There were, in the history of shit jobs, ones that were significantly worse than any that Eames had landed. He was not walking dogs, or wiping runny noses, or cleaning bed pans.
No, instead, Eames is the Ice Cream Man.
He drives a spray-painted paneled van around, sweating his bollocks off in the back as he gathers sticky notes from small children in exchange for frozen sweets. He gets hit on by bored housewives in their brightly-colored capri pants, and underage nannies in their big sunglasses and low-cut blouses. He gets minimum wage and funny hat, and three times a week, when he's cutting through the business district to get from Nanny Territory to Housewife Neighborhood, he gets Arthur.
Arthur, with his sleeves rolled up and his dollar bills fresh and perfectly creased, and his mouth twitching like he wants to smile but can't be seen to show the weakness. Arthur, with his slender fingers and his sharp tongue.
"You do know you're driving on the wrong side of the street, don't you?" Arthur asks, with the barest hint of a dimple. It's practically a love song. He licks the blue leaking from his Bomb Pop off his thumbnail.
"Ah." Eames sighs, sadly, pulling off his hat to wring it in his hands. "I have the hardest time with that one," he says, because but this is the side of the street you were on would probably be deemed unacceptable in an American court of law. Silly country.
Arthur's mouth pinches. On most people this would be a frown. On Arthur it's practically a term of endearment. He flicks his tongue against the tip of his pop, and Eames manfully resists the urge to swoon. "I can see how you in no way endanger the children of our fair city."
Eames grins stupid and too wide. "So you've decided to stop referring to my vehicle as a 'molester van' have you?"
Arthur smirks. He holds his pop with his mouth in order to replace Eames' hat, his thumb cold against Eames' overly-hot forehead. "Have a good afternoon, Mr. Eames," he says when he's finished his task and his mouth is stained so, so very red. He says it slow, feeling out each syllable like his tongue has gone a little numb from the cold.
"Until next time, my love," he says, tipping his hat and waiting, holding his breath for that split second as Arthur turns away that he finally gives in and smiles.
Chapter 2: sort of sequel/ ending
My shame, you guys, my shame. All of it belong to aredblush.
"Would you like to try something sweet, little boy?" Eames asks, smiling entirely too wide.
"That's the creepiest thing I've heard all month," Arthur tells him with his mouth drawn down sharply. He makes a show of looking around and behind him, as though he does not know full well that he has wandered willingly into the alleyway Eames has so thoughtfully backed his van into. "And I've spent two weeks working on a project with Tommy McPeeperson.
He takes the Bomb Pop that Eames offers him, even as he gives Eames a look that suggests Eames should probably be studied by any number of mental health care professionals. And lays out his ones--crisp and fresh as ever--all in a row on the edge of the the window. He lines all the edges up perfectly, and it's a testament to how far gone Eames is that he just wants to coo at Arthur's adorable little anal-retentive soul.
"Ah, Tommy." Eames clutches his heart and sighs dramatically. "Ours was such an ill-fated love affair."
"Do all your relationships end in protective orders?" Arthur asks over the crinkle of his wrapper.
"Only the ones with stories worth telling. Though I'm sure that you are man enough to buck that trend." Eames leans over, resting on one elbow, and bringing one of Arthur's bills forward to fold carefully.
They've hit the dog days, and Arthur makes a doubtful noise around his ridiculous Bomb Pop, muddying the colors. He's even gone so far as to concede his forearms to the weather, abandoning his jacket and rolling up his shirtsleeves. There's sweat beading along his hairline.
Eames sort of wants to lick it. All of it. More than sort of. He wants to do that a lot. "Don't worry, darling," Eames says, "I would always treat you right."
"I would hurt you," Arthur says, suddenly so serious, even with the corner of his mouth still stained. There's a pause, blue dripping down his thumb that he doesn't bother to catch. He's mirthless in the way he always just pretended to be.
Eames nods. "My safeword is 'Big Bopper.'"
"Big Bopper," Arthur says, dully. But in the way he was before, tension broken. He laps up the blue from his thumb, and Eames would very much like to press him up against the brick wall at his back.
Instead, he folds the dollar bill carefully again. "Well, they are my favorites."
Arthur shakes his head, like nothing in life could ever make him as sad as Eames makes him. "You are such a disgrace to everything that is good in the world."
There are a number of things that Eames would never tell Arthur. For instance 1) last week he lied to a small child, claiming a lack of Bomb Pops because there was only one left and he would not leave Arthur without, 2) There is a box in his freezer that has never been opened, like a package waiting for Christmas, 3) Eames has been exclusively applying at terrible coffee places near Arthur's workplace for fall employment.
Instead, he says, "It is the hottest part of summer, Arthur, a man deserves a treat." He smirks, and makes another fold, and marvels the tiniest bit that Arthur is still hanging around, tie loosened and hair curling softly around his ears, like Eames should be petting him. "Have one specially from me, yeah?" he says, and passes back Arthur's dollar, now folded into the shape of a heart.
"Oh," Arthur says. He blinks, and then blinks again. And then, frighteningly, he smirks. "Finally."
Then, delightfully, he reaches out and he grabs.
Eames has spent hours thinking of nothing but how it would be to kiss Arthur. How his mouth would be so cold that Eames would have no choice but to warm it. The way he would taste sweet, like flavors that should never go together that created something fabulous, and Eames wouldn't ever want to stop, because he'd be too busy chasing the taste.
He is thrilled to note that his imagination is as fantastic and accurate as ever. And when Arthur pulls away, finally, his beloved Bomb Pop nearly melted, and his face flushed from more than just the weather outside, all Eames can do is say, "We could make your horrible little name for my beloved truck accurate, you know."
"Yes," Arthur says, mouth stained red for a much better reason. "Yes, we could."