Christmas Countdown: December 19
Even the members of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense liked to let their hair down once in a while. The tradition of the B.P.R.D. annual Christmas party was started back in the 1940s by none other than Professor Broom himself. The professor felt that it was imperative that Hellboy connect as closely as possible with humans and so he’d instigated the most long-established of human rituals for his demon foster son– the Christmas party.
Professor Broom was gone, but his legacy lived on.
“Come on, HB, show us what you got,” Liz cajoled, calling through the bathroom door. The two had become much better friends once they’d finally admitted that they weren’t destined to be lovers.
“I feel like an idiot,” Hellboy’s deep voice rumbled in response.
“I’m sure you’re very handsome,” she disagreed. “Now, you need to leave the bathroom at some point – think of all the people you’ll disappoint at the party if you don’t. They’re counting on you.”
“I’ve got the back of anybody at the B.P.R.D., no matter what that prick Manning says,” Hellboy grumbled, but opened the door. “I don’t know why that has to extend to wearing this monkey suit.”
Having someone play Santa was a tradition at the B.P.R.D. Christmas party. Usually it was whatever male agent had screwed up the most in recent history. Unfortunately, Manning had decided that Hellboy fit that description this particular year. Despite decades of attending the party, Hellboy had never had the dubious honor of being Santa before. He wasn’t exactly submitting gracefully.
“Ooooh. . . red’s your color, HB,” Liz exclaimed as Hellboy walked into the room. “Definitely.”
They’d had to have a suit specially made to fit his extra large size. Despite his protests, Red wore it well. Of course, with his height and broad shoulders, he was a very daunting Santa, but that was mitigated a bit by the jaunty angle he wore his Santa cap at.
“You don’t think it clashes with my skin, do you?” Red asked as he smoothed the fabric across his chest with a fretful motion. “Make me look sallow or anything like that?”
Liz giggled. “No, I think you look quite fetching.” She elbowed him. “And I think John will too.”
Hellboy glowered. “Speaking of the squirt, did he show up yet?”
“No, but I’m sure he’ll be here in a minute,” Liz reassured him.
“As long as he doesn’t try to wiggle out of it,” Hellboy growled. “If I have to do this, so does he. Half the time I got in trouble this year, it was pulling his skinny Boy Scout butt out of one fire or another.”
“John won’t wiggle out of it. Abe’s helping him just like I’m helping you. As for the trouble, you know he doesn’t mean to,” Liz tried placating him. “He just can’t help it. It’s like he attracts trouble or something.”
“And he doesn’t have any powers or superhuman abilities to protect him,” Hellboy complained. “How can I keep him from getting hurt, especially since he insists on being my back-up?”
Liz’s smile was tender. “I suppose he just feels better when he personally protects someone he cares about.” She poked at Hellboys’s flesh arm. “Does that sound like anybody you know?”
Hellboy grunted, but didn’t answer the question. Instead, he pulled out a fresh cigar and lit it. Liz rolled her eyes.
“I think Santa’s supposed to smoke a pipe,” she pointed out.
“Not this Santa,” Hellboy replied.
“Fine,” Liz held up something white. “Just don’t set your beard on fire.”
“I’m not wearin’ that,” the demon protested. “I’ve already got one of those of my own.”
“You have a goatee, not a beard,” Liz countered. “And it’s not white.”
Leaning up on her tiptoes, Liz put the false beard up to his face and stuck it on. “There you go.”
“I look like a fool,” HB repeated his earlier statement, looking at his reflection in a TV screen. He’d taken out anything mirror-like a long time ago. “I think this should just be a cat toy.”
Liz opened her mouth to object, but before she could speak, a noise was heard at the door.
“It’s about damn time,” Red growled, assuming, correctly, that it was John Myers finally come to join him.
John’s shoes were the first part of him to enter the room. They were made out of green velvet and had pointy toes that curled up. A bell was attached to each, causing the young man to making a soft chiming sound as he moved. Liz and Hellboy gaped at the sight, but even that didn’t prepare them for the rest of John. They both started at his feet, their eyes moving in tandem as they slowly took in the young man’s entire appearance.
John was to be the elf helper to Hellboy’s Santa. In addition to the shoes, he was wearing tights with horizontal green and white stripes. Instead of a shirt, he had a long, red tunic, trimmed in white faux fur. His hat was green and was long, going halfway down his back. In contrast to his sprite-like appearance, the young agent was glowering darkly. Abe was following behind him, his breathing unit around his neck. The fishman’s expression made it clear that it had been a chore to get John to leave his room.
“I look like a munchkin reject,” John complained.
“You’re adorable,” Liz squealed.
John grimaced. “Great. That’s what all the paranormal fighting secret agents like to hear.”
“Sometimes the truth sucks,” Hellboy grinned around his cigar.
“Bite me,” John stated baldly.
The demon’s smile got broader. “Tsk, tsk, such language. Santa’s listening, you know.”
“You’re enjoying this?” John sputtered. “I thought you’d be hating it.”
“Oh, I was, but I gotta say, I love a man in tights,” Hellboy purred. He started circling the younger man. “That makes you my sidekick, doesn’t it? The sidekick always wears tights.”
“You’re forgetting about Batman and Superman,” John countered, chin lifting in defiance. Two kittens were playing with the bells on his shoes. “They’re heroes and they were tights.”
“Well, I’m a lot cooler than them,” Hellboy responded, distracted. His circling had brought him around to John’s backside. “Wait a damn minute, here.”
John half turned, but a hand on his shoulder kept him from facing Hellboy. “What is it?”
“This tunic,” the demon growled, tugging at it with his other hand. “It’s way too short. It’s ‘Deck the Halls,’ not ‘Deck the Balls,’ damn it.”
“Really? It’s too short?” John sounded pleased, shrugging out of Hellboy’s grip. “Cool.”
He headed for the door, but Hellboy stopped him. “You’re not going out there looking like that.”
John appeared to have done an about-face on the whole dressed like an elf issue. “Oh, yes I am.”
“Your assets are out there for everybody to see,” Hellboy protested, clearly dismayed.
Relenting, John hesitated. “Maybe, but you know that you’re the only one who gets to touch, right?”
”Damn straight,” Hellboy growled.
The demon strode over to John and grabbed him by the elbows, lifting the young man up to kissing level. John smiled, not at all discomfited at the position, and accepted the kiss gladly. Both of them had dazed eyes when they parted.
“All right, we go and get this over with,” Hellboy said in a strangled voice. “And then we come back here and Santa Claus’ll come to town.”
John gulped. “Sounds like a plan to me.”
The two men left Hellboy’s room, Hellboy’s tail carrying Santa’s bag. Completely forgotten, Liz and Abe breathed a sigh of relief. When Hellboy and John started being physical, it could get pretty intense.
“You think we should tell them that John’s got the beard on now?” Liz giggled. The fake beard had transferred to the human during the kiss.
“John’s a smart boy,” Abe answered. He gestured for Liz to proceed him out of the room. “He’ll figure it out.”
“And if not, Hellboy won’t mind,” Liz commented. “Not if the beard keeps other people from ogling John too much.”
“Either way,” Abe said. “It ought to be an interesting party.”
And it was.
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