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You're Waiting for a Stranger

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"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." -- John Lennon

SEP 2010

"You can't spare an hour to come to the mall with your friends?" Ariadne asks, exasperated.

"I don't need anything from the mall," Arthur responds, dismissive. "And we both know that you're going to be there longer than an hour."

She levels him with a measuring look, and he pulls out his planner, predicting her next question. "What could be so important that you have to do it on a Friday night?"

He flips the book open to the current date, pointing to an itemized list. "If I finish my research tonight for my history class, then I can split the paper-writing between Saturday and Sunday, which will give me enough time to account for writer's block and any other distractions that might come up along the way."

She shakes her head, and they both know how this goes by now. If she really wants him to hang out on the weekend, she needs to let him know in advance so he can plan his time. As a sophomore, Ariadne's started taking more classes in her computer science major and art minor, and somehow that leaves her with all this free time. Arthur doesn't understand it, but he supposes he wouldn't, since he's pre-law and is taking as many free electives as possible while he has the chance. Even though he's a year ahead of her, his schedule is jam-packed as always.

Her phone buzzes in her pocket, distracting her from her next round of protests. She giggles and begins to type out a response, saying, "You need to get Twitter, Arthur."

He laughs abruptly, sliding his planner back into his bag. "Now there's an invention that prevents procrastination. What would I 'tweet' about anyway? How bossy my best friend is?"

She glances up from her phone long enough to shoot him an amused look. "Does it qualify as bossy if you never actually listen to me?"


"You never want to try anything new," she says with a pout as she returns her phone to her pocket.

"I try things," he insists. "Just not inane, time-wasting things."

"Shopping in downtown Chicago with your friends is not a waste of time," she says with an impassive tone that suggests she's done arguing and is now just going through the motions. "Well go on and start on your research, then. This conversation is approaching the fifteen-minute mark, and I'd hate to throw off your schedule."

"I appreciate your cooperation," he responds, mouth tilting up at the corners.

Ariadne hesitates for a moment, then reaches up to ruffle Arthur's hair. He makes a noise of protest, but she darts away before he can retaliate.

"See you tomorrow, Arthur!" she calls over her shoulder as she leaves the dorm lounge. He waves to her absently, trying to return his hair to its rightful state.

Ariadne is one of his favorite people, but even she can't convince him to change his schedule. He writes it in pen for a reason.


SEP 2010

"It's called Omegle," Arthur explains slowly, since the other members of his group seem to be having difficulty keeping up. He doesn't understand how anyone could have lived on campus through the Omegle craze and not know how it works. He supposes that this is just an intro psychology class, so some of them may be freshmen, but there's still no excuse for this level of incompetence. "You can choose text-only chats, and the site will hook you up with a random stranger."

"Who will then have cyber sex with you," one of his group mates, Bob, insists. The rest of the group giggles at Bob, and Arthur fights the impulse to rub at his temples in frustration.

He shoots a glare at each of them in turn before continuing, "Despite what you might use it for, Bob, the internet's sole purpose isn't for sex. Omegle can be used to just have a conversation. Or play a game. It's perfect for this assignment."

The girl to his left, Eva, rolls her eyes. "Fine, but you have to gather the samples. I have no interest in looking at penises all night."

Arthur is about to remind her, again, that that's why you choose text-only chats, but the professor calls everyone's attention to the front of the room to wrap up their discussions.

Arthur sighs. "I'll take care of the research," he consents, "but that doesn't excuse the rest of you from working. I expect you all to pull your weight in the future steps of this project."

Their bored-sounding assurances aren't very convincing, but Arthur comforts himself with the knowledge that he can report any of them that don't cooperate. He's often a favorite of his professors because of all the extra work he puts in, and he's not afraid to use this to his advantage if necessary.

He doesn't realize until he's walking out at the end of class exactly what he's agreed to. He curses under his breath and hopes that the internet doesn't prove Bob right.


SEP 2010

Arthur doesn't have to look at his planner on Thursday night to know what assignment he's been putting off all day. With some degree of trepidation, he pulls up and connects to his first stranger.

In the first few attempts, he has some luck. He meets two girls and a guy, but once they get past the introductions, Arthur has no idea what to talk about, and then after about thirty seconds, the stranger disconnects.

He decides a new approach, one that prevents him from having to share as much personal info, but quickly discovers that even such innocuous questions as "What did you have for lunch today?" can be easily answered with a dirty response.

Growing increasingly annoyed with the stupidity of anonymous internet users, he keeps changing his opening statement until it is perhaps too honest to achieve any results. Finally, though, he connects to someone who is willing to have a conversation.

You're now chatting with a random stranger. Say hi!
Official messages from Omegle will not be sent with the label 'Stranger:'. Strangers claiming to represent Omegle are lying.

You: I'm just doing research for a psychology project. Please move along if you have nothing interesting to say.
Stranger: brilliant
Stranger: im a psych major
You: Really?
Stranger: yeah i had neuroscience and abnormal psych today
You: Well, that's a nice change.
Stranger: lol how long have u been at it?
You: Not sure... Forty-five minutes? I wasn't aware there were so many ways to misspell the word 'hi'.
Stranger: hence the pasive aggressive opener
Stranger: im guessing
You: Too harsh?
Stranger: possibly
Stranger: uve got to engage the randoms
Stranger: thats what makes it fun
You: Is that why you come on here? To mess with people?
Stranger: soemtimes

Arthur makes a note on his datasheet. He hesitates, pen hovering over the paper, then scribbles the world 'troll'.

Stranger: dont get me wrong tho
Stranger: u can meet some cool ppl on here
Stranger: in fact
Stranger: i once talked to someone 4 over an hour about the psychology of fight club

Arthur shifts the paper to amend his note to 'friendly troll'.

You: So, you just like the interaction?
Stranger: its an interesting way to meet ppl
Stranger: 1 tiem i accidentally reminded a girl of a recent breakup
You: I imagine that wasn't fun.
Stranger: no it was good
Stranger: she needed to talk and i was willing to lsiten

Arthur frowns at his screen. Maybe not a troll, then.

Stranger: am i helping u w/ ur assignment?
You: No, not really.
Stranger: y not?
You: Well, for starters, you're hardly a typical case.
Stranger: think past the walls of ur box darling
Stranger: im telling u abt experences ive had
Stranger: removing the researchers bias?
You: But for all I know, you're just making it up as you go along.
Stranger: ah but thats what makes it interesting
Stranger: ppl come on here 4 interaction
Stranger: whetehr they use it to get off, feel better abt themselvse, have a laugh at someone elses expense, ect is secondary

Arthur purses his lips. That's exactly what he'd been driving at during the meeting with his classmates, but this guy (at least he thinks it's a guy) misspelled and abbreviated a much clearer version than he could manage. Arthur tries not to feel resentful.

You: Yes, that's kind of the point I'm trying to make with this assignment.
Stranger: good then ur on the right track
You: Thanks. Your approval really means so much to me.
Stranger: lol
Stranger: so tell me more abt urself
You: What do you want to know?

Arthur moves away to make a cup of coffee. He's fairly convinced that by the time he's done, the guy will have lost interest and disconnected. To his surprise, he comes back to several messages, and the guy still waiting.

Stranger: no thats not how this works
Stranger: if u offer something abt urself then i can respond by offering something abt myself
Stranger: and it never has 2 be intrusive bc we can choose wat 2 share
Stranger: i can go 1st if u like
Stranger: did i scare u off?

Arthur smiles and sets his mug aside. He shouldn't waste much time on this person, but it won't hurt to see where this goes.

You: No, sorry, I was getting coffee.
Stranger: ah ha
Stranger: so ur a coffee drinker
You: I am.
You: And you apparently know enough about Fight Club to discuss its psychology at length.
Stranger: yeah
Stranger: i love a movie that gives me soemthing to discuss
You: We're alike in that way.
You: Although, you do realize there's a book?
Stranger: i was abt to comment that we have something in common
Stranger: but then u had to ruin it by being condesending
You: Sorry.
You: What do you think of Fight Club, as a psych major?

He's not sure why he's apologizing. He knows the other guy is just as likely to hit 'Disconnect' as he is, at any moment, but he finds himself wanting to engage him further.

He asks about favorite movies and is surprised when the answer, a list a couple dozen movies, includes several of his own favorites. He points out the ones they have in common and, next thing he knows, over an hour has passed and they have discussed the merits and drawbacks of every genre of movie they can think of.

His coffee has gone cold, so he says he'll be right back and goes to make another cup. When he returns, his stranger has sent him several more messages.

Stranger: ive got a confession
Stranger: when we started this conversation i thought u were an arsehole
Stranger: but now im pretty sure ure not
Stranger: maybe just a bit stilted

Arthur sips at his coffee, trying to decide if he's offended or not. Out of curiosity, he scrolls back up to read the beginning of their conversation, and, well. Maybe he did make kind of a bad first impression.

You: I'm glad to see your opinion of me has improved.
You: Normally I would have moved on after a few minutes, but this has been fun.

He glances down at his forgotten datasheet, to the 'friendly troll' note. He reaches for his pen and crosses the line off entirely, writing 'OUTLIER' in the margin.

Stranger: i dunno if you do twitter but

Arthur has to smile at that. Ariadne would like this guy, at least. He clicks to open the link in a new tab, but responds first.

You: My friends keep trying to convince me to get one, but I've never really seen the point.
Stranger: it can be interesting if u follow the right ppl
Stranger: im Eames by the way
You: My name's Arthur. And that's all the personal detail you're getting from me.
You: No offense.
Stranger: none taken
Stranger: ill just imagine u as some beefed up version of brad pitt
You: Now you're starting to sound like a typical Omegle user.
Stranger: ouch
Stranger: low blow

Arthur laughs into his coffee cup. This guy is ridiculous. He tabs over to the Twitter page, clicking on the profile picture and feeling his stomach do this weird swoop thing. The guy is completely adorable.

He tabs back to the IM window, shaking his head. This doesn't change anything. The guy is still a stranger, even if Arthur does know his name.

You: At least you didn't ask me "asl?"
Stranger: u didn't give me time to put in my usual opener
You: What is it?
You: Paste, right now.
Stranger: I'm just doing research for a psychology project. Please move along if you have nothing interesting to say. asl?
You: Very funny.
Stranger: its a good one
You: Caught your interest.
Stranger: indeed you did

Arthur blushes. This whole thing is ridiculous. He should disconnect right now so he can gather more samples for his assignment. Flirting with some stranger was not part of the plan. Then, to make it worse, Eames practically reads his mind.

