Mature Content Warning:
Iados watched Samantha working from the opposite side of the counter. She looked good in the long blue dress, the flower print and high collar giving it a decidedly Asian look. He wondered how long it would take to get her out of it and if it would mess up her hair too much in the process. The shaman blew a strand of blond hair out of her face as she carefully measured a bright orange concoction into a graduated cylinder.
“You make it almost impossible to work when you watch me like that,” she said, setting the glassware down and eying him as she powdered something into the mixture, giving it a stir with a glass rod. She tucked the strand of hair behind an ear with her free hand, making sure the rest of her hair was still up and away from her face.
“I was just thinking that maybe we could skip the function and go right to the after party,” Iados said leaning his elbows on the counter and eying the buttons along her back when she turned to move the spell book out of the way and sweep the top of the counter clean.
“There is no after- oh.” She gave him a knowing look and he grinned innocently holding up his hands.
“What? You can’t blame a guy for trying.” He said stretching and tugging at the suit jacket he was wearing.
“Just hand me that pizza box will you?” she asked as she put the rest of her reagents away. “I promised Drex this spell would be ready for his run before he finishes all the tests with Dev and Viv.”
“Who does a run the night of Halloween?” Iados asked, bringing over the pizza box and flipping it open, the delicious smell of pepperoni and cheese wafting up as he did so.
“Or goes to a stuffy lawyer party?” Sam asked, teasing. She pulled the box away and wrinkled her nose at him as he snagged a pepperoni, stuffing it into his mouth. “Stop that. You’ll ruin the pizza.” She picked up the graduated cylinder, the contents of which had turned into a viscous substance resembling processed cheese. Tipping the cylinder carefully she oozed the contents across the pizza in an artful disarray.
Iados snorted, wiped his fingers on a napkin to get rid of the pepperoni grease, and folded his arms as he continued to watch her. “I think it’s a ridiculous plan,” he said as she closed the box and washed out her spelling equipment, putting them on a drying rack by the sink.
* * *
“Oh leave him be,” Sam said, picking up her shawl and linking her arm with his, satisfied that the spelled pizza looked innocuous. “At least there’s no risk of getting shot in this one.” Turning Iados away from the kitchen she led him towards the garage. “Now come on. Let’s get this stuffy event over with so we can make that midnight bonfire. We’ll be overdressed but I’ll risk the dress for toasted marshmallows and a view of the stars with you.”
“How did you-“ Iados’ words were lost as the door closed behind them.
The safehouse was quiet for a little over two minutes after their departure before the door burst open and three blood covered figures walked in.
“Fucking hell that was intense.” Roman grinned, dropping his minigun by the door and rolling his shoulders, cracking his neck in the process. He was a hulking beast of a man, well over six feet tall with muscles like a bodybuilder on steroids. His head was clean shaved save for a short, choppy mohawk adorning his massive skull.
“I’ll admit that was rather exhilarating,” Madison agreed, still wiping the blood off her hands and face with a moist towel before dropping it into a trash bin.
The statuesque woman looked like she belonged on the cover of a Playboy magazine and her tight fitting leather outfit left little to the imagination. Her black hair was cut at an angle, accentuating her high cheekbones.
“And we’re home early,” Sully added with a wry smile. He had the least amount of blood on him, despite having taken out more gang members than the other two combined. The tall man was more beautiful than handsome, with silvery blond hair tied back with a simple cord and cascading down his back.
“Well sure,” Roman said, eyeing the pizza box. “They didn’t expect us.” He flipped the box open and rubbed his hands together. “I’m fucking starving,” he pulled out a slice, the cheese making long greasy strings as he lifted it into the air.
“You’re ridiculous,” Sully wrinkled his nose in distaste.
“Oh come on Sully,” Madison said, walking over and leaning across the counter to snag a slice. “It does smell really good.” She pushed the box towards him and he sniffed it tentatively, finding that it did, in fact, smell appetizing.
“Oh what the hell,” he agreed, commandeering a thinner slice. Holding it up in mock salute he took a big bite, the three of them munching in relative silence for a few seconds.
They heard a door opening and closing, and excited chatter that could only be Drex and Dev coming from a back room.
“Oh my gosh I can’t wait to see their faces,” Dev was saying. “This is the best idea you’ve had yet. It’s the perfect way to stop them. I mean, who suspects pizza?” The three turned in unison, half eaten slices in hand as Dev and Drex walked into the kitchen. Their faces turned from excitement to confusion then shock as they took in the trio eating the pizza. The five individuals regarded each other for several long seconds before anyone spoke.
“Y-you didn’t just,” Drex stammered.
“Apologies,” came Viv’s voice. “I was doing the systems check you initiated until just a moment ago. I was unable to issue the appropriate warning.” The artificial intelligence voice that monitored the safe house came through the loud speaker in the common room.
