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It doesn’t begin in a dream. There are actually surprisingly few orgies or BDSM clubs in people’s dreams. Blame it on a lack of imagination in corporate jet-setting culture.

No, even the life of a dream-stealing conman has its surprisingly mundane bits. He and Arthur are working a job out of a hotel room in Berlin, and Eames just happens to find Arthur’s porn cache whilst snooping around his laptop.

The secret porn cache, that is, hidden under a few layers of dummy folders and password protected. Eames was a pimply teenage hacker before he was a smarmy, handsome conman, and his predilection for snooping had transferred easily from one to the other. It takes only a few minutes before he’s browsing through a series of stills and short videos.

It’s interesting, for lack of a better word. Surprising. Even a bit of an education. Eames had no idea that someone could fit that many fists into their ass. The human body is an amazing thing.

“What are you -- For fuck’s sake, Eames!” Arthur says when he catches him. The laptop is slammed shut, and Arthur shoves Eames forcibly away from it.

“I can’t believe I ever thought you were a prude,” Eames says, gleeful at the sight of Arthur’s red cheeks.

“Fuck off," Arthur hisses, putting the laptop back in his bag.

“Come on, Arthur, tell me: how many fists have you had up your ass?”

“Eames--”

“Do you have one of those pony outfits? I didn't know Dolce & Gabbana had a fetish line--”

Maybe it’s the stress of this job that finally breaks Arthur’s patience, maybe it’s the embarrassment of being outed as a kinky bastard. Whatever the reason, rather than taking Eames apart with a scathing glare and a few verbal blows like he usually does, Arthur grabs his arm and throws Eames to the floor.

Eames barely has time to take a breath before Arthur’s weight is pressing into his back, and Arthur’s hand is in his hair, pulling on it painfully. “You breathe a word of this to anyone, you piece of shit, and I will tear you apart.”

Eames’ reaction is probably less than appropriate, considering the circumstances. All he can do is make a strangled sort of sound as his blood abandons his brain for parts further south.

It’s not like he can help it, though. First that porn, and now the hair-pulling and that voice--

“Do you hear me, Eames?"

“Arthur--” It’s a struggle not to thrust into the carpet. Especially when Arthur yanks on his hair.

“Have I got your attention, Mr. Eames?”

“Jesus, yes--”

Judging by Arthur’s face, when he flips Eames onto his back, the last thing he’s expecting to see is Eames’ erection pressing against the line of his trousers.

Arthur’s eyes travel from Eames’ flushed face, to his heaving chest, and down to his crotch. His erection does not abate under Arthur’s scrutiny; quite the opposite, in fact.

“Huh,” Arthur says, cocking his head.

Eames decides to say nothing, in favor of getting his breath back.

“I’m guessing you liked the porn?” Arthur says.

Eames looks away. “Not as much as I like having my hair pulled.”

“And being thrown around?”

Eames shrugs. If he weren’t so bloody flustered, he might have an easier time dissecting the meaning of the look Arthur’s giving him. It makes him feel self-defensive. “You’re going to make fun of my kinks, pony boy?”

Arthur’s hand winds its way back into his hair again, tugging on it with purpose and intent. Eames can feel his eyes begin to water.

“No, I’m not,” Arthur says. “You like this.”

Eames nods, feeling like his scalp is going to be ripped off, and really fucking liking it.

"Masochist?” Arthur asks. The pressure on his scalp ratchets up a notch.

“Among other things.”

“Sub?”

“When I choose to be,” Eames replies.

Arthur bends down further, his mouth close to Eames’ ear. Eames can hear him swallow, like his mouth is dry, like this isn’t just an embarrassing incident but an honestly happy accident. “Do you top? During sex?”

Eames sucks in a breath. “Yeah.”

“Interesting,” Arthur says, voice dropping down a register.

The hand abruptly vanishes from his hair. Eames opens his eyes -- unaware that he'd closed them in the first place -- to see Arthur standing up, straightening his tie. He’s not ruffled at all, not even slightly mussed. Part of Eames wants to complain that life isn’t fair, the rest of him is enjoying the view.

“We should talk. After the job,” Arthur specifies.

“Right,” Eames says. “Talk.”

He hopes that “talk” in this instance means “fuck”, but Arthur leaves before Eames has a chance to ask.

Eames wonders exactly what he’s just agreed to. He’s been mildly lusting after Arthur for years, though he’s kept it to the realm of casual flirting and less casual masturbatory fodder.

If he had suspected that Arthur’s thinly veiled hostility to the world was actually thinly veiled sadism, Eames might have tried to provoke him a long time ago.

***

The job is a fairly easy extraction. Eames isn’t even running the show, just coming on as a specialist. Arthur, he’s sure, could do this job in his sleep. Real sleep, that is.

It’s no surprise that the whole thing devolves into a pretext for flirting. Professionalism aside, the situation warrants it.

Arthur’s flirting reads like tactical warfare; sometimes it’s a siege, sometimes it’s a guerrilla campaign, but it always catches Eames off guard.

Like when he’s alone in the cafe on Oderberger Straße, and gets a text that says, How do you feel about hot wax being poured on your chest? Scale 1-5.

It takes him a blinking, blindsided second to respond. 4. are u plotting? or rather what are u plotting?

Eames concentrates on sipping his beer, casual, like he isn’t trying to control a sudden wave of arousal. The reply comes a moment later.

Always. And I just like to be prepared for any eventuality.

i think i like that eventuality.

Eames waits for a response, but Arthur’s a stubborn fuck who’s well-versed in leaving him dangling.

