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All the boys with their toys

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The trouble begins when Arthur grows a mustache.

"Arthur, you have a mustache," Eames remarks when they run into each other in San Salvador. The day swelters enough nearly to melt the smile on Arthur's face as he catches sight of Eames' familiar shoulders in a marketplace crowd. Nearly. 

"Don't say anything," Arthur says. "Don't try to repress my follicular ambition."

"You know I would never do anything so cruel," Eames says, but on the way back to Arthur's apartment, he keeps on staring at the stripe of hair above Arthur's lip. Arthur figures there are three explanations for Eames' sudden fascination. 1) He is madly in love with Arthur and wants to take him on the sidewalk, 2) He doesn't like the mustache, and 3) He is not actually looking at Arthur's mustache but at Arthur's combined umbrella / mirror / weed whacker. 

"Do you want to see how it works?" Arthur asks as they turn the corner towards his boulevard. 

"Well, Pinocchio, when a boy becomes a man, his hypothalamus begins to secrete a certain amount of Gonadotropin-releasing hormone..."

"I meant," Arthur says, "the umbrella."

Eames's eyes flicker up towards Arthur's latest invention. "Is that what it is."

"What else would it be?" Arthur asks, bobbing the umbrella twice for emphasis. "The canopy shape and the nylon taffeta fabric clearly marks it as an umbrella. That much should be obvious, even if you get distracted by the reflective mirrored coating, which is so the umbrella can also double as a way to check your hair in the middle of the rain. Or the shaft, in which I've installed a good quality miniature weed whacker, complete with internal combustion engine."

He waits then for the typical response. But Arthur, why would you need an umbrella with a reflective mirrored coating and an internal combustion weed whacking engine? Arthur is sick of the question and variations thereof, but he has his ready-made answer light on his tongue: that innovation is civilization, that efficiency is the hallmark of the modern mentality, and that he really, really likes it. The next time someone is caught in the rain with no way to weed their lawn or check their hair, Arthur will have the last laugh.

Eames, however, does not laugh. He doesn't even put on that obnoxiously insincere smile that Cobb has perfected every time Arthur talks about his inventions. Instead he reaches out a hand and touches the umbrella, running his fingers over the fabric.

"The nylon taffeta is rated at 190 threads per inch," Arthur informs him. "There's an acrylic coating and a scotch-guard finish."

"It's lovely," Eames says. "Put me down for one."

"How about... six?" Arthur asks. He knows it's hopeless to make a profit off his inventions but it doesn't stop him from trying. He's already running a sale on his website (buy one, get one free, and free shipping and handling too), but he's not going to mention that to Eames if he can con Eames into buying multiple quantities at full price.

"What would I do with six..."

"UmbraWhackers," Arthur supplies.

"What am I going to do with six UmbraWhackers?" Eames asks.

"What can't you do with six UmbraWhackers?" Arthur replies. "Don't you have nieces and nephews you need to buy Christmas presents for? Don't you have one night stands you need to bribe into forgetting your drunken loutishness?"

"Nothing says 'thanks for sucking my cock' and 'sorry for calling out the wrong name in bed' than reaching for the weed whacker, I'll admit," Eames says. 

"I would be charmed," Arthur says.

"Arthur, two pieces of shiny metal will charm you," Eames points out. "I'm surprised you fooled me for so long into thinking that you were cool. It must have been the somnacin overdose. I'm normally an excellent judge of character."

"I'm cool," Arthur says.

Eames looks fondly at the sun.

Arthur closes the UmbraWhacker and tucks it under his armpit. The sales pitch will have to come later. "What are you doing in San Salvador?" he asks. "I thought we were supposed to be lying low after the Lash Miller incident." And by incident he means that the governmental agencies of five different countries are searching for them because of one unfortunate tipoff and WikiLeak.

"Lying low is not in my bag of tricks," Eames admits. "I have a job here. A small job," he adds when he sees Arthur's eye roll. "It's quick in, quick out, chances of discovery almost nil. If I don't take it, I'll just be sitting in a pub somewhere, bored out of my mind. We can't all have hobbies like you."

"Right," Arthur says. "Well, if you're going to be running in the dreamshare circles in this city, you might as well come up for some tea and some intel. I know this territory better than you do." He smirks at Eames' expression, which is in itself a sort of a gift, because Eames can hide his expression quite well when he wants to -- he just chooses not to when he's with Arthur, a sign of their increasing friendship over the years, ever since they were locked in a cold storage together and forced to cuddle for warmth. "What?" Arthur asks. "You think I haven't pulled a few jobs of my own here? I've got to keep my skills sharp for when I go back to work for real."