Stranger: whens your homework due
Stranger: wait u r in college rite
Stranger: they dont teach psych in high schools here do they?
You: I am in college, yes. And it's due at 9am.
You: I take it you're from the UK, based on the cursing.
Stranger: good I was worried u'd turned me into a perv
Stranger: london born and raised
Stranger: but im pretty sure u lot curse here to
You: Just because I'm in college doesn't mean you're not still a perv.
You: Yes but none of my American friends use "bloody" unless they're talking about horror movies.
Stranger: lol
Stranger: i cant beleive you have class at 9
Stranger: why would you do that to urself
Stranger: yourself
You: I function better in the mornings.
You: And usually only the dedicated students take class that early in the morning.
Stranger: yeah and the slackers who gets tuck with it bc every other time was full
Stranger: i think that was meant to be isnulting
Stranger: are you alwasy this mean to people youve just met
You: Yes.
Stranger: guess i should feel lucky youre still talking to me
You: Yeah, not sure why I'm doing that.

He looks at the message after he sends it, realizing that as an IM, it sounds a lot harsher than he meant it. He contemplates tacking on an 'lol' - this guy's a stranger, no one else will ever know - but then Eames responds, and Arthur chokes on his coffee.

Stranger: bc you think im charming ;D
You: Don't flatter yourself.
You: So if you don't take class in the morning, aren't you in class all afternoon?
Stranger: depends. ive got one at 10 this semester so i usually nap after
Stranger: but yeah, usually in class till 3 or 4
Stranger: and psych labs have wierd hours
Stranger: weird
Stranger: that doesnt look right either. how do you spell that word?

Arthur bites his lip on a smile.

You: You had it right the second time.
You: "Weird".
You: Your spelling is slowly improving.
Stranger: just trying to impress you
Stranger: is it working?
You: It might be.
Stranger: ;)
You: Or maybe I think you're trying too hard.
Stranger: no, you like it

Arthur quickly changes the subject to music, ignoring the way his ears are burning. Eames does not disappoint; he has even more opinions about music than movies, and once again Arthur gets carried away with the conversation.

They talk about bands that Arthur's never heard of, genres of music that he suspects Eames might be making up, and, for a few minutes, musical theory and how it relates to genre preference. Arthur surprises himself by having a lot to say about the different flavors of rock music, and Eames surprises him more by agreeing with most of his points. When Eames mentions his not-so-secret appreciation for pop music, Arthur fights the impulse to be condescending about it. Eames calls him out on it, though, and Arthur can't keep quiet in the face of that. They even the playing field later, when in his haste to defend his love of jazz, Arthur accidentally misspells 'melodic'. Eames gives him shit for it for the rest of their conversation.

Stranger: some of my mates tried to start a band once
Stranger: didnt end well
Stranger: they asked me to be their singer but i turned them down
You: You strike me as someone who likes to hear the sound of his own voice.
Stranger: its a nice voice, what can i say?
You: I wouldn't know.
Stranger: you could call me

Arthur pulls his hands back from the keyboard. He stares at the message, blinks a couple times to make sure he's not imagining it.

He wonders, not for the first time, what the hell he's doing. This was just supposed to be a homework assignment, and for all he knows this guy is just another creep. A Twitter account with a picture of a hot guy on the profile proves nothing.

He remembers Ariadne's words, You never want to try anything new. She may have been exaggerating, but still. What could it hurt? He wasn't currently living in his area code, so the guy wouldn't be able to track him down.

You: Why don't you call me?
Stranger: whats your number

His fingers speed over the keys. He wants to send it before he changes his mind. But when he looks up, only half of his number is there and the window is tinted.

Connection imploded.

"You have got to be fucking kidding me." Arthur knew enough about Omegle to expect connectivity issues, but the implications of losing a connection with a stranger he had almost no hope of finding again hadn't meant anything to him before this moment.

He takes a moment to laugh at himself, then saves the conversation (why not?) and goes back to gathering data. He lingers a bit longer on each connection than he did before. The odds are slim-to-none that he'll find Eames again, if he's even looking. The misspelled responses are doubly annoying now, every time they turn out not to be Eames. But he humors some of the people, and wouldn't you know, Eames was right. It is fun.

He decides to cap off his data at 50 substantial responses, and he sits back with a satisfied grin before realizing with a start that he has a three page response due for Economics at 11 tomorrow, and he hasn't even read the articles.


He goes to bed way later than usual, without even bothering to organize his data or proofread his paper. He crawls into bed and avoids looking at the clock.

A bleary few hours later, the loud blare of the fire alarm bleeds into his dream, and he shoots out of bed in a panic. He finds a pair of sweatpants and pulls them on over his boxers before stumbling blearily into the night. Ariadne wanders up to him a few minutes later, hands stuffed in the pocket of her hoodie, looking far too alert to have been sleeping. Arthur wants to despise her for it, but he can't bring himself to.

"This is not my night," he complains, scrubbing a hand over his face.

"You look terrible."

He gives her a sidelong glare. "Please don't tell me you haven't gone to sleep yet."

"I have a program due for compsci at 2," she says by way of explanation. "It's so close, but there's something I still haven't figured out. The fresh air might help."

Arthur keeps on glaring at her as she tips her head back and takes a deep breath, as if she's enjoying this.

She expels a breath like a deep sigh and says, "Well go on, then, Grumpy. Tell me what happened."

Arthur laughs, his breath visible in the chilling autumn air. "Should I start with the three page response paper I forgot about until 1 o'clock, the shitty work I did on my psych assignment, or the guy that made both of those things happen?"

"Definitely the guy," Ariadne says, bouncing up on the balls of her feet and looking far more interested in the conversation.

"And I was so sure you were gonna choose the response paper," he says, the corners of his mouth turning up in a small smile.

She pulls a hand out of her pocket long enough to punch his shoulder before sliding it snugly back. "Shut up and tell me, asshole. What guy? Where? What did he look like?"

"Don't get too excited," he mumbles, frowning when he recalls the abrupt disconnection. "It was on the internet."

Ariadne's mouth is hanging open. Arthur wants to tell her it's an unattractive look on her, but he has no desire to be punched again.

"You remember the chat thing I offered to check out for my psych assignment?"

"You met someone on Omegle?" She is far too amused by this. Arthur's already regretting the conversation. He wills the firetruck to get there sooner so that he can escape.

He blows out a big breath, frustrated as he remembers parts of their conversation. "I almost gave him my number."

Ariadne makes a little squealing noise and Arthur pulls a pained face, shaking his head at her. "Why didn't you? What was his name? Where does he live? Seriously Arthur, details are your friend."

"His name's Eames, I don't know where he lives now but he's from England, and I couldn't give him my number because the chat disconnected on me before I could."

Ariadne frowns, looking consoling for the first time. "Did he disconnect or did the connection die?"

Arthur had almost forgotten that when the Omegle fad swept through campus, Ariadne had been one of the followers. "'Connection imploded.' Right as I was about to press enter."

"No!" Ariadne says dramatically, drawing out the 'o'. Arthur claps a hand over her mouth and glares at anyone staring. He shifts the glare to her until she nods, indicating that she'll behave. "At least you know he didn't ditch you. What was he like?"

Arthur finds himself fondly recounting their conversation for Ariadne's eager ears. By the time he's done, the firetrucks have shown, and they're being given the all-clear to head back inside.

He's unsurprised when Ariadne follows him back to his room, chattering all the way. "Maybe if you sign on tomorrow night. Just say you're looking for Eames! Maybe he'll be on there, maybe he'll even be looking for you!"

He unlocks his door and ushers her inside, turning the heat on for her benefit. "Voluntarily going on Omegle on a Friday night doesn't really match up with my life goals."

Ariadne rolls her eyes. "It's not as if you do anything else on Friday nights. Anything exciting," she adds when he starts to protest. "You're a workaholic and you don't even have a job yet."

She falls back onto his mattress with a sigh. "It sucks that you have no way to get in touch with him."

Arthur bites his lip, glad she doesn't see him do it. He'd purposefully left out the Twitter account, knowing she'd never let up until he got one and sent Eames a message.

"Hey, can I see the picture?" he asks, bouncing back upright on the bed.

"Uh, yeah, hang on." He had implied that the picture was just a link, so he hunches over his laptop as he pulls up Twitter and quickly saves the image to his desktop before minimizing. Luckily, Ariadne doesn't seem to have seen.

"Oh my god, he's adorable."

Arthur rolls his eyes. He mumbles under his breath, "He certainly thinks he is."

Ariadne shoots him an unimpressed and disbelieving look. "You don't think he's cute."

"I think he has a very high opinion of himself, which is on the whole an unattractive quality," he answers, purposefully not answering the question.

Her look says she's still not buying it, and Arthur tries to defend himself.

"The dog is clearly there as a prop. And just look at that smirk! That is the look of a cocky Englishman."

Ariadne laughs abruptly at his phrasing, and he has to smile too.

"I'm never gonna speak to him again," he finally says. "At least let me believe he's secretly a douchebag."

"Fair enough," Ariadne says, and Arthur thinks that's the end of it.


Unfortunately, because the universe hates Arthur, it doesn't end there. Ariadne tells the whole story to their friends, and soon the phrase "Arthur's internet boyfriend" is fairly commonplace in their social circle. Eames becomes a fictitious placeholder for someone who would take a side in an argument. Arthur finds himself defending Eames at times, saying he would never agree with XYZ, though it seems unfair to judge all of the guy's opinions from a 2 hour IM conversation.

When Ariadne's roommate brings up The Curious Case of Benjamin Button one day, though, Arthur finds himself commenting automatically.

"Eames thinks that movie is 'bloody boring'."

Her roommate gives him a blank look. "Who's Eames?"

Arthur blushes, realizing what he's just done. "My internet boyfriend."

There are delighted squeals, and Ariadne's eyes silently saying You brought this on yourself when it gets worse after that. People ask Arthur the opinion of his internet boyfriend (What does your internet boyfriend think about this?) instead of using him as a reference, as if Arthur's having regular conversations with him.

It's not the weirdest thing to happen to him, and he knows it will blow over, but he almost wishes he actually had a way to find out the answers to their questions.


