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Little Darling

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“So did you try the weights, bro? Aren’t they better for your traps?”

“Yeah, thanks, man.” Eames kinda wished he had taken a jacket or sweater to school that day, but he’d been working out more than usual and wanted to show off his bigger arms. Couldn’t do that in bulky clothes, even though the fall chill was picking up.

He saw Dom kick up scattered leaves in his peripheral and nudged his arm. “So?”

“So what?”

“Mal?” His brow rose as he and the other boys whistled. “Huh?”

“Fuck you guys, it’s none of your business,” he muttered, more angry than embarrassed.

Eames grimaced and took Dom’s uniform bag, sympathetic. She must have been going back to Paris after all. “Sorry, mate.”

“Man, forget her,” Nash spat on the sidewalk. “Some new chick’ll come along and she’ll wised she’d never gone back to England.”

Eames shoved Nash into the bench they passed. “Paris is in France, dickhead.”

“Whatever,” Nash griped, glaring at Yusuf who was still laughing at him. “It’s all the same thing.” His ears were red as he tried to clean the dirt off his white t-shirt and jacket. “You push like a girl, Eames.”

“Speaking of girls,” Eames muttered before he barked at the boy walking in front of them. “Step aside, little darling,” he mocked and laughed with the others.

The small boy flinched, startled by the outburst. “What? Oh, sorry. I’m sorry,” he muttered, clutching his comic book to his chest as he hurried off the sidewalk.

Eames stopped. Dom and Nash walked into his back. Yusuf skidded to a halt just in time not to knock them all over.

Eames could feel the wind blow past him and see the leaves pick up in the swirling breeze, but all his mind processed was the boy. His small eyes made him look like a sleepy puppy. His curly brown hair was wild in the wind that ruffled his baggy sweater. Eames noticed that all the boy’s clothes were too big for him, but…he was adorable. Even his hunched shoulders and little hands gripping his book as if he feared they'd take it…

Yusuf frowned. “Is that…Sailor Moon on your backpack, kid?”

The boy nodded and held his bag straps tightly. He shrugged.

“What grade are you in?” Dom asked to Eames’ left.

The boy swallowed and tucked a lock of hair behind his ear, but the wind wouldn’t let it stay put. He blushed. “Tenth.”

“Sure you’re not supposed to be at the middle school across the street?” Nash teased.

“No.” He stood up straighter when he saw Eames.

Now Eames felt small even though he was physically huge compared to the boy, but the way his eyes flickered over Eames and lingered for a half second on his arms, made Eames’ ears red now.

He was glad he hadn’t worn a jacket.

+

 

Eames didn’t sleep at all that night and worked out extra hard in the weight room after football practice.

“You’ve been quiet all day,” Dom commented as they stood in the hallway before class. “Did your girlfriend move back to France, too?”

“Guys…what if… What if I don’t want a girlfriend?” He shrugged at their confused faces.

“Like celibacy?” Yusuf asked.

Nash shrugged too. “Well the girls here aren’t that great anyways. The ones at Ariadne’s school though. Holy shit, man.”

Eames kept shaking his head, no. “I mean…like, who cares who’s gay nowadays, right? I can still bench-press more than anybody else on the team and—”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, like…gay-gay, or…?”

He shrugged. Their eyes went wide.

Nash snorted. “Wow. So like…” He scratched his head. “Are you telling us you want to suck our dicks, or…?”

Dom and Yusuf rolled their eyes. “God, you really are a dickhead, Nash. Whatever, Eames.”

“Just like, don’t make out with burly dudes. Or if you’re into that, let us know so we can bail in advance or something.”

He snorted. “Fuck all you guys—Not like that. You’re all gross and hairy.”

“Who are you into?” Yusuf asked after a minute.

Eames hadn’t thought about it before yesterday. “I don’t know, I guess, somebody like…” He looked down the hall and a Sailor Moon backpack caught his attention.

