Work Header

You Were A Kindness When I Was A Stranger

Work Text:

Eames would never believe it, but Arthur has felt indebted to him from the first moment they met. It's a ridiculous thing, the sort that Eames would dismiss in a heartbeat if Arthur had ever said anything. It's not ridiculous to Arthur. It's a matter of honor.

He always works with Eames, even if the job is more dangerous than he'd like, a situation he has no taste for, or even poorly constructed. In Arthur's mind the last is the worst, but he still takes those jobs if Eames asks him. If Eames thought about it for a second, he'd have known there was something. There had to be to make a man like Arthur take certain jobs. Or maybe he simply prefers to imagine that Arthur genuinely likes working with him.

There are moments though when Arthur wants to scream it at him. 'Don't you know why? Don't you know? Don't you?' How can Eames not know?

It's a simple fact of their relationship in Arthur's opinion. Eames saved his life.


It was in Afghanistan. Arthur's team was trapped. They're being wiped out, slowly, one by one. He'd seen almost his entire troop killed right in front of him, and he knew he should have been panicking, or something, or thinking about death. But mostly he was thinking about how much he wanted a cup of coffee, and beyond that, joining the army really hadn't been the smarted thing he'd ever done, but there were worse things he supposed.
It occurs to Arthur at times that he's a That's why he's not particularly surprised when a tinny voice comes over the radio and tells him and the remaining four men that 'They're very sorry, but it's impossible to get through to them to send backup.' Which is clearly code for, 'You are all fucked.'
Arthur watches Simpson die, even though he was in a good position, plenty of cover, and he thinks about coffee. Black and hot and strong, or maybe a tiny dash of cream, just enough to tint the color a bit. It's been over a week since Arthur had a cup of coffee and it's all he wants.

Somebody (Wallace, Michaels, shit if Arthur knows) yells, "INCOMING!" and they all duck. The ground shakes and there's dirt and rocks everywhere. Arthur spits out a mouthful of dirt and blood and looks up to see a man standing over him. A man Arthur will never forget for the rest of his life, even if he wanted to. For one thing, his lips are impossible to purge from memory.

"You all right there?" The man pulls him to his feet easily. Fuck, he's strong. Arthur's not a weakling, but he hasn't eaten in two days and frankly, he's never going to win heavy-weight champ.

"Yeah. I'm...What the fuck are you doing here?"

The man grins at him. "Backup." His teeth are crooked. Arthur wants to lick them in gratitude, and in pure lust. His brain is still clouded from the blast, obviously. This doesn't stop him from thinking about what he'd like to do to the man's lips which are full and luscious and fuck, Arthur wants those lips.

"They said they couldn't send any." It only hits Arthur then that he was about to die, that he would have died if this man hadn't appeared and...taken out both snipers. How the fuck did he do that?

"Oh they didn't send me." The man assures him. "I just came on my own."

"That's a bit unfair." Arthur says. His knee is killing him, but the man laughs and it's worth it.

"Never without you, darling."

"Mhm," Arthur knows this is no time to flirt, but he almost died. He should be allowed a free pass or something. He looks around and for the first time sees. "They're all dead."

“Yeah." The man tugs off his cap and runs his fingers ruefully through his hair. "Thought I'd make it here sooner."

Arthur stares at him. "Why did you come at all?" It doesn't make sense. Why risk what was obviously a talented sharpshooter on one man?

The man stares back at him like he doesn't understand. "You were still here."

"Yeah, but..." Arthur can't say any more. He's very tired suddenly and he starts to shake slightly.

"Here, here, come on." The man pulls him down into a crouch, rubbing his arms.

"I'm not in shock," Arthur says looking at the bodies around him. He should be, but he isn't. He's just tired.

"You know, I think you're right about that. Here." The man swings his pack off and digs around in it until he comes up with a thermos. He unscrews the lid and pours into it, sloshing liquid over the side as he does.

Arthur stares in disbelief. "Is that..."

"Coffee, yeah. Go on." The man offers. "It'll do you good. Made it myself."

Arthur drinks, and fuck, it's still moderately warm. He doesn't know what to make of this. Any of this. He closes his eyes and sips what he's pretty sure is the best coffee in the world while the man radios in.

"This is -. Yeah, I got one. Bringing him in. Over."

The sky is still there. There's sunlight overhead. It's hot and Arthur's sweating, but he's alive, and he has a cup of coffee. The man who saved him is taking him back to base.

Arthur feels this is a perfect moment to pass out, so he does.

When they get back to base, Arthur is promptly shipped off to hospital. He's invalided out and sent back to the states to recover. When he has finally reports to his new troop a few months later, he feels strange, like he doesn't belong there.

