Halloween was coming up and, after Liv mentioned to Seb it involved people giving you sweets, it was his new favourite holiday.
And secretly Robert and Aaron’s too.
Where Seb was mostly preoccupied with the sweets part of things, Robert had insisted the three of them would go trick or treating together in matching costumes.
The only trouble was finding something that wasn’t a) horrendous, b) aimed at straight couples, or c) something Aaron would try to burn within 5 minutes.
He’d spent weeks scrolling through endless websites with costume ideas and online stores but found nothing that fit all 3 of his criteria.
It was Seb’s first proper Halloween and he wanted to make it special, but by the way things were looking now, they’d end up trick or treating in their regular clothes.
“Why don’t you go as James Bond?” Vic suggested. “All you’d need is a suit. It’s easy.”
“But I don’t want easy. I want something special.” Robert complained. “Something that people will still talk about by Halloween next year.”
“Why? Isn’t the most important thing that Seb has fun?”
“Of course. But that doesn’t mean we can’t beat the rest of these peasants.” He looked around the café. He’d only come to pick up some lunch for him and Aaron but ended up talking to his sister and asking her advice on Halloween costumes. “What are you going as?”
“Nothing really. Harry is too young to understand so we’ll just stay in and watch scary films. Luke knows all the good ones. He’s a real film buff, you know.”
“He’s something alright…” Robert mumbled under his breath.
“I heard that.” Vic scolded him. “Why can’t you just be nice to him?”
“This is me being nice.” His sister’s love life had been the source of many arguments between the two. “But I still don’t know what to do for Halloween.”
“Just keep it simple. That’s what I’d do.” She put a bag on the counter. “Here’s your lunch.”
When he got back to the scrapyard, Aaron was playing with Seb who was wearing some kind of costume.
“Cain just dropped him off. Apparently he’s decided Cain is no fun anymore.” Aaron explained when he saw the confused look on his husband’s face.
“Right. That explains everything but the outfit.”
“It’s the costume I ordered for him. I told you about that the other day, didn’t I? It was delivered today and he wanted to try it on.”
“Yeah. There’s a pitchfork and devil horns that go with it but I thought I’d keep them in the box for now. And the wings and tail come off so it’s basically just a pair of red pjs.” Aaron told him. “What’s wrong?” he asked when Robert didn’t say anything and just stood there looking at their son.
“Nothing… I just… I thought the three of us were going to match? Go trick or treating as a family.”
Aaron got up and put his hands on Robert’s hips.
“We can still do that.”
“You bought us red pjs and devil horns too then?”
“I meant go trick or treating as a family. He’ll love the pitchfork and by the time we’ve made our way around the village, he’ll only care about the chocolate.”
“I suppose you’re right.”
“Of course I’m right, I’m always right.” Aaron joked and kissed him. “And the two of us can still match.”
Robert had agreed, but Aaron’s idea of a Halloween costume was to buy white paint and draw a skeleton on a pair of old black jeans and an old black hoodie, and Robert was not about to take the easy way out.
It wasn’t until a boring Thursday afternoon at work, with Aaron and Vinny out on a scrap run, and Netflix as his only company that Robert came to a decision. Suddenly he knew exactly what his costume was going to be and what he needed to put it together.
Only by the morning of the 31st, the next tragedy had struck.
Chas had been having an affair with Al and the whole thing had blown up in their faces the night before. Robert would have sympathised with her if he hadn’t been too busy enjoying the show, and relishing in the fact that he wasn’t the cause of the drama for a change.
But of course Aaron and his big heart had felt bad for her and had invited her and Eve along to go trick or treating with them and Seb.
“Come on… do it for Eve.” Aaron said, wrapping his arms around Robert’s waist and kissing his neck. “It’s just for an hour. After that we’ll take our hyped up almost three year old home and wait for him to slip into a sugar coma.”
“You really know how to sell it don’t you?”
“I know it’s not what you wanted for us… but we can still have a good time, right? Liv and Vinny promised to take care of the trick or treaters while we’re out… so we can sit back and relax after Seb’s gone to bed.”
Robert turned around in his arms.
“Or maybe not relax at all?” He grinned. “Now piss off and let me change. I’ll be down in ten minutes.”
