Everything had been going well (Eames had called Arthur a 'stick in the mud' out loud only six times out of seven, and Arthur had looked like he regretted accepting the invitation for dinner only three times) right until the moment Eames managed to get a speck of chocolate sauce on Arthur's suit.
It was only a speck; easy enough to remove and a perfect excuse to retire to their hotel room and let Arthur take his shirt off, in Eames's opinion, but of course Arthur disagreed.
(Arthur sent him the dry cleaning bill three days after, and Eames seriously considered not paying it - for that kind of money, you'd think Arthur had ordered a new suit ... or two, but he strongly suspected that that would result in Arthur not talking to him again for at least a year, and Eames really didn't want to wait that long.)
"I have an appointment with my tailor that day," Arthur said, sounding only slightly sorry, and Eames thought it should have been the lousiest excuse slash blow-off in the world except that in this one case, it was probably true. "How about next week?"
Eames planned to be in Tokyo by next week. "It's Monday. You need a whole week to get a new suit?"
"I guess I'll be seeing you around then," Arthur said, and he didn't sound the least bit sorry anymore. The term 'offended' might apply though. Under other circumstances, Eames would be congratulating himself at having gotten under Arthur's skin with only a single sentence.
Pity it hadn't been intentional. "Tell Cobb I said hi."
(Shower stalls, Eames decided later that night, were rather perfectly adequate for having dressing room sex fantasies in.)
They'd skipped dessert this time, to avoid a repeating of the speck of chocolate sauce incident.
Arthur's tailor had unexpectedly won a trip to Spain and thus was out of town for a full two weeks. (It had been expensive to arrange, but Eames was confident it would turn out to be money well spent.)
Dinner had been agreeable - Eames had made disparaging comments on Arthur's taste in ties (unadventurous), newspapers (conservative) and movies (predictable), and Arthur had insulted Eames's choice of restaurant (pretentious), wine (unsuitable) and hotel (second-best and too far away from the airport, which would have been a valid point only if it had been illegal to go out on a date).
"My room's closer," Eames said, once they'd left the restaurant, because it was. Plus, if he'd actually ask Arthur if he wanted to have sex, Eames rather suspected they'd have a very lengthy discussion about pick-up lines and manners and etiquette and all sorts of things that were really not at all relevant to the situation at hand.
Arthur shrugged and said: "All right," as if he hadn't just been lecturing Eames on why his choice of accommodation was irresponsible, unwise and clearly made without having done the proper resrearch.
There might have been a modest amount of making out in the cab if only Eames hadn't been so worried about getting Arthur's suit wrinkled - and if that wasn't a sign that this thing with Arthur had been dragging on unresolved much too long, he didn't know what was.
And then they were past the doorman, past reception, out of the elevators, stumbling into his room, and it was fantastic, perfect, honestly, he'd never even suspected Arthur would prove to be this good a kisser; he'd been expecting Arthur to be more the type who'd be controlled but thorough - fun, yes, obviously, but more skilled than talented, smart rather than passionate.
And then Arthur asked: "Where can I put my suit?", sounding deliciously out of breath, and Eames mumbled something about 'just dropping it somewhere' and well, that was that.
(He liked to think it was a good sign that instead of repeating past mistakes, he seemed to keep making new ones.)
"That suit would look absolutely stunning hung in that closet over there," Eames said, and then, because it had taken a considerable (waste of) effort: "Don't ask me how I got that here."
Arthur nodded briefly, like this was a mission or something, like he was acknowledging Eames giving him instructions. (As if. That'd be the day.)
The closet was studied, inspected for dust (Eames felt free to roll his eyes; Arthur wasn't looking at him anyway, all lost in his own suit world) and at last, apparently, approved.
Of course, just when Eames thought they could finally (finally) get this show on the road, Arthur turned to him and asked: "Where's the lock?"
"What lock?" Eames asked, even though he rather thought he knew already. "It's a closet, darling, not a bank vault." Not good, not good. "And it's only temporal." Better. "We'll be right here, same room."
Arthur frowned. Eames tried to feel flattered that Arthur apparently thought he might shortly be rather too distracted to notice someone sneaking in to steal his suit. Really, Arthur was quite endearing. Annoying, too, but mostly endearing.
Another inspection - the outside, this time. "Feels smooth enough," Arthur said. "I wouldn't want either of us to get splinters."
Somewhat belatedly, it dawned on Eames what Arthur was considering - or, well, assuming, really.
"There's a bed. It's nice. Comfortable." Vanilla and a bit conventional perhaps, too, but he'd thought that would appeal to Arthur. "I'll get bruises."
Arthur looked him over in a way that made Eames decide that, really, sex against a closet sounded quite appealing. Great idea, in fact - he could have come up with it himself.