Halloween Comes Early


abby4_icon.gif doyle_icon.gif eileen_icon.gif kaylee2_icon.gif raith_icon.gif teo_icon.gif

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Scene Title Halloween Comes Early
Synopsis The Ferry mobilizes to put together a Halloween-themed evening for the children living at the Lighthouse and other displaced youths in the network's care.
Date October 30, 2009

The Lighthouse

From the outside, the Lighthouse looks as if it has had better days. The massive tower rising out of the house has fallen from its former glory. It is no longer a shining beacon, guiding wayward ships in from the lost harbor — though some may argue its purpose now is even more admirable. In its current state, the lighthouse seems to be in disrepair. Though upon closer inspection it all seems to be in the details. The paint has chipped away, leaving a discolored patterns of grays, whites, off-whites, and more grays. The occasional graffitti tag is here or there along the large building. One would notice that the doors, the windows, and the integrity of the building are all quite sound and newly repaired. The lighthouse has just been left with the look of abandonement.

Inside is a completely different story. Upon entering the main door, one will find a completely furnished and cozy arrangement. A spacious living room lined with two large blue sofa's, facing each other, a coffee table between them and several large bean bag chairs have been planted in the room. Shelves have been hung on the wall to display various different pictures of the occupants. A large bookcase is against the wall, holding a large variety of books from Dr.Seuss to the Bible, and even a copy of the Qur'an. The living room is focused on the fireplace a small black fence encloses it, the wood stocked on the bricks in front of it.

Connected to the living room is a kitchen, complete with a large rectangular table capable of seating around four on each long side and two on each end. A sink, a stove, an oven, a microwave and two refrigerators complete the look. Several low and overhead cabinets line the kitchen. At the edge of the kitchen are a pair of doors, one leading to a bedroom and the other, which has a padlock on it, leads to the basement.

At the back of the living room a glass sliding door leads out into the backyard of the Lighthouse, but just before it a staircase leads to the upper levels of the structure.

Halloween comes early to the Lighthouse this year. It's a mild evening for autumn on Staten Island, but as always the sky is deceptively bright and splashed in warm colours ranging from shades of blushing coral through saffron and amber all the way to red-violet bleeding indigo where it meets the horizon line. The air smells like rain, heady with the fall scents of mulch, mud and sticky resin, and although the earth is still damp from the last time the heavens opened up, the brittle stalks of saltgrass waving in the breeze outside are tinder dry and create a rattling sound as the wind wafting off the ocean snakes sibilantly through them.

Inside the Lighthouse proper, a small spectacle is taking place. With trick-or-treating struck from the list of actives available to the children who call the Fulk orphanage home, several sympathetic members of the Ferry have decided to bring the festivities to them by helping cobble together costumes made from black velvet, vibrant cuts of twill, tweed and taffeta, cheap wools, cotton flannel and whatever else they've been able to get their hands on during the frantic search for recyclable fabric that took place sometime yesterday morning when the idea was first proposed by one of the children themselves.

Eileen has done her part by the bringing in the materials for the youngsters to make owl puppets later in the evening — paper bags, child-safe scissors, glue, enough crayons to fill a shoebox and a plastic container of big wiggly eyes she picked up from a craft store in Queens — but these all sit on the kitchen table next to the contributions brought in by others, including a small pile of Halloween-themed colouring books, pumpkin-carving patterns, a bag of apples and a tub for bobbing, and even an airtight tupperware vessel full of naked sugar cookies in shape of spiders, bats and jack-o-lanterns, all ready to be decorated by tiny hands clutching squeeze bags of orange and black icing. Right now, she's preoccupied with making one of the younger girls up to look like a cat with long, elegantly-curling whiskers and a heart-shaped button of a nose in deep carmine pink.

Her idea, not Eileen's.

The Briton herself is dressed in black with raven feathers woven throughout her hair and a flimsy pair of costume wings on her back. It's not nearly as elaborate as some of the outfits that are being made for the children, but elaborate isn't the point — the point is getting into the spirit of the holiday.