As they make their way up the creaking metal steps to Arthur's second story apartment, he asks, "And whose name do you call out in bed, if it's the wrong one?"

Eames smiles. "I guess that's a secret you'll have to find out."

 


 

Arthur sits cross-legged in the middle of a circle with five fans. He's working over his coffee table, sweat from the 98 degree weather sliding down his naked back. His laptop is almost too hot to touch, but he wants to see if he made any new sales at www.inventionsbyarthur.com today. His hopes aren't high, but with the buy one get one free sale and the mention at the chindogu blog, he anticipates at least one or two buyers, even if they're only fellow enthusiasts and not mainstream consumers. That's fine. Conquer a small hill today, a mountain tomorrow.

He anticipates one or two orders. He gets one. Arthur tries to quell the familiar disappointment when he clicks on the order details, thinking already about how he'll have to stock up on packaging and go down to the post office. When he sees what the order is, he starts smiling.

Arthur has no idea who Jefferson Smithy is, but Jefferson Smithy out of Vancouver is his most loyal customer, having bought large amounts of nine of Arthur's last ten inventions (the bra / face mask was not, in retrospect, one of his brightest eurekas). His purchases single handedly fund Arthur's server costs, and if Arthur ever meets him in real life, he'll take him out for drinks. Today Jefferson Smithy has put in an order for ten UmbraWhackers with a comment in the order box that says "Your best idea yet! :D :D" 

Arthur wonders if the swooning is because of the heat.

Arthur wonders if he should trace Smithy's credit card and find out more about him.

Arthur wonders if lying low is making him a deranged, romantic stalker.

But it's just that -- well, Arthur doesn't how to explain this without sounding like he's on a Lifetime movie, but Arthur's father had been a scientist and an inventor. Arthur's earliest memories are of running underfoot in his father's lab, pulling on levers and sticking colourful, gummy substances in his mouth while his father ran after him with the poison control kit. Arthur's father had been on the first PASIV experimentation team, and it'd ended up ruining him and sending his son into the care of military professionals who taught Arthur how to shoot, how to take pain, how to get revenge.

It's been fifteen years, and Arthur's shot a whole lot of people, taken more pain than he cares to, and he's gotten his revenge. He stays in the dreamshare business now because he wants to, because he doesn't see another alternative. This is the life that his childhood wrought for him, and sometimes when he's lying in his bed at night, staring up at the flies that circle the ceiling, he thinks about how nobody dreams so deeply who hasn't forgotten how to live.

So, Arthur invents. He invents his new identity, he invents his new gadgets, he invents himself ten times over, mustache occasionally included.

He goes down to the post office to buy packaging for the UmbraWhackers. He stops by Miguel's, who gives him some of his leftover butcher paper and a slice of prime beef for dinner. Arthur carries his packages back up to his apartment, and then he gets to wrapping the UmbraWhackers for the mail. He takes a break after the fifth time he scrawls Jefferson Smithy's address in his veiny handwriting. 

It's warmer than ever, even with the promise of evening, but Arthur's prepared. He not only has the five fans on the ground, but he also has fans installed into many of his everyday implements. The meat knife he uses to slice the beef into thin pieces has a fan attached to its handle, blowing coolness upwards into Arthur's face. The pot on the stove has fans on the edges of both its handles. The two Joseph Cornell prints on the wall have a whirring fan blade right in the centre.

He's invited Eames over for dinner, because that's what normal friends do, though admittedly Arthur is fuzzy on the notion of normal friendship because he either attempts to sleep with his friends (Ariadne, that one kiss) or follow them loyally everywhere they go (Cobb). This burgeoning thing he has with Eames can only be a good step in his psychological development, he thinks. And if he sometimes imagines Eames naked or wonders about the shape of his hips, well. Even Freud wasn't always successful, and at least he's not confusing Eames with his mother.

When Eames comes over for dinner, he takes off his shirt and hangs it on the coat rack. He slides onto his knees in front of the coffee table where Arthur's set out two bowls of stir-fry. Arthur's eye twitches at the sight of Eames' sweaty muscles but he can't think of a subtle way to say, Your attractiveness is causing me a considerable amount of distress, please stop it.

"This spoon has a fan attached to it," Eames says.

"Yes," Arthur says. "I call it the Foon."

"Your face still has a mustache attached to it," Eames says.

