“They want a special Halloween episode,” says Saito.
“It’s August,” Arthur points out.
“They need you to have time to get ready, and then it needs to be filmed, and then it needs to be edited.”
“But we don’t celebrate Halloween in August,” says Arthur, because Saito seems to be missing this point.
“Yes, but you could,” Saito explains. “For the good of the show.”
Arthur sighs. It’s just him and Saito on this call, because Eames is in L.A. for the week cycling through celebrity clients. He’d asked Arthur to go with him and Arthur had said no because he had work of his own to do but now he’s cursing that he’s the only one dealing with Saito. “I’ll ask Eames,” Arthur says.
“Quickly, if you please. It would be good publicity for the show, Arthur. Keep the two of you in the public eye.”
“We’re on a break from the public eye right now,” Arthur says, because they are, one of their carefully cherished filming breaks.
“I know. I’m not saying you have to do it. I will defend you if you don’t want to. But you’ve always given me the impression of wanting to be careful with your brand. So I am doing you the courtesy of being honest with you.”
Arthur knows he asked for that, so he can’t fault Saito for it. “Thanks,” he says.
“I. Fucking. Hate. L.A.,” says Eames furiously, flinging clothing around the hotel room.
Arthur is watching on a computer screen but he still feels like he should be ducking from the onslaught of cloth coming at him.
“Fucking hate it,” Eames continues. “Everything here is fucking hot, all the time. So. Hot. And celebrities are fucking impossible to deal with. Are we celebrities? Are we this impossible to deal with?”
“What are you doing with your clothes?” Arthur asks, bewildered.
“I hate all of it,” Eames proclaims.
“Is it my birthday?” deadpans Arthur. “Is this a birthday gift to me?”
“Haha,” says Eames. “It’s all too hot.” He collapses backward onto the bed. “Have I mentioned it’s hot here?”
“You’ve mentioned. Is all of L.A.’s air conditioning broken?”
“I had to do hot yoga,” Eames says.
“Hot yoga? You had to do hot yoga?” Arthur finds himself biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing.
“I’m telling you, celebrities are insane. Wait. Why do you say it like that? I’m very flexible!”
Arthur gives up, indulging the laughter. “Hot yoga. You complain if sex is too athletic.”
“Well, I mean, you don’t want it to feel like work,” grumbles Eames.
“Hot yoga. Did the instructor want to murder you by the end?”
“I almost fainted, I will have you know. Human beings are not supposed to be doing whatever the fuck that was at a thousand degrees.”
“I don’t think it was a thousand degrees.”
“You weren’t there,” says Eames wisely. “You don’t know.”
“You’re right. I don’t know. Did you actually faint? Have you had enough water? You probably got dehydrated.”
“When we got out I was basically forced to drink six gallons of water. All the while having to pretend that that got rid of all my toxins or whatever. What are toxins? Do I have them? Are they related to your bacteria army?”
“Julia would tell you that vodka gets rid of toxins just as well.”
“That’s why I love Julia. I didn’t actually faint. I’m fine. I’m just really bad at being a celebrity, was what I was told. Like there’s a certain way to do it and I’m fucking it up.”
“You’re my favorite celebrity, if it means anything to you.”
“Thank you, darling.”
“After Sebastian Stan.”
Eames sighs. “Who, by the way, really does seem to be under the impression that I’m the go-to sex club designer for the celebrity set.”
Arthur says after a beat, “But you are.”
Eames also considers. “Yeah, fair enough. Sorry, darling, it was a fussy day, as my mum would say. How are you?”
“I talked to Saito.”
“About work stuff, or about how your mum is in bed?”
“Eames,” says Arthur.
“Well, you know, I had to do hot yoga today, so.”
“He wants us to have Halloween.”
“The network wants us to do a special Halloween episode. Only, of course, we’d have to film it soon, so that it can be ready for Halloween.”
“A special Halloween episode? Of what?”
Arthur blinks at Eames, who looks completely confused. “Of our show. We have a show. You remember this, right? Was hot yoga that bad that you forgot we have a show?”
“I remember our show but we have a show about our jobs.”
“That show is only ostensibly about our jobs and you know it. It’s mostly about how we banter. It’s our special thing, you know that.”
“So they want us to banter about Halloween?”
“I guess so.”
“What do they think we do for Halloween?”
“I don’t know.”
“Because we do absolutely nothing for Halloween. We barely even get trick-or-treaters. We don’t live in a residential area.”
“I especially don’t know what we would do for a fake Halloween.”
“So do you want to do this?” Eames asks.
“Do you want to do it?”
Eames shrugs. “Makes no difference to me, darling.”
“You’re the one who’ll have to decorate the house for it. I just show up and…do whatever I do.”
“Look pretty, darling. And slay us all with your wit. Hmm. I could make our house haunted.” Eames suddenly sits up on the bed. “I could make our house haunted!” he exclaims.
And just like that Arthur knows: they’re definitely doing a special Halloween episode.
Eames comes back from L.A. with no fewer than fifteen sketches of potential Halloween decorations. Arthur ordinarily picks Eames up from the airport when he comes back from being away but Arthur had had showings booked in Newport and so when he walks into the kitchen Eames has all fifteen sketches spread out on the dining room table and Luisa, their personal assistant, is looking dazed.
