Halloween is Tate's favorite time of year, the most magical one, because that's the one time of year he can take Violet out on a real date. They both giggle that morning as they head out with a pocketful of cash and a plan in mind. They head straight for the Spirit Halloween that had sprung up in K-Mart, devouring the old store like a parasite.
"Should we do a couples costume," Tate asks. It's the first Halloween they've spent together in six years, but it feels like the first one. Well, up to the point where the Breakfast Club had showed up and ruined their date.
"God no, those are lame."
"Oh, check it out." He holds up a Zorro costume that's seen better days, grinning like an idiot. "I could totally pull this off." She smiles in return, pulling out a black dress that's been modeled after Wednesday Addams and comes complete with a fake knife. "Oh, that totally fits you!"
"I know, right? Mom and Nora should go as Morticia and Gomez."
"Which one would be Gomez?" They share a look and a dopey grin and Tate laughs. "Vivien, of course. I don't know why I had to ask." They shop for an hour longer, just enjoying the temporary freedom and the lack of constant whispering from the house. They end up spending almost two hundred dollars in the store, but who cares when money doesn't mean anything to the dead? These costumes can be reused whenever they want and Zorro will never go out of style as far as Tate is concerned.
"Let's get coffee," Violet says. She's already tugging him into a Starbucks before he can object, ordering for both of them and finding them a table where they can watch people walk in. She likes to slip into Judge Judy mode on cloudy afternoons, offering up scathing comments about whoever walks past the house. Violet and Tate drink their coffee, make snarky comments and spend the rest of the day at the beach. They don't get interrupted this time, so they lay back on a blanket to watch the sunset before pulling their costumes on to hunt out some candy from the richer neighborhoods. By the end of the night, they're breathless and filled with warmth for the first time since their deaths.
Hayden takes the twins trick-r-treating, spending the entire night helping them pull pranks on every house in the neighborhood. They wrap toilet paper around Mister Henderson's windmill, smash pumpkins that Constance has set out on the porch, and throw eggs at passing cars.
It's a good night and she laughs more than she has in six years. She and the twins become inseparable after that.
Nora Montgomery had never been fond of Halloween, the children had sticky fingers and the parents didn't control them well enough. Even when she was a little girl, she'd hide out with her father and they'd read together while trick-r-treaters knocked well past ten o'clock. She doesn't like Halloween, but that day provided so many good memories that it holds a special place in her heart.
"Do you wanna go out," Vivien asks. She's smiling and Nora loves the way it makes her blue eyes shine. Nora loves everything about Vivien from the faint scent of vanilla to the way she's always able to lift Nora's sadness. How could anyone be sad when they had a woman as wonderful as Vivien?
"Could we go to a park? Somewhere close by?" Vivien nods because she understands, she always does. Nora hasn't left the house since…. Since she was alive and being too far away makes anxiety curdle her stomach.
"Of course. I know a great place that has a fountain we can sit by." Nora nods with a soft smile, pressing a kiss against Vivien's cheek. She's comfortable with intimacy now, far more comfortable than she'd even been with Charles. "We could sit there all night if you want. We have no responsibilities tonight."
"What about Jeffrey?"
"Ben and Charles are responsible, which means Moira will make sure they don't drop him. He'll be safe, hon." She nods and allows herself to be led out of the master bedroom, snatching a book off the nightstand on her way out.
The sky is just starting to change colors when they come out onto the porch, a myriad of pinks and oranges and scarlets that all blend together into a beautiful picture. She thinks of the sunsets from when she was a child, thinks the colors had never seemed so vibrant. LA seems to have changed so much and not at all, the landmarks are different, but the people are the same. Parents run with their children, the smog softens the streetlights as they flicker on, the grass just starting to go brown as fall begins to give way to winter.
"It's beautiful," Nora breathes. "Oh, it's almost like I remember."
"We could walk around if you'd like." It's a sweet offer, but not possible in the kitten heels she's got on. Even ghosts can get blisters if their shoes rub the wrong way. Nora glances over at Vivien and then down to her own shoes and Vivien's smile broadens. "Or we could get to that park so your poor feet don't suffer."
"You've read my mind, my dear." They laugh all the way to the small park with the fountain. The benches are made of wrought iron and warm wood, roses twining along the curved feet and solid legs with an old gaslight standing sentinel. "This is gorgeous. We need one of these instead of that ugly gazebo." She runs her free hand over the sun-warmed iron, already picturing a garden beneath a pepper tree with this bench for her and Vivien to pass afternoons on.
