… “Why, Eric, what big eyes you have!”
“Are you sure this is what you want to do?” Eric asked again.
“Please!” Diana turned the puppy dog eyes up to him, which wasn’t that difficult, considering she was a wolf. “You promised, Daddy!”
Eric sighed and exchanged glances with his mate and husband. Ben was obviously trying desperately to contain his amusement. You just want to see me collared and on a leash, he said telepathically.
I don’t know what you’re talking about cariño. Ben tried to look innocent and failed. Epically.
Uh huh. Sure. Eric shook his head and turned back to their daughter. Diana had a red hooded cape on, a little red dress with a white apron, and red shoes. She held a basket instead of one of the typical plastic pumpkins for collecting trick-or-treat candy. “You sure you won’t be scared of the monsters?”
Diana was just barely five, but she rolled her eyes. “Daddy! We’re the biggest monsters out there!”
I hope she holds on to that innocence for a good long while. Eric sighed.
Me too. Ben and Eric shared a look.
Diana turned to Ben. “Papá! Daddy promised!”
“Yes, he did, mija. He just cares and worries for you.”
“But… you and Daddy will be there. If anything happens, you can protect me!”
She’s got a point. Who is going to approach her with us there? With you there, cariño?
True. Eric nodded. “All right, then. Get the leash and collar and stuff. Tanner is so going to have a field day with this,” he grumbled as he kicked his shoes off and pulled his shirt off.
Ben snickered, but said nothing as he went to pick up the stuff they’d bought. Eric shucked his pants, socks, and underwear, then took his wedding ring off, handing it to his daughter. After taking a breath, he ceded control to his wolf. When he landed on four paws, he shook, then sat.
Diana grinned and threw her arms around his neck. “Thank you Daddy! Te quiero!”
Well, hell. He’d do just about anything for her when she did that. He pulled back and licked her face, making her giggle.
Ben came back then, took Eric’s wedding ring and tucked it into his pocket. He pulled the modified dress over Eric’s head, then helped him get his arms through the sleeves. They tied it up in the back to keep it from getting in the way of him walking. Then Ben picked up the matching cotton sleep cap and got it settled on Eric’s head, tying it under his chin. Do not shake or this will come off.
Yeah, I got it. What else?
The collar and glasses.
Next, Ben took a pair of cheap non-prescription glasses, old-lady style with pointed corners, and set them on his nose. They would not, of course, sit on his ears, but they’d already figured that out and fixed a cord around the back of his neck to hold them on. Finally, Ben put the collar around Eric’s neck—for appearances for the cops—and they were ready.
“I must take a picture of this. Hold on,” Ben said, grinning.
Eric rolled his wolfy eyes, though Ben probably couldn’t tell that, considering how dark their wolf eyes were. Diana just giggled again. “You look funny, Daddy!”
Turning toward her, he gave a fake growl, making her giggle again.
“And good! No one would believe you’re really a wolf.”
Eric wasn’t sure if that comforted him or not.
The things I do for our daughter.
Ben chuckled. Of course, cariño. Just as I would.
Maybe you should wear this getup then.
That didn’t get a response.
Uh huh. That’s what I thought.
Ben snickered as he held up the camera and Eric got into place next to their daughter. Ben snapped a few pictures, then tucked the camera away. “Now, to the car. Trick or treat starts in a short while and the others will be there already.”
When they pulled into the parking lot a short while later and saw their friends, Eric sighed. If he laughs, I swear to all the gods, I’m going to bite him.
You cannot bite our alpha, cariño.
Of course I can. He’s my best friend.
Ben didn’t bother replying and climbed out of the car. He got Diana out of her car seat, then went around to Eric’s door.
Steeling himself, Eric got down carefully, to avoid jarring the costume. Glancing once more at Ben, he moved around the car and walked with Diana to greet their friends.
Finley blinked at him in surprise, but Tanner was clearly already fighting laughter. Their two—Eric and Noah—were bouncing from foot to foot in costumes from their latest anime obsession—Naruto—clearly anxious to get going, not paying attention. Miles’s son Chad stood next to them in another costume from the same show, looking just as antsy and not paying any more attention, though Eric was sure that wouldn’t last.
