers had the third shift guarding the prisoner and studied the shaky breaths of his chest as it rose and fell. It didn't look healthy. Now that Myers had a closer look and his life was no longer in danger, he took the time to more thoroughly study their prisoner. It wasn't just the color of his skin or the weird markings that made him unique, Myers discovered. The 'man' also had elegantly pointed ears, like something out of 'Star Trek.' Not that Myers would ever admit to watching 'Star Trek.'
"Shift's up," Andersen informed him, and Myers had been so intently observing their prisoner that he hadn't even realized how fast the time had gone by.
"Just a second," Myers nodded in agreement. "I'll be right back."
Andersen looked more confused by this than anything, but Myers returned a few minutes later with a pair of his old boxer shorts.
"Keep your weapon trained on him while I unlock his feet," Myers instructed.
"What? Don't be an idiot, Myers," Andersen said, but he did it anyway. Myers figured Andersen just didn't want to spend the next six hours staring at an unknown creature's ding-dong.
Myers opened the door to the cell and got the manacles off the prisoner's feet without so much as a stir. Andersen nervously pointed his gun at the prisoner's head the whole time. Myers tried not to think too much about the fact that, if the prisoner actually woke up, Andersen was just as likely to hit Myers' head in the crossfire.
The prisoner didn't wake up, though, and Myers slid his boxers up lean, muscular hips. The prisoner's skin felt slightly cool, even in the blazing heat of the Antarctica base. He wasn't chill or clammy, though. The feeling was hard for Myers to even categorize. Maybe…refreshing. Like the feeling of stepping into the woods on a crisp, spring morning when the snow had just melted away. The prisoner had a distinctive smell like that, too, Myers could observe now that he was this close. He smelled of life and nature and growing things.
"Okay, he's covered," Andersen complained, snapping Myers from his reverie. "Stop feeling up your boyfriend already and get out of there."
"Very mature, Andersen," Myers retorted and reattached the ankle cuffs before exiting the cell and locking the door behind him.
"I'll give him all your love when he wakes up," Andersen taunted him and made some kissy noises.
"Oh, shut up," Myers complained and left Andersen to his guard duty in peace.
Two days later, the prisoner still hadn't woken up, Dr. Roehrig was starting to get seriously worried, and they finally heard back from HQ. After that moment, the prisoner wasn't a 'man' anymore. Apparently, he was an elf. Apparently, he was also a dead elf. He had a file and everything, including a picture, and everyone (except for Stevens because Stevens was always contrary like that) agreed that their elf was the late, not-so-dearly departed Prince Nuada.
That certainly made life more interesting.
"If he's from this freaking planet, I'm getting him on an IV," Dr. Roehrig decided. "It probably won't make his blood explode, and he's going to die if I just do nothing."
"Uh, you did read Manning's report?" Stevens asked in disbelief.
Manning had actually gone to the effort of getting the Antarctic satellite repositioned simply so that he could re-warn them for a seventh and eighth time that Nuada was dangerous and should, ideally, be thrown back into the Void ASAP.
Dr. Roehrig snorted, indicating his opinion of Manning all too well. "He's my patient. Until I get orders otherwise, I'm keeping him alive." He looked to Colonel Ray.
Colonel Ray, as per usual, said nothing and filled in another answer in his crossword puzzle. Colonel Ray was rather a mystery to Myers, as well as to everyone else at the Antarctica base. Overall, he'd spoken maybe ten sentences since Myers got there, and he never issued any orders. The rest of them were left to more or less run things by themselves, which meant that Dr. Roehrig, as the next senior-most member of the staff, unofficially ran things. Apparently, Colonel Ray was too caught up in his crossword puzzles to care. Heaven only knew how the man had ever made colonel.
"Great, then," Dr. Roehrig concluded. "Meeting adjourned. Myers, you're with me."
Stevens grumbled a little, but no one said anything. Myers followed Dr. Roehrig back to the prisoner's – Nuada's – cell.
"Keep your weapon on him, in case he wakes up," Dr. Roehrig instructed.
"And then what?" Myers asked curiously. "Shoot him?"
Dr. Roehrig shrugged. "You heard what Manning said."
Myers slumped at that. "Yeah, yeah, tried to destroy the world as we know it… So why are we keeping him alive?"
"Aren't you curious how a dead elf popped out of the Void?" Dr. Roehrig retorted. "Besides, who hasn't tried to destroy the world as we know it nowadays?" He prepared the IV for Nuada's arm.
Myers half-heartedly drew his weapon. Honestly, after so long, he didn't really expect the prisoner – Nuada, Myers forced himself to remember – to wake up.
So, of course, as soon as Dr. Roehrig stuck the needle in Nuada's arm, he awoke with a feral roar. He managed to rip the strap of his right wrist tie straight off the table, knock the needle out of Dr. Roehrig's hand, and wrap his arm around Dr. Roehrig's throat in a stranglehold all before Myers could even blink.
"Put him down," Myers demanded and cursed to himself when he realized that Nuada was using Dr. Roehrig as a very effective shield.
Nuada's pupils contracted sharply in the bright, overhead, laboratory lights, as if he were more used to darker places, until his eyes appeared almost wholly an unnatural gold. "You again?" he hissed. "Where am I?"
"Look, uh, Prince Nuada? Your highness?" Myers had never actually talked to an elfin prince before. There were probably protocols for this sort of thing, but hell if he knew what they were.
"You know my name." Nuada cocked his head to one side, as if Myers were a rather dull-looking pet that had just performed an interesting trick.
"This is the Antarctica headquarters of the BPRD," Myers explained. "My name is—"
"BPRD?" Nuada cut him off. "I know this…" He looked off into the distance for a moment, trying to place the name.
"Yes, I believe you're acquainted with one of our field agents—"
"Anung Un Rama!" Nuada spat and then said something really fast in a language Myers didn't know, but he didn't need to understand to tell it was profanity.
"Uh, yeah, that's Red," Myers agreed. "Most people have a similar reaction."
Nuada's reaction was to increase his stranglehold on Dr. Roehrig. "Release me at once!" he demanded imperiously. Dr. Roehrig made some pathetic wheezing noises like he was dying.
Myers retrained his weapon on Nuada at this increased threat. "Let him go or I will shoot," Myers warned.
