"Can we stop off somewhere on the way?" Eames asked, half-way to the third warehouse on Arthur's list. He asked with a carefully affected nonchalance - a good clue as to why he had offered to come in the first place. Arthur agreed, mostly because he knew it would be too much bother otherwise.
They took a two block detour to a run down set of apartments, the sort of place with all its charming original fittings; great big entrance door painted in peeling green, a custodian with a wall of brass keys, worn tiles and a wrought iron lift. It became apparent that Eames owned the whole fifth floor.
"You bought this place?" Arthur inspected the crumbling plaster in the hallway. "Why on earth?"
"I needed somewhere," Eames said, kicking the door shut. "To put all my stuff in."
Arthur found said 'stuff' in one of the larger rooms; a miscellaneous rabble of antique furniture, art, books, suitcases, shoes, file folders full of work and just general junk. It was all pushed into an enormous pile and it looked like next to no effort had been made to organise it. Eames began sorting through a stack of papers, perched on a brass-wheeled office chair with a green velvet seat and wooden arm rests.
The apartment was in disrepair, but the original fixtures were all nice. Arthur inspected the plaster molding in the master bedroom, tested the floorboards. The kitchen was a wreck, half the units pulled out and a sink fitting that looked as if it had last been used in 1876.
"What happened to the house?"
The house was Eames' property in London, a place he may have stayed in twice over the course of five years. It was where red letters from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea went to die.
"It was seized," Eames said, still sifting through his papers. "Something to do with tax evasion. Here we go," he withdrew a folder from the mess and stood. The floorboards groaned beneath his feet.
"As long as you don't live here," Arthur said, "I think you'll be fine."
Arthur wasn't back in Paris for another three months and when he came back he came with work, for Ariadne mostly.
"We could do with Eames," she said, when she saw the brief. She often came to that conclusion, either because she liked working with Eames, or because she knew Arthur didn't. Arthur refused to believe that it was because Eames was necessary every time. For one, he was incredibly expensive.
"Come on," Ariadne pushed. "He's in Paris anyway."
He was in Paris, half way through tearing up the entire floor of his apartment. The first lounge had a set of fresh new teak floorboards laid out, stinking of varnish. When Arthur arrived Eames was putting board down in the hallway.
"I found two boxes of antique parquet tiles," Eames said, while Arthur clambered over the great gaping holes between Eames' ancient plumbing and his ancient insulation. "When I'm done it's going to look beautiful."
"Are you living here?" Arthur asked, a little incredulously. All the junk was still puled up under dust sheets. The place was uninhabitable.
"No, of course not," Eames grinned. His shirt sleeves were rolled up and Arthur thought he could see fresh lines of a new tattoo on the paler skin inside his wrist. Boredom led to unfortunate decisions. "And I don't intend to. It's just something to do, isn't it?"
Boredom led to renovation.
"I have something better for you to do," Arthur said. He ignored the filthy look Eames gave him in response.
Arthur took the call while he was busy compiling phone records for a job. He had three stacks of itemized bills to do, a pounding headache and a coffee pot that was valiantly trying to make something out of steam.
"Success," Eames said, by way of greeting.
"How much is this call costing you?" Arthur asked.
"Not as much as I have saved having just rewired my apartment myself," Eames said, sounding very pleased with himself. "Notice the extreme clarity of the phone line. Not a crackle."
"So it's 'your apartment' now, and not 'a place for all your stuff'?" Arthur flipped over the next sheet of phone bills, the numbers swimming before his eyes. Some things were so boring even Eames was a welcome relief.
"I'm not going to live here," Eames said. "Especially now I've had to take all the plasterboard down."
"Why did you call me anyway," Arthur tried to disguise a yawn in the words, mostly unsuccessfully.
"I was hoping to catch you sleeping actually. Isn't it one am in New York?"
"So it's seven in Paris," Arthur countered.
"Wiring is an all nighter sort of a job."