“What the fuck did we just eat?” Roman asked, dropping the slice of pizza and wiping his hand on his blood stained pants, as if that somehow made it better.
“Um…” Drex looked at Dev and she gave a helpless shrug.
“Ms. Snow prepared an alchemical potion that-“ Viv, the AI, cut off as Madison and Sully doubled over.
“Oh God. I feel sick,” Madison started, one hand pressed to her stomach as the other gripped the counter.
Sully looked pale and the two dropped to the floor, writhing for half a second before they each gave a gasp and seemed to collapse in on themselves.
“What the-“ Roman had backed away slowly, his hands held out in front of him as if he might hold off whatever had just hit his companions. He turned his hands over slowly and blinked then his eyes grew large as he doubled over. He made a gurgled yelp, which sounded odd coming from the large man, and then he also began shrinking.
Before the spell had finished with Roman, an angry shriek came from the pile of clothing that had been Madison. Two perfectly white little hands clawed their way out of the bloody mess of clothing and a dark haired girl climbed out, moments before a slightly calmer male version emerged from Sully’s pile of clothing.
“What did you do!?” Madison shrieked looking at her hands then down at the rest of her, which was decidedly naked. Kicking at the bloody clothing the five year old version of Madison glared up at a stunned Drex and an entranced Dev.
“Whoa….tiny Madison looks just as pissed as grown up Madison,” the teenage hacker giggled, earning a murderous glare from the former assassin hit woman.
“Motherfuckingpissbuckets!” came a slightly high pitched voice as Roman crawled out of his body armor. “I’m a fucking kid?!” he yelled as he looked down at himself. “Damn. I’m still fucking stacked though. Check me out. I’m still bigger than you Drex,” Roman put tiny fists on his hips and Drex turned a deep shade of red trying to cover Dev’s eyes.
“Hey get off me! He’s a kid, you weirdo,” Dev said, batting his hand away.
“This is not ideal.” Viv’s voice said as Sully took a few steps, testing out his motor skills.
“Is it permanent?” Sully asked, holding out his hands, and taking the entire thing in stride.
“N-no. I mean I don’t think so. There’s an antidote.” Drex said, shifting from one foot to the other.
“Which we didn’t ask Sam to make because we weren’t planning on needing it,” Dev added, going over to crouch by Madison. “Oh my god you’re seriously an adorable toddler you know that?” she said, tweaking Madison’s nose and earning a slap on the hand for her trouble.
“So get Samantha to fix it,” Madison said, crossing her arms and glaring, which looked more like a pout than anything else.
“Erm… about that,” Dev rocked back on her heels and looked up at Drex who rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly.
“Miss Snow is on her way to a social function after which she had a date planned but I’m sure she can be reached. Would you like me to make the connection to her?” Viv’s ever practical tone came over the loudspeaker.
“No!” Dev yelled quickly. Sam had been talking for weeks about this date with Iados and she didn’t want to ruin it. “Come on Maddie,” she pleaded, turning to the irate little girl. “Can we not ruin their night? She got Iados to dress up and she’s taking him to roast marshmallows and all sorts of other gooey couples stuff.”
“What do you propose we do then?” Madison asked heatedly, her tone sounding out of sorts with her little girl voice.
“Willow is staying right above Kima’s café,” Dev said thinking quickly. “I bet she knows how to make the antidote! She’s good at that magic stuff and she offered to help now that things have calmed down. Come on. It’s Halloween…it might be fun to be a kid right? Just think of it as a super elaborate costume?”
Madison narrowed her eyes and looked to Sully who gave a little shrug. “I don’t particularly have plans for the rest of the night. This is intriguing. I think I’d rather like to see how Drex and Dev get themselves out of this mess.” A loud crash made everyone turn to see Roman had climbed on top of the counter, still naked and doing his best Peter Pan pose. He had knocked over a stool and the drying rack in the process.
“I don’t know about you guys but this is fucking great. Do you have any idea how much chicks love kids? Think of all the tits I can grab just by being my adorable self.” He made grabbing motions with his hands and Drex groaned.
“I’m not getting him down from there,” Dev said as Madison finally cracked a smile. Drex shifted uncomfortably as Roman held out his hands and jumped up and down.
“Aww come on mamma. I’ll even let you give me a bath” he winked at Dev and she shuddered.
“That is incredibly creepy Roman,” she said and he fell over guffawing.
“Dev, are you sure this is the best idea?” Drex asked as he picked up Roman, holding him at arm’s length and straining from the weight as the hefty toddler wriggled.
“Put me down! Don’t touch me there. Child molester!” Roman taunted as Drex yelped and almost dropped him.