“No way,” Nash teased. “I’m gunna puke, this is too disgustingly cute for me to handle, Eames.” He pretended to swoon into Yusuf’s arms as the three of them laughed and watched Eames adjust his bag on his shoulder as if he was gearing up to hike a mountain.

The boy was leaning on his locker with his face in another comic book, oblivious to the world, with his serene, faraway expression.

Standing behind him, Eames admired the way his hair curled at the ends around his neck. Eames plucked his ear, getting an annoyed glance from him before his face softened.

“Hey.” He tucked his hair and continued reading.

Eames propped his elbow on the locker and leaned in closer, trying to figure out what to say when picking up girls had always been far easier than this. “So you like reading, huh?” Of course the boy did. That was obvious. He felt stupid, but the boy glanced at his again, a finger curling in his hair idly.

“Yeah. I guess.” He shrugged, his cheeks turning pink.

“Marvel ones are my favorite. I love the X-Men, but some of the DC ones are good too. Which one is this?” He plucked the book from his hands and instantly regretted it. “Um…”

Two men in suits were ripping each other’s clothes off, declaring their love for each other. On the next page, the smaller man was shoved face down on the desk as the much larger man rubbed his cock all over his bare ass. Eames swallowed, his eyes wide. He glanced around them, expecting everyone in the hall to see what he had in his hands, so he quickly closed the book. On the cover, both men were floating in a bed of flowers with a baby blue backdrop.

“Ah…” The boy swallowed, blushing beet red now as he carefully took the book back. “It’s um…” He grimaced. “Sorry.”

Eames ran a hand through his hair, embarrassed and laughed. “Yeah, me too.”

+

 

Arthur had never cared for sports before. If anyone asked him, he wouldn’t have a clue what was going on, but he stayed for the whole game. His kept hands on the cold fence, watching the large boy send the football soaring through the air. A chorus of cheers followed.

His shoulders sank when the boy caught him watching. He didn’t wave and the boy didn’t wave either. Maybe he hadn’t seen Arthur. He hoped so. Today had been mortifying when he’d seen his gay manga. He couldn’t even remember how that awkward moment had ended, but somehow he’d walked away without getting punched, or mocked for it.

He could have sworn the boy looked at him again when he pulled his baggy sweater collar evenly on his shoulders after the wind died down. Arthur’s hands gripped the fence with anxiety as the boy was crushed in a pile up. He held his breath until the field cleared and the boy was able to walk off the field. He released his heavy, relived sigh, watching it steam away in the chilly night air.

“Hey.”

Arthur blinked from staring up at the stars. The boy’s purple uniform was dirty. He had a scratch and bruise on his elbow.

“Hey.” Arthur’s heart pounded as the boy approached him on the other side of the fence, still panting from running over from the field.

“I’ve never seen you at a game before.”

He shrugged a shoulder and had to adjust his sweater again. “Never had a reason to. You play good.”

“Yeah?” His chest still rose and fell under his pads. He puts his hands on his hips when Arthur nodded. “Thanks.”

Arthur reached up through the fence and pulled out the grass still stuck in his helmet.

The whistled blew. The boy glanced back once as he jogged back to the coach with his team.

Arthur picked up his backpack, rummaged around for his empty sandwich bag from lunch, and put the grass in it, though he wasn’t sure why he kept it.

+

 

Arthur didn’t get to talk to him anymore to two days. He was surprised by how sad that made him. Maybe he’d assumed too much. Not every jock was a bully. He felt stupid for assuming it was more than just a boy being nice to him. He’d almost begun to enjoy coming to school, too, if it had meant his heart fluttering as they muttered “hey” to each other in the halls between classes.

+

 

Eames was grumpy when he stormed into the cafeteria. He hadn’t slept well all week and couldn’t figure out why.

So when he found the boy sitting alone during lunch lost in one of those smut comics again, his delivery was a little more aggressive than he’d intended.

