At thirteen-years old, Baelfire Gold was finally deemed old enough to take part in Storybrooke’s Halloween traditions without his parent’s company. He and his friends were going to get a few hours of trick or treating in (starting in his neighborhood since the more wealthier members of town lived there and thus had the best candy) before attending the costume contest at Town Hall. This years’ prize was $500 which the group was going to put towards a new game system.
It was supposed to be an epic, fun night for him and his friends…until his parents informed him that he would have to take his four-year old brother trick-or-treating.
“Seriously, Mom, Dad!” Bae complained as his mother (technically step-mother, but Bae had never known her as anything else but his mom) began washing apples for her famous caramel and chocolate apples.
“I know it’s a bit of a kink in your plan, dear.” Belle said indulgently as she soothed an apron over the princess costume his father had made her earlier that month.
“A kink would be having to change costumes or having to trick-or-treat in the rain, this is restructuring my entire night!”
“Do not raise your voice at your mother!” Bae’s father groaned from the living room. Mr. Gold had developed a cold earlier in the week and apparently it had gotten worse, thus the cause for Baelfire’s predicament. The headache medicine Belle had slipped him was taking affect and he couldn’t move off the couch.
“We’re just having a conversation, dad!” Bae yelled back.
“Fine, then just stop yelling!” Mr. Gold groaned, covering his face with his starchy costume sleeves. His costume was originally going to be a spinner’s outfit, but his recent sickness had prevented him from finishing it.
“Look, honey.” Belle said to pull Baelfire’s attention back to her. “I’m not asking you to keep him with you all night. Just an hour of trick-or-treating with you and your friends, enough for him to flaunt his costume and feel proud of himself.”
Bae groaned. It was a ten-minute walk to the community center, and making the trip back home to drop off Gideon would mean cutting down their trick-or-treating plans by fifteen minutes.
Before he could give his response, Gideon came bounding down the stairs (which he knew he wasn’t supposed to do but it was Halloween so…).
“Oh Gods…” Gold groaned. “Please make it stop.”
“Gideon…” Belle called firmly, the stomping ceasing immediately. “Thank you!”
“Papa!” Gideon bellowed instead, shaking his drowsy father. “Look at my costume.”
With a wince, Mr. Gold opened one eye to see his son’s costume (also one of his creations). The Gold family had always done “themed family costumes” (even with Baelfire’s strive for independence as he dubbed the tradition lame), complete with a family photo at the end of the night for Belle’s photo album. This year the Gold’s were doing a fairytale theme, with Belle as a princess, Gold as a spinner (as the ancient spinning wheel he had been fixing all year was going to be the main prop), Baelfire as a knight, and Gideon as a wizard.
The blue and silver of Gideon’s costume blurred as his fever raged on, and he turned away with a groan.
“Come in here, honey.” Belle suggested quietly to the excited five-year-old. “Papa’s not feeling too well.”
Gideon’s gleeful smile vanished instantly. “Is he going to take me trick-or-treating?” he asked, tears building in his childish tone.
Belle spared a glance at her eldest son who was visibly wincing at the apprehension in his little brother’s voice. When Bae met her eyes, he glared only a moment before he gave a sigh of surrender.
“I’m…going to take you.” Bae admitted reluctantly.
The tears in Gideon’s seemed disappeared instantly and he cheered.
“Stop!” Mr. Gold groaned from the other room.
Belle shushed her youngest gently, the child smiling around the index finger she pressed to his lips.
“Tiptoe to the closet and get your bucket.” Belle instructed, chuckling as Gideon took the direction seriously and slowly made his way across the living room.
“Hurry up.” Bae growled under his breath.
“Patience, Bae.” Belle warned.
A moment later both her boys were out the door and Belle was able to finish her Halloween preparations before the first round of trick-or-treaters arrived. While the apples hardened, she went to check on her husband.
He hummed when she hovered over him, barely opening his eyes but smiling.
“How’s your headache?” Belle inquired softly.
