Eli eyed Un'hee's costume critically. She looked adorable of course, except- “You sure you need the blood at school?” he asked.
Un'hee nodded solemnly. “Yes.”
“Ok then.” He carefully applied the fake blood around her mouth and chin. “There you go! Now- are you ready, yeti? “
Halloween was on a Friday this year, luckily. It was always a nightmare trying to get the children to focus the day after when they were all sleep deprived and sugar high. It would of course be a challenge to get them to focus today as well, which was why today's lesson plan was light on actual learning.
As his students arrived he noted the range of costumes this year, a typical number of ninjas and pirates and princesses, with the occasional stand out. The Skywalker twins were salt and pepper shakers, Jyn Erso was apparently Lady Justice- he needed to take those scales away before she whacked someone with them- And Un'hee...
“You're a wampa,” he said. Surprised to see a costume of an animal native to Csilla.
Un'hee bounced excitedly, she was wearing a white furry coat as well as white furry boots and gloves, along with a white skirt and matching leggings- and to top it off he had a white furry cap with little ears and horns on it. “Yeah! Daddy says they're called yetis here and aren't real.”
“That is correct. Why do you have blood on your face?”
“That's from the hikers I ate!” Un'hee explained.
Thrawn laughed. “Very frightening. But perhaps do not tell the other adults you're eating hikers.”
“But that's what wampa eat!”
She had a point, wampa were notorious man-eaters. It should be fine- plenty of human children were dressed as tigers or bears, Un'hee's outfit was not much different.
At lunch that day Mrs. Wilks- she had the 1-2 combo class this year, may the stars favor her- sat down beside him.
“So Un'hee told me at recess today that she had blood on her face from eating hikers?” she was laughing though, so Thrawn wasn't too worried.
“What?!” Ms. Doran-the other first grade teacher- on the other hand did not seem amused. “That's horrible!”
“Un'hee is dressed as a predator animal from our homeworld who is known to attack people,” Thrawn explained. “The Ronan boy in your class is dressed like a bear is he not?”
“That's not the same thing!”
“Oh calm down Stephanie,” Mrs. Wilks said. “The school is full of pirates and monsters and all sorts of things that aren't cute in reality. There's three werewolves in my class. Little kids like weird stuff like that.”
Ms. Doran didn't protest more, but she frowned sourly.
That had gone better than he had hoped.
He just hoped none of the other parents found out about Un'hee's man-eating costume.
That evening he set up shop on his front porch with a bowl of candy and a book he'd read before. His neighborhood was a fairly busy one and he knew he wouldn't be able to focus on his book much.
Two hours later the crowd had thinned out a bit, and Thrawn had been able to read for almost ten minutes when he was interrupted again but a very familiar pair of voices.
“Well hello stranger.”
He looked up from his book. There was Un'hee, still in her yeti costume and Eli behind her. She had a flowery pillowcase that looked mostly full. Eli at first glance did not appear to be in costume- but then Thrawn noted that he was dressed for hiking, and had a number of clearly fake injuries to his face, neck, and arms.
“I see you had a hiking accident.”
“Yep, got jumped by a yeti.”
She and Eli joined him on his porch, and Un'hee recited “Trick or Treat!”
Thrawn gave her an entire handful of candy.
“It looks like you've got quite a haul , have you walked a long way?”
“We're actually only about 2 blocks from home.” Eli told him, “but we've been out for almost 2 hours now.”
“Thrawn do- oh!” His neighbor, an older man named Alfren Cheno, had come out his door to speak to him about something. He had frozen though, when he saw Un'hee. “Is that your daughter?” he asked.
“DAUGHTER?” a voice yelled from inside, and before he could explain his wife Elke Cheno was outside too. Her eyes lit up when she saw Un'hee.
Eli started laughing, and Thrawn had to clear his throat before answering. “No Alfren, Elke, Un'hee is a student.”
Cheno nodded, “My apologies. We've got the grandkids for the weekend and the missus got a little too excited and made way too many candy apples. Thought we'd ask if you wanted any.”