“Oi, little darling,” he mocked, “I brought you a white mocha and some scones since…” He cleared his throat when the small boy’s startled frown turned into a wide, dimpled smile that made his eyes narrow. Eames almost forgot what he’d been saying. “They, um…” He nudged the bag across the table at him. “Some of them are orange and cranberry. The one on top’s blueberry, I think. I can’t remember since I kinda just got on of everyth—”

“Thank you.” He sat his book aside. It was the first volume of Avengers vs. X-men, not one of his usual comics. He blushed as he opened the bag and inhaled the sugary scent, his eyes closed.

“So…yeah.” Eames scratched his chin and turned to storm off.

“Wait.” The boy tucked his hair. “What’s your name?”

“James. My friends call me Eames. That’s my last name. You?”

“Arthur.” He smiled again, still holding the bag. “Can I call you Eames, too?”

Eames opened his mouth but nothing came out at first. He pulled the chair out across from Arthur and sat down. “Yeah. I’d like that.” He tapped his finger on the comic. “You’re reading a good one.”

“It is! I got sucked into the plot on the first few pages. The art is amazing too! I wished I’d started from the beginning though, so I could know more of their back stories.”

Eames glanced around them and bit his lip before he moved to sit next to Arthur. “Which ones in particular? I could tell you—if you don’t care about spoilers, in case you ever read the ones before this series.”

“I don’t mind.” Arthur smiled brightly, forgetting to trap the curl that insisted on staying in his face. “I’d like that.”

 

Arthur listened to every word as Eames rambled through lunch between the scones they shared.

“Just wait 'til I bring you some of the other Avengers ones. Thor makes Wolverine look like chump when—”

They stopped in front of Arthur’s locker. Someone had draw a caricature of him in a pool of what he assumed was piss since the grey color of the locker distorted the marker colors. Gay slurs had been spray-painted and carved into the door and the lock was stuffed with chewed gum.

Arthur’s cheeks and ears burned. This had never happened to him before. No one had even noticed him enough to care this much about bullying him here. Not like at the high school he’d transferred from. Then again, he’d never had a popular jock bring him attention before either. Anyone could tell that Arthur liked him.

He glanced up at Eames, who still stared at the locker as if he wanted to punch it in. He shrugged. “It was bound to happen, I guess.”

“It shouldn’t have happened.”

“Yeah, well there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s okay. I’m okay.” He wasn’t, but he didn’t need Eames to know that.

But Eames’ hand was on the back of his neck now, patting him and telling him he’d fix this. Arthur hurried to wipe his eyes. “It’s okay.”

“Nobody’s ever said anything to me before,” Eames muttered.

“Nobody’s gunna dare to say anything you, so…” He laughed bitterly. “It must be nice being all big and intimating, huh?”

“Arthur, I’m sorry.”

“No don’t be. Hey, the bell’s about to ring. I don’t want to make you late for class, okay? Thanks for lunch. I… The raspberry ones were my favorite.” Before Eames could respond, Arthur hurried down the hall. He rushed past his class and didn’t stop until the bathroom door closed behind him in the nurse’s office. He sank to the floor and hated himself for almost crying in front of Eames.

+

 

It ate up Eames to see Arthur look that helpless and embarrassed. The detention he earned after skipping class to clean Arthur’s locker was worth it, but it wasn’t good enough, not to Eames.

He was quiet walking from school to the parking lot with his friends. He was hardly listening to Nash and Yusuf make fun of Dom, who’d just gotten an email from Mal.

They turned the corner.

“Holy shit, Eames, look!”

He was already gone in the direction Nash pointed, throwing off his backpack and charging at the group of boy beating up Arthur behind the library.

He’d never looked smaller, huddled on the ground with Eames’ Thor comic in a million pieces under him.

 

Arthur was angry for not fighting back, but the boys hit hard and from all directions. He should have just let them have the comic, or told them whose it was. Now both he and the book were getting crushed into the gravel. Getting spit in the face was the last straw. Arthur kicked out, tripping the biggest one, but he could see through blurred eyes even more big boys running towards him. He was as good as finished now.