He tries to find out the name of the soldier who rescued him, but his commanding officer is very tight-lipped about the whole thing. Apparently the soldier wasn't kidding when he said he wasn't actually sent by official orders, and he shouldn't have been anywhere near the situation to begin with. That's all Arthur can find out. It's not enough.

Arthur serves the rest of his military service, like it's a prison sentence. When it's finally up, he still doesn't know the name of the soldier. It's the only regret Arthur has about leaving the army.


Wanting not to want you doesn't make it so -


Four years later -

When Arthur finally does learn the name of the soldier, it's Eames, and Eames is apparently 'the best in the business,' or pretty damn close, according to Jackson. Jackson's a second-rate extractor himself. Arthur doesn't take much account of his opinions.

Eames is good though. Arthur has to give him that.

He's also very familiar. It takes Arthur exactly four minutes and thirty-seven seconds to place him, and that's only because he's buried the military part of himself away in a tiny compartment labeled 'Not Remotely Useful Except For The Weaponry Training'. His hand is steady when he offers it to Eames, and Eames takes it, and smiles. If Arthur wasn't sure before, he's sure now.

Eames doesn't mention it. Not on the first job, or the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth.


It's on their seventh job together that Eames shows any recollection that they had ever met before. It's his first job with Cobb; Arthur has worked with Cobb before. Cobb is the best extractor in the business, and when he says Eames is the best forger, Arthur believes him.

Also, he knows Eames fairly well by now. He knows Eames likes to sleep late, but is alert when he has to be. He knows the man's fingers are nimble, tricky things that can slide past your coat pocket without you even noticing. He knows Eames likes to smoke upon occasion, but is constantly in the throes of 'giving it up.' He knows Eames ties his ties like he writes, quick and untidy and casual.

He knows how Eames looks naked.

That was an accident. Arthur hadn't meant that to happen. Some things he didn't want to know. Not if Eames didn't remember him at all. It's a silly reason. Arthur's continually searching for one that will fit better with all his other logical decisions. So far he's still searching.

He knows how Eames looks naked because once they were stuck in a warehouse together for two weeks and Eames walked out of the tiny bathroom shower completely bare-assed. All he did was walk over to his clothes, dry off and get dressed. But those few moments are pressed into Arthur's memory as carefully as though he'd preserved them between the pages of a book. Eames is....there is no word for how Eames looks. None of them do him justice. Eames has tattoos that dance across his skin like a lover. His shoulders are broad and impressive. He's well muscled. And his ass is the best thing Arthur has ever seen in the real world, or the dream one, which is saying something.

He tries not to think about it too often, putting it away in a box labeled 'Nice, But What's the Point?'
And he knows how Eames makes his coffee. The taste, the scent, these things have stayed with Arthur over the years. It's part of him now.

So when Eames puts two cups down on the table and pushes one across the surface toward him, he stiffens slightly at the aroma, staring at the cup.

"Thought I remembered you liking that." Eames says, lifting his own cup to his lips.

"What?" Arthur's so startled, he doesn't even make a move toward the cup.

Eames looks at him. "You. Coffee. Our first....meeting." He smiles at the last word.

"I didn't think you remembered that." Arthur blurts out.

Eames gives him a wry, slightly bemused smile. "I remember what I had for breakfast three weeks ago on a Saturday, Arthur. I don't talk about that either."

The implication is clear. Saving Arthur's life was unimportant, just a thing Eames did so long ago, it doesn't even matter now. Arthur nods to himself. "Right." He turns back to his paperwork. He's supposed to have the mark thoroughly checked out by the time Cobb comes back, and if Eames keeps trying to distract him, he'll never get anything done.

"Arthur." Eames prods.


"Don't you want your coffee?" Eames nods to the cup.

Arthur does. He wants to pick it up and savor every single drop. He wants to kiss Eames, because Eames will taste like his coffee, and because, well, it's Eames.

"I only drink black," is all he says. He keeps his eyes carefully on his work.

"Oh." Eames shrugs, picks up the cup and carries back over to his own worktable. Instead of drinking it though, he tosses it in the trash. Arthur pretends he doesn't see.


Everything's weird and we're always in danger.

They continue to work together. They work together a lot because they work well together. Sometimes they work with Cobb, sometimes with others. They don't always work together...but they do it enough that Arthur's dossier of information on Eames grows.

Arthur knows what Eames looks like when he's been up all night, and his eyes are tired. There are lines around his mouth and stubble on his chin.

Arthur knows how easily Eames lies, whether it's to marks in dreams, or to marks in real life. To anyone it suits him. Eames lies like he flirts: easily, charmingly and completely naturally.