Chad and Jamie were both grinning, but apparently Miles and Quincy hadn’t seen them yet. Quincy seemed to be fighting with something on Aubrey’s Stormtrooper costume. Miles looked to be trying to just hold Aubrey still.
Finally, it seemed, Tanner could hold his mirth in no longer and burst out laughing.
Eric turned to his best friend and growled, making Tanner laugh even harder. This seemed to get the young Eric’s attention and he turned around, staring. “Daddy? Is that… Is that Uncle Eric?”
Finley nodded. “It seems so.” He was now fighting a grin. “That is awesome.” He elbowed Tanner—who was still laughing—and shook his head. “Be nice.”
“That’s cool!” Kid Eric ran over, followed by his brother and Kid Chad, all standing around Eric, staring at him. He turned to Jamie. “Uncle Jamie, would you be my dog sometime?”
Jamie laughed, but nodded. “Sure. I do it for Uncle Chad already. But, uh, as cool as the dress is, I’m not sure I want to wear one.”
Kid Eric laughed and shook his head. “Nah. I’m sure I can find something better.”
Tanner coughed, finally calming down. “Dude, that’s… how’d she talk you into that?”
Ben answered for him since, well, he couldn’t exactly talk. “She turned her puppy eyes on him.”
“Oh hell, that’d do it to any of us,” Chad said, chuckling. “Though, I promised myself I’d never cross dress again after college.”
“You cross dressed in college?” Jamie raised an eyebrow.
Chad coughed, but didn’t reply.
Jamie grinned, but let it go and came over to squat in front of Diana. “You look great. Did your abuela make that?”
She nodded. “Sí. And Daddy’s dress too.”
Miles and Quincy finally seemed to be able to pay attention. Miles grinned and Quincy smirked.
“Papa?” Aubrey said, tugging on Quincy’s jacket.
Quincy looked down at Aubrey. “Yes?”
“I wanna do that.”
Quincy blinked at him, then back at Eric and Diana then back to his cub. “You want to be Little Red Riding Hood?”
Aubrey nodded. “Uh huh.”
Miles tilted his head. “I suppose I could be convinced to get into something like that.”
“Um… he’s a boy,” Chad pointed out.
“I can still be Little Red Riding Hood!” Aubrey insisted.
“Of course he can,” Quincy answered, surprising Eric with the vehemence. “He can be or wear whatever he wants.” He poked Chad’s side. “Have you forgotten?”
Chad blushed. “Oh, yeah. I’m sorry, Aub.”
“It’s okay, Uncle Chad.”
Eric was a step behind here. What? He looked up at his mate.
Ben nodded toward Quincy. I believe he is referring to Aubrey’s new preference for dresses.
Oh, right. I forgot about that. Has anything changed with it? Does he use different pronouns?
I do not think so. He still calls himself he. I think he just likes dresses.
Oh. Okay. Eric gave a tiny shrug, turning back to the others.
“Well, this is fun, but we better get going,” Finley said, pulling everyone’s attention. “Or the costumes’ll go to waste. I can’t wait to see everyone’s faces.”
Ben hooked the leash to Eric’s collar then handed it over to Diana. It took a few chaotic moments before all the kids were moving, with the adults—mostly—hanging back. Eric stayed close to Diana, even closer than the length of the leash.
She patted his head. “I’m fine Daddy.”
She needs to stop calling me Daddy while I’m in this form…
“Mija,” Ben called and Diana turned around. He squatted in front of her, lowering his voice. “You cannot call him Daddy when he is in this form.”
“Oh, right. Uh…”
“Murray,” Chad said.
Eric looked over at him and Jamie nodded. “Yeah. It’s my name….” He tilted his head toward Eric. “You know….”
With a nod, Ben turned to Diana. “Use that, okay?”
“Okay, Papá.” She turned back to Eric. “Come on, Murray.”
I think she likes that a little too much.
Ben laughed. Indeed. But you would not change her.
Of course not. Eric looked up at Ben. We’re too damned lucky to have her.
And each other.
Yeah. And each other. Eric turned back to the street and took a half step closer to Diana, happy when Ben took the spot on the other side of him.