Only the new boys didn’t rain more blows on him. They attacked the others. One swopped in behind him and hooked his arms under Arthur’s and dragged him out of the fray only to dive back in himself. From here, Arthur could see Eames take a fist to his cheek right before his own fist smashed into a boy’s chin. Eames and his friends quickly overpowered of the others and sent them scampering off.

Arthur tried to stand but his ribs hurt.

“You alright, little darling?” Eames’ face was bloody from a busted lip and cut under his eye. He winced as he gently helped Arthur to his feet.

He dusted himself off quickly, feeling lightheaded. When he smiled, he could feel all the bruises on his face. He knew he had to look horrible. Even his sweater was torn and his jeans had holes in the knees. “Thanks to you, I am.” His scraped fingers played with the stretched hem of his sweater when he dropped his eyes. “I’m really sorry about your book. I know you said it was your dads, before he… It meant a lot to you, so I didn’t want them to take it, but when they grabbed me, it fell out of my bag. I had to get it back for you, but…I guess I just made things worse.”

“No way,” Eames said, stepping closer. “You did good. One of them had a black eye when we showed up. You were doing pretty good on your own, yeah?”

Arthur hadn’t touched a single one of them, but Eames’ gesture still touched his heart.

“Let’s have a look at you. Your tooth is chipped. Damn.” He carefully touched Arthur’s chin.

Arthur couldn’t help but smile even though it hurt. “Yours is too.”

“Really?” Eames felt around his bloody teeth. “You’d think they wouldn’t be so crooked now, but they’re still awful looking, aren’t they?”

Arthur laughed, clutching his ribs. “I like your teeth.”

One of Eames’ eyes was swollen nearly shut when he grinned. “Good. I could never accept a boy who couldn’t appreciate my teeth the way they are.”

The look in Eames’ eyes made Arthur blush. He looked away, but Eames lightly cupped his face and tried to kiss him. They both winced and clutched at their busted mouths.

“Maybe not the best time, huh?” Eames teased behind his hand. He chuckled as Arthur eased his small arms around his big waist. Eames carefully circled his arms around Arthur’s shoulders, mindful of any hurts.

+

 

The first time Eames held Arthur’s hand, no one tried to bully him again. And when they stood together in their tuxedoes for prom, Arthur had no idea they’d be voted as Prom Kings and made to dance in front of so many happy and tearful students, particularly since neither he nor Eames knew how to dance. Arthur stepping on his toes only seemed to make Eames love him more.

+

 

Eames waved back at the students he coached soccer for as he headed to his car with his phone wedged between his ear and shoulder. He loved when Arthur got a chance to call him with his busy class schedule. He drove home as Arthur told him about his grades for his last semester of college.

“We have a week long break before the graduation,” Arthur was saying now, “if you want to come up early for the ceremony, maybe Friday?”

“So what are your plans until then, darling?” He tried not to sound hopeful.

“Well, I’m not sure. I think I might stay here. Depends on what my friends are planning.”

“Oh.” He would miss Eames’ birthday then. “Okay.” He juggled the phone and satchel to find his keys to the apartment. He wasn’t looking forward to sleeping in their bed alone for a whole other week, but he supposed he’d just have to put up with it.

He climbed the steps, his key ready, but the door opened for him.

Arthur stood inside, still on his phone. “Or I could just come back now and surprise you? Does that work?”

“Yes! This is perfect!” Eames almost lost his bag out the door when he hurried in to sweep Arthur up in his arms. “I missed you so much! How did you get back?”

“I picked him up.” Yusuf beamed.

Everyone there laughed when Eames finally noticed that the little apartment was filled with birthday streamers and all their friends and family. It was the best birthday surprise he’d ever had.

 

He held Arthur’s hand as they walked through the park that evening.

“I hope you’re not bringing me out here because you’ve been planning on breaking up with me but didn’t want to make a scene in front of everybody because I’ll make a scene even out here if I have to, Eames.”

