A/N: I love Halloween! Anyway, this takes place BEFORE the troubles with the Millennium Items; so, there is no Yami Yugi, Yami Malik, or Yami Bakura yet.
And in this fic:
Honda Hiroto = Tristan Taylor. I don't like calling him Honda. But everyone else keeps their Japanese names.
Amane Bakura FYI is Ryou's sister.
ARCHIVE: Ask and you shall receive. Forget to ask and you shall receive hell.
DISCLAIMER: All characters in this story belong to Kazuke Takahashi and not me. He's the greatest guy in the world for letting fans use his characters in all sorts of strange ways; screw Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Rice! I'm not supporting THEM anymore! *hugs Takahashi plushy* *feeds bitterness towards above mentioned authors*
6:00 P.M., October 31
Five year old Yugi Mutou crawled up the sofa to peer over the back at the lucky children who were already out. He thought that most of them were probably younger than him; the children outside were holding their parents' hands, cautiously poking doorbells, and allowing their mum or dad to ask the golden question: "Trick or Treat?"
Yugi had a dilemma. He wasn't sure if he'd be holding his mother's hand this year; that had been okay when he was *four*, but he was nearly a grown-up now. He'd been in kindergarten three months now, and he no longer cried when he was dropped off at school. What if someone saw him? What if it *was* wrong for a five year old kindergartner to be holding his parent's hand like a...like a...baby?
"Yugi!" His mother called, breaking his train of thought. "Come here and get your costume on!"
Yugi scrambled off the couch and ran to the kitchen, where his mum had laid out make-up, his trick or treat bag, and his green dinosaur costume. Yugi's favorite part of being a dinosaur was the tail; his was longer than he was tall, and he loved it.
After having him pull the costume on over his clothes (it would be a cold night, she insisted, and she didn't want him to come home sick), his mother sat him down and opened the make-up kit. "Close your eyes," she instructed, and began applying lime-colored base to her son's face.
Katsuya Jounouchi was bouncing around on the toes of his sneaker-clad feet like a prizefighter. That's what he was, after all; tonight he was going as the world's greatest boxer. His best friend, Tristan, would be going as the *second* best prize fighter.
He hadn't seen Tristan's costume yet, but his was great. He was in red silk boxer shorts his dad had picked out for him, with bright white sneakers and fake bruises and cuts. He'd left the boxer gloves off for now, since they made his hands sweat and itch.
He took punches at his shadow on the wall-much to his father's proud delight. "Atta way, Katsuya; yeah, right on the kisser!"
"Put his gloves on if you're going to be hitting my wall! Do you want him to break his hands?" His mother shouted, having bustled by them to get Shizuka's costume.
"Shut up! I'm careful with him! You're careful, aren't you, boy?"
Katsuya didn't answer. He tried not to frown when his hands were stuffed back into the itchy, awkward boxing gloves.
"Let's go!" His father yelled impatiently.
"We can't! We're waiting for the Taylors!"
Katsuya listened to his parents bicker. With a sigh, he sat down to wait.
Anzu peered out through the eye holes of her ghost costume. "Can we go?"
Her mother, distracted with feeding the trick-or-treaters on her doorstep and keeping up a conversation with the parents of said children, hardly glanced at her daughter. "No, honey, not yet. Go watch TV for a while, ok?"
Anzu scowled, frustration making her head ache. "But what if there's no more candy for us?" Her mother didn't seem to have heard, so she walked forward and pulled on her mother's sleeve. "Mummy! What if they run out of candy? Let's go!"
"Anzu! I'm talking! Go watch TV!"
The five year old looked down at the floorboards and started to cry. Her mother sighed and knelt down next to her. "I'm sorry. We'll go in just a little while, okay? I promise."
The trick-or-treaters finally moved on to the next house, and Mrs. Mazaki finally grabbed her coat.
Ryou Bakura had wanted to go trick-or-treating dressed as a witch. He'd decided that on his birthday, the previous month. He'd even bought a few objects with his allowance; an orange wig, a false nose, and a hat.
But his father wouldn't hear of it. Ryou and Amane were going as a pair of mummies, and neither of them were happy about it.
"Maybe I should have told him I wanted to dress as an ankh," Amane said, pulling at a bit of gauze wrapped too tight around her arm.