Off to one side of the main room, a fairly makeshift little stage is being set up; the front of it flimsy wood painted to look like a rickety face, two standing posts to the sides letting a thick velvet drape hang down to hide the puppeteer and his work. At least that's the theory behind it all, as at the moment the puppeteer in question is wrestling the curtain rod and the rather heavy drape hanging from it into place with some difficulty.

In the spirit of the holiday, Doyle's white, ruffled poet's shirt is complimented by a high-collared black cape that spills behind him, his bald pate and face powdered a bit to look paler, dark circles done up under his eyes and a trickle of fake blood from either side of his lips. There's also a set of fake fangs that he's wearing, tiny plastic points painted with unconvincing red at the tips. Sure, it's neither elaborate nor expensive, but it's rather well made. In fact, he made a lot of the costume bits for the kids over the past weeks, demonstrating a skill with needle, thread and fabric that most might not have expected from him.

Hey, those puppets aren't going to dress themselves you know!

Abigail'd been hiding candy throughout the house in little small palm sized plastic pumpkins. It's like easter, but for halloween. Candy corn and other treats inside the grinning orange orbs. One last one is dropped behind Eileen as the pink haired woman passes by. Tank top, fairy wings that cover the ones 'inked' onto her back and a shimmering full skirt that falls to the floor, she's been helping with things too, dressing kids, applying makeup. The bar's gonna be busy tomorrow night so she's putting in her time here, so to speak.

"Oh John! That is a very scary spider cookie!" The former healer gushes in her southern tones. "I declare that I almost think it would jump off the table and try to wrap me up!" Her fingers descend to tickle said child and make him laugh. "You sir, need to go get a costume on! You can't go as John! Go to the room and find something, we'll help you hmm?" One of the undecorated cookies is plucked up and she bites the leg off a spider.

"Okay…. Seriously… I'm telling you… Gotta bring it back my way some." Kaylee states from her tip toes as she tries to get one end of the rod Doyle is holding in place. She's dressed for the holiday too. A rather cute witches costume, with a knee length ruffly skirt. It even has those purple and white stockings, though Doyle had tried to convince to use a pair of fishnets. Yeah, that was nixed quickly. Topped off with a curly neon green wig and a droopy black and purple witches hat, she doesn't look in the least bit scary.

Tongue peeking between her black colored lips, as Kaylee gets that end of the rod set. "Okay.. Got it!" She declares brightly, dropping back to the her feet. "Looks good, Dracula." She gives Doyle a grin, before glancing out at the rest, her smile fading a bit as she looks at all the kids. She had tried to help Doyle make the clothing when he mentioned it, but sadly she's as bad a seamstress as a cook and she was promptly shooed. "Looks like your items are a hit." She comments waving at a little girl twirling in her simple princess gown.

Everyone's getting into the spirit of Halloween. Even Jensen Raith, who has gone so far as to shave his whiskers for the event, and even clipped his hair shorter and combed it to one side, otherwise dressed unassumingly in a sharp (and cheap) black suit and necktie (sleeves presently rolled up to his elbows), and perhaps most shockingly, without his sunglasses. The only real clue to his identity is a homemade book bound in black that sits, unused, on one of the tables, the word, "Necronomicon" neatly stenciled on the front cover with gold paint.

But he's not interested in that at the moment, nor really is anyone any else in his audience of three children. All of them have gathered around a hollowed-out pumpkin as Raith prepares it by drawing lines on one side with a pen, mimicking with exacting detail the lines on the carving pattern he constantly references with all the precision of some with great love for the craft. "And…" he says with one final stroke of ink before he swaps his pen for a thin, long, pointed, serrated knife, "Done! Now, we carve, carve, carve away. Who's first?"

There, you see? Even Raith can be on his best behavior (surprising as it may be to some that he has a "best behavior").

While Eileen is still putting the finishing touches on the girl with the tabby face, several of the children who have already been dressed and taken care of are crowding around Kaylee and Doyle's side of the room in an attempt to get a sneak peak. "He's not a real vampire," a wizard with stringy blond hair and a wand tucked into the pocket of his Hogwarts issue robes is telling the others. "Real vampires turn you into ashes. I heard someone talking about them at the Garden. There used to be one living here in New York, but Miss Beauchamp killed it."

