Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations all characters end up in. Everything else belongs to someone else and that's the way of it. Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy this latest fic of mine.
Note: I gave Eames the first name Tom after the actor that played him. It's a rare mother that would call her son by his last name after all.
Eames smiled at his favorite girls, enjoying their looks of awe and excitement as they took in their very upper class surroundings. Normally he avoided places that required extreme monkey suits, but he'd known that his sisters and mother would get a serious charge out of the place. The fancy restaurant was decked out for Valentines Day; the forger couldn't recall ever seeing so much pink, red and white in one room before. It was a little freaky, Eames thought as he absently tugged on the tie his mother had told him he had to wear for the occasion.
"Quit playing with your tie, Tommy." His mother told him, giving his a censoring look. The look slid into concern though, as she glanced down at the menu. "Tommy." She began slowly, obviously not wanting to offend. "Are you sure you can afford to treat us all here? Restaurants that don't advertise their prices usually do that because they don't want people to know how much they're going to bill them at the end of the evening."
"I told you, Mum, it's all right. I made a lot of money at the tables a couple weeks ago." That was a lie of course, he sucked at gambling, but if he told his mother how much he'd been paid for the Fischer job she'd know that what he'd done was illegal and tear verbal stripes off his hide till his or her deathbed. Then she'd make him donate all the money to charity. His mum had the power.
His sister Rachel patted their mother on the arm. "Don't worry, Mum. If Tom says he has enough than he does. And if he doesn't he can wash their dishes until the debt's repaid." She added, fluttering her lashes in her big brother's direction.
"You know, Rachel, it is Valentine's Day, aren't you ashamed not to have a date?" Eames shot back at his little sister. "At least Liz has an excuse." His older sister was married to a soldier who was overseas at the moment. As for their mother she'd been a widow since he was seven, hence their long tradition of him taking her out on Valentines Day in his father's place.
"Ha ha, very funny." Was Rachel's less than amused response to that, though the many insults she mentally had prepared for her brother died in her throat at a look from her mother. So she had to settle for glaring at her brother from across the table until the hot waiter they'd been assigned came over to their table. Then she smiled brightly.
"Ladies, Sir." The waiter moved to the side so that another waiter could set down a stand holding a bottle of champagne resting in the ice. "Mr. Eames, this if for you if it suits your tastes. If not I'm authorized to replace it with something more to your liking. Compliments of an admirer."
Eames raising an eyebrow as he looked around, trying to spot someone he might know in the crowded room. He didn't see anyone he recognized, and this wasn't exactly the sort of place any friend of his would hang out in. "And this admirer would be?"
"The individual prefers to remain anonymous."
"Wow, this looks really fancy and expensive." Elizabeth commented as she lifted the bottle out of the ice bucket in order to get a good look at the label.
"With your permission I'll pour so that you can see if it's to your tastes." The waiter offered, Eames nodding absently as he continued to scan the dimly lit restaurant without success. When the champagne flute was handed to him Eames took a sip, eyes widening as the exquisite taste exploded in his mouth.
"What the hell have I been drinking?"
Around the table his mother and sisters were enjoying their own flutes too much to berate him for swearing in front of them.
"Please tell my son's secret admirer that he or she has truly wonderful taste in champagne, and that we'll enjoy it very much." Eames mother told the waiter with a wide smile, toasting him with her flute before giving her only son a steely look. "Tommy, tell the man to pass on your regards to your admirer."
"Yes, please do." Eames looked up at the waiter consideringly, mentally reviewing what cash he had in his wallet. "And how much would it cost me to bribe you into telling me where to find this admirer of mine?"
"I've already been well bribed, Sir." Was the waiter's regretful, slightly amused reply. "Would anyone here like something else to drink along with the champagne? Or perhaps you are ready to order?"
"We might need another five minutes, I'm still debating on which is the more expensive to stick my brother with." Rachel told the waiter, nudging her brother under the table teasingly.
"All right, I'll come back in five minutes then. And just so you know, Sir, the flower arrangement here and its vase are yours to take with you at the end of the evening. Your admirer arranged for them. The individual was very specific about the flower choices."
Eames turned to look at the flowers in shock. His admirer had given him flowers? Him? What the hell? Studying the flowers Eames knew enough to recognize the standard roses and carnations, both in red and framed by baby's breath. Pretty standard, he commented to his companions, different from the other table arrangements only in the fact that the others were all white and red roses.
"I think the waiter was alluding to the language of flowers." Eames mothered told her son, her eyes soft as she brushed her fingers over a petal. "Red roses stand for passion and love. The red carnations mean passion too…as well as heartbreak. An interesting combination, I'd say."