“Uh-oh,” Arthur remarks. “That looks like the face of someone confronting Eames in full-on design mode.”
“You don’t understand,” Luisa says. “It’s impossible. Is he serious?”
Eames comes into the kitchen and says brightly, “Darling. I missed you like a thing that someone misses very, very much,” and kisses him up against the wall, not entirely in a way that’s fit for company.
Arthur missed him, too, so he’s less embarrassed by that than he would be normally. “Hi,” he says, when Eames is done kissing him.
“L.A. is a horrible, Arthur-less place,” says Eames mournfully.
“Fascinating. Worcester was a horrible, Eames-less place. Shockingly quiet, and everybody sought to obey the laws of gravity.”
“I went to see some stand-up in L.A. and none of it was as hilarious as you.”
“I’ll be here all week,” says Arthur. “Tip your waiters and waitresses.”
Eames grins at him and kisses his left dimple, then straightens away from him. “Luisa, did you tell Arthur of my plans?”
“They’re not plans,” says Luisa, “so much as flights of fancy.”
“Luisa is so good at organizing us,” Eames tells Arthur, “but she lacks imagination.”
“Don’t we all, next to you?” says Arthur, as Eames tugs him into the dining room and presents his sketches, beaming.
Arthur glances through them.
“Is this an actual hay ride happening in our hallway?” he asks.
“Yes,” says Eames.
“Pulled by horses?”
“Donkeys, maybe? If horses are too big? I don’t have any sense of how big horses and donkeys are. Maybe we need mules. Can ponies pull a cart?”
Arthur looks up at him. “You have no excuse. You grew up in a tiny village full of horses.”
“I didn’t grow up in a Thomas Hardy novel,” Eames says. “We had cars.”
“I’ve been to your village. You have cars and horses and an awful lot of sheep. And Thomas Hardy? Really? Of all British novelists, you’re going with Thomas Hardy?”
“He wrote a lot about villages.”
“The hayride isn’t going to fit in our house.”
“Not even with—”
“You’d have to go with mice. Or maybe small dogs.”
“People couldn’t ride in a wagon pulled by small dogs. Maybe huskies. Maybe one person. But that’s the Iditarod, not a Halloween hayride. Why hasn’t science made me smaller horses? What has science been doing?”
“I know,” says Arthur. “It’s inexcusable.”
“So you’re nixing the hayride through the hallway idea.”
“In its current form. Are these floating pumpkins?”
“Yes. Because you know what would be amazing? If we could get actual ghosts to hold the pumpkins.”
Arthur looks at Eames. “Actual ghosts?”
“Wait,” Arthur says. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
“What? Of course. Don’t you?”
“No,” says Arthur amazed. “I can’t believe we’ve never had this conversation before!”
“I can’t believe you don’t believe in ghosts!”
“Now that I’m thinking about it, it makes perfect sense that you do.”
“Darling, I mean this in the best way possible, but I would absolutely haunt you if I die first.”
“I’d want you to,” says Arthur honestly. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, but if they exist, then he wants an Eames one with him always.
“Aw, that’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever said to me,” says Eames, looking pleased.
“I hate to interrupt,” says Luisa behind them, “but do you guys need me anymore?”
Arthur, grinning, glances at Luisa. “No, we’re good, you can take off. Thanks for everything, Luisa.”
“Luisa!” exclaims Eames. “Thank you for pretending to love my designs!”
“Your designs are incredible,” says Luisa. “Except they involved an indoor hayride and actual ghosts.”
“I bet those Ghost Hunters blokes know how to get in touch with some ghosts,” muses Eames.
“Hey,” Arthur says, finding Eames lost in a pile of sketches, staring at something on his tablet. “You should come to bed.”
“Should I?” asks Eames without looking up. “What time is it?”
“Four a.m.,” says Arthur drily.
Eames does look up at that. “Four a.m.? Is it really? What are you doing up, darling?”
“Looking for you,” says Arthur, and yawns, and drops himself without preamble into Eames’s lap. “It was cold in bed.” He presses himself against Eames’s body.
Eames lifts his arms up to press Arthur closer against him. “Was it? I’m sorry.”
“You’re like a furnace,” Arthur mumbles into Eames’s shoulder.
“Sorry. I got caught up. Do you think it would be prohibitively expensive to dye a bunch of leaves red and yellow?”
“Can’t we just get fake leaves?” asks Arthur.
“You know I hate fake things,” says Eames.
“You’re such a snob,” says Arthur. “Can you come to bed? I leave for New York tomorrow.” Arthur leaves unsaid the rest of that thought: I want to minimize my time in an empty bed.
“Oh, fuck,” says Eames. “I forgot about that trip. Fuck.”
“It’s okay,” says Arthur. “You’re in design mode.”
“Sorry.” Eames’s lips are against Arthur’s scalp, Eames’s nose pressed into his hair. “It’s been a while since I designed entirely for fun, instead of for a crazy client.”
“I know. I know how it goes. I fell in love with Designer Eames before I fell in love with Man Eames.”
“Surely you fell in love with Amazing Body Eames first of all.”
“Mmm,” says Arthur. “I don’t know. It’s been so long since I’ve seen that amazing body. Come to bed and remind me.”
