Friday, October thirtieth
It was Friday afternoon, and Alice Brandon was impatiently waiting for her final period math class to end. She chewed absentmindedly on her bottom lip in anticipation while tapping the eraser end of a pencil against her desk, eyeing the clock hanging above the classroom door with frequent glances. She wordlessly willed the arms to move faster when she was finally granted reprieve as the bell rang, indicating the end of the school day.
Alice swiftly gathered up her books, shoving them messily into her messenger bag before she fled from the classroom, making a break for her locker. Today wasn't just any Friday; it was October thirtieth. The day before her favorite holiday, Halloween. She'd felt a surge of energy from the excitement all day, causing her to be distracted and restless. All she wanted was to go home, put the finishing touches on her costume, and sit back for her yearly marathon of vintage monster movies after Cynthia went to bed.
She fumbled through her locker, taking little consideration into what items she placed into her backpack, totally enraptured within her own world. She was so preoccupied with her own excitement that she didn't notice when Jasper leaned against the locker next to her own.
"Hey, Alice." He greeted, causing her to jump in shock.
"Whitlock." She responded, hand over her heart as she steadied her breathing after the slight scare.
"You know... you sure scare easy."
"Don't sneak up on me, then jerk." Alice playfully shoved him in the chest with a giggle. "What's up anyway?"
"Perhaps I just wanted to talk to my favorite accomplice?"
She smiled slightly at the moniker, excited about the idea of pulling off an elaborate prank with Jasper and Emmett. "You've got a hells night prank planned then?"
"Maybe," He tucked a stray hair behind her ear. "Maybe I just wanted to hang out with you."
Alice was mildly disappointed by the revelation that there would be no pranking tonight as well as annoyed by the continuing game of flirting they played.
It had started out as a fun joke between the pair back in middle school, but Alice had begun to develop actual feelings for Jasper over time. The flirting, always just a game, never anything more, was starting to make her heart ache.
She slammed her locker shut in annoyance before leaning her head against the cool metal as she looked up at Jasper. "What do you actually want, Jazz."
Jasper looked away from her and took a deep breath before answering, "Are you going to Rosalie's party tomorrow night?" He seemed nervous, but Alice assumed it was her imagination. There was no reason for the popular Jasper Whitlock to be anxious about a party.
"Oh, I'm actually taking my little sister trick or treating tomorrow. We're going to watch some movies after; it should be a good time... Have fun, though; maybe I'll see you at the next one."
"But you love parties?"
"If I don't take Cynthia, no one else will."
"It's okay," She cut him off. "I'll make the next party." With that, she walked away. Yes, she loved parties, but she loved her sister more. She wondered why Jasper was making a big deal out of the whole thing.
"Do you want a ride home?" Jasper asked, having followed her outside into the school parking lot.
"Isn't my place a bit out of the way?"
"Normally, yeah, but I need Emmett's help with something, and since your place is along the way." He gestured west in the general direction of both the Brandon and McCarty households as they approached the spot where he'd parked his truck. "It's not a big deal. Do you want the ride or not?"
Alice shrugged as she opened the vehicle's passenger's side door; she threw in her bag and attempted to climb in. After a few short seconds of struggling, Jasper came around, picked her up, helping her inside.
"You know, I could have done it myself." She glowered at him in a huff when he got in the car himself.
"Of course, but I don't have all night if I'm gonna make this work." His words were distant, as though he had something urgent he needed to get done.
"Make what work?"
"That my darling is proprietary information that cannot be released to the general public at this time." He flashed her that charming smile of his that made her melt.
"You can tell me I won't spill. Pinky promise."
"Nope, this one is between me and Emmett."
"Fine, I'll just ask him what trouble you're getting yourself into this time."
"Not a prank." He smirked in her direction with a side-eye.
"What could the two of you possibly be up to that doesn't involve chaos and ending up grounded for at least a week?"
"I can't tell you." He grinned at her as he pulled up in front of her house.
"I hate you."
"You know you love me."
Her heart skipped a beat at the comment as they locked eyes, the air feeling suddenly thick with tension. "Maybe I do, maybe I don't. That is proprietary information." She finally joked with a mischievous smile as she threw his own words back at him before grabbing her bag and jumping out of the vehicle, gently closing the door behind her.
Jasper rolled down the passenger's side window shouting out in amusement. "That hurts, Brandon."
Alice rolled her eyes with a smile before blowing him a kiss as she ran inside.
"ALICE!" Cynthia shouted upon her entrance, tackling her in excitement.
