Description: Set in middle of the first movie, 1st person POV. The BPRD holds a ceremony in honor of Trevor Bruttenholm, and Hellboy is not the least bit happy about it… until Manning saves the day.

Author notes follow the story.

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Bare Feet

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It's been three days since Father died.

Or two. It happened Saturday night, so maybe that's not a day. Depends on how you want to count it. Me, I don't want to be counting it at all, but there you go.

Funny how you do count things different, before and after. When Liz got here, she said she'd just be sticking around for the weekend. That was Friday. This now is Tuesday, and there she is, standing right next to me. Maybe she was just waiting for the funeral. Don't know. Didn't ask. She got that this morning, so I bet she's gonna be gone tonight. Right after we get through with this crap, anyway.

See, the funeral this morning was for presentable people. And this, now, isn't.

No, let me back up. The thing is, Father knew people outside the Bureau. When he took on leading the B.P.R.D. – when he found me – he was already an adult. He had school friends, teachers, who knew he was into weird stuff, but didn't know HOW weird. He kept up communications outside the Bureau, spoke for the Bureau sometimes. Helped smooth things over when old stiff-suit Manning couldn't drum up the charm to get out of some mess or another.

The fancy funeral this morning was for them. The ones who just knew part of Father. Sure, it was for the agents too, but they had to be kinda careful about what they said. "The Professor was there for me after I saw my first ghost…" No. Not going to fly in public.

So they're having this too. Private ceremony at Headquarters. Still pretty damn big, though – easy to forget how many people work for the BPRD. Everyone going up front, talking about how they really remember him. A second chance to pay their respects.

Also – but they never said this – a first chance for us who didn't get to be part of the official thing. That means the special-abilities agents. Minus Liz, because she's fine to be seen with everyone. Minus Abe, because poor guy's stuck in that tank recovering for a good week anyway.

So really, it means me.

But if they're trying to give me some sort of gift here, they sure did a lousy job picking it.

Father meant more to me than he did to anyone else here. So what am I supposed to get out of hearing them tell things how they see it? I got asked to go up say something myself, sure, when they sent someone yesterday to tell me they were doing this. But I didn't even give an answer. What's the point? They wouldn't understand anyway.

So instead, I'm watching everyone else get their moment, and I'm finding ways to pass the time. Like, you know when a teacher grades a paper, and writes on it with a red pen? Father used to do that for me. Give me lessons, take them back and do this thoughtful nod, give them back the next day with scribbles all over. Corrections, sure, but praise too, and suggestions, other things that he thought I should know. He must have spent hours like that, trying to teach me stuff. More time than I spent trying to learn it, for sure.

So I'm imagining I've got this huge red pen in my hand, and I'm grading the speeches people are giving.

"Trevor Bruttenholm was an example to us all. An example of leadership, and of intelligence, and of understanding, but most of all an example of kindness. An example of the way life was meant to be lived."

Nicely put. You get an A.

"Professor Bruttenholm was always there when we needed him. When we were up against the Kelpie Case of '96, or that huge run of hauntings we had in 2001, or all those covens we busted back in the late 80s, he was there the whole way, working harder than any of us."

You're forgetting something. He was working with you, sure, but you should say how he was keeping you all from falling apart after you came back from working, all shaken up and lost-like. That's the important part. But you can have a B-plus, for effort.

"Trevor Bruttenholm was like a father to all of us here at the Bureau."

No. Kid, that's what's called a factual error. Trevor Bruttenholm was father to exactly one person, and that was me. Should've done your research. You get an F.

There is one other person in this room who I'd be okay with if they said Father was like a father to them, and that's Liz. She was a teenager living on the street when he brought her in, for crying out loud, not some academy-fresh recruit like the rest of you. But she's not saying anything. They must've asked her to talk too, but they should've known she wouldn't stand up and get stared at by all these people.

What she did do is, she got a bunch of photos she'd taken of Father and pasted them into a collage. She must've spent all night working on the thing. It's a real work of art. Hits you good, shows him like he was. Pulls on your heart just looking at it. But she didn't even put her name on it.