Eames designs all over the world these days. Arthur tends to confine his real-estate services to the New England area, because learning real estate all over the world would be exhausting. But he does sometimes take on some New York City clients, because Arthur secretly loves New York real estate. He thinks it’s absolutely insane, and that’s what he loves about it. There’s nothing about the unique challenge of New York: you can find everything the client wants and yet nothing the client wants, all at the same time.
Sometimes Eames tags along when Arthur goes to New York for work, just as sometimes Arthur tags along on Eames’s design trips. But more often these days they’re both too busy to follow each other on trips. Which is okay, really, because they spend a great deal of time together when they are together, much more than other couples, most of the time, so the breaks aren’t so bad and Arthur’s learned to enjoy some bits of them.
What he enjoys the most is when, after a very busy and rewarding day finding two dream homes, he checks his cell phone in the cab back to the hotel and finds a dozen text messages from Eames with photos of increasingly outlandish designs.
Arthur Skypes Eames while he’s taking his tie off, because he knows Eames loves Arthur in various states of undress. Although Eames loves Arthur always.
Eames answers from the living room. And, from the angle, he’s sitting on the floor against the couch. “Hello, darling,” he says brightly. “How was your day? Did you make dreams come true?”
“I did,” says Arthur, satisfied with himself, leaning back against the bed’s headboard and flinging his tie toward the hotel room’s chair.
“That’s what I like to hear,” says Eames. “Tell me all about it.”
So Arthur does, house to house, reaction to reaction. Eames appreciates stories with a great amount of detail and he hangs on Arthur’s every word, interjecting exclamations. When Arthur finishes the story of his day, Eames actually applauds.
“Stop,” says Arthur, aware his ears are pink, aware his dimples are showing, “it’s just my job.”
“But you’re so good at it, and I hate when I don’t get to see you be good at it. Competence is a kink of mine, kitten.” Eames waggles his eyebrows at him.
“Lovely,” says Arthur. “Now. Walk me through this, because this looks like a bookcase filled with skulls.” Arthur holds his phone up, displaying one of Eames’s sketches.
“It’s an apothecary’s chest,” says Eames. “Paul is going to build it for our living room.”
“I bet he’s delighted. Are they real skulls?”
Eames pouts extravagantly. “Paul says no. And I suppose I see his point. But the lack of verisimilitude will hurt.”
“We’ll all cope,” says Arthur. “I’d rather you didn’t go around killing people just to get skulls.”
“They weren’t going to be human skulls,” says Eames. “Be realistic, darling.”
“Oh,” says Arthur. “Sorry. So Paul’s involved now, is he?”
“Yes. He has vetoed a large number of items, but then, that’s Paul for you.”
That’s why I love Paul, thought Arthur and didn’t say. Arthur says, “Have you looped in Ari and Gon?”
“I’m torn on that. They’re on holiday, technically.”
“So are we, technically.”
“We’ll see what the network says. They want to have a call to discuss the Very Special Halloween Episode. That’s what they keep calling it. What makes it very special? It feels like an unnecessary modifier.”
“When are we having the call?” asks Arthur, around a yawn.
“After you get home. There isn’t any rush. It’s bloody August. Everyone’s going to think we’re mad, decorating for Halloween already.”
“The stores are already full of Halloween stuff,” Arthur points out. “And this would hardly be the craziest thing we’ve ever done.”
Eames says, “Anyway, what do you say to having actual bats in the house?”
“No,” says Arthur.
“They’re good at catching mosquitoes,” says Eames.
“I haven’t noticed we have a profusion of mosquitoes inside of our house,” Arthur replies. “Did you eat today, or did you spend all day sketching?”
“Luisa made sure I ate. Oh! She also got some dates from Giacomo for you.”
“For what?” asks Arthur quizzically. “I shouldn’t need any new suits for a while.”
“But I assumed you’d want a well-tailored costume. You have to wear a costume, darling.”
“Oh, fuck,” says Arthur.
“Hello, my favorite meal tickets,” Kalinda says over the computer screen. “I’ve missed your beautiful faces so much. I hardly know what to do with myself, not spending every day trailing after the two of you.”
“You’re behind this special Halloween episode, aren’t you?” says Eames.
“Very special,” Kalinda says, and holds up a stack of papers, the top of which very clearly has typewritten on it Very Special Halloween Episode.
Arthur leans forward to get closer to the screen. “Hang on. What is that?”
“The script for the episode,” says Kalinda.
“We don’t do scripts,” says Arthur, bewildered.
“Yeah, you don’t do scripts. The network still writes them for you.”
“What an incredible waste of time,” remarks Eames. “What does this script have us doing?”
“They have you speak entirely in puns when they write for you,” says Kalinda to Eames.
“I should aspire to such heights of wittiness,” muses Eames.
“No,” says Arthur. “You shouldn’t.”
Kalinda tosses the script aside. “So tell me your plan for this very special episode.”
“Eames is decorating the house,” says Arthur.
“Good. What else?”
Arthur lifts his eyebrows. “That’s…it. Eames is decorating the house.”
“That can’t be the plot of a whole episode.”
“Why not? We did multiple seasons of Love It or List It where that was the plot.”
“The decorating is going to be epic,” adds Eames. “It’s going to involve real-live ghosts.”