"You're boring me, human." Nuada's grip on Dr. Roehrig's throat tightened until his eyes started to roll back in his head. "Release me."
Nuada had gotten out of the restraints easily enough, but those were just nylon straps. It seemed the metal bars of his holding cell were beyond him. He had greater physical strength than a human, then, but not anything like the behemoth that had nearly taken the whole building down. It was frightening how quickly Myers had gotten down the basics of dealing with the abnormal.
"Okay," Myers agreed shakily, pulling up his weapon. "I just don't want anyone to get hurt."
Nuada's eyes narrowed. He seemed surprised that it had been this easy, but his grip on Dr. Roehrig loosened enough that Dr. Roehrig was able to breathe again. That was good.
"The door," Nuada demanded.
"Right." Myers made his way carefully over to the door to the cell. He held his right hand with the gun above his head in a placating gesture and then switched it slowly to his left hand, so he could use the right for the key pad.
"Stop stalling," Nuada hissed.
Myers opened the door and held his breath. Please work, please work… he pleaded inwardly.
Nuada paused, Dr. Roehrig still tight in his clutches, at the door. He sniffed the air suspiciously. Spooky gold eyes that seemed to see right through Myers suddenly widened with realization. "You…are trying to trick me, human," he accused. "Just what are you up to?"
"I'm not up to anything," Myers said unconvincingly. "I just want my man back."
Nuada sneered at him. "I can taste your lie even in this sweltering air."
Myers gulped and tried a non-threatening smile. Nuada was so close to the door and the static charges set up there to shock any non-humans who passed through. That was the only thing that had finally brought down the behemoth, so Myers was almost positive it would work on Nuada, too.
Nuada tightened his hold on Dr. Roehrig's throat. "Come in here," he demanded.
Myers winced. That wasn't part of the plan. On the other hand, maybe once he got closer, he and Dr. Roehrig could pull something off together. Against the lightning-quick elf prince, who had already completely captured them both, while seemingly at death's door. Right.
"Come here," Nuada repeated, and Dr. Roehrig was gasping for breath again, so Myers didn't have much of a choice.
He stepped into the cell; the static charges didn't react to his presence at all, of course.
"Closer," Nuada's voice was almost a purr, with something powerful and hypnotic hidden deep inside.
Myers stepped closer, and Nuada released Dr. Roehrig to press his palm against Myers' cheek. Myers felt something wild and alien creeping into the corners of his conscious mind, brushing against hidden thoughts and desires that no one else had any business touching. He could feel himself losing his grip on reality, caving in and surrendering himself entirely. He shuddered at the feeling of someone else inside him, piercing deep into his mind, and then…
"Ah," Nuada ferreted out the secret of the door's charges. "A clever trap."
Myers pulled the trigger.
Nuada gaped down at the bloody hole in his side. Apparently, he hadn't realized where Myers' gun had ended up any more than Myers had. "Y-You…" he spat and fell to the ground.
Myers stood stunned for a second, amazed at what his instincts had achieved even when his conscious thoughts had been corrupted from within. Then, he remembered where he was and ran over to check on Dr. Roehrig.
"Do you have any idea how difficult it is to perform surgery on non-humans?" Dr. Roehrig snapped at him, without so much as a 'thank you.' "Quick, get the anesthetic."
Myers sighed and did as he was told.
Nuada awoke the next morning for a second time to find himself in the same cell. He let out a roar of frustration and, as he sat up, winced only slightly at the stitches in his side. Myers was mildly impressed; he'd seen the wound as Dr. Roehrig had cleaned and stitched it back up. A human probably wouldn't have been able to get up for days.
"Are you going to behave?" Myers said with a lot more bluster than he actually felt. "Or am I going to have to shoot you again?" He got shivers just at the thought. He'd never shot somebody like that, up close and looking into their eyes. Or at least he'd never shot somebody who looked so human before. He kept that last thought to himself since, given Nuada's apparent attitude toward humans, he probably wouldn't take it as a compliment.
"How dare you hold me prisoner," Nuada snarled, eyes flashing, and – faster than Myers' eyes could see – stood behind the bars of the door, only millimeters away from the electric circuit that would knock him clear back across the cell. "I am Nuada, son of King Balor, rightful Prince of the elfin tribes. I demand that you release me at once."
"I'm afraid I can't do that, sir," Myers said. "It's against protocol." He silently thanked all his FBI training for providing him with the perfect, instinctive, boilerplate response.
Nuada snorted at him with distaste. "What right do you have to keep me here?" he demanded.
"You did try to kill all of humanity," Myers pointed out. "And, anyway, you're dead, so whatever legal rights you had are long gone." Technically, Myers wasn't really sure about that last point. There were plenty of undead or pseudo-resurrected things around, and Myers thought that some of them probably had some rights under some laws. Nuada didn't contest that point, though, much to Myers' relief.
Nuada raised an eyebrow and paced the length of his cell, studying it from top to bottom. Myers began to grow very nervous that there was some fault in its construction that had never been tested before, because none of their other captives had been intelligent enough to search for weaknesses.
"Then why am I here?" Nuada asked smugly, like he already knew the answer. "If I am judged a criminal by your petty, materialistic laws, why am I not condemned to death for a second time?"
"We have some questions for you," Myers said. He could dimly remember that at some point he'd had training in basic interrogation techniques, but anything he'd once learned was escaping him now. It was all too clear that Nuada would be leading this interrogation.
"Of course, you do." Nuada's voice was rich and soothing once more, attempting to lull Myers into complacency again.
Myers crossed his arms over his chest and tried to look authoritative and aloof. "What's beyond the Void?" he demanded.
The edge of Nuada's lips curved up into an enigmatic smile. "That is what everyone wants to know, isn't it?" And he refused to say anything else after that.
Myers didn't end up on Nuada guard duty for the next three days, although he did draw a double-Void shift on Tuesday. Myers sort of suspected that, after he'd been involved in two separate hostage situations with Nuada and Nuada had ended up hospitalized both times, whoever wrote up the schedules (presumably Colonel Ray, if he could be pulled away from his crossword puzzles long enough) had decided that Myers was just plain bad luck on Nuada-watch.
Myers knew what was happening with Nuada, though, because they were in the middle of freaking Antarctica, and there were only twenty-two agents at the base, and it was absolutely impossible to keep any gossip secret for more than ten minutes.