“I’m not messing up Iados and Sam’s date.” Dev said vehemently. “Besides…how hard can it be to get three toddlers across town on Halloween?”
As she said it Roman knocked over his minigun trying to see if he could still pick it up. Sully pressed his hand to his forehead in a very grownup gesture and Madison made little complaining noises as she surveyed her blood soaked pile of clothing, her nose wrinkling in disgust as red stained her white skin. Dev had to wonder if perhaps this wasn’t a bigger task than she anticipated and she shared a look with Drex, who seemed even more lost than she did.
* * *
It had taken almost an entire hour to outfit the toddlers in something they found acceptable. Drex was sitting with his head in his hands at the kitchen counter, a very somber young Sully perched on a stool next to him.
“I really don’t think this is the best idea,” Drex started again as he lifted his head from his hands and gave Sully a pleading look. The youngster was wearing a ninja outfit. It had taken longer to convince him to wear it than it had for him to don the black garb.
“I want to see if it will work,” the pint sized martial arts master said, picking up the almost full shot glass sitting in front of him. A bottle of vodka was next to the glass. By all calculations it should. Sully didn’t feel as if he had all of his other abilities, the ones he had worked so hard to hone and perfect. There was no reason to think that this one had survived the magic. Very likely, the spell had morphed their bodies but not their minds so he was hopeful. Holding the glass up in a salute he took a tentative sip.
He felt the liquid burning its way down his throat and a warm sensation lifting through him. With a shrug he tipped the entire glass and downed the clear liquid. The vodka burned and he squinted one eye from the sensation, placing the glass back down carefully. He could feel the liquid settle in his stomach and his hands started to feel pleasantly warm. Looking up at Drex he smiled and pulled his ninja mask up around his face.
“Yup. I’d say it works,” he said with a contented sigh.
“This is such a bad idea,” Drex said, sliding off his stool and going to check that the pizza looked all right for the seventh time. Viv had ordered a second one and they had replaced the missing slices. The pizza looked fine but he was still worried. The plan was that they would still drop off the pizza for the run and then continue on to Willow’s apartment.
“Yeeeeeehhaaaaaaaw!” Roman came sliding into the living room brandishing a too large gun in one hand and a dagger that looked more like a sword in his smallish hand. He was wearing body armor that looked to have been crafted for a medieval dwarf, two bandoliers strapped across his chest and a sheath for the dagger strapped to his back. He twirled the gun awkwardly and holstered it on his belt, giving the two at the bar a grin.
“I’m such a badass. All the candy will be mine!” He paused when Sully wobbled on the chair as he stood precariously to grab the vodka bottle. “Are you drunk? Holy shit this is great! Give me some!” The mercenary turned toddler tried to scale the bar stool, succeeding in causing Sully to lose his balance and topple to the side, vodka bottle cradled to his chest.
Drex yelped and lept to catch the ninja, cushioning his fall as he landed on the tile floor. “Oofph!” he exclaimed, rolling to have Sully land on top of him. Sully rolled off of Drex before they had finished sliding, the bottle secure under one arm.
“Thanks,” he said, managing to keep his voice steady. Roman had hopped back down from the stool and scrambled right over Drex, eliciting another pained noise as he pursued Sully.
“Hey gimme some,” he whined, his hands outstretched as Sully tried to fend him off, bottle held out and away from the mohawked 5-year old.
“No I’m not ready to share yet,” Sully said, a slight slur to his words. He landed a kick to Roman’s shin, although he had been aiming at his groin. Roman grunted and poked Sully in the chest hard enough to send the thinner child sprawling. With a gleeful battle cry he jumped on top of his prone friend, ready to wrestle the bottle away.
“Ahem?” Roman and Sully stopped their tussle and turned. Roman had a hand tugging on Sully’s ninja mask, turning his face to the side in the process and Sully was twisting one of the bandoliers to pin one of Roman’s arms to his side. Their mouths dropped open.
Madison stood in the doorway to the living room wearing what looked like a princess gown. Blue lace ruffled elegantly from beneath the long gown and silver flowers and pearls adorned the rest of the gown. Her hair was piled atop her head with artful curls framing her face.
Roman looked at Sully, and seeing his wide eyes he cracked up laughing and toppled over. “Oh shit. Damn Sully I didn’t know you liked ‘em that young.” He was rolling around on the floor and Sully kicked him in the side, eliciting a yelp and a hiccup as he scrambled out of reach and hid his laughter behind his hands.
By now, Dev had walked into the room sporting a garish pink and black tutu skirt with a bright pink tanktop and black and gold gloves with matching boots. The entire outfit was completed with cherub wings constructed of various shades of purple and fuschia and she was sprinkled with so many gold sparkles that she was leaving little pools of them every time she stepped.