"It's called hiding from Interpol," Arthur says. "God, just eat your food with your Foon."

 


 

Eames' job in San Salvador involves a former hooker turned colorectal surgeon, a zoo, and the Magician card of the tarot. Arthur hasn't pried too much into the details, except that he knows there's no dreaming because it's too risky right now to use the PASIV without alerting the wrong sort of attention. The problem with the Lash Miller incident is that it's left those in their business unsure of whom to trust, and Arthur knows that the schisms will last far longer than any headhunters will. When he does go back to his proper job, the world will be different, its orbit in retrograde.

"I do have a bit part you can play in the con," Eames says, lifting weights in Arthur's living room while Arthur considers inventing a breathable caftan that will conveniently hide the silhouette of Eames' body. 

"What would that be?" Arthur asks.

"I need someone to distract Candelaria while we reprogram her car," Eames says. "Someone with a beautiful face and exceptional wit."

"Oh, well, when you put it that way," Arthur says.

"And since Cobb is no longer returning my calls because he thinks I'm going to turn his children into rebellious crackwhores, I'll offer the role to you." Eames goes on to name a share of the pot, a small share but one that even Arthur agrees is appropriate for the minor effort of the role. In his head Arthur is running the computations, trying to assess how many UmbraWhackers he'll be able to make with the payoff from the one con.

"Sure," he says. "I'll do it."

"Just like old days," Eames says, and when Arthur looks at him more clearly, he can see that living inconspicuously really is tearing a piece out of Eames, Eames who likes to dream big and blast bigger. 

"It won't last for long," Arthur says quietly. "Eventually they'll run out of resources, or public interest will wane. They'll forget about us."

"They'll never forget," Eames replies. "There will just be periods where they don't remember as strongly. But I shouldn't be complaining. It gives me wrinkles." He slides closer to Arthur, despite the sticky heat, and Arthur looks down at the curlicue of ink pressing against Eames' board shorts. "Here, what are you working on right now? Give me something to do."

"You'll like it," Arthur grins. "It's stylish women's couture, but it's both eye-catching and practical." He shows Eames how he's folding pieces of toilet paper together. "It's a purse you can carry around, but it's also a roll of toilet paper. So if you're ever stuck in a washroom without toilet paper, or you need a tissue for any reason, you just unravel a piece of your purse. Voila!"

"This is the most marvelous thing I have ever seen in my entire life," Eames says. "My entire existence was leading up to this one sublime moment."

"You don't have to be an asshole about it," Arthur says, but he's laughing. That's something he does now with Eames; he can laugh without wanting to punch him in the face or suspect him of snide mockery. Eames is... in many ways a complete and utter douchebag, but he's the sort of douchebag who was once willing to sacrifice his life for Arthur's when they were trapped together, and who would have thought. Keeping your vital signs really does make you think better of a person.

That, and Eames is his fifth best customer. He buys Arthur's inventions even when he has no use for them, though on the flip side, Arthur can name twenty reasons why even Eames could benefit from a purse that doubles as a roll of toilet paper. It's about keeping an open mind and a runny nose.

"You should call it the Purse Nurse," Eames suggests. Arthur winces at the way his big fingers are ripping up the delicate toilet paper folds. 

"Careful with that," he says. "You've got to treat it like diffusing a bomb."

"How many do you think Jefferson Smithy will buy?" Eames asks, wily. His tone of voice makes Arthur scrunch up his nose because what is up with that, it's not like he and Jefferson Smithy have something torrid going on that Eames should act like a gossiping downstairs maid.

"I have no idea," Arthur says. "He tends not to buy my women's items, so I get the impression he doesn't have a woman in his life. But maybe the brilliance of the Purse Nurse will win him over anyway."

"It's like carrying your bathroom with you everywhere you go," Eames says.

"Actually, that gives me another idea," says Arthur. "What do you think about shower caps? Not caps you wear in the shower, but caps that shower you?"

"Arthur, I love you," Eames says, and Arthur's breath catches halfway in his throat.

"Uh, yeah," Arthur says. "Me too. I think I'm pretty great. Pass me the glue."

 


 

"Eames," Arthur cajoles, smoothing his mustache. "How do you feel about potentially making a promotional video for me? You can demonstrate the UmbraWhacker and I'll put it on my site."

"That's a possibility," Eames says lazily. "Or I could spend the next few days sleeping on your sofa, soaking up the rays and working on my tan."

"You could," Arthur agrees. "At the same time, I could also develop a sudden urge to use my UmbraWhacker to whack some... weeds."