It goes on for the next two weeks of the job. Arthur, wearing trousers that cling to his ass like plastic wrap, finding excuses to bend over.

How do you feel about nipple clamps? Or clothespins in general, not just on nipples but wherever I decide to put them?

Arthur, practicing his knotwork during a lunch break. Arthur, leaning over him as they’re going over the final specs for the first level, his cologne light and heady in Eames’ nostrils.

i think i’m going to like whatever you do to me, you bastard. i think you’re going to make me beg.

Across the room, Arthur shifts in his seat when he looks at Eames’ message. He shoots Eames a look before typing into his phone.

That’s the plan, yes.

***

The job goes off without a hitch, thank Christ. Quick, easy, in and out. Eames shakes their extractor’s hand, bids the architect a fond goodbye, and then turns to Arthur.

“Mr. Eames,” he says, game face still firmly in place. He holds out his hand. When Eames takes it, he feels the rustle of paper against his fingers.

“Arthur. Always a pleasure,” he says, and palms the note.

“Until next time,” Arthur says, turning away.

The note is short and to the point, written in Arthur’s spiky handwriting. The name of a hotel, an address in Shanghai, a date and time, about a week from now.

Eames books a one-way ticket that night.

***

Arthur is waiting in the hotel bar. Watching him from the doorway, Eames would guess he’s still nursing his first drink. Eames takes a second to look around the rest of the bar. They’re not the only white men there, but the only other ones are a pair of stoically inebriated Germans in the corner, talking about football. The rest of the crowd seems to be Chinese, and well on the way to raucous drunkenness. There’s a man slurring his way through some pop ballad in Mandarin on a karaoke stage.

Eames makes his way through the thin cloud of cigarette smoke to the bar, sitting next to Arthur.

“Evening,” he says. “Interesting choice for a meetup.”

“Wong makes the best Manhattan in this district,” Arthur says, nodding at his half-empty glass. “And I like Shanghai.”

“Classier than Beijing, more subdued than Bangkok, with just as many possibilities for mischief,” Eames observes. Shanghai suits Arthur, as a city.

“Is that why you’re here? Mischief?” Arthur asks, raising an eyebrow.

“I’m here because you told me to be here,” Eames says, honestly.

Arthur takes a sip from his Manhattan -- mostly, Eames believes, to cover a smile -- then beckons the bartender over and orders a brandy sour for Eames. It’s a drink Eames orders for himself when he’s not working, not drinking to be drunk, not trying to con someone, not trying to please anyone but himself.

“Thank you,” he says, when it comes. It’s a proper brandy sour, with lemon and bitters, not some rubbishy sweet thing. “You’re right, he is good.”

In the intervening week since the end of the job, there’s been total radio silence from Arthur. Eames knows better than to have any expectations for this meeting, considering Arthur's gift for surprising him, but he’s also going to be mightily disappointed if all that comes out of this meeting is a free drink and another case of blue balls. He watches the Chinese man onstage finish up his ridiculous rendition of a ridiculous pop song, waiting for Arthur to speak.

“Eames, if we’re going to do this--”

“If?” Eames interrupts. His patience only stretches so far.

Arthur raises an eyebrow at him. Eames shuts his mouth, wonders (hopes) Arthur’s going to take it out on him later.

“If we do this," Arthur continues, "we need some ground rules.”

“Okay,” Eames says. “I’ve got one. It stays in the bedroom.”

“Agreed. It can’t interfere with work. Last week--”

“That job was so boring, it doesn’t count,” Eames points out. “It felt like a paid vacation.”

Arthur taps his fingers on the bar. “I guess it’ll have to be a job-by-job basis.”

Eames shrugs his assent. “Another one. I’m not looking for a Master. Any talk of me becoming your slave--”

“Are you kidding? I can’t even keep a houseplant alive. I don’t want a slave.”

Eames laughs. This is actually easier to talk about than he thought it would be. The bar, the noise, the drink; this is familiar, relaxing. Arthur chose the right setting for this conversation.

“Do you want this to become a regular thing?” Arthur asks.

The question hits Eames like a bucket of cold water, dispelling his easy mood. He has to fight the need to lie, dissimulate, and evade. Arthur’s watching him, relaxed and undemanding.

“Maybe,” Eames says. “Depends on how it goes, doesn’t it?”

Arthur makes a sound of agreement, then takes another sip. “Do you trust me?”

Eames thinks. He trusts Arthur with his life when they’re working. This is different. All flirting aside, this is the very definition of risk. “I trust you enough to get on with,” he says, honest and without bravado. “The rest I can do on faith.”

Arthur nods, expression serious. “Another drink?”

“Please.”

After he orders Eames’ drink, Arthur pulls out a manilla folder from his bag.

“What’s that?” Eames asks, wondering if Arthur’s going to make him sign a non-disclosure agreement or something.

“Checklist. I need to know what your limits are.”

Eames blinks, looking at the sheaf of papers on the bar, and says, “It’s a good thing I find your organizational skills ridiculously sexy.”

The list goes on forever, the human capacity for perversion being pretty much infinite. It ranges from the ultra-vanilla (kissing? seriously?) to the heavy (Eames has a hard limit on anything resembling torture methods he’s already suffered through) to the surprisingly alluring -- though he catches the look Arthur gives his large, square hands when he mentions in interest in Fisting: giving.

“Bondage?” Arthur asks.

“Yes, to a point. I’ve a cocked-up shoulder, so nothing prolonged, no straight jackets, no suspension. Tying me to a bed is good. I like that.”

Arthur makes a note. “What about your legs?”

“Love it.”

“Spreader bars?”