“If I can locate any, and convince them to help me out.”
“It seems like poltergeists wouldn’t be keen to make your life easier,” notes Arthur.
“That’s why I’m going to avoid poltergeists. There are all different kinds of ghosts, you know. Some are helpful.”
“Since when are you an authority on ghosts?” asks Kalinda.
“Since always,” says Eames, “it’s just that nobody’s ever asked me about them before.”
“What do you guys normally do on Halloween?” asks Kalinda. “We can just make it ‘A Halloween with Arthur and Eames.’”
“We don’t do any of this stuff,” says Arthur. “We don’t even really decorate.”
“This is an American thing,” says Eames, “this over-the-top affection for Halloween.”
“We don’t live in a residential area,” continues Arthur, “so we don’t get trick-or-treaters. So it’s pretty much just a usual night for us.”
“But this year we are going all out, in honor of our very special episode. Well. We are going all out in August. Maybe we’ll leave it all up until Halloween. I guess it depends on how well all of the jack o’lanterns keep.”
“Are they going to be real pumpkins?” asks Kalinda.
“I’m offended,” says Eames. “Real everything. Except real skulls, for legal reasons.”
Kalinda’s worked with them for so long, she doesn’t even blink at the skull comment. “They won’t keep until Halloween. Fine. The plot of the episode will be Eames decorating for Halloween. Arthur, you’ll be the narrator.”
“I’ll be the what?” says Arthur.
“You’ll be our viewpoint for this episode. The audience proxy. Fond and somewhat frazzled. It’ll be perfect.”
“Fond and somewhat frazzled,” echoes Arthur. “Exactly how I always wanted to be described.”
They are, by this time, used to the way cameras descend upon their house. Luisa arranges to make sure it’s deep-cleaned, Timothy sets them up with as much pre-made food as he can handle, Arthur gets a haircut and hides items he doesn’t want all of America analyzing, stashing them in the bedroom, where the cameras aren’t allowed, and Eames perfects his rakish stubble.
Their house runs like clockwork. It doesn’t even faze them.
“Do we have weird jobs?” Arthur asks Eames the first morning, as he’s dressing in a sweater he’s carefully chosen to approximate fall clothing, even though it’s a gazillion degrees and humid outside.
“We have amazing jobs,” says Eames, and kisses his cheek.
The episode opens with Arthur, in a rust-colored cashmere sweater over a button-down with subtle copper stripes, looking ruefully at the camera.
“Eames,” he says, “doesn’t do things halfway. If you want him to decorate something, he’s going to decorate the hell out of it. So I feel like most of my job lately has been to veto the live bats. He wanted live bats. I said no to the live bats.” Arthur looks straight at the camera and smiles. “But don’t worry, America. We have lots more amazing scary fun in store for you. Mostly it will be terrifying how stricken Paul will look over each new request.” Arthur tips one side of his mouth up in a rueful smile. “Happy Halloween.”
Eames and Paul are standing in a river hallway. The sound of the running water can be heard ever so faintly in the background. The close-up is on Paul’s face, staring at Eames in disbelief.
“You want me to turn Arthur’s office into…what?”
“A torture chamber,” says Eames.
“Does Arthur know about this?”
“Arthur says I can make his office into a torture chamber in exchange for not filling the house with rats. Even though rats are perfectly acceptable pets, but I feel like I would have to have at least three dozen rats for appropriate atmospheric purposes and Arthur says no.”
“I know that makes me a wet blanket,” says Arthur from off-screen.
“If you’re a wet blanket, you’re a fleece and feather boa one,” says Eames absently. “So yes. A torture chamber. If we could get actual torture devices from the Middle Ages, that would be best.”
Paul stares at Eames. He chokes out, “Arthur…”
Arthur, on cue, enters the field of filming and says, “No bona fide medieval torture devices. We’ll just have Paul re-create them.”
“Cheer up, Paul,” Eames says to him. “You’ve just been asked to build some torture devices. How many people get to say they do that for a job?”
Paul looks dubious about this honor.
“Why a torture chamber?” asks Kalinda from off-camera.
Eames gives her a look. “Because it’s Halloween.”
“Right, but a torture chamber in Arthur’s office?”
“You’re going to try to psychoanalyze this choice,” says Eames, “and there is no psychoanalysis necessary. His office is the right proportion for a torture chamber. Anyway, I asked him if he’d rather have it turned into a witch’s potion room and he said he’d rather have a torture chamber.”
“Yes,” says Arthur into the camera, “I would much rather have my office be a torture chamber than a witch’s potion room. Eames would go out and get actual witch’s potions. Who knows what weird curses they would leave behind? The torture chamber is safer.”
“Do you believe in magic?” asks Kalinda off-camera.
“I didn’t,” says Arthur. “Then I met Eames.” Arthur pauses. “That sounds like a sappy line, but really it’s just because if anybody’s going to be able to work magic, it’s Eames.” Arthur pauses again.
Kalinda says, “Still sounds like a sappy line.”
“Yeah, I heard it,” says Arthur.
Eames is standing in the enormous front room of their house, frowning up at the ceiling.
Arthur enters, carrying a box. “This came for you.”
“The thing about orange lights,” says Eames, “is that virtually no one looks good in orange lighting. Look. Go shut the lights off.”