OCT 2010

Arthur has always prided himself on how put-together he is. He prefers to dress elegantly in social situations, and his friends have finally accepted the fact that yes, he is more comfortable dressed this way. Through his refined clothing choices, which he can afford thanks to a generous clothing budget from his grandmother, Arthur is able to maintain a confident, composed demeanor no matter what situation he finds himself in. He has no doubt that it will benefit him in the future, when he's defending his clients in the courtroom.

The point is, it takes a hell of a lot to ruffle his feathers, especially in public. Which is why it's embarrassing, in the end, that it only takes one 30-second encounter to break him.

He's taking the train over to the Magnificent Mile to buy a new blazer, slightly annoyed by how long it's taken him to get to his stop. His mind occupied with his schedule for the rest of the day, he steps off the train, and he doesn't notice the guy waiting to get on the train until their shoulders collide rather painfully.

"Sorry, mate. My fault," the guy says, reaching blindly to pat Arthur on the shoulder as he focuses on his iPhone.

Arthur moves off the train with the flow of traffic, but the British accent makes him turn his head. The guy takes a spot against the rail, still frowning at his phone, and Arthur's breath catches in his throat.

"Eames?" he finds himself saying, voice wavering in his uncertainty, but it's drowned out by the announcement of doors closing.

His frown deepens and then he glances up, like maybe he heard Arthur, but he's looking the wrong way on the platform as the doors slide closed.

Arthur's heart is racing, and his shoulder feels warm where the guy had touched him. The guy shifts his gaze just as the train starts to pull away, and Arthur is certain it's Eames. But it's too late, the train is in motion, and it's not as if Eames knows what he looks like.

He takes two steps forward, saying, loud and confident, "Eames," but the train speeds on heartlessly, pulling him out of sight. He falters on his third step, realizing he was about to chase the train, and when he looks around, people are staring.

He clears his throat and straightens his cuffs, exiting onto the street briskly without looking at anyone.

He doesn't realize his hands are shaking until he's got the phone up to his ear, and Ariadne's calming voice travels through the speaker. "Hello, Arthur."

"I need you to tell me I'm crazy so I can accept it and move on with my life."

"I've been telling you you're crazy since I met you, Arthur, but it's nice to hear you finally admit it."

"I think I just saw Eames on the El."

There is silence on the other end, and Arthur stops to check his signal. "Are you--"

"I'm sorry, you did what?!" Ariadne says, but he knows she heard him.

"I don't know that it was him, but it looked like him, and he had a British accent."

"And you didn't say anything to him?!" she asks, voice going shrill in her disbelief.

"I didn't have a chance! He was getting on, I was leaving. I tried saying his name, but he didn't hear me."

"Maybe he goes to Loyola!" Ariadne exclaims. Arthur can practically hear the gears turning in her head.

He sighs audibly. "You're supposed to tell me it wasn't him, it can't have been, so I can move on with my life."

She makes a dismissive noise. "You wouldn't have bothered to call me if you weren't at least 90 percent sure. You'd have brought it up later as a deterrent to the 'internet boyfriend' game."

Arthur curses softly. She's right, of course. "You know me too well."

He can hear her self-satisfied grin as she says, "I know."

Arthur takes a deep breath and exhales slowly. His heart rate is starting to feel somewhat close to normal.

"You're really freaking out about this, aren't you?"

"I'm fine," he says, or at least he's starting to get there. "It was just… surprising."

"Gee, Arthur, but I thought you loved surprises," she teases.

"Don't make a big deal about this, okay? I'm not even sure it was him, and even if it was… Just, don't tell anyone."

There's silence on the line for a moment, which can't be a good sign. "Yeah, okay," she finally says. "It's just, my roommate's been listening to half of this whole conversation, and I can hardly lie to her about what it's about..."

Arthur hopes his sigh effectively communicates how he feels about this. "Fine. But no one else." He takes a deep breath and returns his focus back to what he came here to do. "Look, Ariadne, I've gotta go. I'm in Ralph Lauren and the lady behind the counter is glaring at me."

"So go back outside!"

"I'll see you tonight," he says, and hangs up. He straightens his cuffs again, determined to compose himself enough to get done here and head back to his dorm. He doesn't have time to worry about some phantom Englishman on the El.


OCT 2010

Having seen Eames in person, Arthur gets all sorts of new ideas and mental images when his friends inadvertently remind him of Eames.

It's becoming a problem.

Today, his professor begins with, "The first rule of..." and Arthur's stare goes unfocused as he remembers the curve of Eames' lips as he frowned. Those gorgeous, full lips, and in a flash he pictures them wrapped around his cock.

He drops his pencil, and the clatter seems to echo in the room, but his classmates don't look at him. He shifts a bit in his chair, face hot, and tries to focus.

His mental image of Eames frowns, shifts to a curious look, then tilts the corners of his mouth up in the smile from the picture. It's this look that he imagines glancing down between his legs and seeing as Eames undoes his slacks.

He breathes out sharply through his nose and shifts again. The girl in the desk next to him clears her throat as if annoyed, and when Arthur glares at her, she glares back and whispers, "Just because you're gonna fail doesn't mean you should screw the rest of us over."

Arthur's eyes widen as he sees the test in front of her, then glances down to find a blank one on his own desk.

He tries to read the questions - he studied, he remembers now, he stayed up all night. But then there are firm hands on his thighs and he looks down to see that Eames is actually there, finger over his full lips as he nudges Arthur's legs apart.

Arthur's mouth is gaping but Eames is working his belt open, hand slipping inside, and Arthur arches out of his chair. The girl to his left gives him a disapproving look, but she doesn't seem to notice Eames. Arthur shoots him a disbelieving look and there's that smirk, and then time seems to slow as he licks his lips.

Arthur hisses, "I'm trying to take a test," but Eames ignores him entirely. He stares down at the paper, and he thinks the first question is asking him about the first rule of Fight Club, and he doesn't know, doesn't care as Eames takes him into his mouth.

Someone is shouting something, but he tunes them out and tilts his head back in the sweet relief.

The shout happens again, louder this time, and Arthur blinks awake in his room. The sky outside is halfway to darkness, and his hallmates are playing soccer loudly in the hallway. He realizes the anxiety in the dream is residual from the actual test that he just finished, before he decided he deserved a nap.

All of that flies through his mind quickly, though, because of his urgent need to get his hand on his cock, now. He clings to that dreamlike euphoria, how amazing Eames had made him feel, the wet heat of his mouth. His toes curl into the mattress as he pushes into his fist, and if he concentrates he can almost imagine the way Eames might pronounce his name.

He comes with a shaky moan that is drowned out by one of his hallmates scoring a goal outside his door. His heart is still pounding as he cleans himself up, and he realizes he's going to have to do something about this.


OCT 2010

Arthur sits in front of his computer on Saturday afternoon, wondering if it's too late to back out.

He'd pulled up Eames' Twitter page a few days ago, reading through the random updates and cursing himself for not being able to forget this guy.

The resulting conversation with Ariadne had been an interesting one. He made her promise not to interfere before he even told her what she wasn't interfering with, and even after telling her about the Twitter account, he wouldn't tell her Eames' screen name.

She'd insisted on taking some photos of him to use on his profile, and he'd accepted because he was still debating whether he should go through with it.

Now is the moment of truth, though. He's blocked out two hours for it, just in case, and the Twitter home page is staring back at him mockingly.

He shakes himself out of his reverie. He's far too intelligent to let something so ridiculous as Twitter intimidate him. It's with this in mind that he pulls up Eames' page and types out a reply.

abilityinsuit @toextreames I'm just doing research for a psychology project. Please move along if you have nothing interesting to say. (asl?)
6 minutes ago via web
toextreames @abilityinsuit is that really u darling? i thought u'd forgot about me
3 minutes ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames I can change my profile picture to Tyler Durden if that's more convincing.
1 minute ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit no dont, i prefer this
half a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
toextreames @abilityinsuit what made u decide to get twitter?
less than 20 seconds ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

Arthur is halfway through typing out a response when his phone rings. The ringtone tells him it's Ariadne, so he answers, "Do you mind? I'm talking to my internet boyfriend."

"I know," she says. "I'm calling to tell you to answer him with the truth. If you try to pin this on me, I will hunt you down."

"What?! I told you not to follow him!" he frantically pulls up her follow list, but Eames isn't on it.

"Just because I don't follow him doesn't mean I can't look at his page. Seriously, though. He complimented you, so return the favor."

Arthur rolls his eyes. "Anything else, oh wise teacher?"

"Yes. Tell him where you live!"

"I'm hanging up now."

"You've got to mention it eventually!"


He deletes what he had (My friends just wouldn't let up about it...) and stares at the cursor as it blinks mockingly.

He types out a new response and hits send before he can change his mind.

abilityinsuit @toextreames I met this guy that I couldn't get out of my head, and Twitter was the only way I could reach him.
less than a minute ago via web in reply to toextreames

He stares at the response, wondering if he still has time to delete it, and then his phone rings.

"Are you seriously just sitting there, refreshing the page every second?"

"I can't believe you actually said that! Arthur! I am on my way to your room so I can hug you."

Arthur smiles despite himself. "I'm not going to let you in."

"If he responds before I get there, don't reply yet."

Arthur has a retort for that, but she's already hung up.

He stares at the update, feeling his face burn. It's much more forward than he meant to be, and he regrets it already.

But then he gets an idea, and he's breathing much easier by the time Ariadne knocks on his door.

"What are you looking so smug about?" she asks when she pulls back from the promised hug.


"Did he respond?" she asks excitedly.

"Not yet."

She narrows her eyes in suspicion, then moves around him to peer at his laptop. "Arthur, you ruined it!"

Arthur chuckles, unplugging the laptop so they can both sit on the bed. "Trust me, it's better this way." He reads back over the status and smirks.

abilityinsuit @toextreames And then I remembered you had Twitter too, so I figured I'd say hello.
less than 5 seconds ago via web in reply to toextreames

"He's going to think you're a jerk," Ariadne says with a pout, as if he's ruined all her expectations of romance.

"I sincerely doubt--" He cuts himself off when he sees a new status roll in. "See?"

toextreames @abilityinsuit lol now i know its you. you made my day darling. ;)
1 minute ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

Ariadne makes a noise like she's disgusted. "Well you'd better keep him, then, because he's the only one that's going to put up with your stubbornness."

"You put up with my stubbornness," Arthur says, smiling as he bumps their shoulders together.

"Don't smile at me when I'm pretending to be angry at you," she says with a laugh, reaching over to push her hand in his face.