“Get it?” Dev asked, clapping and sending a puff of sparkles in the process. “I’m the fairy godmother and she’s the princess!” Madison sniffed and tugged on her lace sleeve, smoothing out her gown and drawing herself up straight. She looked down her nose at the sparkles that were threatening to touch the hem of her dress.
“If we are ready to go...some of us did have plans tonight,” she started heading towards the door with a swish of her dress.
Drex scrambled to his feet and brushed himself off while Dev went to grab the pizza boxes, careful to put the spelled box on top. Roman had gotten himself up off the floor and was still snickering at Sully who took another swig from the bottle before shoving the entire thing into a black backpack he insisted on bringing. He ran to catch up with Madison, teetering only slightly as he caught up and slowed his pace to fall into step beside her. She ignored him.
“This is such a bad idea,” Drex said for the umpteenth time as he took the pizza boxes from Dev.
“This is a great idea,” Roman said, reaching up and snagging Dev’s hand with a grin, paying no attention to the glitter that rubbed off on his palm. “Come on mama, I want to get in some trick and treating tonight,” he said with a toothy grin.
The walk to Willow’s took longer than either Devereaux or Drex could have anticipated. Every time Roman ran out of candy, he would look for the biggest child to knock over and steal their candy. Drex and Dev had to apologize profusely whenever an angry parent glared their way. In one instance they had to scoop up the three toddlers and make a run for it when an inebriated Sully flipped off an angry mom. They didn’t want to have to explain why they had a drunk child with them.
Probably the least eventful moment of the walk was making the pizza drop off for the original run. The gangers actually wanted the second pizza that was missing three slices and started eating the spelled pie before the door had closed. Drex was sweating profusely as he hurried back to where Dev was holding Sully and Roman’s hands while Madison twirled a strand of curly black hair around her finger. When Drex came hurrying towards them with backwards glances Madison rolled her eyes and turned with a lacy flourish, walking towards the busy street.
It was only a few short blocks to Willow’s from there and the group made it in record time. This was due to the fact that there was little trick or treating happening in the seedier part of town, the streets mostly being lined with nightclubs, dive bars, and stores with bars on the windows and doors. As Dev rang the doorbell, Roman proceeded to chase Madison around in circles with chocolate smeared hands as Sully rolled around in laughter. Drex was groaning until Madison scaled up the side of his leg and taunted Roman from Drex’s shoulder. Roman was about to climb after her, much to Drex’s dismay, when the door opened revealing a pale woman in a long black robe.
Silver runes lined the edge of her garment and a strip of cloth was wrapped around her eyes. Dev knew this was mostly to keep from scaring the kids. She could see Willow’s scars peeking out from beneath the bandage and that more often than not it didn’t impede her ability to see in the least.
As if to prove this very thing, Willow gasped and took a step back. “Someone has been dabbling in magic I see,” she said, her brow creasing in concern.
“We didn’t mean to!” Drex said hurriedly, fending off Roman who was leaving chocolate hand prints on his pant leg as he reached for Madison. The young girl stuck her tongue out and clung to the side of Drex’s head managing to get her lace caught in the chains on his leather jacket.
“Forget about dabbling” slurred Sully. “How do we get this to happen more often?” He swayed on his feet as he pulled a bottle from his pack and took another swig, sending half the contents down his shirt and cursing profusely.
Drex cringed and Dev shrugged, coating the floor in golden glitter. “Um...help?” she asked, turning to Willow. The older woman sighed and motioned them inside.
* * *
When Iados and Sam got home the sky was just starting to brighten. Iados put a finger to his lips, signaling Sam to be quiet, in hopes of not waking everyone. Sam had her shoes dangling from one hand and grinned impishly at him, waiting for him to open the door.
As they stepped inside, the two were surprised to find everyone awake and sitting around the counter, sharing a giant box of pizza.
“Um...good morning…?” Sam ventured, lifting an eyebrow. The group turned in unison, the emotions on their faces ranging from boredom to sheepish discomfort.
“Why is everyone awake?” Iados asked, stepping into the room and looking around. “What happened,” he added quickly, seeing a pile of clothing on the floor that had entirely too many weapons and lace sticking out of it.
“Pizza and chocolate.”
Madison was the only one who had remained silent and looked bored. Iados tugged Sam into the room and studied each of their faces trying to figure out why Drex had tiny chocolate hand prints on his pants and why Roman and Dev had glitter all over them.
“You know what,” Iados said, shaking his head. “I don’t want to know. Whatever happened...figure it out.” He was already pulling Sam towards their bedroom and missed the looks exchanged between the crew at the table. It didn’t escape Sam but she chose to ignore it, figuring if they were all here in one piece, it couldn’t be bad enough to warrant further questioning. She completely missed her spell book sitting open tucked hastily underneath the pizza box as she allowed herself to be pulled down the hall.