"Your boyfriend tried some sort of weird mind-meld on Levitt today," Vargas informed Myers at dinner that evening. "He nearly shit his pants." She laughed her deep, throaty chuckle that sounded more like it belonged on a fat, chain-smoking man than a thin, little wisp like Vargas.
"Shut the hell up, ass-fuck," Levitt retorted. "I had the situation well in hand."
"Although not the way Myers got that elf in hand, am I right?" Vargas teased.
That was the one part of being locked in a base with such an impressive gossip ring that sucked. Andersen's initial joke had maybe been a little bit funny, since Nuada had technically kidnapped Myers while naked and then Myers had lent him his underwear. It was maybe worth a brief chuckle, maybe. However, since they were all cooped up together and had nothing else to amuse them, everyone had latched on to the joke like it was the latest laugh riot sensation.
"I hate you all," Myers grumbled into his rations.
Vargas made kissy sounds.
"Hey," Levitt complained. "We're stuck on fairy-shift together. How about giving me some of that loving?"
"If you want some loving, you're going to have to defeat Kilpatrick in a death-match first," Vargas laughed.
Kilpatrick was a giant, beefy lesbian, who had once 'accidentally' broken Schulze from the science team's arm in a 'friendly' arm-wrestling match. Myers figured Kilpatrick could probably break him in two, with no thought whatsoever.
Apparently, Levitt felt the same way. "Fine, then at least let me watch you two next ladies' fun night," he leered.
Vargas flicked him off.
It was a very typical sort of exchange.
"Seriously, though, that fairy is fucking creepy," Levitt shivered. "He doesn't say a word. He just stares at you, like he's slowly dissecting you in his mind."
"You're such a chickenshit," Vargas shook her head, sending her short, dark bob flying about her head.
"Even the interrogators haven't gotten a word out of him," Thompson cut in. "Already, Wilkins and Shears have had a go at him. They said he didn't make a peep."
"Dr. Roehrig tried it, too," Myers provided. "Honestly, I doubt he'll open up. He's taunting us."
"Makes you wonder what he's hiding," Vargas agreed. "Just what is on the other side of the Void?"
"The science team is sending in another probe tomorrow," Thompson provided. "I'd hate to be the guy who drew that shift."
"Yeah, thanks, man," Myers sighed. "That would be me."
Vargas patted Myers sympathetically on the back. "It might not be so bad," she tried to encourage him.
"Yeah, I'm sure that behemoth doesn't have an older brother lurking on the other side," Levitt snickered.
"Hey, maybe Nuada's got an older brother, and Myers can get some hot, fairy, threesome action going on," Vargas laughed.
"Oh, knock it off, all of you," Myers' face burned.
The next morning, the science team sent their probe in at 7AM on the dot. Myers wiped the sweat from his eyes and watched the mechanical little scooter make its way to the black hole in the center of the main laboratory. It looked like some sort of miniature moon rover.
It headed right for the Void, looking so peppy and confident, and collided directly with an invisible barrier right at the entrance to the Void. Not to be deterred, it back up several inches and then crashed into the barrier again.
And again and again.
After the sixth time, the Void finally opened up in response, and a giant bat-winged creature with fangs longer than Myers' arm emerged.
"Shoot it! Shoot it!" someone screamed, and Myers shot the thing six times: four to the gut and two to the head.
The thing latched onto Professor Harker and ripped him in two with its massive teeth.
Myers reloaded and this time emptied his clip into the thing's right eye. He could hear rapid fire somewhere behind him and to his left. It must have been Rylands because the entire science team had ducked and covered.
The thing screeched as its head was ripped apart by bullets, and it plummeted to the ground. It twitched and thrashed for several minutes, during which Myers emptied yet another clip into it, and then it was dead.
"Did we get the probe through?" Dr. Roehrig asked matter-of-factly and crawled out from under the desk.
Professor Westcott's carrot-red head peered around the far side of the desk. With Harker bifurcated, she had just received her battlefield promotion to chief of the science team. She crawled over to the controls. "The probe has entered the Void," she confirmed. "We're getting some initial telemetry and…" She frowned, pushed her glasses up her nose, and squinted at the readings before her.
"Well?" Stevens demanded impatiently.
The Void started flashing green again, indicating that something was about to come out. Myers trained his reloaded weapon on the entrance, and he heard Rylands do the same to his right.
"There's…nothing," Westcott breathed in disbelief.
Just then, the Void opened and spewed something out. It flew across the room and smashed against the far wall. Myers nearly opened fire before he recognized it as the destroyed probe.
Cautiously, Myers approached the ball of scrap metal. Something on the other side had crushed it like it was a Coke can. Myers was pretty sure the frame had been pure titanium.
"You guys should take a look at this," Myers suggested. He glanced about the room. Dr. Roehrig was bent over Professor Harker's corpse, Rylands still had his gun aimed at the Void although it was clear the Void was now closing again, Westcott couldn't seem to pull her eyes away from the monitor in front of her, and Stevens was scared out of his wits in the corner. "Later, I mean," Myers added with a sigh.
What it all meant was that Myers got called into Colonel Ray's office that same afternoon. Dr. Roehrig was there, too, and he did all the talking, while Colonel Ray worked on his crossword puzzle behind the desk.
"Myers," Dr. Roehrig glanced over the opened file before him, "you have experience working as a liaison with non-humans, right?"
Myers didn't like the direction this was going. "I have some limited experience, yes, in very specific circumstances. Hellboy is, well, an ally, no matter how difficult an individual he might be."
"Hmm," was all Dr. Roehrig said in response to that. He jotted a note down in Myers' file. "I've decided to assign you to Nuada." It was all too clear that, no matter what Myers could have said, Dr. Roehrig would have made the same decision. "We need information on what's beyond the Void, and Nuada's our best shot."
Myers tried not to groan. "What makes you think I can get it?" he protested. "From what I've heard, Nuada hasn't made a peep in four days now."
Dr. Roehrig chuckled to himself. "Made a peep… I like that. Very cute."
Myers' shoulders slumped. "What about the probe?" he demanded. "Didn't it come up with anything useful?"
"The probe said," Dr. Roehrig picked up another file, presumably Professor Westcott's report, "that there was 'infinite space' and 'no matter' beyond the Void. Try to wrap your head around that one. It's quite a brainteaser."