Eames looks at him from underneath the tips of his sunglasses. Arthur's not even questioning why he's wearing sunglasses indoors. Arthur's curtains have suffered a temporary failure of existence, which means there's no filter against the Salvadorian summer. Arthur stares back, stonily. 

"As long as I get to write the script," Eames finally says, and this gives Arthur the opportunity to smile like a shark and pull out the t-shirts he's just had made, black with white text across the chest that says Inventions by Arthur.

"It's like you were lying in wait for me," Eames says.

"I was," Arthur says. "Come on. You like being in front of the camera. So go be in front of the camera."

He sets Eames in front of the webcam with two UmbraWhackers, a sheet painted to look like stars as the background, and all the promotional material set up across the coffee table. It's not exactly high class, but Arthur figures it'll have a quaint homegrown charm that all mad inventors are supposed to possess. He positions Eames where he wants him (not between his thighs, and why does that thought pop up into his head right now?) before taking a step back and examining the tableau.

"I think," Arthur announces, "that it'll be in our best professional interests if you start off wearing the company t-shirt, and then you remove it."

"You want me to strip in front of the camera, mid-spiel?" Eames asks skeptically.

"You make it sound so sordid," Arthur says, crossing his arms. "Market research has shown that layering advertisements with an underlying subtext of transformation leads to 35% increased sales."

"If it's the market that wants to see me half-naked, all right then." Eames slides Arthur an insolent look, which Arthur doesn't return.

"The market thanks you for your contribution. Besides," he lies, "it's not like you have anything worth noting underneath the t-shirt."

When Arthur presses record, Eames picks up the UmbraWhacker and looks directly into the camera. He's silent for a beat, intense, and then he smiles. The corner of his mouth lifts upwards, as if he's amused, but the way he cradles the UmbraWhacker speaks of tenderness and direction. Arthur asked Eames to do this because if anyone can sell a bizarre product to the cynical masses, it's Eames. If Eames can sell an idea, can sell a mark's trust, he can easily gaze into a webcam's eye and sell Arthur's products with a sensuality that Arthur honestly didn't think a mirrored umbrella weed whacker could be capable of.

It's like Eames wants to make love to the thing, and Arthur is both turned on and slightly jealous. Eames' hands run over the surfaces that Arthur has spent so much time designing and calibrating, turning them over to expose them to the audience like he's showing them a secret part, an intimate reveal. 

"I'll have to distort your face for the final video," Arthur says later. "I don't want anybody recognizing you off my site."

"It shouldn't be a problem," Eames says, sprawling on the sofa and drinking a lemon ice, his reward for good work done. "Your site has low traffic and I doubt any of the governmental agencies have a good picture of me. Only the people who have met me know what I look like."

"But can we trust those who have met you?" Arthur points out. "Sorry, no, I'm not willing to take that chance." 

It doesn't matter anyway. Even after he uses the magic of digital editing to change some of Eames' features, all of their mutual acquaintances descend on the site knowingly. The next time he checks the comments on the video, he can see their comments lined up waiting.

architecturalwonder writes: will buying the UmbraWhacker guarantee me a hot, sweaty boyfriend too?

cobb214 writes: I feel wrong.

architecturalwonder: do you mean wronged?

cobb214: I feel wrong and wronged.

mombasaman writes: if you want a more effective internal combustion engine, come see me. i have some suggestions for improvements. also, the cat misses you.

theblackrider writes: I am intrigued. Do continue.

There are forty likes on the video, all coming from the same IP address. Arthur recognizes it as Nash's last known location, and he can't reach for the ban hammer quickly enough.

 


 

Two incidents happen in the following month that make Arthur realize he is well and truly fucked in the not falling in love with Eames plan.

The first occurs on a rainy day when Arthur is waiting for Eames to bring him more details on the small con they're working to pull off. He's at his usual position, lotus-sitting at his coffee table while folding more Purse Nurses, when he has the gut sense to look out the window. Arthur hasn't survived in his profession as long as he has by ignoring his gut sense, so he puts down the toilet paper and gets to his feet. He bends towards the window, feeling his body heat smear the glass like steam. 

The rain falls lightly, and he can see Eames make his way down the boulevard towards Arthur's apartment. Eames is carrying two grocery bags with the name of the local grocery store, no doubt meant for their dinner. He also has a black laptop bag slung over his shoulder, and an UmbraWhacker, open to fullest canopy. 

Arthur sucks in a breath.

