Can you say Halloween shocker? Dillon is almost afraid for Soldier to get home on Halloween and see the surprise waiting for him. Like, really, afraid. It's going to be a wild holiday for the Scarcity crew. And poor Bart. Yeah, he's got heartache written all over him and Soldier and Dillon don't know if they can help with his problem, which, of course, tears them apart, too. All in all, it's going to be very eventful, to say the least. And, who gets the best quote of the book? Officer Jansen.
Everyone at Scarcity was excited about the upcoming holiday. Halloween was a time for fun, laughter, pranks, and lots of candy. There were secrets and whispers as everyone tried to make their costume a surprise. For pretty obvious reasons, no one at Scarcity really got into the bloody, scary characters. They tended to go more for the careers, fun movie characters, action heroes, animated stars, etc.
Dillon was the central factor, the one they all went to for help and planning, and to keep their secret. The big night was only five days away and Dillon was in his element with all the chaos. He truly thrived on being the hub of the house. He had shopped with, planned with, and helped prepare each of the younger kids for trick-or-treating on Saturday.
He and Soldier always made plans to take the young ones to places where they knew it was safe and they had some favorites who expected them each year. Recently they'd added the police station to their list. The officers there did a great job of showing the youngsters a fantastic time. The Showhouse Theater was another place that opened its doors and let the boys and girls enjoy the decorated lobby and the candy that would be plentiful.
"Dillon?" He turned from the stove and bent to answer Jaja.
"You haven't told Soldier, have you?" Worry was evident in the little boy's voice.
"Now, didn't I promise you I wouldn't tell him? Since when do I lie?" Dillon asked, tapping the end of Jaja's nose and making him laugh.
"Never, Dillon, I'm sorry. I know you don't lie, ever. I just want to surprise him so bad. He's gonna like it, isn't he?"
"He's going to love it, Jaja. I promise you. I don't think there is anything you two could do that he wouldn't love." He gave Jaja a quick hug and turned back to the stove as Jojo came in.
"Jaja, whatcha doin'?" he asked.
"I was just making sure Soldier didn't know our surprise," Jaja said.
"Silly. Dillon is the only one who knows and he would never tell a secret. Come on, let's go find Taco," Jojo said, holding out his hand for Jaja's as they went in search of the family dog.
As they hurried out of the room, Dillon sighed. He'd fallen for the twins as quickly as he'd loved Gom, Tommy, and the others when they were small. These two were loved by everyone at Scarcity since Ben found them literally living in a dumpster behind the theater on his first day of work. He'd immediately called Soldier and it wasn't long at all before they were a part of the family, and the scum of a foster father they'd run from was in jail.
Soldier came in the back door and, as always, headed to Dillon for some loving. It didn't matter if it had been an hour or all day, he was always drawn to his other half, and Dillon couldn't be happier about the practice, returning his hug with vigor.
"How's it going? Anyone coming for supper tonight?"
It was a fair question. If the whole family showed up there could be twenty-two there and if any of the friends came, it could grow exponentially. They never knew who would show up, and it didn't matter. Dillon cooked for an army and there was usually one there in some form or another, and if there were leftovers they went home with family or were eaten the next day.
"Randy, Laurie, Gom, Casey, oh, and Bart is driving in. He's loving his job at the hospital, he says, but have you noticed he's been back here more frequently lately?" Dillon paused in his work to get Soldier's reaction to his question.
"I hadn't until you mentioned it, but you're right. If he has something he needs, he'll tell us. Can I help?" Soldier asked, his arms still around Dillon.
"Mm-hmm, set the table. Recruit whoever you can find to help you." Dillon's head rested for a few seconds on Soldier's broad shoulder and he nuzzled a little, enjoying Soldier's hum of approval.
"Let them play. I'll do it. I like helping you when it's just us, which is seldom, you must admit."
"Got that right," Dillon said, chuckling, though neither minded that there were always people about. They got their time together each night with the door closed.
"Something smells good. Meatloaf?" Soldier asked, moving to get plates down.
"Yes, good nose, babe. I also have a huge bowl of mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, a salad, and for dessert, Mike's favorite."
"Strawberry shortcake, great. I love to see his face light up. Maybe later this week we could have your spice cake with that shiny stuff on top?" It was a statement that sounded like a question.
"Glaze, and yes, we can. You don't often ask for things so that will definitely be on the menu... maybe with lasagna." Dillon knew his man.
"Mmm," Soldier hummed, his hand sliding across Dillon's shoulder as he took the top off the big pan of carrots to peer inside.
"Here they come," Dillon said, "brace yourself."
Soldier didn't have to be told. He was used to the routine now. He bent and caught both boys up in his arms as they flew into the kitchen. With one on each hip, he turned his head from side to side, looking at them.
"How are my favorite twins today?"
"We're good, Soldier. We're glad you're home, though. We missed you somethin' awful," Jaja said, sounding dramatic.
Jojo looked up at Soldier, then over to Jaja, and said, "He wasn't gone long, but we did miss you. We feel better when you're here. You and Dillon make us happy."
That was a lot coming from Jojo. It was usually Jaja that said the sweet things. Jojo was the more serious, the leader of the two, but it seems he needed some time with Soldier, Dillon thought.
"Why don't you two help Soldier set the table? We're having company tonight." Dillon was looking in at the meatloaf and noting how much longer it had to cook.
"Who's coming?" Jaja asked, excitedly.
Dillon told him and he jumped up and down as Soldier let them both down to the floor. They chattered as they helped Soldier in what was now a familiar chore. No doubt Mike and Kade were upstairs drawing in Mike's room. Niko was probably playing games as his homework was done.
"How was school today, boys?" Soldier asked.
"Good. I learned stuff," Jaja said, then added, "I tried hard."
"Of course you did. I'm proud of you," Soldier said, picking the boy up as Jaja moved over to him.
Jaja put his head down close to Soldier's neck and sighed. "I wish I was smarter. I don't want you to ever not be proud of me. I'm afraid it's going to get harder and I'm gonna not be good enough."
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