The room darkens, filled with an orange glow.
Arthur comes back into view.
Eames frowns and says, “You look lovely, of course, but everyone else coming to our Halloween party will look hideous. That is not conducive to making out in the torture chamber.”
“We’re having a Halloween party?” says Arthur.
“It’s mostly Gon and Ariadne,” shrugs Eames.
“You want them to make out in my office?”
“It will be a torture chamber,” Eames corrects him.
“Right,” says Arthur, “you know it’s not romantic to make out in torture chambers, right?”
“I could make it romantic,” says Eames, waggling his eyebrows. “I could make anything romantic.”
“Uh-huh,” says Arthur drily. “What is in that box? Is it anything I should be alarmed by?”
“I don’t know,” says Eames. “Let’s find out.” Eames tries to open the box. He says, “I can’t actually open the box.”
“You’re going to need scissors to open the box.”
Eames looks at Arthur. “Did you bring the scissors?”
“I brought the box.”
“Darling,” says Eames, “we need to work on your ability to stick to the script.”
In the kitchen, Eames slices open the box with scissors. Arthur perches on the counter, watching closely.
Eames pulls out a cape. A hot pink cape. He flaps it through the air delightedly.
Arthur says, “What is that?”
“It’s for my costume.”
“A hot pink cape? What’s your costume?”
“Stylish Dracula,” says Eames.
Arthur, after a moment, starts laughing. “You think the hot pink is going to make Dracula stylish?”
“Yes,” says Eames primly. “It will give him some much-needed flair.”
“I don’t think a cape needs extra flair.”
“You’ll see,” says Eames. “I’ll be a very stylish vampire indeed. And what’s your costume?”
“A surprise,” says Arthur, all smug dimples up on the kitchen countertop.
“I hope you weren’t planning on going as Stylish Dracula,” says Eames.
“Darn,” deadpans Arthur. “You got me. I’m in a mad scramble now to find a new costume.”
“We can just match.”
“Something tells me my take on Stylish Dracula would be very different from yours.”
“You wouldn’t have a hot pink cape?”
“That’s pretty sad for your Dracula.”
“Is it? I think he’ll survive.”
“You know what you do with the hot pink cape?”
“You do this.” Eames flings the cape over both of their heads, hiding them from the camera.
Arthur, underneath the cape, laughs.
“What is your costume?” Kalinda asks from off-camera.
Arthur sends a wicked smile to the camera. “A surprise.”
“Is it a mailman?” Eames asks, from where he’s sprawled on their couch.
Arthur is sitting on the floor with his back up against the couch, a binder open on his lap. “A mailman? What? No. Why would I be a mailman for Halloween?”
“Mail carriers serve a very important public service,” Eames says. “Mail carriers are heroes.”
Arthur looks at the camera. “This episode brought to you by the United States Postal Service.”
“Mail carriers are hot,” says Eames.
“Is there something you want to tell me about you and the mailman?”
“He brings me pretty fabric samples a lot,” says Eames. “When’s the last time you brought me pretty fabric samples?”
Arthur takes off the tie he’s wearing and puts it on Eames’s chest. “There you go.”
“You haven’t been given any tasks for the party?” Kalinda asks Gon and Ariadne.
“Nope,” says Ariadne, grinning. “It’s kind of nice.”
“We do keep getting texts from Paul, though,” Gon says.
Gon furrows his brow. “Apparently he’s building some kind of torture chamber?”
“The chains,” Eames says, standing in Arthur’s office-slash-torture-chamber, “should definitely be brushed nickel, don’t you think? I mean, they sent me rubbed bronze and that’s just all wrong for the rest of the look.”
Paul just looks at Eames.
Eames looks at the camera. “That’s an important design tip for all of you out there. This is a design show, after all. Do pay attention to the type of metal you choose for your torture chains. It sets the tone for the whole room.” Eames looks around the torture chamber, then back at the camera. “Of course, the tone you’re setting in your torture chamber is probably primarily still going to be ‘torture.’ But pay attention to your secondary tone.”
“It’s not a clown, is it?” Eames asks, biting into a piece of toast slathered with Marmite. “I hate clowns. Clowns are not sexy.”
“Oh, no,” says Arthur, head lost in the fridge. “I was so sure you’d be seduced by my red nose and giant shoes.”
Eames chews his toast. Then he says, “Well. You know what they say about big shoes.”
Arthur emerges from the fridge, swinging the door shut behind him. He is holding a container of yogurt. “I do not know,” Arthur says, “because this is a family show.”
“This is not a family show,” Eames says. “I don’t know what kind of show this is.”
“Can’t argue with you there,” says Arthur.
“So it’s a clown? Your costume?”
“Of course it’s not a clown, Eames. Why do you think I would want to dress up as a clown?”
Eames’s gaze sharpens. “Oh, so this is something you like dressing up as.”
“Well.” Arthur considers. “Something I wouldn’t mind wearing as a costume.”
“A hint!” exclaims Eames. “An important hint!” Eames considers thoughtfully. “Are you going to be a cowboy?”
Arthur gives him a look. “Have you even met me?”
“I am not that bad at guessing,” Eames confides. “I am just lulling him into a false sense of security, and then I am going to spring my brilliance on him. I absolutely know exactly what Arthur’s going to be for Halloween. Absolutely.”