Eames is using his UmbraWhacker. Without Arthur telling him to. Without knowing that Arthur is watching him, chest squeezed tight like a lock.

Arthur thinks then of his father, of the labs he grew up in, of the feel of metal against his calloused fingers and the stick of glue and the whir of a good combustion engine. Then he thinks of Eames, who looks up at the last moment and sees Arthur watching. He tries to wave, but his hands are full with the bags and the UmbraWhacker, so he ends up shrugging instead and smiling ruefully. Arthur tries to smile back, but he's certain it comes out demented because it's like none of his muscles are working properly at the moment. How strange, that.

The second incident is a phone call. Arthur is checking his website's stats in his bedroom while Eames is in the living room, chatting with Ariadne.

"No, no, he's not listening," Eames says. "I think he's taking a nap. Being a one man entrepreneur and mad genius is tiring him out."

There's a pause, during which Arthur pushes himself onto his elbows and closes his laptop. 

"Oh, the mustache." Eames laughs low in his throat. "Yeah, it's terrible. Awful. Like a porn jungle decided to grow on his face."

Arthur frowns.

"But you know," Eames continues, "it's Arthur we're talking about. If he didn't get these notions into his head, if he wasn't constantly trying new things, I'm not sure we would recognize him anymore. The way I see it, the impulse to grow facial hair and then invent a mustache tweezer that doubles as a highlighter is the same impulse that drove him to put the fuses in the elevator shaft." Eames' voice grows hushed. "He's the most creative person I know, but don't tell him I said that."

Um, Arthur thinks.

First of all, his mustache is perfectly groomed and neat, thanks to his highlight-tweezers. There's nothing jungle-like about it.

Secondly:

eames is my mr. darcy. what do i do
, he texts Ariadne.

Her reply is instantaneous. you ride his pride without any prejudice.

Arthur stares at his cell phone.

fyi, and by pride i mean penis, she adds.

 


 

After the job, he thinks. After the job, when they have time, when they have all that summer has left to give them. If he's wrong, let it be then.

 


 

Arthur's latest invention is a pair of brightly buffed dress shoes that have a refrigeration cooling system installed inside, keeping his toes nice and icy while he walks on the egg-baking pavement. He would offer a pair to Eames as they get ready to con Candelaria Santos, but he only has the one prototype pair.

Arthur arms himself, sliding two pistols into their concealed holsters. He notices Eames eyeing him as he does, so he straightens. "What's the matter?"

"Those are just guns, right?" Eames asks.

"What else would they be?" Arthur replies.

"They don't broadcast radio signals, do they?"

"No."

"Or emit light beams?"

"No."

"Or dispense candy?"

"They're just guns," Arthur says. "They fire bullets made of metal. They go boom boom. Honestly."

"I find myself unable to imagine anything of yours being so mundane," Eames says, and there's a moment when he leans in close and Arthur can smell the sharp gunpowder scent of him. He closes his eyes briefly, but then Eames leans back. "If you're ready, then I'm ready."

"Let's go," Arthur says. He can't ever deny this: the adrenaline of doing something he's good at, backed by someone he can trust to hold him steady. He smiles with the points of his teeth showing, and Eames smiles back. Boom boom. Game on.

Candelaria Santos is exiting the hospital when Arthur trails her and slides his fingers into her half-open purse. "Excuse me," he says in Spanish, watching as she turns around. "You've dropped your wallet."

"Oh!" she says. She surveys him, and he lets her, knowing exactly what she sees. Handsome young man, respectable, in a doctor's coat. A colleague who's probably always been in her periphery, unaware. It's so hard to keep track of everybody these days. "Thank you," she says, taking the wallet from him. "I don't know how in the world it fell out. I guess I'm just clumsy like that. My husband's always nagging me for it."

She's chatty. That's good.

In the parking lot, Eames and his guys are rigging her car to take her to the next step of the con, but Arthur flashes his white smile and says, "I don't think we've met. I'm Dr. Radisson. Oncology."

"Dr. Radisson," she says. She glances down. "You have very nice shoes."

"Funny that you might say that," Arthur says. "Let me show you." He starts taking them off.

 


 

"You gave her your shoes," Eames says.

"I gave her my shoes," Arthur confirms. "To be more exact, I gave her my shoes so she could give them to her husband. We're the same size, apparently. She paid me for them. So, all in all, a good con and a good sale." He stretches back on the sofa, the taste of celebratory wine heavy on the backs of his teeth. 

Eames laughs. "Only you."

