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and so we burn and perish

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1.

The first time they meet, Eames wonders how it would feel to have Arthur moaning beneath him.

He studies Arthur’s mouth, the soft bow of his upper lip, the natural pout, and his fingers twitch around his cigarette.

“Those things can kill you, you know.”

It takes him a second to realize Arthur’s addressing him and he almost mistakes the sentiment for disapproval. He smiles and taps the cigarette against his ashtray.

“I consider it one of my lesser vices.”

Arthur, who looks satisfied with his answer, leans forward on one elbow, the scent of his cologne wafting easily through the open air. Eames can almost taste it on his tongue.

“May I?”

Eames pauses, because he senses a dangerous game afoot, a gamble he already fears he can’t afford, and still he hands over the cigarette. He watches Arthur bring it to his lips and take a long, hedonistic drag, the sight and sound of it reverberating through his limbs, making them ache.

The smoke curls out of Arthur’s mouth and momentarily clouds his face. Eames slides his hand in his jacket pocket and feels around for the ridges of his poker chip.

“So, are you in?”

He’s nearly forgotten why they’re here.

“What happened to their last point man? The dodgy-looking fellow. Haas, something or other.” He wants Arthur to give something away. He wants to figure out this American with the immaculately tailored suit and the wicked mouth.

“He—decided that a change of profession would be best for his health. I have flawless references, Mr. Eames, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Frankly, it’s the least of Eames’s worries.

“No. Cobb picks the best, that I know.” He follows the pale curve of Arthur’s neck up to his jaw and watches the muscles there flex strongly, in impatience or maybe in something else entirely.

“I’m here to address whatever concerns you may have.”

He imagines it would be bad form to voice those concerns when they have nothing to do with the job and everything to do with the way Arthur looks, sitting there with Eames’s cigarette still between his fingers and suit obscenely snug around his frame.

In the end he accepts the job because he already has a craving, the same way he needs a smoke when it’s been too long, except he thinks that this vice will surely kill him.

2.

When they collide in New York, on the sidewalk around Columbus Circle, it’s been eight months since the Pearson job. There’s no reason for Arthur to turn around and apologize; in this city that’s just how it goes. Still, he does and there’s Eames, in a surprisingly tasteful shirt with his tie hanging loosely from his neck, suit jacket draped over one arm.

They step out of the flow of pedestrian commuters, ruthless during rush hour, and into the afternoon shadow of the Time Warner building. Arthur tightens his grip on the handle of his briefcase in anticipation of the impending conversation in which he will act professionally and inquire about Eames’s wellbeing, politely without being intrusive.

“Eames.” He nods and sweeps his eyes over the forger’s face, quickly to avoid lingering on any part of it that might make him want something he shouldn’t. “I heard you were in Cairo.”

“Needed a change of scenery.” Eames smiles easily, teeth as crooked as Arthur remembers, and fishes out a pack of cigarettes with his free hand. “Smoke?”

Arthur finds that he’s starving for one, but there’s an intimacy in the way Eames makes his offer, eyes intent, mouth inviting, that mimics a game they once played. When he declines, he feels like a coward.

“You look like a man on a mission. Cobb and Mal working you hard?”

“I like to keep busy.” Arthur clamps his mouth shut before he says something absurd like, you know me, because the reality is that Eames doesn’t know him at all. Eames doesn’t know that he’s much weaker than he lets on, that he’s dangerously close to pulling Eames in by his tie and kissing him, pushing his tongue in and tasting, taking, in the way he’s imagined ever since that shared cigarette in Dubai.

“Arthur, Arthur.” Eames’s enunciation is heavy with purpose and Arthur shivers. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you to live a little?”

The imaginative part of him wants nothing more than to run headlong into disaster, certain it would be sweeter.

In the end they walk in opposite directions, with Arthur palming his die and weighing his losses.

3.

He couldn’t really say how he came to be crammed in a shipping crate with Arthur in an attempt to flee rogue projections armed with heavy artillery. He’s inclined to categorize the situation as unfortunate, if only because their proximity is making his head spin and Arthur can’t seem to stop shifting his body against Eames like there’s possibly a way he could make himself more comfortable.

“Will you stop moving?” Eames hisses, more sharply than he intended because his skin’s already overly sensitive and God knows for how long they’ll have to lie in waiting.

He expects a sharp reply but Arthur stills suddenly.

