A/N: Yeah, okay, I know it's a little early for Halloween one-shots. But I love Halloween, and fall, and all things pertaining to the aforementioned, so I couldn't help myself. The ending may be a little AU, but I think you will like it anyway. ;) Enjoy, and let me know what you think!
"I'm glad you decided to come with us, Bones," Booth said as they walked together down the sidewalk, about ten feet behind a gaggle of little pirates, vampires, and Power Rangers. The sun had finally set, orange street lights and glowing Jack-o-Lanterns guiding the way for the raucous trick-or-treaters. Parker bounced near the front of his group of friends, wearing a smart black suit and dark shades, Booth's FBI badge clipped proudly to a lanyard around his neck.
"Freeze, punk!" he shouted, turning around and holding his hand out in front of one of his friends, a little zombie. The zombie shoved him playfully and all of the boys laughed, running down the pathway of the next lit house.
"You didn't really give me much choice," she pointed out.
"What do you mean?" he asked innocently. She gave him a pointed look.
"Showing up at my doorstep with eight little boys and telling them that I was going to buy them all pizza after we got done trick-or-treating doesn't exactly leave much room for an out," she grumbled.
"You could have said no, you know," Booth said. She shook her head.
"No, I couldn't have," she argued. "Not with the look your son was giving me." Booth grinned, an adult image of that same sheepish, dimpled smile that had peered through her doorway an hour earlier. She had planned on spending the evening working on her newest manuscript, but that undeniable Booth charm couldn't be ignored.
"He is a convincing little shit, isn't he?" Booth said with a touch of humor, watching the eight year old and his comrades comparing candy hauls as they meandered down the street to the next house.
"Much like his father," Brennan said. After a second passed he registered the comment and made a faux-hurt face.
"Hey!" he said, and she laughed. They both pulled their jackets close to their bodies as a chill breeze blew past, rustling through the dry leaves still clinging to the tree branches overhead. Booth rubbed his hands briskly together.
"Cold, huh?" he said as they rounded the corner of the block. Since he and Brennan both lived in apartment buildings, they had taken the boys to trick-or-treat in Rebecca's neighborhood. Booth and Captain Fantastic nodded their heads cordially when Parker's mom and step-father opened the door, and Brennan had noticed Rebecca giving her a peculiar, almost knowing smile just before the door shut.
"It certainly has cooled off quite a bit in the past week," Brennan said.
"I bet that means we'll get a lot more gooey stuff in the lab, huh?" Booth said, and Brennan made a face.
"Gooey stuff?" she asked. Booth made a gesture with his hand that suggested elaboration.
"Yeah, you know… meaty," he said. "Like, more tissue still on the bones. With the weather so cold the bodies won't rot as fast, right?"
"Right," Brennan said, shaking her head and still looking mildly perturbed by the use of the phrase 'gooey stuff' in reference to human remains.
"Oh, awesome, speaking of gooey stuff…" Booth said, grabbing her upper arm and pulling her in the direction of the next house on the block. A large series of pop-ups was set up in front of the house, stretching the entire length of the yard, veiled by hanging black tarps. Children filed in through one open end and ran screaming and giggling out the other, pausing just in time to get a handful of candy from a middle-aged woman dressed as a tavern wench.
"What is this?" Brennan asked as she was drawn closer to it. Parker and his friends ran in without hesitation, and within moments she and Booth could hear their thrilled screams.
"It's a haunted house, Bones," Booth said. "These guys do it every year, it's great. Hey, Jerry, how are you?"
"Seeley Booth, long time no see!" a man in a Scream outfit greeted back, waving the hand that wasn't wielding a scythe. He then reached out and offered the gloved hand to Brennan, who shook it hesitantly. "I'm Jerry Martensen, nice to meet you." She nodded.
"Temperance Brennan," she said.
"Well it's nice to meet you, Temperance. See you around, Seeley!" He waved them off and before she could say anything, Booth was dragging her off towards the entrance.
"Booth, what are you doing? I don't want to go in there…"
"Oh come on, it'll be fun," he said, looking as delighted and exuberant as his son had just before braving the haunted house. She groaned but allowed herself to be pulled into the large series of interconnected tents, both of them stooping down slightly to fit.
The inside was nearly pitch black, lit by Glo-sticks strung along the top and a handful of fake pumpkins. They had barely taken five steps when a masked man jumped out at them from the corner, yelling and waving his arms. Brennan simply stood and watched with an unamused expression on her face. The man's arms dropped to his side and he stepped back without a word, letting them pass into the next room.
"Come on, you could have at least acted scared," Booth chastised as they wandered into the next tent, which was just as dark and filled with fake cobwebs and bristly plastic spiders. Booth jumped and she made a displeased face as one dropped in front of them, dangling from a string and bouncing in mid-air.