Myers was forced to agree that that made absolutely no sense, especially since they knew that matter did come from the Void. "I can…try," he finally agreed reluctantly, "but I can't promise he'll talk to me. If our interrogators couldn't get anything from him, I doubt I can."
Dr. Roehrig snorted. "Don't underestimate yourself, kid."
"Right, of course not. I'll give it my best shot," Myers agreed. "But…"
"Hmm?" Dr. Roehrig seemed deeply immersed in his file. Behind him, Colonel Ray hadn't looked up once from his crossword puzzle.
"I just wondered if you had any advice, sir," Myers got out nervously. "I've never done an interrogation before, and…" He let the thought trail off hopefully.
Dr. Roehrig fixed him with a square look. "Kid, you're cute, earnest, and you've got a sickening sort of wholesomeness about you that people can't help but like. Use that to your advantage, and you'll do just fine."
Myers blushed. It wasn't exactly the sort of advice he'd been hoping for. "Um, thank you, sir," he said anyway.
"Go, now," Dr. Roehrig ordered. "I've given you the afternoon shift."
"Right away, sir," Myers agreed.
Myers arrived outside Nuada's holding cell just in time for his shift to begin. Kilpatrick, who had the shift before him, just snickered when she saw who had come to relieve her.
"You boys have a good time," she teased Myers and headed out.
Myers sighed in frustration and sat down to try to get some reading done. Only he glanced over at Nuada first and started when he realized Nuada was staring at him, golden eyes impossibly sharp.
"I, uh…" Myers gulped and started again. "Since we didn't really meet formally before, I'm Agent John Myers." He held out his hand, only to realize that, of course, Nuada couldn't shake it, so he dropped it clumsily.
Nuada didn't say a thing, just tilted his head slightly.
"And you're, um, Prince Nuada, I take it. Nice to meet you." Myers sat down in the chair provided directly across from where Nuada rested in a low crouch on the cot in his cell. He looked like he was ready to pounce any minute, just in case the bars miraculously vanished.
Myers cleared his throat, and it sounded loud and echoing in the otherwise-quiet room. "Right. Well, you can just sit there and try to…bore holes through me with your eyes, I guess. I've been trying to finish this book, so—"
"You talk too much," Nuada snapped, looking away.
Myers started. "You talked!"
Nuada snorted and lay back on the cot, staring up at the ceiling.
"Oh, sorry. Never mind." Myers flipped open his book. He'd gotten exactly two sentences in before Nuada spoke again.
"You smell of death today."
Myers blinked and looked up again. "Professor Harker," he said morosely. "Head of the science team. This…bat-creature flew out the Void, and…yeah."
Nuada didn't respond to this.
"He's got an ex-wife and a son," Myers continued. "They don't even know yet. We can only get a signal out about half the time, and the satellite's been on the fritz all day. It tends to do that when there's a lot of Void activity. I can't imagine how they're going to take the news. At least, they'll send his body home for burial, though. We'd probably bury him here, except you can't bury anything in the ground here because it's frozen solid. So we have no choice but to ship him back. At least he has some place to go, though. We're probably going to have to burn that bat-thing, since there's nothing else we can do with it. Although—"
"You talk," Nuada cut him off slowly, "way too much." He rolled over so that his back was to Myers.
"Right. Sorry." Myers returned to his book.
"It is no great loss," Nuada said after a pregnant pause.
"What?" Myers blinked up at him in surprise.
"The human," Nuada clarified. "It is no great loss. There are always more of your kind, worming into every crevice on this planet, leaving it diseased and rotten."
Myers glared. "Well, excuse me for thinking of that little boy who doesn't have a father anymore," he snapped. "Now, if you don't mind, Your Highness, I'm trying to read my book." Myers buried his nose as deep in it as he could, although of course now he couldn't force himself to concentrate.
Nuada just snorted and didn't say a word for the rest of the afternoon.
"I'd say you two should get a room," Levitt teased the next day, "but I suppose you already did."
Myers gave him a false smile. "These are for you." He held up his old pair of sweatpants for Levitt to see. "Since I'm sure you wet yourself scared again today."
Levitt blanched, and Myers chuckled.
"Fuck you, Myers," Levitt flicked him off and was gone.
Nuada's eyes had followed the entire exchange, but he didn't say a word.
"They're, uh, actually for you." Myers stepped up to the cell and quickly squeezed the old clothing through two of the bars.
Nuada studied the pile curiously. "I am not cold." He gave Myers a curious look.
"No," Myers felt his cheeks flushing slightly, "but you're in there all day with people staring at you, and… I thought you might like some more clothes."
Nuada considered this. "How would clothes change this situation?" he finally asked.
"Well," Myers said, hopelessly confused now, "you wouldn't be so…naked."
"Naked…" Nuada pondered the word for a minute. "This is troubling to humans, is it not? When naked, humans are completely vulnerable, at nature's mercy. This is why you rip up the earth and encase yourselves in walls of iron."
"That, and it's embarrassing," Myers agreed. "Go ahead, get dressed."
"I am not embarrassed," Nuada retorted. His eyes honed in on Myers in an unnerving way. "Are you?"
Myers blushed and felt like smacking himself in the head for it. Honestly, he wasn't seventeen on his prom night anymore. He had to deal with weird stuff in his job, and he could, but Nuada was…
"Are you?" Nuada repeated with a hint of amusement in his voice this time.
Myers shook his head. "I just thought you might like them. If you're okay, feel free to stay the way you are. I was just worried that you'd find it…undignified or something." He flipped open his book again.
"Hmm," Nuada lifted up the shirt, which was an old black Quantico one Myers still had from his FBI days, "undignified."
"Forget it," Myers sighed but, to his surprise, Nuada slipped the shirt on over his head. He was broader around the chest than Myers, more solidly muscled, and the fabric pulled tight over his pectorals. Myers pushed aside the thoroughly inappropriate thought that popped into his head and resumed reading.
Shuffling noises sounded in the background; Nuada was putting on the sweatpants, too. Myers tried not to think too much about how many jokes were going to be made at his expense for this.
Finally, Nuada crouched back down on the bunk and returned to staring at him in that eerie way of his.
Myers tried not to react, but finally he couldn't take it anymore. "What?" he demanded.
Nuada pursed his lips, and a sour expression crossed his face. Finally, he let out an annoyed huff and said, "Thank you. For the garments."