Arthur knows how Eames looks when he's been off fucking someone, or rather Arthur knows how he looks afterward when Cobb is telling him off for being late. Eames's lips are bruised, and there are marks on his neck and on his waist when he reaches up to remove his coat. His shirt shouldn't come untucked like that. Arthur thinks vaguely.

Arthur knows Eames was born in England, that Eames is not his real name, that he once went to a very good school and got expelled for doing unspeakable things.

Arthur knows Eames hums slightly, when he's concentrating on building a forgery in his head. When he's lost to the world and doesn't care, not that Eames ever cares...

Arthur knows Eames still makes his coffee like he always (he can smell it for god's sake), but he only brings one cup to work.

They're working on a government job when Arthur finally gets a chance to repay his debt. Eames is pinned in by projections. Turns out the mark really didn't like having people wander around in his mind. 'What serial killer does?' Arthur thinks grimly. This one has one of the most violent subconscious-es Arthur's ever worked in and it's getting bloody. Tarrow, a lesser team member, although Arthur really shouldn't call him that, is already dead. They twisted his head off with their fingers while filling his torso full of spikes.
Now the projections have Eames. They have him pressed down against the pavement, military boots on his arms and legs, holding him there while one of them takes out a knife and calmly starts slitting his clothes off. There's blood on Eames's cheeks and shoulders and thighs, and then one of them starts to cut him across the belly, slow and painful. Any minute his intestines will be everywhere.

Arthur loses it. In his own way, of course, which is to say, he calmly moves out of his hiding place which provided a certain amount of safety and starts shooting quickly and precisely. One by one they all go down, their bodies crumpling around Eames, until the only one left is the one holding the knife to Eames.

"You don't want to do that." The projection taunts Arthur. "You know what I'll do to him."

Arthur glances at Eames for a fraction of a second. Eames mouths, "Do it." There's blood on his lips and and Arthur fires, taking the projection out. The knife slides across Eames's hip, leaving a sheath of blood in its wake. Eames grimaces and lays his head against the pavement.

He looks up at Arthur as the pointman stand over him, checking his gun. "I owe you for this."

"No, you don't." Arthur says curtly, and fires.

Eames dies with blood burbling on his lips and more leaking out the side of him. He's a mess. Arthur shouldn't want to fall to his knees and cradle his head in his arms. It isn't real. And even if it were, he doesn't have the right to hold Eames in his dying moment or any other.

When he comes out of the dream, Eames is waiting for him. "What did you mean by that?"

Arthur pulls the needle out carefully and coils up the cord. Cobb is still talking Tarrow down. He looks at Eames who seems to truly want an answer. "Exactly what I said."

Eames considers this, then he gets it. "You considered that as payback for Afghanistan? Really?" He says it quietly, not letting the others hear it. Arthur gets it, like he's always gotten it. It wasn't a big deal.

"We're even." He says flatly.

"Arthur," Eames leans forward, catching his wrist. "It wasn't a debt."

"What?" How could Eames possibly understand? He has no idea...

"It was....just something I did." Eames runs his fingers through his hair distractedly, just like he did oh so long ago.

"Right." Arthur says coolly. Just my life. He shakes Eames off and stands. "If we're done here, I'd like to get some sleep."

"Arthur," Eames gets to his feet.

"I was talking to Cobb."

"We're done here at least for now." Cobb glances at Tarrow who's still shaking, his hands wrapped around his body like he's trying to hold himself in and lowers his voice. "We're going to have to get a replacement. Lay low. I'll contact you in a few days."

Arthur nods and goes for his coat. He needs to be out of the warehouse, away from the cloying feel of the dream. He can still smell the blood in the air.

This is it; he's clear. So why doesn't he feel free?


"Arthur!" Eames is following him. Arthur really doesn't appreciate that. He keeps walking.


Finally he turns, and smacks straight into Eames, who was closer than he thought. "Ow. What?"

"I didn't mean your life wasn't worth anything, Arthur."

Arthur looks at him with his blank, yet frosty professional look. It comes naturally to him. It's a good expression. "I never thought you did, Eames."

"Then why the fuck are you acting like I turned your ass down on Prom Night?" Eames demands.

Arthur's frosty manner drops down to icy. "I'm sure I have no idea what you're talking about, Eames. Was there anything else?"

Eames lowers the hand he had half raised. "Absolutely not. Goodnight, Arthur." He turns and goes back the way he came.


Arthur walks back to his hotel, after purchasing a bottle of whiskey. He drinks in the comfort and privacy of his own hotel room, trying to figure out why this was such a thing. It isn't like he expected Eames to confess that he had come to his rescue and his alone. Arthur just happened to be the only one left alive. That's all. He has another glass of whiskey and falls asleep.


