We will not speak of Eames' stag do. Well, alright, we will, but Arthur won't be happy about it. (After the event, he enforces silence; anyone who mentions it has to put a few quid into a jar marked 'Arthur's Therapy Fund'.) As best man, Cobb is meant to organise the stag do, but the kids come down with something and in between mopping up sick and trying to entertain a grumpy three-year-old, he doesn't have the time. Eames is appalled; Arthur can just about live with it.
"But it's my last night as a free man!" Eames cries over the phone, "You've got to do something before the chains of matrimony are tied around me forever!"
"I am in the room, Eames," says Arthur, looking up from his cereal with an if-you're-not-careful-on-our-wedding-night-I-am-going-to-bring-you-to-the-brink-of-orgasm-and-then-leave-you-to-cook-bacon- and-I-won't-even-give-you-any-that-is-how-cruel-I-am look. (He can convey a lot with just a look.)
"Eames," Cobb sighs, "Do you know what it's like being constantly screamed at?"
"What do you think living with Arthur is like?"
"You inflicted him upon yourself."
"But the same cannot be said for your spawn. They can ruin your life, not mine."
"When you and Arthur have kids, I will laugh. So. Very. Hard."
"Well actually, we plan on using protection!" says Eames, and slams the phone down.
Arthur shovels a spoonful of Cheerios into Eames' mouth.
"Well," he says flatly, "That's a shame."
Eames would protest, but his mouth is full of Cheerios. (Arthur's thought this through.)
He spends the rest of the day in quiet mourning for the night of drunkenness and debauchery that is sadly never to be. That is, until Ari steps into the fifth floor office, barely smiling, and says, "So what do you think? One stripper or two?"
"Oh God, you beautiful woman," Eames cries, and tackle-hugs her to the floor.
Ari yelps in surprise, but soon dissolves into giggles.
"Get all the strippers," says Eames, and kisses her on the lips, "All of them."
Arthur is going to kill him.
"Now remember," Arthur says, "No strippers, no shots, and if you look a state in the photos I can and will hold it against you for the rest of our married life."
"Got it," says Eames, shrugging on his jacket and grabbing his keys.
Arthur narrows his eyes.
"I mean it, Eames."
Eames puts his hands on Arthur's shoulders.
"Trust me darling, it'll be fine. We're adults."
Arthur looks outside, where Ari, Yusuf and various members of the office team are piled into the back of a pickup truck, dressed in onesies and dancing to Gangnam Style. He looks back to Eames.
Eames pulls him close and kisses him.
"You have a nice time with Dom, okay?"
"Oh yes, and his spawn. We'll have a riot."
"Alright, you grumpy sod," Eames chuckles, taking Arthur's face in his hands and kissing him hard.
The truckful of inebriated office workers cheers and catcalls.
"Yeah, alright, go have fun," sighs Arthur, waving Eames away.
"I love you."
Eames grins and kisses him one last time, before running out to join his stag party.
"Is it legal to drive with that many people in the back?" Arthur calls after them, but they're already halfway down the road.
He sighs, leaning against the doorway.
"I love you too," he says.
Arthur's hen night – which he insists is not a hen night because he is not the bride, he's the one who proposed, okay, but everyone else calls a hen night – consists of a few quiet drinks round Cobb's. Well, that's what it was meant to be. It ends up being more like a sad piss-up. The kids are better, which is just as well because Arthur doesn't want them coughing all through his wedding service thank you very much, and he's relieved enough about that to forgive Philippa from saying, "But we can't see you, Uncle Arthur! Daddy says it's bad luck to see the bride before the wedding!" ("Oh did he?" says Arthur, giving Cobb a look that makes him wince in pain.)
Once the kids are in bed, Arthur sits on the couch and Cobb fusses around the kitchen.
"So what do you want?" he says, "We've got scotch, whiskey, er, Bacardi, don't know what that's doing there, that's probably Ari's, wine, vodka…"
"Just a scotch," says Arthur.
His phone buzzes.
shots shots shots shots!
The text is accompanied by a photo of Eames, Yusuf and Ari inexplicably wearing feather boas and doing shots.
Don't get too drunk, I do want Eames to be able to stand tomorrow.
he can't even stand rn i wldnt get ur hopes up
"Here you are," says Cobb, sitting down next to Arthur and handing him his drink.
Arthur downs it in one.
"Where's the vodka?"
"In the side cabinet…"
"Great," says Arthur, leaping towards it, "I'm going to need it."