And speaking of Miss Beauchamp, there are fingers smeared with glue groping at her skirt. "Abigail, Abigail," an insistent voice chants. "Abigail, I need your help with something, okay? Abigail?" It belongs to a slim boy of five or six with a shock of dark hair and even darker eyes. Standing next to him is an older child, possibly his brother, dressed in a furry gray jacket, wolf ears and a long bottlebrush tail with fibers sticking out in every direction. The smaller of the two is holding a thick black marker in his free hand, and offers it up to the woman with a hopeful expression on his face. "Pleeeeaaase?"

"No, just.. move it over, around the.. there!" At the same time as Kaylee decrees victory, so does Doyle, stepping back and looking over the little makeshift stage as if worried it's about to fall down - or over - before nodding in personal satisfaction. He brushes off his hands as if to shed work-dust from them, flashing a brief smile in Kaylee's direction before he crouches down a bit to open up the cardboard box of puppets and such - not the best quality, but in his current environs he's a bit scarce on supplies.

The discussion of vampires gets a look over, and he mutters wryly under his breath, "Real vampires wear suits and carry briefcases, and don't have any imagination or spirit of fun at all…"

Oh heavens someone did not just say that she killed a vampire. There's a glance thrown around the room to see who all heard what the kid said, a furrowing downwards of blonde brows that don't match her hair as she pays attention to the glue grabbing hands with the thick black marker.

"I did kill a vampire. He was coming for me in my sleep, and he was going to drink my blood and he came through my window, but do you know what happened" She leans her face down towards the marker weilding child. 'Mr. Deckard scared him with some garlic while I took off my cross and put it near his face and he just burned" She waggles the cross around her neck before her fingers close around the marker. "What can I do for you little man!"

"Oh hush," Kaylee chides the big guy, giving his shoulder a light punch, before turning to the kids. "Even if it is true." She murmurs before leaning down, she narrows her eyes a bit as she whispers. "Of course he isn't a real vampire. If he was all that pizza he ate woulda killed him!" She shoos them back a bit as Doyle opens the cardboard box. "Have a seat over there, but no crowding the man.' She glances past them to Abigail and chuckles. "Abigail… Vampire slayer! Kinda catchy."

"Kind of infringing, too," Raith adds from his post at the pumpkin. Yes, he's allowing kids to wield a knife as they take turns cutting out bits of the pumpkin, but at least he's supervising them. And if it comes down to it, a first aid kit is not far off. "But only kind of. Pitch it to the studio anywa-care-ful." In the nick of time to avoid nicked fingers. "Trust me kids, these things hurt. But take care, and soon, you will have in front of you the happiest pumpkin you'll ever see." And with that done, he begins to cut into a second pumpkin to one again scoop out pumpkin guts. "Hey, we have an oven here, right? I say we roast the seeds."

"Dylan and I are gonna be cagefighters," the boy with the marker tells Abigail. "He's Ethan the Wolf and I'm Sylar. See?" He gestures to the wet spatter of red food dye sprayed across the front of his white t-shirt, brown eyes lit gold with pride as he squares his shoulders and lifts his chin a fraction of an inch so she can better see the work that went into his costume. "I cut off people's heads and eat their brains, but my eyebrows aren't big enough."

Eileen is trying very hard to keep a straight face. It isn't really working. She fights a losing battle with pursed lips and keeps one hand on the cat-girl's chin to keep her from turning her head toward "Sylar" and "the Wolf" while the other uses the tip of the paintbrush to fill in the last of the tabby stripes. Her mouth wants to split into a smile, but if she smiles then she's going to laugh — and if she laughs her hand will slip, smear paint and ruin the effect that she's spent the last ten minutes trying to achieve.

"We have an oven," she assures Raith. "I'll go put it on in a minute."