“Ooh, yes please.”

“Fellatio.”

“Yes. Giving and receiving, thanks.”

“Anal play.”

Eames shakes his head. “No penetration. Hard limit.”

Arthur looks up from the sheet. “Giving and receiving?”

“No. Just receiving. Nothing goes in my ass.”

Men forget that subs and masochists aren’t necessarily bottoms. Eames has had to forcibly remind more than one shitty, overenthusiastic dom of this. He rather likes Arthur’s methodical list. No chance for confusion.

“And giving?” Arthur asks.

“Giving what? Specificity, Arthur.”

Arthur casually presses his forearm down on one of Eames’ hands, pushing it into the bar. Eames can feel the bones in his knuckles grind against each other, just this side of painful. He sucks in a breath through his nose. The pain is refreshing, a wake up, a reminder of what this long conversation is leading to.

“How do you feel about penetrating me?” Arthur asks, voice low and sharp in Eames’ ear. “Fucking me when I tell you to?”

Eames swallows, nods. God, that voice. “Yes, definite yes.”

“Rimming? Putting your tongue in my ass?”

Eames thinks of Arthur’s ass: round, firm, perfectly contained in his tailored trousers. It has featured heavily in his fantasies lately. “Yes.”

“Good,” Arthur says, and releases Eames’ hand. “Specific enough?

Eames swallows. “Sure.”

Arthur smirks, a sideways half-grin, and starts putting away his notes.

“Are we done?” Eames asks.

“That was the last page, yeah.”

“When do we begin?”

Arthur leans back in his chair, taps his pen against his lips. “Does now work for you?”

Eames glances around the bar. “I don’t recall saying yes to public voyeurism.”

Arthur sighs, gives Eames a look that handsomely conveys how unimpressed he is. “I was thinking we could go back to my room.”

A flutter of anticipation works its way through Eames’ stomach. He takes a swallow of his drink and says, “All right, then.”

Arthur puts a few bills next to their glasses. “Your safe word’s ‘avocado.’ When you say it, the scene ends, no questions asked. If I ask you to give me a number, tell me something from zero to three. Three means keep going, one or two means slow down, and zero means stop. Clear?"

“Crystal.”

Arthur smiles. “Finish your drink.”

Eames’ nerves are jangling all the way back to Arthur’s room. He has no idea what to expect. Arthur’s utter lack of nervousness makes it worse. He walks beside Eames, matching their strides, like they’re on their way to another boring business meeting, not... whatever this is going to be.

Arthur ushers Eames into his hotel room, then locks the door behind them, sliding the chain into its hold. Eames takes a quick look around; the room is bland, subdued, comfortingly monochromatic, and very much Arthur’s style. Arthur grabs a bottle of water from his bag and then makes his way over to the other side of the room, brushing past Eames as he goes.

He watches Eames as he unscrews the cap and drinks. Eames waits. Arthur caps the bottle, then places it on the table.

“Take off your jacket,” he says. The tone is suggestive, rather than an order. They’re still feeling each other out. Circling each other like boxers at the beginning of a match.

Eames unbuttons his jacket and shrugs it off, tossing it onto an empty chair. He brings his hands to his shirtfront and waits, eyebrows raised, for Arthur’s word.

“No,” he says sharply. “Shoes and socks next.”

“Foot fetishist?” Eames asks. He’s half-hoping Arthur will make the first move, punish him.

Arthur just cocks an eyebrow. “Is that what you’re after?”

Eames removes his shoes, pulls off his socks.

Arthur comes forward then, and starts the buttons on Eames’ shirt himself. His movements are quick and economical. His breath is cool on Eames’ neck, where he’s begun to sweat.

Eames lets his hand drift towards Arthur’s hip; Arthur gives it a stinging slap without even looking at it.

“You’re trying my patience,” Arthur says. “Are you, what, cruising for a bruising?”

Eames has always been fond of Arthur’s deadpan humor. “I’m shamefully transparent, I know.”

Arthur pulls Eames’ shirt off and tosses it on the chair. “And mouthy,” he observes.

“Is that bad?”

Arthur shrugs. He’s looking critically at Eames' naked chest, like it’s a piece of modern art he’s not sure he likes. “It’ll make it seem like more of an accomplishment when I manage to shut you up.”

Eames has a sudden image of what that might entail, and suppresses an anticipatory shudder.

Arthur unbuttons Eames’ trousers, and eases them down over his hips. Eames, as is his habit in warmer climates, is bare beneath them.

Arthur’s face betrays little emotion as he takes in the sight of Eames’ cock. He still has that look of scowling concentration, furrowed brows, slightly down-turned mouth. Eames swallows as Arthur takes his cock in one long-fingered hand, pulling on it slightly. He’s never felt particularly self-conscious about his dick -- not since puberty and communal showers at school, anyway -- but he has to take a deep breath and fight down a blush. Arthur looks unimpressed, impassive as he takes a step back. “Get your pants the rest of the way off.”

Something like embarrassment worms its way into Eames’ gut when Arthur turns away. He lets his pants fall to the floor and steps out of them, as Arthur sits down in the chair by the desk.

“Do I pass muster?” Eames says. He’s trying for confident and probably failing horribly.

Arthur half-smiles. “You’ll do,” he allows. “But you’ve been holding out on me.”

“What?” Eames says.

“Last time, in Berlin. It took you all of three seconds until you were humping the carpet like a dog. Why?”

Eames blinks, and briefly looks away--

“Look at me,” Arthur commands. Eames does, his eyes snapping back to Arthur’s. “Tell me what got you so hot for me.”