They have to go back in. No matter how horrible it was, they have to go back inside the psychopath's head. Arthur hates the idea, but he's a professional. He injects the needle and ignores the way Eames is half looking at him, half looking away.
It's worse this time. The man's mind is ready for them...the carnage that's lying around is enough to make anyone sick. Simmons, Tarrow's replacement, drummed up by Cobb as quickly as possible, retches into the sewer. Arthur ignores it and picks his way through the mess that is one man's mind. He's seen worse.

They catch them both this time, once again after killing Simmons. Arthur's still struggling when he sees they have Eames. He's cold all over. This is bad, worse than anything he's ever experienced in the army, and that's saying something. The projections have them in a room. It's a basement, dank and depressing. They tie them to chairs, facing each other. The look in Eames' eyes is clouded and desperate. Arthur's stomach churns. The ropes are biting into his wrists.

Eames meets his gaze and this time he looks more like himself. "You know, we really should make Cobb pay us double for this."

Arthur doesn't have time for anything more than, "Be quiet, Mr. Eames," before they're back.

They have knives, and Eames looks at them and then hurriedly away.

"It's only a dream." Arthur says aloud, drawing Eames to look at him, reminding him. Unfortunately, it also reminds them that Arthur exists.

The one with the knife, the one who wanted to cut Eames open last time, walks over to to Arthur. "It might only be a dream, but it's still going to hurt."

He's right about that. It hurts. It hurts as they cut into him, and Arthur can feel the blood running down his cheek, then his chest before the man move the knife point over his stomach, down to his groin. Arthur stills, despite the pain he's in. The man smiles and slides the knife along the length of his dick.

"How would you feel without this?" The man asks. "It's not like you actually use it, do you?" He cocks his head and studies Arthur. "Not too often, I bet. I bet you're the type who jerks off in the shower, while you feel guilty about who you want to be fucking. I bet you love the way it feels when you touch yourself, imagining it's them." He leans in, bringing the knife closer and closer to Arthur's eye.

"That would be me." Eames says abruptly.

It's enough to break the man's concentration and he looks over at him. "What did you say?"

"Me. I'm the one who spends my time thinking about what I want to do, to him specifically." Eames nods graciously toward Arthur.

The man moves away from Arthur to face Eames like he's suddenly sprouted wings. "No, you're more the slutty club type."

"Guilty." Eames says, unperturbed. "But I do spend a fair amount of time thinking about what I'd like to do to Arthur all the same."

Just stop talking, Arthur practically shouts inside his own mind. Not that it's going to do any good. Whatever Eames is up to, he'll carry on for as long as he wants.

"Oh?" The man waits, twirling the knife on his palm.

"Oh yes," Eames is getting into the swing of this now. "Many is the time I've fisted my own cock in bed, in the shower, anywhere really, just thinking about bending Arthur over the closest available surface, fucking him until he's moaning. Properly moaning, begging for me to fuck him even harder. So I would, of course, because my mother raised me to be a gentleman despite what anyone else says."

“Enough." The man shouts and the roof shakes hard enough that bits of plaster drop.

Eames falls silent. Arthur wonders exactly what the goal of that little ploy was. He hopes it was worth it. The man cuts into the muscle of Eames's chest, working away at one of the many tattoos. Arthur doesn't want to watch this; he can't look away. Blood is seeping down Eames's shirt. It's a wonder the man isn't screaming his head off. How does he stand it? Then, suddenly, Eames jerks his head up, smashing the man's skull, knocking him backward across the floor. He's up from the chair before the man's even registered it. Eames takes the knife and calmly slits the projection's throat. It spurts messily and he gurgles, flailing on the floor.

Eames looks up at Arthur as he wipes the knife on the man's trousers. "We need to get out of here."

"Agreed." The job is a fucking hazard zone. It was a mistake to return. Cobb should have known better. Fuck, Arthur should have known better than to agree to this. Eames cuts hims him free and they look around for weapons. There's nothing, but the knife, which is unfortunate. Arthur hates getting stabbed. He looks at Eames. "Toss a coin for who goes first?"

Eames shakes his head. His hands are on Arthur, pulling him closer until they're close enough they could kiss. Eames's hands are wet with his own blood. There's a whisper in Arthur's ear that might have been, 'I'm sorry' and there's a twist, a stab of pain, as Arthur realizes Eames is snapping his neck.

Arthur dies. He's awake. He's safe.



Arthur rips the cord out of his arm, ignoring the scrape of the needle. "Never again, Cobb. No more government work." He's adamant. He's not going back inside that man's mind. He doesn't care how well it pays, or who wants the job down. It's not worth it.

"Come on, Arthur." Cobb looks at him. "I'm sure you handled it fine."

