Word Count: 1,761
Summary: It's Halloween at the Cobb household.
Notes: Halloween fic! \o/ Written in a rush, so I apologise in advance. This is kind of for 1st_eggokage for giving me the prompt of Arthur carving pumpkins with the Cobblings to begin with!
They’ve been dating for three and a half months when Halloween rolls around, and Arthur turns to Eames with a small smile when he gets off the phone with Cobb.
“We’re invited to Cobb’s place for the kids’ Halloween party,” he announces, in the same, hushed and excited tone he gets when he speaks of Phillipa and James’ birthdays. Eames doesn’t get it because… it’s just Halloween. It’s costumes and candy, and it might just be the Brit in him, but he doesn’t really understand why it’s a big deal.
“Of course, being invited means setting everything up while Cobb runs after his children to get them ready,” Eames says, because James turned four last month, and Eames learns fast.
“It’s their first Halloween party,” Arthur murmurs, and neither of them need to say that this is because this is the first year that Cobb has been home with the kids to actually throw a party now that they’re old enough.
“Well, let’s book the tickets then.” Eames smiles, leaning over to press his lips to Arthur’s. “I’m sure we’ll have fun. Will we need to dress up?”
“Of course we do,” Arthur replies, like it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “We have less than a week to decide on our costumes—we’d better start thinking.”
Eames groans softly. “Really? Can’t we just keep it simple?”
Arthur shoots him an incredulous look, and shakes his head. He leans in to peck Eames’ cheek and mutters, “Dream a little bigger, darling.”
Eames laughs quietly, swatting Arthur’s arse as he walks past. “Fine. I’ll let you pick our costumes for us. Something nice.”
“Of course,” Arthur says, his eyes big and bright. He’s excited—he’s really excited—and it completely baffles Eames. Oh well, Eames thinks with a small shrug. If it makes Arthur happy, that’s all that matters.
They fly in from New York and hire a car, driving all the way to the Cobb household. It’s the night before Halloween; it’s nearly midnight, but that doesn’t stop Phillipa and James from running out of the door the moment Arthur parks the car, screaming with delight.
He scoops them up, one at a time, spinning them around in a hug. Eames stands back with their travel bags, watching with a fond smile on his face. He’s already seen how close Arthur is with his godchildren from the last time they visited, and he likes this version of his partner. They haven’t been together for long enough to explore every facet of each other, and Eames knows that they’re both so complex that years may pass and they still won’t see every side. This soft, happy version of Arthur—Family Arthur, as Eames mentally refers to it—is a rare sight and Eames drinks it in greedily. For James’ birthday, they’d just been passing through, too busy to stop and think with the chaos of getting the house ready for the party, making sure the party ran smoothly, and then collapsing with exhaustion afterwards. This time, they’re visiting for three days and Arthur has plenty of time to relax and open up, just as Eames has plenty of time to watch him.
“Alright, kids, that’s enough,” Cobb says, once they’ve both told Arthur about their grand plans for the party. “Uncle Arthur’s tired, and you should be in bed. Let’s get back inside.”
“Hi Eames,” Phillipa says with a shy smile once she reaches the door. The kids are awkward with him, because they’re not entirely sure where he fits into the family. To be honest, Eames doesn’t know either. He’s happy with Arthur, but he’s still not sure if it’s something that will last. He can tell the kids stories and show them tricks and make them laugh, but they’re not familiar with him the way they are with Arthur.
“Hey there, petal,” Eames grins, pushing aside his apprehension. “You’re just growing taller and taller, aren’t you? I bet you’re going to be tall as your Mum before any of us even realise.”
She beams up at him before slipping through the door, and it’s just Eames and Arthur on the front step, carrying their bags. Arthur is smiling at him, like he’s just done something incredibly right, and it makes Eames laugh.
“Nothing,” Arthur replies, kissing Eames quickly. “I’m just glad you’re here with me.”
Eames isn’t sure how to respond to that, so he just follows Arthur inside, reaching out to take hold of his free hand.
They know better than to have sex in Cobb’s house, but from the way Arthur snuggles against him once they’re in the spare room, lying on the double bed, Eames knows that whatever he’s doing, he’s doing it right.
The entirety of the next day is dedicated to preparing the house for the party. It begins in the late afternoon, with games in the backyard while the sun is still up, and then trick-or-treating and everything else once night falls. Cobb cleans the house while Eames cooks. Arthur sits at the dining table, helping the kids make decorations. They’re just in Eames’ line of sight and he watches Arthur’s smile as he admires Phillipa’s handiwork, listening to his kind words of encouragement when James is upset that his cut-out skeletons aren’t turning out as well as his sister’s.