There are fabric samples laid out on their couch. Eames and Arthur are standing considering them.
“Which do you like?” asks Eames.
“What are these for, again?”
“I’m going to make throw pillows for our couch. A quick way to add a festive touch.” Eames points at the camera. “Design tip.”
“What’s that?” asks Arthur.
Arthur copies Eames’s pointing.
“Oh, that’s a new thing I’m doing. Do you like it?”
“Not especially,” says Arthur.
“Everyone’s a critic,” says Eames.
“Especially Twitter. Where did you get these fabrics? Is this…blood-stained pinstripes?” Arthur holds it up.
“Oh! Yes! Do you love it? That one’s specially for you and your torture chamber. It’s Halloween classy.”
“I wish you wouldn’t call it my torture chamber.”
“It’s true, it’s not sexy enough to be your torture chamber.”
“The key to decorating,” Eames is saying, as he fiddles with something just out of the camera’s view, “is to remember the mood you want to set. People might tell you they want their houses to feel ‘like home,’ but everyone has a different definition of what that feels like. My idea of home is a little off-kilter, because I was raised in a gentle, exuberant chaos and I tend to cultivate that out of a sense of nostalgia. Arthur’s idea of home requires a little bit more order, but a soft order, Arthur likes home to feel a little bit like a fluffy burrow. Some people need more coziness in a home, some people need more rigidity, some people need unpredictability, some people need uniformity. A good interior designer doesn’t ask what you want your home to look like, they ask who you are as a person, or maybe who you want to be, because sometimes design also should be aspirational.”
Eames steps back, cocks his head at whatever he’s just been fiddling with. “So, when decorating for a holiday gathering, you have to ask yourself the same thing: What type of mood are you trying to set? This is an extremely small gathering of people who know me really well, so basically the mood I’m trying to set is…over the top.” Eames looks at the camera and grins.
“So Eames is doing all this decorating for Halloween,” Arthur says, perched at their dining room table with a pumpkin, “and generally I don’t do much when it comes to the decorating but say, ‘Yes, that looks good,’ or ‘No, you cannot have actual poisoned apples.’ But this Very Special Halloween Episode is all about decorating, since I couldn’t convince any of my clients to look for a haunted house, so I’ve been thinking about how I can help Eames out, and here’s how I can help him out: pumpkin carving. I am really good at pumpkin carving. You know why? Because pumpkin carving is about detail, and that’s my thing.”
Arthur gets to work.
Kalinda off-camera asks, “Have you ever sold someone a haunted house?”
“Absolutely not.” Arthur flashes dimples at the camera. “No such thing as ghosts.”
“Eames!” Arthur calls. “Give up leaf-painting for a second and come and see!”
“I’m not leaf-painting,” Eames calls back, even though when he shows up he’s basically covered in orange and red and yellow paint.
“Oh, I see,” says Arthur drily. “You’re you-painting.”
“Haha,” says Eames, with an absent kiss to Arthur’s temple, his eyes on the pumpkins lined up on the table. “What’s all this?”
“I made us jack o’lanterns,” says Arthur.
Eames is walking down the line of pumpkins, staring at them. They are really beautiful pumpkins. “You made these? Darling, they’re amazing! They’re remarkable! They’re magnificent!”
“They’re pumpkins,” says Arthur. The tips of his ears are pink.
“No, they’re not, they’re jack o’lanterns! You took absolutely ordinary pumpkins and transformed them into jack o’lanterns! And some are happy and some are sad and some are scary and some are…in intense pain?” Eames picks up one and shows Arthur.
“Frowning,” Arthur says. “That one’s frowning and rolling its eyes because…you know…”
The grin on Eames’s face is wide. “Darling,” he says. “Come out into the hallway away from the cameras so I can snog the life out of you.” But he takes Arthur’s hand and pulls him in without bothering to try to leave the room.
Arthur says, “I’m glad you like them. I didn’t know which would be best to fit your theme that you’re working on here.”
“My theme of Halloweenotacular?”
“Yes. That theme. Even though that’s just a made-up word and not a theme.”
“It’s a theme and it means that all of your beautiful jack o’lanterns fit because they are all Halloweenotacular.”
“The only reason that doesn’t sound totally ridiculous is because you have a British accent,” Arthur tells him.
Eames beams at him. “Where did you learn how to carve a pumpkin, darling?”
“It’s a hidden talent,” says Arthur blandly. “I’m full of hidden talents.”
Eames says to the camera, “Okay, that’s it for filming right now.”
“Eames gets me out of the house for the last push of decorating for a party,” Arthur says. He is walking down the street, wearing a brown leather jacket and a jaunty navy blue scarf.
“Why is that?” asks Kalinda from off-camera.
“Because it’s chaos and I don’t like chaos. He thrives in it. So it’s better that I let him thrive in it and I go to the spa and get a massage.” Arthur smiles brightly at the camera.
“I always get Arthur out of the house for the last push of decorating for a party,” Eames says to the camera, looking stressed and worried, “because it’s a total cluster(beep) and I don’t want him worrying that I’m about to burn the house down.”
Someone shoves past Eames holding a fire extinguisher.
“I am, just to clarify, absolutely not burning the house down.”