"No. That was it." He looks at Eames, and there's something there. Just like that, things have changed.

He gets his coat, monitoring Eames's movements out of the corner of his eye, and then Arthur turns and deliberately waits by the door. Eames hesitates, as he straightens out his collar, but he comes over to Arthur at last.

"Shall we?"

Arthur nods. They walk through the night, not saying anything. They go to the nearest bar and Eames orders whiskey for both of them. They drink in silence, letting the liquor burn through the memory.

"I thought," Eames stares at his glass. "I rather thought that was it for a moment."

"It was only a dream, Eames." Arthur says. The whiskey is helping.

"Don't think I didn't catch that." Eames retorts.

"Don't think I didn't notice your little game. What the fuck were you doing, Eames?" Arthur knows he has to bring this up at some point. He doesn't want to admit that the words have added themselves to the files in his mind...under Things I Would Like Eames To Do To My Person.

"I meant every word." Eames says.

And that, Arthur was not prepared for. He orders another round, and Eames waits. Arthur looks at him at last. "What are you waiting for then?"


There's a radiant darkness upon us -

It's been years since the army, but neither of them have forgotten. They fuck like they fight. And then they do the opposite. It's messy and beautiful and completely worth waiting for, in Arthur's opinion.

They go to Arthur's hotel room. It's not that he doesn't trust Eames; it's that he wants this to happen in his current space so that he'll be able to remember it when he lies there in the mornings.

As soon as they're inside the room with the door closed, Arthur has Eames pressed up against the wall. It's surprisingly easy to do, despite all of Eames's training. To a certain extent, he might be letting Arthur, and to another extent he's not letting him do anything.

Arthur traces the back of Eames's neck with his tongue, letting Eames shiver under his touch, as he leans in.

“Unfasten your pants.”

Eames does, willingly enough. Arthur tugs them down to his ankles, then pulls Eames's underwear down to join them. There, there is Eames's ass. Arthur hesitates only a moment before dropping to his knees and parting Eames's cheeks. Eames sucks in a breath, but doesn't say a single word as Arthur dips his tongue carefully between his cheeks. He swipes his tongue slowly, teasingly across Eames's hole, licking the tight perfection. He licks until Eames moans into the wallpaper. Arthur sticks the tip of his tongue inside. It's slightly musky, it's's Eames. Arthur pushes further, holding Eames still by the ass. Eames's legs are trembling as Arthur tongue-fucks him, harder and harder, past the tight ring of muscle. Arthur licks him completely open and then, without warning, he withdraws and inserts his forefinger inside Eames.

"Arthur," Eames groans, thrusting back to fuck himself on Arthur's finger. "Arthur, Arthur, Arthur."

Arthur gets another finger in, and then a third to join them. Eames is grinding against the wall, his dick aching for release as he bucks back against Arthur, until at last he groans and comes. Arthur watches him clench around his fingers, the way Eames's body heaves with each breath. And then he curls his fingers and makes Eames cry out. He does this again and again until Eames is shuddering and coming all over again. The whole process is immensely satisfying.

Eames slumps against the wall. "Arthur, how the devil..."

Arthur gets to his feet, wincing slightly as his knees remind him that he's no longer seventeen.

And then Eames turns and catches Arthur in his arms, pulling him in for a kiss. He tastes himself on Arthur's tongue, kissing him deeply, wrapping his tongue around Arthur's. Then he pushes Arthur over to the bed. "Lie back and think of England," he says nobly as he works at Arthur's clothes, removing them quickly until Arthur is bare beneath his touch, cock curving upward eagerly at the prospect of finally getting touched by Eames.

"Please tell me you will never use that line again." Arthur grudgingly turns onto his stomach.

“I make no promises.” Eames eases a well-lubed finger into him, languorously slow. Arthur rests his forehead on his arms letting himself relax under Eames's hands. Those talented, beautiful hands that he's wanted on his skin for years. He closes his eyes as Eames works him open. He has waited years for this.

Eames's lips are on his spine, kissing his way down Arthur's back. Arthur's fingers tighten on the sheets as Eames teases his prostate. "Eames."

Eames does it again, making flashes of white hot heat flood Arthur's body from head to toes.

Arthur squirms. "Eames."

"Never pegged you as a pleader." Eames chuckles and Arthur fights down the rising heat. Not yet.

"I want you in me." He says, and Eames's fingers still.


"I want you to fuck me. I want you to come inside me. Eames, please." I've waited so long.

Eames's mouth is at his ear, kissing his temple softly. "Your wish is my command, Arthur."