Eames’ laughing didn’t help. He kissed the glare from Arthur’s face. “Well, I suppose here is a good place to say this.”

They’d reached the park fountain, its water catching the light from the setting sun, making it sparkle.

“You’ll be starting a whole new life now that school’s over, and even though you’ve always been a smart boy, I’m still proud of you.” Eames scratched the back of his neck and looked away. “I wanted to wait until next week for this, but what better time than today, right?”

Arthur blinked. “So you are breaking up with me.”

“No, you idiot! What I’m trying to get as is, well…”

“Eames?” Arthur’s eyes went wide and he took a step back when Eames knelt on one knee with a small box in his hands. “Are you…”

“Arthur, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I want to have a family, and birthday celebrations for the kid, and be a grandparent with you and just…all that stuff. I want it. I want you. Damn, this was a terrible proposal speech, but—” He fell backwards on the ground when Arthur rushed at him to cover his face in kisses. They lay in the grass where they fell, until Eames’ phone rang. “Hello? Mal?”

“What did he say? You’ve left us all dying to know what he said. Why are you keeping us in suspense like this Eames?”

“Piss off, I haven’t finished yet!” He blushed when Arthur laughed at him and took the phone.

“It’s a yes, Mal.” Arthur smiled brightly, tearing Eames’ heart to bits as if it was first time Eames had seen his smile. He kissed Eames’ forehead when he ended the call. “It’s definitely a yes, Mr. Eames.”

+

 

“Now, now, Mr. Eames,” Eames teased Arthur as they sat together at the wedding reception, “if you keep kissing me, they’ll hardly be anything left for us to do during our honeymoon.”

“Oh, I can think of a plethora of things for us to do both tonight and when we get to Tel Aviv.”

They paused when Dom stood to give a tearful toast. Eames grinned, leaning in close when Arthur resumed his trail of kisses in and around Eames’ shirt collar. “Like?”

“Like the speedo Mal helped me pick out, and then there’s our view of the beach from the hotel, which I remind you our room’s near the top floor, so plenty of sex on the balcony.”

“I like the idea of sex on the balcony. Go on.”

“Well there’s the bed itself.”

“Of course.”

“And there’s the Mile High club.”

Eames chuckled. “What if we caught and end up arrested?”

Arthur hummed, nibbling on Eames’ jaw. “Then we’ll try that on the flight back then.”

“Definitely.”

+

 

Arthur was awfully quiet after Dom and Mal came by to pick up Phillipa and James.

Eames sat beside him with the laundry basket of clothes and began to fold their t-shirts. “Babysitting’s fun, isn’t it? Those are good kids, those two. I swear it’s like they both grow five new inches every time we blink.”

“Eames, I want a kid,” he finally said, his eyes on James’ lost socks he found buried between the couch cushions.

Arthur look at Eames as if he was prepared for the man to tell him no.

“Okay.”

“Okay? Yes?” He smiled.

Eames held up his finger. “On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“Before we consider adopting, we should at least try the old fashioned way at least a few times first, just in case.”

Arthur covered his face when he laughed. “Of course, Mr. Eames.” He pushed Eames’ folded pile of clothes to the floor and climbed into his lap. “We’ll try it first, and then go from there.”

+

 

Eames wanted every child at the agency. Each little pair of untied shoelaces and runny noses gripped his heart and refused to let him go.

Arthur picked the boy whose shoelaces were neatly tied and his nose clean and dry. He lead Eames to the table where Daniel sat glued to his old copy of Harry Potter.

“That’s an awfully big book for such a little boy,” Eames said, making Daniel blush.

The boy looked between them with wide eyes and shyly said to Arthur, “I don’t know what this word means.”

Arthur helped him sound it out and put the word into context. Daniel fell in love with Arthur at once.

+

 

Eames hovered in the doorway to Daniel’s room as Arthur sat by the bed reading him a bedtime story.

Eames wasn't jealous. His day came soon enough.

He was drying the washed dinner dishes when Daniel crept into the kitchen after his bath with a book in his tiny hands.

