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However Far Away

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“Eames, don’t,” says Arthur, gripping Eames’ jersey earnestly. “You always pick me and you know I’m no good. I want you to win this one – leave me for last, alright? You pick first this time and I’ve counted it out – I’ll be the last one left and the other team will be stuck with me.”

“Arthur, you’re my best mate. What sort of arse would I be if I didn’t choose you? Do you really think I care if we win? Sometimes it really is about having fun, you know,” Eames says, shaking his head. “And besides – I want you on my team so that damned Nash can’t blast you – you sprained your wrist last time I didn’t pick you, remember?” Eames reminds him, frowning. “I really, really don’t care about winning, alright? Now give me a hand with these, would you, darling?” Eames asks in that tone that makes Arthur want to smack him, and then tosses Arthur a few soccer balls to carry out onto the field.

Arthur goes along glumly, watching Eames’ back as the older boy keeps a step ahead of him. Eames is everything a high school jock should be. Six feet tall, nearly 160 pounds – mostly muscle, too, and far too friendly for his own good. He even has the nerdy best friend as a side-kick. And just like every American teenage rom-com requires, said best friend is madly in love with him while Eames stays, Arthur thinks gratefully, completely oblivious.

The game goes painfully slow and Arthur feels every second of the time tick by as if an elephant is sitting on the hands of his wristwatch. Eames tries to keep him in the game, kicking balls to him because, not that anyone on the pitch would know, Arthur is really fast. But the pressure is too much and Arthur sinks beneath it, failing to make the assist and finally, after what feels like several decades has passed, the whistle blows for the end of the period.

That they lost seems to matter to no one when it comes to Eames. He has a slew of classmates clapping him on his back for his efforts and Arthur hangs back a bit so that he draws as little attention as possible. He’s pretty successful, too, until they reach the doors to the locker room. Eames is waiting just inside because when Danny Nash hit Arthur hard enough to sprain his wrist inside the gym three months ago, well… Eames didn’t think it was an accident, no matter how sincerely the kid apologized. Arthur didn’t take it as a personal attack, but he didn’t mind Eames waiting for him – it wasn’t like the guy hadn’t been looking out for him since… Well, forever, Arthur thinks.

“So, Ariadne’s having a party this weekend. Her folks are leaving on Thursday night for a long weekend. They're off to ‘See The Leaves’,” Eames says in air quotes, which makes Arthur laugh.

“Well, seeing as Thanksgiving is next week and all our trees are nearly bare, I think they’re just going Up North to a bed and breakfast to fuck,” Arthur says, making a face ‘cause it’s totally gross to think of Ariadne’s mom and dad doing it. They were ancient, and even worse, Arthur thought: eww – vagina. Thankfully that alone made him able to shower in front of Eames instead of
racing ahead and scrubbing down quickly, finishing up just as Eames steps in.

Eames is still laughing about what Arthur said when he comes back from his shower. Arthur is fully dressed but is still towel-drying his hair. He really needs a haircut, but then there won’t be anything for Eames to tug as he walks by him between classes or when they’re standing at their locker and talking or whenever else he feels like it. And even though it’s only for a second, the feel of Eames’ hand in his hair makes Arthur smile and sometimes he really needs that to get him through the day.

“Am I taking you home, then?” Eames asks as Arthur folds his towel and packs it away into his gym bag.

“Yeah, sure. I’ve got a few dollars – we could stop and get a coffee or something?” He asks, but tries not to sound too hopeful. Whenever Eames drives him home, he tries to prolong it as long as possible.

“Sorry, mate. I’ve got a doctor’s appointment this afternoon and if I don’t make it, my Mum’ll kill me. I’ve blown off the last two times – it’s a physical and I can’t think for the life of me why I’d need one – I’m fit, see?” Eames says, standing with one bare foot on the bench between their lockers and his jeans yanked up on his lean, muscular hips – unbuttoned and looking like something out of one of those Playgirl magazines Arthur pretended he didn’t have shoved between his mattresses. He’s flexing his arms and sucking in his gut and Arthur has to hide his real opinion of how he thinks Eames looks – like some sort of fucking God come to life – and does so by reaching up and poking him in the belly. Eames blows out air and giggles because he’s ticklish – something Arthur covets knowing since no one else seems to – and then tugs on Arthur’s hair in retaliation.

“You’re fit, Eames… Fit for admission to the local nut house,” Arthur teases, waiting for Eames to finish getting dressed. They walk out to Eames’ ancient Audi together and after Eames fidgets with the door handle, he slides behind the wheel and leans over to unlock Arthur’s door so he can join him.