Myers gulped and nodded slowly. "It was nothing."
Nuada huffed again.
"If you really want to thank me," Myers continued, "you can stop staring at me all the time. It's kind of distracting."
Nuada actually looked away for the entire rest of the afternoon.
Myers finished his book. He had no idea what happened in the last hundred or so pages.
The third day Myers was on Nuada-watch, a chupacabra leapt out of the Void at lunchtime. Fortunately, Kilpatrick managed to snap its neck, and there were no casualties this time. Still, Myers felt the pressure from Dr. Roehrig to come up with answers.
"You want to ask me." Nuada was feeling especially chatty that day. For Nuada, 'chatty' generally consisted of taunting, Myers was learning. "So why don't you?"
"If you want to answer so much, go right ahead," Myers shot back. He was reading a different book now, one he'd borrowed from Vargas, even though he still hadn't gone back to reread the old one to figure out how it ended. However, he didn't want to bring that book back in with Nuada, because 1) Nuada might notice that Myers' concentration was faltering, and 2) he probably wouldn't remember the ending again, if he reread it in front of Nuada.
"And what happens to me once I do answer?" Nuada asked curiously. He was studying the walls of his cell again, in that way that made Myers especially nervous. "Do you hand me over to your scientists so that they can dissect me?"
"Don't be ridiculous," Myers scoffed.
"I'm quite serious," Nuada responded blandly. "You humans are insatiable, whatever your desires. You can never have enough. No, once I give you some knowledge, you will clamor for more and more, until you've ripped me to pieces to extract every last inkling from my bones."
Myers looked away uncomfortably. "That probably wouldn't happen."
"Ask me," Nuada continued to tease him, "and I will answer, but only for something given in exchange."
"I can't let you out of there," Myers said bluntly, "even in exchange for intel."
"Not that," Nuada assured him. "I'm not unreasonable. I suggest an equitable exchange: information for information."
Myers frowned and tried to wrap his mind around that. He knew better than to make deals with non-humans before knowing the exact terms (and sometimes even after knowing them). A lot of good agents had had their souls ripped clean from their bodies by not paying attention to the fine print.
"The information I seek from this exchange," Myers said very slowly and carefully, "is to know what lies beyond the Void. I won't make this deal unless you state ahead of time what you're seeking, as well."
A flash of something almost like respect crossed Nuada's face, but he masked it almost instantly. "You're not as foolish as you look, perhaps," he conceded.
"Thanks, I think."
"Still as pathetic, though," Nuada hastily added.
"You sure know how to flatter a guy," Myers said wearily. In truth, he was growing rather accustomed to insults against himself and the entire human race. They were becoming almost like white noise. "So, are you going to accept my terms or not?"
Nuada considered this for a moment. "I accept," he agreed. "And the information I seek is to know your greed, human."
Myers blinked. "I don't understand."
"You are human; therefore, you are greedy," Nuada stated it like a fundamental axiom of the universe.
"Not all humans are like that," Myers insisted.
"You are gluttonous, just like the rest of your race," Nuada refused to listen. "And, to obtain the knowledge I have, you must prove it to me. Tell me what you desire, what you wish to consume and destroy. Really, it is not so much to ask for the information I possess." Nuada flashed him a nasty smirk.
"Let me get this straight," Myers sighed. "You'll tell me what I want to know, but only if I confess that I'm just the same as all other humans and thus prove your point that there are no exceptions and we all deserve to die. Am I right?"
"Yes," Nuada agreed simply. "Is it a deal?"
"Fine," Myers glared at him. "The only thing I want is to know what's on the other side of the Void." He couldn't help smirking a little himself. He thought that answer was pretty clever.
Nuada snorted and rolled his eyes. "You lie. I will not fulfill my end of our bargain until you tell me the truth."
"Hey!" Myers protested. "How is that fair? You can just insist I'm lying forever, and then I'll insist that you're lying that I'm lying, and we never get anywhere."
"I know when you are lying," Nuada corrected. "With your limited mental faculties, you can only suspect."
Myers felt himself starting to get seriously frustrated. "I'm not lying."
"Lie," Nuada said idly and lay back on his cot once more.
"Oh, this is pointless," Myers ran a hand through his hair and tried to calm himself down. After all, he should have known that Nuada was just fucking with his head. "I give up. You win. No deal. There, are you happy?"
Nuada seemed to think about this for some time. "I think I would rather you had answered my question."
Myers reined his temper just long enough to storm out. He could hear Nuada's laughter echoing behind him down the hallway.
Unfortunately, Myers had a job to do. More unfortunately, Nuada knew that Myers had a job to do. Myers tried not to sulk as he sat in the chair across from Nuada's cell the next day, arms crossed over his chest, and glared instead.
Nuada smiled lazily back. On anyone else, it might have been a nice enough smile, but on Nuada, Myers knew it was mocking him.
"Are you ready to tell me the truth yet, human?" Nuada inquired with a snicker.
"Myers," Myers insisted. "My name is Myers."
Nuada shrugged elegantly. "Your name is of no concern to me."
Myers felt the rage building inside him again. Inwardly, he cursed himself. He'd worked with Hellboy for almost a year, but he'd never come this close to snapping before.
"Fine," Myers finally said. "You want me to tell the truth? Here's the truth. What I want is to kill you right now."
Nuada let out a throaty laugh. "That's not greed; that's anger. Also—"
"If you say I'm lying, I'm going to shoot you right now," Myers threatened. "I don't even care if they court marshal me."
Nuada just grinned. That grin said "liar" just as clearly as words ever could have.
"What is your problem, anyway?" Myers finally said wearily. "I mean, I get that you don't like humans. Really. You've made your point loud and clear. And I can even agree a bit with some of your reasoning, although I think you're seriously oversimplifying things."
Nuada snorted at that.
"But do you have to be such a jerk about it all the time? Aren't you supposed to be royalty or something? Don't you have any manners?" Myers finally exclaimed in frustration.
Nuada blinked at him. "You're upset about my lack of manners?"
"Yes! No… I don't know." Myers took a deep, calming breath. "Look, I'm trying to be nice and friendly here, and a little acknowledgement would be nice. Or, could you at least not insult me every five minutes?"
"You want me to acknowledge that you're a pleasant jailer?"
