Three years. Three very long and painful year's. That's what it had been. Laughter brought Rick back to the real world.
Opening his eyes he saw Michonne and Judith at the painting easel. Judith was working on her next masterpiece. He saw himself standing center like always, a fuzzy grey thing around chin symbolizing his ever growing beard, his stomach showing signs of getting bigger and of course the grumpy look.
Rick chuckled to himself. He was used to all the pictures showing that look probably because he always had it.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Carl and Sophia whispering about something. Sophia came with Ezekiel and Carol three days prior and they had spend every moment together. "To be a teenager" Rick thought to himself sighing. Even in a walker infested world, he worried about what his teenage son was up to when alone with a girl.
Rick looked down at his watch which said 10-30 and frowned. He looked over at Judith and realized she would never know what tomorrow used to be. Carl loves Halloween. He would dress up and go trick or treating then help his mom pass out candy. Thinking of Lori made him think of Shane and the thought of both of them made his heart hurt. It had been three years but their deaths felt like yesterday.
As the sun set, Rick kissed judith on her forehead and put her in the bed they found. It had guard rails so she couldn't fall and let her feel like a big girl. "Daddy, I love you" Judith said yawning. Rick smiled and said "I love you too baby girl, now get some sleep". Yawning again Judith nodded, turned on her side and closed her eyes. She was a much better sleeper than Carl.
After making sure that Carl was in his bed, Rick curled up with Michonne. "Tomorrow would be Halloween" Rick said sadly. Michonne nodded and responded "I know, it's sad so many kids don't know about the one holiday where candy is just handed out". Rick laughed and kissed his beautiful wife, still not sure how he got so lucky.
Rick yawned and placed his arm where Michonne should've been but wasn't. He looked at his watch and nearly died when he saw that it was eleven in the morning.
Pulling on his jeans and shirt he headed to the kitchen, where he almost died again. Standing at the stove was Michonne dressed as a witch.
"Michonne?" Rick asked trying to understand the reasoning. "Mornin Rick, how do you like it?" Michonne said nonchalantly. "Where did you get that?" Rick questioned not answering Michonne. "Carl and Sophia found a costume shop that had been over looked because people didn't see a use for it. The best part is that it was closed when it all started so it was completely empty. With Jerry's help they collected costumes for all of Alexandria, The Kingdom, Hilltop and even The Sanctuary. They even found candy. Your costume is over there" Michonne said beaming with motherly pride.
Rick looked where Michonne was pointing and saw a mechanics costume. Though Michonne must've made some adjustments to the overalls because one side didn't button anymore. That's also when he noticed all the decorations everywhere.
Rick took a breath and grabbed onto the back of a chair. Michonne wrapped her arms around him and whispered "Happy Halloween Rick Grimes. Carl knew it was starting to eat at you that Judith was missing out so he put this together. We have a great kid". Rick nodded, turned and kissed his wife deeply.
The ewww from the door announced the kids were there. He smiled when he saw Carl in a firefighters costume, and Sophia looked stunning as a mermaid. Even Carol took part and was dressed in a beautiful queens outfit. Ezekiel of course just wore his normal everyday outfit as he was always king.
Then came the tears as Judith came in. She was wearing a fairy princess costume complete with wings and wand. As she ran around laughing and waving her wand, Rick didn't know if he would make it through the day.
Later that night, Rick, Michonne, Carl and Sophia took Judith to the middle of town where they were handing out candy to the kids. It was decorated from one end of the street to the other.
Aaron and Daryl were there with little Gracie dressed as a sheep. Henry was with Carol and Ezekiel and he was dressed as a knight. Maggie had brought little Hershel even though they were doing things in Hilltop and he was Toto while Maggie was Dorothy,
Rick watched as the town had hours of fun and as the night round down and people took their little ghouls and goblins home, he couldn't help but feel the tears again. He looked to the sky and just for a split second could swear he saw Shane and Lori smiling at him.
A hand touched his shoulder once again bringing him back to reality. "Ready to go home handsome" Michonne said kissing his cheek around a passed out Judith. Rick nodded and they headed back with Carl who looked exhausted himself.
"You did a great job today Carl" Rick said hugging his son. "Thanks dad, it was all to bring your smile back for even a little bit". Rick took a deep breath and said, "Carl, from now on I am going to smile more because you reminded me today that life can and will go on". Carl grinned and they all headed in and went to bed, ready for anything.
The empty courtyard
Even as night fully engulfed Alexandria, the party didn't end. Dressed in swanky Halloween costumes spirits danced in the streets.
Nick and Troy tried to start a line of people doing the thriller dance but it didn't catch on though they did it for a few hours. Then as the music lowered, they turned to a slow dance and kissed deeply. "Told you that you loved me" Troy said smirking. Nick grinned and said "just shut up and kiss me again". Troy obliged and gave him another long kiss.
Rick woke up to what he could swear was music but Michonne didn't seem to notice as she was fast asleep. Sneaking out of bed and down the stairs, Rick opened the door quietly. His mouth fell agape.
There outside his door was Lori and Shane. Lori was dressed as Cinderella and Shane was a werewolf, the same thing he was every year.
"Am I dreaming?" Rick asked pinching himself. "No baby, it's the one night of the year that the world of the spirits and the mortal world align. We could've gone anywhere but we wanted to see you" Shane said as he pulled Rick in for a soft kiss. "I like that Michonne, she's done a good job protecting you and the kids" Lori said pulling Rick to her for a kiss.
Rick just held them and cried. "I miss you both so much" Rick said as he sobbed. "We miss you too but we better not see you for a long time" Shane said strictly but with a smile. Rick laughed.
The three of them spent the night talking and dancing and as the sun was beginning to peek over the hills, Rick knew he was going to have to say goodbye.
"till next year my love" Lori said and with a last kiss faded away. "Till we meet again partner" Shane said kissing him deeply then fading away himself. "I love you both" Rick whispered and silently took himself back to bed. He wished he could sleep until next halloween when he could see them again but he knew that it would come faster than he really wanted it to.
Closing his eyes Rick smiled and fell into the best sleep that he could remember over the last three years.