"Maybe we can send Constance out to find us one." Nora hums and sits down, drawing Vivien beside her. One of Vivien's arms goes around her thin shoulders and Nora settles against her as naturally as breathing. It's so easy with her, so perfect. "What book did you bring?"
"Once Upon a Winter's Night. Violet let me borrow it."
"Oh God, I remember that book. She was just graduating into more adult literature and she got halfway through this before deciding manga was more interesting. I don't think she ever finished it."
"Good, that means she can't spoil the ending." Vivien laughs, a sound like bells to Nora's ears. She loves the sound, the faint vibration of it that rumbles beneath Nora's cheek. "I had just started the first chapter of Fellowship of the Ring and the little troublemaker told me how all three books end."
"Yeah, she's a little shit, but she's our little shit."
"Indeed." All the complaining aside, Nora really does adore Violet. The girl is the perfect balance between childhood and adulthood, the perfect age to talk with. She has such spirit, such a glow about her that all the dark things in the house seem drawn to.
"Will you read to me? I like your voice." Nora hums and adjusts a little, still curled against Vivien's side with the book open in her lap. The pages are old and starting to curl at the edges, so Nora handles them with all the gentleness most people save for babies.
"They lived in a one-room, stone cottage on the edge of Faery," Nora reads. "There where the world ends and the mystical realm begins, there where golden sunshine abruptly becomes twilight all silver and gray…."
Charles and Ben know the basics of child rearing, they know how to cuddle and swaddle and kiss fat cheeks. What they don't know, however, is how to quiet a baby that doesn't take a bottle and refuses to take a binky. That's the point where Ben starts to realize he's never had to take care of a child this small by himself before.
"Maybe Viv has her cell."
"Interrupt their outing and Nora will make both of us pay," Charles grumbles. He's got Jeffrey cradled against his chest and he's been bouncing for the past three hours, doing his best to calm the baby. Jeffrey, however, knows these men are idiots and wants the whole world to know that as well.
"What if we sang to it?" Charles pauses and considers before shaking his head. "What? You afraid he won't appreciate your singing voice?"
"I don't know any songs meant for children." It's Ben's turn to pause because how the fuck is that possible? How could you have a child in the house and not know something so simple as Hush Little Baby or Wheels on the Bus? Violet hadn't even been born yet and Ben had been humming that dumb teapot song while he graded papers.
"The last song I remember isn't appropriate."
"Well, now I wanna know what it is." He wants to know if they actually made such songs in the thirties. Did they have their own slang terms that would send upper crust white people into fits of rage? Did kids listen to it secretly when their parents were asleep the same way Ben had listened to Paradise by the Dashboard Light?
"I don't know the name of it, but it spoke a lot about a young woman's derriere. I believe they said they like big bottoms and they just couldn't lie about it." Ben snorts out a surprised laugh that takes the air right out of him, hunching over as the fit makes his ribs ache and his lungs burn for air they don't need. "What's so funny?"
"You— You listened to—" Ben can't finish the sentence, he's laughing too hard at the song and the offended expression turning Charles' face red. "Oh God, I needed that."
"Well, if you're so gung-ho about singing, then go ahead."
"Fine, I will." He opens his mouth to belt out something, but his mind goes blank. All he can think about is Charles jamming out to Sir Mix-A-Lot, maybe head-banging or looking at the radio like it's just scandalized him. Had Tate been listening to it and Charles had stopped to listen, too?
"It's not so easy, is it?"
"Shut up, I'm thinking." He tries, he really does, but those lyrics won't leave his head and he feels like strangling Charles for getting it stuck there. He hasn't heard that damn song since the nineties and now it's all he can think about. Fuck. Is this what karma's like when you're already dead? Ben calls bullshit.
"Come on, Ben. Pick a song." Ben growls low in his throat and takes the baby back when Jeffrey's screaming goes up a pitch. "Your father is freezing up, Jeffrey. He can't even think of a children's song." Jeffrey doesn't understand, he just keeps screaming and Ben snaps. As Ben sings the entirety of Baby Got Back, Charles eventually joining in when Jeffrey actually starts to calm down, Moira perches at the top of the stairs and records the entire scene for the others.
Constance and Travis spend Halloween in her house, tangled together until sunrise teases the horizon and he's forced to go back to the house next door.