Continuity note: set pre X-Men, Sam is about 12 years old.


"C'mon Sam! It's time to go trick-or-treating!"

Sam heaved a sigh full of big brother impatience. "I'm not going trick-or-treating, Paige. I'm just taking you kids out so Momma and Dad can focus on the little ones."

Paige pouted. "You think you're too good for Halloween just 'cuz you're in junior high now. Well you AREN'T! And you're only 3 years old than me anyway AND-" she finally stopped to inhale- "If you're not goin' trick-or-treatin', how come you're dressed like a baseball player? Huh?" She demanded.

Sam rolled his eyes. "I'm NOT dressed up," he said, self consciously adjusting his Cincinnati Reds tee-shirt and cap. "I've worn this stuff plenty of times before!"

"How come you got a bat, too, then?"

Thinking his oldest little sister was entirely too smart for her own good, Sam waved the bat menacingly. "It's to beat ya with when ya irritate me, like you're doing now."

Their mother came bustling into the kitchen, a swarm of costumed children on her heels. "Samuel, don't threaten your sister. And Paige, stop pestering. You sure you can handle these three, Sam?" she asked, separating Josh and Joelle from the herd.

Sam adopted his 'I am the big brother and I am in charge' look. "I'll take care of 'em," he said in his most responsible-young-man tone.

"Mom!" Paige protested. "Sam says he's too old for trick-or-treating, but he's wearing a costume."

Lucinda rolled her eyes knowingly. "Paigey, if your big brother says he's not trick-or-treating, then he's not. He's doing us quite a favor, taking you oldest bunch out so we can take 'round the little ones. So you BEHAVE and do as he says, got it? That goes for you two, as well," she warned Josh and Joelle. Paige's response was a glower and nod, while the other two chorused "alright!" and clutched their treat bags. "Now," Lucinda continued, "are y'all ready to go?"

"Yes!" they yelled, stampeding out the door. Sam moved to follow but Lucinda called him back. "Don't forget your bag, Sam." She handed him a pillowcase.

"I KNEW IT!" Paige shrieked, peering in from the porch.

"It's just for candy overflow, Paige! In case your bags get filled!" Sam pushed open the screen door and ran after his siblings.

"Sam's going trick-or-treating! Sam's going trick-or-treating!" Paige sang, skipping to the road.

"That's it!" Sam brandished his bat and the four children ran yelling into the night.

Lucinda chuckled as she attended to her other children. Tom, helping Lewis into his costume, looked out as his four oldest took off. "Think they'll come back in one piece?"

She smiled. "There won't be a mark on 'em, 'less you count the chocolate stains."