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Title Promises to Keep (Part One)
Author: celestineangel
Fandom: Inception
Character(s)/Pairing: Arthur/Eames
Rating: PG-13ish
Word Count: 3,517
Summary: Promises made must be kept, even after tragedy.
Warnings: Abduction/kidnapping. There's a very, very non-graphic sex scene (so non-graphic, this fic is PG-13). Don't blink! You'll miss it!
Disclaimer: Not my sandbox. I'm just moving sand around. Building some buildings and knocking them down.
Author's Notes: Written as a fill for this prompt at inception_kink. I am so sorry… the prompt was so adorabible, and I've turned it into angst and drama….

Promises to Keep (Part One)

They are a strangely matched pair, the young American mother and the older—but not old, never old—British mother. They sit on a park bench sharing stories, laughing, and watching their sons get to know each other, and they have no idea of the course their lives will take.

Paola is twenty now, but she was seventeen when her son was born, and he looks just like the father who ran away. It doesn't matter, she loves her Arthur anyway, because he is sweeter than his father could dream, and she plans to make certain he stays that way. She watches his from the corner of her eye, toddling around with Sophia's boy, Thomas, who is surprisingly attentive to the boy four years younger than him. Arthur is a serious child, which might be Paola's fault, but when there's only the two of them, sometimes work must come before play.

Sophia Eames is twenty-nine, and she had to make the trip to the States to visit her friend, because Paola can barely afford to keep her and her son fed, clothed, and in a clean living environment, while Sophia has very few worries beyond what to do with herself while her husband does his lordly business. Thomas is not the oldest of her children, but he is, in her secret heart, her favorite. He has his father's eyes and nose, her mouth and ears, but beyond the purely genetic physical resemblances, she's beginning to wonder if he might be a changeling. The quirky humor he displays is nothing of his father, or of her, and can't be found in any of his siblings.

What amuses both mothers is the way little Arthur, serious little Arthur, gives orders and Thomas obeys as though it's the most natural thing in the world, despite the fact that Arthur is three and Thomas is seven. Of course, he usually can't obey without some sort of commentary.

Arthur points at the bucket they've been using to build a castle in the sandbox, "Thomas, get the bucket."

"Aye aye, Captain!" Thomas salutes and obeys, filling the bucket with sand first. He doesn't even dump it over the younger boy's head, a characteristic reaction Sophia has been waiting for with tensed muscles. "You might've gotten it yourself, you know."

Arthur just frowns at him and points where he wants the bucket to go.

"Well," she says to Paola, trying to keep surprise from her voice, "they're getting on well enough."

The younger woman smiles and shrugs. "They're a little like us, I guess. Almost the same age difference, too, and something like that's not going to matter so much to kids."

"I suppose, though Thomas has never been so well-behaved." Sophia's rather serious assertion is met with gentle laughter. "It's true, unfortunately."

"I was wondering where the hell-child you mentioned is hiding."

"I must have left him on the airplane."

Just at that moment, Thomas trots up to them, and Paola takes a look behind him to see Arthur pounding on a lump of sand with his plastic shovel, frowning as it refuses to do as he wants; Thomas must have escaped while her son busied himself with his attempts to mold the world to his desires. The older boy goes not to his mother, but to Paola, and it seems Arthur's seriousness is catching, from the way Thomas locks his grey-blue eyes on hers. "Miss Esposito," he begins, and proceeds as politely as he can manage, "I'd very much like your permission to marry Arthur."

Both mothers' eyebrows go up, and Paola's mouth twitches. "He's a little young for marriage, Mr. Eames," she tells him, "and in my opinion so are you."

"That's all right. I meant when we're older, anyway."

Paola shoots Sophia a glance, revealing amusement in the depths of her dark eyes. Sophia is amused as well, though Lord Eames would be having fits if he could hear his son. "Wouldn't you rather marry a girl of good breeding?" she asks him, something of a joke between herself and Paola.

Thomas makes a face, nose scrunched and his tongue stuck from his mouth for a moment. "No. I want to marry Arthur."

The mothers share another glance, and it's all Paola can do to keep from laughing. Finally, Sophia saves the day by replying to her son with the utmost gravity. "The only thing to do, then, is to have you betrothed."

