Los Angeles was still so unfamiliar to you, even though you’d been working behind the scenes of The Muppets’ newest show for almost a year. But a monotonous route to and from the same place never really gave you time to formulate a proper mental map of the city; especially when most trips by public bus or taxi were spent on the phone with your employers. Tonight, however, a comfortable silence stretched on as you gazed blearily over the cab’s interior, your head rested on your chaperone, with your arm linked in his.
You couldn’t really see much now; it was dark outside, and even with the glow of street lamps illuminating the backseat in quick flashes, your face was mostly buried into his shoulder, obscuring everything from view. You felt the fabric of Deadly’s suit brushing against your cheek; it was one of those suits he favoured, patterned in navy blue shapes akin to dragon scales, and it was smoother to the touch than you had expected. The texture reminded you of those gaudy decorative cushions your mom had insisted on having in every room with a couch, patterned with dizzying shapes but comfortable, despite that fact. Your nose was filled with the scent of his woody cologne, something he applied almost in excess. It burnt your nostrils with its intensity, causing you to feel somewhat nauseous.
… No, that might have been the alcohol, actually.
The crew had been celebrating… something. An after-party, celebrating a milestone for “Up Late With Miss Piggy”? That sounded right. Piggy would have found any excuse to throw a party over an achievement like that, to make sure that she was in the spotlight the entire evening, taking credit for most of the hard effort put in by everyone else. She may have been the face of the show, but nothing would have gotten done if it weren't for the staff rushing around and maintaining this well-oiled machine. However, you weren't bitter. If there was one thing that woman could do, it was throw a party, and Piggy had invited all sorts of big names to make this night an unforgettable one. It didn’t always pay off to have this job, but sipping drinks at a bar with celebrities was definitely a perk.
In the spirit of comradery, and excitement, you’d had a little too much too quickly, never one to pass up free drinks… But you’d always had a weak stomach to the hard stuff…
and the light stuff.
And that’s when it got difficult to make sense of your surroundings. Thankfully, there wasn’t enough in your system to make you puke, but the dizziness had hastily set in, and you were falling asleep at the surface of the bar after your rather embarrassing attempts at flirting with your co-workers. And the bartender. And some attractive patrons that happened to sit near you whilst waiting for their own orders. You’d been single for the entirety of your internship, and emboldened by your drinking, had set about trying to change that. Some had definitely been less opposed to it than others, but many of them laughed it off, finding the suggestive advances of the usually introverted intern quite a sight to behold.
There was one colleague in particular you’d had your eye on, and had made subtle passes at now and again, even before the party.
Deadly never reacted positively to it... but nor in fact, did he react negatively. He reacted in a way that made you very unsure where you stood with him. Flirtatious banter was often met with quips of his own, but you couldn’t tell if he was being receptive, or if this was simply Deadly being Deadly, who always had a wisecrack to offer. Tonight had been no different… well, save for one thing. He’d been the one to call a cab after making a joke about your inebriated state.
“You must be blind drunk if you’re trying that on me, dear.”
And then, in an unexpected act of generosity, had walked you out of the bar to accompany you home to make sure you made it there, safely.
The cab finally pulled up to the curb. There hadn’t been much walking up until this point, but you’d made it your mission to stick as closely to Uncle Deadly as you possibly could, sneakily cosying up to him in the ride. As if he wouldn’t notice. Before you could even open your mouth, Deadly was pulling out a credit card so he could pay for the fare.
“It’s fine. You can pay me back tomorrow.”
You were too tired to protest. You craved sleep…
Uncle Deadly gave a slight grunt of exertion as you both hopped out the car. As you fumbled on shaky legs, he clenched your arm hard enough that his claws briefly dug into your skin through the material of your sweater, not wanting you to fall. “Careful. This way. Mind out for the step.” You knew he’d had a few martinis throughout the evening, and yet his pacing was careful, calculated, as if he already knew the building despite never having invited anyone from work to your place before. He didn’t have to ask for directions, or what your apartment number was, and you couldn’t even remember the layout of the rooms half the time.
“It’s dark…” You mumbled. “I think there’s a… switch here.” You searched your hazy memories, remembering that there was a light switch on the wall of the small entranceway to your apartment. You had reached the correct floor… or at least, you thought so? You could have sworn there were three flights of stairs to take but Deadly had only made his way up one.
“Don’t fret, I have excellent night vision.” He responded, and you looked up to see that his green pupils were glowing in the din, luminescent and catlike. You then thought about a picture of a cat you saw on the internet with eyes like that and started to giggle. You’d been doing that a lot, on and off throughout the party, so Deadly didn’t think to question why that statement was funny. “You’ll want to take your jacket off.” He said, leading you through a doorway and finally letting go when he’d made sure you were stable enough to support yourself.