The fingers are gone, and then Eames is pushing into him forcefully. His dick is blunt against Arthur's hole, pressing inside, despite Arthur's body's instinctive resistance. He bites at his lip as Eames sinks inside him, slowly until he's buried inside Arthur. His balls hang heavily against Arthur's ass. Eames rests there, just inside Arthur. Arthur squirms a little, impatiently. Only then does Eames start moving. Arthur gasps as Eames urges him up on his knees. Eames's fingers are in his hair, pulling at him and Arthur arches upward as Eames fucks him, holding him there between his thighs as he moves in and out of his hole. It's relentless. Arthur's knees are pressed flat to the sheets as Eames pushes him on all fours, pulling out for a second as he does.

Arthur manages to keep his moan at the loss to himself. He's not greedy. He's just waited a fucking long time for this. Eames enters him roughly this time, holding Arthur by the hips as he fucks into him. Arthur's cock is straining to be touched. All he wants is to come. But he wants Eames to touch him.


“Yes, Arthur?”

“Touch me.”

Eames chuckles, but slips a hand around to take hold of Arthur, stroking him. Arthur moans and rocks forward, fucking himself between Eames's fingers. It's not enough.


“You're...” Eames shakes his head, but obeys. He pulls Arthur up on his knees, fucking him into a half kneeling, half standing position. His thrusts are brutal, and it's almost enough.

Arthur turns his head even as Eames reaches for him, and their mouths meet. Arthur bites at Eames's lips, while Eames strokes him, fucking him. It's sweaty, and aching, and Arthur's body is going to hate him tomorrow, but now...he feels magnificent. Eames runs his fingers over his balls, cupping them, before dragging his nails along the underside of Arthur's shaft.

“Come for me, Arthur. Come on.”

Arthur twists his head to bite at Eames's neck, and does.

Eames shouts as Arthur's teeth sink into him. Then they're kissing and coming, riding out the aftershocks of their orgasms until they collapse, spent and sated. Arthur lies there, listening to the sound of Eames's breathing beside him. For once he doesn't think about what he has to do tomorrow, or the next day. Tonight, this is all that matters.

Eames lays a hand on his belly, stroking him. “You're not going to sleep on me now, are you Arthur?” His tone is chiding.
Arthur raises an eyebrow. “Ready whenever you are, Mr. Eames.”

Eames laughs, and rolls over on top of him. “I like it when you call me mister, even if you're mocking me with every single syllable.” He rubs a little against Arthur, letting his cock slide across Arthur's belly.

“Me. Mock you?” Arthur says innocently.

“Yes. You.” Eames leans back on his fists, just looking down at him. “You've been mocking me, and refusing me, and ignoring me for years now. And now...this.” He lays his hand flat on Arthur's stomach.

“Do we really have to have a post-coital conversation?” Arthur yawns. He could do with some sleep, frankly.

“Would you prefer to cuddle?” Eames says slyly.

“If it means you'll be quiet, yes.” Arthur doesn't want to do this right now. Maybe another time. Maybe never. He ignores the way Eames's eyes go dark for a moment, and then the forger's face returns to his usual expression. It's a slight variation of the one he shows the world at large.

“Of course, then, Arthur darling.” Eames rolls off him. He turns off the light before returning to lay next to him. Eames pulls Arthur close so that they're spooning, ass to crotch. Arthur opens his mouth, and then shuts it again.
There's silence in the hotel room. They lie there in the dark until they fall asleep, skin to skin.


Why would you shatter somebody like... -

When Arthur wakes in the morning, they're still in the same position, and Eames is hard.

There are several options as Arthur sees it. One: they can fuck and say nothing about last night or what's happened before. Two: he can leave. Three: He can try to explain. Arthur really doesn't want to do three. But they have to work together, and if he's honest...he wants more of last night. He wants to fuck Eames all the time. He doesn't want it to be a one-off.
So he rolls over to face Eames, which unfortunately, means, he's now getting poked in the stomach by Eames's dick. Arthur trails his fingers over it....before thinking, 'What the hell?' and sliding down to take Eames in his mouth.

Eames murmurs softly in his sleep as Arthur sucks him. His eyes haven't opened. Arthur can't tell if he's faking, or if he's truly asleep. He plays with Eames's balls, while he pulls off to lick at the head. There's a drop of pre-come already leaking from Eames's dick, and Arthur licks it off. He tongues at the slit, teasing Eames with his tongue.

Arthur.” Eames murmurs.

Arthur licks his way up the shaft and down again. He curls his tongue around the head and pulls Eames's dick into his mouth. He does this until Eames comes down his throat with a half-strangled cry.

When he sits up, Eames is looking at him.

“That was lovely.” He murmurs.

“I know.” Arthur says, brushing a hand through his hair. He's waiting for some sign that Eames is about to leave, or stay or do something...but Eames just looks back at him.