Arthur sighed, flipping over another page. He could stop and sleep, the work wasn't necessary, but his bed didn't seem welcoming. Eames was still talking, Arthur realised too late.
"-go to bed Arthur," he finished. Arthur hung up and proceeded to ignore him.
"What's that?" Arthur said, because it had been bothering him all morning. When the architect, Reeves, gave him a confused shrug in response, Arthur pointed.
"It's my arse," Eames said, helpfully.
"No, not that," Arthur jabbed the tip of his pen in the air. "That. How am I supposed to listen to you and take you seriously when it looks like you spilled white-out all over yourself?"
Eames craned over to peer at the back of his coat, tugging the tweed out until he could see the stain.
"Shit," he said, scowling. "This is my favourite jacket."
"Yes it is," Arthur pushed the lid onto his pen. "You've worn it five out of the last eight days, so I managed to figure that out. What I want to know is, why there's a great big white stain all over the bottom of it."
"Obvious solution," Reeves offered. "He spilled white-out all over himself."
"I would never," Eames was scandalised. "I hate the smell of it. Actually I know exactly what happened." He took the jacket off and inspecting the stain more carefully, eventually folding it sadly over a nearby chair; definitely beyond saving.
"Go on," Arthur prompted, which earned him an unfriendly, sideways look. Eames rolled up his shirt sleeves.
"I'm decorating," he said, not quite meeting Arthur's eye. "You know, slapping a bit of paint up on the wall."
"Does all your 'stuff' enjoy a well featured room?" Arthur asked. Eames did not answer.
Arthur couldn't quite get the key in the lock.
"God you're drunk," Eames said, delighted. "I am drunk, we are drunk."
"I'm-" Arthur began, finally managing the lock. He couldn't, in good conscience, lie about his state of inebriation. Arthur only had a good conscience when he was drunk.
"You're very drunk. Aren't you glad I bought this place?" Eames took the keys from Arthur and dropped them on the floor with a jangle. "You're thinking, oh if only I had foreseen being gifted a magnum of champagne by a grateful shipping magnate and known how useful Eames' little flat would be."
Arthur was thinking about how beautiful the parquet floor was, how Eames. It was stained dark and polished and Arthur knew Eames had laid every piece himself.
"There's no furniture," Arthur said because there really wasn't. The lounge was still a mausoleum for all of Eames' useless junk. The kitchen had no floor - just two wooden planks stretched across the eaves of the flat below.
"Oh no- there's furniture," Eames pressed a hot hand against Arthur's shoulder, guiding him on. Five hours ago, five hours and a day of dreamtime ago, he had been picking off projections with a handgun, clinging on to Arthur on the back of a motorbike. Arthur couldn't think of anyone else he had ever done such things with. With Eames dreams were always glamorous.
"Voila," Eames said, pushing Arthur into the master bedroom.
"A mattress is not furniture," Arthur complained. Eames was slipping off his jacket though, the backs of his fingers hot against Arthur's bare nape. Above his collar. "I'm hot," Arthur murmured, unnecessarily.
"Mm," Eames replied. His hands lingered a moment on Arthur's shoulders. "A mattress can be used in all the same ways a bed can."
"Can't tie someone to a mattress though," Arthur pointed out, pulling away. Thinking logically seemed to sober him enough to realise that Eames had actually begun unraveling his tie.
"Whoops," Eames said, putting it back. "What I meant was, we can sleep on this one."
Arthur stared. Eames' own tie was gone, probably sprawled somewhere on that beautiful parquet, and Arthur could see sweat in the hollow of his neck. The coincidence of Eames being gay and Arthur being gay; always previously considered by Arthur as mostly irrelevant, suddenly became a lot more significant. Eames looked as if he was waiting for an answer to a question.
"Yes," Arthur said slowly.
They didn't sleep.