The car ride to Arthur’s isn’t long but it tends to be agonizing considering Eames likes to serenade Arthur the whole way. Today it’s Eames’ new favorite - the pop version of Adele’s Someone Like You, which leaves Arthur shaking with laughter, gasping for breath and in tears, biting his palm as Eames makes a final, pitiful moony-type face at him and ‘their lost love’.

“Ahhh,” Eames says after the song ends and he appears to be physically exhausted from his efforts at playing American Idol. “I’m so doing that at Ari’s party this weekend. You’ve got to come, too – and no trying to get out of it, right? You’re my inspiration, after all,” Eames tells him, grinning so big that all Arthur can see are those two annoyingly perfect crooked teeth in front. “Not that we have any worries on that count, though, hey Artie? There is no one like you, after all, and we both know we’re not going anywhere,” Eames says, reaching over to tug Arthur’s hair in that way that he does. Arthur just smiles and nods, his expression thoughtful in a way that makes Eames’ eyes go a bit soft around the edges.

“Text you later, then, darling. Be a love and do our English for us, would you?” Eames asks, and then he makes the puppy-eyed face that makes Arthur gooey inside. Outwardly, he grunts his disapproval but agrees anyway, getting out of the car, watching as Eames pulls away.

+++++++++++++++
The next day at school, Arthur sees Eames at their locker and already has his English paper out to hand it to him. Eames takes it hesitantly and then stares at Arthur for a minute, a look on his face that Arthur’s never seen before.

“You didn’t text last night – everything okay?” he asks, mild concern flashing over his features before he sets his backpack down and shrugs off his jacket to hang it up in the locker.

“Yeah… yeah, everything’s fine. I’ve got to run, though – Need to speak to Cobb about something before first period. I’ll ummm… I’ll see you at lunch, alright?” Eames tells him, taking off down the hall like he was being chased.
Arthur’s still nodding even though Eames is long gone. He’s standing there confused for a minute, but it’s not like it’s all that unusual, he thinks. Eames isn’t acting all that strange… is he? He doesn’t get that much time to ponder Eames’ behavior, though – first bell rings and he’s got to get to class.

The first half of the day goes by fast. His third period is Art and they’re all just finishing up when Ariadne sneaks in the back where Arthur always sits and huddles down by his workspace. Arthur has Mr. Nolan for this class and he’s pretty lax – if Ariadne gets seen, there probably won’t be all that big a fuss, so Arthur hauls her up to sit beside him instead of crouching on the floor where he really can’t hear what she’s whispering anyway.

“Have you spoken to Eames today at all?” She asks, and her tone is urgent and Arthur’s brow furrows.

“Well, I saw him this morning when I first got here. He took off to go see Cobb before I could talk to him much, though. Why? What’s going on?” He asks in a curious tone. He’s not worried, after all – what’s to worry about with Eames?

“He’s…" And Ariadne’s expression sort of crumples into something Arthur hates. Something that means she’s about to cry and Arthur hasn’t ever handled crying all that well.

“Ariadne, what is it?” he asks, louder now, drawing the attention of some of his classmates. It feels as though all eyes are on them and Arthur wishes they would all just disappear so Ari can tell him and get it over with.

“Oh, Arthur…" She whispers, and then she’s wiping away the tears that have started to form. Arthur’s getting angry now, but before he can demand more from her, the bell goes off and the room starts to clear. Ariadne slips off the chair and looks toward the door before turning back to Arthur.

“Just… talk to him. Right now, alright? Don’t wait… and... Don’t do it in the lunch room, alright? Maybe go out to his car or something…” she warns him, squeezing his arm before running out the door and leaving him alone in the empty room.

So, Arthur grabs his portfolio and tucks it under his arm and goes in search of Eames. Eames, who is easily the least difficult person to find in the universe. Except that he’s not. Not today, anyway. Arthur tries their locker first, dropping off his things and picking up his lunch – peanut butter and jelly like he eats every single day. He heads to the lunch room next, because it’s where they go, but Dom and Mal are there with Yusuf and Robert and when they see Arthur, Mal’s hand flies to her face as if she’s been struck. Dom’s standing and what the hell is going on, Arthur thinks, about to move toward the table.

Just then, Danny Nash moves in front of him without realizing it. He turns and apologizes, steadying Arthur, who’s nearly tripped.

