Here's the Halloween chapter, just in time for Halloween! Sorry it's short. (And I know Halloween is on a Monday this year, but I had to make it a Sunday for the sake of the story. Alright? Alright.)

Please let me know your thoughts! Thanks for reading! :)

may the force be with you
chapter nine - with you

"What's in there?" - Luke Skywalker
"Only what you take with you." - Yoda

Before I knew it, Halloween weekend had arrived and I still didn't have a costume. I had been trying and trying and trying to get Abby to agree to go as Han Solo and Leia with me, but she just wouldn't. No matter how many times I asked, she was determined to get me into something other than my traditional white collared shirt, black vest and leather pants.

Mikey and Erin had failed to agree on costumes, too. It was getting to the point where we were really ready to just screw Halloween and not even dress up. But then, Erin had an idea.

"Well, since we can't think of any good couple costumes, why don't the four of us go as a group?"

"Hell yes," Mike said immediately. "Teletubbies. I call Po!"

The rest of us shot looks at the crazy boy. "No," Erin said, plain and clear.

"But – "

"Why don't we go as the Avengers?" I offered. "We've always wanted to do that, but we've never had enough people. Now we have four. I'd say that's close enough. We'll have most of the originals, anyway."

Erin and Mike thought this over for a minute. It was clear by their expressions that they thought this was a pretty good idea. We had wanted to do that for forever, after all.

Abby, on the other hand, gave me this look. "Don't you guys have any ideas that don't involve me dressing up as some dorky fictional character?" she pouted.

Mike gasped. I scoffed. Even little Erin rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, Abby," I said as I nudged her in the side. "If you agree to go as one of the Avengers with us, we'll let you choose which one you want to be. And that's a big honor, because we always fight over these things."

The girl frowned. "I don't even know who the Avengers are," she said. Mike looked like he was going to faint. She sighed. "I mean, I know who they are, I just don't remember all the members. What are my choices again…?"

I could tell she was bluffing. She had no idea who our favorite group of action-heroes was. But hey, that was alright. Most people weren't as comic-savvy as us.

"Well, the original members from the 60's are Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Wasp, and Ant-Man," Mike recited. "But there are many more of them now."

Abby's nose wrinkled in confusion. "I thought Captain America was one of them?" she asked.

I raised an eyebrow. Maybe she did know a little bit about it, after all. "He is," I answered. "But he wasn't an original. He basically is, though. He was the first one added after the original five. He replaced the Hulk as one of the founding members."

"How the hell do you guys know all this stuff?" Abby asked in wonder.

My two best friends and I shrugged. "I often ask myself that same question," Erin answered with a sigh. "So, who do you want to be? There aren't many girls, so you'll have to be a female version of one of the guys, most likely. But that's okay, those are usually fun."

Abby seemed to think real hard about who she chose. "I guess…I'll go as a female Thor. Because Vikings are badass. But Harrison, I'm only agreeing to this on one condition," she haggled.

"What?" I asked.

"You have to go trick-or-treating with me and Bryce before the party," she said. "He really wants you to come. And I'd like you to come, too."

I grinned. "Okay," I said. "Deal. But hey, can I bring Trin and Pierce? I promised my mom I'd take them out. Brotherly duties and all, you know."

Abby grimaced.


"It's just," she began slowly. "I don't want your siblings to meet Bryce."

I frowned. "Why not?"

"Yeah, why not? Trinity is the cutest thing ever and Pierce is the bomb," Mikey interjected. Erin shushed him before I even had the chance to.

"I just don't want them to get attached," Abby said quietly.

I didn't say anything for a moment, because it took a while for the words to sink in. Then, when I realized what she meant, I was appalled. "Don't talk like that," I said. "Bryce is fine. Don't be ridiculous."