“Sorry.” There’s a slight hitch in his breath that Eames would’ve missed if his ear hadn’t been centimeters away from Arthur’s mouth.

Arthur’s stretched against him from shoulders to thighs, neck angled beneath his chin, smelling divine, and he tilts his face down until his breaths fan across Arthur’s skin. He feels Arthur shudder.

Eames.” Arthur’s warning quakes a little in his throat, but the sound is deep and stern, and Eames swallows thickly.

“Stay still, darling.” He barely recognizes the timbre of his own voice.

There’s a minute of absolute silence as he closes his eyes tightly and tries to breathe. As much as he considers himself a man of loose morals, he’s also a professional. He’s never fucked around on a job and he doesn’t plan to start now, especially because it’s Arthur. Arthur, with his dark eyes and straight edges, would infiltrate his heart, he thinks, make it cave with a word.

Then Arthur lets out a whimper, a soft involuntary sound, and he thinks he’s done for. The heat of Arthur’s body burns him down to the bone and the images overtake him, images of his hands divesting Arthur of his suit, piece by piece, of his mouth sucking indulgent marks into Arthur’s neck and collarbone, and of Arthur reduced to a glorious mess under his hands.

He grates his teeth together and restrains himself, with a force of will he would be proud of if he weren’t otherwise preoccupied.

“It’s—it’s quiet. I think we should—”

He kicks out the top of the crate before Arthur can finish and rolls out as quickly as his limbs would allow.

“Right. Back to it then, shall we?” He doesn’t wait for Arthur to reply and he certainly doesn’t linger on the flush of Arthur’s cheeks or the disheveled state of Arthur’s clothes as he walks off, fearing the thin, permeable condition of his resistance.

4.

There are some things Arthur considers himself too responsible to get involved in. Playing Texas hold ‘em in Vegas with Eames would theoretically be one of those things, but here he is, sitting in the poker room of the Bellagio, eyes wandering over the cut of Eames’s tux, which fits him far too well to be legal.

They just finished a job that turned out to be a walk in the park, which might be why Arthur gave in so easily when Eames suggested they have a bit of fun while rolling his poker chip across his knuckles and smiling in his obnoxiously charming way.

It was a five-hundred dollar buy in but Arthur can’t keep his head in the game, distracted by nearby conversation and cigarette smoke, but mostly by the length of Eames’s fingers, playing with his chips, and the shape of Eames’s mouth. (He purses his lips when he has a good hand and presses them together when he doesn’t; Arthur’s always had a knack for picking out a person’s tell.)

Luckily Arthur’s played enough poker in his lifetime, in high-end casinos and shady backrooms alike, to get by on minimal concentration. Within an hour, he and Eames are the only players left at the table. There’s a small crowd surrounding them, tampering with the temperature of the surrounding air. Or, that’s how Arthur reasons it as he watches Eames watch him and feels a bead of sweat trickle down his spine. There’s something distinctly predatory about the way Eames considers him from across the table that makes his pulse race like he’s about to freefall. He knows Eames enjoys winning; he’s just not so sure if the stakes are still within the limits of the game.

When he’s beaten by a straight in the last round, he realizes that Eames faked his tell.

“Deception is a specialty of mine, didn’t you know?” Eames’s wink is wicked and Arthur wants to drag him into a dark corner and have his way with him, despite the injustice of it all.

They make their way to the bar after cashing in and before Arthur knows it, he has four shots of something or other soaking through his system, maybe because it’s Vegas and maybe because he’s tired of thinking so goddamn much when he’s around Eames. The alcohol loosens his muscles, lightens the pounding in his head, and makes him worry a little less about consequences.

At some point, he loses count and leans his forehead against Eames’s shoulder. The fabric is soft and Eames is solid, warm, and Arthur just wants.

“Why can’t you get out of my head,” he mumbles, only vaguely aware of what he’s saying.

“I’m going to have to cut you off,” Eames replies softly, mouth right by his ear, sending deep, slow shivers down his spine.

He wonders why Eames’s arm is cradling his back so gently and how it is that Eames sounds completely sober when he feels like a college freshman crashing his first frat party.

Eames leads them outside with one hand firm against his shoulder. His skin is clammy and hot, and the night air feels exquisite. When they reach the fountains and the spray hits his cheeks, he almost moans, baring his throat to the chill.