“Hey… sorry about that,” he says, and Arthur can tell he truly is sorry, but then even Nash’s face seems worried. “Guess you’re pretty out of it, huh? What with Eames moving back to London next week. I know he’s your best friend, man… sorry about that,” he says, and his tone is regretful, Arthur thinks, but then again, he doesn’t really know. All he knows is that Eames… Eames is leaving.
Arthur doesn’t remember going back to his locker. Doesn’t remember putting on his jacket or grabbing his portfolio and backpack. He doesn’t even remember walking home. He just knows that when he’s walking up to his house, Eames’ car is in his driveway and really, he’s not surprised. Not really.

He looks inside the car, but Eames isn’t there. Arthur knows where to find him. Taking out his key, he unlocks the door and then lets it shut. He walks up the stairs to his room and opens the door to find Eames lying on his bed, one arm tucked under him and the other folded across his chest. He looks even more miserable than Arthur feels.
Setting down his things inside the door, Arthur kicks off his shoes and then crawls up on the bed beside Eames, turning onto his side so he can face him. “When do you…” he starts, knowing Eames probably can’t.

“I wanted to tell you last night, Artie… I really fucking did. But then every time I dialed your number I’d get six numbers in and then hang up because I’d try to talk? And nothing… nothing would come out. Mum told me after the bloody doctor's appointment that the physical was for my new school and that we were leaving... Her job and... And… what the fuck was I supposed to say, anyway? Oh, hey Artie – it’s me, Eames, and I just called to tell you I’m bloody leaving for London in less than a week, so… these last nine years of being best mates have been great, yeah? So… I’ll see ya,” Eames says it all in one breath and Arthur can hear the catch in his throat as he forces the words to come out. Rough and harsh and awful – all the things he feels right now.

“I mean, what the fuck am I supposed to do there, right? Yeah, I was born there and lived there, but I was nearly eight when we left. I don’t think of that as ‘home’ anymore. This is home.... You're home," he says even more softly. "I mean, I haven’t got a clue what the hell my Mum’s thinking, but… I wish I did. I really wish…. that,” he finishes lamely, turning onto his side, facing Arthur and their knees are touching and Arthur feels the same way he always does when he’s this close to Eames. Like he’s small and as close to nothing as he can be and Eames… Eames is everything.

Arthur'd never had the kind of friend that Eames is to him. Not before nor since they met. Eames, even at eight, was strong and tough and rough and sensitive and funny and completely okay with showing his feelings and not giving a shit about it later. He'd never changed that and that made Arthur okay with being that way, too. When they were ten years old and Arthur flipped over the handle bars of his bike and landed flat on his back and thought he was dying, Eames carried him home and they both cried the whole way there. They bawled their asses off together whilst watching Slumdog Millionaire and frequently quoted the scene between Jamal and Latika – about “This is our destiny” and “Kiss Me” back to each other all goofy-faced all the time. Eames was crying right fucking now and all Arthur can do is reach out, tentatively at first, and then pull him in close. Nothing about this makes him embarrassed. All of this makes Eames perfect.

“Are you very pissed off at me?” Eames asks quietly a while later, after he’d wiped his nose on Arthur’s hoodie in such a way that it had them both in wet-cough-giggles.

“No. I’m not pissed, Eames… Just…“ And he leaves it because he can’t put into words how he’s feeling right now. He can’t say that he feels like his life is being pulled out from under him and that he just knows nothing will ever be the same again after today. And if he can’t say any of that, then he definitely can’t tell Eames that he loves him and has loved him since practically the day they met.

Part of him wants to – really – but a bigger part knows that once Eames leaves, it’ll be all that Arthur has left of them and he’ll need it in order to survive the loss of him. “Guess I really do have to go to Ari’s party this weekend, now, huh?” he tries instead, because he needs to lighten things the fuck up before he just dissolves into another ball of snot.

“Oh yes… definitely. I want you there with me the whole night – you’re my muse, after all, darling. We’ll get more pissed than any other almost-17 year olds ever have before. And I’ll woo the maddening crowd with my spectacular karaoke stylings – no one will ever see this great art the same way again,” Eames agrees, trying, too, because he knows… He knows, too, just how easy it is to slide back into their shared misery.

“Yeah, you got that right,” Arthur says dryly. “At least we’ll die together, then,” Arthur adds with a dramatic sigh, letting his hand come up to lie across his forehead as he falls away from Eames onto his back. Eames is smiling and even laughs a little – it’s weak, but it’s there. Before Arthur can say anything else, though, Eames falls forward, too, and settles half on top of Arthur, his face buried in his best friend’s neck, Arthur’s other hand coming up to smooth back his unruly hair. And if he keeps petting him until they both doze off, well… neither of them say much about that.