Abby just shook her head. "I'm not being ridiculous," she said sadly. "I'm being realistic. Come on, Harrison. What would you do if Trinity and Bryce became really good friends, and then one day something happened to him and you had to explain to your sweet little sister why she couldn't see her friend anymore? Do you really want to have to deal with that? Do you want to put her through that?"

I didn't want to put Trin through that, but she was still being ridiculous. "So, because Bryce has a potentially life-threatening disease, he isn't allowed to have friends?" I asked, sounding more patronizing than I had intended.

Abby sighed. "He has friends," she said. "He has you. And me. And he really wants you to go trick-or-treating with him…"

"I said I would go," I said a little harshly. I told myself to calm down. "And…I guess I won't bring Trin or Pierce. But I do have to go with them, too, so you and Bryce might have to wait a little bit. Pierce is young enough that we'll probably go out when it's still light out, so I wouldn't worry too much."

I could tell I had said the right thing because Abby smiled. "Goody," she said. "Bryce will be so happy."

"That's the idea," I muttered.

So, with Abby as female Thor, that left Mike as the Hulk, Erin as female Captain America, and me as Iron Man. We went out and bought our (rather expensive) costumes right after our conversation, and soon we were ready to go.

Halloween was a Sunday night that year. At six o'clock, I took Pierce and Trinity (dressed as Luke and Leia, naturally) around our neighborhood a few times until they were satisfied with the amount of candy in their little buckets, and then at seven thirty I met up with Abby in front of her house for round two. Bryce was dressed as a NASCAR driver. When I asked him if he liked NASCAR he nodded furiously and said that he wants to be a race car driver when he grows up. Aww, kids.

I'm not going to lie; Abby looked really hot in that Thor costume. Who would've thought that a girl would be attractive dressed as the Norse God of thunder? Meanwhile, there I was, in a clunky suit of "metal" (read: plastic) that was really hard to breath in. I ended up taking off the helmet for most of the night.

Bryce was easier to handle than Trin or Pierce. While my siblings were hyper and irritating even before they stuffed their faces with Halloween treats, Bryce was sweet and polite to every person we saw. And he grew tired faster, too, although I'm not so sure that's a good thing. We only went to about ten or eleven houses before he was ready to go back home.

When he was, I went in the house with Abby and helped her and her aunt tuck him into bed. Before I left, Bryce told me that he had the best night ever. I smiled.

By the time it was almost nine at night, Abby and I were headed over to Erin's house, where the four of us were meeting up before the party. It didn't officially start until ten, so we were just going to hang out with the Lin family until it was time to leave. Erin's many brothers were always a riot and her parents were always welcoming, so we had no problem deciding on a house to raid.

One kick-ass game of Mario Party later, the Avengers were on their way to Brian Dougall's house. I realized upon entering the home that I had never been there before. This was quite a strange fact considering how much of a small town we lived in; I had been to almost everyone's house at some point in my life. But, not Brian Dougall's – at least not until that night.

As soon as we walked in the front door, we bombarded by Adrienne. Of course. At least this time, she had her new boyfriend Josh Lee in tow, although he was hardly recognizable under all that pale makeup and glitter. I wondered how Adrienne managed to coax a decent guy like him into dressing up as Edward Cullen for Halloween.

"Oh my gosh, you guys look great!" Adrienne squealed. She gave each of us a very enthusiastic hug before asking who were supposed to be. I rolled my eyes. Figures.

"We're the Avengers," Erin explained politely.

Adrienne just stared. "The…what?"

Mikey jumped into action. "The Avengers. A team of super heroes originally created by Marvel comics in the 1960s. I'm the Hulk, Erin is Captain America, Harri is Iron Man and Abby is Thor. Neat, huh?"

Adrienne pouted as if she didn't really understand. I'm not sure why, though – Mike was pretty clear with that explanation. "Oh," she said. "Is that that one movie with Robert Downey Jr.? He's really hot, for an old guy."