"Come, look what I made!" The ever excited eight-year-old tugged on her older sister's hands, pulling her over to the kitchen table where construction paper and crayons were strewn about the surface. "Esme helped me make a map of town so we can move faster and get ALL the candy."
"Yes, she did," The woman in question entered the dining room with a bowl of steaming macaroni and cheese. "But, it's time to put your art supplies away and eat your dinner."
"Hey, Esme." Alice greeted her Aunt as she helped Cynthia gather up her crayons. "Did mom get called into the hospital?"
The older woman nodded in affirmation as she gathered her belongings. "Yes, and don't you dare say you'd have come home sooner if you knew. Cynthia is your sister, not your daughter; I don't mind watching after her while you spend time with your friends."
"Thanks, Esme, tell Eddy I said hi, and I can't wait to see his Romeo costume in action."
"Of course, sweetie." Esme paused at the door. "Are you sure you don't want me to take Cynthia tomorrow so you can go to Rosalie's party?"
"Yeah, there's plenty of parties. Cynthia only gets so many Halloweens to trick or treat. We'll have fun."
"Okay, goodnight Alice. You've got my number if you change your mind." With that, Esme took her leave.
Alice remained in the hall momentarily to reflect on life; her parents had split up four years ago. While it had been the best thing for the family, Esme had a point. Alice stepped up immediately without being asked to help care for her sibling, with her mother spending much of her time at the hospital working as a nurse. She loved her sister more than anyone, but maybe she should put herself first more. Deciding those were thoughts for another time, Alice ventured back into the dining room, where Cynthia was finishing her dinner. After cleaning up, she helped the younger girl finish up her homework as she finalized the last details on their costumes.
Around nine, Alice noticed Cynthia, who had long since finished her word search on the solar system, was starting to drift off to 'The Wolf Man' DVD Alice had put on the TV. "I think it's time for bed, little miss."
"I'm not sleepy." Cynthia yawned.
"I beg to differ, come one." She scooped up the tired girl carrying her to her room and setting her on the bed.
"Are we gonna watch movies tomorrow?"
"Of course, silly." Alice reached out to ruffle the younger girls' hair. "It wouldn't be Halloween without 'The Great Pumpkin' now would it."
"And will you make those sugar cookies with the ghosts on them?"
"We're going to have cookies with ghosts and pumpkins. But," Alice reached over to switch off the lamp sitting on the table next to Cynthia's bed. "You have to go to sleep so it can be tomorrow." she grabbed her sister's favorite cat plush off the floor. Cynthia took the stuffed toy squeezing it tightly to her chest with a sleepy smile.
"Goodnight, little sister." Alice pecked the top of the girl's head before pulling the blankets over her sister.
Saturday, October thirty-first
"Alice, hurry up! We're going to miss all the candy if you keep taking forever!" Cynthia stood in the doorway of Alice's room, hands on her hips. She donned the Ariel costume she'd impatiently put on three hours ago to her sister's protest. Rather than purchasing off looking costumes from Target, Alice had opted to make both of their costumes herself that year and consequently was protective of her work.
"I'm finished, you hyper little mermaid," Alice responded, capping her lipstick and giving her hair one final check in the mirror; satisfied with her work, she donned the tiara, completing her look as Rapunzel at the end of Tangled.
"What do you think?" She asked, doing a little twirl for Cynthia.
"You look JUST like Rapunzel! Now let's GOOOOO."
"Okay, okay." Alice straightened out her sister's red wig that had been knocked off-kilter during a round of hide and seek with Bella, who'd been kind enough to look after the girl before heading to Rosalie's party while Alice got dressed.
"But first." She pulled out her phone from one of the hidden pockets she'd sewn into the skirt of her dress and crouched down to Cynthia's level. "Pictures for mom." They snapped a few poses before an impatient Cynthia had enough, grabbed her bag, then dragged her sister out the door.
They went to a few houses before ending up three doors down at The Cullen's, where Carlisle and Esme had a king-size Kit-Kat waiting for Cynthia, who took the candy excitedly; happy to pose for yet another photo in exchange. They made their goodbyes, making their way back to the streets.
The siblings had been out for an hour, hitting up every house with a light on collecting candy when they reached the impeccably decorated Hale residence. Alice beamed with pride, noting a few projects she'd worked on for Rosalie in art class as they made the trek up the path to the door.
Cynthia had hardly just rung the bell when the door opened to reveal Emmett dressed as Gomez Addams. "Alice! Cynthia! My favorite Disney princesses." He pulled a candy bowl from a table sitting by the door. "Rosalie said only two pieces, but I think you deserve a handful."
