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Do You Love Me?

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It’s early when Arthur wakes up, his body curled into Eames’ side. His arm is draped across Eames’ mid-section, and not for the first time, Arthur wonders how Eames sleeps on his back. He doesn’t move as he lets the haze from sleep clear away, and tips his head up just enough to get a glance of Eames’ face. Gently, Arthur lifts his hand and runs his fingertips down the side of Eames’ jawline, before letting them trace over Eames’ lips. They’ve been… sleeping together for almost five years now, and Arthur can’t help but think that maybe they make their arrangement more permanent. Because it stopping being just sex years ago, but neither of them bothered to ever put a label on their relationship.

            Stopping his thought process before he drives himself crazy, Arthur pushes himself up in the bed far enough to press a kiss to Eames’ cheek before throwing back the bed covers and finally starting his day. A quick glance at the clock tells him it’s still early, only a couple minutes after eight, which is why Eames is still asleep and will be asleep for at least another hour and a half. Arthur slips on a pair of track pants over his boxers and grabs a t-shirt and sweatshirt from the closet, slipping them on and carefully making his way out of the bedroom, closing the door behind him.

            Eames still teases him, after all these years, for the morning routine Arthur has had since his military days. Every morning, Arthur gets up and goes for a run. It doesn’t matter where in the world they are, Arthur has a routine and he tries to stick to it as best he can. There’s something about getting outside early in the morning, sometimes before everyone else, and enjoying the sunrise and the dewy morning air. Only recently has Arthur started to wonder what it would be like to share his morning routine with Eames, but that had been met with stubborn resistance the one time he had brought the idea up, and Arthur hadn’t tried again.

            Their apartment is on the Upper West Side, a block away from Central Park, and Arthur waves to Gregory, the doorman, as he exits the building and heads toward the park. It’s early summer, just before the city becomes congested with tourists, and the city is a bit quieter and calmer than it will be in just a couple weeks. The sun isn’t high in the sky yet, and Arthur estimates it to be around seventy degrees outside, a bit warmer than he’d like for his run, but that’s what happens when he sleeps in a bit.

            Arthur heads down 72nd St. and admires the architecture of The Dakota as he does every morning while waiting for the crosswalk sign to change on Central Park West. Once across the street, Arthur takes a route that is so familiar to him, he’s positive he could run it with his eyes closed. He’s been running in the park, around The Lake, since he got the apartment in Manhattan back before Mal died. She had loved the apartment, with it’s hardwood floors, and it’s large windows that overlooked the city, telling Arthur that he’d obviously spent too much money on it, but that it was beautiful just the same.

            It had been Arthur’s apartment for a while, a place for him to go when he was on the East Coast. But recently, it had become Arthur’s permanent place of residence, and Arthur was starting to wonder if it wasn’t because of his love for the city, but because Eames was there with him. The house Arthur owned in Silver Lake, not far from downtown Los Angeles, was far from prying eyes and away from the noise of the city, but Arthur no longer favored it like he did Manhattan.

            And that right there was the most telling part, wasn’t it? Arthur was in Manhattan because Eames was in Manhattan with him, and he realized that if Eames had moved out to the West Coast with Arthur, it would be this apartment gathering dust instead. He’d known for a long time, that Eames was important to him, but what Arthur hadn’t realized was just how important the other man was.

            For the first time since he’d been running, Arthur had to stop and pause, to let his thoughts catch up and organize themselves. He walked away from the lake, along a footpath, watching the smaller animals run around, gathering food and waiting for unsuspecting tourists that would feed them whole bits of sandwiches.

            Surely, somewhere inside of him, he knew how important Eames was to him? Less than two months ago, Arthur had finally realized what Cobb had done to Mal, how he had been responsible for her losing her grasp on reality and causing her to jump from that hotel ledge. When Arthur had cornered Cobb in that parking garage, beating Cobb to a bloody pulp with his fists until Eames had appeared and taken him away and calmed him down. Eames had taken Arthur back to their hotel room – their hotel room during a job, how did Arthur miss the importance of that – and wiped the blood from his knuckles, and had wrapped his arms around Arthur until all the tension and the pain had seeped from Arthur and they’d fallen asleep, their arms wrapped around each other.

            Finally feeling a bit more in control, Arthur starts off in a jog again, and finishes his run, stopping outside the park to buy bottled water from a street vendor and drinking it in one go. He walks the rest of the way back to the apartment, and lets Gregory open the door for him and a polite, “Good morning, Mr. Levine.” In the elevator, Arthur thinks of Eames, still asleep in bed, and he can’t hide the smile on his face, seeing it reflected back at him in the elevator doors.

            It’s quiet inside the apartment, and Arthur doesn’t smell coffee, which is the most telling sign that Eames isn’t awake yet. So he toes off his sneakers, and peels his socks off as well, leaving them in a pile next to the door and heads into the kitchen to put the coffee pot on. His morning run wakes him up enough that he doesn’t need the caffeine, but it’s habit now for him to make it in the morning for when he wakes Eames up and they sit at the kitchen table eating breakfast together.

            The curtains are still drawn closed in the bedroom, and Arthur glances to the bed, to see Eames now sprawled out in the middle of it, like he’s the only one to ever inhabit it. A smirk on his face, Arthur heads straight into the bathroom and turns on the hot water, in desperate need of a shower to rid himself of the sweat and city air before climbing back into bed with Eames.

            Stepping under the warm spray, Arthur feels himself relax, the tension in his muscles from the run draining away. He grabs the shampoo on the ledge – strawberry shampoo, why can’t Eames ever get something that doesn’t make him smell like fruit – and lathers his hair up and rinses it twice before taking a moment to just let the warm water wash over him. Shutting the water off, Arthur wraps a towel from the bar on the wall outside the shower around his waist, and steps out into the bedroom. He’s not surprised that Eames hasn’t moved, and crosses the room to the closet, where he finds a pair of jeans and a deep blue t-shirt. But before he gets dressed, Arthur slips on a clean pair of boxers from the dresser in the bedroom and leans down on the bed, right over Eames. His wet hair drips water onto Eames, and he smirks as Eames’ face twitches when the droplets hit his face, a hand reaching up to push the annoyance away.

            Arthur leans down then, pressing his lips to Eames’, and holds Eames’ hand tight in his, pushed down against the bed. It’s a short kiss, barely a brush of their lips together, but as Arthur pulls back, he gets his favorite view of Eames. He watches as Eames’ eyes flutter open, a smile on his lips, and pressing up into Arthur, so their lips can meet again.

            “Morning, darling.” Eames’ voice is scratchy and rough with sleep, and Arthur knows, more than anything else in the world, that he will never get tired of it.