Title: Nombre
Author: A.j.
Rating: PG

Notes: Post "Semi-Detached".

Summary: "Maybe next time, you could call me Robert?"

"Maybe next time, you could call me Robert?"

There are three people on the planet who call him Robert. Four when Deakins is pissed enough to use his full name.

It plays in his head, that name. Pulling old memories and screams and instability. He doesn't know why he asked Nellie to call him that. Isn't sure why it was so important for him to hear those words over those lips in that environment.

And sitting at his corner diner counter, he's totally lying to himself.

"Robert! Tell me you've eaten your salad. A boy like you with such a big job needs his vegetables." Mrs. Diaggio's eyes smile at him over the counter, her face a map of deep lines on olive skin. Her hand is warm and surprisingly strong on his sleeve.

He's been eating here at least once a week for the last six years. Mrs. Diaggio had cornered him the second time he'd stepped in the door and had somehow managed to pump his work history, then dating habits, and his opinion on Italy's chances at the world cup within the space of forty-five minutes, all the while berating him for eating too much grease.

Two months later, he'd half-seriously asked her to marry him. She'd laughed and told him that sixty-something year old widows didn't chase younger men like that, but he was entitled to free pie for the rest of her life.

He comes here when he needs to be called Robert. Comes for the pie and the salads and the nagging. He loves Mrs. Diaggio - never Elena - because she cares for him, and sometimes he needs that connection. Wants someone to smile at him and care for him.

He's lying to himself because he does know why he wanted Nellie to call him Robert. It's the same reason he never wants to hear Eames say it.

He smiles at Mrs. Diaggio and takes a bite of his green beans. "Sure, Mrs. Diaggio. See? I even ate the red spinach."

"You are such a good boy, Robert." She smiles and he feels the scared little place inside himself shift and expand. Glowing just a little before shrinking again.

He hates himself a little for this need. Wants to be independent and strong and not burn for this attention.

He has women in his life. Lovers and friends who swirl around him in an endless kaleidoscope of color and stimulation. Eames who goads and pushes and pulls him bodily to mental heights he's never imagined. But he can't ask any of them - especially Alex - for this. To call him Robert.

So he sits here and eats his meatloaf and tries not to think about it.