+++++++++++++++

The day after Ariadne’s party, Eames pulls into Arthur’s driveway and Arthur’s waiting on the porch for him, holding a long tubular container. Some things he wants Eames to have but would’ve never had the nerve to give him if he weren’t going away. They’ve got the day together – Eames mother wants to give them that so saying goodbye the next day will be easier. Arthur wanted to tell her that was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard; that nothing about watching Eames get on a plane and fly 3,762 miles (give or take a few) away would be easy. Instead, he thanked her profusely and kissed her cheek because that’s what he always does for Eames’ Mum. He loves her and will miss her – not just for her fantastic desserts, either. She’s amazing – or was, anyway, before she decided to take Eames away.

“So, you’re driving,” Eames says, getting out and handing Arthur the keys. “What? No way. Gertie’s yours, Eames. She doesn’t drive for anyone else – you said so yourself,” Arthur explains, hands up, shaking his head. “Well… technically, she’s yours now. I’m… sort of giving her to you. So… I figure we’ll drive around a while and I’ll show you all her ins and outs, yeah? I mean, of course you know some of them, but… She’s a saucy minx, Arthur… she’s got more secrets than Mata Hari,” Eames promises, eyeing the cylinder in Arthur’s hand.

“That for me, then?” he asks, when Arthur finally takes the keys. Arthur nods, handing the tube to him and looking a bit like the car might just up and bite him if he tries to sit in the driver’s seat.

“Alright, then… you drive while I open this up,” Eames says confidently, waiting patiently for Arthur to be the one to let him in the passenger seat.

Arthur notices a full tank of gas and glances over at Eames, suspiciously. “We’re not running away, are we? I mean, if you’re up for pulling a Thelma and Louise, you better tell me now – I need to change into something sexier.”

“You’re plenty sexy for me, darling. Now… let’s find the nearest cliff and scope out our final scene, shall we?” Eames tells him without looking at him, his cheek firmly between his teeth, his grin contagious. Arthur thinks he’s got plenty of time to be sad – a little smiling and some laughter won’t kill him. Eames is fiddling with the bottom of the tube, twisting it open, and suddenly Arthur shoots a hand out. “Wait… just… let’s… stop somewhere first, alright? I want to watch while you open it,” Arthur says, and Eames just catches his hand and squeezes it, nodding. “Whatever my darling wants,” he says, pretending to be put out and exasperated.
All that changes in a blink, though, when he realizes the radio’s not on. He needs to sing and dammit, he needs to sing now.

They go through show tunes first. All I Ask of You and A Little Drop of Rain and Dancing Through Life and then they make their way on to Eames’ favorite - pop songs. Eames loves Katy Perry and sings Firework and ET. Arthur loves Lady Gaga, which earns him Eames’ soulful renditions of both Paper Gangsta and Paparazzi. Together they belt out Telephone and Bad Romance at the top of their lungs, making it all the way to Jackson in just over an hour. Arthur hadn’t set out to take them to Cascades, but they’ve been several times together and… it feels right. The fountains won’t be lit because it’s daylight, but, somehow he doubts very much that that’ll matter.
Arthur parks the car, reaching out to snap off the radio before he takes off his seatbelt and turns in the seat, nodding finally to Eames’ gift.

“Alright… open it,” he says, hands in his lap, fidgeting a little, anxious to see what Eames thinks. Eames hands him the end of the tube as he opens it up and then pulls out several sheets of heavy art paper.

“They’re just pencil sketches… things I’ve had for a while or have been working on… I... wanted you to….” He starts, because he always does that when he’s nervous. Eames just shoots him a look and unrolls the heavy parchment, letting his fingers brush over the markings. He doesn’t say a word for a long while and Arthur just gives in the silence, knowing Eames will speak his mind when he’s ready.

The first sketch is a landscape Arthur had done from memory – he and Eames had gone with Arthur’s parents to Coventry Gardens in
Windsor, Canada a few years back and Eames had loved the Peace Fountain. In the background is the Detroit skyline – Arthur knows it’s not perfect, but he also knows Eames would never care about that.