“I think I will pass. Thank you.”
“What about you honey?” Elke said, addressing first Un'hee and then Eli. “Would you two like some candy apples? We've got other goodies too.”
“What is a candy apple?” Un'hee asked.
Eli shot Thrawn a questioning look, and he nodded. He knew the Chenos and their grandchildren well, Un'hee was in no danger there.
“Why don't you go see if you like them?” Eli said. “While I talk to Mr. Thrawn.”
Un'hee hopped off Thrawn's porch and ran over to the Chenos.
“We'll be right back Dad, don't worry.” Elke promised Eli, and the pair went back inside taking Un'hee with them.
“The Chenos are a nice couple.” Thrawn said. “I'm sure Un'hee will return with an excessive amount of sugar.”
“Good,” Eli said. “That's how Halloween should be. What are you reading?”
Thrawn held up his book.
“Dracula,” Eli said. “That's a classic.”
“I reread it periodically,” Thrawn said. “I find it quite enjoyable.”
“I'll have to give it a try,” Eli said, and smiled at him.
“You should... You said you lived nearby?”
“In the cul- de-sac off Briarwood. We're the two-story with the purple trim.”
Thrawn had seen that house- and it's new paint job. “Who's idea was the trim?”
“Un'hee's- the trim needed a new coat of paint, and Un'hee asked if we could get purple...”
Thrawn chuckled, “It's not a bad color.”
“Well of course not, Un'hee and I have great taste.” Eli countered. “Purple, snakes, Mr. Thrawn... we only like the finest things.”
Thrawn sighed, “Eli.”
“Don't worry Mr. Thrawn, I'll behave,” Eli promised, his smile going rueful.
Thrawn glanced back at the Cheno's house- but Un'hee had yet to reappear. “You seem so sure that a relationship between us would go well. Aren't you concerned we wouldn't mesh well? A messy break up would no doubt make the rest of the year difficult wouldn't it?”
“You don't seem the type to let personal matters influence your work.” Eli said, “Unless I'm wrong?”
“You are not.”
“And while we're asking hypothetical questions, why are you so sure our relationship wouldn't work? Are you a terrible boyfriend? Am I not your type? Are you secretly married to someone else?”
“I am none of those things,” Thrawn said. “I am simply being realistic.”
“Pessimistic.” Eli countered.
“And you are a relentless optimist.” Thrawn countered.
“A relentless something anyway,” Eli laughed. “I should go find my kiddo before she fills up on candy apples.” he added, “Good night Thrawn.”
He turned to go, and Thrawn... didn't want him to.
He sighed, and admitted to himself that it had been only a month since he had met Eli and he knew he wouldn't be able to maintain his composure for the remaining eight months. Better then, to proceed with caution. “You didn't say Trick or Treat you know.”
Eli stopped and turned back to him grinning. “If I do, do I get some sugar?”
“You'll have to find out.”
Eli stepped up to Thrawn, “Trick or Treat?”
Thrawn kissed him, chastely on the lips. Eli kissed back, matching the gentle energy Thrawn had initiated with. Just as he moved to deepen the kiss though, they were interrupted by Un'hee giggling.
Eli pulled back and eyed his daughter, who stood by the steps giggling. She had a half eaten candy apple- and a... plastic glove full of popcorn? … in one hand.
“Call me?” Eli asked, and Thrawn nodded before he could think otherwise.
Eli smiled softly before turning and scooping up Un'hee and spinning her around. “You ready to go honey Un'hee?”
“Yeah, can we go home?”
“Sure thing.” Eli said, he looked back at Thrawn. “Goodnight Thrawn.”
“Bye Mr. Thrawn!” Un'hee waved at him over her father's shoulder.
As they walked away Thrawn glanced over at the Cheno house, Elke Cheno smiled knowingly at him from her porch, and then went inside.
Thrawn decided to turn in. He made a quick “Take One” sign for the candy bowl and then retreated into his home for the night.
Besides, he needed to make a call.