Summary: Halloween with de-aged Eliot. Trick-or-treating, candy, and an old hair-gelled, fangy arch-nemesis of Lindsey's turns up. "McDonald Boys" verse, sometime after "Sky's Gonna Open" and "See Spot Run."

Yes, yes, school fic. I'll get to it. I have part of it written, but it's not even nearly done yet, and this wanted to get written before that one because of the holiday. No whining allowed. I was supposed to do homework, but nooo, I wrote an eight-page fic instead. Yes, love me. Shower me with candy and reviews. You darn, dirty enablers whom I dearly love and adore because you feed my addition to instant gratification. Hold it. Does that make me the kind of lab rat who keeps pushing the pleasure button instead of the food button until it dies?

Okay, random segue there…

I wrote this with a couple of comment-fic prompts in mind (Angel and Lindsey, "Surprised to see a real live ghost on Halloween, Angel?" and team/de!aged Eliot, trick or treating), but sadly, the urls were broken or something, so I can't post this on the original site. Bummer. But here's hoping the prompters eventually find it here.

If you haven't read the rest of the series, this will probably make some sort of sense, but maybe not much. The story order for the series is posted on my profile, if you're curious.


Tricks and Treats

There was never any doubt as to what little Eliot wanted to be for Halloween that year.

"I wanna be Curious George!" he exclaims gleefully.

No, wait. That's not right. I'm sorry. That was a typo.

What I really meant was:

"I wanna be Batman!" Eliot shouts with a wide grin.

The way he's hopping from one foot to another in his excitement? Adorable. But don't tell him that, unless you actually want to get kicked in the shins or in the family jewels (if you're a guy - if you're not, then by all means, go right ahead. Just be prepared for some extremely adorable glaring).

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

"Ohh, you look so cute!" coos Sophie, snapping away at the now-scowling miniature Man in Black with her camera. "How adorable is he?" she says to Nate, who wisely does not answer, having a very healthy respect for Eliot's itty bitty booted feet and the distance they are from his shins and private parts. Far enough, and he'd like to keep them that way, thank you very much.

"I love Halloween!" Sophie squeals. "The one day out of the year when dressing up as someone else is accepted, nay expected!" she cries, preening in her costume of…some obscure nineteenth- (or possibly eighteenth-) century character.

"Me, too," Parker says, with her mouth full of the contents of the candy bowl. Her grin is the color of rainbow-Skittles-Reese's-Peanut-Butter-Cups-Jolly-Ranchers-and-candy-corn. "Ha'oween iff awfum."

"Hey," Hardison says, "That's the candy we're supposed to pass out to the kids." He says this, yet makes no move to take the bowl away from Parker because taking candy from Parker is not in any way, shape, or form like taking candy from a baby. It's more like taking candy from say, a rabid, cranky crocodile with the disposition of a gorilla with hemorrhoids. (What? Too colorful an analogy? Whatever. You try thinking of a good one that fits Parker when you're trying to take candy from her. Not so easy, is it?)

Taking candy away from Parker does not happen.

Parker offering candy? That doesn't happen either, unless you are the one person in the world to whom she would actually give candy. (Mostly because it's funny to make him hyper on sugar.)

"Want one, Eliot?"

Eliot scowls for a moment longer, shoots a glare at his grinning brother, and uncrosses his arms long enough to take the proffered candy, unwrap it, and pop it in his mouth. Then he goes back to his cross-armed, scowly-faced glower, chewing furiously at his strawberry-flavored Starburst as he does so. Well, it looks like a scowl, anyway, underneath that adorable tiny Batman mask.

"Can we go now?"

"Alright, gang," Nate says, "Let's go trick-or-treating."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Eliot's Batman costume is a hit. So is Bandit the Batdog. At every house they visit, Eliot gets handfuls of colorfully-wrapped candy. At every house, he eats one piece, despite Nate's forehead-rubbing, Sophie's tutting, and Lindsey's grumbling. They don't have the heart to stop him, one, because he's so freakin' cute, and two, because he's got Parker and Hardison on his side. Eliot is a very good sharer.

Eliot is not the only Batman on the block. They pass by a few of them and exchange weary nods with their parents. There are a few Jokers and Catwomen, too. And a Batgirl. Eliot makes sure to steer well away from her because he knows for a fact that her alter ego, Jenna Leeman, has a mean right hook. Not that he's scared of her. Uh-uh. Not at all.