"No, I just… Oh, never mind. Forget I ever said anything. Next time, I'll just bring another book."
"Whatever suits you," Nuada said sulkily.
Myers refused to talk to him the rest of the afternoon. Nuada didn't try to talk, either. Clearly, this interrogation was going just fabulously.
The next day, Myers brought his book, as promised. Nuada looked surprised that he'd actually done it. He returned to staring at Myers, while Myers flipped open to the first page.
There was a long period of silence.
Finally, Nuada spoke. "I suppose it requires no effort on my part to refrain from insulting you."
Myers grunted but didn't look up.
"You, personally, that is."
Myers forced his eyes to stay on the page.
"As humans go, I suppose you're…somewhat tolerable. If one is forced to deal with humans, of course," Nuada hastily added.
Myers snorted and flipped the page.
"Not that I've ever dealt with any humans before," Nuada conceded.
"Then how," Myers said pointedly, "do you know they're all not like me?"
"Please," Nuada hissed, "don't insult my intelligence."
Myers smiled. Even he couldn't deny that.
"What are they?" Nuada leaned over as close to the bars as the electric current would allow, his long hair falling forward as he did so and curtaining his face.
Myers turned over the box in his hands so Nuada could see it from all sides. "Cards," he answered. He flipped open the box and removed the deck. "You use them to play games."
"I know how to play games," Nuada insisted.
"Mind games," Myers corrected. "These are for the sort of games where no one gets screwed over."
Nuada scoffed. "What's the point in that?"
"It's fun," Myers sighed, "or at least it helps to pass the time. Plus, you can use all the mind games you want while we play."
Nuada quirked an eyebrow at him.
"But only to win at cards," Myers hastily amended.
"I hardly see how you are in any position to give me orders," Nuada said snootily, but he knelt down across from Myers in what Myers took to be tacit agreement.
Myers explained the rules for War and dealt out the deck. It turned out that Nuada had a perfect photographic memory and could actually see fast enough to determine the order of the cards while they were being shuffled.
Myers quickly upgraded to Go Fish and implemented a rule that Nuada had to turn his back during all shuffling. From there, it was easy to get Nuada up to Poker, which had the benefit of being a lot more interesting. It also let Nuada dink around with Myers' head all he wanted, which seemed to pacify him for the rest of the afternoon.
It was almost pleasant, in a strange sort of way.
"Are you going to tell me what's beyond the Void?" Myers asked when Wilkins came in to relieve him for the evening shift.
"Are you willing to trade me what I seek?" Nuada retorted.
"Fine," Myers sighed. "I guess I want a promotion and a hot wife and nice house in a small, friendly town with two kids and a dog. Maybe a barbecue."
Nuada tilted his head to one side. "Lie," he smirked. "And what's a barbecue?"
"I'll tell you tomorrow," Myers waved.
Wilkins gave him a strange look as he walked out.
"Woo-hoo, what's this I hear about Myers consorting with the enemy?" Vargas teased at dinner.
"Shut up," Myers ducked his head.
"Does he make a good consort, hmm?" Kilpatrick teased back.
"It's nothing," Myers insisted.
"Do you like playing with him?" Thompson teased.
"Or maybe he likes it better when the fairy plays with him?" Levitt shot back.
Myers felt his face burning. "Knock it off, guys. It's just an assignment!"
"Sure, it is," Vargas laughed. "That's why your face is bright red."
Myers threw a balled-up napkin at her and sulked.
Nuada was asleep when Myers came in that day. Myers realized that he'd never actually seen Nuada sleep before. Sure, he'd seen Nuada unconscious, knocked out, but somehow that wasn't the same. Nuada was lying on his side, curled up slightly on the cot, his hair fanned out all around him except for one lock that was caught right at the edge of his mouth.
Myers instinctively reached out to brush that lock of hair aside, and only stopped with a start when he realized that the bars blocked his access. He shook his head to clear it. Obviously, he wasn't thinking straight, or he never would have forgotten that Nuada was a highly dangerous prisoner and not to be trusted, even if he did seem so innocent in sleep.
Myers forced himself through another two-hundred pages he didn't really read that day. Nuada only mumbled in his sleep in commentary.
"You don't have the straight," Nuada smirked knowingly.
"Don't I?" Myers said with his best poker face.
"I know," Nuada reminded him. "Surrender now and maintain your dignity."
"Well," Myers shrugged, "I don't think you have the straight, either."
"Entire armies have fallen by underestimating me," Nuada warned him.
"And I'll lose a game of cards. I think I can live with that."
Nuada's eyes narrowed.
Myers smiled back at him. "I'm not folding. Call." He set down his two pair.
Nuada hissed and threw down a whole lot of nothing. "This game is pointless," he sat back with a huff.
"You didn't say that when you were winning." Myers gathered up the cards and began shuffling again.
Nuada turned his head deliberately away. "That was then, and this is now. It bores me, human."
"Myers," Myers corrected.
"If you're so bored, you can always end this," Myers reminded him. "Tell me what I want to know."
"Is that your interrogation method, then? Kill me with boredom?" Nuada really was in a pissy mood today, for whatever reason.
"Just think," Myers said smugly, "you could be back to staring Levitt scared tomorrow, if only you'd tell me what's beyond the Void."
Nuada shuddered delicately. "I think I'll take my chances with boredom."
"Aww," Myers teased, "love you, too." He gulped afterwards when he realized what he'd said, which was silly because he's just been joking around and he'd joked with plenty of guys in the past. The fact that he was overreacting just made him more nervous, and then he started to blush again, and what was it with him and blushing around Nuada, anyway?
Nuada gave him a curious look. "Something's troubling you." His eyes probed Myers'.
Myers slapped up every last telepathic barrier that the BPRD had taught him.
Nuada's eyes widened in surprise at such a vehement reaction. "Fine, then. Keep your secrets."
Nuada didn't comment.
Myers found himself absurdly grateful for that.
The thing was, Myers wasn't gay. He really wasn't.
He loved women. Gorgeous, curvy women, the more mysterious the better. He liked the feel of a woman's body beneath his, the softness of the feminine form, and the sweetness of their kisses.
He really, really liked women.
And it wasn't that he had anything against men, but they'd just never done anything for him before. He'd envied guys who had hit puberty before him and could even admit that some men were objectively aesthetically appeasing. He had a perfectly normal, straight-guy thing for the young Harrison Ford, too.