Eames takes a breath. “It was -- you took me down before I could even make a move. You weren’t even breathing hard. You could have killed me without breaking a sweat.”

See, for Eames, it’s not about submitting. It’s not about ceding willpower or forsaking the ego, or any kind of psychobabble bullshit. It’s about the friction. The tension. He like being dominated, but not just yielding control to someone else. He likes the fight. He likes rubbing up against someone’s rough edges until they make him bleed. He doesn’t want to surrender his control: he wants it to be taken from him.

Apparently, some of this has gotten through to Arthur, because he screws the cap back onto the water bottle with careful, precise movements, and sets it back onto the desk. “All right, then.”

A pause, and then Arthur pounces, kicking Eames’ feet out from underneath him. Eames hits the floor hard, winded. Before he can recover, Arthur’s on his back, putting him in an armlock that twists Eames’ wrist up towards his shoulder. Like in the bar, it’s just on the right side of painful. His nerves are singing, and he feels a rush of adrenaline.

Eames swears, tries to throw Arthur off, but can’t get the leverage.

“This is what you want?” Arthur asks. He knocks Eames’ other arm out from under him, and Eames slams into the floor. “To be overpowered? To have your ass kicked by some skinny bastard who’s half your size?”

Eames feels two loops of rope slip over his wrists, yanking them together behind his back.. He wonders vaguely where Arthur kept the rope, then decides he doesn’t much care, feeling Arthur expertly knot the rope. Eames tests it; not too tight, not cutting off circulation, but nothing he could easily get out of, either.

Arthur grabs Eames’ hair in one hand and pulls him back. “Answer me,” he says. “Is this what you want?”

“Yes,” Eames says. He’s starting to feel dizzy with lust, having gone from cold to burning hot with want in a matter of minutes.

“You want me?” Arthur asks.

“Yes,” Eames says.

Arthur hits him, an open-handed slap to the side of his ass. “You think I didn’t notice? You were staring at me for the rest of that job. Oggling my ass like a fucking pervert for two weeks.”

Arthur releases his hold on Eames’ hair, letting his face fall back into the plush carpet. “You’re painfully obvious, Mr. Eames.”

“Sorry,” Eames mumbles into the carpet. It earns him another stinging slap, this time on the meaty part of his thigh.

“So much for the subtle art of observation,” Arthur says, then slaps Eames’ ass again.

Arthur backs off then. “Give me a number,” he says.

“Two,” Eames says. He needs a second to catch his breath.

Arthur’s weight is suddenly gone from his back. “Get up,” he says from somewhere above him. Eames hears him move back towards the chair. “On your knees.”

It takes him a while to maneuver himself to a kneeling position, hands still tied. It doesn’t help that he feels half-drunk with sudden lust and adrenaline. When he finally makes it, Arthur’s sitting in the chair by the desk again, a few feet away. He looks completely unruffled.

“We were talking about how you’re painfully unsubtle, I think?” he says.

Eames nods.

“Not so mouthy now?” Arthur says, half-smiling. “Can’t have that. So tell me: how many times did you jerk off after you found my porn stash?”

“Every day,” Eames says. There was one day where he managed to get himself off three times. He hadn’t done that since his early twenties.

“Yeah, I noticed. Tell me what you were imagining when you got yourself off. Did you think of me?”

“Yes,” Eames admits.

“Doing what?”

“Just this. Taking me down, but... I imagined you breaking into my apartment and ambushing me, completely unaware, disabling me without mussing up a single fucking hair.”

“And then what?” Arthur asks, standing up again. He stalks softly towards Eames, circling around him.

“Tying me to my big bed, teasing me. Torturing me.”

Arthur’s hand touches his hair softly, slowly travels down to the nape of his neck. The touch is feather-light, maddening.

“What else?”

“Playing with me,” Eames says, as Arthur’s hand moves down his back, a single fingertip drawing a line down the skin. “Keeping me on the edge for hours, without letting me come. Until--”

“Until all your nerve endings are screaming?” Arthur asks, and the light touch turns sharp, fingernails raking across Eames’ back. Eames moans, moves into the touch.

Arthur slaps his ass again, nearly sending Eames tumbling forward. “I didn’t say stop. Keep talking.”

“Until-- until I’m out of my fucking mind, begging you to...”

“To what?” Arthur says. He’s using the edge of his nail to scratch a path down Eames’ shoulder and across his chest. Eames bites his lip as it scores a line across his nipple.

“Touch me,” Eames says.

“Touch you?” Arthur asks, tone amused. “Are we still talking about your fantasy? Or right now?”

“God, Arthur--”

“You’re hard as a rock, aren’t you?” Arthur says, kneeling behind him, moving his finger lower onto Eames’ belly. “Look at you, you’re aching for it.”

Lower, the elegant finger with its short, curved nail rustling as it moves through Eames’ pubic hair, onto his thigh, inching towards his balls. “Yes, I need--”

“What do you need?”

Eames can feel the barest ghost of a touch against his cock. “Touch me, please.”

Arthur pushes him sideways, and Eames falls against the edge of the bed. “Forget it,” he says. “You haven’t earned it yet.”

Frustration suddenly washes away his good sense. “For fuck’s sake, Arthur,” Eames says spitefully.

Instantly, Arthur’s hand is in his hair, shoving Eames’ face into the bed. “You want to whine like a sniveling little brat?” he hisses.

Eames struggles, trying to push against him, but the force is implacable, impossible to fight off. He hears a metallic jingle as Arthur unbuckles his belt, a snap as he yanks it out of the loops. Eames tenses, knowing what’s coming.