Meals ordered Eames's family refused to let him go looking for his admirer, stating that it would be unfair of him to do so, especially after said admirer had done something so lovely for him. Instead he was forced to remain behind as they speculated, stuck as they peppered him with questions about who he'd be dating recently. But he couldn't come up with a single name for them, no one sprung to mind. It would have to be someone with money to throw around, and he didn't exactly run with those crowds unless he was working. Had he just caught someone's eye? Someone hoping to make a good impression before he or she came over to flirt with him? But that didn't make sense, how would they know that the two women with him were his sisters and not his date? Come to think of it, the person would have to know if they had any class at all. And this was preplanned.
Their first courses were being set in front of them when the second surprise for Eames was presented. This time it was from the bandleader in charge of directing the musicians playing in the middle of the room, who announced over the microphone that the next song was dedicated to 'A Mister Eames, from his Secret Admirer'.
Even though it was being played by fancy instruments and with no the lyrics Eames recognized the song right away, twisting around in his seat to stare at the band before again looking around desperately to see if anyone was watching him for his reaction.
"What's that they're playing?" Rachel asked her sister, enjoying the music and her brother's reaction to it. "It sounds sort of familiar but I can't place it."
"That's because it's an oldie." The matriarch of the family said softly, her lips curved into a warm smile. "It's called 'All I Have To Do Is Dream', and was first sung by the Everly Brothers if I recall correctly. The song is about a man who dreams constantly about the love of his life, and the relationship he wishes they had together in reality. Isn't that right, Tom?"
Nodding automatically Eames didn't think for a second that the song choice hadn't been deliberate. Whoever he was dealing with knew what he really did for a living. And of course this latest twist had his sisters and mother nagging him for information, info that Eames didn't have to give since he didn't have a bloody clue as to who could be doing this.
"Girls, quiet for a moment." Eames's mother commanded before turning his attention on her very distracted son. "Tommy, clear your head for a moment before it explodes. Now forget about all this, is there anyone who you wish was doing all this for you?"
Immediately Arthur came to mind, but Eames squished that thought like a bug.
But he didn't squish it fast enough. "Tell me about whoever it is you're thinking about, Tommy. If you do we all promise not to ask you any more questions about who this secret admirer of yours might be." Eames's mother added, as an incentive.
Hunching his shoulders reflexively Eames gave each of the women a hard look as he demanded their word that they really would drop the subject if he answered his mother question. Once he had their promises the forger topped off his glass of champagne and than downed the entire glass. He was going to need it.
"His name is Arthur; we worked with each other occasionally. He's four years younger than me but he acts three times his age. He's really serious and conservative, no imagination and very linear in thinking. Dependable as the sun, is Arthur, and about as easy to get close to. My darling has no interesting vices, loves to use big words, and is so in control of himself that I can't help but try to break said control every time I'm within shouting distance of him. Which is one of the many reasons he's not terribly fond of me and wouldn't be upset to see my name in the obits."
Elizabeth grinned at her brother, unable to stop herself from joining her sister in teasing their brother. "You forgot the most important part, brother dear, which is what he looks like."
"Arthur walks the fine like between cute and handsome." Eames lips curved into a soft smile. "His ears are a little big, I love to tease him about them. And he has dimples." And shaking his head, as if he could shake his thoughts out too, Eames turned his attention back to his dinner plate. "And now, as you've promised, time to talk about something else."
True to their word the women allowed the male head of their household to avoid discussing his secret admirer until it was time to order dessert. It was then that the waiter informed the forger that something special had been preordered for him from his admirer. He of course had the option of choosing something else, but their waiter's tone of voice indicated that the planned dessert was not something to be missed. Knowing better than to think that his girls would let him override the secret admirer's choice, Eames resigned himself to letting himself be surprised.
And shortly, when the desserts arrived, Eames was the envy of his table.
Sweet tooths ran in his family, and it was all Eames could do not to drool all over the plate in front of him. A huge chocolate fudge brownie, flanked on either side by scoops of heavenly hash ice cream, decorated with drizzles of melted dark and white chocolate, and raspberries on the side as garnish.
"I've changed our minds, go look for your admirer." Rachel informed her brother, ignoring her own dessert in favor of staring at her brother's like a wolf eyeing a wounded deer.
"Yes, go. Shoo." Elizabeth ordered.
"You'll have to pry this out of my cold, dead hands." Was Eames's opinion, deliberately scooping up some of the ice cream and brownie slowly, teasingly sliding it between his lips with a sigh of pleasure, making a big production of groaning at the sinfully good desert. Someone, somewhere, had been kind enough to order the ambrosia of the gods for him, the forger thought with a dreamy look in his eyes. Best brownie he'd ever tasted, not that he'd ever tell his mum that. It was all he could do not to gobble it down.