But he really wasn't gay. He'd never had thoughts like that about men, and he often had thoughts like that about women. It seemed like pretty much a no-brainer.
Until Myers walked in that morning to find Nuada doing shirtless push-ups, of course.
Myers felt something in his pants stir and was about to bolt.
And then Nuada stopped, mid-push-up, and looked at him knowingly. Myers found himself hopelessly transfixed.
"How long do you plan to play this game with me, human?" Nuada inquired silkily.
Myers gulped. "Me? You're the one dragging this out."
Nuada rose slowly, giving Myers a good, long look at his body as he did so. "You know that's not true," Nuada chided him. "I've made my terms perfectly clear. All humans want, and they especially want that which does not belong to them. Tell me what it is you want, and our deal is completed." He stretched his arms out above his head and reached for his shirt.
Myers wasn't sure how it was possible for someone to be that built, but still so sleek at the same time. "I…" Myers trailed off helplessly.
"I can smell it on you, you know," Nuada said almost kindly. "Your body hides nothing from me. Your scent betrays you."
Myers had a number of thoroughly unhelpful thoughts about scientific studies and human pheromones. "I have nothing to say to you," Myers finally insisted shakily.
Nuada shrugged and pulled Myers' old t-shirt down over his body once more. "Your loss," he concluded. "Did you bring it?"
Myers sat down across from Nuada and opened up the small, portable chessboard he'd borrowed from Professor Westcott. He set it up and explained the rules, while Nuada looked at him meaningfully the entire time.
It didn't surprise Myers when Nuada kicked his ass. It did, however, surprise him how disappointed he felt when he surrendered the afternoon shift to Vargas without Nuada having pressed him on the issue again.
The next day, a monster the size of a two-story building lurched out of the Void. Myers was on Nuada-duty at the time, so he missed the initial slaughter.
However, the creature barged its way through the wall of the room that contained the holding cells, leaving twisted metal beams in its wake. Ceiling plaster fell down all around them like snow.
"Holy shit!" Myers' eyes widened at the size of the thing, and he pulled his gun and shot everything he had.
The monster blinked, scratched its nose where Myers had shot it, like the bullets were nothing more than an insect bite, and swatted. Its hand was as big as Myers' entire body. The swipe flung the desk clear across the room, ripped out a section of ceiling, and tore through all the wiring to Nuada's cell.
Myers was lucky; he didn't take a direct hit. If he had, he'd most certainly be dead. Instead, he got hit by falling debris from the ceiling collapse, and a broken segment of the desk hit him hard in the leg. He could feel that the jagged splinters of wood had cut into his thigh. Everything below that was numb. Maybe it was broken, or maybe not. In any case, Myers could barely stay conscious through the pain. He certainly wasn't going to be able to stand up.
He lay back, mostly on the floor but half propped up against the wall. As he watched, Nuada leapt up neatly through the hole in the ceiling of his cell to freedom. Nuada gave him one last look with those unearthly, golden eyes, and then he was gone. Escaped at last. Free.
Myers swore inwardly and, with shaking hands, removed the back-up ammunition from his side pocket. He loaded the cartridge and pulled the trigger until it clicked empty again.
The monster flicked pig-like ears at the sensation and ripped down the side wall.
Myers reloaded and fired again. One bullet got the thing squarely in the eye. It didn't pierce anything, though, just made the creature blink and swat at its eye with one enormous hand, like the bullet was no more irritating than a stray eyelash.
This time the monster turned and looked directly at him. It seemed to recognize the motion of Myers pulling up his gun, and it roared at the top of its lungs and held its arm up to squash Myers flat.
I'm going to die, Myers realized and kept shooting the thing anyway.
There was a crash, a scream, and the world went black.
It was pleasantly cool, crisp, like the first moment of dawn before the beads of dew on the grass had evaporated. It felt wonderful compared to the heat Myers had been enduring for so long in Antarctica, and he embraced the faint chill, pressed his forehead into it and felt his body relax.
The cool surface beneath his forehead had a pulse, a regular thrum that reverberated through Myers' bones. It was soothing, hypnotic, and Myers felt himself drifting back into pleasant blackness once more.
Dimly, in the back of his mind, he heard someone speaking, and he knew that voice, but it was too far away, and Myers was drifting now, and…
When Myers woke up for real, he was in the infirmary, and he was hazy from drugs, and even still the pain in his leg was unbearable. Myers swore, and Dr. Roehrig rushed over.
"You alive?" Dr. Roehrig shined a miniature flashlight in Myers' eyes, checking his pupils.
"More. Morphine!" Myers gasped out.
"No can do," Dr. Roehrig shrugged unapologetically. "I've got twelve injured, eight of those a hell of a lot worse than you are. You're lucky you're getting anything at all with supplies as low as they are."
"And why are supplies so low?" Myers hissed angrily.
"Honestly, we kind of assumed that if things got this bad, everyone would be dead. A miscalculation. For better or for worse, you decide."
Myers didn't give it much thought.
"Here," Dr. Roehrig turned away, "I'll let your boyfriend deal with it from now on."
That statement made no sense to Myers whatsoever. All he knew was that Dr. Roehrig was walking away, and he was still in pain, and what the hell had happened?
"I can't even begin to imagine why I'm doing this," a familiarly snide voice cut in, and then a hand came up to cover Myers' forehead, and suddenly that cool came over him once more. Myers shivered just a little, and then the cool spread downwards, found his leg, and the pain stopped.
Myers let out a shocked little gasp and met Nuada's eyes.
"Telepathic trickery," Nuada said by means of explanation, looking rather embarrassed by this fact, of all things. "I can mask your pain for some time."
"Okay," Myers agreed numbly. He shut his eyes again, suddenly weary. "What happened to that…thing?"
"The mountain giant," Nuada provided.
"Sure. That." Myers was feeling a bit giddy now. The contact between his and Nuada's skin tingled just enough that it felt really, really good. Myers wondered if that was another telepathic thing, or something entirely different.
"How?" Myers frowned and tried to remember. "The bullets just bounced off it, and…"
"I dealt with it," Nuada looked pointedly away.
Myers blinked at him. "How?"
"It's not your concern, human," Nuada sounded rather testy about the whole thing.
