There's a rather spectacular to-do in the Ford household over whether five years old is old enough to go trick or treating. Sam, with the exasperation only a child can pull off, insists that he was old enough to go last year, he's not a baby. Maggie agrees, and the little smile playing around her lips tells Nate that she thinks he's been charmingly overprotective again.
Nate doesn't think of himself as overprotective; in fact, he doesn't think it's possible to be overprotective. If Maggie ever met his dad, got a glimpse into just how bad things were for Nate growing up, she'd understand—but the chances of that ever happening are slim to none, thankfully.
Nate would be more okay with exposing his son to hundreds of strangers and potentially poisoned candy if Sam hadn't been so sick lately. He was supposed to start kindergarten this year, but persistent illness—We don't think it's too serious, but we're running additional tests to be sure, the doctors said a few days ago, when Nate and Maggie rushed Sam to the hospital after he passed out at dinner—has kept him at home. Nate doesn't want to do anything that might jeopardize his health, and trick or treating sounds pretty dangerous in his opinion.
Despite his protestations, he finds himself outvoted. Sam thinks it's the promise to share half his candy that decides it, but really it's Maggie, taking Nate aside and telling him, "Sam's sick, Nate, not dying. Babying him like this isn't good for any of us." She leans in and kisses him, a quick peck on his lips, then adds, "He's got too much of both of us in him to allow himself to be held back."
So Nate reluctantly gives in, and it's worth it to see the way Sam beams when he hears the news. (And to hear him say, when asked what he wants to dress up as, "Mr. Sterling!")
They dress him up in a miniature suit and style his hair to look like Sterling's as best they can. Trotting from house to house, filling his bag to the brim with Snickers and Kit Kats and an unwrapped candy apple that's going to be thrown out as soon as they get home, Sam's the happiest Nate has ever seen him. (Though his son gets quite aggrieved every time he has to explain his costume to some old lady. "I'm Mr. Sterling," he tells them. "Who's that, dear?" they say. "He works with my dad. They're insurance investigators." "Oh! You're an insurance investigator! How clever!" "No," Sam says, rolling his eyes, "I'm not an insurance investigator. I'm Mr. Sterling.")
Nate and Maggie follow along behind him at a more sedate pace, in sync with each other as they so often are, enjoying the cool air and the sight of their son having a grand time.
"You're actually quite the pushover, aren't you?" Maggie says, resting her head contentedly on Nate's shoulder. "I love you for that, you know."
He wraps his arm around her waist, holds her close, and thinks that his family is as close to perfect as it's possible to get. Pleasantly relaxed as he is, though, his eyes never leave his son—and when Sam finally wears himself out, Nate scoops him up into his arms, waits for Maggie to pry the bag of candy from Sam's protective grip, and together they head for home.
Later, he will think of that night often; and though he will be full of regrets about so many things, giving in to Maggie and Sam on Halloween will not be one of them.