This crummy ceremony just will not end. I've got things to do. Like science. I never knew bacon would go all waxy like that if you don't eat it for an hour or two. I hope nobody's hauled it away, I have to see if it did anything else interesting.

Wasn't nearly through staring at that wall either. The wall and me, we got plenty of quality time together last night. Then I had to drag myself to the funeral this morning. To the roof next to the funeral, anyway. I got to see everyone in their black outfits, looking oh-so-picture-perfect. Nobody even asked me whether I wanted to borrow a black coat. Not that it would've fit, but it would've been nice to try. Crap, I would've worn a big floppy church hat with a veil on it and a dahlia, if I could have gone in there with everyone, seen Father that one last time.

But instead I came back here, while the rest of them were, I don't know, probably at some fancy reception where they whispered a lot and ate stuffed mushrooms. I spent some time hanging out with Father's rosary. I was trying to think about the Mysteries, like he told me you do with a rosary, but you know, yesterday they were just way too mysterious. Couldn't remember a single one.

With a rosary, every time you do the set of prayers and think about a Mystery, it's called a decade. Fifteen decades on a rosary – come to think of it, I think they just bumped it up to twenty. Six decades is how much time I got with Father. It's not like I ever really thought he'd be around forever. I mean, crap, I wasn't even with him one decade before he got sick the first time. But twenty decades sure would've been nice.

So Father's rosary and me were hanging out on my bed for what must've been hours and hours. Then Liz came in. I was facing away from the door, and didn't turn around to take a look, but I knew it was her. I can recognize her by her feet.

Footsteps, I mean. See, I can tell apart everyone who comes to my room, without even looking, because they all sound different when they walk. Father's walk was really careful, deliberate, like everything he did. Liz doesn't make much sound at all – she's kind of a small lady to begin with, and then it's like she almost doesn't want people to know she's there. Abe goes barefoot a lot in the halls, so it's this quiet slap-slap sound, you can imagine. Manning, he walks like a damn metronome, can't even take a step if he's not doing it by the book – 'course, not like I get the chance to just hear him walk, 'cause he's always yammering. Clay – damn it, Clay, there's someone else I'm not going to be hearing anymore – he walked all businesslike too, but he didn't sound angry like Manning, and most times I could hear the meal cart squeaking too. Myers is quieter than Clay was. Walks off-beat a bit, like he's not sure what he's doing.

I wonder if people know me by the sound of my feet. I probably sound just like any other agent -- boots on the tiles -- but heavier. I always have my boots on when I'm out of my room. Gotta be prepared for action at any time. For serious monster-fighting, you really need soles with good treads for traction. Plus, if I wasn't wearing the boots, it'd probably sound like the end of "Sleigh Ride". Clip-clop clip-clop.

Anyway, Liz was there in the door to my room, and I could feel her looking at me. I kind of wanted to say, those stuffed mushroom sure must've been tasty, but I didn't. And she maybe had something to say, but she didn't. She just looked at me for a few minutes, with my boots up on the pillow and my leather coat dripping rainwater all into the sheets, 'cause I never bothered to take it off, and then she left. And I got up, and got showered, and shaved my horns, and came up here. Because I do have some pride.

And now they've finished with the speechifying, and are saying the ceremony's over, but they've got this other optional thing set up for afterwards. It has to do with the stuff that was shoved in the back of the room when we came in: a bunch of chairs, and some basins, and a big pile of towels.

They're gonna do a foot-washing ceremony.

Somebody didn't do their homework. F-minus.

They say, Father spent his last evening in the lab and in the library. Being that it was Saturday evening, and he had his good rosary with him, he was probably planning on heading to Mass right after. Since he didn't get to go to Mass, we'd like to do a special ceremony for him now.

And I finger the rosary, around my wrist now with the little crucifix hanging down into my palm, and think, forget Mass. Lab, library… when did he get any dinner? Did he get into his research so much that he forgot to eat? And me up to my eyeballs in nachos and chili, that got all cold and gelatinous and had to get carted away the next morning.