In the morning, Arthur woke up on a bare mattress, with a sour mouth and the kind of headache only champagne could bring. He had to balance on a plank of wood to get a lukewarm bottle of orange juice from the antique refrigerator. When he flushed the toilet, it made a sound like a civil war gatling gun and the whole bathroom shook.
"I hate this apartment," he told Eames.
"It's not an apartment," Eames corrected him. "It is a place for all my stuff. Apparently also drunken sex."
"Apparently," Arthur said. The hot water worked at least, and ultimately; once Arthur was clean and less hungover, they spent the afternoon expanding the apartment's use to sober sex as well.
Arthur brought Eames onto a job in Morocco. Generously, he thought, since Eames had mentioned needing some work. Eames repaid the favour by turning up three whole days late.
"I had a plumbing emergency," he said, "In that I tried to fix my plumbing and flooded the apartment block."
The extractor heading the project found his tale of woe very charming. Arthur was less impressed.
"You wouldn't believe how many airlocks I had in the system," Eames said. "I think I spent most of a day finding them all."
"How long have you been renovating this place?" Arthur asked. "Two years?"
Eames didn't answer, just got back to his work with a forced professionalism that rubbed Arthur the wrong way. It didn't matter how often they worked together, how much they had achieved or that they liked to fuck, when they could. When they worked, they caught themselves on each other's ragged edges.
"Oh by the way," Eames said, looking up from his briefing. "I bought a bed frame."
"Good for you," Arthur muttered. Eames let it lie for as long as it took for him to need a cup of coffee.
"No," he said quietly, as he moved past Arthur. "Good for you."
A bed frame seemed to be as far as Eames wanted to go when it came to furnishing the place. He got the kitchen wired up and the gas connected so that in the morning he could make coffee and blackened but infuriatingly delicious omelettes; but they still had to eat perched on the kitchen counter or cross-legged on the floor.
Arthur wouldn't have minded - he was in the apartment maybe once every few months, and spent most of that sweaty and pressed up against various flat surfaces but - Eames already had furniture. It was all there, stacked up in the lounge, under a pule of dust and crap.
"Where did you get that?" Eames asked. Generally Arthur was up first, and that morning he had finally rebelled at the idea of drinking his coffee from anywhere other than an armchair. It had only taken him about fifteen minutes to find one, under a stack of Encyclopaedia Britannica and a First World War era helmet.
"It was in your pile of crap," Arthur said. He had even had time to go out and get himself a newspaper.
"You know I think I had a matching one," Eames said. "Just a minute."
They took both of the chairs onto the balcony and sat looking out over the courtyard, mugs of coffee wedged between their knees. Down on the ground floor an old man worked his way through a six pack of desperados beer from a white plastic bag. His dog lay sleepily in the first beam of sunlight that crept over the rooftops.
"If I had intended on living here," Eames said, "I suppose I might have envisioned sitting out here with a glass of wine in the evening and enjoying the view."
"It is nice," Arthur agreed. Down below the tramp raised his last can of beer in a toast.
Circumstances and an unfortunate breach of customer-client confidentiality, let Arthur to work in East Asia for most of the next year and he barely saw any of Eames at all. He hadn't expected the sexual frustration, or the strange sort of impatience he felt as a result; he hadn't expected any kind of reaction at all.
As people they were both generally nomadic, and neither of them committed much to staying in one place. Still, Arthur found himself occasionally craving irrational things, like the feel of cold parquet floor beneath his feet, or the constant hum of an aged refrigerator.
Eames called a few times, always working.
"I went back to that place where we fuck and I keep stuff," he said, while Arthur made a half-hearted attempt to breach IBO Corp's firewall. "There must have been a storm and half the shutters had come off the hinges, it was a nightmare. I had to get Matthieu to foot a ladder for me."
"Matthieu the custodian?" Arthur murmured, half his mind on work, the other half simply enjoying the familiar timbre of Eames' voice. "Isn't he over ninety?"