"Arthur, you know what happens when you drink that."
"Why do you think I'm drinking it?" says Arthur, opening the bottle with his teeth.
The more texts Arthur receives, the more he drinks. He drinks a lot.
TALE AS OLLD AS TIEM
SONOG AS OLD AS RYHEM
BEUATY AND THE BAEST
yusuf what are you even
U N EMAES R BAETY AND THE BBEAST
DO NTOT CONTRADITC ME
Are you alright?
waht r u tlkin bout
Ari, I think you broke Yusuf.
yh hes passed out on the flor rn lol
You should really get him up. He might need medical assistance. He could have alcohol poisoning.
That's very irresponsible of you.
RTHUR UR TE BEAATY 2 MY BEATS
So Yusuf informed me. By the way, would you mind scraping what's left of him off the floor?
i cant teh florrs movin 2 much
If you are in a state tomorrow I will never forgive you. Do you understand me?
be my geust be my guest
la la la candelsitck be my guest
why am I marrying you
bcoz u luv me b4 teh roes petal falls
dont u rathur
RTHR DO U LUV ME BFOR THEE ROES PTAL FALS
In spite of everything, I do love you.
ahgh ive fallen arthr saveme
TALE AS OLD ASS TIEME
What on earth is going on with Beauty and the Beast here?
y is ther man on me
Eames get off Yusuf
NOO he is squishyy he shal be mine
By this point, Arthur is weeping into Cobb's lap, and Cobb is stroking his hair and wishing that he'd hidden that vodka.
"And he just makes me feel so – I just – I love him so much, Dom. And I couldn't let him go and I couldn't leave him ever. And he has lovely hands and lovely eyes and oh keep doing that, that feels nice. And I want us to be together always and oh you smell nice, and I want us to have a family and – and I love him so much and I don't know if he knows how much I love him but it's a lot, Dom, it's – I just love him."
"Mmm," says Cobb, who is starting to regret his existence.
To cut a very long story short, the next morning, Arthur wakes up on the couch with a hangover, Eames wakes up on the kitchen floor with a feather boa stuffed in his mouth, and, several miles away, Yusuf wakes up in a ditch completely naked with a brass candlestick lying next to him. Arthur somehow peels himself off the couch before peeling Eames off the floor and shoving a mug of coffee into his hands.
"You're so good to me," Eames murmurs, grabbing Arthur's face and stroking it, "So good, darling."
"If you don't sober up, I will kill you," says Arthur.
"You are my beauty and I am –"
"Okay," says Arthur, taking a deep breath, "Eames, I am going to go upstairs and take a shower. And when I've done that, I am going to come downstairs and you are going to be awake and fully functional. And if you are not, I am going to strangle you with those hideous boxers with Margaret Thatcher on them that you got for Secret Santa and for reasons unknown to me actually kept."
"Tale as old as time…"
Arthur extricates himself from the man he is now seriously reconsidering marrying and heads upstairs. His phone rings, and he answers it with a sigh.
"I think I had sex with a candlestick!"
Arthur freezes, midway up the stairs.
"I… I don't know where I am," says Yusuf, "Uh, there's trees and a road and Arthur, you have to find me, please, please find me, I'm naked and there's stinging nettles! Stinging nettles! My arse is on fire, Arthur!"
Arthur tightens his grip on the banister.
"I will come to get you," he says slowly, because he is about twenty seconds away from another meltdown, "As soon as I can. I'm going to have a shower and get dressed and then I will come and find you. Okay?"
"Arthur, please help me, there's little ants and they're crawling up my legs!"
"Bye, Yusuf," says Arthur, and hangs up.
He steels himself, and carries on upstairs. He needs to have a shower, and he'll feel better, more refreshed, and he'll be ready to start the day. It will be fine. Everything else will run perfectly, this was just a slight hiccup, he'll be –
Arthur freezes, just inside the bathroom. Because there, in the bath, surrounded by shower products and various items of clothing, are Ari and Cobb.
"I cleaned that yesterday!" Arthur screams, turns on the shower at a freezing temperature, and runs downstairs.
Eames has collapsed onto the kitchen floor, coffee pooled around him. He is attempting to lap it off the floor. Arthur's phone rings again.
"Arthur, Arthur I've been arrested for indecent exposure," says Yusuf, his voice panicky.
Arthur throws his phone to the floor and screams.
Today is supposed to be the happiest day of his life.
(Yeah, like that was ever going to happen.)