Mike literally face-palmed and Erin had to stifle a giggle. Josh blushed in embarrassment of his girlfriend's idiocy and said, "Yes, that's Iron Man." Then he turned back to us. "Well, we're going to go mingle over there…nice seeing you guys!"

We waved to Josh and then collapsed in a fit of chuckles after they were gone. Only Abby remained serious. "What is wrong with you guys?" she chastised. "She genuinely didn't know who the Avengers were."

"Oh, just like you?" I teased.

"There is nothing wrong with that," Abby continued, ignoring my comment. "Not everyone can be super nerds like you guys."

I shrugged it off and proposed that we all go get some drinks. Now, I'm obviously not one of those crazy party animals, but I will have a drink or two occasionally. I mean, if you're already at a party, why not?

Mike and I each grabbed a beer but the girls decided they were better off without it. I didn't blame them. Some of these high school parties got pretty sketchy. Plus, we counted on Erin to keep us in line. There was only a very small chance that Mike or I would go overboard, but just in case…it was good to have somebody sober and sensible around.

The night progressed normally. Somewhere between getting drinks and saying hello to some friends from my math class I lost Abby. I vaguely remembered someone beckoning her over to them, but I couldn't remember who. There were so many people in the room that it was hard to keep track of what was even going on. That's a party for ya.

"Dude, where did Erin go?" Mike asked me after almost getting pushed over by some drunken football player.

I shrugged. "I don't know," I said. "I lost Abby, too."

We looked around for a bit but couldn't find them, so we decided to just sit down and talk for a little while. We weren't very big fans of many party games. Instead of playing them, we preferred to just watch other idiots make fools of themselves instead. Now that was entertaining.

After a while I got to sulking. Abby had been off talking to other people almost all night, even though she had come with me. I knew she wasn't trying to be rude, but I wanted to spend time with her too, you know? It felt like school all over again. Finally, I decided to get off my lazy ass and go ask her to dance with me. I might as well do something productive at this party.

When I finally found her, Abby was talking to an older guy who looked very inebriated. Or rather, the guy was talking to her…she didn't seem to be too interested in the conversation.

"…is this guy bothering you?" I asked her casually, eyeing the questionable man curiously. He gave me a disgusted look.

"Sort of," Abby said with a slight chuckle. "But don't worry. He's not doing anything bad. Just hitting on me repeatedly."

"Oh," I answered. I looked at the guy again. He glared back at me. "Would you mind leaving my date alone?" I asked politely. "That'd be great, thanks."

He sneered and then looked at Abby. "He's your date?" he slurred. "Gross."

"Hey, I'm a likeable person!" I protested.

The guy only scoffed and then walked away. Abby laughed.

"Want to go dance?" I asked her once the creepy guy was out of sight and out of mind. Abby turned to me with a smile.

"Thanks, but I actually really just want to get some fresh air. This place is so stuffy I think I might die."

I shrugged. "Let's go for a walk outside, then," I said.

"Okay," Abby grinned.

We walked out of the house, hand-in-hand so we wouldn't get separated by the throngs of intoxicated teens, and continued walking down the sidewalk until Abby stopped suddenly.

"What's wrong?" I asked, expecting something bad.

"Nothing's wrong," Abby said, rolling her eyes. "I just wanted to say thank you."

"…for what?" I honestly didn't know what she was thanking me for.

She laughed. "Well, for lots of things. First, for not making a scene with that creepy guy earlier, second, for coming outside with me, and mostly third – for giving Bryce the best day ever."

I couldn't help it; I blushed a little. It wasn't often that I received so many thanks in one sentence. "No problem," I said.

"You're a really good guy, you know that, right?" Abby said to me. I did know that. It was something I was very proud of. But it still felt really good hearing that from her.

"Like I said, I'm a likeable person," I joked.

She chuckled quietly and said, "Yes, you are." And then she did something I was not expecting in the least – something I had only dreamt of.

She stood on her tip-toes and kissed me.