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The C Word

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This is how they converge.

Eames uses his one phone call to contact Mal. "Be a dear and come bail me out," he implores.

He hears a sigh on the other end. "Eames, I'm in Hawaii, on my honeymoon," Mal reminds him and of course he knew that. It had just temporarily slipped his mind what with all the running for his life and then being arrested.

He's having a day.

"I hope you enjoy sipping cocktails while I waste away in prison," Eames grumbles. There's a rustle on the other end of the phone and muted voices like Mal has her hand pressed over the handset.

"Look," she says. "Dom knows someone reliable who's close by. We'll owe him a favour for this."

"I'll owe you a lapdance if it'll get me out of here," Eames huffs and listens to Mal laugh.

Exactly thirty minutes later, Eames is led out into the main holding area and there's a man in a crisp suit and slicked back hair eyeing him. "Bloody hell," Eames exclaims. "I didn't think they'd send me a lawyer."

"I'm not a lawyer," the man snaps, impatience in his tone like he hears that a lot. "I'm Arthur," he adds, like that's enough of an explanation to the contrary.

"Buy you a drink dear boy?" Eames offers, feeling generous as he's being shooed outside.

"You can buy me risotto," Arthur counters, fingers already working at the knot of his tie and Eames blinks at him and then laughs.

000

This is how they conflict.

"Are you serious?" Arthur almost yells and Cobb winces. Arthur is pacing back and forth in front of him, throwing his hands out and making exasperated noises every few seconds. It's not often that Arthur loses his cool but it's spectacular when it happens.

On the other side of the room Eames is watching him with a raised eyebrow and a feeling like he should beat a hasty retreat.

"He's the one that shot me last time," Arthur continues and this time his pacing brings him right up into Eames' space and he jabs at Eames' chest with a narrow finger. "You shot me."

"True," Eames allows. "Of course, I wasn't on your side then, love. Totally different story when we're playing for the same team."

Arthur freezes at that, crosses his arms and faces Cobb again, who Eames notices hasn't made a peep since Arthur started on his tirade. "He shot me," he repeats sullenly, like everyone's missing the point of his very valid objection.

000

Or maybe this is how they conflict.

Eames isn't exactly sappy enough to want to make love but it would be nice if every once in a while he didn't get the very distinct impression that Arthur was angry with him. They fuck like it's an argument, like Arthur's trying to make a point and Eames just isn't getting it quick enough.

He's starting to fear for his safety.

"Ow, bloody... what was that for?"

"I thought you liked that." Arthur's dark hair is a wing across his face, obscuring his features. The first thing Eames does whenever Arthur actually lets him inside his personal bubble is to muss the hell out of it.

"I like gentle, teasing nips as part of foreplay, not someone trying to take a chunk out of my chest."

"Don't be so soft," Arthur admonishes and smacks a flat palm right where he just bit down which earns another colourful expletive.

"You're trying to actually wound me on purpose, don't deny it!" Eames shrills, exasperated.

"Do you want me to stop?" Arthur asks. He's straddling Eames, knees bracketing Eames' hips and right when he asks he does a slow side to side rock that manages to pinch skin uncomfortably but at the same time have every bit of blood in Eames' body shoot due south. Eames plants hands on Arthur's sides and attempts to hold him still.

"Hurting me? Yes. Everything else that comes afterward, not so much," he says and when Arthur tenses, obviously about to climb off in a snit, Eames increases the pressure of his hold. "Lovely boy," Eames says gently. "Either someone has treated you very wrong or no one has taken the time to treat you the exact kind of right."

000

This is how they cohabit.

"What are these?"

"Socks."

"What are they doing in my sock drawer?"

"What all socks do I expect," Eames says, looking at Arthur over his newspaper. He had just finished his eggs and was halfway through his coffee when Arthur stormed into the kitchen, brandishing the socks in hand. "Generally laying about in a bundle with other socks."

"These are yours," Arthur continues, tone an accusation.

"How do you know that?" Eames asks. From where he's sitting, the socks look like black ones and he's pretty sure Arthur has dozens of black ones. When Arthur unrolls them and holds them aloft though, it becomes clear. "Ah."

"Yes, ah," Arthur snaps. "I don't own any socks with cartoon characters on them."

"More's the pity," Eames says, shaking his head and gets the offending socks in the face for his trouble.

"Again, I ask, what were they doing in my sock drawer?"

"Being a very small part of a long-running and all-encompassing infiltration campaign," Eames says, eyes back on his paper. When he risks another glance up, Arthur is looking at him, open-mouthed.

"A what?"

"Check your underwear drawer before you decide to be angry at me just about the socks."

000

This is how they coordinate.

"You match," Ariadne says, eyes growing round with mirth. Eames puts down the folder he was flicking through.

"What?"

"You and Arthur. You match," she repeats, now definitely biting down on a grin. Eames looks over his shoulder at Arthur who is talking to an extractor named David who came highly recommended and who Eames disliked immediately because he was hanging on Arthur's every word.

"Does he have to touch him every five seconds?" Eames grumbles when David reaches out and lays fingers on Arthur's arm for the eighth time, but who's counting.

"I've heard this happens to couples. You see them in the streets with their matching sweatshirts and high-waisted jeans. It's kinda cute... in a disturbing way."

"Are you seeing this?" Eames demands, flicking a hand out. "He's practically licking him now."

"Is Arthur dressing you? Is that what's going on?"

000

This is how they connect.

"I brought takeout from that place you like."

"Terrific, I'm starving."

"Did you get to-"

"Already done. How about the-?"

"She said it would take another two weeks. Just like the last time we-"

"Yeah she bloody would. Did you try-?

"The pie? Of course I did. Thanks for warning me by the way. You're-"

"A terrible human being, I know. Sorry."

Eames and Arthur look up when they finally notice that everyone else has gone dead silent in the room.

"What?" they both say.