Cynthia excitedly reached out to grab as much candy as her small hand could hold but was shushed by Emmett. "No, not a Cynthia handful." He reached into the bowl filling up his own much larger hand to overflowing proportions, and dropped the exuberant amount of candy into her bag.
"Did I hear you say, Alice and Cynthia?" Rosalie exclaimed, appearing seemingly out of thin air beside Emmett. Alice had no idea how she'd done it but appreciated Rosalie's commitment to her part as Morticia. "You guys should come in for a second." Rosalie beckoned the pair inside by dramatically reaching out a hand palm up and curling her fingers inward.
"I don't know..." Alice looked down at her eight-year-old sibling. "Cynthia probably wants to hit up some more houses and increase her candy stash."
"Nope," Cynthia gaze up at her sister with a devilish grin. "I wanna go inside. Emmett will give me lots of candy. Please, Alice, let me show your friends my costume."
"Yeah, Alice, please?" Emmett chuckled as he leaned against the doorframe holding a full unopened bag of candy.
"Fine, but just for a second." She relented, pulling Cynthia behind her as she walked past Rosalie into the crowded entry hall as Emmett slipped the full bag of candy into Cynthia's bag.
Bella, now fully decked out in a Juliet costume, spotted the pair as they entered into the crowded home, immediately ending her conversation with Leah, who was dressed as Pikachu to come over and greet the pair. "Hey guys, you made it! Have you gotten lots of candy?"
"Emmett gave me a big bag of candy, and Esme gave me a whole entire big Kit-Kat bar."
"How nice of Emmett." Rosalie glared at her boyfriend, who wore a sheepish expression.
"Rosalie, mon amour. Please forgive me." He dramatically threw an arm over his eyes.
"I suppose I can let this one slide. For dear Cynthia's sake."
"Cara Mia!" Emmett exclaimed, grabbing Rosalie's arm pecking kisses from wrist to shoulder. Alice had to admit, The Addams Family costume idea suited the couple perfectly.
"Alice darling, you should go mingle while you can. Let me take care of our lovely little mermaid for a moment."
"You don't have to, Rose."
"I insist, my dear." She waved her hand dismissively in Alice's direction. "Now go."
Confident that her sister was safe being doted on by her friends, Alice relaxed, allowing herself to enjoy the party as much as possible in the short amount of time she would be there. She made her way through the large house. Stopping to chat occasionally with friends, receiving compliments on her outfit. She laughed at some dad jokes from a zombie Eric as witch Angela rolled her eyes from his side. Complimented Jake, who donned an extremely impressive hulk costume.
Eventually, she found herself at the back of the room where a snacks and drinks table was set up. Mike and Jessica, dressed as Woody and Bo-Peep respectively, stood talking to Jasper, who, to Alice's shock, was not dressed as a cowboy despite wearing the same costume every year since childhood. In fact, he seemed to be dressed as... Flynn Rider.
Unable to believe her eyes, she tapped him on the shoulder with a raised eyebrow. "No cowboy costume?"
Jasper stiffened at the comment, slowly turning around with blushing cheeks. "Yeah... I wanted to do something different this year."
"Okay, but Flynn Rider? You definitely fit the part, but I didn't take you as a Tangled fan."
"ohmygosh." Jessica piped in before Jasper could defend his costume choice. "Flynn and Rapunzel, you guys like... match. It's too cute."
"Isn't it crazy!" Jasper responded a bit too excitedly. "How Alice and I randomly got matching costumes. What a coincidence!"
"Yeah, definitely a coincidence." Alice crossed her arms. "What's going on here, Jasper?"
Unfortunately, once again, the pair were interrupted, this time by Bella and Cynthia. "I'm ready to leave, Alice." The youngest of the pair bounced up to her sister.
"Wait a second! Is Japer dressed like Flynn!" Cynthia's eyes widened in joy at the realization turning her attention to the tall man who appeared extremely uncomfortable with all the attention. "Jasper! You've gotta come trick or treating with me and Alice."
"I don't think Jasper wants to go trick or treating Cynthia." Bella giggled at the child's outburst.
"But he has too!" Cynthia crossed her arms and stamped a foot on the ground. "He matches Alice!"
"I'll go." The man in question cast a nervous side grin at the sisters. "Who am I to deny the request of princess Ariel. Besides, I haven't been trick or treating in years. It'll be fun."