They string candy corn together while Arthur has his iPhone out in front of him, giving Eames step-by-step instructions for baking pumpkin pie. Eames helps them put the decorations up while the food is baking, and after lunch, there’s only one thing left to do before the party begins.
“Uncle Arthur! Daddy’s bringing the pumpkins now!” Phillipa announces excitedly, running into the kitchen where Arthur and Eames are washing the dishes.
“Yeah! Come on!” James calls, bouncing with excitement.
Arthur chuckles, finishing the last of the dishes before going out to the front yard, pulling Eames along with him.
Eames has heard of pumpkin carving before. He’s seen pictures; both impressive and otherwise, but he’s never seen it being done. He looks at the five pumpkins sitting on the lawn, considering them. It can’t be too difficult, he supposes. Definitely messy, though. Arthur would absolutely hate—
“Let’s get started, then,” Arthur declares, and simply rolls his sleeves up as he kneels in the grass. “Eames, have you ever done this before?”
“Afraid not,” Eames replies. He takes his phone out, snapping a photo of Arthur with the kids. “You go ahead, I’ll watch.”
“You can help me with mine.” Arthur flashes him a smile, and then gets working. He holds his knife carefully, cutting into the pumpkin. When the insides come spilling out for the first time, Eames lets out a startled laugh when it covers Arthur’s hands. Arthur doesn’t seem the least bit bothered, proceeding to scoop more out. He works steadily and efficiently, the same way he is with everything else, but he’s joking and laughing with the kids at the same time. It’s a strange mix of Work Arthur and Family Arthur that Eames stops thinking in terms of distinguishing his different sides and decides to just enjoy what he’s seeing.
They keep going, finishing the first pumpkin and starting on the next when Phillipa gasps loudly.
“Uncle Arthur! You’ve got pumpkin guts on you!” she exclaims in alarm, pointing at the bright orange on his shirt.
Eames watches Arthur carefully; he knows how expensive that shirt is, and he knows how much Arthur loves it. He holds his breath, ready to step in if he needs to, but after a brief moment, Arthur simply laughs. He touches it, and then touches his fingers to the tip of Phillipa’s nose. “So do you.”
Phillipa laughs loudly, and James joins in, exclaiming, “Me too! Me too!”
It turns into a brief scuffle, the three of them smearing pumpkin all over each other, until Cobb comes out of the house, crying out in dismay.
“It’s like this every single time,” Cobb is saying to Eames as they clean up the mess on the lawn. “You leave him alone with the kids and he’s just—an entirely different person.”
“Hmm,” Eames replies distractedly, his gaze not leaving Arthur once.
By the time Phillipa and James’ friends have come over, played games and gone out in a group to trick-or-treat, Eames is tired. Somehow, Arthur still has his energy, sweeping around the room in his vampire cloak, his make up making him look paler than usual. He smiles at Eames with a flash of dimples and fangs.
“Come on, Cobb wanted us to light up the pumpkins before he came home with the kids.”
They do; all five of them are sitting out the front of the house. Four of them are faces, large mouths and menacing eyes. There’s one to the side that has a Penrose Triangle carved into it and Eames huffs out a laugh.
“Oh, Arthur, my love. Only you.” He pulls Arthur close, wrapping his arms around the other’s slender frame.
Arthur’s hands settle on Eames’ broad shoulders. The long fingers press into the muscle beneath as Arthur bites his lip in thought. He looks up at Eames with a small smile. “My love?”
Eames’ eyes widen when he realises what he’s said. He hasn’t used the word yet, but instead of the panic he expects to wash over him, the only thing he feels is the sense that yes, this is right.
“My love,” Eames repeats firmly, leaning in to kiss Arthur, fangs and costume make up be damned.
They’re standing outside, hand in hand, when Cobb returns with the children, their baskets all brimming with candy. They’re all chattering excitedly, and James is showing off his haul to Arthur with a bright smile.
“Alright everyone,” Cobb calls, herding them all inside. “We can have a look at our candy when we’re sitting down.”
“Yeah, come on,” Arthur speaks up. He still has one hand in Eames’ and glances at him before adding, “We’ve still got the pumpkin pie that Uncle Eames made.”
Eames is speechless, simply gaping as Arthur tugs him into the house.
“Uncle Eames,” he murmurs when they close the door behind them. Eames had seen the way Cobb had raised his eyebrow at that, too.
“Yes.” Arthur cards his fingers through Eames’ hair, their noses brushing against each other. “I want you to stay. I mean, that’s if you want—”
Eames cuts him off with a kiss. He pulls away, doubting that he’s ever smiled this wide before in his life. “Of course I do.”