I decided that this time of year called for a spooky story, and I was inspired to write a little ghost story. Normally when I write this sort of fanfiction, I like to use the Japanese names (I just like them better than the English), but I feel like Halloween is a very American holiday, and it didn't feel right writing the Japanese names. So suffer with me and read the awful English dub names :) I was also inspired by the folklore surrounding jack-o-lanterns...very creepy ;) Enjoy! (I guess this is set sometime between Sailor Moon R and Stars...? Also, I do not own Sailor Moon and associated characters!)
Serena straightened the brim of Rini's black hat and removed a rogue smudge of lipstick from Rini's cheek.
"Do I look scary?" Rini asked hopefully, tipping her head back to look at Serena from underneath the brim of her witch's hat. Serena considered her daughter, hiding a small smile behind her hand; she wouldn't say that a five year old little girl with rambunctious pink curls and messy lipstick was a terrifying sight, but it was certainly endearing.
"Of course," Serena assured her, with a little tap on the nose. "The scariest witch I've ever seen!" Rini crowed with excitement and ran off to collect her broom and candy bag. Darien came up behind Serena and gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"Is our little witch ready to go?" he asked, squeezing Serena around the waist. Serena smiled up at him, and then rested her head against his chest.
"I think so. She's practically bouncing off the walls."
"Why don't you come with us this year?" Darien asked, nudging the top of Serena's head with his chin.
"Oh, you know…" Serena said lightly, though she could feel her shoulders stiffen against Darien. He felt it too, because he gently turned her around, tipping her head back so he could look into her eyes.
"Serena, why won't you come out with us?"
"It's nothing," Serena said, shaking off his grip with a nervous laugh. "This is a good time for you and Rini to hang out together. I don't really like Halloween that much. I'll probably just have a cup of tea and wait for you two to come home."
Darien frowned, as though he weren't quite ready to drop it, but Rini suddenly burst into the room with a yell, brandishing her pumpkin-shaped bag.
"Daddy, let's go!" She bellowed, running behind Darien and pushing on his calves. "We'll miss all the good candy if we don't start now!"
Darien laughed, and pretended to be pushed out of the room by Rini. Serena followed behind, relieved; it appeared that Darien would let it rest for the time being, and she only needed a little time.
The three of them stepped out onto the porch, Rini darting out from behind Darien and throwing herself down the stairs and onto the lawn.
"Rini, don't you dare leave the yard without me!" Darien called. In the dusk, Serena could see that Rini stopped just as her toes hit the sidewalk. She then turned and grinned angelically at her parents, as though she intended all along to wait patiently for her father to escort her into the neighborhood.
"The jack-o-lantern isn't lit," Serena observed, looking at the cheerful pumpkin sitting empty and dark on their porch.
"I didn't want any trick-or-treaters to knock it over," Darien said with a shrug, bending down to kiss Serena on the top of her head. "I'll be home in a couple hours. Probably with Rini in restraints." Serena laughed and lightly pushed Darien toward Rini.
"Don't let her eat candy on the way home this time!" Serena called to his back. "Then you won't need the restraints!" She watched Darien take Rini's hand, and the two wandered off into the night.
Serena pulled her sweater tight around her shoulders; already the night was becoming cold. She went back into the house, but came out seconds later with a match and a candle.
"The jack-o-lantern wards off evil spirits," she said to herself, carefully setting the lit candle in the hollowed out pumpkin. The garish smile and lopsided eyes came to life, flickering gently in the gloom. "It's worth a shot, I guess."
She went back inside, locking the front door behind her, suppressing the urge to lug the pumpkin inside with her. A chill had descended over the house, chasing out whatever warmth had been there before Darien and Rini had left. Serena sighed. She really hated Halloween, but there was no way to explain to Darien why, much less to Rini, for whom Halloween was the end all, be all of her five years of existence.
There was a slight tremor in the air and the atmosphere in the house changed as though someone had flicked a switch. The dark rooms were now filled with a special shadowy gloom that would not be chased away with light. Serena's breath, now a little faster, showed in small white clouds. With a heavy sigh, she made started to move toward the kitchen. Before she left the front room, she looked back at the jack-o-lantern, visible through the window. His grin was dark and his eyes empty; the candle had gone out.