“I… thought you could frame it once you get back home – have a little piece of Detroit to take with you,” Arthur says quietly, still watching Eames for a reaction.
Eames nods silently, slipping the sketch to the back and looking down at the next one. It’s a watercolor this time. Of the Cascades when they’re lit. It’s Impressionist-styled, Arthur thinks, because he liked the dreamy quality of it. That’s how he remembered seeing the Cascades the first time. He and Eames were 11 years old and they’d come with both Arthur’s parents and Eames’ Mum to see the fireworks on Fourth of July. Arthur had fallen asleep against Eames while they were waiting for things to start, and when he woke up, it was to bright lights and the misty spray of water and huge bursts of color blazing over his head.

“S’wonderful, isn’t it,” Eames says, so softly Arthur nearly misses it. Arthur bites the inside of his cheek to keep from saying anything, the smallest smile on his face.

The last picture is a sort of collage. Eames’ house is in the center, but there are snapshot-like drawings around it. Arthur’s room. Eames’ room. Eames’ Audi – christened Gertrude because ‘she needs a good English name, Arthur, else she won’t run’. Arthur had stayed up until three in the morning the night Eames had told him he was leaving, and at first the picture didn’t come but then it was as though it were drawing itself. Especially the last corner – their high school.

“I… wanted to draw a picture of us, but… you know I’m shit at portraiture, so….” Arthur says, and Eames looks up at him, eyes wet but blinking back the tears. He doesn’t say anything – he simply rerolls the parchments up and oh-so-carefully tucks them back in their holder and after a long minute, he takes a deep breath and looks back to Arthur, forcing a grin. “So. Who’s hungry?” he says, and it’s a code between them to stop being a couple of girls, damn it, and to go get some bloody hamburgers.

+++++++++++++++

They don’t get back to town that night until after midnight and Arthur finds it the oddest thing to be dropping Eames off instead of the other way around. Eames and his Mum are staying at a hotel by the airport tonight and so it’s not even like he can say goodbye He wants to say something important, but what’s there to say? The words just won’t come – not the right ones anyway and the night’s going to be long enough for both of them anyways, so why make it worse?

“So, this is it, then?” Eames says, because he always seems to know when Arthur can’t handle something. “I mean… We’ll see each other again, of course. Mum’s sending me back for a few weeks next summer and everything,” Eames says, but it sounds so far away and they both seem to know it.

“And my mom and dad didn’t seem to think coming to visit during Christmas break would be impossible, so… who knows, right? Maybe we’ll see each other in a couple of months, even,” Arthur says, sounding more hopeful than he thought he would.

“Christmas. Right. Well, that’ll be proper, won’t it?” Eames says with a nod, smiling, but really… he’s sinking and Arthur can see it probably even before Eames can.

“I feel like... I should say something. Say thanks, or something,” Arthur starts, not able to look Eames in the face. “But… no matter what I’d say, Eames… it wouldn’t be enough. You’re my best goddamned friend and you’re leaving and there’s just nothing else to say after that, is there?” Arthur says, and he’s angry at himself and it’s coming out in his words for the first time and Eames is tugging him into him because he’s bigger and has always wanted to make things better – ever since Arthur can remember.

“Well… Maybe one thing,” Eames says, and he’s got both arms around Arthur now even though it’s awkward and Arthur’s hands are gripping the steering wheel because if he lets go he feels like the world’s going to end.

“Oh yeah? What’s that,” Arthur asks roughly, feeling foolish for not being better about this – Eames, he feels, deserves better.

“Yeah… How about… I love you,” Eames whispers, lips pressed against Arthur’s cheek now, his own voice sounding wrecked and Arthur freezes in Eames’ arms, hearing his own heartbeat for a short lifetime before coming back to the present and the feel of Eames wrapped around him this way and how it’s perfect. How it’s always been perfect.

“You…” Arthur says, turning so their faces are so fucking close together now. He can’t even see Eames’ face – just eyelashes and stubble and the whisper of Eames’ breath on his cheek.

“I love you, Arthur Adkins. I have loved you since you were eight years old,” Eames tells him and Arthur’s head starts bobbing yes, yes, yes but what comes out is, “No… no no no, Eames… No.”
Eames starts to pull back. Starts to open his mouth to apologize because he knew this could happen – knew this was the biggest risk he was ever going to take, but this was Arthur and dammit if Arthur wasn’t worth it. Still… he knew that it might be a mistake to just… tell him like this and Eames wants to take back the last three minutes and just… keep holding Arthur without fucking it up.

“No…. no way is this happening,” Arthur keeps saying, but he’s gripping Eames’ arms now, having let go of the steering wheel in lieu of finding something better to ground him. Finding Eames.