They're going to run the ceremony like a team-building thing and not a Christian thing, they say, but it's been practiced in all kinds of Christian tradition – ancient, orthodox, Catholic, protestant (and the Professor, great syncretist that he was, was probably at least three of those) – so anyone who's uncomfortable with that of course shouldn't feel pressured to join in. (Notice they don't give ME an easy escape like that.)

It came out of ancient cultures where people walked everywhere, and wore sandals, and got their feet really dirty. Hosts would provide water for their guests to wash, or have servants wash their feet. A hospitality thing.

It came into the Christian tradition with a story about Jesus washing the feet of all his disciples – even Judas – just before he died. Made it a symbol of service. A symbol of humility and love and support.

English kings, from way back in the 13th to the 16th century, would wash the feet of poor people on Maundy Thursday. Nowadays, foot-washing is popping up in homeless shelters and wedding ceremonies and counseling sessions. This one Senator washed the feet of this aide of his that was retiring, to show his gratitude.

Finally, they turn it back to Father, and get to what they're getting at. Father welcomed us all, they say, showed hospitality. Father didn't ever turn away when things got dirty and unpleasant, he did what needed to get done. He made it so the people who worked with him didn't just feel like coworkers, they felt like a family (There's that word again – you get the X, compadre). Father led us all by serving us all. And now that he's not going to be able to do that anymore, we should practice welcoming and serving and supporting each other in the same way. Be a community like he would have wanted. Show our gratitude.

It's not about getting clean, they say. It's about the symbol, doing the motions to get the meaning. You grab a person to go out with you, they sit in the chair and stick their feet in the basin. You pick up one of their feet, pour a little water over it with your other hand, dry it off with the towel. Same with the other foot. Done. Then they do the same thing for you. And you both go find someone else.

And it's funny, with all the talk of history and religion and symbols and stuff, all I can think of is this movie I watched last week. I don't usually go for the type of movie with gunfights, and people getting the crap beat out of them, and loads of drama, and crazy desperate people doing crazy desperate things. Too much like my real life. But this one had Bruce Willis in it. Put the bug in my ear for that Al Green song too, when I was working on my letter to Liz.

Anyway, at this one part of the movie two characters are talking about foot massages, and one of them says doing it is like… well, it ain't for innocent ears. If you don't know, I ain't gonna say it. But it's not something you do with your buddies and your coworkers.

A couple of women agents go up first. I figured it would be the women mostly, women don't get weird about this kind of thing like guys do. These two must be new recruits, I don't think I've ever seen them before. Kids. They look like they've been pulled straight out of high school. I swear, the recruits just keep getting younger and younger. And don't try to say, they aren't, I'm getting old, 'cause you know the same as I do, I'm not.

But then I get proved wrong for thinking this would turn into ladies' night, 'cause there go Agents Moss and Quarry, second couple. I wonder why it'd be those two. I mean, I've worked with both of them for years, and I never got a hint that either one was the touchy-feely type. Neither one's religious either, as far as I know.

Liz sees them too, and she knows more than me about what's going on. She understands.

"They're worried about the mission," she says, quietly, just to me.

"Hrm?" I say, which maybe wasn't the most eloquent answer, but she gets it anyway.

"The mission to Russia. With you."

"Who said I was going?" I say.

She turns this shocked look on me.

"Manning doesn't want me there," I tell her. "Why should I go where I'm not wanted? Let them deal with their problems themselves for once."

Which is true. But that's not all of what's true.

The real reason I don't want to go on the trip is, I'm scared pantsless.

This Rasputin guy, he's dead about a dozen times, and he still found a way to sneak up on me in a dark alley. Creepy enough, right? But what he said is what really got to me. He called me 'Son'.

