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Running a hand through his hair, Kaidan tried to get it to behave.  Never would, but if he didn’t get this right, it would ruin the whole effect.  Because he did not want to ruin this effect.  Zahra, meanwhile, had been cagey about her own Halloween plans.  Her costume plans, specifically.  He thought it only fair to surprise her in return.

The apartment was decked out for a party, the kids had been taken around Trick-or-Treating, been tucked in at his mom’s, and now.  Now it was time for some grown up fun.

“Grown up fun,” he huffed.  Sure, having kids changed a lot.  How you talked, certainly.  Having it change how he thought was still a bit of a surprise.  But it was true.  It had been a long time since everyone was in one place, and Halloween was too good an opportunity to pass up.

He had kind of wanted to try to do a couple’s costume, but getting Zahra to buy in on the idea had been a non-starter.  She’d even gone out with the kids in plain clothes, and had said that if she’d gone around in it, it would ruin the surprise.  There were some things about Zahra Shepard that would never change, and one of them was that once she decided on a course of action, it would take more than puppy dog eyes to get her to change.

More like a tactical nuke.  And even then he wouldn't have held out much hope.

With no tactical nuke on hand, Kaidan had decided that the only course of action left open to him was to ensure he outdid her completely.  Maybe to the point that they snuck away from the party early.

Another thing that kids sort of derailed. 

Well, didn’t matter.  Not right now.  Doorbell was going to ring any minute.  

Kaidan tugged on the jacket of his Athos costume and inspected the way his hair fell one last time.   Enough gel to weigh it down, and he’d have to bleed of static all night, but it had that artful, tousled look.  Combined with the short beard, tight pants and damn near perfect replica sword, he thought he had half a chance of short-circuiting Zee’s brain.

He grinned at himself in the mirror.  “Yeah, this is gonna be fun.”

There was a knock on the door, and he called out, “I’ve got it!”

Dashing down the stairs and through the hallway, Kaidan flung the door open.  Tali and Sam stood there, smiles on both their faces.  Was still a hell of a thing to see Tali’s face , even if she still wore the suit.

“Isn’t Fleet and Flotilla kind of cheating for you Tali?” he asked as he ushered them inside.

“Hardly.  Do you know how many small modifications I had to make to be accurate .  And of course, this is season five attire, which was the best season.”

“True,” Sam agreed.  The blue markings on her face mimicked the turian kind and gave her face a more angular cast.  “They really went off the rails in season six.”

“Can’t say I know it well enough, but Sam, well done on the armor.”

Sam preened.

Then it was a flurry of people, Garrus and Chloe, Liara, James, Grunt, Joker and EDI, even Kolyat showed up.  With Sarah.  Kaidan was waiting for something there, but Zee kept reminding him to keep his nose out of it.  If they wanted help or advice, they’d ask.  There was just something about seeing people get to live their lives, fall in love, do all the normal things that people were supposed to do.  He wasn’t sure if he’d get tired of it, not after all the not-normal that they’d been through.

And speaking of not normal.

“Hey Kaidan,” Garrus said as he scanned the living room.  “Where’s Shepard?”

“Yes, I had thought she’d be here .”

“Uh, good question.  Not like her to take this long to get ready.  Here, hold this, I’ll go—”  And before he could  hand off his drink, the stairs creaked.  His heart leapt into his throat.  This was it.  What had she done?  Couldn’t picture her in a gown, but maybe some kind of skin-tight suit?  He could vividly recall, years and years later, the sight of her in leather pants, killer boots, and a sparkly gold top.  In that time between them noticing each other and doing something about it.

His heart drummed against his ribcage in memory and anticipation both.

Then a wild, cackling laugh came from the stairs and Zahra Shepard, Zee, the love of his life , rushed down the steps and pointed one green, gnarled finger at him.  

“A pox on thee!” she cried.  Her face, covered by green makeup, false nose, and several stick on warts, split in a delighted grin.  Baggy, tattered black robes swirled around her feet, and a well made but hideous grey, scraggly wig that hid her thick hair.

His mouth wouldn’t close.  She squinted at him.  “What is it?”

“I was given to understand,” Liara said softly, “That Halloween for adult humans is, um, about dressing up attractively .”

Zahra rolled her eyes.  “Fuck that, it’s about monsters .  About being scary.  I’m a witch, by the way.  How’d I do?  Awesome right?  You all do look great, though.”

Kaidan sighed.  “You make a terrifying witch, Zee.”

“Thanks, Kay,” she said lightly and patted his butt on the way to getting her own drink.  “You make a really hot Musketeer.”

“Athos, point in fact.”

Was wrong how she grinned at him with that look in her grey eyes, in light of all the witchy make up, but well.  

“He was always my favorite.”

“Was he now?”

“Yeah, and hey.  Don’t worry.  Got something else for later.”

Kaidan shook his head and laughed, maybe a little ruefully.  Well.  That was his Zee alright.