Character/Pairings: Arthur/Eames, Cobb, Phillipa, James
Word Count: 1,004
Disclaimer: Mr. Nolan owns it all
Summary: Arthur tries to make pumpkin cheesecake. Phillipa tries to help. And Eames causes shenanigans. Just your normal Thanksgiving at the Cobb residence.
Author's Notes: Yes, I know there's a while to go until Thanksgiving, but it's ALL celestineangel 's fault!! *hugs* You're wonderful and amazing and you MADE ME WRITE FLUFF.
The words are curt, sharp, and with a definite bite that anyone else would've slowly backed away from. A couple of years ago, Eames would've done the same, but that was then, and this is now. Now, Eames simply leans against the counter and smirks. "Oh come now, darling." He nods around the kitchen, at the half-open cupboards, several mixing bowls filled with unidentifiable mixtures littering the countertops, and the flour, flour, flour everywhere. "Fancy a helping hand?"
Eames doesn't even think that flour is on the list of required ingredients for a pumpkin cheesecake.
Arthur doesn't take his eyes away from the gooey mess of half-melted cream cheese (lactose-free, given that little Phillipa unfortunately takes after her mother in being allergic to all dairy products) stuck in the blades of the handheld blender. There's a line in his brow, a frown that usually only appears when researching a particularly difficult mark (like that Owens girl; God, that was nothing short of a disaster) or when trying to decide which mattress and bed frame to select from IKEA (King size, 900-count cotton sheets, with a hand-carved mahogany frame; yes, Eames knows that his darling is the absolute best, thank you very much). The apron on his lean frame is blue and white striped, smudged with what looks like pumpkin puree and bits of whipped cream, and oh, if that doesn't send a flare of heat searing through Eames' belly. Just a chef's hat sitting at a cockeyed angle atop Arthur's head, and-
Arthur lifts a hand away from the cookbook (it had been Mal's; earlier, Eames could've swore he saw Arthur rubbing suspiciously at his eyes as he peered down at the elegant cursive script. That is, until little James ran into the kitchen, tugging at his Uncle Arthur's arm and asking for a piggyback ride, to which Arthur gladly acquiesced.) and swats at the back of Eames' hand, swift and vicious, as much as a warning as he'll ever give. "I said 'go away', Eames."
Eames tries very hard not to whine, but dutifully retracts his hand from the catches of Arthur's finely pressed, stupidly expensive trousers. "You're no fun."
He resorts to reaching for the box of gingersnaps and popping one in his mouth, watching appreciatively as Arthur bends over to look for...something in the bottom shelf. Springform pan? What the bloody hell is that?
A whirlwind of long cornsilk hair and bright dancing eyes blows into the kitchen, firmly attaching herself to Eames' legs, skinny arms winding around his waist and gazing up at him with adoring eyes. "Hi," Phillipa smiles, guileless and brighter than the sun, missing her two front teeth and just about the cutest sight Eames has ever seen. For a moment, Eames chances a glance at Arthur mumbling under his breath and pounding at a bunch of gingersnaps with a rolling pin, the muscles in his forearm flexing (Eames once saw Arthur pounding the life out of a goon who was stupid enough to lay hands on Ariadne with equal effortlessness), and wonders what the point man would think of a little girl of their own toddling around their upscale New York penthouse, calling out Daddy and Papa.
He drops a kiss onto Phillipa's hair and smiles at her. "Hello there, dove. Come to help?"
Phillipa grins her gap-toothed smile and nods, rushing to the counter and plunging both of her hands into the bag of flour, turning to Arthur. "Can I, Uncle Arthur? Please?"
And Arthur, the stalwart point man, a killer who doesn't flinch when facing down an entire army, who can take bullets to the knee, the head, the heart and still emerge unscathed in both body and mind - absolutely folds at Phillipa's imploring gaze. "Alright," he assents, and steps back, hooking his foot around a stool in the corner of the Cobb's kitchen and dragging it over to the counter, helping the little girl up with a steadying hand on her elbow. "Be careful. Just take-"
Eames crosses his arms over his chest and watches his darling and his surrogate niece, a fond smile pulling at his lips.
That is, until Phillipa pushes a button and batter goes flying everywhere. Then, Eames is reaching for a dishrag, trying his best not to burst out laughing, and inwardly melting at the sight of Arthur, covered in batter and flour, a smear of pumpkin across one cheek, laughing as he wipes the goop from Phillipa's face.
Fifty-five minutes later
"I don't think that's how it's supposed to look," Cobb says doubtfully when the dessert is carried out onto the table by a triumphant Phillipa and Arthur (who's now minus his waistcoat and finely pressed Oxford shirt, and wearing a simple plain t-shirt that makes Eames' mind short-circuit just a little bit).
"Cheese! Cake!" James demands, and drums his feet against the chair. "Cheese-cake!!"
Cobb is right. He's by no means a pastry chef, but Eames isn't quite sure that a cheesecake is supposed to be that odd shade of brown, no matter how much brown sugar or pumpkin puree one may put into it, and the giant crack down the middle of the dessert is just a bit suspicious. But when he sits down and accepts the first piece - and manages to put it into his mouth without making too much of a grimace - the warm smile Arthur bestows upon him is worth the odd half-baked batter weighing down on his tongue.
Eames has never really been fond of the Thanksgiving holiday - that would just be plain unpatriotic; his country lost an entire continent, for god's sake - but for pumpkin cheesecake and this wonderful surrogate family, he suppose he can make an exception.