"You really don't have to." Alice turned to look at him with apologetic eyes. "She'll get over it as seen as she gets more candy."
"Nope, I'm going. Come on, Alice."
The now trio made their goodbyes to the party guests and made their way back to the streets.
To his credit, Jasper did a great job keeping up with Cynthia's high energy as she dashed from house to house. Alice smiled happily, watching her crush happily interact with the most important person to her. The scene caused her heart to flutter as he fell for him just a bit more.
"So," She'd asked as Cynthia made her way through the first floor of an apartment complex. "Are you going to explain yourself?"
"Why you're dressed like Flynn Rider?"
"Do I have to?"
"I would like to know the answer, yeah."
"Okay, um." He abashedly placed a hand behind his head. "So, I know this is your favorite holiday and all. Because of the pranks and scares and wanted to..."
"Alice! Jasper! I got all the apartments we can go now!" Cynthia appeared, cutting him off. The small mermaid grabbed both of their hands and pulled them out the door back to the streets to continue the candy hunt.
Alice tried at every opening to find out what Jasper was going to say. Unfortunately, Cynthia cut the moment short every time. Turns out, it's tough to figure out why your best friend is acting weird when you're trick or treating with an eight-year-old.
After another two hours of candy collecting, they were nearing the end of their journey. They'd run out of houses, consequently resulting in Cynthia's excited energy wavering as they made the way back to the Brandon residence. When the group was a few blocks from their destination, the two teenagers noticed Cynthia started getting tired. Alice was getting ready to assure her they were almost home when Jasper surprised her by asking the younger girl if she wanted a piggyback ride. The smaller girl was elated by the idea and readily agreed.
The action made Alice happy; she loved that he was willing to be so kind and placate her little sister. He really was a great guy, even if he rarely let others see; she felt lucky to witness the sweet moment. After everything she'd witnessed that night, her heart fluttered at the idea that maybe... just maybe it was all for her.
Once they'd reached the girl's home, Jasper swung Cynthia off his back and set her back down gently. "That was fun!" She'd exclaimed.
"Okay, little one. Run along inside so I can talk to Jasper for a second." Alice nervously instructed her sibling.
"Alice and Jasper sitting in a tree." The girl had begun to sing the popular children's rhyme between giggles.
Alice swiftly but gently clapped a hand over Cynthia's mouth in a panic, finishing the classic rhyme with her own edit. "B E D T I M E." She chuckled awkwardly as she picked up her offended sibling. "I'll be right back, just gotta take Ariel inside."
"But The Great Pumpkin and cookies!" Cynthia protested as Alice sat her back down inside the house. "It can't be bedtime yet!"
"We'll do those things, Cynth, I promise. I've just gotta tell Jasper goodbye first. Go put on pajamas." Shooting her sister a warning look, she jogged back outside where Jasper was still waiting under the tree.
"Okay, Mr., there's no more little kid to interrupt you. Please tell me what this is all about." She crossed her arms over her chest, determined to get answers this time.
He took a deep breath and stared at his feet. "I was going to ask if you'd go with me to Rose's party... like as my date. But you had to take your sister trick or treating, and I know how important she is to you. So... god, I feel so stupid."
"So what, Jas?"
"Emmett said I should do a couples costume with you as a surprise and when you guys stopped by to trick or treat at Rosalie's comment on what a funny coincidence it was and leave with you. But then everyone was watching us, and I got nervous because I really like you. I know we play that stupid flirting game all the time but I kind of really want to go out with you..."
"Why didn't you just... ask if you could come with?"
"Emmett said I needed a big romantic gesture."
"Why would you listen to Emmett?"
"I'm an idiot?" She shot her an embarrassed smile.
"You're lucky; I like idiots."
"You do?" He looked hopeful.
"Yepp, at least I like the kind of idiot who does something as sweet as dressing up as a character from one of my favorite movies and goes trick or treating with my sister just because he wants to spend my favorite holiday with me." As ridiculous as his actions were, she really did find the gesture sweet.
"That's the kind of idiot I am!"
"So here's what you're going to do. You're going to call me tomorrow, and you're going to ask me if I want to go get a coffee with you. I'm going to say yes, and you're going to take me to that shop on main street that I like."
"Did you just plan a date I haven't asked you on yet? How do you know I'll even call you?" He was teasing her now.
Alice stood on her tippy toes to peck jasper on the cheek... or rather the lower jaw as even at the highest she could stretch, she still couldn't actually reach his cheek. "Goodnight, Jasper; I'll see you tomorrow." With that, she skipped back into the house.