Back when I was just a little guy, on the base in New Mexico, Father had… hell, no reason not to say it now… he had his first round with cancer. When we were both good and shook up about that, he told me about how I got onto this earth, why he's my father. Damn, I wish he could have told me about storks or cabbage patches or people doing the nasty, or anything else, but what he told me was the truth. As much as he knew about it, which is just enough to let you know that it is bad, really bad, and not enough to let you do anything about it.

And here comes Rasputin, trying to tell me he knows the things Father didn't. He said he knows my 'true calling.' He says he knows my real name. I didn't know I had a real name. I don't want to know it if I do.

With Father to back me up, I wouldn't care. Sorry Mister, I already got a Father, I got a purpose, and it's got nothing to do with you. No matter how much sparkle you shake onto that crap, it still stinks, and I ain't buying.

But without Father, I can't go there. I can't.

By now, the seats behind the basins are all filled up, and you can hear splashing going on. Some people look kind of self-conscious, but some are really getting into it. It's like at a dance; the dance floor is empty until that first couple goes out, and then everyone's boogying at once. And here's Liz and me on the sidelines, the kids who didn't get a date to the prom.

A while has gone by now, with me only half paying attention. Liz hasn't said anything since that thing about the Mission. She looks kind of pissed off – I don't know whether it's at me, 'cause she knows I didn't give her a real answer about the Russia thing, or whether she just doesn't want to be here. Then, all of a sudden, she sticks her finger into my arm and gets this wicked little smile.

"Hey," she says, all low, "you know how they said that thing about Judas? Like, you should wash the feet of your worst enemy? Check out Manning. He's pretty popular."

She's right. Manning's been up and down a ton of times already. Right now he's got his hands in the basin, doing the thing businesslike, the way he does everything.

I guess she wanted to get an answer out of me with that, or a smile or something, but I'm just not feeling it. She goes quiet again.

I wonder if she's watching Myers. I'm watching him – he's on the near side of the group, back to us now. He's pretty popular himself. New kid. Guess they wanted to give him some of that hospitality they were talking about.

I've got my eyes on him when I hear this weird harrumphing. Whaddaya know. Manning's ears must've been burning, and here he is. Knees all wet, floor-dust on his pants cuff – bet he's not too happy about that.

Liz gives him her 100% flat stare, but he's not looking at her, he's looking at me.

"I was there," he says.

I know what he's saying. He was in the library when I got home on Saturday night. When I saw that it was really true. When I saw Father, lying there all small and still in the middle of the floor.

I can't believe this guy. Less than a week ago he got all up in my face, called me a freak, a monster. Practically said the world would be better off with me dead. And now he's, what, trying to make nice by telling me he was standing around watching during what has got to be the worst thing that's ever happened in my life? I don't think I've ever hated this guy more than I hate him right now.

I turn my best evil eye on him – believe you me, I've got a good one – and I say, "So?"

Something in that bulldog face closes up, goes all spiky and impenetrable like a hedgehog, and he turns around sharp and leaves.

Liz and I stand around some more, watching everyone else. By now, nobody looks embarrassed, and nobody's peeking around to see who's watching them. Some people have tears in their eyes – more than a few – and some of them have tears going down their faces, and they don't even care. Someone in the back is flat-out bawling -- you can hear them. You can hear other people talking, too quiet to make out any words, but you see them too if you look, arms all over each others' shoulders, or hands on backs. I mean, people are getting into this thing.

"What a load of crap," I say.

Liz looks kind of surprised. I go ahead with saying what I'm thinking.

"Now we gotta watch people go snotty-nosed all over each other? It was bad enough listening to their blah-blah-blah."

Her voice has this kind of funny edge to it when she speaks. "I thought it was kind of nice, getting the chance to hear stories about the Professor. Didn't you think so?"


Her voice gets harder. "He was really important to everybody, and everybody's hurting. Talking about him helps. Being with other people who loved him helps."

"You all didn't get enough of that this morning? Now you gotta make up another party to get your kum-ba-ya-yas out?"

"This is for you, you know!" She's good and pissed off now.