"What does that mean?"

"It's an agreement that you'll get married to Arthur when you're older," Paola explains. "A promise." One, she suspects, he will forget before long.

His eyes widen slightly, and then he nods. "So you promise I can marry Arthur when we grow up?"

"I promise that when Arthur is eighteen and the two of you still want to get married, you can."

Thomas frowns and looks back over his shoulder at the boy who is now beginning to turn red with frustration. There will be a tantrum soon. "I don't know if Arthur wants to marry me…."

Paola and Sophia both chuckle, and Arthur's mother answers, "You have plenty of time to try to convince him, don't you?"

He nods again, and looks at his mother. "And you promise, too?"

"I do, though I make no promises for your father," Sophia says with a sigh.

Thomas' face brightens with a smile, mostly, Sophia suspects, because he already has a love of all things that irritate his father. "Your promise is good enough! Hey Arthur!" He runs off to his new 'betrothed' to inform him of the good news, and both women are astounded by how easily he averts the oncoming rage by helping Arthur shape the sand closer to what he wants.

"When my husband asks what his son is on about, this is entirely your fault."

Paola laughs.

It's a good thing Paola isn't aware of exactly who Sophia's husband is, or exactly how much money the Eames family controls. That evening, the four of them retreat to Paola's little apartment, which is shamefully tiny, and she prepares a dinner like nothing Sophia has ever had before, even considering the numerous quality restaurant openings and other events she's had the pleasure to attend. When asked why she hasn't made use of this talent, the answer is predictable and sad; the lack of money is prohibitive to someone with ability but no convenient outlet.

In the morning, Sophia invites Paola and Arthur to accompany herself and Thomas to breakfast, and when she returns home she makes time in her otherwise boring day to research.

One month after Sophia's visit, Paola is informed that she has been accepted to a noted culinary school in the city, under a full scholarship. She suspects her friend is responsible, though she does not and will never know that her scholarship is funded by a company based in England and, until a month ago, did not have a scholarship for culinary students.

Eight months later, at the conclusion of the first of two programs, Paola and Arthur fly to England, where they stay with Sophia and her family. While Arthur—now four years old and just as serious as ever—is a huge hit with the older Eames girls, Thomas is the only one he seems to favor, perhaps in part because Thomas doesn't squeal in high-pitched tones and will do whatever Arthur tells him to do.

During their stay, which lasts four months, Paola attends a class with a world-famous chef, recommended to her by one of her instructors. Arthur stays with the Eames' all day while she's away, and only remains calm because of Thomas' presence.

Home in New York after, Paola has to rock her son to sleep more often than usual, and on the phone a week and a half after arriving, learns that Thomas told him bedtime stories every night. Well, every night is a little too often, but after that, she allows a phone call from England one evening a week for Thomas to tell stories, and thanks Sophia for allowing him to stay up just a bit later than he should thanks to the time difference.

One year, two months, three weeks and four days after that first visit, Paola Esposito's world shatters.


It is 11pm, the telephone rings, and Lady Sophia Eames is grateful she and her husband no longer share a bedroom, and that her telephone is connected to a private number. She has no desire whatsoever to listen to Albert grump.

It's Paola, her voice hollow. "Sophia, I'm sorry to bother you, I know it's late."

"Not at all," Sophia says, sitting up, instantly aware of something very wrong. There's no laughter in her friend's voice. "What is it?" There is a pause on the line, and Sophia thinks she can barely hear the sound of Paola holding in sobs. "Oh Paola, what, is it Arthur?"

"S-S-Someone t-took him."


"Arthur's g-gone, someone t-t-took him f-from d-d-daycare while I was at w-work."

It's difficult to understand through Paola's sobs, but eventually Sophia coaxes the entire story from her, and if not for years of training on how to be a proper lady, Sophia would like break down with her friend.

It would seem the daycare that doubles as a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten school, allows the children outside for exercise and recess. The yard where they play while teachers and caregivers look on is fenced, any holes spotted are patched immediately, and the only gate is padlocked against intruders or curious children. Perfectly safe, one would assume.

