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Kevin awoke the next morning full of energy and excitement. This was going to be an exciting day. Not only were his boys coming home, but it was also Halloween. With the current state of the world, Kevin and Kristin had both agreed that there was no way they could celebrate the holiday trick or treating like they normally did. Instead they had decided to give each boy a Halloween basket and have a spooky egg hunt in the backyard. They had been planning this for months. Kevin and Kristin had both stuffed hundreds of skeleton eggs with candy weeks ago and they were in the closet in his studio where the kids would never think to look. Kristin also planned on staying to enjoy the festivities as a family, just like they had celebrated every holiday since the divorce. Even though they were no longer husband and wife didn’t mean they weren’t a family, especially where the boys were concerned. Both Kevin and Kristin were committed to keeping the same traditions with the boys, regardless of their marital status.

Kevin knew there were plenty of eggs for Saoirse and Odin to play as well and when he’d ordered the gates and baby monitors he had also ordered extra treats and costumes to put together baskets for Nick’s kids as well. With everything they both had been through the last few weeks, Kevin decided they needed a little bit of magic and excitement.

Kevin hadn't mentioned any of the Halloween plans to Nick. He knew the young man was under enough pressure as it was. He didn’t want to add to his stress by reminding him about the holiday. He also didn’t want Nick to get it in his head that they were intruding and try to take the kids out for the evening. He knew his boys would have a lot of fun sharing in the excitement of the egg hunt with the little ones.

He knew today would be exceptionally stressful for Nick. After their conversation yesterday afternoon, Kevin had phoned his lawyer and gave him a brief rundown of the situation. His lawyer was adamant that Nick needed to make a move sooner rather than later and offered to meet him first thing Saturday morning to discuss options and next steps. Nick had hesitated but then agreed to meet with him and see what he had to say. Nick was supposed to leave in an hour to meet him downtown. Kevin had insisted on keeping the kids, telling Nick he was more than capable of handling two kids by himself. The boys and Kristin weren’t supposed to arrive until at least five, so that gave Nick plenty of time to take care of business before he found himself in the middle of the Halloween shenanigans.

Kevin walked into the living room to find Odin and Saoirse fighting over a pop tart. Nick was nowhere to be found and Saoirse was getting upset as Odin kept trying to grab it out of her hands. “What’s going on buddy?” Kevin asked crouching down beside them.

“Hungry. Last one.” Odin said pointing at the pop tart Saoirse held in her sticky fingers. No matter how hungry he was, you couldn’t have paid Kevin to eat anything a baby had gotten their hands on.

“I’m pretty sure there’s some more in the kitchen. You keep an eye on your sister and I’ll go check.” Kevin said, glancing around the room. Where was Nick?

As he entered the kitchen, Kevin caught sight of the blonde outside on the patio. He was dressed in slacks and a white dress shirt, his back to the kitchen, talking on his cell phone. From what Kevin could see he was very agitated. He was gesturing wildly with his hands and while Kevin couldn’t hear what he was saying, he could tell by his demeanor that whoever Nick was talking to was upsetting him. Kevin thought briefly about intervening, trying to calm the other man, but thought better of it. He couldn’t fight all of Nick’s battles for him. He opened the pantry door and quickly scanned the shelves for the box of pop tarts. Finding the last box on the bottom shelf he grabbed a package for Odin and kicked the door closed with his foot. Pulling out his phone to add more to the grocery list he realized he had a text from Kristin.

Kristin: “Still on for tonight?”

He texted back. “You bet. I’m pretty excited about it actually.”

Kristin: “winky face. Me too. The boys will love it. They miss you and are ready to come home.”

“I miss them too. I’m ready to have them here. I’m going to place an order for groceries this afternoon. Is there anything else we need for tonight that we forgot?”

Kristin: “Nope. I think we have everything covered. Are Nick and the kids going to join us?”

There it was. He wondered how long she had been holding back on asking. She had to already know the answer. They were staying in his house for heaven’s sake. It wasn’t like he could exclude them.

“Yeah, they are. Is that going to be a problem?”

Kristin. “Of course not. I was just trying to figure out how many treat bags to bring.”