Ten minutes turned out to be closer to twenty and after some yelling from his husband, Robert made his way downstairs after a final look in the mirror. As he walked down the stairs he could practically feel Aaron’s eyes on him. He smiled and met Aaron’s eyes. Later.
Chas killed the moment.
“Who are you supposed to be?”
Robert spread his arms and gave her a twirl. He was wearing a three piece suit with a white shirt underneath, a pocket watch hanging from his waistcoat, a shoulder holster strapped around his shoulders complete with toy gun under his arm, his hair was slicked back, and he had a fake cigarette between his lips.
Chas gave him a blank look.
“Ok it kind of needs this too.” He walked over to the coat rack and put on his long winter coat and a flat cap.
Chas’ expression didn’t change.
“My suits are on the house or the house burns down.” Robert said in his best Brummie accent.
“Is that supposed to mean anything to me?”
“Tommy Shelby!” Robert said exasperated.
“From Peaky Blinders. That tv show about gangsters in Birmingham in the 1920s.” Aaron explained. “We like it.” He turned to Robert. “And you look great.”
“I would’ve gone for Alfie but I didn’t want to ruin your Tom Hardy fantasies.” He winked and Aaron blushed.
Payback was a bitch sometimes.
After instructing Liv not to give out everything at once, the five of them set off on their mission. Robert had planned a route for them, starting at the farms and working their way back into the village.
They’d agreed to let Seb take his bike, so he wouldn’t have to walk the whole way, and the little basket on the back would be a good place to put his sweets bucket.
At Butler’s Matty opened the door and pretended to be scared of Seb when he waved his pitchfork around. He gave Seb some sweets and told him Isaac was out trick or treating with his mummy and daddy, much to the boy’s disappointment.
“Maybe we’ll see Isaac in the village later on.” Aaron told Seb. “And you can still show him your costume.”
Seb looked at Robert who nodded.
“Yeah, daddy is right. Say bye to Matty and we’ll go see if we can find Isaac.”
“Bye Matty.” Seb waved and got back on his bike, riding back to the main road with Chas following close behind with a sleeping Eve in her pushchair.
“Bye mate. Have a good night.” Robert told Matty. “You too Amy!” he called out, just before Matty closed the door.
“You’re terrible.” Aaron said laughingly. “She was hiding from us.”
“I know. But they’re both shit at it. Did you see that hickey on his neck? That wasn’t make up.”
“Play your cards right and you’ll have one of those by tomorrow too.”
They made their way over to Wishing Well where Lydia gave Seb more sweets than he could carry, across the road Eric gave him just one small chocolate bar, but he recognised who Robert was supposed to be so he let it go.
Things got a little awkward at the Sharma’s when they ran into Priya and Amba on their way back from trick or treating. Manpreet quickly gave Seb some sweets and even gave Chas some for Eve, much to Priya’s annoyance.
In the village itself, Seb’s bucket filled up quickly and Aaron suggested they called it a night when they’d almost had visited every house.
“No, come on, we’re not done yet.”
They’d just come from Jimmy and Nicola’s and only had Dale View left on their list.
“Rob his bucket is full. Let’s just go home.”
Robert grabbed a handful of sweets from Seb’s bucket and put them in his pocket.
“So you’ll have more room for the sweets from the last house.” He explained when it looked like Seb was about to throw a tantrum. “Let’s go that way. You go knock on the door and we’ll be right behind you.” He steered Seb towards the house.
“You’re doing this on purpose aren’t you?” Aaron hissed as he and an uncomfortable looking Chas followed behind.
Robert just gave him an innocent smile and jogged a few steps to catch up with Seb. He lifted the boy up to ring the doorbell and they both yelled “trick or treat” when Ellis opened the door.
“Oh you’re so scary.” Ellis said, pretending to be scared of Seb as he carefully dropped a few chocolate bars in his bucket.
Seb stabbed the air with his pitchfork and growled, and Ellis did his best not to laugh.
“Just go with it.” Robert said with a chuckle.
“You know, just for that, you get some things from my own supply. The really good stuff.” Ellis said and dropped a handful of sweets from another bag into Seb’s bucket.
“What do you say now Seb?”
“You’re welcome mate. Don’t eat everything at once ok? You’ll get a tummy ache.”
