Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Happy Days
Character/Pairing: Fonz/Rich, Chachi/Joanie
Warning(s): Future Fic, Mentioned Character Deaths
Word Count: 1,016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
She opens her door at the stroke of midnight, her heart pounding fiercely against her breast. She's not at all certain what she's going to find. She edges out of her doorway and leans out, looking first one way and then the next, but her little hometown is as quiet as it's ever been. Quieter really, because these days, the kids are starting to be rather noisy with their boom boxes and loud music. It's not at all like it was when she was growing up.
It's not at all like it was when they were here. She blinks back tears and looks again. Still nothing. She listens as hard as she can. Somewhere, she hears the soft, October wind -- or is it November now? -- rusting papers and leaves down the street. She hears footsteps behind her, but before she can tense, there are arms sliding around her waist.
Her husband steps up behind her. He, too, is looking out, waiting, hoping . . . He places a gentle kiss against her dark brown hair. "I think you're a minute early, darling," he whispers into her ear. She hears noises above coming from the apartment that used to belong to his cousin, but before she can tense, she realizes it's just that broken shutter again.
And then she hears it. It starts as a low hum, but she and Chachi both recognize the sound instantly. They creen their necks to see and look far down the street. They see the light of the bike and the gunning of its motor as it increases speed long before they see the bike itself. Moonlight and street lights catch on the silver metal, making it seem to gleam on this special night, but it's not the bike Chachi and Joanie are straining to see.
Its their riders, and as the bike comes into view, the couple lets out a collectively held breath. The Fonz is at the front as always, and the dark part of his shadowy figure is only his trademark leather jacket. Arms are wrapped tightly around him, and Joanie breaks into a wide smile as she identifies the spots on the other figure's face as her brother's freckles.
She sighs with relief, almost melting into Chachi's breath. "They're okay," she whispers, and the words linger between them. It seems they've waited all year for this one moment, and yet far too soon, as Fonz and Rich pull up in front of the house that once belonged to Joanie's parents, it's almost over.
Fonzie grins. Rich waves like a maniac. Joanie smiles through her tears and waves back. They haven't exchanged a single word since his death, but these rare, annual moments assure her every year that he's okay. He's happy now, now that he's back where he belongs with his arms wrapped tightly around Fonzie.
They wave. A glimmer of sorrow reflects in Fonzie's eyes. She knows they wish they could stop and actually visit, if not stay, but she knows they can't. Fonzie's got a ride to make every Halloween night. She wipes her tears away and waves again, smiling to let them know it's okay, she and Chachi understand, and they're okay.
She hears a soft sniffle above her head and then feels the press of her husband's lips again against her hair. They watch until Fonz and Rich have disappeared before he pulls her backwards into their home and she locks the door securely behind them. That's another difference in the time now from the time when her brother and his cousin were still alive with them: Back in the day, they never had to worry about vandalism. They could leave their doors unlocked, leave their cars unlocked, even leave the keys in the car, but that time now seems so long ago.
A single tear trickles down Joanie's freckled face as she whispers, "It seems to go by faster every year." She doesn't have to be specific. He knows immediately to what she's referring: The years drag by, but the moments where they see Fonzie and Richie always go so fast.
He's about to answer her when their youngest child cries. "I'll be back," he whispers to her and kisses her once more before heading up the stairs.
She should feel the weight of his departure. She should feel very much alone right now, but it's Halloween night. She's never alone when the veils between living and dead are at their thinnest. She hears another rustle of paper and looks, with her frown turning upside down, to where her father is reading the newspaper at the kitchen table as though it's just another typical morning. She smiles through her tears watching him.
She feels her mother's approach and turns to meet her. Marion smiles sadly at her. She's always been able to see her tears no matter how hard Joanie tried to fight them. Sometimes, back when she was just a kid, her mother would sometimes even know she was upset before Joanie herself realized it.
"Oh, Joanie," she whispers, and the night wind slipping through the open window above the sink caresses Joanie's cheek. Joanie smiles at her mother and bats her tears back down. They're tears of joy really, not sadness, for this one night, she's back where she belongs. She's back with all her family.
Marion wraps her arms around her, and she can truly feel her hug instead of just imagining it. She kisses her daughter's head, and if her lips pass through her skin, Joanie doesn't notice that tonight. "You know your father, brother, and I love you," she whispers.
"I know, Mom," she whispers back, smiling through her tears and hugging her as best she can on this most special night of the year. "I know. I love you too. Happy Halloween."
"Happy Halloween, Joanie." Her father flicks his paper, still not looking up, still not realizing there's anything amiss, but as she stands in the loving circle of her mother's arms again, Joanie feels complete once more for at least a little while.