Before the birth, Arthur has spent all the hours he could snatch reading child-raising manuals in brown-wrapped covers, grimly bringing down his expectations. She will cry, he thought, and be dirty and get sick, and that's okay, you signed on for it. Remember that.
(The brown wrappers were supposedly to keep people from offering advice. He had enough smug assholes breathing down his throat as it were. Although really, it was because every single cover had a sweet-looking Omega beaming down on him, and it was making Arthur sicker than he'd ever been in the first trimester to look at them.)
But then she's born, she's there, and she's so quiet that Arthur wakes up at night in cold sweat, terrified that she's stopped breathing.
Eames finds them near dawn, on the rocking chair Arthur's mother insisted he bring in and which he's thankful for. He'd just fed her, not so much because she cried, rather because she blinked awake at him and his breasts were achingly full. Now he's holding her while she sleeps.
"You should be in bed." Eames' voice is soft, in deference of the hour and Beth's rest.
"Can't get up. There's a baby on me." Arthur tries for an appealing look, but he's pretty sure he just ends up cross-eyed.
Eames takes Beth (such strong steady hands, so confident when Arthur's still terrified he'll drop her) and deposits her back in her crib. "Mission accomplished. Do I have to repeat myself?"
He doesn't. He does have to help Arthur up, since the lack of sleep has him a little wobbly at the knees, but he doesn't complain.
Arthur takes her to the voting sessions, wears her in a wrap tight to his chest and defies anyone to make an issue of it.
A few do, but the surprising part is the ones who don't, the councilmembers who come to him to coo over her and offer their own child-rearing anecdotes. He even sees the minister for education bring his own son to meetings, wide-eyed and clutching his father's pants.
"Looks like you're starting a fashion," Eames whispers when Arthur sits back down after making his presentation. "Bring your kid to work day."
Against his better judgement, Arthur whispers back. "She'll have to do this someday, too. Best to get her started on it early." He strokes Beth's downy hair.
Eames grimaces, but he waits until the council disperses to make a grabby-hands gesture at Arthur. "Give'er over."
Arthur does, helpless in the face of Eames' greedy affection, how Beth wakes up momentarily (that child can sleep everywhere, it's just obscene) to coo at Eames, then falls right back asleep in his arms.
"Right then," Eames says. "We're going to the park, I'm not having you raise my only daughter to be a workaholic. She needs some balancing influence." He kisses Arthur's forehead, careful not to squish Beth between them. "You've got two hours to finish rewriting the proposal. If you don't come join us by then, I'm reading A is for Anarchy to her."
"Empty threats." Arthur smiles. "Go to the park already. I'll meet you there."
Arthur's lying on the blanket Eames has spread for them, leaning up on his elbows, Beth napping on his chest. Eames has involved himself in a pickup Frisbee game (how does he do that, just go to people and fit right in, Arthur will never understand it), laughing and jumping, the late afternoon sun catching in his hair.
He comes bounding back to Arthur and Beth, flopping on the blanket beside them, kissing Arthur's cheek sloppily.
"Anyone can see us," Arthur grouses without any real feeling.
"So? Is there anything wrong about kissing my husband?" Eames bends to kiss Beth's head, infinitely gentler. "There, now I've kissed my only daughter, too. Does that balance out?"
"You keep saying that." Arthur stares upwards, too content to turn his head. "It's like you're trying to hint at something."
"Well." Eames fidgets.
"It's not accurate, anyway." Arthur looks at him at last. Eames is so fucking gorgeous that it still takes Arthur's breath away at close quarters. "You should say, your only child so far."
There are probably people snapping their picture. Tomorrow Arthur will have to look at Eames snogging him enthusiastically on the first page of all the newspapers.
He should probably mind that a lot more than he does, which is not at all.