"Ninety-two," Eames said. "And yet, surprisingly strong."
Arthur didn't answer, fingers hurrying across the keyboard.
"I imagine that is what you will be like at ninety-two," Eames mused.
"Strong?" Arthur said, lips twisting into a smile. The intimate financial details of IBO Corporation were his for the taking.
"Wrinkled," Eames answered.
"Goodbye Eames," Arthur murmured, and delayed hanging up just long enough to hear Eames' little irritated huff of breath - a break in composure that was still, one of Arthur's favourite things about him.
Things cooled down, and Ariadne called them both to another inception job in Athens, the usual ludicrous overreaching Ariadne did when she drank too much wine with Cobb and talked dream theory. They worked on it for weeks and weeks without a break, success hard won.
It was a reunion for them of sorts, the first time in almost a year that Arthur and Eames had seen each other. It was tough, because Arthur didn't like to fuck while he was working, and suddenly, for some reason, being near Eames and not touching him just seemed to make Arthur angry.
They worked their frustration out afterwards, in the first hotel room their could find. It was a dingy sort of place, with no air conditioning, and windows that did nothing to dull the noise of traffic outside. Arthur felt like he was trying to claw his way out of his skin, to become something raw and simple. He felt amazing and awful all at the same time. For a moment, afterwards, Eames looked up at him with an unfamiliar, vulnerable expression and Arthur was terrified, but it passed.
Arthur hated it, hated being frightened. He had no idea what he was frightened of. It was only Eames.
"I really want to do my kitchen units," Eames said eventually, wedged against the flimsy headboard. He had the sheet draped around himself almost like a toga, which Arthur though was pretty fitting. "It's a two man job really."
Arthur sighed and dropped back down on the bed. He was tired and too hot, and he didn't feel better, not really.
"I'll come," he said. "I don't want you bothering Matthieu again."
“Fuck,” Arthur said, dropping his head back, involuntary. He dug his fingers into the edge of the counter, his hips rocking rhythmically. He couldn’t hear much over the sound of his heartbeat, hot and close in his ears. It was unreal; he could hear Eames panting, but the noise was distant, nothing over the rush of pleasure that seemed to just swallow everything else up.
Eames ducked his head and pushed it against the sweaty line of Arthur’s throat, pressing the heel of his hand roughly against Arthur’s dick. Arthur felt him come, felt the hard edge of his teeth as he grimaced. It didn’t take Arthur that much longer, arching forward, drawn so tight that he felt brittle.
“Damn it,” Arthur bit out, all the tightness melting out of him at once. When he lifted his hands they were numb and sore from gripping so hard. He pressed them to Eames’ bare shoulders, feeling as his breathing slowly evened out.
“Mmm,” Eames said, and as he did he shifted, still inside Arthur. The movement made Arthur shudder. “These are some very, very sturdy kitchen units.”
“Ugh,” Arthur said, any smart comment he had ruined by Eames pulling out. Post-orgasm, all the noises of the apartment slowly filtered back, the refrigerator whining unhappily in the corner.
“You need to replace that fucking fridge,” Arthur said. The counter had been very comfortable mid-fuck, but as a spot to cool down, it was lacking in a lot of qualities. Eames pulled back, and gave Arthur a hand down.
“You seem grumpy,” Eames said, sweetly, “did I not service you to your satisfaction?”
“I think someone is watching,” Arthur pointed out. Sure enough, through the kitchen window, their upstairs neighbour was clearly visible, out on their balcony with half a bottle of wine. Eames saluted them.
Before he left for his next job, Arthur bought and installed venetian blinds at every window.
“Hello,” Ariadne said, dropping into the seat opposite Arthur, “This is a coincidence.”
It wasn’t much of one; Eames’ apartment was within a mile radius of Ariadne’s campus, and Arthur had been drawn to the cafe by some familiar detail that in retrospect must have been from one of her dreams.