Lindsey feels a pang of nostalgia as he watches his brother's gleeful gallops up to each front door, the enthusiastic "trick or treat!" he hollers at whoever answers, and the bright grin on his face as he divvies up his take among his three friends, all with Bandit dogging his steps with steadfast canine loyalty.

"Want one, Linny?" Eliot asks, holding a mini-size Snickers bar up to him. Lindsey's favorite, as Eliot well knows.

Lindsey takes the candy and gives the kid a quick one-armed hug. "Thanks, El."

Bandit yips happily and runs around him exactly once, his spotted ears flopping up and down in the earholes cut out of his black hood, before herding his charges (whom he has sworn to love forever and ever and ever) to the next house on the block.

Lindsey shoots a smirk at the disapproving looks on Sophie and Nate's faces (traitor) as he chews on his mouthful of chocolaty goodness. Yeah, the sugar overload later is going to be hell, but come on, it's Halloween. Kids deserve to be allowed to eat as much candy as they want on Halloween, before all that worrying about weight and diets and all that crap hits them as soon as they get to high school.

He's got no excuses for Hardison and Parker, though. They ought to know better than to indulge in all that sugar, especially at night. Although, Hardison probably has some kind of immunity against too much sugar, judging from his daily soda intake, and Parker is…Parker.

He really doesn't have the heart to bring his brother's high down because he's so carefree and happy that Lindsey can't help but remember when both of them had been that innocent. These past few months, the memories of their childhood have kept surfacing, and keep reminding him that the cheerfulness, the innocence, they don't last forever. And he finds that he wants, he actually wants his brother to stay a kid, to keep his soul unblemished, unstained just a little longer.

Well, sort of wants it, anyway. He still misses his big brother Eliot, but this kid is…cute. And his. He's beginning think of Eliot as his - not his to keep to himself (because the team would never let him do that, nor does he want to), but his to keep safe, to keep innocent, to protect.

Lindsey knows well the value of a clean soul. And while Eliot's might not ever be clean, his mind has somehow learned to deal with the disparity between his soul's age and that of his body. There are the occasional nightmares, but those too have been dwindling away, such that in the last month, Eliot has had only a handful, as opposed to the nightly terrors of before. Eliot will never truly forget every awful thing he has done in the past, but maybe, just maybe, Lindsey thinks, hopes, maybe Eliot will be able to learn from them and not take the paths he took before in his new life.

As he contemplates his seven-year-old twin brother's future, he senses…something. Something familiar. Something dangerous. Something…completely, absolutely irritating. And quite possibly toothy and hair-gelled.

None of the team has noticed, not even Eliot, so Lindsey pats down his pockets and fakes looking around for something.

"What's wrong?" Sophie asks, concerned, "Lose something?"

"My phone," Lindsey grimaces. "I think I know where. I'll be right back," he says, and turns, hoping to lead the danger away from his family and focus it on him.

"Hm," Sophie says thoughtfully after he leaves.

"You caught that?" Nate murmurs so the others won't hear.

"I wonder…"

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

He hates it when his spidey-senses are right, he thinks, as he dangles from his neck against a stone wall with large, knobby bits that dig into his back painfully.

"Surprised to see a real live ghost on Halloween, Angel?" he gasps out, just because the souled vampire just happens to bring out the perverse in him.

"You're supposed to be dead," Angel growls, and pushes him back harder against the wall. Ow.

Lindsey grins through bloody teeth (oh yes, there had been a brief tussle before Lindsey had gotten pinned) and laughs. "Well, I'm not."

How dare he, Angel thinks, and sniffs. Not even an ounce of fear, nothing. People in his position – held dangling a foot above the ground by a fully vamped-out Angel - normally reek of it, but he's getting absolutely nothing from Lindsey. Until…

"Daddy! Daddy!"

Then there it is, a huge, rushing wave of stinking, cloying fear.

"Eliot!" The former lawyer jerks against Angel's grip, clawing, struggling now, struggling with all his strength to get away, to get to the little boy dressed in a Batman costume running towards them from the other side of the dark alley, his little cape flapping comically behind him. Lindsey's pulse jumps under Angel's fingers in his panic.