Kevin rolled his eyes. She was fishing for information and they both knew it. He had no idea why she tried to pretend otherwise. He really couldn’t blame her. The way their marriage had blown up was completely on him, he probably would feel the same in her shoes. He just hoped she would be able to be civil towards Nick while she was there. He wouldn’t understand her hostility and didn’t want to have to fabricate a story later to make up for her behavior.

He closed the messaging app and opened the grocery app. Making sure to order enough pop tarts to satisfy all the kids in the house he quickly opened Odin’s package of pastry and popped them into the toaster. His eyes were drawn to the patio again. Nick was still outside but there was less arm flailing now. Kevin imagined whatever had upset him was over and done with now. He drummed his fingers on the counter tops while he waited impatiently for the toaster to finish. He glanced at the clock above the stove. If Nick didn’t get a move on he was going to be late to meet the lawyer. Kevin debated on what he should do, but the choice was made for him as Nick came barreling through the patio door. Kevin glanced up and was taken aback by the anger on his flushed face.

“What’s the matter Nicky?” Kevin asked with concern. The toaster popped and Kevin grabbed a plate and gathered up Odin’s breakfast.

Nick shook his head. “It’s nothing. It’s Brian. He’s an ass. I don’t have time to get into it. Are you sure you’re okay with the kids? I really need to get out of here.” Nick was trying to tuck in his dress shirt, but his hands were shaking so much he could barely get the shirt tails inside his pants. Kevin put down the plate and crossed the room to where Nick stood. He took both Nick’s hands in his own.

“What’s got you so worked up.” Kevin said looking at the younger man intently.

Nick shook his head and looked away. “Brian, he just, has ways to make you feel like absolute shit. I’m trying here. I’m trying to do what’s best for my kids and best for me, but you know how he is. He’s got the “perfect wife and perfect kid” and doesn’t understand how other people struggle with things like this.”

Kevin drew the other man into his arms, wrapping him tight. “You are doing the right thing baby. Don’t let him get in your head. He could be the unhappiest man on the planet but he would never admit it or do anything about it because it goes against what he believes to be true. You and I know otherwise. I’ve been down this road with him a hundred times, believe me. The best thing you can do is ignore him and limit the amount of information you give him. But don’t think for one second you are not doing the right thing.” Kevin hugged him close and then regretfully released him.

Nick caught his hand and squeezed it. “Thank you Kev. I honestly don’t know what I would do without you.”

Kevin chuckled and pulled away. Picking Odin’s breakfast back up he turned and winked. “Well lucky for you, you’ll never find out. Now get out of here before you’re late.”


Three hours later Nick still wasn’t home. Kevin didn’t find this unusual. When he’d been meeting with his lawyer, it could take hours at a time, especially in the beginning. Kevin and Kristin had done everything amicably. Kevin could only imagine how long it took if one were in a situation like Nick’s. The kids were napping upstairs, giving Kevin a few moments of peace before his house exploded into chaos. It was almost two. Kevin had exactly three hours to get everything set up for the Halloween extravaganza. Clipping the baby monitor to his jean pocket he hefted the witch's cauldron full of stuffed eggs and headed out into the yard. He set to work hiding hundreds of skull eggs. Some he tossed loosely in the grass so Saoirse could find them, others he hid in more challenging places, like on tree branches and beside the landscaping rocks to make it fun for the older kids as well.

Once he was satisfied his yard was a skull egg explosion he wondered back into the house to set up the kitchen. He covered the island with a Halloween tablecloth before setting a smaller cauldron he’d washed earlier in the center. He planned to make a punch and put it inside that cauldron, made with sherbet and sprite, just like his grandmother used to make when he was a boy. Themed cups, plates and napkins rounded out the island decoration. He called the local pizza place and ordered several of their jack o'lantern pizzas. It was tradition after all. They always got the pumpkin pizzas, even on Halloweens where they were able to trick or treat.

Once he was finished in the kitchen he headed upstairs to gather the Halloween baskets he’d put together for all of the kids. Arms full of pumpkins, costumes and toys he stopped short when he heard Saoirse cry out from her bedroom. Panicked for a moment on how to get her while holding everything, Kevin crept quietly to her room. Cracking the door open he could see her wiggling around in her crib. He kept quiet, just watching. She sighed and settled down. Relieved, Kevin pulled the door to and hurried down the stairs with the Halloween goodies.