“Hey,” Arthur leaned over to kiss her cheek, and enjoyed the smell of her perfume, the soft way her hair fell across her neck. “A very good coincidence.”
Arthur had never felt the same about any two people in his life. Every person he was drawn to made him feel differently; he had long since given up trying to link his loves into a system anyone else might understand. He looked at Ariadne, and found that he could understand every fragment of how he felt for her; all the parts of her he loved, the others that drew them apart. When he looked at Eames all he saw was chaos, and he felt scared, as if he was looking at something he wasn’t capable of understanding. Arthur wasn’t used to that feeling.
Ariadne took him into her studio and showed him the final project she was working on, and they discussed architecture, real buildings, and others that could only exist in a dream. Arthur thought of Eames’ apartment, half renovated after years of sporadic work and wished he could take Ariadne there and show her.
“You’re always in Paris these days,” she said. “Like Eames, he practically lives here now.”
“Yeah, I heard,” Arthur said, awkwardly. He concentrated hard on the model at the heart of Ariadne’s studio, a fragile tower of tiny paper boxes spiraling up in a rush like a wave breaking. Dreaming had made Ariadne more ambitious, and the raw potential of it rushed out from every one of her sketches. She had a rare personality, the kind of person who saw what could be done in the dream world, and came out trying to find the same in reality.
“Let’s go out for dinner before you leave,” Ariadne said when they parted ways. “You’re always rushing off somewhere.”
“I’ll be back soon,” Arthur said, and he meant it.
Eames kept his spare key wedged behind the door frame at the top, just high enough that Arthur had to stand on tiptoe to reach it. The first night Arthur stayed at the apartment alone he put it carefully back, but after that he couldn’t be bothered, and it quickly drifted onto his keyring - next to the key for his own abandoned apartment in New York and another for a secure lock box at his bank.
Arthur had a few days before Eames was due back from Australia; too short a time to really go anywhere else, but long enough that he found himself wandering through the apartment feeling lost.
Eventually Arthur began to sort out the crap, still mostly piled up in a heap in the lounge. He extracted the majority of the furniture first - an oak dining table and matching chairs that fitted neatly into the kitchen - a dark blue chaise that Arthur put by the window in the master bedroom. The polished walnut sideboard, he put by the front door, and quite decisively laid his keys on.
Eames came in at half past four in the morning, stinking of airport and alcohol from tiny plastic cups.
“Mmmm, hello,” he said into Arthur’s neck. Arthur wanted to say something angry, but his body didn’t accommodate. Instead it rolled over, soft and reaching, and tugged Eames down into the bed, close enough to kiss, easy and open mouthed. They fucked like that, sleepy and slow; less about coming, and more about being close enough that it didn’t feel possible that they could ever be apart.
“Like what you’ve done with the place,” Eames said the next morning, as they ate breakfast.
“It’s unreasonable to expect me to eat off my lap when you’ve had a dining table sitting unused in there for years,” Arthur commented.
“Are we shopping for anything particular?” Ariadne asked, while Arthur peered into the window of an antiques shop. It was the fifth one so far he had paused in front of.
“We aren’t shopping,” Arthur protested, weakly. ”We are out for a stroll. Enjoying the weather.”
“To be honest it seems like you have something particular in mind,” She was right, he did. He paused a little forlornly in front of the shop door. “We can go in if you want.” Ariadne offered.
Inside Arthur spent some time rummaging around amongst the furniture.
“What are we looking for?” Ariadne asked, after a while. Arthur considered letting it go and taking Ariadne somewhere glamorous for lunch, but he only had a few days before he was due at a job in New York and he really needed to make the most of his time.
“A chest,” Arthur indicated the ideal dimensions with outstretched arms, “Stained or varnished dark.”
They looked together, without much success, but Ariadne knew of a few places, and it was fun traipsing from auction house to antique shop, inspecting furniture and weighing up options with Ariadne around to help.