“Was it a farewell blowjob?” Eames asks softly.

“Do you want it to be?” Arthur says after a moment.

“No.” Eames raises a hand to brush his thumb across Arthur's lower lip. “I want it to be the blowjob that happens before we fuck in the shower, and then,” he hesitates.

“And then?” Arthur can't not ask. Eames's thumb is still there, at the corner of his mouth, waiting.

“And then I'll make you coffee.” Eames says it like it's the ultimate gift he could offer, but he's not entirely sure how it will be received. “If you like.”

Arthur smiles. “I like.” He curls his tongue around Eames's thumb, drawing it in across his lips, and then Eames is pressing him down against the sheets, letting Arthur suck at his thumb as his lips find their way across Arthur's breastbone.

Arthur licks his way between Eames's fingers, sliding his tongue in-between his thumb and forefinger, making Eames moan.
His teeth graze Arthur's nipple, biting at it.

“Are we going to make it to the shower?” Arthur asks.

Eames pauses with his hand an inch above Arthur's cock. “Oh, we will.” He strokes down Arthur's length, slips his hand under Arthur's cheeks. “Come on.” Eames gets his other hand away from Arthur's mouth and picks him up, carrying him toward the bathroom.

“You're proud of yourself, aren't you?” Arthur wraps his legs around Eames's waist, feeling his cock nudge at him as they walk.

“I've spent a great deal of the last five years wanting to carry you around. Indulge me.”

“Really?” Arthur finds that odd.

“Really.” Eames carries him into the shower. “Sometimes I dream about it.”

“You dream about carrying me?” Arthur's skepticism is showing.

“You find that hard to believe.” Eames leans him into the wall, just looking at him steadily.

“Yes, frankly.”

“Arthur,” Eames switches on the shower with one hand, while reaching for the lube with the other, just holding him there against the wall. “I've wanted to pick you up out of harm's way ever since the first moment I saw you.”

“Why didn't you?”Arthur murmurs, spreading his legs a little more as Eames's presses two fingertips inside him.

Eames looks up at him in surprise. “You didn't need me.”

“What?” Arthur bites his lip as Eames presses further inside him, stretching him.

“Arthur, you are capable of anything. For fuck's sake, you were only in hospital for two months and then it was back to service.”

“How do you know that?”

Eames looks slightly embarrassed. “I kept tabs on you.”

“Did you?” Arthur murmurs.

Eames pulls his fingers out, settling Arthur more comfortably on his hips as he positions his cock. “I was going to visit you in hospital, but my commanding officer sent me off another on mission. By the time I got back, you were gone.” He
thrusts up into Arthur, making him tighten his grip on Eames's shoulders.

“And after?” Arthur manages as they fuck, even though he wants to stop talking. He wants to focus on the way their bodies fit, the feel of Eames inside him. Christ, he's never going to get tired of this.

“After...” Eames kisses him then, opening Arthur's lips up with his own, making a mess of Arthur's mouth. Eames's lips are magic. “You were always busy.”

“Not that busy.” Arthur's fingers trail through Eames's hair.

“Arthur, I offered you coffee.”

“I thought...” Arthur pauses, trying to think back to what he thought. “I thought it wasn't important to you.”

Eames looks puzzled as he keeps thrusting inside Arthur. “What?”

“Eames, it's not important. Not now. I mean that.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” Arthur kisses him. “Fuck me, just fuck me.”

Eames obliges, fucking him so hard against the tiled wall that Arthur's back feels bruised. The way Eames's cock slides in and out of him, filling him, making the past pale in its irrelevancy.

“Arthur.” Eames's lips mouth at his throat. “Arthur.” His hand wraps around Arthur's cock, stroking him in time with thrusts. Arthur comes helplessly, kissing Eames while he tugs at the forrger's hair. Eames's cock pulses inside him, and he comes, Arthur clenching tightly around him.

The spray continues to fall on them, making Eames's skin glisten momentarily before he shivers and lowers Arthur's legs to the floor. “Come on.”

“You promised me coffee.” Arthur says.

“I always keep my promises.” Eames kisses him.

Eames makes him coffee and they drink it, while Arthur goes over the file for a job he's considering doing next. It feels like a perfectly natural way to spend a morning. Arthur enjoys it.


You made a slow disaster out of me.

It's not the next step. It's not a piece falling into place or anything cliched as that. It's simply this is how they are.

They work together. Not all the time. Arthur finds he needs a break occasionally from the sort of jobs Eames tends to prefer. He seeks out orderly, detailed jobs that suit his precision and organization. Eames likes chaos and spontaneity. For all their differences, they are a perfect team whenever they do work together.
When they work apart, Eames texts him, When Arthur's finished with the job at some point, he goes back to his hotel, and Eames will be there waiting for him.