Arthur moves to defend himself, and in his moment of distraction Ariadne makes a grab for the laptop and holds it close.

"Don't you dare," Arthur admonishes, attempting to pull the computer back toward him, but she's got it in a death grip.

"I won't send anything without your permission!" she promises. "But likewise your response will have to pass my approval."

He feels giddy, laughing at Ariadne's business-like tone.

He debates with her for a few minutes about approved conversation topics until he manages to distract her long enough to get his laptop back.

abilityinsuit @toextreames I've been listening to some of your less terrible music recommendations.
3 minutes ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit excellent! i trust they were brilliant
2 minutes ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames They were less than terrible. You'll still have to sway me on the pop music.
1 minute ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit challenge accepted
less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

"Look at that smile," Ariadne teases.

Arthur ducks his head and punches her lightly on the shoulder. "Shut up." He gets a new email and pulls it up quickly so he doesn't miss Eames' next response, but it turns out the email is from him.

Direct message from toextreames:
abilityinsuit @toextreames What's this?
1 minute ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit listen to it
less than a minute ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

The download finishes quickly, and he opens the song in iTunes.

"I like it," Ariadne says halfway through. Arthur shushes her, wanting to listen to it all the way through. When he goes to respond, Eames has already asked him about it.

toextreames @abilityinsuit r u swayed yet?
6 minutes ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames Not bad. The lead singer has a very melodic voice.
3 minutes ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit lol sure u dont mean meoldic?
3 minutes ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames You're never going to let me live that down, are you?
2 minutes ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit never o:)
less than 20 seconds ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

Arthur tries to think of a good response, something about his halo slipping, when the page reloads to show a new message.

toextreames @abilityinsuit gotta run love. be back tonite
1 minute ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames Okay, I'm not going anywhere.
less than 5 seconds ago via web in reply to toextreames

Ariadne is disappointed that Eames has to go, but Arthur doesn't share her sentiments. He almost feels excited, or maybe satisfied, now that he has Eames back in his life.

He spends most of the day working ahead on assignments, keeping one eye on his Twitter feed. By 7:30, he's a good two hours ahead of his schedule, and when Ariadne calls him about going out for a bit, he gives in to his restless mood and agrees. He fires off a reply to Eames before he leaves, though, just for good measure.

abilityinsuit @toextreames Looks like I'm a liar, sorry. Going out with friends. I'll talk to you tomorrow.
less than 5 seconds ago via web in reply to toextreames

When he gets back, several hours later after an enjoyable night out, he sees a reply from Eames from not long after he left.

toextreames @abilityinsuit dont pine for me 2 much
about 3 hours ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

He's still smiling when he crawls into bed.


OCT 2010
toextreames @abilityinsuit I watched fight club again last nite in your honor
14 minutes ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames I think you'd take any excuse to watch that movie.
8 minutes ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit lol im not as obsesed with it as you think i am
5 minutes ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit
abilityinsuit @toextreames Do you use some sort of IM service, like AIM? That might be easier than trying to keep up with Twitter.
2 minutes ago via web in reply to toextreames
toextreames @abilityinsuit yeah same sn as this 1
1 minute ago via Tweetie for Mac in reply to abilityinsuit

arthuratlaw: Hello.
toextreames: hello love
toextreames: what r you up to?
arthuratlaw: Homework mostly.
toextreames: wat a dull use of a sunday
arthuratlaw: Oh? What are you doing, then?
toextreames: dunno
toextreames: still waking up
arthuratlaw: Because that's not dull at all.

He bickers and chats with Eames for a while on AIM, having perhaps too much fun doing so, before he realizes that he hasn't made any progress on his homework. He puts up an away message and only responds sporadically for most of the afternoon, but finds himself talking more as nighttime approaches.

toextreames: well i promised my mate i'd come over to play xbox tonite
arthuratlaw: Your life is just so hard, isn't it?
toextreames: im not complaning
toextreames: but it is hard to walk away form you
arthuratlaw: Maybe with you gone I'll finally get some work done.
toextreames: youll miss me 2
toextreames: dont lie
arthuratlaw: Goodnight, Eames.
toextreames: night arthur


OCT 2010

From that point on, Eames sends him IMs at random intervals, even when he's not online to read them. Arthur looks at the timestamps and wonders when Eames ever finds the time to get any work done, or to sleep.

He's in the midst of a busy Tuesday evening when he gets yet another IM.

toextreames: so youll never guess what happened to me at the movie theater today
arthuratlaw: Hey. Sorry, I can't chat tonight.
arthuratlaw: I'm meeting some people to study for a political science test, and one of their rules is to turn off the internet if you're using your computer.
toextreames: good to see youve surounded yourself w other stickinthemud's
arthuratlaw: In this case, I have to agree with you. But I think it's inevitable in the pre-law program.
toextreames: i will save my movie story for next time
arthuratlaw: Why don't you text me?
toextreames: internets not allowed but texting is?
arthuratlaw: Yeah, the guy leading the study group is kind of a douche. But he's always texting his girlfriend, so he can hardly say anything.
arthuratlaw: 401-555-3757

He's barely two steps out of his building before his phone vibrates with a text message.

It explains so much about u that ure from rhode island.
I'm not necessarily from Rhode Island. That's just where I got this phone.

It turns out that Eames is in a talkative mood tonight, so Arthur forces himself to only look at his phone every 15 minutes, or whenever Trevor has decided to take a break to text his girlfriend. Often, Arthur has to fight a laugh when reading Eames' stories. It makes the study session much more enjoyable than usual.

"You seem to be in a good mood," says Sally, his only real friend in this group, just after he makes a joke about the topic at hand.

"Yeah," he says with a shrug. "Having a good day. Not sure why."

His phone buzzes in his pocket, as if Eames is calling him out on the lie.

"Well whatever it is, I'm glad. It's nice to see you smile."

"Thanks," he says, and then Trevor glares at them, so they return to their notes.

By the time they call it a night, Arthur is exhausted but not nearly as frustrated as the group usually makes him. He pulls out his phone one last time before heading to bed.

Thanks for providing tonight's entertainment. It was nice to have a distraction from the arrogance.
anytime darling. you heading to bed?
I am. Goodnight.
sweet dreams


OCT 2010

By Thursday, Arthur's had to increase to unlimited text messaging for his increased use of the service. He's also made a habit of leaving the phone on vibrate during the day, after one incident of interrupting his econ class and incurring his professor's wrath.

It's not surprising at all when his phone buzzes against his leg during his history class on Thursday around 11. He keeps the phone strategically positioned under the desk, as he's seen countless other people do, and tries not to feel guilty as he reads the text.

morning sunshine
Some of us have been awake for hours now, Eames.
how unfortunite for u. which goes better w orange trousers... green or pink?
/Nothing/ goes well with orange pants. BURN THEM.

Incoming call from: Eames.

He accidentally makes an indignant noise that he covers up with a cough. He hits Ignore and then fires off a text message protest.

I'm in class.

A few minutes later, his phone vibrates again.

1 New Voicemail Message.

Arthur sighs and shoves his phone in his pocket.

He takes diligent notes for the remaining 20 minutes of class. This is mainly due to the fact that he can't focus on the important parts of the lecture, because his thoughts keep straying to the waiting voicemail message and the voice contained therein.

He's barely hit the staircase after class before he's dialing his voicemail box.

"I'll have you know that these are the most durable trousers in the universe," says the accented voice over the recording. "I've had them for five years and they still fit. It's like Sisterhood of the Traveling Orange Trousers."

Eames rambles on about these magical pants, and Arthur embarrassingly clings to every word.

"...and I really hope you're going to call me back, Arthur, because the brevity of your voicemail alert was tragic, and I want to hear you say more than just 'You've reached Arthur.'"

His voice goes deep and mocking at the end in a horrible imitation. Arthur laughs at that, before deciding to listen to the whole thing again. Eames says his name differently than Arthur imagined, his accent not as posh as Arthur had been hearing in his head. He tries to tell himself that accents should not be attractive, and then he calls Eames back.

"Hullo," Eames answers, sounding far too pleased with himself.

"I can't believe you left me a five minute voicemail defending your horrible choices in clothing."

"Mmm, did you listen to the whole thing?"


Eames chuckles, a warm vibration over the phone line. "Your voice is deeper than I expected."

"Mm, thank you," he says, even if it wasn't meant as a compliment. "As a future lawyer, I intend to use that to my advantage."

"I'm sure you could find all sorts of ways to use it to your advantage, pet."

Arthur smirks to himself before quickly changing the subject. "I still think you should burn those orange pants, no matter how durable they supposedly are."

That sets Eames off again, and Arthur laughs as Eames gets more and more adamant about them.

"What if I wore black with them? Very seasonal, you must admit."

"Do whatever you like, Eames," Arthur says, feigning disappointment. "I'm just disheartened at your lack of imagination."

He gets a full, out loud laugh for that one, and he attempts to picture Eames' smile as he says, "Oh, Arthur. Always full of surprises."

Arthur pushes himself up onto the low wall surrounding the Humanities building as he talks to Eames, absently watching the people milling about. He waves at some friends as they walk by, but luckily none of them try to interrupt his phone call or ask who he's talking to.

He's just decided he'll have to miss lunch when Eames says, "Oh, bollocks. I'm late for my neuroscience class." Arthur glances at his watch. 12:05. "Guess I'll have to go with the Halloween ensemble after all."

"You had class at noon? What are you doing talking to me, then?"

The rustling he'd been hearing stops abruptly, then continues after a pause. "Darling, you should understand how important it is for me to defend the honor of my orange trousers."

Arthur breathes out a laugh. "Go sneak into your class. I'm sure your professor's used to you by now." After a second of deliberation, he adds, "Call me later."

"Will do," Eames says, then disconnects. Arthur checks his watch one more time before deciding to rush to the cafeteria to grab something to eat before his next class, but he double checks his phone is on vibrate so he doesn't miss any calls.


"Don't give me that put-out look! I put in my reservation for this weekend with the Arthur Planning Agency at the beginning of the semester."

Arthur makes a face. "But a costume party? Really?"

"Oh, come on. It won't kill you to put on a costume for one night. You can text Eames all night and see if he can guess it!"

Arthur narrows his eyes. "I see you trying to play the Eames card."

"I don't have to play the Eames card. You promised and we're going. I just thought you might be happier about it if Eames was involved."

"I'm not that hung up on him," Arthur mumbles, but Ariadne gives him a look that says that's utter bullshit.