“Arthur.” Eames’s voice sounds strangled, as if he’s at the end of his rope.

Arthur turns and blinks slowly, eyes caught by the way Eames’s Adam’s apple rises and falls as he swallows, and then by the wet glide of his tongue across his lower lip.

“You’ll be the death of me, you know.” And just like that, Eames leans his forearms against the railing, as if it wasn’t his most devastating confession. Arthur drinks in his profile and thinks to surrender to this might just be the most beautiful way to go.

5.

The day Cobb shows up in Mombasa, Eames decides that someone might as well clap him in irons and toss him into the harbor. He’s forgotten about Arthur, or at least done well enough to perpetuate the delusion. He’s pushed the restart button and buried himself away, in a corner of the world fit for those who want to disappear. He should’ve known word travels quickly in this business.

At the mention of Arthur, he resorts to snide criticism, outwardly distancing himself from the one person he can’t inwardly escape. It’s a feeble attempt at self-preservation, but it’s the best he can do when he already feels an influx of memories straining the capacity of his heart.

“Have you done it before?”

He looks sharply at Cobb and, for a minute, his personal concerns take a backseat. It doesn’t take a world-class forger to pick apart Cobb’s motivations. For all his professionalism, there’s little that can mask the fact that he’s wretched, haunted so wholly by his loss that it’s come to define him. Cobb triggers a fear in Eames, the same fear he braces himself against at the sight of Arthur, the taunting possibility of him, and despite this, or perhaps because of it, he capitulates to Cobb’s request. He thinks that he’s become quite the sentimental bastard.

When they arrive at the warehouse, Eames recognizes Arthur’s touches, the meticulous arrangement of the PASIVs and the files in color-coded stacks, all conducive to the highest order of efficiency. Then Arthur steps into view and Eames is caught, in the length and breadth and shades of him, immobilized by the visual assault, and it’s like not a bloody thing has changed since the day they met. Except things have changed. They’re older, more susceptible to the wear and tear of this business they’re in, and Eames wonders if that’s reason enough to reevaluate his tactics.

“Eames. I didn’t think you’d willingly exchange Mombasa’s heat for this sorry climate.” Arthur’s lips are twitching but his eyes are sharp like he’s ready to keep an account of all of Eames’s transgressions.

“I can think of a thing or two that might make up for it.” He’s dangerously short of taking one step closer and telling Arthur exactly what he’s thinking, with his mouth brushing Arthur’s lovely cheekbone, pouring indecencies into his ear, enough to make color bleed into his paleness. Eames imagines that this kind of heat he’ll never quite acclimate to.

The next few days are pure, unadulterated torture. With Arthur stretched fully and languidly in his chair, Arthur undoing the top buttons of his Oxford to reveal the dip between his collarbones, and Arthur bending over to display the lean curve of his arse, Eames can barely focus. He snaps a pencil in two and steps outside for a smoke, so many times he thinks it may just kill him if Arthur doesn’t get to it first. He drinks coffee, doodles in his notebook, and inspects Ariadne’s designs, distracting himself with everything short of heading to the loo and jerking off to visions of Arthur on his hands and knees, Arthur on his back spread wide, Arthur begging for it, voice raw and utterly wrecked.

When they finally enter Fischer’s subconscious, Eames thinks this he can do, slip into character and out of his own head for a while, stave off his inner wars and weaknesses. But things don’t go quite as planned and with Saito shot, armed projections swarming, and two more levels to go, Eames feels an unfamiliar panic compressing the spaces in his chest. He watches Arthur methodically take out snipers through a slot in the window and he wants to circle Arthur’s wrist with his fingers, keep him in place, and say something melodramatic to fit the occasion, something like say the word and I’m all yours, darling. Instead, he hoists a grenade launcher over his shoulder because he’s never been particularly good with feelings, at least where Arthur’s concerned.

On Level Two he’s his usual leggy blonde with the heavy-lidded eyes. He knows she’s not Arthur’s type but he’s sorely tempted anyway, to deviate from the plan and swing his hips over to Arthur instead of the lift, curl their bodies together and give the projections a show.

When he ends up on his back in the hotel room with Arthur hovering over him, cool efficient fingers hooking him to the PASIV, he thinks this could be a fantasy of his. (They would be in a luxurious suite of silk and Arthur would be straddling him, gloriously naked except for the deep maroon tie around his neck, riding him hard with thighs taut and throat bared, hands hot against his chest.)