"Get away from my daddy, you mean, ugly man! Get away from him!" the kid yells, and kicks Angel in the shins (which, surprisingly, really hurts) and hammers at his torso. "Stop hurtin' him!" A tiny black boot slams down on Angel's foot, twice, and a dog - a huge masked and caped spotted monstrosity - growls at him, and mauls his overcoat and pants with big, white teeth in between snarls and threatening barks.

"No, Eliot," Lindsey says weakly from against the wall, where Angel had unconsciously pushed him back even harder (and cut off his air and blood supply) in his surprise at being attacked so viciously from so…far down.

Angel puts his vamp-face away and blinks at the tiny Batman kicking and punching nonstop at his leg, and at the snarling dog, then back at the little kid. Then he looks at Lindsey, who is starting to look a little more awake now that Angel has loosened his grip. The human's pulse still races under his hand.

"Daddy?" Angel asks, completely puzzled. "What does he mean, 'Daddy'?"

Lindsey squirms and reaches a shaking hand out to the kid. "Eliot, stop," he rasps, his urgency bleeding through the choked voice, "Get back! Go back to the others! Bandit, down!" he says to the dog next.

The Dalmatian immediately stops barking and stills, looking into his master's face for further instructions. The boy, however, gives Angel's bruised leg one more good kick before settling back with a dark scowl that looks more like a pout in this light.

"Angel," Lindsey says under his breath, "not in front of him." The ex-lawyer's eyes plead in a way that Angel has never seen, not from Lindsey, no, not from him. Lindsey undoubtedly sees something in Angel's own face because he says a little louder, "Eliot, go. Right now. Don't look back," all the while looking at Angel, as if…facing his death and accepting it.

"But…" the kid says, sounding…scared? No, not scared, but worried, uncertain, and yes, scared, too, after all.

"Eliot, just go," Lindsey says gently, firmly, looking down now at the kid, who can't be much more than six or maybe seven. He meets the eyes of one of the men in the group of worried-looking people standing at the end of the alley. "Nate, take him."

Something passes between the two men, something like "I'm fine." "No, you're not." "Take care of him." "Of course. Be careful." Something like respect. Something like trust. Nate, the oldest of the group, comes forward and puts his hand on the boy's shoulder and nudges him towards the others, away from Angel, away from Lindsey.

Eliot, young as he is, deciphers the exchanged looks faster than Angel does, because he's kicking and screaming and latching onto Lindsey as soon as Nate's hand lands on his shoulder. Nate, however, pries the kid off and picks him up bodily, holding the arms and legs down the best he can.

"No! Leggo! Nate, leggo! Daddy!"

Angel winces as a heel hits the back of Nate's leg with a big whump, making him stumble a bit.

"Daddy!" The boy's screams will bring the cops here soon, very soon.

"You're gonna kill me, fine. Just don't do it in front of him. Please," Lindsey says, turning Angel's attention back to him, his pulse slowing, calming, with every step his son and his friend take away from them, "You want me to beg? I'll beg. Please, not in front of him. Wait until they're gone." Stalling, stalling until they all disappear around the corner.

For the third time that night, Angel finds himself confused, quite confused. "You? Beg? You'd really beg? And not for me to not kill you? Isn't that like an oxymoron? Emphasis on moron," he says, just to cover up his shock from one, finding Lindsey alive, two, hearing him called "Daddy," and three, Lindsey asking him politely to wait until his kid is out of the way to kill him. His kid.

Lindsey stares back at him. "I'm not scared of dying. That little boy is my sole reason for living. As long as he's safe, I don't give a crap what happens to me."

Angel tilts his head. Truth. It's the truth. No lie in it whatsoever. That is weird, really, really weird and surreal and…weird. "You know," he says, just to play with his food a little, "I'm still hung up on the part where someone liked you enough to have a kid with you. Who's his mom? Eve?" Maybe she'd survived the Wolfram and Hart building falling on top of her. Not that he cared much.

Huh. That gets a reaction. Interesting.

"You know as well as I do, Eve's dead," Lindsey says stiffly, blue eyes a hard steel-grey in the light of the streetlamp. Then he slumps in Angel's grip and whispers, "Just leave me alone. Leave us alone. I'm only trying to do my best for him, alright? No funny business. I just wanna raise him right."

"You going straight?"