Arthur loosens his tie and pulls it free. He can feel Eames watching him as he undresses. Eames is already naked, naturally. Just stretched out on the bed, all muscle and tattoos just waiting for him. Arthur reaches for him and Eames lets him climb atop his back to work at the muscles there that are tense. Arthur prods and pushes until Eames's shoulders give way and there's a soft sigh into the pillow.

Eame rolls suddenly and Arthur's now straddling his middle. Eames eases him back over his crotch, rubbing against him.

"Fuck me, Arthur."

"All right." Eames certainly doesn't have to ask twice. Arthur reaches for the lube and the condoms. He slicks his fingers, settling down between Eames's thighs to push his forefinger inside.

"Arthur." Eames rolls his name like it's an incantation. Arthur adds another fingers, scissoring Eames open for him. He loves having Eames like this, at his fingertips, as it were. Eames's body is a thing to be worshiped, and Arthur is more than willing.

He teases Eames's prostrate just enough to make the forger moan at the touch, and then removes his fingers. Eames blinks and curls one arm behind his head to watch as Arthur rolls a condom and positions himself.

This is never going to get old, Arthur thinks with a sigh of pleasure.

Arthur can fuck like anything. He's an animal, he's a lover, he's the familiar touch in the night, and a quick fuck in an alley. He has perfected the art of teasing someeone's desires out of themselves, drawing it out of their bodies until they surrender to his talent.

Eames is no different under Arthur's touch. Eames is unlike anyone Arthur's ever fucked before.

Eames matches him stroke for stroke, thrust for thrust, kiss for kiss. When they fuck and wrestle and end up half on the bed, half off, bruised and panting and still hungry for more, Arthur knows this is never going to get any more perfect.

Sometimes Eames gets the jump on him. Arthur thinks they're just going to go their separate ways with no touching, nothing not even a kiss and then Eames him by the throat, and he's kissing Arthur like he has better things to do, but maybe just one more kiss before he leaves, yes, just like that. Arthur's still at the moment; he's waiting for the perfect opportunity. Only Eames knows when he's about to spring and pushes him back down with a throaty chuckle.

"Not just yet, Arthur. Let me." With that, he crawls down Arthur's body, settling between Arthur's thighs. It never fails to astound Arthur how completely graceful Eames is. He lets him do whatever he wants. Arthur can get him back later.

When Arthur dreams, which he doesn't do much anymore....he dreams of Eames – Eames with a thousand different expressions. They're all familiar, no matter how Eames changes his face. Perhaps they're not dreams, but memories compressed and saved and revealed. They're mesmerizing, tantalizing...beautiful. They make Arthur ache. Just like Eames.

The mornings when Arthur wakes with Eames beside him, warm and real, flesh and bone and breath. Those mornings are the sweetest.


But I don't want you to worry -

They're working apart when Cobb decides to bring Eames in on the Fischer job. Arthur doesn't want him to. He can close his eyes and remember how Eames looked beneath that knife. It's one of the memories of Eames Arthur would rather not have.

Arthur distances himself from Eames during the job. He tells himself Eames will understand. He forgets Eames doesn't work that way, and when Arthur tells Eames that he's impressed, Eames doesn't bite. The job is bitter, but Arthur focuses on the work, focuses on Fischer's mind and tells himself that he'll make it up to Eames afterwards.

After Yusuf's tests, Arthur is bruised from being tipped out of the chair time after time. When Eames shows up on his doorstep and takes him apart wordlessly on the hotel carpet, Arthur doesn't complain.

“You don't have to worry.” Eames kisses his shoulder.

“It's part of my job.” Arthur lies there, staring at the ceiling.

“Not about me, Arthur.” Eames caresses the side of his face. “You can fuck me, you can kiss me, you can call me in the night when you need a ride, or to get bailed out of jail. You can wake me up at godawful hours to have me make you coffee. But don't worry for me, Arthur.”

“I'll try,” Arthur says.

He doesn't want to lose Eames to limbo.

He doesn't want to lose Eames at all.


But I wouldn't ask for what I didn't need -

It's not need. It's want. Arthur wants what other people need, and what he wants is Eames. Perhaps he does need Eames, but not in the way he needs oxygen or water, or even coffee. Arthur doesn't want to settle down or work in an office. He doesn't want to have a permanent address in one place the rest of his life.

He wants Eames. He wants to work in dreams. He wants these things and they fit. Arthur makes no bones about liking order and precision and he like the way Eames sprawls across his bed after they've fucked, like he belongs there.

Eames is a kindness Arthur doesn't feel he deserves, but he'll take it just the same.