She grabs his planner from his desk and flips to the current week before he can get it back. "Thursday night, 2 hours for 'breaks.' You even put them in quote marks because you know they just stand for 'Eames.'"

"Give me that," he snaps, taking his planner back. "I'm allowed to schedule my nights however I please."

She smiles kindly, despite his annoyed tone, and places a hand on his arm. "Of course you are. But don't pretend this Eames guy hasn't had some effect on you after you've clearly worked him into your calendar."

"Fine. We'll go to your costume party. But I'm not going all out on an outfit."

Ariadne claps her hands gleefully. "Yay! You won't regret this, Arthur!"

Arthur shakes his head. He's not so sure.


OCT 2010

So Arthur finds himself milling about some stranger's apartment at Loyola on a Saturday night, trying to make small talk. He keeps pulling out his phone to check for text messages, though he's not surprised when there's nothing new. Eames had mentioned he'd be going to a party as well; he's undoubtedly doing better than Arthur at socializing.

He's also feeling fairly good about his costume. Ariadne had complained it was just his excuse to wear a suit, and she may have been right, but he's loving it. Even if no one guesses his character right.

While he's in the kitchen making himself a drink, Arthur even makes a friend. The guy asks Arthur what he's making, then gives him a recipe that he insists is better.

Normally, Arthur would take offense at being told how to make his own drinks, but something about his attitude makes Arthur feel comfortable.

"I'm Yusuf, by the way," he says as he pours the ingredients into a fresh cup.

"Arthur. How do you know so much about mixed drinks?"

Yusuf laughs. "I'm a chemistry major. Measuring and mixing sort of comes naturally. Here you are."

Arthur takes a tentative sip, and sure enough, it's an improvement. "This is good, thank you. I guess if you ever get bored of chemistry, you could always fall back on bartending."

"I'll take that as a compliment, but chemistry will never be boring."

"No, I didn't mean--"

Yusuf smiles and waves off his backpedaling. "I live in a suite with a bunch of slackers and miscreants. Trust me, you're not the first one to suggest I forego years of medical school torture and go into bartending."

Arthur nods. "When you're really interested in something, extra years of school don't seem like torture. I'm pre-law, so trust me, I understand."

Yusuf returns his smile, saying, "Well, here's to our future years of academic servitude." There is a sudden chorus of Yusuf's name from the next room, and he heaves a sigh. "Those would be my suitemates. It was lovely to meet you, Arthur. Don't drink the punch."

Arthur chuckles as he heads back toward the living room, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket as he goes. Luckily, there is a free couch, so he huddles off to the side and texts Eames.

Are all college parties this overridden with alcohol?
yes and youve inspired me to get one, ty
Don't drink the punch.

He looks around for Ariadne again, even though he's fairly sure she's still off participating in the festivities. She had been adamant about wanting to bob for apples, which made no sense to Arthur. Still, as long as he didn't have to participate, she could do whatever she liked.

His phone buzzes again.

i feel like on halloween i can get away w this... wat r u wearing?
What do you think I'm wearing? If you guess who I am I'll send you a picture tonight.
james bond, but i confess this might be cheating

Arthur shifts over, closer to the armrest, as someone sits down beside him. He narrows his eyes at his phone and types out his response.

Close, you're not the first one to mistake me for him tonight. How are you cheating? Did you talk to Ariadne?

"I would've guessed Tyler Durden first, had I not seen you. But I suppose that was wishful thinking."

Arthur grips his phone so hard he almost accidentally calls someone. The voice is softer than he's heard it over the phone, but he'd recognize that accent anywhere.

He looks up slowly at the person sharing the couch with him. He's dressed in hideously bright colors, but he's still, unmistakably, Eames.

A million things run through Arthur's head, and Eames looks apprehensive, but when he opens his mouth what comes out is, "You look ridiculous."

Eames barks out a laugh, giving Arthur a chance to compose himself. Admittedly, it's not the nicest thing he could have said. He could have said 'You are devastatingly attractive' or 'Oh my god, I can't believe it's you,' but the most obvious fact is that Eames is dressed like a pumpkin. He's wearing the infamous orange pants with an elaborate jack-o'-lantern painted onto an orange shirt that doesn't match. There's little else to be said, and if he focuses on that then he won't have a fit over the fact that Eames is sitting there, right next to him, smug grin on his face.

"When the clock strikes 12, do you turn back into a real boy?"

He expects Eames to twist his words into something inappropriate, but Eames just smiles and says, "I think you're mixing Disney metaphors there."

Arthur focuses on straightening his tie to get his mind off of how good Eames looks in person. When he's fought off the impulse to crawl on top of Eames, he smirks and says, "I'll take that as a no."

"So if you're not James Bond, then who are you?"

Arthur sits up straight and puts on a charming smile. "Bruce Wayne, at your service, Mr. Eames."

Eames takes Arthur's proffered hand, shaking his head and saying, "Only you would go as a superhero's alter-ego, Arthur."

Arthur makes a noise of protest and points to someone standing in the doorway to the kitchen. "That guy's dressed as Clark Kent!"

Eames narrows his eyes at the guy in question. "No, I think that's just a hipster."

Arthur frowns, but upon closer inspection, yeah. The plaid and glasses just threw him off.

Eames settles into the spot next to Arthur on the couch, smiling all the way. Over the next 45 minutes, Arthur learns several things about Eames. One, he'd had his mental image of Eames all wrong. He's easier with his smiles, and he manages to make Arthur feel like he has his full attention, even when he's observing other partygoers. Two, Eames is a senior at Loyola, but he's two years older than Arthur instead of the expected one, because he took some time off. Three, nothing escapes him. Arthur had always suspected that Eames downplayed his intelligence, but it's clear from his sharp observations that he's got more going on in his head than he lets on.

One thing he's not surprised to discover is that Eames has an extensive movie collection. Eames insists they be seasonal and watch a horror movie, however, they're halfway to Eames' dorm, arguing over the merits of the horror genre, when Arthur realizes, oh, he's going back to Eames' room.

He fires off a quick text to Ariadne as they go, never letting up on his criticism of idiotic horror movie premises.

In the end, the argument doesn't matter, because once they get to Eames' apartment, he says, "Whatever you want to do, Arthur."

Arthur is busy perusing Eames' DVDs, so he doesn't realize right away that his statement could've meant something more than just movies. When he looks up, though, Eames has disappeared back into the hallway. He turns back to the collection, thinking that if Eames meant something else, he would have said it. Eames was the one that invited him back to his place, after all.

Arthur can't decide on one movie, but the decision is eventually made for him when Eames is outraged that Arthur has never seen Office Space.

"I shudder to think of all the pop culture references you're missing out on," Eames says as he hands Arthur the popcorn he had gone to make and takes a seat next to him on the futon. The TV screen fills with virus detection screens that turn out to be the intro DVD screen, and Arthur thinks okay, maybe he'll give this movie a chance.

"Eames, I've lived my whole life up 'til now without seeing all those movies. I'm perfectly content with missing out on a few pop culture references."

Eames chuckles. "I'll soon fix that."

Arthur enjoys the movie, though he spends most of it hyperaware of Eames' shoulder next to his. He keeps expecting Eames to make a move, but he never manages to catch Eames looking at him even though he knows it's happening. During the slower parts of the movie, he entertains his own fantasies about turning his head and sucking on the skin of Eames' pulse point, making that smile slip as his mouth falls open in a gasp. But he pushes away these ideas, because he knows right now, they're on Eames' terms. He just wishes Eames would hurry the fuck up.

The movie ends, leaving Arthur at a loss with what to do. Normally, if things had been going this well on a date, Arthur would have made his move long ago.

"I can't believe you kept your tie on throughout that entire movie," Eames says with a laugh.

Arthur moves to straighten the aforementioned tie, saying, "It helped me identify with the characters."

"Here, let me," Eames says, hands darting in to pull Arthur's tie back in its proper place. "You're truly comfortable in this get-up, that much is obvious. I don't understand it, but it suits you."

His fingers still after smoothing down Arthur's collar, and Arthur thinks, finally, this is it.

"It's a solid hour past your usual bedtime, isn't it?" Eames remarks teasingly. "I'm surprised you haven't turned back into a pumpkin."

He steps away and begins clearing up the trash from the popcorn and drinks. Arthur stares at his back, not quite sure what to think. Still, he doesn't miss a beat as he straightens his cuffs and stands up straight, saying, "I guess I should go catch up with Ariadne so we can head back."

He has no idea if Eames is disappointed, but for a moment, his smile fades. "Well, you know how to reach me. Do you need help getting back?"

Arthur shakes his head. "I remember the way. I guess I'll--" See you later? Wait for you to jump me? "--talk to you later."

Eames' smile is back. "Goodnight, Arthur."

Arthur shivers once he steps into the chilly Chicago night. He'd seen that going differently in his head.


NOV 2010

Eames doesn't contact him at all on Sunday, and Arthur figures it's for the best. The longer he has to think about it, the more he wonders if he misread Eames' tone over all that seemingly flirtatious communication.

But then Monday turns out to be utter hell, and by lunch time Arthur has had enough. He finds himself doing what has become natural in the last week: he texts Eames.

I am having an awful day.

He sighs at himself as he sends the message, realizing that if Eames doesn't respond, it will only make the day worse. The thought makes his chest feel tight, and he wonders, not for the first time, what he should have done differently.

It doesn't occupy his mind too long, though, before his phone vibrates against the table.

case of the mondays? ;)
You might say that. Can we steal $350k from my econ professor?
maths was never my strong subject and youre too pretty to go to jail. we could egg or tp his house instead
You bring the toilet paper, I'll bring the eggs.
fuckin a, darling ;)

Ariadne chooses that moment to slide into the seat across from him. "What are you smiling about?"

"Plotting the destruction of my wicked econ professor. I thought you had to work?"

"I had someone cover my shift because-- wait, don't change the subject. I know that's your Eames smile."

Arthur's phone vibrates in his pocket, but he does his best to ignore it.

"I do not have an 'Eames smile,'" he protests, complete with finger quotes, much to Ariadne's pleasure. She shoots him a look that is equal parts amused and disbelieving, and Arthur ducks his head to hide his smile.

"You never did tell me what happened," Ariadne says, reaching over to steal a bite of Arthur's food. "And I refuse to believe that you stopped being interested when you met him in person."