Although dark, you could see the silhouette of a couch, and you immediately collapsed on to it, thankful to be able to rest your tired feet, taking the time to slip off your shoes. You let out a long, heavy breath, and felt yourself slipping into a sleepy state again… Only to hear your name being called in a gentle sing-song tone. “Don’t fall asleep here, come on. Coat off, and off to bed."
You groaned in protest, letting out a sleepy breath through your nose, but you obliged, and unbuttoned your coat, peeling it off best you could whilst still sat down. He took jacket and shoes, opening up a coat closet and-
Did your apartment have a coat closet? Well, there was still a lot about this new life you’d had yet to discover, you supposed, maybe you’d never noticed it before. You felt a leathery hand take yours, and Deadly placed another on your waist. He lifted you back on your feet, and you noticed that he’d taken his own jacket off, revealing a blue waistcoat and white dress shirt; there were small tears in the sleeves where some of his sharpened scales had ripped at the fabric.
This little detail made you giggle again.
“This way, dear, we’re almost there.” Deadly led you through, and you felt plush carpet under your feet once you’d made your way through the door at the end of the hall. A few steps more, and your knee nudged into the edge of a bed. At last! You flopped on to it, face first, and inhaled a relaxed sigh, taking in the scent of clean sheets and floral fabric softener. Then, you turned over, and brushed the hair out of your eyes as you caught Deadly watching you, unblinkingly.
“Thanks for helping me home, Deadly.” You finally said, a drowsy sigh escaping your lips as you rested your head on a pillow.
There was moment where you caught him giving you a once over. He finally blinked, and cocked his head to one side, curiously. “This is my apartment.” He replied. “You were too out of it to remember your address so I had the cab bring us here.”
“... Oh.” Even with the alcohol dulling your senses, you felt a twinge of embarrassment that you could have missed something so blatant; at least the odd layout of the rooms finally made sense. “So... this is... your room?”
“No, one of the guest rooms.” Deadly switched on a bedside lamp, and waved a hand, inviting you to take in the surroundings. “You might have some idea as to who usually uses this room if you take a look.”
Once your eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness, it didn’t take long for you to guess; even if you hadn’t noticed the portrait of her hanging over the bed frame, the place looked far too much like Piggy’s dressing room at the studio to mistake it for anyone else's. She’d left her mark. And Deadly left it tidy for the next time she would need it. “Don’t tell her I let you in here.” He said with a warning tone. “It was the only guest room that was in an acceptable condition considering the circumstances. You’ll forgive me if I insist that you do not touch anything. She is considerably private about this room, despite the fact that it’s under my roof… She will know if someone has touched her things.”
He sounded a tad resentful; did he know this from personal experience?
“Yes, of course!” You said at once, anxious now that you’d been far too familiar with the cushy bed and its eloquent throw pillows in the moments when you hadn’t realized where you were. Still, you smiled a little; he’d allowed you access to what was probably quite a private place. A starlet like Miss Piggy kept her things here, slept here if she didn’t feel like trekking back to her own studio apartment. Not everyone would be able to say they’d stayed in this room.
“However... I say that, and yet,” Deadly stepped away, his dragon tail swishing slightly as he moved to a chest of drawers and pulled them open. “You’ll need something to change into. Here, this should suffice.” Out came a pair of dark pink pajamas, made of reflective satin that shone under the soft glow of the table lamp.
“Thank you!” You blurted out, sitting up and taking them from him. The soft silken material brushed against your fingers; what he'd given to you might be the most expensive thing you'd ever wear on your body. Now you were being invited to change into her clothes in her room, in the home of her beloved wardrobe supervisor? You felt… oddly special.
“Mmyes, lovely, aren’t they? Neiman Marcus. Some of the finest nightwear money can buy.” Obviously, he’d noticed your expression of awe, and took this as an opportunity to brag. “They should fit you. I’d be shocked if they didn’t.”
You gave a nervous half smile, deciding against laughing along at his dig, sitting up so you could begin getting changed. Your shirt stuck to your sweater as you lifted it up, and revealed far more than you’d intended. Noticing this, Deadly quickly turned away to give you some privacy, and cleared his throat. “Ah! I’ll… leave you to it, then. Excuse me.”
Oh… was he embarrassed?
You wanted to flirt again, especially after what you’d let him see just now, emboldened by his obvious fluster.