His hips stutter forward under the impact of the belt, as Arthur hits him again and again on the ass and thighs, measured snaps that sting like fuckery, start to burn cold and hot almost immediately. Then Arthur slips the strap of leather under Eames’ chin like a garrote and uses it to haul him up onto his feet. “You think I want to hear you complain like a bored child, you piece of shit?”

Eames struggles against Arthur, but again, it’s useless. Arthur holds him there for a bit longer, just to make a point, then releases Eames and shoves him onto the bed. Eames lies there for a moment, shuddering and gasping for air, when Arthur crawls up beside him.

“Any more complaints?” Arthur asks, winding a hand into Eames’ hair.

“No. Sorry,” Eames gasps.

“Good. Now give me a number.”

“One,” he says. He feels overly sensitized, vulnerable, raw. His ass is still burning, all his nerves are wide awake and crackling with electricity. He shivers when Arthur runs a hand down his arm.

Eames feels a tug on his wrists, and then the rope loosens. Arthur pushes him onto his back, then reties his hands, this time in front of him.

Arthur lies down next him, waits as Eames catches his breath. He runs his hand down Eames’ arms, soothing. After a moment, he says softly, “Go back to your fantasy. How did I touch you?”

Eames takes a breath. “Your mouth,” he whispers.

Arthur smiles. “Yeah?” He runs his tongue across his bottom lip. “What about it? Tell me.”

“It’s gorgeous,” Eames says. “I had to watch you indulge your oral fixation all week. Tapping pens against your lips or chewing on the ends. Drove me crazy, thinking of it on my skin.”

“I might have noticed,” Arthur says. He’s brushing the flat of his hand over Eames’ nipple, just lightly enough for Eames to feel the calluses and fortune lines engraved on Arthur’s palm. “I wanted to see what you’d do. If you’d be good, or if you’d break.”

“I can be good,” Eames says, a little breathlessly. “If I have the right motivation.”

Arthur snorts, and the light touch turns into a twisting pinch. Eames’ back arches, and a high, breathy moan escapes his throat before he can stop it.

Arthur laughs at him. “You like that?”

Eames is starting to sweat. “Christ, yeah.”

Arthur grabs Eames’ tied hands and pushes them up above his head. “Hold onto the frame,” he orders. “And don’t move unless I say to.”

Eames does so, then watches as Arthur replaces his fingers with his hot, wet mouth.

It takes all of Eames’ resolve not to arch his back or curl his toes. Arthur alternates between using his teeth and his tongue, between pleasure and pain. The rest of his still-clothed body hovers over Eames, brushing against it only occasionally.

“Was it just my mouth you thought of?” Arthur asks, his lips moving against Eames’ chest. He's rolling Eames' other nipple between two fingers, pinching it and letting it loose rhythmically.

“Your mouth, your hands, your fucking feet, everything.” Eames still hasn’t moved, though he’s afraid he’s bent the metal bar of the bedframe with the effort of it.

Arthur runs the tip of his tongue down Eames’ sternum, bites at the skin below his navel. His tie brushes over Eames’ cock, and Eames can’t help it, he shudders, his hips stuttering up and his cock jumping.

Arthur looks up.

“I’m sorry,” Eames said immediately.

“I told you not to move,” he says.

“I couldn’t--”

Arthur slaps him on the chest, the flat of his palm smacking onto Eames’ pectoral muscle. The sting lingers, the skin turning vivid red in the shape of a handprint, whilst Arthur gets off the bed and rummages in his bag. He comes back with two more lengths of rope, one long and the other short.

“I’m sorry,” Eames says again, as Arthur knots one of the ropes around his ankle.

“I believe you.” Arthur passes the rope underneath the bed, around the small legs, and then loops it over Eames’ other ankle.

“It was your tie,” Eames says apologetically.

Arthur gives him a look, one eyebrow arched. “My tie.”

“It touched my cock,” Eames says. He tries to work a little contriteness into his tone.

Arthur moves up the bed, with the second piece of rope held loosely in his hands. Eames surreptitiously checks the knots around his feet; there’s some give, allowing him to bend his knees some, but not much.

Arthur kneels in the space between Eames’ spread knees. “Feeling sensitive?” he asks. He brushes the frayed end of the rope against Eames’ thigh, barely touching the skin, eliciting a shiver.

“So,” Arthur says. “My mouth, my hands, my ties; any other obsessions I should know about?”

“Your ass,” Eames says immediately, shutting his eyes as Arthur trails the rope over his balls. “I’ve developed a complex, Arthur, you have no idea--”

“I have some, I think,” he says, brushing the rope against the tip of Eames’ cock. “But feel free to explain.”

“I’m fixated on it,” Eames confesses. “It’s fucking perfect. The source of all that is good in the world.”

Arthur snorts, and lets the rope skim up Eames' chest, grazing over his sore nipples.

“I’m serious,” Eames says. And he mostly is; Arthur’s ass is as near to holy perfection as Eames is likely to get outside of a dream. Even before Arthur was doing things like bending over in front of him, wearing cling-wrap trousers, Eames thought Arthur’s ass was divine in its own right.

“I’d build an altar to your ass if you told me to,” Eames says. “I’d kowtow to it three times a day and light incense and worship no other gods before-- fuck!”

Arthur has just whipped the rope against Eames’ thigh, a sweet, stinging pain. Eames writhes in the bed, feeling the heat spread from the line of contact.

“Keep going,” Arthur says, tickling him with the frayed end of the rope again, brushing it over the reddening skin.

Eames swallows. “I’d become a missionary for your ass, and spread the good news--” Eames loses his train of thought as Arthur whips him again, on the other thigh.