Kevin was just finishing setting up the baskets and costumes when he heard the front door slam open. “Kevin!” he heard Nick yell before he could move to go find out what was going on, the younger man came rounding the corner into the kitchen. He skidded to a stop when he laid eyes on Kevin and the decorations. “Kev.” his voice cracked and his beautiful blue eyes filled with tears.

Kevin immediately dropped the candy in his hands and was beside him in seconds. “What’s the matter? What happened?” Kevin asked, taking Nick by the elbows. The blonde threw his arms around Kevin’s neck and cried. Kevin brought his arms up around him and gently rubbed his hand up and down Nick’s back. “What is it baby? What’s gotten you so upset. Did the lawyer have bad news?”

Nick didn’t answer for several minutes. Just clung to Kevin like his life depended on it and cried against his neck. Kevin just held him, unsure of what else to do to comfort him. After several more minutes his tears subsided and he pulled away. “I’m so sorry.” he said wiping his eyes. Kevin squeezed his forearms. “Don’t be sorry, just tell me what’s going on.”

“It’s Halloween.” Nick said looking around the kitchen. “It’s Halloween and it completely slipped my mind. I’ve been so wrapped up in what’s going on between Lauren and I that I completely forgot. I was with the lawyer and as I was signing the paperwork I had to ask for the date. Once he told me it was the 31st, it felt like the floor had dropped out from under me. I failed my kids again. Odin loves Halloween. It’s one of his most favorite days of the year and I just forgot Kev. I was so upset the whole way home, not sure how I was going to make it up to him and then, then I walked in here...and” Nick’s face crumbled and he was crying once again. Kevin didn’t hesitate to wrap his arms around him. Pulling him close, Kevin whispered words of encouragement, trying to soothe the other man.

Nick pulled away, just enough so he could look at Kevin’s face. “You didn’t forget. You have the house decorated, you have things for my kids.” Nick said gesturing towards the kitchen table where four sets of Halloween baskets and costumes were set up neatly. “You always take care of me.” he said, his voice breaking.

“Of course I do Nicky. I love you, you know that. And this is nothing. Kristin and I had already planned out how this evening would go, adding three more is nothing. And don’t worry about forgetting anything. For one, you’ve got to give yourself a break. You are doing the work of two parents, trying to find your way, and doing a damn good job of it I might add. I told you before, anything I can do to make this easier on you is what I’m going to do.” Kevin hugged him tight and then released him. “Now go change. The kids will be getting up soon. We’ve only got about an hour and a half before the boys and Kristin get here and then we can actually begin our night of fun!” Kevin said, his eyes twinkling.

Nick stared at him for a moment before leaning in and brushing his lips across Kevin’s cheek. “Thank you.” he whispered before he turned and left the room. Kevin’s hand shot up and touched the place on his cheek that was burning. Nick had actually kissed him. Just barely, on his cheek even, but still. Those lips had touched him. Kevin found it hard to breath momentarily. His heart was thumping loudly in his ears. He had to get a grip. His kids would be home soon. He had to focus on that and putting on the best Halloween celebration any of them had ever seen.


He hugged his boys extra hard the moment they were in his arms. It had only been a week, but it had been an exceptionally long and mentally exhausting one. Having his boys home was a feeling he couldn’t even begin to describe. They were thrilled with their presents and costumes. Maxwell wanted to be Groot, while Mason had opted to be a character from Minecraft. Kevin had ordered Odin a Batman costume and Saoirse was an adorable little scarecrow. Always with a camera in hand, Kristin had set to work photographing everything the moment she walked in the door. That was just fine with Kevin. The more she was taking photos, the less she would be interacting with Nick. Plus she took gorgeous photos and was glad they would be able to have them to commemorate their celebration.

Nick was back to his regular self after he’d showered and changed. He got the kids into their costumes and had met Kevin back in the kitchen about the time the boys had come bouncing into the house. There had been lots of hugging and catching up as Maxwell and Mason were reintroduced to Odin and Saoirse. Kids never seemed to remember people from one meeting to the other and they were all a little leery of each other at first. Once Kevin had explained again, who they were and why they were there they had seemed to warm up to the idea. The pizza arrived right after Kristin and once everyone had something to eat Kevin corralled everyone into the backyard. Kevin was the only one who had been back there so it was a welcome surprise for everyone. Kristin gave each child a pumpkin basket and a flashlight.