“Deadly… hey, could you help me out of these clothes?” You teased, pulling the layers back down over your chest. “I’m practically too tipsy to move.”
“My word,” He said, still not looking your way. “This room must be getting to you; you sound so much like her already.”
… Wait, what?
You froze, and questionable thoughts entered your mind as to the nature of his and Piggy’s relationship. You knew they were close, but not THAT close. An unexpected twinge of jealousy hit you, but not long after, you inwardly chided yourself. That wasn’t what he’d meant. When you worked as closely with Piggy as Deadly did, undressing her would have become habitual; he was the one who got her fitted for every outfit she wore, after all. And Piggy, especially a drunk Miss Piggy, would likely demand she not have to lift a finger, forgetting any sense of embarrassment she might have of Deadly seeing her naked. It was the opposite of sexy, honestly. Quite comical, in fact. It took everything in you not to start snickering at the image, alone. Besides, she had that thing with Kermit, right? That frog was a glutton for punishment, but it wasn’t like you could judge him too harshly; just look at the sort of man you were interested in.
“Well…” You said coyly, trying to forego any thoughts of Miss Piggy’s sex life from your mind. “Um… I think me and her would want a different end result.”
Your stomach clenched in nervous excitement. “Well… as in. I’d not be the only one getting undressed, if you catch my meaning.” You bit your bottom lip, smirking slightly. You sounded so cheesy-!
“Alright… that’s enough jokes for tonight, I think.” Deadly said, simply.
Your smirk vanished. Oh. This again… Did he really not see that your attempts were serious? Did that smirk you gave seem mocking? Or was he the mocking one, finding your advances funny? Did your flirting seem desperate, like you were trying too hard? “No!” You responded quickly, worried you may have betrayed your slight hurt at his rejection in your tone of voice. “I’m not making jokes! I’m… trying to flirt with you!”
And then he said something that really threw you for a loop.
After a few moments of gaping at him, you simply went with the truth. “Why? Well… because… you’re… attractive? You’re my type?”
“… Am I really?” His tone was still completely passive, but he'd paused for a bit before speaking again. Deadly turned to look at you, staring with those intense glowing eyes of his; he needed to know that your advances weren’t just in jest, and that it wasn’t acceptable to humour you so that he could laugh behind your back, if that was his intent.
“Yeah! … I like older men.”
“How dare you!” He scoffed.
“And men who dress well, and have expensive tastes and… and just, face it Deadly, you have all the makings a sugar daddy.” And that, that was your type, as embarrassing as it was to admit even to yourself. You liked them mature, bordering on that taboo of being the same age, if not older, than your own father was.
“Oh? So that’s what you’re getting at, is it?” In a few steps, he was sat on a small chair near the bed, leaning forward with steepled fingers. “My, I didn’t take you for that type.”
It took you a few moments to process this statement, but then you backpedaled, shaking your head vigorously. “Wait. Oh, my god! No! No, no, no! I’m not… I mean… okay, I was kidding just then, I really don’t care if you have money or not!” That was a dirty lie, you were as materialistic as all-get-out, but, as fun of a fantasy as it was to have an older man buying you lavish presents, you were not the type to get romantically involved with someone just to have first-hand access to their bank account. That was more of a… happy little bonus if it ever came to that. Deadly would have appealed to you even without a fat wallet and a platinum credit card. “Listen, what I’m trying to say is… I like you... I’m attracted to you. I have been from the moment I first saw you. Even before I knew who you were!”
The corner of his mouth curled, brow raised; he was clearly surprised by that claim. “That’s… definitely not something I hear every day.”
Was he joking?
“You know...” He interjected, before you could start up again. “The Muppets have always been the very open minded sort. They’ve invited people from all walks of life into their community with open arms. The weirder the better, in fact.” Deadly gave a small, short laugh that sounded almost like a hum. “Outside the office, however, by those who don’t know me personally, I’m given quite the wide berth. And then, eventually, I just came to accept that no amount of well-tailored suits or appreciation of high art could mask my... frankly monstrous appearance. I sort of… took to it, in a way. The creeping, unsettling Uncle Deadly, who skulks the halls and banishes anyone who sets foot in his domain with threats of impending doom… It was easier to cope with being feared when it was your intention to scare them silly, you see.”
“Deadly, I’m…" You felt a lump in your throat. "I’m sorry, I...”
Sitting back in the chair, he shrugged. “I do not say this to gain your pity, dear. Just to give context as to why I found it so... hard to grasp your advances towards me.”