Paul’s voice comes from off-camera. “Arthur told you that all these leaves and pumpkins were fire hazards and you couldn’t light candles all around them!”
“Yes, thank you for your contribution, Paul!” Eames shouts back. He looks back at the camera. “Darling, eventually you are going to see this, and I want you to know: It wasn’t my fault. It’s the toads.”
“Did Arthur approve the toads?” calls Paul.
“Shut up, Paul!” exclaims Eames, and wanders off-camera.
Arthur is walking on a street again, this time in dusk.
“The thing is,” he says, “this is actually my favorite part of a party: the reveal.” Arthur looks at the camera; his dimples are deep. “I love Eames’s designs. I love living every day with Eames’s designs but there’s also nothing like seeing them for the first time. Every time I get to see an Eames design revealed, it’s like falling in love with him all over again. Which sounds stupid, but it’s how I fell in love with him the first time so I guess it’s nostalgia. Or Pavlovian habit. Or something.”
“Haven’t you been seeing the design and the plans for the design all along?” Kalinda asks.
“Yes, but just seeing the plans doesn’t do the actual design justice. And Eames always does a little bit of magic to pull it all together at the end that I just can never anticipate or predict.” Arthur pauses. “It probably is literal magic. That’s how he knew so much about potions and stuff.”
Eames ducks out of their back door, which is a dark color with leaded glass panes at the top through which glows orange light. He meets Arthur in their back courtyard, where the trees are still thick and green in the twilight—betraying what time of year the filming is happening.
“Hello!” Eames enthuses and catches Arthur up for a quick kiss. “Look at your scarf.”
“It’s chilly,” Arthur deadpans. “It’s Halloween.”
“Curious that there are no trick-or-treaters.”
“We don’t live in a neighborhood.”
“No, we’d be kicked out of any respectable neighborhood.”
“Our neighbors would probably be concerned about our torture chamber.”
“Not to mention our illicit sex club.”
“Yes, that as well. Got to be zoned commercial for that.”
Eames grins at him and brushes another kiss across his lips, and then over to a dimple, and then says, “We’re ready.”
“Are you? Are you happy with it?”
“I think it’s gorgeous,” Eames says, practically bouncing on his feet. “I hope you do, too.”
Arthur is grinning, too; Eames’s excitement is clearly infectious. “I bet I will.”
The house is completely transformed. The kitchen has been strung with LED lights in an elaborate spider web pattern over the cupboards, with a glittering black spider sitting in the middle of it. The marble countertops are a froth of white smoke, gently curling over more LED lights that are rendered even spookier by the effect.
“Good job,” says Arthur, surveying the room. “It’s not like we use this room anyway. Timothy might be slightly disappointed.”
Eames grins. “Do you want to see your torture chamber?”
“Not my torture chamber,” Arthur protests half-heartedly, following Eames to his office.
He halts in the hallway, looking at the rivers running through them.
“Eames,” he says. “Are those frogs in the river hallways?”
Eames reappears from Arthur’s office. “Toads, darling. Witches like toads.”
“I thought witches used toads in potions.”
“Exactly. Witches like toads the way I like cows. I mean, I also like living cows. I should stop talking.”
“What are we going to do with all of these toads, Eames?”
“I am hoping that the fandom will want to adopt them,” Eames says. “Or we can keep them ourselves.”
One croaks. Then they all start croaking.
“They’re…loud,” remarks Arthur.
“Huh,” says Eames. “I didn’t anticipate that.”
They both look down into the river hallways for a moment, while the toads croak.
“Show me my torture chamber,” Arthur says finally.
Arthur’s office ceiling is hung with beautiful shiny chrome chains that reflect the room’s lighting, and attached to every single chain is one of Eames’s loudly patterned shirts.
Arthur halts just inside the door, looking at the shirts.
“See?” says Eames. “Your torture chamber.”
Arthur collapses into laughter against Eames’s chest.
Eames looks delighted by the reaction, murmuring something into Arthur’s ear.
There’s a commercial break.
The room where Eames has devoted the most attention is the living room. He has piled heaps of color-spattered leaves into corners of the room. He has suspended Arthur’s jack o’lanterns from the ceiling with fishing wire, so they look like they are floating in thin air, candles within flickering. Also suspended from the ceiling with fishing wire are drifts of dark black velvet that snake around the pumpkins. It provides an odd creeping sensation and is a good use of the high-ceilinged space that would otherwise be wasted.
Furniture has been pushed out of the way and Halloween fabric—bloody pinstripes, witches’ hats, grinning skulls—has been laid over their marble floors, delineating a variety of activity stations. Bobbing for apples is one. Another, set up by the roaring fire in the fireplace, is outfitted with the makings of s’mores and has picnic blankets over the Halloween fabric. Another is covered with pumpkins that Eames has hollowed out and placed beautiful spilling-over flowers in. A sign proclaims that area to be the Pumpkin Patch! Another area has skeletons set up in various suggestive poses that are blurred out by the camera.
“Halloween sex club,” Eames explains. “Not real skeletons.”
Another area has a phone hooked up to speakers and is generously surrounded by huge piles of Christmas lights.
“This is the dance area,” says Eames, walking over to it. “Watch this.” He pushes a button on a control and the Christmas lights all leap to life, pulsing with rhythm.
