Author's note: None of these characters belong to me, I'm just writing a little something in honor of Christmas. This takes place around six years after the end of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Spoilers if you haven't seen that film or the 2004 movie Hellboy. The basic idea that I have is that Hellboy, Liz, Abe Sapien, and Johann Krauss are now working as freelance agents of the BPRD in exchange for being left alone to live their own lives. Reminder: The name 'Bruttenholm' is pronounced 'Broom'. As in many 'movieverse' Hellboy fics, I often spell the name phonetically. I use December 23 for Hellboy's 'birthday' as in Mike Mignola's original comics, not the October date used in the 2004 movie Hellboy.

Just Fine: A Hellboy Christmas Tale

'I can't believe another Christmas Eve has rolled around again,' thought Liz Sherman as she put the finishing touches on the lunch she was preparing. Just as she set the last plate on the table, a huge crash came from the sitting room of the remote country cottage in County Antrim, Northern Ireland where she resided with Hellboy and their now six-year-old twins.

"Is everything okay in there?" Liz shouted, as she checked the now simmering pot of soup on the ancient cast iron stove that dominated, and nicely heated, the small kitchen.

"Fine," growled a deep voice from the other room, "We're just fine." From the tone, Liz could tell that the 'Terrible Twins' were more than earning Hellboy's affectionately exasperated nickname for them.

Yet, from the year that Trevor and Katherine Bruttenholm could walk without tripping over their tails, Hellboy had them 'assisting' him in setting up and decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, just as he had done with his adoptive father for close to sixty years. Outside of the broken rosary Hellboy still had wrapped around his normal-sized left wrist, Liz knew that these traditions and the memories that came with them were all that he truly had remaining to him of the man that had raised him.

Just the day before, it had been Hellboy's sixty-seventh 'birthday'. Liz knew that it was at this time of year he still most keenly sensed the hole that his father's death had left in his life; a hole that even she and their twins couldn't quite fill, no matter how much he loved them.

She also knew that Hellboy buried that enduring grief in preparing for Christmas. He always went out and chopped down the largest evergreen the height of the sitting room ceiling could accommodate. From the amount of noise penetrating through to the kitchen, this year's tree must be very large.

"Daddy, let me help," piped up an eager young voice.

"Trevor, go stand over there with Katie." Liz could hear the strain in Hellboy's voice and wondered exactly how large the tree was. After replacing the lid on the simmering pot of soup, she moved to the doorway between the kitchen and sitting room. "Do you need any help with that, Red?"

"Nah, I'm fine." All that Liz could see of Hellboy was his over-sized right hand as he tried to balance the largest pine tree he had ever brought in the cottage into what appeared to be a tree holder that was way too small for it. A noise of soup bubbling over sent her back into the kitchen.

There was nothing Liz hated more than trying to scrub burnt food off of cast iron. Knowing that Hellboy wouldn't come in for lunch until he got the tree set up, Liz turned off the flame under the pot. If it took him longer than usual, the soup could easily be re-heated.

"Trevor!" came a sudden shout from the other room, "Don't …" Whatever else Hellboy was going to say was cut off by an even larger crash than before; one that shook the walls of the cottage.

"Aw, crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!" As Liz hurried into the sitting room, she saw Katie and Trevor, dressed in their identical blue jeans and holiday sweatshirts staring at the fallen giant of a pine tree. The slamming of the front door to the cottage gave Liz a good idea of where Hellboy had gone.

Trevor, nervously pulling on the end of his tail, had the beginnings of tears in his golden yellow eyes. Katie, having moved to examine the now prostrate tree, looked up as Liz rushed in. The gleam in her dark brown eyes and the movement of her tail showed how funny she thought her brother's predicament was. Liz was relieved that the twins were uninjured and none of the room's furnishings had been damaged as Hellboy had moved most of it to one side to work on the tree.

"Mummy, I just wanted to help, like Daddy said he used to help his father." Trevor sounded so forlorn that Liz found it difficult to be angry with him.

Kneeling down, she pulled her son into a tight hug. "Honey, when Daddy was your age, he was already over six feet tall."

Katie turned from her examination of the tree. "Why're me and Trevie so short then?"

Liz found it hard not to laugh. "You can blame that on me, Katie. I've always been a whole lot shorter than your Daddy." She stood up again and tousled Trevor's short, dark hair, feeling the tiny horns that could barely be seen peeking out from his bangs. "C'mon, kids, let's go get some soup."

Slamming the door hard behind him, Hellboy stomped through the ankle-deep snow that now covered the front yard. What he liked to call a 'yard' was actually a clearing in a forest. This solitary location had been his and Liz's home for over six years now. Another cottage about two miles away was where fish-man Abe Sapien and containment-suited ectoplasmic being Johann Krauss resided.

Other than this, there were no other neighbors for miles around. Periodic deliveries from the BPRD and their European subsidiaries kept the now freelance agents supplied with food and necessaries. Usually the isolation agreed with Hellboy just fine; but this was not one of those times.

A vivid dream, the night before, about the man who had raised him made Hellboy feel lonelier and more homesick than he had felt in years. Rather than being similar to the surreal nightmares that he long had after his father's murder in November of 2004 and the aftermath in Moscow, this dream had been about Christmas of 2003. The one that neither of them had known would be their last together.

For reasons Hellboy could barely articulate, even to himself, the bittersweet memories from last night's dream made him want this year's Christmas to be the best he could give his wife and children. This desire merely served to make him even more impatient than usual with Trevor's mishap.

Hellboy stopped to survey the pristine whiteness, sunshine, and blue skies that surrounded him. When the snow started falling the night before, he had been delighted. December weather in Northern Ireland was more often cold rain and gray clouds than snow and brilliant sunshine.

As soon as he had gotten the tree set up and they finished lunch, he had been planning to take Liz and the twins sledding on a nearby hill. Trevor's attempt to 'help' him had delayed everything and he was afraid that they wouldn't have time to go sledding before the sun went down. It was this crimp in his Christmas Eve plans more than anything else that had angered him.

Digging a cigar and a Zippo lighter out of a pocket of the long tan-colored coat he had thrown on before leaving the cottage, he muttered, "A smoke, that's my problem. I need a damn smoke."

After a few minutes puffing on the cigar, Hellboy calmed down enough to once again appreciate the unusual beauty of the day. If he went back in right then, it really shouldn't be that difficult to rescue their Christmas tree, wolf down some soup, and get some good sledding in before the sun went down.

"Is everything okay, Son?" Trevor Broom's voice sounded so real, so close.

Even though Hellboy knew that it was probably just his imagination, that question still brought a smile back to his face. "Sure, Pop, everything is just fine."

Taking one last puff on his cigar, Hellboy returned to the cottage, once more determined to have a wonderful Christmas with the people he loved best, even those who were there only in spirit.

Author's afterword: Sorry this is a bit late. I hope that all had a great day yesterday. This little story may end up being completely non-canonical to anything that will be revealed in the projected third Hellboy film, but it was fun to write. Thanks for reading. All feedback is welcome.