Such precautions do not protect when the one who abducts your child is one of the trusted teachers.

"She taught kindergarten," Paola manages later, when she's calmer. "Arthur wasn't even in her class. I don't understand. Why Arthur? Why my little boy, why did she take him?"

All Sophia can do is assure her friend that such people do not operate using normal logic, which works in her favor because such a person is bound to make a mistake eventually. Right? Of course. This woman will make a mistake, and Arthur will be found.

"The police told me that seventy-five percent of kidnap victims are killed within the first three hours." Paola's voice is hollow again, without emotion.

Sophia cannot believe the police would tell a mother such an awful thing. "That's ridiculous. Arthur's alive, Paola. He is, don't you dare think otherwise."

After that, there isn't much more to say, and the women on opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean hang up their phones. Sophia waits until morning to tell Thomas, who doesn't understand at first, and when he does he doesn't cry, he is angry. He is angry at the faceless woman who has stolen his young friend from him, and for a moment Sophia is almost afraid of her son, whose rage can't be denied even if he is only eight years old.

They will find Arthur. They must.


A month passes, then two, six, a year, three years.

Arthur isn't found.


There is something maddeningly familiar about the point man from the moment Eames meets him. It's an odd feeling, as though there are promises he needs to keep (and miles to go before he sleeps) and cannot remember what they are.

They spend a good week without knowing each other's names because their extractor—a man Eames has never met and knows only by reputation—has yet to make an appearance and this point man is perhaps the most reticent person Eames has ever met. By the end of that week, he's stared quite enough for an entire army of handsome forgers, and he believes the pretty point man just might be getting annoyed with him. But Eames can't remember the last time he forgot a face, and this one—attractive as it is, one would think he would remember—is one he knows. He just doesn't know from where.

"Next time I have to ask you to stop staring, I'll ask with a gun in your face." The man speaks without looking away from his laptop.

"Are you certain we haven't met?" Eames asks instead of honoring the threat with a direct response.


"Might help if we introduced ourselves."

"I'm aware of who you are, Mr. Eames."

Eames can't help himself, he's impressed. There are very few avenues by which anyone could find out his name without being told and no other point man until now has managed to find any of them. He grins. "That's sweet, darling, but I'm afraid I can't boast the same."

The man finally looks up from his work, mouth set in a thin, aggravated line, eyebrows knotted together, looking very much like a child who is angry because the world won't bend to his will (because the sand won't stick). "My name is Arthur."


This is certainly not the first man Eames has ever met with that name, but his reaction is always the same. His mind always jolts, takes him back, reminds him of a little boy mostly forgotten except in stories, and those so few and far between because Paola doesn't speak often about her long-missing son, and Sophia respects her friend. Next is the sweep of his eyes across the Arthur's features, looking for something familiar, and it has never come. There's always too little a resemblance, the man has coloring too light to be Arthur, or features too broad, or eyes not the right shade of dark brown. He can't help it, though, and has wondered more than once how often does Paola do the same? How often does Paola search the face of young men who look the right age, how often does she hear the name Arthur only to be disappointed at what she sees?

This time, Eames' heart begins to race when he can find nothing, no single thing, to tell him without doubt that this man is not that Arthur, can't possibly be. He's around the right age, the right coloring, and his eyes are dark, the same way Paola's are, though they might not be exactly right. Might, but Eames hasn't seen that Arthur since he was eight years old.

It's the way he frowns.

Before he can recover, Eames finds the barrel of a gun pointed squarely between his eyes. "I don't bluff, Mr. Eames."

"Indeed you don't, Arthur. Excuse me."

The extractor—a moody man named Cobb, with a criminal past and apparently two kids waiting for him—finally shows up the next day with apologies and a woman in his head who likes to spoil their plans and shoot without provocation.

The job gets done, not without a few hitches thanks to the deceased Mrs. Cobb, and it's a while before Eames sees Arthur again. When he does, he manages to make the young man furious within minutes by asking a simple question ("What do your parents think about this dream sharing business, hmm?"), and it's nearly a full year before Cobb can convince Arthur to work with him again.

"What did I say?" he asks once on the phone, after Cobb calls to ask for his help with assurances Arthur won't be involved this time.