“Kev, you hold them back and let me get out in the yard in front of them. That way when you turn them all loose I can get some good shots.” Kristin said running out into the back yard to get into position.

“Alright guys, everyone got their buckets?” Three heads nodded back at him. Saoirse was trying to put her bucket on her head, not paying the slightest bit of attention to him. Kevin laughed. “Alright you three, make sure you leave a couple eggs for Saoirse to find. Once your bucket is full you have to run back here and dump them out before continuing alright?” Again, three heads nodded back.

“On your mark, get set, GO!” Kevin yelled.

Three boys went tearing into the yard, laughing and chasing each other. Kevin had to laugh, this was the magic of childhood. He was so thankful the kids had each other and despite everything going on in the world, they could all have a wonderful holiday and have a good time. Saoirse sat on the ground, perfectly content just playing with her basket. Kevin walked a little ways into the yard and grabbed a couple of the eggs. He came back and laid them down on the ground beside her. Her pale blue eyes looked up at him and smiled. His heart melted. Out in the yard Kristin was chasing the boys, shooting photos and laughing at their antics. Kevin leaned against the post of the patio and surveyed his handiwork. Everyone seemed to be having a great time and his heart swelled with love. He jumped slightly when he felt Nick press against him. Nick wrapped his arm around Kevin and rested his head against Kevin’s shoulder.

“Look at them Kev.” He said wistfully. “I can’t thank you enough. I feel like a broken record, but it’s true. This is the happiest I’ve seen him in weeks. You did that for him. Just, thank you.”

Kevin nodded. He could barely breath with Nick pressed against him like this, there was no way he was able to reply. Instead he concentrated on taking small deep breaths and watching the kids play in the yard. His gaze caught sight of Kristin who had stopped running and was gazing at him intensely. He shifted his gaze, not wanting her to ruin this moment for him. He watched Max try to trip Mason so he could reach an egg sooner before they both collapsed on the ground in a fit of giggles. Odin, thinking they were playing a new game, dropped his pumpkin basket and jumped on top of the boy pile. They all erupted into laughter. Laughter really was the best medicine, especially when it came from your children.


An hour later the kids were back inside, in their pajamas and sorting their candy in the living room. Kevin had declared they could all camp out in the living room for the evening if they behaved themselves. Kristin was packing up her things to go and stopped in the living room to hug Maxwell and Mason on her way out. “I’ll walk you out.” Kevin offered getting up off the living room floor. “I’d like that,'' she said smiling up at him. “Goodnight Nick.”

“Night Kristin. Thanks for letting us crash your family party.” he called from the floor. He was helping Odin sort his candy into piles of what he could eat and what Nick planned on stealing for himself.

She smiled and waved as she walked back towards the foyer. Once outside in the cool air Kevin could breath easier. She turned to look at him, her eyes studying him. “You’re having a tough time.” she observed quietly.

Kevin nodded. There wasn’t any use in lying to her. She knew him well enough to know otherwise. “Yeah, a little bit. But I’ll be okay. Don’t worry about me.”

“Of course I’m going to worry Kevin.” She said incredulously. “I love you. I know how you feel about him, I know this must be killing you.” She cupped his cheek with her palm. “Just be careful. You’re such a good man, your heart is so big you forget to take care of yourself first and then you end up hurt.”

He leaned into her palm and took a deep breath. ”I know. Thank you. I love you too. I promise I am doing everything I can to protect myself and still be there for him.”

She looked at him for a long moment and then nodded. Leaning up against him, she quickly kissed his cheek. She hurried down the porch steps and out to her car. Kevin stood at the door and watched her leave. He hated the way things had turned out, hated that she wasn’t the one that could make him happy. She was perfect in so many ways. That’s why they’d ended up married with two kids. He’d convinced himself for so long that the feelings he’d always had were meaningless and what he’d felt for Kristin was the real deal. But he’d been so very wrong and with that, he’d hurt so many people. His heart had always belonged to the blonde who at this very moment was probably trading his jolly ranchers for reeses pieces.

​The evening had been a success. His boys were happy, Odin and Saoirse seemed happy. He just wished the deep feeling of loneliness that had settled inside would ease.