"I did not eat that much pizza," insists Doyle, drawing out a few of the raggedy puppets made from socks and felt and bits of fabric and draping them over the wall; a brown, furry wolf puppet, a few socks with googly eyes, a roundish orange pumpkin puppet, and a skeleton marionette that dangles with a clatter over the painted wood. As the children are 'shoo'd back a little by Kaylee's attentiveness, he lets a brief chuckle stir on his breath— almost a laugh, but not quite, "Oh, let them look, it's all right, blondie…"

The portly puppeteer's hands drop down to rest on his knees, and he leans down and a little closer to the curious kids that were peering at the stage and puppets, his eyed wide enough to show a lot of their whites in a dramatic fashion, "We'll have a spoooooky show ready for you in just a little while, just let us get ready, alright?"

One. Long. Blink.

He's who?

Abigail looks down at 'Sylar' before she uncaps the marker, making sure it's water soluble. "I have met this Sylar. I have met him a few times. He tried to do that to me once. I was in the ruins, taking a shortcut on Christmas eve. mhhh hm" Abigail tilts the chin up a bit more, studying the little face before she starts expanding on his eyebrows, drawing them from memory.

"He lifted me waaaaaay up, said he wanted my healing. Merry christmas to him. But do you know what happened after that?" Thick broad strokes, over exaggerating really.

"There was an invisible man who came out of nowhere! He threw a brick at him and made him drop me and I ran ran ran. And then, there was this other time. I was shopping with a friend in chinatown, and he tried again! Oh I was so scared! But you know what? I got saved by Peter Pan! Well, he's not really Peter Pan. His name is Officer Baxter of the SCOUT offices, and he knocked him over! Saved me again!" Abigail's smiling as she's now moved onto small dots along jawline and above the mouth to demarcate stubble.

"And this other time! True story, I stayed in a room with him, because a very good friend of his was very hurt and he promised that he wouldn't hurt me, so long as I saved his friend. And I did, and he didn't and we had a truce from that point on" Embellished, dressed down slightly. "He even fought in the cages for me. He and the wolf! They had to fight each other so that Sylar could win and I could be freed from the people who ran the cagefights. And he did! And he came to my cage and he beat up all the bad guys who were holding me captive and he freed me! Carried me right out of there!" Abigail lets go of the small chin to look at her handiwork with a grin.

"God's honest truth, swear on a bible, I've even healed him a few times! He's not all bad"

Kaylee looks over at Raith and tsks. "Okay fine. Abigail, Vampire Killer! She's perfect really.. She'd get the teenage boy demographic for sure." She teases the bar owner, before turning back to try and see what else Doyle wants help with, he did rope her into it after all. A glance back Raiths way and she shakes her head. "By the way.. you are a brave man." There is no way she'd want to be near little kids with knives.

Wrinkling her nose at Doyle, she waves the kids forward again with a smirk. "Fine.. go ahead kiddos… And you so did…. " Kaylee gives him a matter of fact look, ".. cause I did too.. I haven't been able to enjoy pizza for awhile." She doesn't seem ashamed that she enjoyed every piece. "Just like I will devour some of those cookies too later." Motioning over her shoulder at the cookies.

"Hey, this is nothing," Raith says back in Kaylee's direction, "Once when I was thirteen, I tried to teach the family dog how to carve a pumpkin with a pair of scissors. That was probably the worst idea I've ever had, let me tell you. Squash and cat hair all over everything, and suddenly, I'm not allowed at the neighbor's house anymore. Figure that one out." One more glob of pumpkin goop removed, Raith shakes some seeds and pulp off his hand, sending a few bits and pieces flying, by accident, a considerable distance across the room at the front entrance.

"Peter Pan couldn't beat Sylar," the little boy with the blood-spattered shirt mutters around a scowl. He reaches up with the hand that had been holding the marker and touches his fingertips to his new eyebrows, looking surprised when they come away dark. "And he doesn't make truces." This is as far as he's willing to argue the point, however, prying the marker from Abigail's fingers as soon as her work is complete. "Come on," he says to his canine companion. "Let's go find some brains."

The children scoping out Doyle's set take seats on the floor, some cross-legged, others with their limbs folded in more awkward positions, all floppy and slack like children are. Drop them and they'll bounce. "You're a very pretty," one of the girls tells Kaylee, looking up at the blonde from beneath lashes caked in glitter while the boys loudly admire the make of Doyle's puppets. "Do you know any spells?"