Arthur doesn’t say anything.
Eames looks at him.
He is standing at the edge of the living room, taking it all in.
“Do you like it?” Eames asks.
Arthur looks at him, looking dazzled. “It’s fantastic. Kind of crazy. But completely fantastic.” He smiles, dimples deep.
“I’m so glad you like it,” Eames says, sounding relieved. “Now, do you want to dance with me?”
“When do our guests arrive? Because we should probably change into our costumes.”
“Our costumes!” exclaims Eames. “I almost forgot about our costumes! Let’s go change into our costumes.”
“Separately,” says Arthur primly. “You can change in the bedroom. I have hidden my costume somewhere else in the house, so I’ll change there.”
“So that’s why I couldn’t find anything in the bedroom,” grumbles Eames.
“Like I don’t know you’re a cheater,” Arthur says.
“You never looked for my costume?” demands Eames.
“I knew you’d hide it,” says Arthur breezily. “See you in a bit.”
Eames is dressed in a white t-shirt and some sort of weird frilly blue hat printed with sheep on his head, and is carrying a tall hooked cane.
He says petulantly, “Arthur is still changing into his costume. How complex could this costume possibly be? People will be here before Arthur is done.” Eames munches on a handful of candy corn, then calls out, “Darling? Are you almost ready perfecting your outfit?”
“Ready now,” says Arthur, and the camera swings over to focus on him.
He is dressed in a dark gray suit, well-cut as usual with his suits, with a deep red tie.
Eames frowns at him. “That? That’s your great big secret costume?”
“This is an excellent costume,” Arthur says. “You’re going to love this costume.”
“It’s a suit, darling. I always love your suits, but—Wait a second? Are people having an orgy on your tie?”
“People are having an orgy on my tie. Are you a…shepherd?”
“A sexy shepherd,” Eames corrects him, and does a full turn. Now that he’s standing next to Arthur, the fact that he’s wearing tight blue-and-sheep-print hot pants has become clear. And a pair of knee-high wooly boots.
“Huh,” says Arthur. “Somehow I don’t think you’re an accurate shepherd.”
“No? I have the shepherd’s hook thing and everything.” Eames waves his cane around.
“I thought you were being a stylish Dracula.”
“That was my red-herring costume.”
“So what are we going to do with that hot pink cape?” asks Arthur.
“I have ideas,” says Eames.
Arthur grins. “I like the pants.”
“They’re why I chose this costume,” says Eames.
“I couldn’t find any in my size so I had Giacomo tailor them for me.”
Arthur laughs. “Giacomo must have loved that.”
“Who wouldn’t enjoy having to fit pants around this incredible arse?”
Arthur laughs again.
“So I’m a sexy shepherd and you’re a man with an orgy on your tie.”
“I’m a sex club manager,” says Arthur.
There is a pause.
“You’re a what?” says Eames.
“A sex club manager. You know. If we had a sex club. This is how I would dress.”
There’s a smile on Eames’s face, a twitching of his lips.
Arthur says, “And you should see what a sex club manager wears under the suit.” Arthur winks.
Eames’s jaw drops. Then he says without taking his eyes off of Arthur, “Turn the camera off.”
The party is small, intimate. It’s only Arthur and Eames and Gon and Ariadne and Julia and Paul. Gon and Ariadne are dressed as matching Where’s Waldos, in blue and red, “because Waldo wears a scarf,” Ariadne explains, “and my fandom likes scarves.” Julia is dressed as Marilyn Monroe circa Seven-Year Itch. Paul has no costume. “I have come as a contractor who deals with a sane designer,” he says. “See my smile?”
“Wipe that smile off your face, you’d be bored stiff,” says Eames.
They stand around drinking cocktails that Eames serves from a cauldron in the corner surrounded by fake insects.
“Arthur wouldn’t let me get real insects,” Eames says.
“Good,” say Gon and Ariadne and Julia in unison.
Paul just takes a large gulp of his drink.
There is bobbing for apples, and Eames leads ridiculous country-western line-dancing in the dance area.
“How do you even know these dances?” Arthur asks.
“I don’t know, I’m making it up as I go along,” says Eames, as Julia and Ariadne get tangled in each other and collapse to the floor in laughter.
They make s’mores and have a picnic and talk about everything and nothing. The camera catches them in the rosy glow from the fire, talking and laughing, sometimes in one big group, sometimes in smaller groups. Julia insists on taking selfies with everyone. Ariadne dresses Arthur up in her scarf. Gon asks seriously about the comfort of Eames’s hot pants.
There is Arthur, in his rust-colored sweater, looking at the camera. “In the end, there probably won’t be live bats, and Eames won’t do any of the really, really crazy things he’ll propose. He’ll just do…amazing thing. He’ll do absolutely amazing things.” Arthur smiles at the camera. “Unpredictable, amazing things. He makes every day of my life this remarkable adventure. I know I’m supposed to be the ‘narrator’ for this episode but I don’t know how to narrate everything that’s about to happen other than to say: This is my life, this is my home, I love every second of it, every inch of it, and I hope you enjoy this holiday with us.”
“Say something Halloween-y to wrap us up, Arthur,” says Kalinda from off-camera.
Arthur looks into the camera and says, “Boo.”