“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon!”
“Linny, dear, be careful with your cousin,” said Logan gently, “He isn’t as fast as you,”
Linda, who had Brian’s tiny hand in her own, blinked back up at Logan.
“Good point,” she said seriously.
And then she wrapped her skinny arms around Brian’s middle, picked him up off the ground and bolted for the next house, a blur of black and yellow.
“Linny, no- Linny! That is not what I-”
“It’s fine,” said Thomas, laughing.
“I don’t know,” said Logan anxiously, “I know that stopping her seems near impossible, but should she really be carrying him?”
“Trust me,” said Thomas, “If Brian was unhappy with the situation, we would all know,”
He had a point – by the time Logan and Thomas had made it to the house, Brian was perched on top of Linda’s shoulders, babbling cheerful nonsense that Linda seemed to be dutifully translating for the slightly wide-eyed couple that had opened the door.
“It’s a pun, see?” said Linda brightly, “Since we call him B! So he’s dressed as a baby bumblebee. And I’m sorta a princess so I’m dressed as a princess bee, which is like a queen bee but littler, but really it’s just to match B. Actual B, not a bug bee,”
“That’s… nice,” said the woman, her voice slightly strangled as she placed the candy in their bags.
Brian wobbled on her shoulders as she trotted back toward Logan and Thomas, still grinning. Brian had plucked the small tiara off her head and was waving it around.
“Kitty hat!” he chirped.
“Yeah, buddy, that’s Kitty’s crown,” said Thomas, dropping a kiss on top of Brian’s head.
“Flower?” said Brian, wrinkling his nose and tapping the tiara.
“No, not a flower crown,”
“Oh, oh, Papa, you should- we need flower crowns!” said Linda, bouncing happily and making Brian giggle, “Since we’re dressed as bees, we gotta have flower crowns! Good idea, B!”
Brian let out a stream of nonsense that Linda nodded solemnly along to like he was giving a lecture on which she was going to be graded. Logan smiled down at both of them.
“Alright,” he said, “Give me a moment,”
He kneeled down on the sidewalk, hovering his hand over the grass next to them and coaxing the blossoms out of the Earth. It was practically a parlor trick at this point with how often Linda wanted them; he’d gotten to the point where he could make them grow in the crown shape to begin with.
Logan tugged them gently out of the ground, holding out the yellow and pink buttercup crowns.
“Which one do you want, B?” said Linda, tilting her head back to look up at him.
Brian deliberated for several seconds, his face a picture of concentration. He pointed at the pink one.
“Good choice, B!” said Thomas, “I’d pick the pink one, too,”
“Pink!” said Brian.
“Yes, pink, and Kitty’s is yellow,” said Logan.
“Close enough!” said Linda brightly, adjusting the crown on her head and then taking off toward the next house.
Thomas winced, shoving his hands in his pockets and speeding up slightly to try and catch them while he glanced up ahead at the intersection; Logan followed suit.
“Linny, dear, please slow down,” called Logan wearily.
Linda did actually listen this time, slowing to match pace with Logan and Thomas and smiling sheepishly.
“Pink’n lello, pink’n lello,” Brian sang cheerfully.
“Like starbursts!” said Linda.
“Candy!” Brian agreed.
Thomas, had taken it upon himself to document this excursion, and had his phone trained on the two of them. Brian bounced slightly as Linda walked, his crown jumping on his head and barely held in place by the antennae headband he was wearing.
“Starburst candies also come in red and orange,” prompted Logan.
“Yeah, but red sucks,”
“Linny, language,” admonished Logan.
“Suck!” exclaimed Brian. Linda let out a delighted shriek of laughter.
Thomas was clearly trying not to laugh or encourage them. Logan sighed.
“How I did not predict that I have no idea,” he said dryly.
Brian continued to cheerfully repeat his brand-new word for several minutes, egged on by Linda’s laughter no matter how Thomas and Logan attempted to redirect them. What eventually caught the children’s attention wasn’t the two of them at all, but another child nearly running into Linda at a dead sprint and informing them that a house down the street was giving out full-size candy bars.
Logan managed to catch hold of Linda before she took off, gently tugging her off to the side and kneeling down again so they were eye-level.
“Linda,” he said quietly, “I know you’re excited, and I’m very glad you are having fun. But please don’t run so far ahead; it makes me and your uncle very nervous, especially if you are going to be carrying your cousin,”
Linda looked surprised, and then her face fell, apologetic.
“…Oh,” she said, “That makes sense. M’sorry,”
“It’s alright, sweetheart,” said Logan, kissing her on the temple.
“Kisses!” said Brian, clearly unaware of the conversation, “Uncle Berry kisses!”