"I refuse to believe that you had nothing to do with the meeting in the first place." Her expression is one of confused innocence, and Arthur doesn't buy it for a second. He picks at the food left on his plate, wording his answer carefully.

"Nothing happened," he finally says. At Ariadne's disbelieving noise, he continues, "No, I mean. That's the problem. Nothing happened. All we did was talk and watch a movie. I guess all the innuendo and such is just a game."

"So, did he reject you? Or did you just not make a move?"

Arthur frowns. "I was waiting for him to do something."

Ariadne munches thoughtfully on her salad, and Arthur can see the gears turning in her head. "Correct me if I'm wrong," and she looks a bit pink in the face, "but don't you usually... I don't know, take the lead in your relationships?"

"This is different," he says automatically. "He's always been the one flirting. Either it was just an act or meeting me in person was a huge disappointment."

Ariadne's not convinced. "He was probably waiting to see if your cold responses translated to real life or if they were just an act."

Arthur shakes his head. "I was perfectly friendly, and thank you for the vote of confidence by the way. I was even," he hesitates, "embarrassingly open to his advances. There was no reason for him to think I was shutting him down."

"Believe what you want. But I think he wanted you to make the first move."

"Eames wouldn't play games like that if he really wanted something," Arthur says, not sure if he's defending or condemning.

"I never said it was a game. You said he was that good at reading people, maybe he could tell you were the type of person to... take charge," she concludes with a hand-waving motion.

Arthur shakes his head, pulling out his phone to check the message from Eames.

just say the word and ill be there. 2ply ok?

Just say the word, he thinks, and it reminds him of Eames' words from Saturday night. Whatever you want to do, Arthur. Okay, maybe she's got a point.


NOV 2010

With this in mind, Arthur turns up the flirting, and -- he hates to admit it, but Ariadne was right. He's talking to Eames on the phone on Tuesday when Eames says he can "feel you smirking at me, Arthur." Arthur doesn't bother to stop smirking when he says, "I'll bet you'd like to feel me smirking." There is a pause, and Arthur's face heats up post-haste before Eames says, smile evident in his voice, "That could be arranged."

It's still ridiculous and embarrassing that he said that, but Arthur laughs anyway before carefully steering the conversation elsewhere. He knows now what he has to do, but he wants to make up for his previous stupidity somehow. Just asking Eames out doesn't feel like it will be enough.

The answer falls into his lap Wednesday night when Yusuf starts following him on Twitter. He'd been surprised when Eames referenced his best friend by name after the party, realizing that he'd met the guy in the kitchen just before Eames stumbled upon him. Apparently Arthur hadn't made a terrible first impression, because Yusuf agrees to help out when Arthur sends him a direct message to ask for his help on the plan. Arthur spends the rest of the week steering Eames away from the plan and avoiding any embarrassing text-based flirting, and then Friday night finally arrives.


NOV 2010

Arthur arrives at the Beat Kitchen early, hiding out in the bar and hoping that Yusuf makes good on his promise to get Eames here. He texted Eames on his way here to say that he was meeting a study group at 6:30 (half an hour before the concert starts), so Eames won't be expecting to hear from him for a while.

When Eames arrives, about 10 minutes before doors are meant to open, he heads straight for the bar, just as Arthur had hoped. Arthur waves at the bartender and points Eames out, and luckily she's competent enough to remember their earlier conversation and not tell Eames who sent the drink.

Arthur is careful to enter the main room of the venue behind Eames, standing off to the side during the first opener. He doesn't miss Eames checking his phone between songs, and his fingers itch to text him, just to say hi. Still, he's happy to see the first band go off stage.

When the band they're here to see comes on, Eames makes an idiot of himself, enjoying it. Arthur waits until their first song is fading out and uses the opportunity to slide up behind Eames while he's busy screaming and clapping in appreciation.

He announces his presence with hands on hips, fitting himself against Eames and smiling when his actions cut off Eames' antics abruptly.

"You may have been right about them," Arthur says against Eames' ear. "If the rest of their set is as good as that song, we might have even more in common."

Eames has relaxed from a back-off-stranger type of tense to a much more thrilling type of tense. Arthur lets his lips graze the shell of his ear as he murmurs, "Good to see you again."

"You told me you were staying in to study tonight," Eames accuses. He doesn't turn around, but he leans into Arthur's embrace just slightly.

The band starts up their next song, drowning out Arthur's reply. Eames turns, then, and Arthur smirks as he leans in and repeats, "Wouldn't want to ruin the surprise."

"You planned this?"

"Come on, Eames. What are the odds we would meet by chance that many times?"

Arthur keeps one arm stretched across Eames' back as he moves to stand beside him, grabbing the beer from his hand and taking a swig. Eames protests, but then Arthur points out that he paid for it.

"Oh, that was you?" Eames asks, looking back toward the bar.

"Don't sound so disappointed," Arthur says with a smirk, handing back Eames' drink. He marvels at how much easier this is this time. He doesn't even feel self-conscious about the PDA, because everything about Eames' body language says he is loving it.

"No," Eames insists, "it's just I thought the bartender was hitting on me. She probably thinks I'm a pig."

"You are a pig, Eames. It's better for her if she knows it now."

Eames peers at him as the song ends. "You're not drunk, are you?"

It's more curiosity than accusation, but Arthur's eyes still narrow, and he drops his arm from Eames' back.

"Oh, don't be like that," Eames says with a smile, bumping his shoulder against Arthur's. "We've only just met for the second time; how am I to know how you act when drunk?"

Arthur purses his lips and lets it go, but he doesn't put his arm back.

Eames doesn't seem too bothered, especially when his favorite song comes on next. He gestures wildly with his beer and, before long, encourages Arthur to join him in what Arthur supposes he would call a dance. After that, Arthur is too busy laughing to stay angry, and he even forgets why he was offended in the first place.

They play a couple more songs, but they're only the second opener so their next song will be their last for tonight.

The song is a slow one, and Arthur thinks that's a strange choice after such an upbeat set. Eames smirks at him and leans close to say, "I can feel your judgment from here."

Arthur is still trying to side whether to defend himself when Eames says, "You've never heard this song before, have you?"

The drum beat slows and drops, then the vocals cut out simultaneously with the guitar. There is a beat, then someone disrupts the sudden silence with a loud cheer as the band tears into an energetic remix of what they were just playing. Arthur raises his eyebrows, impressed, and can see Eames laughing at him from the corner of his eye.

After a few minutes of cheering obnoxiously, even after the band says their final 'thank you's, Eames goes to throw his beer away. Arthur follows him and, after the bottle falls into the trashcan with a loud clang, Eames whirls around and nearly knocks Arthur over.

Luckily, catching Eames by surprise had been Arthur's plan all along. He puts his hands on Eames shoulders to guide him back against the wall.

"Hello," Eames says happily, looking a bit disoriented.

Arthur only smirks before tilting his head and bringing their lips together.

Eames responds instantly, cupping a hand around Arthur's neck and pulling him closer. Arthur nips at Eames' bottom lip until he opens his mouth, allowing Arthur in. Arthur fists a hand in the cloth of Eames' shirt as Eames moans into his mouth. He resists the impulse to let his hands roam, but he can feel his skin heating up and finally forces himself to pull back. "We should go."

Eames makes a whining noise, breathing heavily, and his hand tightens on Arthur's neck. Arthur's resolve dies out quickly as Eames pulls him in, though, and they pick up where they left off.

Eames is a very thorough kisser. Arthur lets out little gasps every time Eames curls his tongue a certain way, sending spikes of pleasure down Arthur's spine. Almost unconsciously, he finds his hands migrating under Eames' shirt at the back, sliding over smooth skin and then down, dipping below the hem of his jeans until his fingers are resting just above the swell of Eames' ass.

Now it's Arthur's turn to whine as Eames pulls away with a jerk of his head, saying, "Right. Somewhere less public?"

"Preferably with a bed," Arthur agrees, enraptured as Eames licks his lips.

"Oh, Arthur. Where's your sense of adventure?" Eames responds, waggling his eyebrows.

It takes Arthur a moment to feel composed enough to step out of the shadows and walk out of there, but he does so, tugging Eames along behind him by his wrist.

Arthur feels anxious as they wait at the bus stop, cursing this venue under his breath for being in the middle of fucking nowhere. Eames hears him and laughs, moving to wrap his arms around Arthur from behind, his chin resting on Arthur's shoulder. Some girls just entering the venue across the street give the two of them a weird look, so Arthur leans into Eames' embrace and casually flips them off.

Eames' lips brush the back of his ear as he says, "I much prefer when you're confident like this, darling."

Arthur refuses to feel residual embarrassment for last weekend, so he smirks and replies, "You just want to get laid."

Eames nips at the shell of Arthur's ear and, at Arthur's sharp intake of breath, murmurs, "I'm not the only one."

Arthur elbows him in the side for that one, but he's still smiling.

On the bus, Eames rests a hand on Arthur's knee, and Arthur turns to study his expression. "This is okay," he says, not making it sound like a question even though it is one.

Eames looks at him in disbelief, licking his lips absently. "If I did not make myself abundantly clear at the venue, I can re-enforce my point right now. I should warn you, though, that it will probably get us kicked off this bus."

His hand slides further up Arthur's leg, and Arthur reaches down quickly to stop him, swallowing thickly. "I just meant," he begins, then has to stop and clear his throat so his voice won't sound so rough. "We've only known each other two weeks, plus a 2-hour Omegle conversation."

Eames raises his eyebrows. "Darling, I would apologize for moving too fast, but you're the one who invited me to your place."

Arthur rolls his eyes. "It just seems like it's been longer than that, to me." He's still not sure what his point is, but Eames nods.

"I know what you mean," he says, pulling out his phone. "I had to buy a replacement battery for this thing."

Arthur feels his mouth quirk up into a smile. "I had to upgrade my text messaging."

The awkward moment passes, and they go on to talk about other things, like Arthur's clothing choices and Eames' obsession with Xbox. They get so wrapped up in a conversation about modern literature and its audience that Arthur is taken by complete surprise when Eames stops mid-sentence and looks out the windows.


"You'll have to forgive me. I've only been to your campus a handful of times. But was that not our stop?"

Arthur glances back at the street they just passed. "Oh."

Eames laughs at him, and he feels the need to defend, "Well, I like to go to the 24-hour Starbucks after concerts."

Eames' eyes light up at that, so Arthur goes on to add, "We can stop by before going back to campus? To be honest, I could use the caffeine."