“Papa?” He picked at a hem on his dinosaur pajamas. “Daddy says he can’t do the dragon voice as good as you so he wants you to help him read this to me.” He handed Eames the book. “Please?”

Eames studied the book before peering down at the shy boy. He caught Arthur hovering down the hall smiling. “Now, The Hobbit can be scary for a little boy, but if we tackle this one together, we should be okay, yeah?”

Daniel nodded quickly, smiling. He reached for Eames’ hand.

Arthur was right. No one could do a dragon’s voice as good as Eames. Daniel would have no other dragon impression but his for now on.

+

 

“Daniel,” Arthur warned from the kitchen, “remember what we agreed about your homework. Do it now so you won’t have to worry about it Sunday?”

“Oh, come on, dad,” the teenager whined, “it’s the new edition. Can’t I do it after dinner? Please?”

“Eames?” Arthur sighed and rolled his eyes. “You’re just as worst as he is.”

“But darling, it is Friday. I’ll help Danny on his report early Sunday morning, deal?”

“My grades have been really good.”

“His grades are great, darling.”

“Fine.” He snorted when his husband and son scrambled to the living room to set up the console. “You can take off your backpack first, Danny. I promise it’ll only take a second, unless you don’t plan on staying.” It was useless. Arthur shook his head, smiling as he set the timer for the pizza in the oven. He picked up his book and joined them in the room, secretly excited to see Daniel and Eames play the new game.

+

 

“I don’t get it.” Arthur shook his head, wiping his eyes. “What is it with kids not wanting their parents to go with them on their first day? I mean, look at all the boxes in his car. He’ll need help setting up his dorm, Eames.”

“Darling—”

“And what if his roommates are assholes? What do we do then?”

Eames waved as Daniel got the car started and backed out of the driveway. He wiped his eyes as well, watching their boy drive off, taking their hearts with him. “He’s a big boy, darling. We have to let him figure these things out.”

“Do you think we should have packed him lunch and groceries for his first week? The food there might be terrible and make him sick.”

“Darling, darling, he’ll be fine.” He sniffled. “With any luck, he’ll meet a nice group of a friends who’ll keep him out of trouble.”

 

Daniel did them one better. He found a girlfriend who loved to volunteer as a tutor during the week and stay in, away from the parties, on the weekends. Daniel sent pictures of his and Margie’s adventures through the city, to museums and trips to the beach and hiking in the fall.

+

 

Arthur and Eames were in the garden planting new spring flowers and trimming the bushes when the phone rang.

“What was that?” Eames asked, still clipping branches.

“Don’t worry, papa,” Arthur rubbed his knees when he stood. “I got it.”

Eames coughed and moved to another bush.

“Papa?” He heard Arthur yell a minute later. “It’s Daniel.”

Eames hurried inside. “What is it, son? Did you finally get arrested?”

“Mr. Eames, please,” Arthur chided, putting the phone on speaker. “Margaret just had their baby.”

“Oh! Well, hush up, darling, and let the boy tell us what is it, then," he teased, getting a light smack on the back of his head from Arthur.

“Two babies,” Daniel proclaimed. “We had twins! We didn’t even know we were having twins, but we have twins now!”

His parents smiled at each other as Daniel continued to ramble on about having twins.

Eames scratched his head as Arthur kissed him. “What does he need two more babies for when they’ve got Scarlet already?”

Arthur smacked him again and laughed. “You’re too young to be as ornery and senile as you are, Mr. Eames.”

Eames clutched his heart. “Darling, you wound me. Now go get packing while I get our plane tickets so we can see the little ones.”

+

 

“Grandpa, can you read to us? Daddy says you do the bestest dragon voices?” The twins were almost in tears already when Eames tricked them into thinking he’d say no.

“But it’s Christmas Eve,” Eames reminded the children. “There aren’t any dragons in Christmas stories…right?”

Arthur shrugged. “Let’s make up one then?"

