Chapter Notes: Written for the schmoop_bingo prompt "Nightmares".

Chapter 21 :: Halloween
By A. Magiluna Stormwriter

++ Monica ++


Who knew that too much candy and excitement really is a bad thing for a two-year-old? Especially when it happens on Halloween and the older children managed to talk Karen and Dace into telling ghost stories while everyone toasted marshmallows.

"Is it selfish of me to hope that every other mother in this complex is suffering the same thing we are tonight?" Dana asks in a tired voice. She rocks William slowly, doing her best to soothe him back into sleep again. Maybe this time, the headless horseman nightmares will finally stop.

Is it selfish? I'd really like to go and kick some ass right now for this, but I suspect that Karen, in particular, is getting her punishment from within her own household. Despite all of his bravado and bluff, Cory is pretty easily scared sometimes. The thought of Janet kicking Karen's ass for scaring her younger son soon has me giggling almost maniacally. Of course, Dana's look of incredulity mixed with frustration as William squirms in her arms only makes me giggle harder. I am a dead woman.

"Sorry," I finally say when I know more laughter won't escape my lips. "I was picturing Janet kicking Karen's ass for the one-upmanship she and Dace had for the scary stories."

Dana chuckles a bit at that, shifting William in her arms again. Without hesitation, I stand, stretching a bit, and scoop him up into my arms. His warm weight against my body is reassuring as I settle on the couch again. The slightest shift of my right arm has the footrest of my recliner end of the couch outstretched, and I lean back more comfortably. William sighs softly, head over my heart, and his thumb unerringly finds its way into his mouth.

Dana gets up and refills our mugs of tea. Coming back into the room, she grabs the afghan on the back of the couch and lightly lays it over my and William's bodies. Apparently satisfied with that, she grabs for the afghan on her recliner and moves to curl up next to me on the couch. Turning on the television, she finds a Xena marathon in progress. Neither of us can help the giggles about this particular show, but we also don't bother finding anything else to watch.

"Happy Halloween," Dana murmurs finally during a commercial break.

"Right back atcha," I reply, leaning over to accept her gentle kiss. "So, do you think William's going to remember what candy he got tonight during the trick or treating? Or do I get free rein over what I can eat?"

Shaking her head, Dana turns her attention back to the television for several moments. At the next commercial break, she glances over at the table where William's luridly orange plastic jack-o'-lantern bucket sits, candy still nestled within its depths. I can tell she's debating over something, but am not one hundred percent sure what it is until she gets up and brings the bucket back. Pulling the coffee table closer, she dumps the bucket's contents onto its surface. We've already gone through the candy once, and that doesn't include when all of the adults that live here on the Ranch got together to determine exactly what each household would buy for the kids to get when they came around trick or treating.

Leaning forward just slightly, so as not to wake William up, I watch with avid curiosity as Dana spreads out the haul our son managed to take in tonight, the marathon already forgotten. For a two-year-old boy who doesn't eat a whole lot of candy in the first place, he got some good stuff. He also got some great little toys and healthy snacks, too. I remember how excited he got when Kerry and Zo put six full sized fruit roll-ups in his bucket. Without looking, we knew they were the apple-grape that he adores more than anything else in the world practically. When he got a couple more from them by the bonfire, he nearly went completely out of his mind. They spoil that boy rotten sometimes. But Kerry does that for all of the kids, particularly once she's found a healthy snack that they'll do anything for.

"You know, I don't think the other kids got nearly as many of those damned fruit roll-ups as William did," Dana says with a fond smile.

"Maybe not, but they all got spoiled with something special from Kerry and Zo."

The small pile of Safe-T-Pops is pushed closer to the fruit roll-ups as one of the things William can definitely have, in moderation. Those were Alex and Olivia's contribution to the buckets, along with a small Thomas figurine. My son could practically open a Thomas the Tank Engine store with all of the crap he has amassed in the last year of his life. Alex and Rachel's homemade caramels are set in the stack of things William is still too young for. Score for me! I love those caramels they make during the holiday season. There's also a caramel apple for each of us in the kitchen, to be enjoyed tomorrow, from the Moreau-Corrigan household.

"You've been a mostly good girl tonight," Dana says, a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, as she slowly and deliberately opens one of the caramels. But instead of giving it to me, she sticks the end of it in her own mouth. Before I can complain, she leans back toward me.

Far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I do my best to get closer to Dana without waking the finally sleeping boy on my chest. The caramel is soft and buttery and practically melts in my mouth. Then again, maybe it's melting from the heat that results from the kiss we share. Greedily, I sweep my tongue through Dana's mouth, searching out every possible little crumb of that delicacy. And the kiss itself isn't too bad either, if I do say so myself.

Breaking off the kiss with a sigh, Dana leans forward and scoops everything back into the bucket before heading into the kitchen to hide it up on top of the refrigerator. In case William gets up before us, we don't want him to OD on sugar. Coming back into the living room, she turns off all the lights, save the one over the stove. She scans the channels again, finding The Nightmare Before Christmas just about to start on one of the movie channels.

"This is certainly appropriate," I tease gently as she snuggles up against me again and pulls her afghan up over her body.

"My thoughts exactly." She gently strokes William's hair, resting her hand on his back for a moment. "I'm guessing we're going to be out here all night, since he's finally asleep. So we might as well watch something fun until we get tired, right?"

"Makes sense to me," I reply, shifting to wrap my left arm around her shoulders. "As much as William would love Oogie Boogie, I'm glad he's asleep right now. Maybe we can dig out our DVD for him tomorrow."

"That definitely sounds like a good plan. We could even set it up in the Great Room, let all the kids come over and watch it. Well, and all of their grownups would be welcome to join us, of course."

"Of course. Like Dace and Zo are going to miss a chance to watch movies with the kids, especially this one; the kids love it when she does Oogie Boogie's song."

"I don't know who's the worst about parroting back lines from that movie," Dana says with a roll of her eyes. "Dace, Zo, or the kids."

"Ah, but don't forget how much Tessa likes that movie, too," I say with a grin, fondly remembering how she'd dressed up as Sally a couple of years ago at Fawn's request. "They will be out here still tomorrow, won't they? I wouldn't want to see Tessa pout if she misses a family showing of that movie."

Dana shrugs. "I'm guessing so. They would have driven back into town if they weren't planning on it. And I know Dace and Karen aren't going in to the office tomorrow either, so I doubt that Anastasia and Tessa would."

Before I can ask any other questions, Dana unwraps another of the caramels and presses it against my lips. "No more questions tonight, amante. Watch the movie with me."

Who am I to refuse such a request?