"Mm," Eames agrees. "Gotta have the energy for when I keep you up all night."

Arthur makes a noise of dissent. "I intend to sleep through the night," he corrects, "and you'll be so well-fucked that you'll do the same."

Eames' eyes go slightly unfocused and his mouth falls open just a bit. Arthur has to look away so he won't lean in and claim that mouth.

After Eames has a few moments to collect his thoughts, he continues his sentence from before the missed stop, as if he'd never been interrupted. Arthur picks up his part of the conversation, smiling in satisfaction that he managed to distract Eames this once.


"I know it's not exactly Chicago winter outside yet," Arthur says as they pick up their drinks, "but isn't it a bit cold for a Frappuccino?"

"Well I don't drink coffee," Eames says, popping the lid off and sticking a straw into the whipped cream. "Besides, I haven't had one of these in months."

"That's because months ago, it was hot enough outside to merit one."

As they approach the bus stop, Eames sucks on his straw obscenely and utters a moan that implies his drink is heavenly. Arthur feels any past trains of thought derail abruptly. Eames has a stray bit of whipped cream on his upper lip which he licks away slowly, then catches Arthur's eye to reveal that he knew Arthur was watching.

"My kingdom to hear what's on your mind right now," Eames says quietly with an impish grin.

Arthur glances around at the others waiting for the bus. No one seems to be paying them any attention, so he steps up close to Eames and whispers in his ear.

"I want your mouth on my cock," he says confidentially. Eames shivers, and he doesn't think it's from the Frappuccino. "Then I want to fuck my tongue into your mouth while I work you open, until you're begging for me to pin you down and fuck you properly." Eames swallows thickly, and Arthur continues, "What do you think of that?"

"Where the fuck is this fucking bus?" Eames says, his voice a bit rough as he speaks up. Arthur smirks and takes a step back, sipping his pumpkin spice latte. Eames looks at him like he's thinking of jumping him right here, and Arthur forgets for a moment why that would be a bad idea.

Back on the bus, Eames is even more worked up. He bounces his leg the entire time and drums his fingers on the armrest whenever they're stopped.

"You do know that you can't make it go faster just by the power of your mind, right?"

"You can't say that for sure, darling," Eames says, grabbing Arthur's hand that's not holding his latte and squeezing. He leans closer, his breath warm against Arthur's neck as he says, "You're going to look so gorgeous, calling out my name, pulling at my hair, while I let you fuck my mouth."

Arthur blinks, slowly. "This bus needs to move faster."

"Now you're getting it," Eames says with a grin.


Eames gets Arthur pressed up against his door before he even has a chance to put his key away, and Arthur immediately drops the key to the floor so that he has full use of his hands. He hauls Eames close to deepen the kiss, moaning when Eames pushes his hand against Arthur's cock through his clothes.

"Such a bloody tease," Eames mumbles against Arthur's mouth with a smile. He moves his hand away to slide under Arthur's shirt, and Arthur would say now who's the tease? if he wasn't preoccupied with sucking a mark into Eames neck.

Eames feels so good pressed up against him, but Arthur wants more. He slides his hands over Eames' ass and pulls him that much closer so that their hips line up perfectly. Eames makes a keening noise, head tilted back, and Arthur uses the moment to start getting rid of clothing.

He tugs at the hem of Eames' shirt, and Eames helps him guide it over his head.

"Oh," Arthur says, fingers tracing reverently over Eames' tattoos. "I didn't realize you had so many."

"I'll tell you all about them some time," Eames promises, hands pulling at Arthur's sweater. He makes a disgruntled noise once he gets it off, fingers working at the buttons of Arthur's shirt. "Jesus, Arthur. Why are you wearing so many layers?"

Before long, their clothes are scattered on Arthur's floor. Normally that would bother Arthur, but right now Eames is sinking down to his knees and Arthur doesn't give a fuck about anything else.

"Oh my god," Arthur says as Eames wraps his lips around the head of Arthur's cock, sinking down slowly in a heavenly tease. As Eames works up a steady rhythm, it's all Arthur can do not to push into that heat.

But then Eames palms Arthur's ass, and Arthur's hips buck forward involuntarily, his hand tightening in Eames' hair. Before he has time to worry about it, Eames moans encouragingly and pulls him forward. Arthur doesn't have to be told twice, and he finds himself muttering about how incredible Eames is as his head slowly clouds out everything but the fact that he's getting the best blowjob of his life.

He's so overcome with it, especially the fact that it's Eames that he doesn't think to say anything as he feels the buildup low in his spine that means he's about to come. He pushes into Eames' mouth one last time, and Eames widens his eyes and clutches at Arthur's hips, steady until Arthur comes down.

"Shit," Arthur says, realizing what he's just done. "I'm sorry."

"Why is everything you do so bloody hot?" Eames says roughly, standing and leaning in to devour Arthur's mouth.

Arthur makes a surprised noise into Eames' mouth, his face burning. He eases Eames back onto the bed without breaking their kiss, getting a hand on Eames' dick before he can get too caught up in feeling self-conscious. He fucks his tongue into Eames' mouth in rhythm with the movement of his hand until he has to pull away to catch his breath.

"Your tongue is just sinful," Eames says as he pushes into Arthur's fist.

Arthur smiles and nips at Eames' bottom lip. "Do you want me to suck you off?" he asks, moving his hand over Eames' cock and twisting his wrist at the last moment.

Eames gasps and arches his hips off the bed. "Is that a trick question?"

"I'm not as good as you," he warns, but he moves down Eames' body anyway.

"I think my body believes you can do no wrong, darling. I've walked out on a bloke before for not giving me warning." His fingers card into Arthur's hair as Arthur takes him into his mouth. "But when you did it, it was the sexiest bloody thing to happen to me in months."

Arthur appreciates the sentiment, but he really wants Eames to stop talking now. So when Eames says, "I think it's something to do with seeing you lose control--", he pulls up and curls his tongue around the head of Eames' cock before sliding back down, effectively shutting him up for the moment.

He doesn't do this fairly often, but he wants to make it good for Eames, so he concentrates and uses his hands to do what his mouth can't. Eames urges him on with half-uttered phrases and curse words, especially when Arthur reaches further to Eames' balls, teasing a finger further back until Eames gasps and pulls at his hair.

"Stop, Arthur," Eames cuts himself off with a shuddered breath. "Come here."

Arthur goes, hands taking over once more as Eames kisses him hungrily. Eames bites down hard on Arthur's lip when he comes, hips pumping in his release.

They're both breathing heavily, and Arthur doesn't want to move, so he wipes his hand on the corner of the sheet and vows to clean it first thing tomorrow. Eames shifts them both so Arthur can lay down and Eames can curl into his side, and it's nice except for the fact that Arthur can't stop thinking about his earlier indiscretion. Finally, he has to speak up.

"So that didn't go exactly as planned," Arthur mumbles, face hot.

Eames grins and bites down on Arthur's collarbone. "Night's not over yet, love."

Arthur's body isn't quite ready to react to that implication yet, but he has a feeling it won't be long. "And after tonight?"

"I imagine we'll have time then, too, so long as you can fit me into that busy schedule of yours."

Arthur lets out the breath he'd been holding slowly, hoping Eames won't notice.

No such luck. Eames studies his expression for several long moments before finally leaning in to press his lips against Arthur's. The kiss is slower, sweeter than any they shared earlier in the night, and it warms Arthur in an entirely different way.

Eames pulls away and nuzzles Arthur's neck as he murmurs, "I'm not going anywhere, Arthur."

"No, you're not," Arthur agrees. "I've got plans for you in about thirty minutes."

Eames huffs out a laugh and presses a kiss to Arthur's neck before propping up on his elbow to gaze down at him. He looks painfully earnest as he goes on to say, "Phone calls from you are the best part of my day. Just this past Wednesday, I was supposed to be doing my TA duties for a psychology lab, but when my phone rang, I told them I had a family emergency."

"Eames," Arthur says, exasperated and affectionate. "You can't just skip class every time I call. You can call me back."

Eames arches an eyebrow. "We both know that if I call during one of your designated study blocks, or whatever it is that you're doing, you will not only not answer the phone, but will bitch me out for calling twelve times."

"Twelve times, Eames!" Arthur defends. "I was in a meeting with my professor!"

"Well how was I to know that?" Eames shakes his head, looking frustrated with himself. "I've lost the point."

Arthur smirks at him. "Take your time."

Eames swats at his arm, muttering arse under his breath. He looks distant for a moment before his face brightens in an ah-ha expression. "My point was, I'm not going to give you up without a fight." He pauses, like he's deliberating over his words, and Arthur chooses to wait him out. "I'd been having some trouble, lately, missing home, and you strutted into my life right when I was about to say 'sod it' and drop out for a bit. I was actually planning on asking your advice on it over the phone, after the party."

"You were going to drop out?" Arthur repeats in disbelief. "But you love your classes."

"I know, I just. Get a bit restless sometimes. Yusuf knows all about it. I skipped a week and a half last spring to drive to Seattle. Bought a parka, took a picture of the Needle in the pouring rain, and then drove back."

Arthur nods. He's definitely felt that before, but always talked himself out of it in the name of responsibility. "There's just too much in the world to justify staying in one place for too long."

"Exactly," Eames says. "And then you contacted me, and I don't know. I was thinking of asking you where you lived, even though you'd been so hush-hush about it, and just coming to visit. I just had a feeling you didn't want to tell me."

"It wasn't that I--"

Eames cuts him off. "I nearly had a heart attack when I saw you sitting on that couch in Sylvia's apartment, all prim and proper in your suit. God, I knew it had to be you, but I still had to text you to be sure. I just--"

Now it's Arthur's turn to cut Eames off, this time with a kiss, showing that he's touched Eames would share this piece of himself.

Time passes as he asks Eames more about home and, in return, shares with Eames about his compulsive need to succeed, his devotion to a family who have never quite understood his goals. Eames leaves little caresses over Arthur's skin as he recounts the story, over his collarbone, neck, side. It's surprisingly effective in that it takes Arthur's mind off the negatives and helps him get to his point.

They're back to Eames' story now, and Arthur is attempting to employ the same method as Eames tells a story of the first time he broke into his father's liquor cabinet. Arthur is listening intently, but every time Eames mentions anything regarding his love of rule-breaking, Arthur bites at Eames' skin, until finally Eames says, "I am never going to finish this story if you keep distracting me like that."

