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Smile for the Camera

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Arthur is distracted.

He’s trying so hard not to be - or, at least, he’s trying not to let the senior partners, or anyone besides Ariadne, basically, see that he is - but he is.  It’s honestly not his fault; it’s hard being back at work, after weeks off spent with just Charlie and Eames, their own little not-quite nuclear family.

He definitely worked hard not to let Eames see how reluctant he was to leave the house that morning.  Eames might have mistaken it for a lack of trust, and that’s absolutely not true.  If there’s anyone he trusts with Charlie, it’s Eames.  Eames looks at Charlie like the baby is the whole world wrapped in a onesie.  Arthur can definitely relate.

Arthur is pouring so much focus into the case files on his desk that when his phone goes off - the merry little chime of a text message that Arthur actively hates - he jumps and nearly falls out of his chair.  Thankfully, it’s not an S.O.S, just a video message - but Arthur is totally unprepared for what he sees when he hits play.

The screen is dominated by Charlie’s round little face, his big bright eyes, and Eames’ fingers are on his chubby cheeks, pressing them into fish lips - accompanied by kissy noises - before stretching them into a smile.  They wrinkle Charlie’s forehead into a scowl, then into a wink.  The video cuts out on the beginnings of Eames’ helpless laughter.

Arthur has trouble coordinating his fingers to type out a text.

Jesus Christ, Eames, he’s your child, not a toy!

Half a moment later, Eames sends back, but he loves it - accompanied by a picture of Charlie grinning, huge and adorably toothless.  Arthur’s heart does something unexplainable - leaping with joy at the sight of his son’s smile, even as it tightens with the longing to be there to see it first hand.

I’m serious Arthur texts back at last.  No more playing Mr. Bill with the baby.

Alright Darling, Eames sends back. Best behaviour from now on.

Arthur thinks that’s the end of it, but a few minutes later, he gets one more message; this one a close up of Eames, obviously lying in bed beside Charlie now, kissing his cheek, while Charlie smiles hugely at the camera.

Within five minutes, it’s not only the background on Arthur’s phone, but on his office computer as well.  Work doesn’t seem quite as awful, after that.