"I'm sorry, but I just don't scare that easily," she said, brushing past the plastic arachnid as Booth shuddered. "We work with real murders, Booth. What about this is supposed to be frightening?"
"It's not really," he said. "But it's fun to just act scared anyway."
"Why? I don't understand what the point of… please step away from me," she said loudly to a man in a Jason mask and a large, roaring chainsaw, rendered harmless by removing the chains, who had leaped out at her just as they entered the third room. The man squinted at her through the mask and took a step back, giving Booth an odd look before shrugging his shoulders and positioning himself in the corner, waiting to spook the next batch of kids that walked through.
"It's just fun to—oh Jesus," Booth said, jumping out of his skin as he realized the third room was set up like a macabre children's nursery, with bloody dolls and scary clowns positioned around the edges. Brennan watched as one of the clowns, which was actually a live man and not a dummy like the others, began to creep out from the far corner. The stern look Booth gave him, however, put him back in his place. Brennan grinned amusedly and followed him into the last of the rooms.
The final room was somewhat better lit, with two long tables lined up down the center, a variety of boxes set up on them. Each box had an open top, and children took turns reaching their hands into the boxes and squealing.
"Look, brains," Booth said, gesturing towards the first box that was sure enough labeled 'brains'. He stuck his hand into the box and made a face, withdrawing it and wiping a wet residue onto his pants leg. At the far end of the table, Parker let out a disturbed squeal.
"Dad!" he shouted. "Dad, feel that one. Go on, feel it, feel it!" Booth grinned and acquiesced to his son's request, sticking his hand into the box and giving a little shiver before withdrawing his hand.
"Ew, that one feels like guts," he said. "Hey Bones, come here and feel the guts."
"No," she said plainly. He gave her a long-suffering look.
"Oh, come on," he said. "Be a sport, feel the guts."
"Booth, I'm not feeling the—"
"Please, Bones?" She pressed her lips together and sighed at the little boy, who had taken his sunglasses off so he could see in the dark. His curly hair was puffy in the cold, static night and his bottom lip stuck out ever so slightly, jaw set at an angle. "Please?" She sighed, and both Parker and Booth grinned simultaneously. She approached the box and reached her hand in. She stretched her fingers down into the depths, expecting to feel a bowl full of spaghetti pasta or some similarly textured food item when…
"Aieeee!!" she screamed, yanking her hand out and rapidly backpedaling from the table, shivering all over and shaking her head. Booth and Parker both doubled over with laughter, the elder one supporting his weight against the table top as he grasped his side, and she even heard a throaty laugh from underneath the table.
"Scared, Bones?" Booth managed to wheeze out between peals of laughter. She shook her head, skin still crawling.
"You knew that was going to happen!" she shouted. "You knew somebody was going to grab me from under the table, didn't you?" He opened his mouth as if to speak, but instead choked out another round of uncontrollable, rolling laughter. Parker and his friends added to the chorus, and Brennan felt downright peeved. She left the tent in a huff and the boys followed her out, all congregating around the tavern wench to get their sweet reward for surviving the haunted house.
"Oh man, you should have seen your face," Booth said as he exited the haunted house, still shaking his head and laughing as he approached where she stood, leaned up against a tree at the edge of the yard. "Totally priceless." She scowled.
"That was not funny at all," she said plainly. He snorted.
"It really was," he said.
"It really was not," she argued, arms crossed defensively over her chest. "Being scared isn't fun, I don't know where you got this idea that it is."
"No, you're right, it's not," he said, standing close to her and leaning up against the tree, hand resting on a patch of bark just over her head. The position forced her to look up slightly to see him properly.
"It's the part after you get scared," he continued. "After the trick is done. It's when you realize there's nothing to be afraid of, but you've still got all this adrenaline going. It's the rush you want, the high. That's the fun part, the treat. You know, trick-or-treat?" She raised her eyebrows.
"Did you get an adrenaline rush when you saw the clown?" she asked, the corners of her lips turning up slightly as she leaned in a fraction, challenging him with her eyes. He leaned his weight in, face drawing closer to hers.
"No, I didn't," he admitted, watching her carefully. She shifted again, drawing her face even closer to his—so close now, in fact, that he could feel her warm breath cutting through the crisp October air.
"Are you getting one now?" she asked, her voice a low, husky whisper. Before he could answer or make a move, she stepped out from underneath his arm and into the street, sticking her hands in her coat pockets and giving him a wicked grin.
"That is not fair," he said, pointing a finger at her as he bounced on his heels and hoped that there was nothing else pointing in any direction.
"Yeah, well, trick-or-treat," she said with a smirk, turning and following the gaggle of boys as they took off towards the next house. Booth gave a flustered huff as he followed them down the sidewalk, still buzzing with the rush of something that was definitely not related to the haunted house and hoping there would be a treat in his near future.