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If I had more energy and time, I would absolutely be writing the story of Halloween in Iowa, just before Finn turns two, when John's wondering if they should buy Finn a costume from Old Navy ("Pirate? Chicken?" "They sell chicken suits?" "Yeah." "Okay, that's just weird.") but Rodney protests, hemming and hawing and generally suggesting that he has it all under control. And John's not convinced but lets it be, and ignores the two charges ($37.85; $52.34) from Home Depot and the strange noises that come from the attic and the way Finn keeps getting silver paint in his hair at odd points over the next three weeks. Twice Finn says something like "An' then I'm gonna . . ." before realizing he has a secret, a good one! And then he claps his tiny hands over his mouth and giggles maniacally while Rodney rolls his eyes and tells him to eat his spaghetti or there'll be no mudpies before bedtime.

And then it's Halloween, and John comes home early so that they can all drive into town to the trick or treat festival down by the courthouse. Rodney's picked Finn up already, and as John opens the kitchen door, he can hear Rodney's muffled curses and Finn yelling EX-DERMY-ATE, EX-DERMY-ATE and Rodney saying, "please, no, just hold still, I have to . . ." while Finn yells EX-DERMY-ATE even louder. And then there's a squeal of glee and the shuffle of feet and Finn comes running into the kitchen, outfitted as a Dalek, face showing through a cut-out in a silver-painted, cardboard panel, real lights flashing on his chest, and a sink plunger wobbling above his forehead. "EX-DERMY-ATE," Finn yells with a grin, and John thinks this is the cutest damn harbinger of evil he's ever seen, but he holds his hands up in surrender anyway. Which is when Rodney comes around the corner, a long, ratty scarf wound several times around his neck and a long brown coat all but sweeping the floor. He arches an eyebrow and points a tiny flashlight, disguised with paint and plastic, in John's direction. "Sonic screwdriver," Rodney explains.

"EX-DERMY-ATE," Finn yells jubilantly, grabbing his pumpkin-shape pail off the kitchen table and pushing open the screen door.

"Does this mean I'm your companion?" John asks, amused.

Rodney tilts his head. "You're pretty sexy," he says at last. "I think you'll do."

And of course they rake in the candy, Finn staggering under the weight of it before they're done, causing Rodney to turn to John, snap his fingers and say, "Hello? Assistant? I think you should be assisting?" And it's okay because they're all 'assisting' the situation pretty soon, stuffing their faces with chocolate, meandering a path between houses, Finn's balance slightly off kilter if his sink plunger tips to the left. By the time they get home he's exhausted, so they put him to bed still in his costume, hands full of Heath bars and Rolos and fruit chews, and though they take the time to make a bacon sandwich a-piece and drink a beer, it's not long before John and Rodney are headed to bed as well.

Only the night's been pretty silly, and John pads back from the bathroom and slides in between the sheets whispering, "Oh, Doctor," and Rodney snorts. That's all it takes - suddenly they're helpless with laughter, and John has to bury his face in his pillow to save his HAR HAR HARs from waking Finn. Rodney rolls over and presses his face to John's back and he's shaking with it, the effort of being quiet, and just when they think they're back under control, he asks, "should I call you Rose or Martha," and John cups him through his boxers and smirks, "what about Jack?" And they're off again, clutching their sides and exchanging kisses as they wheeze and laugh and grin and smile, and eventually they collapse in a heap, still chuckling from time to time.

(John doesn't remember falling asleep, but he remembers waking up only too vividly, since Finn sticks his head over the edge of the bed and yells "EXDERMYATE" at precisely 6.05am.)

[now with an illustration by winkingstar!]