"Yeah," Lindsey says, "In a way. I started over. I help people now." The smirk on his face is more self-deprecating than cocky.

"Huh," Angel says, and gives Lindsey a good sniff, just to make sure. "You're not lying. That's new. I hear about anything off…"

"I wouldn't do anything to put Eliot in danger," Lindsey says, his voice catching, "Never. I'd die first."

"I'm not gonna kill you, Lindsey," Angel says as he lets go, dropping the ex-lawyer onto the ground, "Yet."

Lindsey sits up painfully and leans against the wall, catching his breath. He refuses to rub his throbbing neck in Angel's presence, however. "Yeah? I'm pretty sure it sounded to Lorne like you wanted me dead. It ruined him, you know that?" It should be said in a snarl, but it comes out tired, weary.

That gets Angel's attention. "You know where he is?" He'd kept his promise not to look for Lorne after, but he'd always wanted to know what had happened to his old friend.

Lindsey's lip curls. "You really think I'm gonna tell you?"

Angel remembers the proud way Lorne had shown Lindsey off that time – the only time Angel had heard the ex-lawyer sing. There had been camaraderie there, trust going both ways, which was actually why Angel had picked Lorne to give that last order to during that final fight against evil. Lorne was the only one of them who had Lindsey's trust and thus, the only one who could get the drop on him, to get close enough to kill. He'd betrayed his own friendship that day, the day he'd asked Lorne to betray his.

"Guess not," Angel agrees grudgingly, "He's really- ?"

Lindsey has been watching Angel's expression all this time, tight-lipped, his shrewd eyes picking up everything (guilt, revelation, and more guilt), even in the dark. "He stopped singing, Angel." He lets that sink in and stands up, slowly, stiffly. "Now, if you're done with the manhandling, I got some trick-or-treating to get back to."

"Soccer dad." Angel doesn't know where that came from, except that he wants to give his once-enemy another jab in the gut.

Lindsey smirks, a real one this time. "Football, actually. Eliot hates soccer. There are worse things I could be. You know that."

With that, he turns and limps out of the alley, leaving Angel staring at his back with his torn coat and tattered pants fluttering in the cold October wind.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Lindsey has a split-second warning before he feels the hard blow to the back of his head.

He turns and rubs the affected area with a scowl. "The hell?" he asks Parker, the bestower of that particular head-slap.

"From Eliot," she explains, as the tiny hitter walks up next to her with his arms crossed and a disapproving glower permanently etched on his face. "Because he can't reach that high." She purses her lips and adds, "Your throat needs an ice pack. Your voice is all icky."

Lindsey rolls his eyes and holds out his hand to the brother who is more like his kid than anything these days. "Come on," he rasps, throat feeling like he'd swallowed broken glass, "Let's go home."

And just because Eliot is Eliot and not some other sissy kid, he puts a lemon-flavored Jolly Rancher (to suck on to soothe his throat until they can get home for some real herbal remedies and hot tea) in his brother's outstretched palm instead of his own black-gloved hand.

Then he squeezes in as close to Lindsey as he can get without being considered wimpy and doesn't even shake him off when a warm hand drops down onto his cowled head.

He just punches Lindsey's hip and growls, "Stop trying to die on me, ya idiot."

"Love ya too, El."

Lindsey turns around and looks at the rest of his team. Meeting each of their eyes, one by one, he silently thanks them for trusting him enough to talk his way out of his problem.

Trust. He snorts softly. It's a funny thing, he thinks, as a small hand creeps stealthily into his, Having people I can trust feels good. Having people trust me feels good. A guy could get used to this.

He opens his mouth to say something to that effect, but (thankfully) chokes on it and nearly coughs his lungs up.

"Ow."

"Honey-lemon tea when we get home," Eliot says sternly, his little black cape flapping behind him in the cool autumn breeze.

"Yeah, okay, Caped Crusader," Lindsey croaks and gets thwacked in the gut as a result.

"Stop talking," Eliot says, "You're squeaking."

"Am not," Lindsey wheezes, just 'cause.

"Are too."

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

AN: I was going to put in a line or two about Lindsey wanting to stake all the Edwards and Bellas out there but refraining because he doesn't want to give his brother any more fodder for calling him girly by getting glitter all over his clothes…but I couldn't find a good spot for it. But it would have been funny – at least I think so.