Cobb is silent, until there's a sigh. "There's not much I can tell you. Arthur's an orphan, and the foster system wasn't kind to him. Anything after that isn't mine to say, you understand?"

Eames understands.


There is real affection there, now, when he looks in Arthur's dark eyes, when he sees a smirk twitch over Arthur's lips. Eames isn't sure how it happened, or when, only that somehow he's managed to go from being an unwanted irritation to being only slightly annoying and not quite unwanted.

It isn't until after the inception job that it goes further than affectionate looks.

It's a celebration of sorts, Eames supposes, and he doesn't expect to see Arthur at the bar, but there he is, all straight lines and sharp edges. Eames buys him a drink, then Arthur buys, and then they're in a hotel room (he's not sure whose), their mouths hot against each other, hands seeking, they're on the bed and it's near dawn before Eames falls asleep.

To his shock and awe, Arthur is still there in the morning. Then again, on second look, it appears to be Arthur's hotel room after all.

Eames rises as slowly as he can, and succeeds in getting to his feet without waking the man still breathing deeply in the bed. Though he shouldn't, though he knows Arthur will be angry with him for so many reasons, Eames retrieves his cell phone from his pants and snaps a picture. It isn't the best picture, as Arthur is lying on his stomach, but his face is clear enough. As he walks barefoot from the bedroom to the open room and kitchen area, Eames' fingers fly over the touch-screen.

He hesitates before tapping 'send.'

Arthur will be so angry.

Eames hits 'send' anyway.

Immediately after, he dials a number he tries not to dial, and he'll get rid of the cell phone after. A staff member answers, as usual, but when Eames gives his name, and the call is transferred to the number he will never, ever dial. He has too many enemies.

"Thomas, where have you been this time? Honestly, if I have to send more money—"

"I don't need money, Mum." Once, bloody once and the woman will never let him forget it. "I won't need money for a while. I sent you an email."

"Why are you mumbling, Thomas?"

"It's early here, Mum."

"Oh, I see, you have company then, do you?" He can hear her on the other end, typing on her personal computer. "It isn't early there, Thomas, it's past noon where you are."

"Early for me, then."

She snorts, and for a moment Eames wonders just whose mother she is.

He can hear the moment she sees the picture. He hears her gasp, and the series of thunks as her phone falls to the desk and then the floor. There's a moment of silence before she comes back on the line. "Are you certain?"

"I had hoped you could help with that. His name is Arthur."

His mother breathes out, slowly. "Arthur. Oh, Thomas. How?"

What should he tell her? He doesn't know much other than what Cobb told him, and if this is that Arthur, how did he go from abductee to orphan to deadly point man? "It isn't important, not right now, at least. Do you still have that photo of Paola and Arthur? From their visit?"

"Yes, of course."

"Email it to me." Thank God his mother is computer literate and Internet savvy. "I need to see it for myself. If I can see, I'll know."

"I will. And Thomas?"


"Must you boff every man you find named Arthur?"

It's his turn to snort. "Just send the photo, Mum."

When he hangs up the phone, Arthur is standing in the doorway between the living room and the bedroom. His face is shuttered. Eames offers a wary greeting, unsure of how much Arthur heard. "Good morning, love."

Arthur is quiet for a long moment, dark eyes studying Eames, before he finally steps closer, over to the couch where Eames sits, and leans over to kiss him. "Good morning."

Eames smiles. "Mm, I feel oddly domestic. Shall I see if there's enough in the kitchen for a fry up, or call room service?"

"You cook?"

"I push food around in a pan over the stove. It's usually edible."

Arthur rolls his eyes. "I'll call room service for the ingredients to make breakfast. Which I will cook."

"Oh, then breakfast will be good as well as edible." He grins as Arthur continues to the kitchen without answering. In Eames' hand, his phone beeps to alert him to an email. He listens to the sound of Arthur moving around, can almost see the way he picks out only the pans he needs, only the cups he needs, no more. He can see each of Arthur's movements, graceful but brief, using only the required amount of energy.

Somewhere in the back of his mind lives a little boy in a sandbox with the most adorable glower, serious dark eyes and a mother who loved him very much.