"Oh, is that distracting?" Arthur asks without looking up. "How about this?" He swirls his tongue around Eames' nipple, sucking just for a moment.

Eames makes a pleased noise, and his hips buck forward, seemingly unconsciously. "Story time's over," Eames decides, pulling Arthur fully on top of him.

Arthur is completely on board with this decision, already half-hard from letting his mind wander as Eames' voice washed over him. Arthur captures Eames' lips in a kiss that quickly becomes filthy as Eames clutches at Arthur's ass and Arthur reaches down to fist their cocks together.

"Please tell me you're going to fuck me this time," Eames says through uneven breaths, making Arthur's cock jump in his hand.

"Roll over on your stomach," Arthur says, nudging Eames' hip.

Eames does, and Arthur takes a moment to appreciate the sight spread out before him. He traces his finger around the tattoos at Eames' lower back, then makes his way down, saying, "I want to make up for earlier."

Eames sighs. "Arthur, it's not--"

Eames' sentence gets choked off by the obscene gasp he utters when Arthur leans down and licks at the ring of muscle around his hole. Arthur uses his hands to spread Eames open and push his tongue in further.

"Jesus fucking Christ--" Eames shouts, pushing his ass back to invite Arthur in. "Arthur, your-- Fuck!"

Eames squirms his way into a better position, his legs spreading apart. Arthur hums his approval with his tongue pushed deep inside, causing Eames to reach down to palm his cock as he mutters incomprehensibly through staggered breaths. Arthur pulls back abruptly and guides Eames' hand away, saying decisively, "That's for me."

Eames lets out a shuddering breath. "Fuck yes it is."

Arthur uncaps the lube and pours a generous amount onto his fingers before slowly working Eames open. Once he seems comfortable enough with two fingers, Arthur repositions himself so he can edge his tongue in between them.

Eames' cursing gets louder and more creative as Arthur's fingers curl against his prostate and his tongue slides in alongside them.

"Arthur," Eames finally says, voice wavering. "Please."

Arthur's skin is thrumming as he urges Eames over onto his back. Eames strikes him as someone that doesn't come apart very often, and knowing that he's got him in such a state is a huge turn-on.

He edges his way into Eames as slowly as he can manage, Eames clutching at the sheets and staring back at him with dark eyes. When he can go no further, he concentrates on Eames' ragged breaths to get his mind off the need to move, now.

It feels like a lifetime later when Eames exhales slowly, then nods. Arthur praises whatever deities might be listening and moves.

"God, Eames," Arthur says, hands steady on Eames' hips, "you feel amazing."

Eames rocks his hips in such a way that causes them both to moan in sync with each other. "Fuck, Arthur," he gasps, "that's perfect, just-- Right there."

Arthur gets a hand around Eames' cock and pumps him in the rhythm of his thrusts. His movements are getting increasingly sporadic when Eames arches off the bed and comes, Arthur's name on his lips.

"Fuck," Arthur says with feeling, letting himself get lost in the sensation of Eames clenching down around him. Eames rolls his hips one more time, sending Arthur over the edge.

Arthur takes a moment to catch his breath, then moves away to dispose of the condom. Eames makes an unhappy noise and reaches for Arthur as he goes. "Where are you going?"

Arthur huffs a laugh, reaching for a towel and throwing it at Eames to clean up. "I'm coming back."

"Come back faster," Eames whines. He sits up to pull Arthur in for a kiss as soon as he nears the bed, and Arthur struggles to get into a comfortable position on top of Eames. "Mm," Eames hums against Arthur's mouth, "that's better."

Arthur smiles, allowing Eames to slide his tongue between his parted lips and deepen the kiss. It's slow and languid, Arthur curling his tongue lazily against Eames', a pleasant exhaustion settling in his muscles. "I'm never going to be rid of you, am I?"

Eames looks immensely pleased at this sarcastic question. "Never," he agrees.

Arthur ducks his head down to hide his ridiculous smile, pressing a kiss against Eames' neck to disguise the action. "Goodnight, Eames."

They will probably wake up immensely uncomfortable from trying to fit two people on a dorm bed all night, but as Eames curls his arm around Arthur's back and says, "Goodnight, darling," Arthur finds he doesn't care.


NOV 2010

"No, Eames, I can't," Arthur hisses into his phone, turning his back to the closed door of his classroom and hoping his voice isn't carrying through. "I'm spending the entire afternoon studying with people for an econ test, and then I promised I'd go to the weekly group dinner with my friends, and then I have to spend the rest of the night doing the studying I couldn't get done in the meeting."

Eames is silent on the other end of the line. Arthur checks to make sure the call hasn't dropped, but he still has a full signal. Finally, Eames speaks up. "You should go back to your class."

Arthur's stomach twists uncomfortably at Eames' quiet, somber tone. "Eames, I don't--"

"I'll talk to you tomorrow," he says before hanging up.

Arthur makes a frustrated noise, running his hand through his hair, and glares at a freshman who gives him a worried look as she walks by.

His entire afternoon is fraught with stress and frustration, especially after Eames responds to a text message with "u should be studying". He finally has to take a five minute break from his study group to call Ariadne and vent.

"And on top of it all, now Eames is angry with me because I didn't make time for him, even though I don't know if I'm going to have time to sleep tonight--"

"Arthur," Ariadne cuts in politely. "Take a deep breath."

Arthur does, exhaling slowly through his nose.

"Good, now listen to me. You always freak out before these econ tests, and you always do well in the end because you devote more than enough time to learning the material. And Eames wasn't around for the saga that was your last econ test, so he doesn't know. He might be put out about it right now, but he'll get over it, and next time you can warn him in advance that you have a huge, stressful exam coming up."

Arthur takes another deep breath, willing himself to believe her. "It's just so hard to concentrate, knowing that if I hadn't fucked up, he'd be texting me stupid motivational quotes or distracting stories about his classmates to cheer me up."

Ariadne makes a sympathetic noise. "You'll have plenty of time to work things out with him once your test is over. Don't beat yourself up over it right now."

"I'll do my best." Arthur sighs and checks his watch. "I've really gotta get back to it, Ariadne, but thank you."

The rest of the afternoon goes by a little easier, and Arthur puts his phone on silent so that he'll stop wondering if he's just missed a text message alert. He feels worn out by the time he starts making his way to dinner, and when he runs into Ariadne's roommate on the walk over, this is the first thing that she points out.

"I'm having a rough day," he admits, rubbing at his tired eyes in the hopes that it will somehow wake them up. He'll definitely be drinking coffee with dinner.

She loops her arm through his as they walk, asking, "Anything you want to talk about?"

He gives her a small smile. "Just class stress, mostly. And in the midst of it all, I managed to piss off Eames as well."

"Your internet boyfriend?" she asks, and Arthur nods. "Oh, I'm sure he'll forgive you. From what I hear, he thinks you can do no wrong."

Arthur blushes, associating the phrase with an entirely different set of events, but he pushes it from his mind as they reach the cafeteria. He stops short when he sees their usual table, full of all the usual people... plus Eames.

He faintly hears Ariadne's roommate explaining, "Ariadne called him," but his focus is drawn in to where Eames has looked up from the table and is beaming in his direction.

"Arthur!" Eames calls as they near the table. "Your delightful friends were just telling me the story of all they learned about me in the past several weeks."

Arthur should feel embarrassed, but Eames' eyes are dancing and it makes something lift in Arthur's chest. "You told him about 'internet boyfriend', didn't you?" he accuses. No one owns up to it, but their silence and Eames' smile are answer enough. "In my defense, I didn't come up with the term."

Eames makes a dismissive noise, pulling Arthur's chair closer after he sits. "I'm happy to play the role of your internet boyfriend, love."

Arthur's friends aww at them, and Arthur shoots them a look that makes them all go back to their own conversations. He takes Eames' hand in his own and quietly says, "I'm sorry."

Eames squeezes his hand, shaking his head. "Ariadne explained the situation. You worry too much, Arthur."

Arthur steals a french fry from Eames' plate. "A healthy dose of concern prevents me from making the same stupid mistakes over again."

"And here I thought I was helping by leaving you alone to study all day. Now that I know the truth, I'll be texting you non-stop whenever you have a big exam looming."

Arthur makes a pained noise. "Please don't."

"Oh, it's too late to take it back now," Eames contradicts. "I know your secret."

"I have to go get food," Arthur mutters darkly, standing up. Ariadne shoots him a wink as he goes, and Eames holds onto his hand until he moves far enough away to force him to let go. Arthur pretends that he's sick of them both.

For an hour after dinner, Eames camps out on Arthur's bed, staying mercifully quiet as he reads a book. Arthur's eyes start going crossed as he reads over his notes a third time, and then his phone beeps a text message alert.

fancy a break? ;)

"You are an insufferable dork," he tells Eames as he straddles him on the bed.

"You love it," Eames says just before Arthur captures his mouth. They make out lazily for several minutes before Arthur pulls himself away reluctantly.

Around midnight, Arthur startles when Eames presses a kiss to the back of his neck. "I'm heading back for the night, darling," he murmurs. "Give me a call when your test is over tomorrow, and I'll come over."

Arthur makes a noise of protest, twisting around in his chair to face Eames. "Don't you have class until 4 tomorrow?"

Eames shrugs and looks at least a bit sheepish at Arthur's glare.

"I guess I'll just have to come to you," Arthur says decisively.

"I suppose, if you must," Eames says, pressing his smiling mouth to Arthur's in one last kiss goodnight.


NOV 2010

Arthur reaches blindly for his phone when its alarm goes off early in the morning. Eames groans, discontent as he shifts against Arthur. The chill of the room bites against Arthur's skin, so he slips out of bed long enough to switch his heater on and then crawl back under the covers, fitting himself against Eames.

Eames' eyes blink open in surprise. "What's going on?" he mumbles in sleepy confusion.

"Nothing. Go back to sleep," Arthur says as he tangles his legs with Eames' in an attempt to soak up his warmth.

"Wasn't that your alarm I just heard?"

Arthur picks up his phone and holds it in his hand. "It was."

Eames stares at him in disbelief. "Don't you have plans?"

Arthur mentally flips through the things he knows are written in his planner and quickly dismisses them all. He silences his phone and then looks at Eames. "They can wait."

Eames smiles like Christmas has come early and pulls Arthur close to kiss him sweetly. "First thing I'm going to do when we wake up is write EAMES in big letters across your planner for today."

"Don't you dare," Arthur says without conviction, smile lingering on his face as he slips back to sleep.