“Don’t stop,” Eames moans.

“Don’t you stop,” Arthur replies. “Keep talking.”

Eames writhes as Arthur falls into a rhythm, whipping him and then tickling him, trailing the rope over the burning lines on his skin. He curls his hands tighter around the bedframe, licks his lips. “I... I’ll spread word of your ass’s divinity to the world,” he says. “Tear down false idols to other asses that presume upon your ass’s magnificence. I’d declare a jihad on all infidels that deny your ass’s supremacy, on earth and in heaven. I’d sacrifice all the virgins and white bulls in the world that your ass demanded.”

“You’re ridiculous,” Arthur says, but he’s grinning now.

“Don’t stop,” Eames says again, wishing he could rub his thighs together, feel the heated lines on his skin. “Please, I’ll keep going.”

“No,” Arthur says, leaning forward to tie the rope on Eames’ wrists to the bedframe. Eames relaxes his arms, lets them dangle. “But maybe you deserve something for that ridiculous diatribe.”

Eames swallows. “Like what?”

Arthur smiles, and undoes the top button on his trousers.

“Oh,” Eames says.

Eames eyes are fixated on Arthur’s fingers, unzipping his fly. Arthur turns then, and bends over as he slips out of his trousers, giving Eames an unobstructed view of his perfect, divine ass.

“Jesus.”

“Wrong name,” Arthur says, standing back up. He should look ridiculous, with his sock garters, rolling up his sleeves whilst naked from the waist down, but it’s Arthur. It’s probably physically impossible for him to look anything but fucking gorgeous and perfectly put together.

Arthur walks back to the bed, maneuvering himself until he’s straddling Eames’ chest. Arthur strokes himself languorously, his dick half-hard. Eames realizes that he’s probably going cross-eyed trying to watch.

“You want this, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Eames says.

“Your mouth, Eames.” Arthur touches his thumb to Eames’ bottom lip. “I’m not the only one with an oral fixation.”

Eames smiles up at Arthur, and licks his lips.

“Jesus,” Arthur says.

“Wrong name,” Eames says. Arthur slaps his cheek, lightly, more to remind him to behave than punish him. Arthur’s still touching his cock lazily, hand moving down the shaft in long, rhythmic strokes. “Open your mouth.”

Eames complies, opening his mouth expectantly. Arthur grins down at him.

“Lick your lips again,” he says, steadying himself by grabbing a fistful of Eames’ hair, rubbing the head of his cock against Eames’ mouth. “Get them wet for me.”

Eames runs his tongue over his lips again, lewd and wet, then licks into the slit of Arthur’s cock, touching just the tip of his tongue over it, putting on a show.

He looks up at Arthur as he lets his mouth fall open. The look in Arthur’s eyes, as he leans forward on his hips to push his dick further into Eames’ mouth, makes the weeks of cockteasing and curtailed flirting well worth it.

As if having Arthur’s cock sliding down his tongue wasn’t award enough. The angle might be bad, hitting the back of his throat mercilessly and making it hard to breathe, but he’s not about to complain.

“Number,” Arthur says, half in a groan.

Eames holds up three fingers. Then a fourth. Then a thumbs-up, just to make sure Arthur understands his enthusiasm.

“I’ve been thinking about this,” Arthur says. “Tying you down, filling your mouth with my cock. Getting you to finally shut the fuck up.”

Eames pushes himself up as much as he can, trying to pull more of Arthur’s thickening shaft into his mouth. He wonders if Arthur’s going to talk the whole time he’s doing this. He hopes so.

“I thought -- oh fuck, fuck, Eames -- I thought about buying a gag. Decided I’d rather see your lips around my dick than some piece of rubber...”

Eames moans as Arthur tightens his hands in Eames’ hair. He really can’t believe that he ever, ever thought Arthur was some uptight prude. He relaxes his jaw, letting Arthur in further.

Arthur leans more of his weight on the bed frame, fucking Eames’ mouth in slow thrusts. “You love this, don’t you? You love sucking my cock.”

Eames can only moan in response. Suddenly, Arthur’s moving away, pulling himself out of Eames’ mouth. Eames lets him go with a disappointed noise.

“Shut up,” Arthur says, though there’s no bite in it. He’s moving back, enough so that Eames can see his face. He slides his fingers into Eames’ mouth. Eames swirls his tongue around them, hoping this is heading where he thinks it will.

Arthur sits up, his knees still bracketing Eames’ chest, and pulls his fingers out of Eames’ mouth. Then he reaches back and pushes two fingers, shiny and dripping with spit, into his ass.

“Fuck, Arthur,” Eames says, writhing on the bed, pulling at the ropes holding his limbs in place.

Arthur has his eyes shut, brow furrowed, mouth hanging open; one hand is still sliding in and out of his ass, whilst the other is braced against the headboard. Eames watches as he rocks his hips forward.

“Arthur, can I--”

“No,” Arthur says, voice low and strained. “You have to watch.”

“Please,” Eames says. “I could eat you out. You could sit on my face, let me lick into you--”

Arthur suddenly grabs Eames hair with his free hand and yanks. “I said no.”

“Arthur, please, please, have some fucking mercy on me.”

Arthur grins, eyes still closed. “Why should I do that?”

“Arthur, I am begging you. Take pity on me before my balls fucking explode or something.”

Arthur just shakes his head, as he takes his hand out of Eames’ hair to stroke his own cock. He looks amazing, gorgeous, half lost in a haze of his own pleasure, and it is driving Eames fucking mad that he can’t touch him.