I make my voice smooth. "Yeah, I know. Really thoughtful of you. It's like throwing a big Christmas party, except you call it a 'Holiday' party, because there's this one Jew in the office, wouldn't want to make him feel left out… and then you serve nothing but dry rolls and a great big ham."

You'd think, with the amount of sarcasm this one dishes out, she could appreciate it coming from someone else. Apparently not.

She goes all icy and turns away. And now that we're both looking out across the floor again, who should show up but Boy Scout.

I want to laugh when I see him. I'd almost forgotten that I nailed him good with a rock when he was trying to put the moves on Liz. He's got an impressive goose-egg raised on his forehead, and it's turning a pretty shade of purple. I kind of want to say, What is that funny-looking bump on your head? Or maybe I'll just let my mouth hang open and stare at it. Turn-about is fair play.

But he's got the same idea as Manning. "Hellboy, would you come with me?" he says, putting on this timid-and-gracious act.

And I realize that the bump is not that funny. Myers isn't as dumb as he looks. He knew I was out of the Bureau at the same time they were. He has to have figured out it was me with the rock. It's like Liz said before, about Judas. Punk kid comes into my house, tries to take my job and my girl, and now he's trying to make himself look like a saint and me the bad guy. No way.

"No," I tell him. He looks a little disappointed, and that makes me glad.

But then I realize my mistake. It's like that moment when you've knocked over something expensive, and your stomach just about hits the floor because you know it's going to fall and break, but it's too late to stop it.

In slow motion, Myers turns to Liz.

"Liz? Would you?" he says.

The look she turns on me is clear as day. It says, Take THIS. And she goes with him.

This can't get any worse. They're practically going to be making out, right in front of me. I tell you, if he looks like he's enjoying himself for one second, I am going right out there and pulling his dirty little hands off of her, appearances be damned.

Two seconds later, I'm thinking, Geez fella, you're handling the feet of a beautiful woman, not changing a tire. Put a little art into it!

He does it about as quickly as possible, no frills, and gets up. And she does the same for him, also quick, and before you know it she's bounced back onto her feet and is heading my way, not even giving him a second look.

She hasn't barely gotten halfway, though, before another Agent taps her on the arm. Grubb, I think her name is.

I can see from here that Liz is not too keen at being put on the spot again, but it wouldn't look good to say no, so she turns and heads back.

When she's finished with that person, there's another Agent right behind her, and as soon as he's finished with Liz, there's someone else.

It's like, before Myers took her out, nobody really believed that she wouldn't burn their hands off as soon as they touched her. Now they're practically falling over each other to show her… what? Respect, I guess. Support.

She starts out shy, like I knew she would, but it isn't too long before she's smiling. Then her eyelashes go down against her cheeks, and I can see there are tears under them. Then she's digging the backs of her hands into her eyes, but you know, she's still smiling.

I'm watching her go out to those chairs again and again, and exchanging little words. She's thanking the person at her feet, or she's leaning over and nodding very slowly, or she's getting her hand squeezed, or she's just biting her lip, and the tears keep coming.

For the gazillionth time, I think, She is so beautiful.

And I think, Look, they love her. What if she hadn't been born different like she is, with the fire? She wouldn't want to be the popular girl, but she's got something about her, and everyone can see it. They want to be close to her, to help her out. She always says she'd rather be alone than in a crowd, but right now she really looks happy, even though she's sad. She looks like she belongs.

As I'm watching Liz, I feel that someone's standing next to me.

It's Manning. And this time, he isn't putting on some sad expression. He's looking just about how he always looks. You know. Stick up his butt.

"Agent Hellboy," he says, "I have had about enough of your insubordination. Get out onto that floor, now. Take off those boots."

This guy will not get the message. I give him a growl and a look to match.

"I don't. Have. Feet."

I guess he gets all kinds of things lobbed at him when he's doing those interviews. He doesn't look surprised, not for a second.

"Now, see, now you're trying to argue semantics." He leans in, looks me right in the eye, points at his chest. "With ME." He fidgets like he's picking fuzz off his suit. "These are special circumstances, that's quite true, but I'm still the director around here. Whatever you want to call those things you like to hobble around on, fine, just get them out on that floor, or I will have to consider the possibility of significant administrative action."