“Security’s gonna run you down hard.” Arthur’s eyes flit away, as if he sees the image Eames is entertaining, fingers trembling slightly against the sensitive skin of Eames’s inner wrist.

“And I will lead them on a merry chase.” His mouth is teasing but he still won’t look at Eames, as if it would be his second mistake and this time there would be more than one casualty with his blood on Arthur’s hands.

Eames wonders if this is what regret feels like in a person’s last moments and as he goes under, he imagines the two of them traveling across a vast and infinite shoreline with a world balanced on their fingertips.

6.

Arthur opens his eyes and his first instinct is to seek out Eames. When he sees the forger slumped in his seat, dragging a weary hand over his face, the relief is so sweet it leaves him boneless. He doesn’t remember when the job became less of a job and more of a personal epiphany about what he might, could, have left after all this is over and done with. He’s a realistic man. He was aware of everything he would lose and sacrifice the day he upended his morals and followed the back of Cobb’s business card to St. Petersburg. It was exactly what he wanted, until it wasn’t. Until he looked down at Eames on the floor of room 528 and knew he was no longer content with a reputation and a Swiss bank account. Eames had quietly, stealthily become something Arthur wasn’t willing to lose.

By the time Arthur locates his suitcase, grinding his teeth at the incompetency of baggage services, Eames is gone. But he’s undeterred. He knows how Eames looks at him, watches him, with eyes that could set them both on fire and bring the world down with them. He knows that he only needs to strike the match and everything else will fall in line beautifully.

He pulls out his cell and runs down a mental list of L.A.’s most expensive hotels (Eames wouldn’t suffer anything less). On the third try, he finds what he’s looking for.

The Intercontinental looms ostentatiously overhead as he steps out of the cab and throws the driver a few twenties without bothering to count them. The outdoor chandelier is blinding, even in daylight, and his lips curl disdainfully at the wasteful extravagance, even as he recognizes his own hypocrisy. However, to be well-respected is to be well-dressed, he reasons as he enters the polished lobby; it’s a principle that’s never failed him. Paired with a smile, it gets him exactly what he wants.

When Eames opens the door at Arthur’s knock, he’s still in his black dress shirt with the top few buttons undone and sleeves rolled up to the elbows, hair slightly mussed as if he’s compulsively run his fingers through it. It’s rare that Arthur catches him off his guard, temporarily stripped of the self-satisfied nonchalance he lays on so thick when they’re working, and it makes Arthur a little dizzy with want.

“You ran off.” He skips the niceties because they both know why he’s here.

“You found me though,” Eames counters evenly, even though he’s gripping the door so hard he’s in danger of being charged with destruction of private property.

“Can I come in?” Arthur asks patiently, even though he’s not above grabbing Eames by the shoulders and kissing him stupid.

For a tenuous moment he thinks that Eames might say no, that the beauty of their mutual ruin might not be assured. And then Eames steps aside.

“A smoke? Or a drink. God knows we both need one.” He looks down and fumbles for his cigarettes with both hands. That’s when Arthur realizes that he’s nervous, and decides it’s his newfound weakness, this side of Eames. It makes him want to put his life aside for a little while, stow away the hard edges he’s cultivated for thrills that never come cheap.

“Eames.” He steps closer and still Eames is distracted. “Eames, will you just look at me.”

He wraps his fingers around Eames’s left wrist and presses down. He can feel the pulse there, racing. When Eames looks up, his eyes are already wrecked and Arthur has nothing to say that would make a difference. So he kisses Eames, finally feels that smart, insolent mouth under his, and fuck if isn’t better than he’s imagined. He would dig into his pocket for his die if his hands weren’t already occupied, one still secured around Eames’s wrist and the other gripping the back of Eames’s neck.

Eames flounders like a drowning man, throat clogged with a moan, free hand scrambling to latch onto Arthur’s lapel like he could still be saved. Arthur bites down on Eames’s lower lip, dragging his teeth a little across the tender skin, and, as Eames gasps, slides his tongue in, invading the sweet slick heat of Eames’s mouth. Lust swells and barrels through his body, and he feels his knees buckling in the undertow. Eames’s arm shoots out to wrap around his waist and hold him up as he curves forward weakly, pressing against Eames, already feeling undone.

“I’ve got you,” Eames murmurs against his mouth when they pull apart, voice rough, reverent, and a little shattered.