“Better with the rugrats gone.” He joked. “Sorry we couldn’t join them.”
“Me too.” Belle sighed regretfully. “You worked so hard on our costumes.”
“Wish I could have seen you without it.” He grinned while his eyes were closed.
Belle rolled her eyes. Leave it to her husband to sneak in dirty talk the second the babes were away. However, he was too sick to act on his voiced desires, and with a kiss Belle left him to slip into a fever-induced sleep.
“You can make it up to me later.”
Bae growled as Gideon and a cluster of other children screamed “Trick or Treat” at the little old lady distributing candy to them. She enthusiastically greeted the children and asked them about their costumes. This made the younger children confident and proud, but it made the older siblings who got stuck chaperoning them impatient.
His friend Emma waited with him, her face passive but her booted foot was tapping against the concrete. She was donning a warriors garb as part of their group costume idea. Their friend August, who was at the house next door trying to get enough candy for the three of them, was dressed as a jester (which was more sophisticated thanks to a few touch-ups from Bae’s dad).
She and August hadn’t voiced their opinions about Bae’s babysitting role, but it was obvious that they were slightly annoyed. Most of the usual distributors in Bae’s neighborhood were out this year, and they would have to skip downtown altogether. If they didn’t make it to the community center by 8:30, they would miss the judges and lose out on the competition.
“Maybe we should…skip it?” Emma suggested hesitantly.
“No!” Bae growled. “We are getting there! We just have to speed this whole thing along.”
“Bae…” Emma sighed in the tone that always made his heart flutter. “He’s having a good time. We can’t ruin it for him.”
“I promised my mom an hour, and I’m sticking to that promise, not a second more!”
Emma rolled her eyes and turned to see August bounding towards them.
“Okay,” he breathed, wiping the sweat from his forehead. “Not the best haul, but it’s what we’ve got.”
Bae and Emma took a look into the oversized pillowcase he was using to gather their candy and frowned.
“Pencils and peppermints?” Bae gagged.
“I think there’s a role of nickles at the bottom.” Emma stated in false optimism.
“This is the worst night of my life.” Bae moaned, removing his knight’s helmet and ruffling his curls.
“Judging starts in ten minutes,” August announced after a peak at his watch (which in no way matched his costume). “What do we do about the rugrat?”
Bae looked up to call his little brother over, but found the porch he had been on now vacant. He looked around the small clusters of children, but did not see his purple, gold starred wizard’s robe.
“Gideon?” Be called out, panic sinking into his gut when his little brother didn’t come bounding towards him.
“Gid!” Emma called out, her eyes glassing over with worry.
“Gideon?” August called as he moved out further, searching porches and questioning other trick-or-treaters.
A cold sweat spread down Bae’s back. It was Halloween night. Every creep in town was out and about and his little brother was no where to be seen. He could be kidnapped or hit by a car or…so much worse.
“Gideon!” Bae screamed, his voice cracking from the effort.
“Bae calm down.” Emma demanded, just as panicked but still more stable than her friend. “We’ll look around a bit more and then we’ll call my dad.”
Bae managed a nod, but his heart was thick with fear and regret. He had never been very close to his little brother, but not because of the half thing or even the age-difference. Rather, it was Gideon’s unshakable independence. He knew how to entertain himself, and didn’t come to Bae every time he was bored. Up until a moment ago, Gideon thought he had it made. Now he was regretting every time he didn’t sit on the couch to watch a movie with Gideon and every conversation he forwent on their walks home from school.
Emma was right, he could have made this a good night for him, instead he had all but drug him to each house, trying to spend a night that was usually reserved for their family at a stupid costume competition with his friends. What kind of brother was he?
“Bae! Come on, pull it together.”
Bae waved Emma’s snapping fingers from his face, taking a deep breath before he met her eyes.
“August went toward’s Acorn street where a bunch of kids went. I’m going to try South Main, then I’ll call my dad, okay?”
