“So how the fuck is this supposed to work for photos?”
Zhengting stands with his hands on his hips, head to toe purple: purple dress, purple stockings, purple headband- even purple heels. The green scarf wound loosely around his neck accentuates the bright red-orange of his shoulder-length wig, which shouldn’t look even half as good as it did.
But Zhengting never looked anything less than perfect.
“Hey kids,” Xukun locks his car and walks towards the three of them, twirling his keys around his finger. His fluffy blonde hair is teased into light curls and he wears a blue-collared white shirt with an orange tie, paired with flared jeans Zhengting managed to get him into (the closest thing to Fred’s garish bright blue pants Xukun would allow).
“Unlock the car, Kun, my night is ruined! We’re going home!”
Xukun stares blankly at the younger boys. “What did you do? Justin?”
Justin blinks at the elder innocently, tugging at the hood of the Scooby-doo onesie he wears which is at least two sizes too small for his tall frame. Beside him, in an oversized green shirt and ugly brown pants, Chengcheng shovels a mix of m&ms and lollies into his mouth at a rapid pace, heedless of Zhengting’s shrieked warnings about throwing up after eating too quickly.
“You make a great Fred.”
Xukun rolls his eyes. “Why is Ting so upset?”
“Our Mystery Gang is not complete!”
“Hold up.” Xukun presses his fingers to his temples and begins massaging them rapidly. “This is just costumes, baby, just Halloween. It’s not that important.”
“Shut up, Kunkun, I’m having a crisis.” Zhengting removes Xukun’s hand from his shoulder, tapping his heels on the ground as he sticks out his lower lip in frustration. “You guys said you had a Velma.”
“Linkai was supposed to be Velma,” sighs Chengcheng. “I asked him last week.”
Xukun laughs. “And what’d he say?”
“’Fuck no’, of course,” Justin grins.
“I wore heels for this!”
“Sorry, Zhengting.” Justin aims a kick at Chengcheng’s pumpkin bucket, cackling evilly at Chengcheng’s surprised and sad expression when he knocks it out of his hands. “Blame Chengcheng! He was too much of a pussy to do it.”
“Shaggy fits my personality!” Chengcheng howls, dropping to his knees to gather up the fallen sweets into his pumpkin, then scrambles to his feet to take off down the street to the first house in view.
“Oh, you’re just full of excuses today, huh,” Justin’s taunts, preparing to run after him.
Xukun stops him with an arm across his chest, frowning. “Wait, you guys are leaving already? We only just got here!”
“Come on, guys,” Zhengting pouts, clinging to Xukun. “This was supposed to be a family thing.”
“Aaaall this,” Justin traces his finger in a circle around them, walking backwards away from them, “is exactly why we’re trick or treating on our own this year. So thanks, Mum, but no.”
“Don’t be fucking rude!”
“You guys are disgusting!” Justin’s voice fades as he chases down Chengcheng, leaving Xukun to comfort a whining Zhengting.
“One more house.”
Chengcheng frowns. “This is the last one on the street.”
Justin says nothing, just points to the spiked black fence and gates of the final house on the street, one hundred metres away from the driveway of the neighbourhood-friendly white picket fence they currently lean against as Chengcheng sorts through the sweets from this year’s rather successful trick-or-treating.
“Oh, no, no, no,” Chengcheng shakes his head, ripping open a miniature pack of gummy bears, “we got our food, and now we’re going home.”
“Guess again, man!” Justin tears gleefully along the grass towards the large, isolated mansion, Chengcheng running reluctantly after him. The younger boy pushes a small gap between the gates and slips through, pausing when he realises the other isn’t following.
Chengcheng has one foot through the gate and the other safely on the main street, unwilling to fully set foot on the property. “Bro, let’s go back. This place is dead.”
Justin smacks Chengcheng across the back, guffawing loudly. “You’re such a spineless baby. Stay here if you want. It’s Halloween, relax a little, have some fun. I’m going to check it out.”
He marches away down the driveway, onesie tail swinging comically behind him as he whistles the Scooby-Doo theme song. Chengcheng watches nervously as Justin skips over the gravel path, practically dancing with excitement as he draws nearer to the house… and further away from Chengcheng, leaving him alone by the now creepy looking gates. And with no light, save for that of his almost-dead phone.
It takes less than thirty seconds for Chengcheng to sprint down the path to the younger boy.
Justin grins when he catches up, then leaps up the stairs leading to the front door. “Shit!”
His foot catches at the top, a slight hole visible under the light of Chengcheng’s phone, showing a rotting dent partially unnoticeable thanks to the shitty, peeling paint job.
“Whew,” Justin whistles, “that was close. You coming?”
Chengcheng looks at him flatly.
“Uh, no. I’ll probably fall right through.” Chengcheng leans against the railing gingerly, unwrapping a lollipop. “I’ll watch you do… whatever the fuck it is you think you’re doing.”
Justin walks to the window to the right of the rather ominous black front door, bracing his hands on the ledge before pulling himself up to peer inside. He coughs in surprise. “Wait wasn’t this house abandoned?”
“Why?” Chengcheng calls from the stairs, poised to flee at any moment. “Like yeah? I mean, I’ve never seen anyone go in or out of it. What do you mean?”
“I mean this place is nice as hell dude. It’s so fancy, like… modern, but not?”
Justin huffs, pulling back from the window sill to glare at his best friend. “Just get your ass up here, Fan Chengcheng.”
Brows creased with worry, Chengcheng inches up the stairs, hands wrapped tightly around the banister, then makes his way cautiously over the rotting wood to where Justin seems rooted in place. “Just-“
The front door flies open and slams into the wall, knocking Justin off the ledge and smack into Chengcheng.
“Can I help you?”