Eileen sends the cat-girl on her way and sets her brush and the face paints aside, wiping off her hands on a napkin before she rises from her seat and moves past Abigail on her way toward the kitchen so she can warm up the oven. "I like the stubble. Very attentive to detail."

"No, not many people can beat up Sylar" She calls after the kids as they run off. Abby just watches, hand on pink satin fluffed hip and smiles sideways to Eileen at the comment about detail. "I can still remember how scratchy it felt" That brings another furrowing of brows and a sad look for a few moments swiping across her face before pink curls swing left then right, some trapped by a plastic tiara. "Jensen Raith, you are spilling pumpkin seeds everywhere"

Abigail sighs - a Ben sigh that is long suffering - and starts to crouch down, start to pick up the runaway pumpkin seeds. "You almost ready over there Mr. Doyle for the rest of the kids?" Back to sunny disposition she goes.

It's embarrassing, somehow, to have run out of black pants when you're in Teo's industry of business, as it were. Worse when it's on Halloween, a concept he's never been very good at wrapping his head around anyway. Dark— dark gray pants, are Halloweeny, and he managed to dig a black— actual black hoodie out of… somewhere, a cowl up around his head and a tangible effort at partaking in festivities manifest in the pig's mask pulled on over his face.

And then Teo is intercepted by a vicious arc of pumpkin seeds and orange guts.

It's probably fortunate that he has such a habit of bundling up in layers on layers, though it's normally proof against cold and barometric precipitation rather thannn. You know. Jack o' lanterns evicting their innards in his general direction. It's worse for the young man that Teo's carrying though, a stick-limbed curly-haired youth with the smeared remains of a skull fingerpainted on his face, faded out around his mouth and chin where beer and glass have long since rubbed it clean. It's Rocket. He's unconscious, coincidentally, drunken into a stupor from an evening participating in either lonesome mourning or the festivities of a slightly older Staten street rat demographic, so Raith is spared the guilt (one would suppose) of having accidentally blinded a youth with high-velocity squash seeds.

Ah. The pig blinks, audibly if not visibly. Looks down at the gruesome fleshy accumulation of vegetable stuff on himself and his armload. "Uh," he says, in Teo's voice. "Buona sera. I found this outside. Do you have room for…" Him. Me? Us. The Sicilian grates to a pause, considering.

"She's a very powerful witch," Doyle informs the glitter-lashed girl in a stage-whisper, "She can tell you exactly what you're thinking, even!" A hint of impish wickedness to his smile as he draws back again, turning to check over his puppets to make sure they didn't get damaged, briefly lifting up the marionette's airplane and picking the strings untangled one by one, the painted wooden bones flailing about in a macabre sort of dance as he does so. Catching sight of the boys checking them out, he grins, twisting the controller just so to lift one skeleton-hand in a wave towards the children.

The sudden entrance of Teodoro and his burden brings a glance, and a pause— straightening a bit at the sight of the young man in his arms, something dangerous stirring behind his eyes for a moment before the explaination comes. An uncertain glance to the others— dealing with kids, sure, he's good at that. Adults? Not so much. Unless one means 'dealing with' them in the Mafioso sense, anyway.

"Taught… the dog…." Kaylee's words trail off, sounding like she doesn't believe him, yet she tries to figure out for herself how the feat was accomplished. Finally, she decides it's not worth trying and just waves away her thoughts, with her hands.

The little girl on the floor, grabs Kaylee's attention and she happily, drops down to sit next to the girl… Not an easy thing with a tutu like skirt, but she manages. She leans over to the girl and states, touching a finger to the little nose, "Thank you, but I pale next to you and your pretty eyelashes."

The announcement of what she can do, is greeted with a chuckle. "Oh.. yes I can." She says all mysterious like.. "And… I can make him…." She points at Doyle. "Act like a chicken…Or.." She points at Raith, "Make him sing Sponge Bob." She gives a wiggle of her fingers and grins at the little girl. "Or make you eat your veggies!" She's starts to say more when Teo and his burden waltz in and get blitzed with pumkin and has to hide a chuckle behind her hand.