Ryou giggled. "Look!" He pulled out the black witch's hat from his costume box and set it on his head defiantly.
Amane grinned. "You're the mummy of a powerful witch ruler!" Ryou could see the wheels turning in her mind. "And I'm your cat, who was buried with you a billion years ago!"
But before Ryou could find the pair of cat ears she'd bought, their father called, "Are you two ready?"
Forgetting their distress at being forced to be mummies, they raced out of Ryou's room.
Isis had finished telling her four-year-old brother about Halloween for the third time in as many weeks. He'd listened with wide eyes, nibbling on tiny bits of candy she'd give him, always drifting off to sleep to dream of the fantastic tales of candy and ghouls. But tonight was different. Tonight, she'd taken her kohl and drawn on his face, telling him this would be his costume, because tonight was Halloween.
Then he'd run back to his room, found a linen sack, and raced back to her. "Could this be my treat bag?"
Isis smiled. "Yes. Come, everyone is asleep, we may go!"
Trembling, Malik followed her down corridors he'd never been allowed to explore.
Seto was four years old. He wasn't yet known as "Seto Kaiba", and as far as he knew, he never would be. He didn't remember the preceding Halloweens very well; he knew only that his mother had been with him, and his father, and together they'd been a family.
Now he had a little brother who cried at night and smelled awful most of the time. His father cried, too, and hardly ever showered or shaved; sometimes he smelled like liquor. Seto wasn't supposed to know what liquor smelled like, but he'd seen his father drink it and spill it, so he knew.
This was because his mother was dead. Somehow, the baby had killer her. That had been four months ago.
Seto was curled up on the window seat in his room, staring out not at the trick-or-treaters below, but at the sky. He liked watching the sky darken from pale blue to black. He liked coming up with ideas for why day changed to night, and timing how long it took for the sun to disappear.
Without warning, his bedroom door swung open and his father came in, a red-and-white checkered table cloth in one hand. "Seto, come here."
Confused, the boy did as he was told and slid off the window seat, knocking pillows to the floor as he did.
His father wrapped the tablecloth around his son's narrow shoulders and looked at him appraisingly. "There. A cape. You can be Superman."
Seto looked up questioningly. "Dad?"
But the man only scooped up Mokuba from the crib and thought a minute, then shrugged. "He can be a ghost."
Surely this meant only one thing. "Dad, are we going out? Trick or treating?"
His father looked at him, but seemed only to see the make-shift cape. It didn't seem as if he ever really looked at either of his sons. "Yes. One of the neighbors is taking you boys out with her kids. Be polite, you hear me?" But there was no warning or conviction in the voice. It was empty and flat, and Seto hated it more than he hated not having his mother.
Yugi ran back down the steps of his neighbor's house to show his mother what he'd been given. "Look! A Snickers bar!"
His mother smiled. "Wow! Where do you want to go now?"
Yugi had been surprised. His mother had understood when he requested she not hold his hand or come all the way to the door with him. But on top of that, she was allowing *him* to choose which houses he wanted to go to, as long as he held her hand when they crossed streets. This was the best Halloween he'd had in his whole life.
"Let's go to Anzu's house! Do you think she's out yet?"
"Probably not," his mother answered wryly.
Anzu had never been so happy to see Yugi. She'd even hugged him-to his horror-when Mrs. Mutou had offered to take Anzu out trick-or-treating.
"Please, mother? Please?"
"Please, Mrs. Mazaki?" Yugi joined in.
And so, a bit distracted by the latest bit of gossip, Mrs. Mazaki agreed and sent her only daughter scampering off into the darkness with Yugi Mutou and his mother.
Seto didn't like his neighbors very much. They had several dogs and their yard reeked during the day, and he'd even been bitten by one of them. By one of the neighbor kids, not by a dog.
The oldest one had teased him about his cape, so he'd taken it off and used it as a blanket for Mokuba. The adult neighbors had "awwed" at that, and made him feel even worse.
The other children-whose costumes were *just* as bad as his had been-were laughing and playing with each other, carefully excluding Seto the entire time. So he hung back with the adults and listened to them insult his father, as if Seto didn't have a brain between his ears and couldn't understand what they meant by, "booze hound", "negligent", or "slob".