“You heard him,” joked Thomas.
“A perfectly reasonable request,” Logan agreed, kissing Brian on his little round cheek.
Brian then demanded a kiss from Thomas, on both his and Linda’s behalf. Once he seemed to be satisfied with the amount of affection exchanged he patted Linda on the side of the head and pointed down the street.
“Jacker’lantern!” said Brian as they came upon the next house. There were, in fact, several carved pumpkins along the walkway, and seeing as Linda’s costume had a skirt of trailing, haphazard tulle (Roman had insisted on the two of them making it by hand, and once he’d put the idea in her head there was absolutely no stopping her) Logan didn’t think it was that unreasonable to follow her up to make sure she didn’t bump any of them. Thomas waved him on, hanging back.
Logan wasn’t sure if he was grateful or regretted his course of action deeply when the door opened, and Brian and Linda let out a little chorus of “Trick or Treat,” and Sadie Wagner stared at the three of them, gobsmacked.
Logan didn’t say anything. Was he supposed to say something? He’d seen Sadie perhaps five times since they graduated, and hadn’t spoken to her once. He couldn’t think of any pleasantries that might apply to the situation.
Sadie’s eyes moved from Linda to Logan and back, and he saw them flicker over her ears, and Logan seriously considered picking both of the children up and going home immediately.
“… Nice costumes,” said Sadie, her voice indecipherable.
“Thank you!” said Linda, “We’re dressed as bees because my cousin’s called B and we have flower crowns because bees like flowers!”
Sadie actually cracked a bit of a smile as she dropped a small handful of candy into Linda and Brian’s outstretched bags. She hadn’t looked at Logan again yet.
“Yeah?” she said, “They’re nice crowns. I like yellow, too,”
“My Papa made them just now!” said Linda enthusiastically, and Logan’s chest seized with anxiety in a way it hadn’t in years.
A strange expression flickered across Sadie’s face. It happened too quickly for Logan to examine it, but then she finally looked back at Logan.
“He did a good job,” she said with an awkward smile.
She didn’t wait for Logan to respond, stepping back into her front doorway.
“I hope you all have fun,” she said.
She shut the door maybe just a bit quicker than was polite. Linda looked up at Logan, her face wrinkled.
“Was it just me, or was that lady a little weird?”
Logan struggled for several seconds to speak.
“Papa?” said Linda, frowning.
Logan cleared his throat.
“It’s not polite to call people ‘weird,’ Linny,” he said quietly. He wished he was not so painfully aware of the irony of his statement.
Linda seemed to consider this as she took Logan’s hand and they walked back towards the sidewalk. Logan pretended not to notice the porch light go out behind them, and Linda either didn’t notice or didn’t care.
“Pop calls all of us weird all the time,” she said, confused, “And so does Vati,”
“It is different when it is from people you love,” Logan explained, “Because you know the things they call weird they also find endearing,”
“But sometimes-” he continued, trying to keep the thickness hidden from his voice, “When people say weird, they do not mean in an endearing way. And unless you are very close, it can be hard to tell the difference,”
“Okay,” she said, “I won’t call anybody weird unless I love them, then,”
“You okay?” said Thomas when they reached him.
“Inconclusive,” Logan muttered.
“Hey, Uncle T!” said Linda, “Did you know you can only call people weird if you love them?”
Thomas blinked, a little confused, but gave Linda a smile.
“Well, good thing we all love each other, then,” said Thomas, “Since we’re all very weird,”
“Oh, for sure,” Linda agreed.
“Kitty weird!” crowed Brian. Linda grinned up at him.
“You’re weird, too!” she said brightly, “That’s definitely okay to say ‘cuz I love you a lot,”
Brian wrapped his arms around her forehead in a strange facsimile of a hug. Logan found he had some kind of obstruction in his throat.
“Sucks I missed getting that one on camera,” said Thomas a little absently, once the children were on their way to the next house with Logan and Thomas trailing behind them.
“Sucks!” shouted Brian.
Logan had a wide variety of completely unidentifiable emotions going on inside him at the moment, so really, he thought it was not unreasonable for him to burst into hysterical laughter.
When Sadie Wagner opened her front door early on November First to grab the newspaper off the welcome mat, she was pretty sure she couldn’t be blamed for freezing in her tracks.
Next to her front steps, swaying a little and totally out-of-season, was a single, snow-white tulip.
Sadie stared at it, hesitant.
The tulip didn’t move, and after a long moment Sadie slowly stooped to retrieve the newspaper and went back inside, softly shutting the door behind her.
By the time anybody else on the street woke up, the tulip was gone.
Sadie didn’t know much about flowers, but she was pretty sure it lasted way longer in that vase than it should have.