It’s a reassurance with a headier, slightly terrifying implication, and Arthur feels unbalanced, exposed in a way he’s insured himself against for the better part of his life. His militarized instincts kick in, muscles tensing before the rest of him can rebel against the absurdity of his response. He knew what he signed up for the second he stepped off that plane.

“Hey, hey.” Eames relaxes his arm and extricates his hand from Arthur’s grip (sure to leave long-fingered bruises) to cup Arthur’s jaw. “There’s no danger. It’s only me.”

Arthur drops his head against Eames’s shoulder, muscles loosening as he laughs, the sound muffled and a little insane. Of all the catastrophes and contingencies he’s gotten himself into, Eames is and will ever be the most dangerous.

“Arthur? You all right?” Eames sounds unsure and vaguely confused.

Arthur lifts his head up and studies Eames for a second, running his thumb over red, sinfully swollen lips. “I’m excellent, Mr. Eames,” he replies before closing the distance and angling their mouths so he can fully appreciate Eames with his tongue and teeth.

It’s slower this time, deeper, hotter, filthier, and he suddenly needs to get them out of their clothes and onto a surface, preferably soft but he’s not picky, where Eames can fuck him until he can’t recognize the sound of his own voice.

They end up on the bed with Eames down to his pants and Arthur’s shirt half unbuttoned and yanked off one shoulder, cuffs still stifling his wrists.

“You have no idea how many times I’ve dreamt about this,” Eames confesses shamelessly on the edge of a groan.

He trails his fingertips, broad and callused, down Arthur’s ribs and Arthur drops his head back.

“Oh god.” He thinks he could come right there under that touch. Some might think him unimaginative but where Eames is concerned, he’s imagined all right, imagined like an addict tripped out on LSD. And now he finds that, despite the seemingly infinite scope of the subconscious, the mind’s capabilities can only extend so far.

He swallows and tries to cobble together some semblance of self-control.

“Does it,” he sucks in a breath when Eames dips down and follows the path of his fingers with a clever tongue, “does it meet your expectations?”

Eames moves up along Arthur’s body, lips glistening, eyes dark and fatal to Arthur’s existence. “Far, far exceeds them.”

He takes his time divesting Arthur of the rest of his clothes, tugging his shirt down until only the cuffs are left to restrain his wrists behind his back, pressing damp, open-mouthed kisses along his right collarbone and shoulder, and it makes Arthur think, because Arthur’s brain never shuts off, even when most of his blood is rushing south. He thinks that it’s been a long time since he’s trusted a person. He could easily wrestle Eames to the ground, clamp down on his windpipe, break his arm. Instead he bares his throat and cedes control, lets Eames bite and soothe, because a part of him welcomes it, is starved for it. And Eames, he doesn’t take; he worships.

Arthur’s in a pleasant state of arousal until Eames finds the spot, near the juncture of his neck and shoulder, the suction of his mouth bordering on this side of painful and Arthur’s hips buck, so violently that Eames almost topples backward.

His eyebrows shoot up, and then he smiles, eyes positively devious. “I’ll have to remember that one.”

“Eames.” It’s meant to be a warning. Instead, it comes out as a whine and god, he’s already nearly begging and they still have their pants on.

“Yes, Arthur. Tell me what you want.” Eames lowers down until he’s breathing against Arthur’s mouth, slides a hand up Arthur’s arm, and presses with his thumb, down on that spot, making Arthur gasp and jerk his hips again.

“Bastard,” he rasps, and drags blunt nails down Eames’s back. “Just fuck me already.”

He knows Eames enjoys being contrary and difficult, just to test the elasticity of his restraint, but this time he’s perfectly obliging, undoing Arthur’s belt and trousers with deft fingers and stripping them off along with his briefs with one firm pull.

He hums appreciatively, low in his throat, and the sound goes straight to Arthur’s cock.

“Much, much better,” he muses before licking a stripe across Arthur’s inner thigh, up the crease of his hip, and back down again, nipping at the sensitive skin there possessively. Arthur just squeezes his eyes shut and swallows, trembling at the thought of Eames marking him from neck to thighs to lay his claim.