 

The following Christmas holiday was spent at Arthur and Eames’ house because of Eames’ bad knee.

“Don't forget, Grandpa, you have to tell us the Dragon Christmas story before we go to bed, okay?” Scarlet asked.

“Of course, little cricket. I’d never miss our favorite new tradition for anything.”

 

Arthur made his way carefully down the stairs, helping Eames with his cane the next morning. The children bounced around their parents, ready to open their presents.

Eames and Arthur were given a heavy box.

“The kids wrapped it. They were very proud,” Margie explained, standing with Daniel as they opened the box and saw the large photo album inside.

Arthur put on his reading glasses and opened it between them. “Look, papa,” he took Eames' hand, his eyes filling with tears, “it’s us. Remember this one? From when you snuck me into the party for your fraternity? And look at this! When it snowed and your car slide on ice in the parking lot at our first apartment.” He laughed. “You were so excited to drive home for our first anniversary. Your car slid into my parked one and ended up totaling it.”

Eames laughed, squeezing Arthur’s hand. “That was over thirty years ago. Look at how little and mean you were.”

“I loved that car!”

They scooted apart so the grandkids could sit between them and look at the pictures.

“Granddaddy, why are you crying?”

Arthur kissed the top of the boy’s head. “Because, Sammy, your grandpa and I have had a wonderful life together. It makes me very happy—even when he accuses me of stealing his glasses while they’re still on his face.”

+

 

Eames tapped his cane quietly as Daniel drove him to the hospital to visit Arthur. He wasn’t doing well again.

“Sammy and Beth both got soccer scholarships for college,” Daniel was saying. “And Scarlet’s at the top of her gymnastics’ team.” He glanced over at Eames who was staring out the window. He took his father’s hand. “Margie says she’s excited to have you come live with us. The kids will be happy too, when they visit. Just…try not to be an asshole about the bedroom. Sammy considers himself to be an artist, so he painted a mural, or something, I think, on the walls for you.” He grinned when Eames laughed at his teasing.

He helped Eames out of the car and into building. “Hey pop, I’ll be right in after you. I just…” He cleared his throat and couldn’t finish.

Eames smiled. He patted his son's shoulder as Daniel’s eyes blurred. “I understand, Danny. You take as long as you need.”

 

“Stop staring at me, Mr. Eames,” Arthur teased, his eyes still closed as the hospital television played softly in the corner.”

“Why not? We’re married aren’t we?” Eames looked around the room when Arthur cracked his eyes open. “Good grief, I’m not even in the right room, am I?”

Arthur’s laugh made him cough but he still smiled up at Eames.

“Well, since you aren’t my husband, think you got any room in that bed for me? We can fool around until my real husband catches us.” He smiled, petted Arthur’s soft blankets. “Are you comfortable, my darling?”

“Will you fix my pillows for me? The nurses aren’t quite sure how to get it just right.”

“That’s because this is my job.” Eames hooked his cane on the bed railing and helped Arthur prop his head. “After nearly sixty years, I ought to know how to care for you best.”

“Be careful, Mr. Eames.”

“Hush, you.” He tried to stoop down and retrieve his fallen cane, but his joints wouldn’t let him. “Well, there’s that. Danny will fetch it for me once he gets here.”

“Can you make it to the chair? We can call the nurse in.”

“No, this is quite alright. Just me and you, darling.” He kissed Arthur’s forehead and smiled. “Just me and you.”

+

 

“How does it feel being a grandfather, hm?” Eames asked Daniel as they went for a drive.

“It’s surreal. How does it feel being a great-grandpa?”

“Like I ought to have my name changed to Gandalf or something. Too bad all my hair is gone. I would have looked just like a wizard by now,” he wheezed.

What clouds were in the sky cleared away by the time they parked in the handicap spot. Daniel helped him out of the car and up the grass to Arthur’s little stone.

“When Scarlet has her son, they’re going to name him Arthur.”

Eames chuckled. “Good. He would have loved that, Danny. He really would.” 

++

+

 

End.