Myers was feeling too sleepy to object. "'Kay," he agreed. His hand came up to wrap gently around Nuada's wrist, feeling the strength and the cool there. "Thanks."
Nuada blinked down at him.
"I'd thought you'd run," Myers explained. "I thought I was going to die."
"If I hadn't completely lost my mind, you would've," Nuada snarled.
Myers smiled stupidly up at him, and that was the last thing he heard before he fell asleep.
When Myers woke up again, he was back in his bunk, his leg didn't hurt at all, and Andersen had been replaced as his roommate. The first thing Myers did was pull back his pant leg and stare in disbelief at his leg. There was several fine, silver scar lines along his shin, but they looked like they'd come from a wound that had healed years ago. Myers was pretty sure that, no matter what else had happened, he hadn't actually been comatose for years.
He shifted his attention to his new roommate. Nuada lay on his side on Andersen's old bunk, facing Myers, and was sound asleep.
Myers got up, testing his leg carefully as he did so, and approached Nuada's bed. At the cautious brush of Myers' fingers against his shoulder, Nuada snorted in his sleep but didn't open his eyes. Myers gave his shoulder a harder nudge.
Instantly, Nuada's hand shot out, grabbed Myers' wrist, and was halfway to snapping the bone in two, when Nuada finally registered who Myers was.
Nuada snorted and released him.
Myers rubbed his wrist absentmindedly. "Where's Andersen?"
"How should I know?" Nuada grumped and yawned a very graceful yawn, complete with a catlike full-body stretch.
Myer's eyes couldn't help but wander the length of Nuada's body as he did so. He was still wearing Myers' old Quantico t-shirt and sweats. Something about that made Myers' chest tighten. "I don't know," Myers shook his head to force himself back to the topic at hand. "You could have asked, maybe?"
Nuada blinked at him in surprise. "Why would I ask?"
"To find out if Andersen's dead or what," Myers answered and began to get dressed.
"Why would I care?" Nuada sounded genuinely puzzled.
Myers snorted and smiled at him ruefully. "Right," he agreed. "You don't care at all."
"It hardly concerns me whether some human is alive or dead," Nuada agreed.
Myers shook his head. "So," he demanded, "are you going to tell me what's beyond the Void or not?"
"You never answered my question," Nuada retorted.
"You already know the answer," Myers glanced over his shoulder and felt his heartbeat quicken at the sight of Nuada's powerful body, stretched out long and lean as he reclined on Andersen's old bunk.
"There's nothing beyond the Void," Nuada said carefully.
"Liar," Myers teased.
Nuada held his nose up in the air haughtily. "You dare defy me, human?" he insisted huffily. "There's nothing. All that matters is this world, not the next."
"How are you still alive, then?" Myers demanded.
Nuada's eyes sparkled mischievously. "That," he informed Myers, "is an entirely different question. You'll have to give me something more to get the answer to that one."
"Will I?" Myers commented lazily.
Nuada almost smiled at him, genuinely.
"That elf was damned useful in the crisis," Colonel Ray commented. "Also, what's a five-letter word for 'submit'?"
"'Yield'?" Myers suggested.
Colonel Ray snorted. "Sometimes it's the obvious ones that give me the most trouble," and wrote it in.
"We want to recruit Nuada," Dr. Roehrig informed Myers, now that Colonel Ray had been rendered entirely useless.
"You're kidding, right?" Myers laughed. "He'd kill us all as soon as look at us."
"He'd kill us all," Dr. Roehrig corrected. "You, he seems to like."
"For all we know, the reason he saved my life was because he has a vendetta against mountain giants, or it's the full moon, or it was opposite day," Myers retorted.
"It's not the full moon," Colonel Ray cut in uselessly. "That's next Tuesday."
"He could have run for it," Dr. Roehrig pointed out.
"But—" Myers tried to interject.
"But he didn't."
"And then he came back…"
"And saved your sorry hide."
"And then he took away your pain."
"And healed your wounds."
Myers slumped in his seat.
"He likes you," Dr. Roehrig concluded. "I keep telling you, it's that youthful, hopelessly naïve charm. Gets 'em every time."
"It doesn't matter, even if he does," Myers concluded. "He hates the rest of you."
"That's why we're making you his handler," Dr. Roehrig concluded. "You can keep him in line, keep him from beheading things he shouldn't."
"I…really don't have that sort of power over him," Myers insisted.
"Just keep him away from everything that doesn't need killing." Dr. Roehrig smirked. "You've been handling him just fine up until now, believe me."
Myers' face flushed. "Wh-What are you talking about?" he sputtered. "There has been absolutely no 'handling'!"
Dr. Roehrig frowned at Myers. "Your interrogations?" he reminded Myers. "You got him to talk when no one else could. Why, what are you talking about?"
Myers felt a bit queasy. "Nothing," he mumbled. "I wasn't talking about anything."
"Well, that's fine, then," Dr. Roehrig concluded. "You'll start immediately. It shouldn't be much worse than your assignment to Hellboy, I imagine."
"Except he wasn't trying to kill all of mankind. Also, I didn't last in that assignment through the year," Myers pointed out.
"See?" Colonel Ray obviously hadn't heard any of this. "You'll do just fine. Dismissed!"
"I can't believe this is my life," Myers sighed wearily.
"You can't believe this is your life?" Nuada snarled.
"Look," Myers said hopefully, "let's just go in there, kill these things, and not cause any problems, okay?"
Nuada drew the blade at his back and traced the edge of the steel with his tongue. "I am Prince of the elfin tribes. I do not take orders from you, human."
Myers' shoulders slumped. "Please, don't kill anyone, okay? I really don't know what they'll do to you if you kill anyone."
"'They' can do nothing to me. I will slaughter any who stand in my way," Nuada retorted.
"Please?" Myers begged.
Nuada eyed him curiously. "What will you give me if I restrain myself?" There was a knowing look in his eyes.
Myers gulped. "We can negotiate later when we get back to our room."
"Oh?" Nuada asked eloquently.
The door opened. Roughly a hundred small, flying, howling monsters flew through the doors. Nuada's blade sliced through them like butter. Myers, wisely, hid.
In the end, Nuada didn't kill anyone, although he did manage to destroy approximately three-million-dollars' worth of science equipment.
"I hate you," Myers concluded.
"No, you don't," Nuada purred against his ear.
"No," Myers agreed slowly, "I don't."