DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A special thanks to the wonderful mrswoman for the beta and the proper English.
CHALLENGE: Written for the 48 Hour Halloween Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Ann


Ash barely had time to sit comfortably in front of the telly when yet another knock sounded. If those stupid kids didn't stop banging on her door and demanding sweets, she was going to arrest the lot of them and throw away the key. She held her breath and counted to three.


Strumming her fingers on her knee, she stalled, hoping the little devils would leave. Instead, a stronger knock was followed by what Ash not so fondly referred to as a bloody chorus of 'trick-or-treat'. She stood and made her way to the door with a determined stride. Throwing the door fully open, she looked down at the trio of children.

"Two devils and a bloody ghost; I should've known." Ash muttered under her breath. She then pasted a smile on her face to address the current round of trick-or-treaters.

"Children, did you notice that I've hung a sign out that infers that I'm not handing out sweets?"

Three heads looked at her as if she were speaking a foreign language. Ash nodded. "I see. So, if you had noticed the sign, you wouldn't have stopped by then, correct?"

The tykes just stood there, staring up at the taller person. The tallest of them stepped forward. "Since you've opened the door, you could just give us something."

Ash stared down at the child; she couldn't believe he had the nerve to actually ask for something from someone who'd chosen not to participate in the Halloween festivities.

"Haven't your parents schooled you in the proper procedure for following rules?"

More shaking of heads indicated the children had no idea what Ash had just said, but that didn't stop her from elaborating.

"There are certain rules in life that must be followed, no exceptions whatsoever. If you don't learn that lesson now, you'll end up in quite a bit of trouble when you get older. So, the first rule of trick-or-treating is that the door you knock on must be the door of someone who's a willing participant. Understand?"

The tots stared at Ash, but they stood their ground. This time the shorter devil stepped forward and held out her bag. "Trick-or-treat."

Ash inhaled sharply; she wasn't about to let a three-foot munchkin outmaneuver her. "I don't have any treats. Now, why don't you go find some nice house that is displaying some lovely Halloween decorations?"

The middle child moved forward and held out his bag. "Trick-or-treat."

The next few minutes resulted in a stalemate; neither side willing to flinch. Finally, Ash blew out an exasperated breath. "Fine; wait here." She pushed the door to and walked into her kitchen; opening up the cupboard, she took a quick inventory.

"Beans, sweetcorn, biscuits – there's no way I'm giving them my biscuits." Grabbing a few cans, she headed for the door.

"Okay, here you go. Devil #1, you get a nice tin of beans; Devil #2, I believe this tin of peas is more than enough, and you, Mr. Ghost, I believe it's sweetcorn for you. Now, off with you, there are still quite a few more houses that you can manipulate into giving you something." Ash smiled sweetly and closed the door.

Two loud thuds beat against the door, and Ash quickly opened it to find the beans and peas, lying near the threshold. She looked up just in time to catch the sweetcorn which was heading her way.

"Listen, you little sh . . . ugar, be sure to come back next year." Ash smiled at the young mother standing a few feet away. Waving at the woman, Ash closed her door and leaned against it, resting her head against the wooden structure. "I hate Halloween."

A very loud knock sounded just on the other side of where Ash had her head. She groaned and turned to face another round of conniving little tots. This time, she kept her focus on her shoes, deciding that eye contact was what got her in trouble the last time.

"I'm not participating this year, so would you please just go next door?"

A familiar chuckle had Ash looking up into her partner's amused eyes.

"Scribbs, thank God; you've got to help me. These children are going to drive me to my grave."

Scribbs laughed and stepped past Ash, heading directly for the couch. It was then that Ash noticed the large bag Scribbs was carrying. She pushed the door closed and followed her partner inside.

"I thought you might need some help handing out sweets." Scribbs reached into the bag and pulled out several bags of chocolates.

"And why would you think that? I told you I was displaying the sign which indicated that I wasn't handing out sweets and for the children to pass me by."

Scribbs chuckled. "You think a sign is going to stop them from trying to weasel something out of you?"

Ash nodded. "Yes, those are the rules after all."

"Ash, there aren't any rules when it comes to Halloween. Yes, some parents actually pay attention to them, but most just let their children go wherever they want. You live in a safe neighborhood, so you're easy pickings."

Ash plopped down in the chair and laid her head back. "I don't want to do this, Scribbs. I'm not very fond of children."

"I'm very aware of that, Ash. That's why I'm here." Scribbs smiled and pulled out a bottle of wine and some cheese. Ash sat up and looked longingly at the bottle.

"You go get an opener and some glasses, and I'll handle the trick-or-treaters."

"I think I love you, Scribbs." Ash blurted out the sentiment purely out of appreciation; however, the minute the words left her lips she realized that there may actually be some truth to her words. She turned beet red.

"Ah, Ash; it's so good to know that I'm loved for my ability to hand out sweets. Now, go get the glasses." Scribbs smiled at her partner, secretly pleased to hear the words of endearment, but even she knew that the time wasn't right.

Relieved, Ash returned the smile and headed for the kitchen. She'd been tricked by the children, but now, Scribbs was here, offering her a special treat.

Halloween wasn't so bad after all.

The End

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