Well, that couldn't have gone better if he'd planned it! "Oh, sorry, Teo," Raith says in a not-terribly apologetic tone, "Didn't know anybody was coming in just then." He didn't know, but all the same, he quickly and not-very-discreetly turns the side, slightly hunched forward, and pumps his fist a short distance into the air before shooting back to the position he was in before, as if nothing happened and nobody saw him. But of course, everybody saw him. "Pumpkin's looking good, kids. Few more cuts, and we'll test it out, yeah? Yeah."

Eileen reemerges from the kitchen with a quizzically arched brow, a curious look directed at Abigail and a baking sheet for the pumpkin seeds. She remembers how scratchy Sylar's stubble felt, does she? "I was going to ask Gabriel if he could help us tonight, but I don't think he's overly fond of the little ones," she says, handing the other woman the tray when she catches sight of Teo the Pig-Man standing in the doorway with a skeleton hung over his shoulder. One hand goes to the small of the Sicilian's back. The other gestures to one of the empty sofas in the living room. "Lay him down in here. Is he responsive at all?"

Cheeks flushed with colour, the glitter girl flutters those lashes at Kaylee and shyly turns her head away into the shoulder of the boy sitting beside her. More children are trickling down from upstairs, a miniature parade of ghosts, ghouls and goblins, fairies, princesses and even a dinosaur or two with comically large feet filled with stuffing to make them appear bigger than they really are. To the latest arrivals, it's becoming increasingly apparent that tonight's festivities aren't just limited to the Lighthouse orphans. Boys and girls from other safehouses are in attendance as well, some that Doyle and Abigail will recognize from the nature hike, over two dozen in total — and that isn't counting poor Rocket.

Eileen's in damage control mode, so Abigail's going to ease down the mother hen mode that she's found herself in at the sight of Rocket and the sound of Teo. Though more like distracted as somewhere in the building there's an "aaaaaaaaaaaigaillllllll" and a thump, that means mother hen mode might be directed elsewhere. "Call me if you need me Eileen" the fledgeling bubblegum EMT calls out as with a swish of pink skirts, tattoo's and curls, she disappears out of view to somewhere else in the building.

"Brava. It's good to see the holiday spirit's contagious," Teo says in what is probably Raith's direction, his voice muffled by rubber and annoyance a little too loud to be entirely sincere. He bobs his pink snout when he's given instruction to move that way with his cargo, plus pumpkin seeds, but he's besieged partway by a sudden hose blast of dinosaurs, ballerinas, ghouls, ghosts, so on and so forth. He has to focus fairly carefully not to accidentally sideswipe anybody with a bit of underage drinker, or else cave in a carefully-constructed raptor foot under a sneaker's sole. He feels unnecessarily gargantuan. Also, covered in squash bits. Unsteadily, he mumbles polite apology and request.

Excuse me, excu—se me, oh. Scrambling ashore the other side, Rocket is slung onto the couch in a loose pile of reedy limbs, and Teo straightens in time to wave at Abigail with reasonable enthusiasm, and a little slower at Doyle. Err. Hi.

As the pig and the skeleton are guided over towards a sofa, Doyle's head turns slowly to follow them— as does, perhaps without thinking about it, the head of the marionette in his hand, those cold, carven eyesockets following their every movement. Then he snaps back to the children, flashing his would-be audience of children a smile before turning to shuffle along around the makeshift stage, his bald and powdered pate disappearing behind the velvet curtain. One by one, the puppets vanish from where they're draped, pulled down and under.

From her seats spot in the growing horde of children, Kaylee lifts a hand to wiggle her fingers in hello to Teo, finally recognizing the voice from the few times she's seen him. "Just in time to see the Puppet Master at work", called brightly, as she pushes neon green curls out of her face. She lets her long legs, clad in those awful purple and white stockings, stretch out before her. Her shoe click softly together, as she watches the puppets disappear behind the curtain with a smirk. Hands fold in her lap, keeping her skirt from flipping up in the front, and making her kinda look like a big kid herself.

