On a low wall overlooking dark, snow-covered fields, Jack Kerruish sat with his arms crossed over his chest, hands on his shoulders, head
lowered. The skeletons of trees adorning the dales were silhouetted against the chilled October night. Snowflakes fell unheeded into his scruffy ragout of dark hair.
In the village, children in all styles of garish costumes were out in groups knocking on doors and stating the traditional greeting, 'trick or
treat'. For the most part in Cardale treats would be forthcoming and the children would go home happy, if a little sick.
Will stopped a hundred yards from where his friend sat. He watched for a while, the snow falling around the one lonely soul in the village this
night. Arrogant, bloody-minded, Jack was also vulnerable, something he forgot all too often. He had deliberately hurt this man tonight. Blind
to the pain so obvious on that expressive face, he had spoken his tirade of abuse without a thought. Jack had left without a word; the silence
had been a blade slicing with sickening ease through Will's anger.
All Hallow's Eve. A night of horror. A night of fear. A night of pain.
So intent was that lonely soul on his thoughts that he did not hear the soft crunching of snow under foot until Will was almost next to him.
Silently, the newcomer placed a small Halloween lantern into the snow at Jack's feet. The face cut into the pumpkin was supposed to look menacing, yet the candle flickering within gave off a warm amber glow
that was welcoming. Will straightened and stuffed his gloved hands into his pockets. It was freezing tonight.
"A peace offering." He stated quietly, gently.
Jack turned his head and looked up at the other doctor. Will's heart sank. Tears shone in the soulful blue eyes.
The eyes looked away, and the head turned back.
A night of laughter and fun. Or a night of ghosts, of memories of the past.
Will cleared the snow from a small section of wall and slowly sat down.
Removing the glove from his left hand, reaching out hesitantly he covered Jack's right where it clasped the shoulder. The other’s hands
were like ice.
"You'll catch your death out here." He tried to keep his despair from his plaintive tone. "At least find
somewhere warm to hate me."
"I don't hate you." The soft accented voice was unusually rough. "How could I hate you?"
"Then forgive me. Please. I didn't mean what I said."
"I'm sorry, but I don't believe you."
Will sighed. Jack was intensely proud, fiercely stubborn and as likely to change his own mind as the pumpkin was of inducing even the slightest
terror. Dropping down into the snow behind the wall, Will removed his other glove and stuffed them both in his pockets. Moving to stand
behind Jack, he wrapped strong, determined arms around the man, his hands covering both of Jack's where they lay.
Jack made no move, just a single sound - a quite whimper - before resting back against the strength and warmth being offered.
Will leaned down and rubbed his cheek against Jack's frozen face. "I didn't mean it. I say things... stupid things that have no right ever
"I never asked you to love me."
Will blinked back sudden tears. "I know."
At Jack's feet, the lantern melted the snow around its base.
"I do love you, though." Will's voice was a breath on the still air.
"Too much I think. You know, living in a small community... it's bad for you. Nothing's in perspective."
Jack nodded slightly and leaned forward, pulling out of the embrace to lean down and pick up the lantern. By the candlelight, Jack could see
his own breath in the cold. He could barely feel his fingers as they wrapped around the carrying string. He held the cut-out face up to his
own, feeling even the minimal heat from the small flame.
"Is it true that a young boy died up here one Halloween?"
Jack's voice was subdued, yet Will couldn't help but smile. It seemed he might be forgiven after all.
"Yes. Before my time, but legend has it Carl Wikes hung himself from a tree to scare his friends. He'd told them to meet him out here and
planned it so that they would find him hanging there. Unfortunately, they went trick or treating in the village instead and Carl died while
waiting for them."
Jack placed the lantern on the wall beside him and turned his head.
Will nodded. "More than likely. No medical records, that's for certain."
The snowfall became gradually harder. The candle flickered in its lantern, casting long, strange shadows over the white carpet covering
Jack stood, turning to face Will, the wall between them. Reaching out, he took both Will's hands into his own which were almost numb.
"Treat or treat," he whispered, almost as silent as the snowflakes.
Will met the kiss half way. When they parted, he took off his gloves and gently pushed them on top Jack's freezing hands.
"They're doing baked potatoes outside the town hall, if you're ready to face your adoring clientele."
Jack smiled, and nodded.
They walked together back into the village, the lantern lighting their path, their arms around one another.
"Of course," Will added belatedly, "none are as adoring as me."