“Christ, Arthur,” Eames moans, hips ineffectually thrusting up into thin air.

“Tell you what, Mr. Eames,” Arthur says. “If you hold still, actually still this time, and don’t make a sound for...” Arthur glances at the alarm clock next to the bed. “Let’s say five minutes. No whining, no begging, no ridiculous diatribes about my ass. No sounds, no writhing. Five minutes of your best behavior, and I’ll let you fuck me.”

Eames swallows, and forces his twitching hips to still. “Deal.”

“Starting now,” Arthur says, and then puts his hand on Eames’ cock. Eames has to bite his lip viciously to stop himself from thrusting up into the light, teasing touch. Arthur runs the flat of his hand against the underside of Eames’ cock, slides his finger down Eames’ balls and presses it against his perineum.

“You didn’t think I’d make it easy on you, right?” Arthur says, leaning down to brush the words against Eames’ lips. “Don’t worry though,” he adds, “Just lie back and think of England, or whatever. I’m sure you’ll do fine.”

He hikes his thigh up, turning around so that his ass is facing Eames. Arthur bends over and resumes fingering himself, giving Eames an unimpeded view.

“Four minutes and forty seconds left. I hope you make it, I really do. I’ve been thinking about this. Having you tied down and at my mercy, your cock sliding into me...”

Eames is not listening. Eames is lying back and thinking of England. Mostly, he’s thinking of Two Fat Ladies, the least sexy thing his mind can come up with, whilst staring at Arthur’s fingers sinking into his hole, stretching himself open. It’s a very thin line of defense, especially when Arthur runs his tongue lightly down Eames’ cock, but it’s the best he’s got.

“One minute down, Mr. Eames. I’m impressed.” Arthur raises himself onto his knees, looking at Eames over his shoulder. His hair is starting to become mussed. “Maybe you can make it even longer than five minutes. Let’s try for ten instead. Or maybe twenty.”

Eames clenches his jaw to keep from swearing aloud.

He has to force himself to breathe slow and steady through the minutes, watching silently as Arthur tortures him, teases him; bites, claws, and hits him; tickles, kisses, and licks him. Eames takes it, keeps his mouth shut and his body as still as he can. He listens to the dirty words pour out of Arthur’s mouth, random thoughts and observations and fantasies, a never-ending supply of filth that makes Eames’ cock ache and head spin.

Eames has to shut his eyes when Arthur starts grinding down against his cock. He can feel his cock swelling, almost painful now, oversensitized and a hairbreadth away from coming.

“Look at me,” Arthur demands. “Open your eyes.”

Eames’ hesitation earns him a slap across the face.

“I said look at me, Eames.”

Eames opens his eyes; he’s dimly aware that he probably looks terrified, or deranged.

“Don’t you come, don’t you fucking dare. Not until I say you can, Eames, remember.”

"I won’t,” Eames says, then bites his lip before he says anything else.

Arthur looks over at the clock, pointedly. Eames clenches his fists, digging his nails into the palm of his hand.

“Eighteen minutes,” Arthur says, approvingly. “I am impressed.”

Bastard, patronizing bastard, Eames thinks wildly, feeling half out of his mind after all that. All he says, though, is, “Please.”

“Please what?” Arthur asks, rolling his hips, letting Eames’ cock slide between the cheeks of his ass.

“Please,” Eames repeats. It’s the only word that he seems to be able to voice. “Please, Arthur, please, please--”

“Enough,” Arthur says, getting up.

Eames starts to struggle against the ropes holding him, irrational, desperate. “Arthur!”

Arthur’s hands are suddenly on his face, stroking his cheek. “Shh,” he says. “Calm down. I’m not going anywhere.”

Eames gulps down air, then nods. He feels embarrassingly relieved.

“You’re doing so well. I really am impressed,” he says.

“Thank you,” Eames mutters.

“Just hang on a little bit longer,” Arthur says. “I know you can.”

Eames nods, relaxing back into the ropes.

Arthur bends and pulls a bottle of lube and a condom out of his bag on the floor, then gets back on the bed.

He runs the flat of his hand softly over Eames’ eyes. “Shut your eyes,” he says, and Eames does.

Eames hears the foil packaging tear, and clenches his jaw as Arthur rolls the condom onto his hard, aching dick. Then there’s the sound of a cap being popped open, the suction of Arthur squeezing the lube onto his fingers.

He feels the heat of Arthur’s face right before he feels his lips. Eames opens his mouth as Arthur kisses him, almost lazily, and Eames can hear the wet sounds of Arthur sliding his fingers into himself again.

Eames jerks when he feels Arthur’s hand on his cock again, still wet with lube. He makes a soft, breathy noise into Arthur’s mouth as Arthur pumps him, maddeningly slow.

“You’re not going to come,” Arthur says. “Not until I say so. If you disobey me, I’ll walk out of here and leave you.”

“I won’t,” Eames says, babbling. “I promise, I won’t--”

“Shh. Open your eyes. I want you to see this.” Eames opens his eyes just as Arthur straddles him again. Arthur steadies himself, one hand on Eames’ chest, and sinks down onto Eames’ cock in slow, torturous increments.

“Fuck, fuck, Arthur, I can’t--” He’s going to come, he won’t be able to stop it.

“You can, Eames, you have to.” Arthur continues his measured descent until he’s fully seated in Eames’ lap. “Get yourself under control. I’ll wait.”

Eames thinks of Two Fat Ladies, his great-aunt Mathilde, nuclear fallout, the last three times he died in a dream, anything he can to bring himself back from the edge. He closes his eyes again so he won’t be able to see Arthur fisting his cock, that furrow of concentration between his eyebrows.