Bae nodded. “I…I think I should go home. Maybe Gideon went there…maybe he’s with Mom and Dad and…”
Emma nodded, hesitatingly taking his hand in her gloved one and giving it a squeeze.
“He’s okay Bae. He’s…your brother.”
Bae managed a small smile, that warmth he felt around Emma lately melting some of the icy fear around his heart. He felt lost when she released him and headed to Acorn street, but he had the courage now to head home and face his parents. He would gladly face their wrath and disappointment as long as Gideon was safe in their arms.
Fifteen minutes later, Bae was trekking up the stairs, tears burning his eyes. His chest felt like it was shriveling in on itself, his heart barely beating. He peaked into the living room finding that his father was no longer on the couch.
“Mom, Dad,” he called out, his voice shaking.
“In the kitchen!” his mother’s voice echoed.
Baelfire took in a deep breath, readying himself for the lashing of his life as he entered the kitchen.
“Hello son,” his father greeted, his legs crossed as he lifted a teacup to his lips. “Something you want to tell me?”
Before Bae could answer, his mother entered the kitchen with—blessedly—his little brother just behind her, still clothed in his costume.
Bae felt like the air had been pulled from his lungs, leaving his throat terribly dry.
“Zelena Mills brought him home.” Gold growled, whether it was at him for loosing his little brother, or because he had to actively say one of his enemy’s names, Bae wasn’t sure. “She said he was wondering down the street. Alone. His older, supposedly more responsible brother nowhere in sight.”
Bae looked guiltily to his mother. Her gaze was less harsh, but her jaw was still set in a hard line.
“I…I looked away for one second.” Bae defended. “I…I swear I…”
“Bae?” Gideon gasped, not being able to remember the last time he had seen his brother cry.
Gold eyed his son up and down, checking for damage. Zelena’s presence on his doorstep earlier had woke him from his medicine-induced slumber, but had filled him with a new sickness entirely. Having Gideon sent home filled them with terror for both their sons. There were too many possibilities of what could have gone wrong. Only Gideon’s good mood (and slight disappointment that he couldn’t continue trick-or-treating) reassured him that he had simply been separated from his brother.
“Okay,” Gold soothed. “It’s okay son, it’s okay. You came straight home. You did the right thing.”
“I didn’t mean to lose him.” Bae swore as he wiped his eyes. “I swear. I’m sorry.” He turned to his wide-eyed brother. “I’m sorry Gideon.”
The little boy stared at his brother, not understanding why he would be sad on the second greatest holiday of the year (the first being Christmas of course). All Gideon had done was go to the next house over, eager to get as much candy as possible. Then he had seen his friend Robyn and they had been complementing each other’s outfits before her mom showed up. By then Gideon didn’t see his brother at all, and Miss Mills had taken him home and shared some very spiteful words with his papa.
“You want to see my candy, Bae?” Gideon asked, hoping the site of treats would cheer his older brother up.
His brother responded with a wet laugh, ruffling Gideon’s hat which aggravated the young boy some.
“Yeah. Yeah Gid, that sounds great. I just need to text Emma real quick.”
Belle looked to her husband, who shrugged in acceptance. Bae’s guilt was punishment enough, though there would be a more serious talk tomorrow.
Later that night, after the last mass of trick-or-treaters left the Gold’s porch, Belle escorted her family into the living room for their family photo. She poised the camera stand as her family poised their selves at the spinning wheel. Mr. Gold had added some touches to his costume, including a cloak and a staff. Still groggy from the headache medication, Mr. Gold chose to sit on the seat, pulling an eager Gideon into his lap with his big brother’s hand resting on his shoulder.
The Gold’s were proud of their eldest son despite his hiccup tonight. He had learned a lesson on responsibility and family, and by the looks of things their relationship was going to be much closer for now on.
Belle set the time and scurried to her husband’s side, fluffing her sleeves and soothing her dress before wrapping an arm around Baelfire.
“Everybody say Halloween!”