Muffy was queen of the castle.
Her Majesty hissed at Steve McQueen, who retreated, his ears pinned back and his black fur bristling. Alone at last on top of the table, Muffy triumphantly narrowed her eyes and reached out a paw for the biggest chunk of ham atop the lone remaining slice of Hawaiian pizza -- and then the heavy door opened, pushed by the big one, the small one dangling over his shoulder.
Muffy would not be defeated; Muffy went to pounce on her prize. Unfortunately, this was precisely when the big one turned around, and the small one's legs whacked the back of the chair. It toppled; the pizza fell one way and Queen Muffy the other, yowling in misery.
"--Do not," Liz was saying into Hellboy's back as he shut the vault door behind them, "need to be carried." Her hair hung in a long curtain, her head upside-down.
"You don't gotta be carried, my ass. You couldn't walk a straight line if you tried, Sparky. Whoa!" He put his flesh hand on her rear with just enough time to stop her from rolling off his shoulder.
"Who says I need to walk a straight line?" she asked reasonably. Hellboy's footsteps thudded as he carried her farther into the room. Liz lifted her head. With perfect (slightly slurred) dignity, her hair and arms swinging limply: "Always thought that was an unreasonable requirement."
"Damn," he said, and he shifted her off his shoulder, into his arms, and onto the couch with no apparent effort. She sprawled bonelessly across the sofa, grinning up at him. He snorted softly. "Haven't seen you like this since the time you found the bottle of brandy Father kept in his study."
Her hand fluttered down over her eyes as she laughed. "Oh my God, what was I, sixteen? That was -- that was terrible. I didn't even like it."
"You always were a smart kid," he said, and her swat at him missed by a mile.
"Shut up and sit down already, would you, H.B.? You're making me dizzy."
He raised an eyebrow at where she was taking up the entire couch.
She helpfully lifted her legs.
He looked down at her mud-covered boots. "Hey, I got standards," he said. "Come on. Push up." He got a hand under her shoulders, on her back, and got her up just enough that he could sit down. The second he let go, her head and shoulders flopped into his lap.
"Damn," he said again. "Musta been some bachelorette party." He shot a sidelong look down at her. "Evans didn't get any of those dancer guys, did she?"
She pointed straight up at him. "D'you realize, after Sunday, we can't call her Evans anymore."
"Ha!" He pointed right back at her with a stone finger. "I knew there were strippers!"
Liz's brow wrinkled. "What? No." When he looked unconvinced, it apparently penetrated the tequila haze; she shook her head against his knee. "No. What would -- what would I want with a stripper, anyway?" He thought she was starting to sober up a little, because when he opened his mouth, she said, "Don't answer that." She paused for a beat. "No, no strippers." She settled in more comfortably, with a convulsive wriggle. "Just drinks and stories and toasting."
Mollified, Hellboy let his arm go back to its position across the back of the sofa. "Sounds like a gas."
"You know? It was. I thought -- it was going to completely suck, but it didn't."
He shot her a bemused look. "That's probably got somethin' to do with the tequila, Liz."
"I hate tequila."
"Not accordin' to Evans, you don't." He looked up contemplatively. " 'Course, she was pretty toasted herself, when she dropped you off here."
"She's really happy."
He snorted. "Yeah, she was."
"No." She reached up over her head and punched his knee. "I mean with getting married." She tilted her head back, chin raised to the ceiling. "You know what her new last name is?"
"I don't know what her old first name is."
"Rosenthal. Elsie Rosenthal." She craned her neck back even more; enough that he could see her eyes. "Sounds nice, huh?"
"…Yeah," he said, and he carefully tucked her hair behind her ear. "Sounds nice."
She smiled up at him, eyes half-lidded -- and then she began to laugh.
"You're gone, babe," he said with a craggy grin, shaking his head. "You're gonna hate it when you wake up in the mornin'."
She crooked her finger at him. "Come down here and say that to my face, tough guy."
He leaned down 'til his nose nearly brushed hers. "Which part?"
Her fingers fumbled then found his strong jawline. Her thumb stroked once; gentle, if a little clumsy. "Any of it," she murmured.
He watched her. "You're gonna hate this," he repeated, slower, "in the morning."
Liz made a noncommittal noise. "Mm." She touched his cheek. "I'll deal with it."
Later, after he has taken off her boots, convinced her to take in water and aspirin, and carried her to bed, she tells him she loves him.
"Yeah, yeah," he says, tossing a muddy boot onto the floor and drawing up the covers. "I know."
He knows she's sobering up when she says, "Jesus, H.B., this isn't Star Wars."
Hellboy grins. "Always did wanna say that."
"Red," she complains sleepily, rolling over and hooking her cold feet under the back of his knee.
"Love ya like crazy, babe." He kisses her hair and slips his arm around her.
A moment passes.
"--Crap, your feet are freezing."
Liz mumbles something against his chest. When he looks down, her eyes are closed and her back is slowly, steadily rising and falling. Hellboy's smile softens at the edges; he carefully tucks the blankets up around her shoulders.