I don't want to make a scene. Not now that Liz is starting to enjoy herself. I go. I'm not looking at anyone, and if they're looking at me, I sure ain't inviting it. I get myself into a chair.

I take my sweet time unlacing my boots, and watch his face as they come off. Yeah, that's right. You knew, but you didn't really KNOW, did you? Hooves. Called your bluff. Your turn.

To his credit, he's tougher than he usually acts. Doesn't hesitate, doesn't look surprised, nothing. When I put my hooves into the water, he just grabs one and goes to it.

It turns out to be not so bad, I guess. I mean, he doesn't tickle. Guess he's had a lot of practice in the last twenty minutes.

Then I start to thinking, when's the last time somebody touched my feet?

I'm not talking about the doctors and scientists, who've touched them plenty of times. They've gone over every inch of my body with a fine-tooth comb. And a thermometer, and a syringe, and a diamond drill, and a microscope, and a blowtorch. I'm talking about, when's the last time somebody REALLY touched my feet?

It was Father, of course. It was a lifetime ago, on the base in New Mexico. He was teaching me to tie shoelaces.

No. It was after that. He was tickling me, just for fun, fingers on my feet and on my belly and in my armpits, making me wiggle and squeal, both of us just about choking with laughing so hard.

No. After that. I had been climbing around some junk on base, probably someplace I wasn't supposed to go, and got a big nasty splinter in my foot. No need for a doctor on this one, he said. He got out the ice for numbing, and the candle to sterilize the needle for getting it out. Before he got to work, he put his finger on his lips and then on my foot. Here, I'm kissing the boo-boo, it'll feel better now. And he did what needed to be done with the needle, real gentle. And I cried the whole time, not because it hurt, because it didn't really, but just because I knew if I made a fuss he would comfort me.

That was all more than fifty years ago. Now he's gone, and I'm left here with Manning. And when is anyone ever going to touch my feet again?

I feel pressure building up in the backs of my eyes.

No. Not now. Not here.

I didn't want to make a scene. Freak gets paraded out in front of all the normal people. Freak has total melt-down, drops freak-tears all over surprised head of Director. Great. Just great. Exactly what none of us need.

I'm trying to clear my throat, because I heard somewhere that will help, so I don't really understand what Manning says when I hear it.

A half-second later, it sinks in.

"Don't think this means anything's changed. Starting from tomorrow, I'm going to expect you to toe the line."

I blink a couple times. Did he just…? I look down, and he's not looking at me, but sure enough, one jowly cheek is quirking up at the corner.

Bastard made a joke. A pun, even. At my expense. Oh, I am not taking this lying down.

"I see," I say, all casual-like. "I see your… your bald attempt to get at me."

One of his eyebrows shoots up practically onto the top of his head, and he looks up.

"Seriously? That's the best you can come up with?"

I give him a purr. "Go easy on me, okay? It's not like I'm thinking totally straight right now. Now with you rubbing my feet, making it feel sooo niiiice."

"That. Now that, that's struck off the record. Officially never said."

Heh. His expression is priceless. He gives my foot one last swab with the towel, puts it down on the ground, and gets up.

And I realize, I'm okay. I've got it together again.

He's standing, looking at me, about as patient as he ever is which is barely at all. Oh yeah. This thing's got two parts.

Now, you're going to laugh. Or you're going to think I'm an ungrateful, shallow bastard. Whatever. But right then, honestly, my first thought was, Oh great. I have to touch old-man feet now. Yuck.

But you know, when you're doing the motions, you're concentrating on what you're doing, not really looking up and seeing the face of the person.

Father was an old man. Maybe washing his feet would be exactly like this. Would I wash Father's feet?

A million times.

I finish up, and without saying another word, we head back into the crowd of people waiting. But before I get there, somebody taps me on the elbow. It's Moss. He jerks his head at the chairs and the basins.