Anyone other than Eames who might’ve entertained the idea that he could be owned he would’ve shot in the kneecap. With Eames, it’s a different story; it’s always been. But he doesn’t have time to analyze the dimensions of it before Eames swallows him whole, easily accommodating his length in the tight, wet heat of his mouth and throat, dragging an uncontrolled moan out of Arthur that sounds absolutely filthy.

Eames pulls off, restraining his hips with a broad palm when they rise up in a needy arc.

“Now, that’s a beautiful sound. I liked imagining that you’re a screamer in bed, that I could pull sounds from you even you didn’t know you were capable of.” Eames’s voice is a little tight, breaths shallow, and Arthur’s head is reeling. He didn’t think it was physically possible to get this fucking hard.

When Eames retrieves two packets from his pants, rips them open with his teeth, and spills lube over his fingers, dripping a little onto Arthur’s stomach, Arthur, to his utter embarrassment, lets out a whimper.

“Let me hear it, Arthur, how good this is for you. Let go for me,” Eames murmurs, soothing Arthur’s thigh with his palm before taking Arthur in again, slowly this time as he slides one finger in, experimentally, and then two when Arthur pushes his hips down for more.

Eames sets a deep unfailing rhythm that unravels Arthur, from edge to edge, corner to corner, until he’s surrendering those sounds that Eames asked to hear, arching his hips and riding Eames’s fingers like he was made for it.

And then Eames stops, just stops, and Arthur’s eyes fly open, tongue wrapping frustratingly slowly around a protest.

“You, Arthur, are a work of art.”

Eames is nearly breathless, lips obscenely wet and abused, but still balanced, coherent, and Arthur narrows his eyes. Eames might be heavier and wider, but Arthur knows how to find leverage, which is exactly what he does, hooking a foot behind Eames’s leg, grabbing his shoulder, and reversing their positions to straddle his hips, all in one breath.

“Jesus Christ.” Eames looks dazed and a little impressed. Arthur would smirk if their cocks weren’t sliding together, making his eyes roll backward and his toes curl.

“What does a guy have to do to get fucked around here?” He doesn’t wait for an answer before shifting his weight onto his knees and impaling himself on Eames’s cock, throwing his head back and uttering an, “oh god” at the same time Eames lets out a string of obscenities and jerks his hips up, driving even more deeply into Arthur and wrenching a sob from his chest.

He thinks he might suffocate or self-destruct from the feeling of Eames filling him, so completely it threatens to split him apart, a train wreck straight through his heart. Eames is murmuring something, one word over and over again, rising and falling unevenly with his breathing. It takes Arthur a minute to realize it’s his name.

“Come on, darling, move for me, Arthur. Just like that, god, yes.” Eames’s eyes are hazy now, unfocused, hands enveloping Arthur’s hips as they move against each other, balancing each other until it becomes second nature.

When Arthur comes, it’s to the feeling of Eames spilling into him and the sight of Eames arching beautifully off the bed, mouth open in soundless submission.

His limbs shake as he comes down from his orgasm, rolling off Eames and collapsing into a boneless heap.

“Christ. Why didn’t we think this was a good idea until now?” The question is partly rhetorical and completely absurd, and Arthur chalks it up to a temporary loss of brain function. He thinks he might also be dehydrated.

“Because you’re an emotionally-repressed workaholic and I’m a gentleman?” Eames turns to Arthur, a slow grin blooming on his unfairly attractive face.

“Fuck you. I am not an emotionally-repressed workaholic.” Arthur still feels too drained to issue a credible threat.

“I think it’s sexy.” Eames is propped up on one elbow now, hovering over Arthur, watching him with something that feels like affection, and Arthur almost looks away.

“You’ve used that line on a lot of people, haven’t you.” He finds that he cares, stupidly maybe, but he wants to know. He’s always been a man to hedge his bets.

Eames considers him carefully, as if there might be no turning back depending on how he chooses to answer.

“It’s not a line, Arthur. Not with you.”

As masterful as Eames is with deception, there’s no trace of it now, and Arthur’s a little surprised that he can be so certain. Somewhere along the way, he learned to distinguish between Eames’s cons and his character.

He doesn’t reply with anything sappy because it’s not his style. He just says, “okay,” and silently catalogues his weaknesses as he watches Eames smile.

“You’ll be the death of me, you know.”

“So I’ve heard.” Arthur smiles too, remembering.

They don’t cuddle because it’s really not their style, but somewhere between sleeping and waking, Eames’s body heat fills his awareness, and he thinks he could get used to this.