You gawked at him… it was unfathomable! He was such a catch! Well spoken, marvelously talented, always well dressed, clean cut, and his voice… there was just such a stage presence to Deadly that had enraptured you from the get-go, and frankly, his monstrousness hadn’t been a deterrent. It had been one of the aspects that drew you to him! You’d always liked them a little... feral if you were honest with yourself. Men with sharp teeth and long claws were also what tickled your fancy, as well as being slightly older. The very idea that people from all over didn't share your tastes shouldn't have surprised you as much as it did, but you’re struck by such fury on his behalf, of the idea that anyone would judge Deadly or find him to be repugnant before even getting to know him that you couldn't help but indignantly speak your mind. “Well, I can tell you! On my first day, when I saw you getting coffee in the break room with Piggy, I was so just… captivated! I thought you were gorgeous… and dapper as hell!"
You remembered it, vividly, despite your inebriated state, how you'd taken your eyes off the person giving you the tour around the studio so you could get to know your work space. All background noise seemed to fade into a mix of unintelligible sounds as you caught his eye from across the room, like the two of you were in some kind of Hollywood movie. Or at least... that's how it had felt for you at the time, you could barely stammer out two words afterwards and hid behind your hair. It now occurred to you that he might have thought you'd been afraid of him.
Anytime after that was short, but when he would at the buffet table to fetch Piggy a coffee or one of her numerous midday snacks, you'd try and find a reason to speak up. Even if it was just an exchange of good mornings, or listening to him talk about his day for the brief couple of minutes he was allowed...
("Sorry to hear your day's been rough, Deadly.")
("Your suit looks nice today, b-but you always look handsome. Uh-- I mean, good. Yeah. Very clean cut! Heh...")
("Man, I could listen to you talk all day... uh. Since you're a thespian! You ever done Shakespeare?")
"Man, I wanted to get to know you better so badly...” You blinked, realizing you’d just admitted something quite embarrassing, sounding like some smitten school girl with a crush on her teacher. A hand went to your mouth, and you gulped, ears burning underneath your hair. “You... really don’t get people flirting with you all the time?”
For the first time this evening and since the day you first met him, Uncle Deadly gave you a genuine smile; it was softer than you pictured it to be. His eyes seemed to twinkle, his draconian snout twitching at the end. “Your incredulous tone is so flattering. I didn’t expect you to have a speech prepared.” You could hear the humour in his voice, and you suddenly remembered that he was tipsy, too. Both of you had drunk too much, and were talking about things you would never have dreamt of in the world of sobriety and professional distance.
“I… I talk a lot when I’m drunk, I’m sorry.”
You felt him place a hand over yours, tentatively. “My dear, It’s a welcome change. We never really got to speak much, did we? I’ve... wanted to get to know you better for quite some time, too, if I’m being perfectly honest.”
"Really?" Your heart skips a beat. However, any words you had been about to say were lost, as he reached with a clawed finger, and used it to tilt up your chin. He leant in, and pressed a soft peck to the corner of your mouth, exhaling softly as the hand trailed across your face and to your shoulder. You smelt the olives and liquor on his breath, but it wasn’t unpleasant. You shivered as you felt his beard tickle your face, and had to bite your lip to prevent yourself from laughing, because now was not the time to be doing that. Moving on to the bed, he seated himself next to you, and buried his nose into the crook of your neck. His cologne rubbed off on to your skin as you felt him brushing the back of your hand with a thumb, softly.
… It was an unfortunate reality that he didn’t have the type of face that made kissing an easy task, but you tried, pressing your lips to the tip of his snout, feeling the tip of his tongue poke out and brush your bottom lip. You let out a gentle sigh, and he pulled back a little bit, brushing some hair out of your eyes. Until today, you’d not had any physical contact with him. But now, here he was, caressing you and nuzzling you with such familiarity and tenderness... Seemed Uncle Deadly was an affectionate drunk.
“I guess I’m the type to be easily swayed by sweet talk,” He said, almost sounding surprised at himself for taking the initiative like this.
“Well, I’m glad it worked, I thought I sounded like a dork…”
“Oh.” You glanced away, abashedly, giving a nervous grin. More kisses were pressed to your neck in the meantime, and you couldn’t help the breathy laughter that escaped your lips, mixed in with Deadly’s own low chuckle.
“Wait… wait, I-I’m ticklish!” You squeaked.
“Adorable…” Deadly whispered, faintly.
“What?!” That hadn’t been your intended goal! You wanted to be enticing, not cute! Still… something must have worked, because of what he said next. Pulling away, his hands rested on your stomach, tugging at the fabric of your sweater.
“Let’s get you out of those clothes, then.”
You stared... gulped… and then gave a little nod.