“What’s it for though?” she said, as they turned over a sagging stall at a flea market. “Something for a job?”
“Ah,” Arthur said, pulling a stack of rugs away and peering beneath. “No actually, it’s to go at the end of the bed. I need something to keep blankets in.”
“The end of the bed,” Ariadne repeated, pausing with a wrought iron lamp in one hand.
“Yep,” Arthur pushed aside a rotten old dresser and there it was, under a stack of yellowing magazines. The perfect chest. The wood was soft and glossy with age, the hinges sturdy and barely perished. When Arthur opened it, he found a few dry scraps of old paper, soaked in lavender oil. It was just right, the same colour as Eames’ bed frame, and the wooden legs of the chaise. Arthur could strip and stain the dresser to match, when he had the time.
“Could you-“ he said, faltering because Ariadne was still staring. They were at a tip of a flea market run by an unimpressed, mustachioed man smoking from the back of a grotty blue van. There was no chance they could arrange delivery. “Will you help me take it back? It’s only a few blocks.”
They walked back to the apartment slowly, each holding either end of the chest, and Ariadne didn’t ask any more questions about it. Instead they had a fairly standard argument about whether double-solution mazes were better in a dreamscape, stopping every now and then to put the chest down so Ariadne could illustrate her argument with sketches.
This is nice," Ariadne said when they arrived. Since Arthur had last been back, Eames had helped Matthieu redecorate the lobby, resetting some of the lopsided tiles and giving the walls a fresh set of paint. The place did look nicer - very different from how it had been back when Eames had first brought Arthur there. Years ago, Arthur realised, distracted by that thought. It took some negotiating to get the chest, Ariadne, and Arthur into the tiny lift, but they made it up eventually. It wasn’t until Ariadne was in the apartment, peering around curiously, that Arthur realized what he had done. It was the first time anyone but he or Eames had been in the apartment in a long time, almost since Eames had bought it.
“Is this your place?” Ariadne asked. “Wow, look at that floor.”
The pile of Eames’ crap was almost entirely distributed – all the books neatly in bookshelves in the lounge, a soft, chocolate leather sofa to sit on and a rug stretched out between it and the two armchairs. Antique gramophone, fully stocked Edwardian drinks cabinet, polished wooden sculpture of Madonna and child; Arthur had done his best to set everything out in the room in a pleasing manner. Hard sometimes, considering Eames had the world’s finest collection of nonsense junk.
“It’s Eames’ apartment, really,” he said, aware of exactly how much he was revealing. If Ariadne was thrown, she didn’t show it.
They took the chest through to the bedroom, where it looked perfect at the foot of the bed. The post-it note Eames had left for Arthur on the headboard was still there; his number while he was working in Seattle, his return date and a hastily scrawled E, as if anyone else could have left it.
“So,” Ariadne said, raising her eyebrows. “Are you happy now?”
“Absolutely.” Arthur took a step back and surveyed the room.
“You’ve certainly kept this place quiet,” Ariadne said, smoothing a palm over the wall. Arthur sometimes lay in bed at night and imagined Eames plastering the walls, painting them. For some reason, the thought made him immensely proud.
“I love the sea-spray grey in the bathroom,” Ariadne called, having wandered off to explore. “Eames has good taste.”
Well yes, Arthur thought, but.
“The grey was my idea,” he said, chasing after her.
Arthur liked to work in the second lounge. It was on the furthest side of the apartment block from the road, and quieter. Over time much of Arthur's stuff had migrated there; a black leather sofa Eames despised, the set of Ukiyo-e he had brought over from his place in New York. He bought a sleek metal desk, an argument aesthetic to Eames' own roll top pre-war affair. When they fought, Arthur retreated there to sulk.
"I cooked something," Eames said around the door. Arthur flipped over another page of legal briefings. "Oh are you still angry? I'll come back a bit later."
Arthur decided to employ the deadly combination of sniffing and flipping another page. It did the trick.