Eames opens his email on his phone, opens the attachment with the photo, heart pounding. What he sees shocks him only because he simply cannot believe how the world can work so perfectly.

The boy in the photo, the one being hugged by a smiling Paolo Esposito, shares his features with the man currently arranging breakfast. They have the same mouth, the same chin, cheekbones, and those eyes, Paola's dark eyes she passed to her son, the brows arched above them, the same brows Eames has seen draw together in annoyance or concentration.

"Bloody hell."

Continued here.


( 65 comments — Leave a comment )
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Sep. 13th, 2010 04:21 am (UTC)
AND ILU ♥ ♥ ♥
Sep. 13th, 2010 04:22 am (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2010 04:55 am (UTC)
More please...
Sep. 13th, 2010 05:36 pm (UTC)

:D Thank you!
Sep. 13th, 2010 05:03 am (UTC)

This is so awesome I don't even have the words. Poor kidnapped Arthur. ;_;
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much for the keysmashing comment of goodness. :D Don't worry, there's a second part, and I hope to have it finished either today or tomorrow. :)
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
:D :D :D Thank you, and glad you're enjoying it!
Sep. 13th, 2010 07:42 am (UTC)
ahhhhhh!!! more please!!! ^^

child!eames proposing is adorable~ he's such a charmer even at that age! <3
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:25 pm (UTC)
More is on the way!

I always love little!Eames, I'm so pleased to have the chance to write my own. ^_^
Sep. 13th, 2010 07:56 am (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2010 07:56 am (UTC)
OMG. This is fantastic. Eagerly awaiting the next part.
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Sep. 13th, 2010 08:32 am (UTC)
This is truly awesome, not something I expected from a summary though. I hope you will post more soon. Arthur needs to meet his mum, and Eames needs to marry his Arthur after all! :)

Edited at 2010-09-13 08:33 am (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
I suck at summaries almost as much as I suck at titles. D:

I'm hoping to finish the rest either today or tomorrow. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!
Sep. 13th, 2010 10:23 am (UTC)
Wants more.....
This was so good, I really want to know what happened to Arthur and whetehr they will get their happy ending :D
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:34 pm (UTC)
No worries, there will be more! :) Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Sep. 13th, 2010 11:40 am (UTC)
OP HERE! I don't mind the angst and drama at all as long as I get them interacting as kids! Little Arthur lording Little Eames around! And OMG Eames so cute when asking Paola for Arthur's hand in marriage! asdfghjkl; *is incoherent with joy*

Sep. 13th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
:D :D :D :D :D :D OMGs, I am SO GLAD you're good with the angst. I adored writing little!Eames and little!Arthur and sort of want to go back and write more about their exploits during that four months Paola and Arthur visited in England... but I don't know enough about England. D:

::typetypetypetypes away on second part::
(no subject) - uchihanaruto - Sep. 13th, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestineangel - Sep. 13th, 2010 10:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - uchihanaruto - Sep. 13th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestineangel - Sep. 13th, 2010 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - uchihanaruto - Sep. 13th, 2010 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestineangel - Sep. 13th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 13th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
Sep. 13th, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)

This is so- so- mqsdfhsdgh PERFECT! I love it!
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
:D Thank you!
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, I've been envisioning that scene ever since I realized Arthur would be kidnapped. :D I hope it will live up to expectations.

Thanks for commenting!
Sep. 13th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
MOAR!!! :D Love this!
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
Working on it! Thank you! :D
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:07 pm (UTC)

This is fantastic :) "Somewhere in the back of his mind lives a little boy in a sandbox with the most adorable glower, serious dark eyes and a mother who loved him very much." KLASLJjlh AWWW ;; *cries* Really do love everything about this, little Eames and Arthur, and the heartbreak you described when Arthur was abducted, and yes... very interested in seeing just what Arthur went through, and how he got to where he is now! and, ahh, he needs to see his mum again! jas;lk

Loving this, looking forward to an update!
Sep. 13th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
Ooooo, I always know I've done something right when there's keysmashing involved. :D

Thanks for reading and commenting, and I'm glad you liked it. :)
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( 65 comments — Leave a comment )


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