“So how’s the first Halloween in your new house been?” Robert asked. “Busy?”
“Yeah, a little. We’ve been trying to watch a film but there’s kids from all over the place coming trick or treating here.”
“We? Do you have a hot date?”
“Hardly. It’s just me and my dad watching horror films.”
“Oh he’s home? Tell him to come say hello. He has to see Seb’s outfit. And Eve is the cutest little flower.”
Ellis looked over Robert’s shoulder at Chas, who was suddenly very focused on her little girl, and an annoyed looking Aaron standing next to her.
“Erm… I’m… not sure…that’s a good idea…”
“But we want to show Ellis’ dad your costume, don’t we Seb? And maybe he’ll have some more sweets for you.”
“Rob…” Aaron said, beginning to sound more annoyed.
“What? We’re just out trick or treating. It would be a shame if Al missed us. Seb looks so good. And so do you, Chas. That dress really suits you.”
“Right… thanks…” she smoothed non-existent wrinkles from her Morticia Addams outfit.
“Just go get your dad for a second, mate. We’re all family here aren’t we?”
Ellis looked at Aaron for help but the other man just shrugged.
“Alright… I’ll be right back…” he went inside and came back a minute later with Al in tow.
“Trick or treat!” Seb yelled when he saw a new victim in the doorway.
“No, Seb, Ellis already gave you sweets, remember?” Aaron tried but Seb wasn’t having it.
“It’s ok.” Al assured him and bent down to put some sweets in Seb’s bucket. “A great costume like that should be rewarded.” He ruffled Seb’s hair and got up again.
“Don’t forget about Eve.” Robert said. “She might have fallen asleep but she’s part of the family, you know.”
“Right. Of course.” Al said and grabbed some more sweets from Ellis’s bag.
“No, you don’t have to do that. She’s asleep, she won’t notice anything.” Chas assured him.
“Well… maybe her mum would like some chocolates then.” He put a few of the little chocolate bars in the bag hanging from the pushchair’s handle.
“Yeah, Chas is always in the mood for a little sugar and sweetness.” Robert commented and Aaron was torn between laughing and filing for divorce.
“You look great.” Al told her. “You all do.” He added quickly when he realised what he’d said.
“Oh… thanks.” Chas replied, getting flustered. “It’s just a last minute thing.”
“Imagine what you’d look like with more time to prepare then.”
Robert rolled his eyes.
“So how’s life in casa Chapman?” He asked Ellis. “Are you sick of living with your dad yet?”
“No, it’s alright so far really. We’re kind of in the same boat right now, after all.”
Robert nodded and looked at Al playing with a sleepy Eve who had just woken up. Chas looked enamoured, as did Eve, only Aaron looked uncomfortable and unsure of the situation.
Seb was getting bored by the lack of action from the adults in his life and started tugging on his dad’s coat.
“Daddyyy!” he whined. “Trick or treat!”
“We’re about done now mate.” Robert told him. “Uncle Ellis was the last house.” He scooped Seb up into his arms. “It’s time to go home now and see how many sweets you got.”
“That’s the best part.” Ellis assured him.
“Say goodnight to uncle Ellis now.” Robert urged Seb. “And if you ever get sick of living with your dad, give us a shout.” He said to Ellis.
“Why? Are you going to let me move back in next door to you?”
“No, Liv and Gabby are talking about moving in there… but we can always use a babysitter so we can have a night to ourselves.” Robert said and laughed and walked away to save Aaron from death by awkwardness as Seb waved at Ellis over his dad’s shoulder and shouted “Bye uncle Ellis!”
“Uncle Ellis?” Aaron asked, taking Seb from Robert and swapping him for the boy’s bike.
Robert gave him a one sided shrug.
“Look at them, it’s only a matter of time.”
“I really don’t want to think about that right now.” Aaron said. The whole affair mess had shocked him too, and he still considered Paddy his father, no matter what had happened between him and Chas. “Let’s just go home.”
Robert nodded. “
“Yeah alright. Say bye to everyone, Seb.” He told the boy as they started walking in the direction of the mill.
“Bye nana, bye grandpa Al!”
Chas looked shocked and Al started choking on his spit.
Aaron glared at him.