"I seem to remember you once managing to fob off a million dollars' worth of stolen art while asking for directions to the washroom," Arthur says. "I learned from the best."

"Wait. Pause this moment." Eames holds his hands up, angling his thumbs to ninety degree angles like he's imagining a picture frame. "I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self that one day the high and mighty Arthur will admit that he's learned something from me."

It's Arthur's turn to laugh. Maybe it's the wine and maybe it's the success (such a small job, and yet they pulled it off perfectly, and somewhere in the city Candelaria Santos is sleeping with a note under her pillow that will reunite her with the son she thought she had to give up), but he feels buoyant. He feels like there's nothing under his skin but this immense, incredible lightness. No flesh, no meat, no history. He sidles closer to Eames until their shoulders are knocking, and he catches Eames' wondering smile, even though Eames turns his face at the last minute to hide it.

"I'll tell you whatever you like," Arthur says, "if you buy another UmbraWhacker."

"I already have eleven," Eames says. "Is there no stop to your corporate greed?"

"What do you mean?" Arthur asks, and Eames' smile disappears completely. It's sundown, and everything in his cramped living room is bathed in fire. "You only bought the one," Arthur says. "Where'd you get the other ten?"

"Arthur," Eames says, and Arthur remembers the other times Eames has said his name exactly like that, husky and unsure (that time in Prague, that time in Singapore, that time in a cold storage in Missouri when uncertainty frosted Eames' lips and Arthur had wanted to kiss him, if that meant staying alive, and then kissing him if it meant it didn't). Arthur understands, then, where the other ten purchases came from. 

"You'll be angry," Eames says, "and I understand that. It wasn't meant to be a game. I just didn't want to make you feel like the only people who bought your inventions were your friends, as an obligation."

"But it was, wasn't it?" Arthur says. "Jefferson Smithy. I should have checked the credit cards, I really should have."

"It wouldn't have led to me," Eames says. "I made sure of that." He lifts his eyes up to Arthur, not shy exactly, or wilting, but as if he's waiting for a solid right hook and he won't let himself defend against it. A single thought strikes clean through Arthur's mind: we have nothing to be afraid of from each other.
 
"You over-repentant fucker," Arthur says. "Why would I be mad at you? You bought eleven UmbraWhackers, twelve Purse Nurses, and so many other products I've lost count. That's more than anyone else has done for me." He digs his fingernails into the hairs at Eames' nape, and then he pulls him in for a kiss, soft and laughing, because Arthur's never had a romance before that didn't involve dollar signs and cars going a hundred miles per hour, left behind for the promise of the next day. There's nothing malicious at all in the way Eames' mouth opens to his, in the groan that shakes through Eames' throat as Arthur climbs onto his lap. 

"When was it?" Arthur asks, trailing kisses over Eames' jaw, grinning at the way Eames shudders.

"You want me to whisper sweet nothings to you? Is that it?"

"When?" Arthur repeats, grinding his knee gently into Eames' lap. Eames grabs him and pulls them apart, keeping Arthur and his machinations at arms' length. Arthur is not in favour of this turn of events, not at all, but he can stand it so long as Eames keeps talking.

"When you offered me that stick of gum that also turned out to be a contraceptive."

"My Cum Gum!" Arthur says.

"I'm probably the only person in the world to skip a heartbeat over Cum Gum," Eames says. "God help me, you are a menace. How the hell am I ever going to bring you home to my parents?"

"I clean up nicely," Arthur says.

"Speaking of which," Eames replies, "since we've having this lovely moment, let me remind you that love makes people do wild, spontaneous, horribly sexy things. Like, shave off facial hair."

Arthur narrows his eyes at him. "It's such a good disguise though. You don't think the mustache makes me look like a European sophisticate?"

"No," Eames says sadly. "No. Just -- no. No. No."

"Stop talking and I'll think about it," Arthur says, pushing Eames onto his back with a single finger. Eames spreads his knees with a leonine grin, saying without saying, what are you waiting for. Nothing, really, Arthur realizes as he straddles Eames' hips again to find out exactly how they fit in his hands, first with the jeans and then without. He's not waiting for anything he didn't have all along.

 


 

"I have another idea," Arthur says. "Fuck, yeah, no, listen to me. I have an.... hgnnnn, idea. Condoms that can also--"

"You make them and we'll go through them," Eames promises. "Jesusfuckyourtongue. Yeah, we'll go through them all."

 


 

("I wanted to," Eames says. "That's why. I wanted to so much.")