Seto loved his father. He knew that things were bad now, but his father had never laid a finger on either him or Mokuba. Not even when he was drunk. That alone made him a better person than the neighbor who had the gall to tear down Seto's father's honor.
But he didn't say anything. They were adults, and he was too frightened to tell them to stop saying such terrible things.
So he walked on in silence and hated it.
Ryou and Amane were walking like the mummy they'd seen on TV; stiff legs, arms held out rigidly, moaning and screaming until laughter made tears roll down their pale cheeks. Their father wasn't very amused by it, but knew better than to try to talk them out of it.
Amane was seven and already strong-willed; something she seemed to be teaching Ryou. Mr. Bakura was certain *he'd* never been so rebellious, even as a teen.
Amane took Ryou's hand and raced across the street, forgetting their father in the quest to satisfy her sweet tooth.
Mr Bakura sighed and settled onto a bench, not really feeling up to chasing after his children.
"Trick-or-treat!" Amane gasped, out of breath. Ryou held out his bag, figuring that was more than enough to get his point across.
"Happy Halloween!" The old woman laughed, adding popcorn balls to their collections.
Overhead, the stars were coming out.
"Isis! Isis, what's this?" Malik asked, showing her the bright blue and pink fluffy balls that had been dropped into his bag.
"It's called 'cotton candy'," she explained. "It's very good!"
"Cotton candy," Malik murmured, staring down into his bag. "This is so much fun! Do you want some?"
"No, no, we'll eat when we go home!" She answered, taking his hand and leading him to the next dugout home. "Right now you have to get as much as you can!"
Katsuya and Tristan had been slugging each other all night. Their parents had given up on trying to get them to stop, so now they were sporting bruised shoulders. They had more bruises than they did candy, actually.
Yugi and Anzu had taken up the chorus of "The Wheels on the Bus"; this was in answer to Yugi's mother pleading with them to stop singing "This Is The Song That Never Ends". At one house they'd been given little Glosticks, which they were now swinging and play-sword fighting with.
"What's your favorite candy, Yugi?" Anzu asked. "I love Laffy Taffy."
"I like these," Yugi said, holding up a candy bar which he'd already sampled. So Anzu had to dig hers out and taste it, as well.
The stars were out fully now, and the moon was a dark yellow sliver on the horizon.
And Seto had had enough. He took Mokuba from the neighbor's arms and marched back home, all alone. The neighbors had followed at a bit of a distance, not wanting him to be hurt or get lost, but Seto ignored them.
He glanced down at the dark-haired head of his little brother, thinking how funny looking this little person was. Mokuba was round, everywhere; round face, round eyes, round hands, round arms.
Since Mokuba couldn't speak, Seto didn't bother to say anything, not even to explain why they were leaving what had once been one of Seto's favorite traditions.
He didn't think they'd go trick-or-treating next year. Not until they were older. Then they'd go, just the two of them, in the best costumes in town, and get more candy than any of their neighbors.
Katsuya was also holding his younger sibling, though she was a bit closer in age to her brother than Mokuba was to Seto.
Their mother and father had finally said that they'd been out trick-or-treating long enough, and taken the children to their grandparents. So now Katsuya was having his pictures taken, while his parents were off at a party.
He was disappointed, to say the least. But grandma had made cookies shaped like bats, and that did take a little of the pout off of his face.
Malik had a bag of strange treats. Someone had given him a package of spaghetti noodles, and someone else had given him a few gold coins. The cotton candy was nice to hold, though.
"Where's dad?" Amane asked.
"He stayed down there," Ryou answered, motioning back at where he'd seen his father sit down. "Up the street."
"Oh." Amane thought for a moment, trying to decide what their next move ought to be. "Let's finish off this side of the street, and then work on that side. Then we can sneak up on him." The older Bakura child grinned, making her brother laugh enthusiastically.
Three Snicker bars and four lollipops later they were at the end of the street. Amane squealed, as she always did when struck with a particularly mischievous idea. "Ryou, I'll walk you across the street, and you sneak up on Dad from behind. I'll run at him from the front!"
"Okay," Ryou answered automatically, holding up his hand and allowing his sister to take him across the street.
"We'll get to these houses after we find Dad," she promised, in case he was disappointed.
