They're lying in bed in the home she shares with her husband, the summer sunlight pouring through the window and painting the room with a pale yellow glow. His fingers brush up and down her side, down into the dip of her waistline, up to the hill of her hip and back again. And then he pauses in the line up and down her side to slip his hand around to her front, cup her breast in his hand. It's not a sexual act though. The sexuality is done. For now at least.
Her husband is out of town for the rest of the week meeting someone for a business trip. He travels quite a bit and every time Dom goes out of town she calls and invites him over. They spend most of the time her husband is away together and she knows she should feel guilty but for some reason guilt isn't a factor. She doesn't feel any guilt whatsoever which she knows is a bad thing. She's not stupid enough to think otherwise.
"Do you think it's possible to love more than one person?" she asks him, settles herself more comfortably against him, her naked back against his naked front.
"I think there are an infinite amount of things that are possible, luv."
"I love my husband," she tells him and she's said it to him before. She does love Dom. They can bicker, they can disagree but there is love deep inside of her for her husband, love she can't deny and love she can't turn off.
"I know you do."
"But I also love you." She can't quite explain the love she has for him. She knows part of it is the physical aspect of things. There's something thrilling about being with him, something that feels wrong in the best way possible, in a way that makes this warmth swirl inside of her whenever she thinks about Dom going away and being able to see him. But it's more than that. Even without the physicality she would love him. There's something about him that has wormed his way into her heart and she couldn't expel him the same way that she can't expel her husband.
"I know you do."
Sometimes it's frustrating the way that he talks about this, about their affair. He's quite accepting of the fact that she's not going to let go of her husband but that she wants to be with him as well and not many men would do that. But he doesn't seem to feel any guilt either.
Dom trusts Eames, that's the problem. Eames has worked with them several times in the last couple of years in understanding different aspects of dream sharing and they had built a good system of trust. When you work in their career trust is a necessity so he would never guess Eames was sleeping with his wife. They're living this whole life together separate from her life with Dom, a life that only they're privy to. And sometimes she really thinks that Eames is thrilled by the secrecy.
She rolls over on the bed, looks at his face in the sunlight glow of the room. "One of these days someone is going to get hurt."
"Well," he says in a soft tone, brushes his hand over her hair. "We'll just have to hope that it isn't you, won't we?"
Eames doesn't usually live near them but he comes by to visit quite a bit to help them in their field. He's staying in a hotel near where they live now and Dom is talking to her father. He can spend the entire day there talking to him about navigating the mind, getting into people's heads and understanding how to work through it. Her husband had been fascinated by this from the beginning.
She comes to his hotel room in the late afternoon, less than an hour before the sun will be going down. He opens the door without a shirt on, doesn't say anything as he steps aside and lets her in. It's obvious that something is wrong. The way she refuses to meet his eyes; the way she's wringing her hands in front of her, so nervous, so on edge.
Closing the door behind her he leans against it, watches her with his arms folded across his chest and she paces, back and forth and back and forth, so much more anxious than he's ever seen her before. Usually she's so strong and confident that it worries him, the way that she's pacing back and forth like that, like the weight of the world is on her shoulders.
When she finally turns to look at him she looks as though she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. He's never seen her like this before and it frightens him a bit, hits something deep down inside of him though he tries not to let it show. To let it show would do no good for anyone. But seeing her like this shakes him up quite a bit.
It takes a few moments for what she just said to process, for him to understand what she just said. But as soon as the words process his blue, blue eyes widen just a bit, almost imperceptibly but she knows him well enough to see it. And once he's gotten his surprise under control he clears his throat, nods his head a little bit. "That's wonderful for you. Congratulations. I'm sure Dom is over the moon."
"We told my parents last night."
"Well, I'm sure you're going to be a fantastic mother."
"I told Dom I'm ten weeks along." She pauses, locks her gaze with his. "I'm closer to ten."
"But Dom wasn't-"
"He can never know."