“Okay,” Eames says. “I think I--” His words die somewhere between his mouth and his brain when Arthur starts moving his hips, shifting back and forth. Just small movements, too much and not enough all at once.

“Oh god, Arthur--” he chokes out. He concentrates on the feeling of the rope biting into his wrists and ankles. He pulls at them, trying to distract himself.

“Look at the state of you,” Arthur says, smiling. He tilts his head back, fisting his cock harder. He snaps his hips forward in a sudden movement, clenching around Eames’ cock, the drag of his skin against Eames so pleasurable it feels like pain; bright, sharp awareness of their two bodies.

“Please,” Eames says. “Arthur, please, let me--”

“Not yet, hold on a little longer,” Arthur says. He leans down, bracing himself against the bedframe, fucking himself down on Eames’ cock in earnest now. “So close,” he says.

There’s a dull, pounding roar in Eames’ ears. He feels taut, ready to snap. His eyes are closed so hard that he sees starbursts.

Arthur leans over even more, licks at Eames’ mouth, bites at it. His hand brushes against Eames’ stomach as he jerks at his cock. “A little bit longer,” he says hoarsely. “Just hold on, Eames, you feel so fucking good, wait for me...”

Eames can barely parse the words that are coming from Arthur’s mouth. He’s long past the point of comprehension, all his concentration focused on the points of contact, where his and Arthur’s bodies are intersecting: Arthur’s mouth moving against his lips, his fingers clutching at Eames hair, his neck, the feeling of Arthur’s ass, sliding in an unstoppable rhythm down Eames’ cock.

Finally, one thing penetrates the fog. Arthur’s voice, murmuring, “Eames, you can let go, come on, do it, come for me--”

Eames obeys, thrusts up with no thought for finesse or skill, just drives up into Arthur and comes in one quaking, quivering jolt that rushes down his nerves like a tsunami, crashing and tumultuous for long moments until, finally, the intensity starts to ebb away.

It takes a while for comprehension to come back. The first thing he notices is Arthur, breathing wetly into his neck, petting his hair with one hand. His hand moves onto Eames’ face, thumb rubbing against his sweat-soaked temple, brushing wetness (sweat or tears? Eames honestly has no idea) from underneath his eye.

“Eames,” he says in an undertone. “That was... that was pretty amazing.”

Eames takes a breath. “Yeah?”

Arthur leans up and brushes a soft kiss against Eames’ mouth. “Yeah.”

Eames smiles.

“Will you be all right by yourself for a second?” Arthur asks, brushing his thumb across the arch of Eames’ cheekbone.

“Where are you going?” Eames asks, fighting for coherence.

“I’m going to wash up,” he says. “And get a towel so I can clean you off.”

Eames nods. “Okay.”

Arthur sits up to untie his hands, and Eames immediately curls into himself. “Not the feet,” he says. The ropes on his feet feel good, grounding, something that will tether him to Earth in Arthur’s absence.

Arthur squeezes Eames’ ankle, then gets up, throwing a blanket over Eames’ lower half. Eames shuts his eyes and lets himself drift through his post-coitus, post-scene haze, listening to Arthur in the bathroom.

He comes back with a warm, damp towel and urges Eames out of his half-fetal position, onto his back. Eames blinks as Arthur cleans off his stomach, realizing it must be Arthur’s semen drying on the skin there; he hadn’t even felt the other man come, he’d been so wrecked by his own orgasm. Arthur pulls the condom off of Eames, and Eames shudders when Arthur wipes down his groin. If he weren’t so utterly fucked out and wrecked, he’d feel a little more embarrassed.

Kind of late for that, he supposes, as Arthur checks his wrists for chafe marks. Better to just enjoy this, take this care as his due.

“Can I untie your feet?” Arthur asks.

Eames nods, “Mm-hmm.”

Arthur gently unties the ropes, then rubs at Eames’ ankles and feet. Eames sighs, then murmurs, "Don't stop?"

Arthur pauses in his ministrations, glancing up at Eames.

“Feels really good,” Eames says.

Arthur smiles at him, and resumes the impromptu massage. He moves up Eames’ legs, rubbing warmth into Eames’ calves, going lightly across the welts on Eames’ thighs. He strokes wide circles on Eames’ chest, squeezes the sore muscles in Eames’ shoulders and arms.

“I’m gonna fall asleep,” Eames mumbles.

Arthur settles in next to him on the bed, runs fingers lightly through Eames’ hair. “That’s fine. Go to sleep.”

“Stay here with me,” Eames says. His eyes have already fallen shut.

“I wouldn’t leave,” Arthur says, too seriously.

Eames cracks an eye open. “I know that, darling.”

Arthur is still looking too serious. Eames wiggles until he butts up against Arthur, and throws an arm around his skinny hip. “I can hear you overthinking this,” he mumbles into Arthur’s shoulder. “Making this more complicated than it has any right to be. All the ways it could go wrong, that one of us could mess it up.”

He hears Arthur take a deep breath, open his mouth to say something contrary and worrisome, some weird projection of his top-drop existential crisis.

Eames puts his hand over Arthur’s mouth, resting his fingers in the hollow of Arthur’s cheek.

“Eames,” he says, muffled under Eames’ hand. He sounds huffy, but not actually mad.

“Shh, darling. Let it keep until morning.” At that point, Eames decides, he can distract Arthur with a blow job, and then breakfast. Arthur took care of him, he can take care of Arthur. Reciprocation is a wonderful thing.

Arthur snorts, but settles in closer to Eames, content, at least, for the moment.