Ten minutes later, Ryou could see his father still sitting on the bench, complimenting costumes. He looked across the street for Amane, who nodded at him to continue. When both were in position, she motioned for Ryou to begin, and then readied herself to charge their father.
She hadn't checked, though, Ryou noted numbly. She hadn't looked both ways before crossing, like they'd taught him in school.
She didn't see the car of teenagers speeding down the street with their lights dimmed, hoping to honk and scare smaller kids. Amane didn't hear Ryou scream for her to stop; she might not have even heard the tires squeal.
No, she probably only heard the impact of metal on her gauze-wrapped body.
Ryou heard everything else. He heard his father's hoarse screaming, the teenagers in the car screaming, too. The gasps and shouts of fascinated horror from witnesses; but louder than all of that was a strange whistling in his ears. He wished it would stop.
Everything just kept going and he didn't understand why.
Seto didn't know how to give Mokuba a bath. He wasn't even sure he was allowed to; he wasn't allowed to run his own bath, which meant he only bathed once every couple of weeks. But Mokuba had kitty whiskers drawn on him in women's eyeliner, and Seto was *not* going to let that stay.
He got a wet washcloth and scrubbed his brother's face and arms and legs until they were pink and shining. Then he got a bottle, filled it with Mokuba's formula, asked-begged-his father to heat it up, and then fed his little brother.
Mokuba was still wrapped up in the abandoned tablecloth-cape when he fell asleep, safe in Seto's arms.
The ambulance had come and taken Amane, Ryou, and their father to the hospital. Ryou had to wait in another room.
His teacher had said this morning that Halloween was a time when ghosts and ghouls came alive. When people could see and speak to people who had died. Ryou had been amazed; he'd loved everything he'd learned about the ghosts and ghouls.
When a doctor came out and carried him to his sister's bedside, and quietly explained that Amane was dead, Ryou looked up at his father, who was huddled in a chair and sobbing. He looked at a nurse, who was also crying sympathetic.
Tears fell onto the blood-stained gauze of Amane's costume, and they were Ryou's tears, he knew; he was the only one close enough to cry on her.
He was bitterly sad...and confused and excited at the same time. Was she gone?
"Learn to write to me, Ryou," Amane's voice whispered, quiet so as to not disturb the sobbing in the hospital room.
Ryou looked up, tears of grief and joy falling freely now. He nodded at her, forcing a smile, and wondered that everyone stared only at her body.
Was he the only one who could see her, standing in the corner, staring at him with vibrant green eyes?
Yugi and Anzu trick-or-treated until their arms ached from carrying so much candy. They rang Anzu's doorbell and shouted "Trick or Treat!" when her mother answered the door.
Mrs. Mutou laughed and shrugged, then carried her son's candy bag for him and together they went home.
Katsuya and Shizuka watched Halloween cartoons and ate their candy, until their grandmother made them brush their teeth and go to sleep on the pull-out sofa bed. Both of them slept facing their candy hordes.
Malik lay down on his stray mattress, setting his bag next to him so he could hold it like other kids held teddy bears. Isis said goodnight and slipped quietly back to her room, and Malik smiled as he fell asleep.
9:00 A.M., November 1st
Ryou awoke and didn't know where his bag of candy had gone. Amane's was on his desk. He could hear his father crying as the news of Amane's death was delivered to relatives and family friends.
Quietly, Ryou got out of bed, sat down at his desk, and pulled out a piece of yellow construction paper and a black pen.
Ryou stared at it, frowning. He couldn't write more. He didn't know how yet.
Yugi had to eat a bowl of oatmeal before he could have any candy, which he thought was grossly unfair. But at least there wasn't any school today, and there were plenty of cartoons.
Katsuya traded all of his 'bad' candy with Shizuka, then went to barter with Tristan. He was determined to get that giant Jawbreaker.
Seto had decided to spend the day with Mokuba, rather than just staying up in his room staring at the sky. His father slept well past noon, except when Seto asked him to heat another bottle and to change Mokuba's diaper.
What was surprising was that Seto enjoyed his time with his infant brother.
Malik yawned and stretched, then jumped awake, eager to sample his cotton candy.
What he found where he'd put his candy bag was only his straw-and-cotton pillow. His face was clean, lacking any kohl, even the markings under his eyes.
But the dream had been nice....