I must've gone back about a dozen times. All people I know really well, people I've worked with for years. We've saved each others' lives plenty of times. We've seen each other scared, and angry, and in pain. I know I've personally carried one or two of them when they've got hurt. I guess touching my hooves for two minutes is small potatoes compared to that. But even so, it kind of means something.

And then, I'm flat tired, so I bow out. Things are slowing down anyway. People are starting to leave, and those who aren't leaving are mostly hanging around in the seats up by the front, and along the edge of the room.

I spot Liz standing against the wall. She's making her vanilla-ice-cream-face, which is to say she looks a mess, but in a good way. As soon as I get next to her, her hand slips into my hand. And it's my left hand, which feels warmth and texture and everything, not just pressure like my right hand, so it feels really good.

I turn my head to say… I don't know, something nice to her. And I see that Myers is standing on her other side. She's holding hands with him too.

I snatch my hand away, 'cause you can imagine, I'm kind of hurt. And she turns this look on me.

I had expected her to be angry, really. If she had just looked sad, I would have expected that too. But what I didn't expect was what I got, which was this LOOK. A desperate need kind of look. It was like a starving woman looking at a cupcake. Which I guess sounds pretty romantic, when I say it like that, but it really wasn't, it was just pathetic.

So I take her hand, all quiet. I even give it a little squeeze, because I've realized something.

Liz has got a foot in two worlds, just like I do. And right now, she needs to put all her weight on both of her feet just to keep standing.

And something else. Now, I'm not a superstitious guy. And besides that, I know that even though Father went quick, he had already made his peace, so there's really no reason for his soul to be sticking around and talking to people. But even so, I think he said something to me.

It's like… this is going to sound way out there, but stay with me a minute. It's kind of like in that story with Moses, where this voice told him to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. The voice said, "Don't worry about what's going to happen, because I'm gonna be here with you." And Moses was all, "Wah wah wah". And then the voice said, "Can it. You got work to do." I think that's what Father said to me. And if there's one thing that movies taught me, it's that when a miracle happens, you'd better friggin' acknowledge it.

"Hey, Liz," I say.

She doesn't look at me, but her head turns so her ear is closer.

"I'm gonna take some time in the library," I say. And she barely moves at all, but I can see she understands.

My feet are bare. The way I figure, that must mean I'm standing on holy ground. And on holy ground, the normal rules don't apply.

Tomorrow, Manning will be an insufferable ass. Tomorrow, Myers will be smarmy and obnoxious. Tomorrow, I'm going to be fighting with both of them. But today, none of that matters. I can give Liz what she needs, and not what I want her to need. And I'm okay with that. And I can find a way to deal with the other stuff, too. I think Father would've liked that.

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Author notes:

Hellboy's hooves are visible in only one scene out of both movies: when he first appears as an adult in the first movie, when Clay introduces Myers to him. Several other details in this story come from the biographies that Guillermo del Toro wrote for Hellboy and Liz, which are included on the DVD of the first movie: for example, that Hellboy likes Bruce Willis, that Liz cries when she eats vanilla ice cream, and that Trevor Bruttenholm first had cancer in the 50's.

When Liz speaks to Abe just before meeting Hellboy in the library, she says that he hasn't eaten, slept, or talked to anyone for three days, "Not one word." That struck me as not quite fitting with later events. Wouldn't you expect somebody in a state of mourning that deep to be disheveled, rough, unbathed? Instead, when she sees him in the next scene, he's immaculately groomed, eloquent, and self-possessed. I think something must have happened that gave him some peace of mind. Other than completely ignoring that one line, I tried to tie this in with events in the first movie as much as possible, ie Liz saying she'll accompany Hellboy to Russia "if you're still going". (And why didn't Myers have a bump on his head after getting hit with that stone?)

The movie to which Hellboy refers is "Pulp Fiction". If you're familiar with that movie, and you're not humming Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" by now, you might have this song stuck in your head like I did: "Girl (bah bum bum bum) / You'll be a woman soon…."