"Oh come on," Eames snapped. "I just through you would like to work with Marie again."
"The last time we worked with her we ended up having to escape through Afghanistan," Arthur spun round on his office chair. "Afghanistan is literally safer than working with Marie St. Anne."
"But it's very fun," Eames said solemnly. "Oh hello - is that a new painting?"
Arthur hadn't intended to decorate the room much. It was, after all, still Eames' room in the end. Still, he kept picking up things, things that he liked just for himself.
"I quite like that one," Eames added, interrupted by the buzz of someone at the door. He hurried off.
"Good evening," Arthur heard Eames say into the intercom. "Come on up. Oh-" It was probably Ariadne, from the pitch. "Yes, he's sulking in his study."
Several bottles of wine, and one of Eames' blackened but infuriatingly delicious meals later, when Ariadne was curled up in the guest room, and Arthur had returned to sulking, Eames padded in. His bare feet sounded soft on the wood floor, and Arthur wanted to look up but his eyes stayed glued to his work. He was afraid still, and maybe he always would be. It was a depressing prospect.
"Mm, come on," Eames said, "I won't work with Marie. You win, you are absolutely right, Dubai is a terrible idea, let's go to bed."
Arthur sighed and flipped another page.
"Arthur you are always, always right," Eames came closer, draping himself over the back of Arthur's chair. "You have never been wrong."
Arthur looked sidelong at Eames, and was surprised to find his face empty of any kind of teasing smile. He just looked tired, and a bit older, and perhaps a bit unsure.
"I've been wrong about lots of things," Arthur said finally, spinning his chair round until they were face to face. His hands drifted up to press against Eames' bare stomach. "But I was right about this place. It is definitely not just somewhere for your stuff."
"Ah," Eames said, smiling. "Ah, but Arthur you are my stuff."
Arthur didn't have a response for that.
Arthur came back from Italy to find his bath on the street outside, a great huge crack in the enamel. He didn’t go away as often to work any more, and when he did, he liked to take Eames with him, because if Eames was left alone for too long without work of his own, he tended to start on home improvement.
Upstairs, Arthur found him plumbing in a new bath, one that was larger, and also far more tacky. It had claw feet. Arthur was transfixed with horror.
“I wanted to replace the taps,” Eames explained, working on the trap. “But they wouldn’t come off, they were so old. I accidentally smashed the wash hand basin and then I smashed the bath so I went out and I found these- aren’t they charming?”
Arthur sat on the closed toilet seat - the toilet, he noticed, had also been replaced.
“I’m going to tile all the way up there,” Eames said, gesturing vaguely at the wall. He paused, realising that Arthur was just sitting there and not responding. “Hello,” he continued finally, “I missed you.”
“I can see that,” Arthur said. The bath was big - Arthur began to appreciate how big, when Eames clambered over it to kiss him. Eames was hot and he smelled faintly of silicon sealant and tasted of coffee. Arthur slid his hand under Eames’ shirt collar at the back, enjoying the way his skin was damp with sweat there. Arthur knew the sweat would be all down his back, knew how his muscles felt bunching beneath hot skin.
“So you missed me too,” Eames murmured. “Nice to know.”
“You know,” Arthur said, and it came out as a question, even though he hadn’t intended that at all.
“I know,” Eames confirmed, mouth moving over Arthur’s throat. “I know, I know.”
They might have gone on from there, if the seal hadn’t gone on Eames’ half finished plumbing. Cold water sprayed out of the stumps of the bath taps like a garden sprinkler, and rained down on them both, plastering Eames’ shirt to his skin, and ruining Arthur’s suit.
“I hate this apartment,” Arthur said, over the hiss and gurgle of rushing water. Eames just laughed, pushing his wet hair back from his face.
“You love it,” he corrected, scrambling over on slippery tiles to knock the water off.
Arthur didn’t make much effort to argue.