He's quiet for a moment, just watching her and then nods his head once, almost imperceptibly. "Know what, luv?"
Despite herself she smiles.
She names her daughter Phillipa. When Dom asks her why she chose that name she smiles, tells him she just likes it. (She can't imagine telling him that she was named after hr grandmother, her real grandmother, after her real father's moth, the father she will never know as such. It wouldn't be fair to her husband.)
She's born a week early- three in Dom's mind- but three weeks shy isn't hazardous to a child. She opts to give birth at home, to keep anyone at the hospital from talking about how far into the pregnancy she actually is. She finds someone that she can trust, someone who won't say anything even if she sees something strange in the size of the baby. She takes all of the precautions that she can to make sure that Dom doesn't know. Because he can never know.
Her daughter is only two months old when they go to work on a job with Eames. They're sitting at the round table with schematics spread out in front of them. Dom has been going on and on about his daughter, about how beautiful she is. He's so proud and so happy that it breaks Mal's heart a little bit, makes her feel so sad, so broken.
He takes a picture of Phillipa out of his wallet, passes it off to Eames, boasting about the little girl's beauty. And Mal watches as he Brit looks down at the picture of her daughter, of his daughter, the little girl he will never get to see grow up, of the child he must deny.
She sees something in his eyes, some emotion she can't quite place before it's gone. His eyes move across the picture, look at her soft, pale blonde hair and her round, round cheeks, her little nose that already looks so much like her mothers. He lifts his gaze up to Mal for a moment, just a moment and then looks back at Dom, smiles a bit and hands the picture back to him.
"She's beautiful," he agrees with a slow, easy smile. "Let's hope she looks like her mother so she can stay that way."
Mal's heart breaks even more.
The second time Mal finds out she's pregnant she knows that Dom is the father.
A part of her wishes that he wasn't so her children would have the same father.
When Mal dies Eames doesn't go to her funeral. It's Arthur who calls him, who tells him what happened, what the police thought happened. He told him about her funeral, when and where it would be. Because they had worked together. (Arthur most certainly doesn't know the truth.)
Eames can't bring himself to go. Going there would mean having to face the reality he wants to reject. It would mean facing that Mal was dead, that he was never going to see her again. It was a reality that he couldn't entertain.
Instead he stays in his flat- or his temporary flat anyway. He stays in his flat and he drinks and he looks out onto the street, at the lights and the sounds. He drinks until his vision blurs and he has to stumble into bed. And when he does stumble into bed he's still dressed.
And that night he dreams of Mal. He dreams of Mal with her bright blue eyes and her pale, soft skin, with her dark, dark hair. In his dream he reminds her of Snow White, with her pale, pale skin as pale as snow itself and her ruby lips. There's only one problem with that dream:
She's not a beautiful maiden under a spell.
And even if he could kiss her it wouldn't wake her up.
Working with Cobb wasn't something he thought he would be doing ever again after Mal died but with the trouble he was in, unable to go home and take care of his children- of Eames' daughter- he couldn't not help him. It was difficult to work with him, to know that he was sending Cobb home to the daughter he himself would never get to see.
It's three months after the job is done and Cobb is back home that he goes to see them, that he throws a birthday party for Phillipa. Cobb invites the entire team as a thank you for helping him get home to his children.
Eames stands off to the side and watches the children, watches Phillipa playing with her brother. It's been so very long since he's seen her that it shocks him, stuns him. She's beautiful and full of life so like Mal had been back when she was alive. She has her mother's pale skin, her blue, blue eyes. And he pretends to be fine, pulls it off quite well- he's had years to practice his lying. But there are times when he looks at Phillipa and his breath catches in his throat, his entire body feels rigid.
Towards the end of the night he excuses himself from the party, goes upstairs, locks himself in the bathroom.
And for the first time since Arthur called to tell him about Mal's death he lets himself cry.
He mourns for the woman he loved and lost.
And for the daughter who will never know how much he loves her deep down inside of him.
And he knows that he can never let her know the truth of it all.