It was a true testament to his love for them, that he allowed the women a spoonful each.
The waiter coming back to check on them, Rachel grabbed the man's arm, giving him the big, gooey eyes that had been bending men to her will since she was four. "I know you promised this admirer of my brother's that you wouldn't reveal his or her identity, but couldn't you tell us just a little?"
Seeing the words of denial forming on the waiter's lips Elizabeth hurried to add her puppy eyes and voice to the discussion. "You don't even have to tell us whether it's a man or a woman, just one little hint, something that differentiates the person in your mind. Something unique that could give us some sort of hint?"
Indecision came into the man's eye, obviously affected by the girls' pleas. "I'm really not supposed to..."
"Please?" The girls begged in unison.
"A gambler." The waiter blurted out, unable to resist them. "The admirer is a gambler, or I suppose he-the admirer is."
Eames's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. He knew plenty of men who were gamblers, some of them having shown interest in him in the past. He even supposed that there were a few amongst them who might do something like this as a joke, but it didn't feel like a joke to him. And he didn't know any men who would court him this way. He was being courted, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
"Why do you suppose this person to be a gambler?" Eames's mother asked, kindly not mentioning that the waiter had let the admirer's sex slip out.
Unable to deny a lady the man explained himself. "Because of the die, Ma'am. Who else would carry a die with them unless they were in the habit of needing one?"
Shoulders stiffening Eames slowly looked up at the waiter, his gaze holding the other man in place. "A die? This man carries with him a die? A red, loaded die?" Even as the waiter refused to tell them anymore the forger saw the truth written all over the man's face. He'd hit the bulls-eye with his guess, and there was only one person Eames knew who carried with him always a single red die. A red die that was used not for gambling, but as a totem to reassure it's carrier that he was no longer in the dream of another.
Pushing back his chair Eames got to his feet in one smooth motion, turning to face the waiter head on. "Where is he? Where's Arthur?" Ignoring his mother and sisters reactions to his question Eames moved in closer, prepared to intimidate the information out of the other man if necessary.
And obviously realizing the trouble he'd be in if he didn't give the man the information he wanted the waiter pointed towards the restaurant's front doors. "He's gone, Sir. He paid his bill not two minutes ago." The heat that sprang into the other man's eyes had the waiter hurrying to offer up slim hope. "Maybe you can catch him though, if you hurry."
Watching her son take off without a word Eames's mother gave the now frazzled looking waiter a reassuring look. "Don't worry, if he doesn't come back I have my credit card."
Bursting out of the restaurant doors Eames looked around frantically, finally spotting the man he was looking for on the sidewalk, obviously waiting for the valet to bring his car around. Hastily making his way down the steps the forger felt a large lump form in his throat as Arthur turned around, having sensed his presence. He never seemed to have the right words where Arthur was concerned, but he was determined to find them this time.
"You were just going to leave after all that?" Eames blurted out.
Arthur lifted one perfect brow in a show of mild interest, though the forger saw through the younger man's coolness to the nerves just below the surface. "You were having dinner with your family. It would have been rude of me to interrupt."
"Yeah right. Even if I'd been alone you still would have taken off, you bleeding coward." Eames reached out, getting a firm grip on the other man's arm so that the man couldn't get away from him. "Admit it, Arthur. I'm right, aren't I?"
"Well I suppose even you can be right every once in a blue moon." Was the point man's calm response to the casual insult. "Now is there something you wanted to say to me or did you just come here to insult me like usual?"
"Yeah, I do. Like for starters…for starters you have no bloody sense of humor so you must have meant all that stuff you arranged and…and…and if that's the case then why the hell didn't you just phone me up and ask me out like any normal bloke would?"
"Why would I? Your answer would have been no."
Reaching out to grab Arthur's other arm Eames pulled the surprised point man up against him. "Only because I always spend today with my mum. If you'd asked any other…I mean for Christ sakes, you're always blathering on about how you know so much more than I do about everything. If that's true than you must know how I feel about you. You aren't that dense."
Arthur's face shifted into confusion, looking down at Eames like he'd never really seen the man before as the point man read the look in the forger's eyes. "But you…whenever we work a job together you always…" Understanding slowly dawning, the younger man stared at Eames in flabbergasted shock. "You aren't serious. Dom was right? All those practical jokes, the teasing and name calling…that was your way of showing interest in me? Oh for the love of God, Eames, what are you, seven?"
"Darling, you just never know when to shut up, do you?"
Reaching up to frame the point man's face Eames pressed his lips against the other man's, sure that this time his feelings would be understood.
And they were.
"Happy Valentines Day, Darling." Eames whispered when he pulled back to smile at the man.