“Eames… So many times today I wanted to just tell you, you know? I wanted to tell you but was too chicken shit because you were leaving and I didn’t want you to think I was doing it just because of that because it’s not just because of that, Eames… Just… me, too, okay? And I have been for years. Years,” Arthur emphasizes, turning in his seat and begging Eames to look at him. “You… you said it first, but… I can’t believe you said it first,” Arthur says, and it’s like a dam has broken and he can’t stop talking.

“Just know this, alright? I love you so– “Arthur starts, but gets cut off by Eames’ mouth. It’s as if they’ve caught up to one another finally and then they’re kissing and it’s insane and amazing and wet and perfect all at the same time.

+++++++++++++++

How Eames convinced his mother to let him sleep out in the Audi with Arthur instead of inside the hotel room with her, Arthur would never know. Maybe she knew – like Arthur’s parents had known when he’d called to say he was staying over with Eames until he left in the morning – that there was no convincing them otherwise. And maybe Gertie wasn’t as comfortable as either of them wished she might be, but they were together, bundled in the backseat under an old quilt Eames had stuffed in the trunk when he first bought her almost a year ago. Eames had his back to the door and Arthur was half in his lap in front of him, their arms wound tightly around one another.

“We’re idiots, right?” Arthur says sleepily, face pressed into Eames’ neck, thumb grazing gently over Eames’ fingers. “How could we not have known? We know everything about one another.”
“Well, apparently we’re damned good at keeping secrets from one another, aren't we,” Eames says, chuckling, his warm breath against his ear making Arthur shiver.

“You’re always the brave one. What if you hadn’t had the courage? We’d be awake all night tonight miserable and now… It’s crazy, right? I should be feeling worse, knowing that you love me and you’re leaving, but… I actually feel pretty good. I mean… Nine years is longer than most marriages last these days, right? I’d say we’ve got a pretty damned good chance of making it through another year of high school without screwing things up before we can actually be together again, right?” Arthur says more than asks, but Eames smiles at the question lingering lightly in the air.

“Arthur, I’ve had eyes and heart for nothing but you since I saw you the very first time in the fourth grade. You’ve always been ahead of your time, darling. Having your own copy of Fellowship of the Ring and also having actually read The Hobbit? Well, how could I resist you,” Eames murmurs, content just to have his lips pressed to Arthur’s temple and his arms around Arthur’s chest.

“Well, Resistance is futile,” Arthur quips, grinning sleepily. “It’s nearly three in the morning. Should we attempt sleep or will it be even worse when your mom comes out to get you?”

“Don’t care at this point – my entire body has fallen asleep – if we join it, so be it.”

“You know… we could be having sex right now,” Arthur realizes, sounding as though he’s just failed Teenager 101 completely, but can't be bothered to care all that much. This wasn't ever about sex - it was about something way better than that and the two of them seemed to always know that.

“Nope… not ready for that. At least, I don’t think I am," Eames says a bit sheepishly. "I hardly thought I'd get this far with you, did I? I mean, Christ... Arthur - if you'd have offered me sex - and before we were both nearly conked out, for that matter - well... Maybe. Alright... I admit the choice might be more tempting if I’d planned ahead and bought one of those awful town cars from the 80’s, you know? But instead, I had to have this stylish, elegant, tiny European automobile. If we tried having sex for the first time in this car, Arthur, one of two things would happen. At best, we’d be permanent contortionists in need of a circus troupe and at worst, we’d end up in traction. And believe me, once we do have sex – and we will be having sex, darling, that much I can promise you because I’ll be getting a job as soon as we land and saving every penny to get you to me by Christmas, won’t I? – I’m going to want us to have it again. And again and again and again. And then maybe one more time after that. Traction is very, very unsexy, don’t you think?” Eames says, and Arthur couldn’t agree more and he would say so if he could stop laughing long enough to do it.

Finally, when he’s calmed down enough, he lets out a little yawn. He knows it won’t be much longer before he’s out like a light, but he just… doesn’t want this to end.

“Eames…. “Arthur says after a long bout of silence between them.

“Hmmm?” Eames hums.

“Thanks…. For telling me you love me,” Arthur whispers, tilting his head up to press his lips to Eames’ throat.

“Anytime, darling. Anytime,” he whispers back, squeezing Arthur just a little more tightly to him.

+++++++++++++++

Arthur watches from the parking lot as Eames’ plane takes off, heading towards England. Behind him, drawn on the rear windshield, is a cheesy looking little heart with an A and an E inside it. Eames’ doing, of course. Ahead of him, though, the future is waiting, and Arthur truly can’t wait to see where it leads.