Unlike Eileen, and really, unlike everyone else present, Raith doesn't really know anybody. So, when Teo arrives with someone apparently passed out in his arms, he doesn't pay it much mind, focusing instead on picking his pen back up to trace out another pattern (perhaps made more impressive by the fact that he does all the tracing freehand. It's something he's apparently good at). But that gets cut short when the kids finish cutting the first pumpkin, so of course, it has to be tested out immediately. Slipping a candle inside and giving it a quick light, the reward is a pretty well carved jack o'lantern that is, perhaps, unreasonably happy. Maybe even impossibly happy, mouth agape and eyes rolled partially towards the sky.

As Eileen sinks down onto the couch beside Rocket and moves a few pieces of hair away from his face, wedging them behind his ear, she slides the palm of her opposite hand up the wall in search of something. A moment later, the lights flick off, plunging the room into a hazy kind of half-darkness, shadows kept at bay by lit candles placed strategically throughout the room — including the one sputtering in the gutted bowels of Raith's jack-o-lantern. Apart from a few hushed whispers and a quiet buzz of excitement rippling through the audience, waxing and waning in anticipation, the only sounds that can be heard are Abigail's footsteps upstairs and the wind buffeting harmlessly against the Lighthouse's sturdy cement exterior.

"Thanks for coming," Eileen tells Teo in a murmur, settling too now that Doyle's show is about to start. "There are more underfoot than we can manage. Have a cigarette with me after?"

"Yeah, that'd be great. I was thinking about quitting— 'ventually, but maybe after New Year's." Teo stops trodding along in time to avoid inadvertently bowling over a pair of Smurf-type things, scooting them by with hands that dwarf their tiny backs.

They're so loud. Teodoro might have otherwise suggested that recent evidence indicates that if you get enough alcohol into them fast enough, they become much easier to handle. No, he doesn't really mean it; it's only a fleeting thought, a glint of pale eyes between the fleshy pink perforations in his mask, ceding ruefully to the puppet theater that takes center-stage, then. He seats himself on the floor, extricating a small rectangular bag of tissues from his (yes he has a small rectangular bag of tissues in his) trouser pocket and proceeds to pick bits of eviscerated pumpkin off of himself. Sleeve, chest. Hgh.

A cry of delight from the Jack o' Lanterns' corner of the room puts the mess into perspective, though. There's a smile warm and dry in his voice by the time he asks, "Is Raith pissed about the arm or is he just in a really good mood?"

A woolen argyle sock suddenly pushes itself up between curtain and 'fencing' of the makeshift stage, tiny black disks bouncing madly around inside the transparent domes of the eyes carefully affixed to it, 'hair' a mop of black yarn spilling back across it. "Alright, alright," bubbles a cheery, falsetto voice, head bobbing about to look around the costumed ghouls and ghosts and ballerinas and cage-fighters that crowd before the stage, "Gather 'round children, gather 'round. The show's about to start, and you wouldn't want to miss anything! Not that there's much to miss, I mean, Wolfie said there'd even be ghosts, but I think we all know there's no such thing as ghosts…"

A pale sheet with black eyes rises up behind him, bobbing slowly there. One of the princesses in the crowd shakes her wand, insisting, "There's one behind youuuu!"

"What? Where?" The sock turns, the 'ghost' dodging to one side. "The other side," shout a few more kids, and the sock turns the other way, while the ghost continues to avoid him. Finally, the sock just shakes his head at the crowd, "Now, you shouldn't tease, kids! Alright, now, where's Wolfie? He's supposed to start this— " A turn, and he bumps right into the sheet. A high-pitched squeal, and the sock puppet darts back beneath the curtain, "G-g-ghost!"

Slowly, the ghost puppet looks back at the crowd, and then sinks back out of view.

Beneath the stage, Eric smiles to himself without realizing it; losing himself in the fantasy world of his puppets, filtered away from the real world he despises so much. The laughter and gasps of the children feeds the contentment he feels, and the show goes on, with a little help from his witch of an assistant and from the children themselves as they're encouraged to join in with shouts and answers to the puppets' questions.

They may not be able to go out and door to door freely, as much prisoners in a sense as Doyle is, but at least they can make them laugh, and show them pumpkin carving and dress them up like any other kid out there living the normal life they've been denied. And perhaps, for tonight, that will be enough.

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