Arthur hates traveling.
He spent a year flying around the world with Cobb, constantly moving from one city to the next, lonely nights spent in uncomfortable hotel rooms when all Arthur had wanted was to be home. It had been fine for the first couple months, phone calls, text messages and the occasional Skype call with Eames helped Arthur get through the days. But as the weeks and month wore on, everything became less frequent. Arthur stopped calling, stopped texting, and Eames didn’t bother to pick up the slack.
So when Arthur arrives at JFK after working a job he’d been specifically called for in Paris, the only thing he can think about is home. And home is an apartment on the Upper West Side with Eames. With it’s hard wood floors and tall windows, only a couple blocks from Central Park. But it’s not the place that makes the apartment home, it’s because Arthur knows that Eames is there, waiting for him. That’s what makes New York City home to him.
Of course there’s traffic in midtown, and Arthur curses tourist season as the cab speeds past 42nd Street. He silently curses the inexperienced cabbie for choosing this route, but he’s too tired to argue. With his forehead pressed against the cool glass of the back door, all Arthur wants is to see Eames. He’s only been away three weeks for this job, but empty hotel rooms had given Arthur flashbacks to the time he spent with Cobb.
The buzz of his cell phone pulls Arthur from his thoughts, and he smiles at the name that pops up on the screen.
“Please tell me you’re home,” Arthur forgoes a hello because he knows that Eames won’t mind. Knows that Eames is looking forward to seeing Arthur just as much as Arthur is looking forward to seeing Eames.
“Where are you?” And it’s Eames’ voice, and it sounds like he’s just woken up from a midday nap that has Arthur closing his eyes as the cab gets stuck at yet another light a block from Columbus Circle.
“I’m home, and I’m waiting for you.”
Arthur would like nothing more than to get home, strip Eames naked and do every single thing he’s thought about while they’ve been apart. But he’s so tired, his back and neck are stiff, and Arthur is pretty sure that he is going to permanently smell like a hotel one of these days. And while Arthur is sure that Eames is planning on sex happening sooner rather than later, Arthur isn’t sure it’s going to happen because all he wants to do is sleep. And possibly shower.
“I love you.” Arthur says it not because he needs to, but because in that moment, he thinks he hasn’t said it enough. And sometimes, at the most inconvenient times, he wonders if Eames doesn’t know. Which is silly, because there is a ring on a silver chain around Arthur’s neck, the word darling inscribed on the inside that would say different. But Arthur has never been one to believe in the impossible, but for someone to love him like Eames does, it still makes Arthur reach into his pants pocket and check his totem.
It’s almost torturous, the last twenty blocks to the apartment, Arthur staring out the window the whole time, glaring down every red light they hit along the way. When the cab finally, finally pulls up in front of the apartment building, Arthur practically runs to grab his suitcase from the trunk, absentminded tossing the cab fare to the driver and heading toward the front entrance. Gregory smiles politely at him, welcoming him back from his trip, and normally, Arthur would take the time to fill him in on where he’d traveled, but today is not the day for that, and Arthur smiles and walks through the doors, heading straight for the elevators, his suitcase dragging behind him.
Nothing is fast enough for Arthur. It takes too long for the elevator to arrive, the doors aren’t fast enough opening and closing, and the actual ride to their floor takes up way too much time. So of course, when Arthur arrives at the apartment door, he can’t seem to get his keys out fast enough, because he’s accidently buried them in the bottom of his laptop bag, and all but curses every deity he doesn’t actually believe in trying to get to them.
And then there’s Eames, standing in the open doorway to the apartment, wearing only a t-shirt and a pair of loose fitting jeans that Arthur swears are getting tossed out as soon as he wakes up from the nap he’s going to take as soon as he hits the bed, and Arthur thinks how even with his hair sticking up in a million directions, Eames is still beautiful. Still gorgeous. And exactly who Arthur fell in love with.
He doesn’t reply, just carefully sets his laptop bag down before reaching up and wrapping his arms around Eames, pulling their bodies together, and pressing his lips against Eames’. Arthur lets Eames pull him into the apartment, out of the wandering eyes of their neighbors, and presses him up against the wall. It feels so good to finally feel Eames’ body pressed up against his again, and Arthur pulls back a bit to look at Eames, smiling until he can tell from the smirk on Eames’ face that his dimples are showing.
Leaving Arthur leaning against the wall, Eames gathers Arthur’s suitcase and laptop bag, and leaves them next to the place in the hall where they put their shoes and coats. And usually Arthur would want to unpack right away, get his laundry done and have the suits sent to the cleaners, but right now, he really doesn’t care. He lets Eames take his hand and together, they walk toward the bedroom, stopping every couple feet to remove an article of clothing.
They lose Arthur’s socks in the hallway. Eames’ jeans are draped over the back of the couch. Arthur’s pants end up on the back of one of the bar stools at the kitchen counter, while his sweatshirt and t-shirt make a lovely pile on the floor in the middle of the doorway to the bedroom. Eames’ t-shirt comes off and is somehow the only article of clothing that actually makes it into the clothes hamper.
But then, Arthur lets the fatigue of traveling wash over him, and lets Eames lower him onto the bed. Slowly, gently, lovingly, Eames peppers Arthur’s entire body with kisses, starting with his lips and moving to his cheeks, his neck, his chest, his stomach. And Arthur thinks of the lube and condoms in the drawer of the bedside table, and three fucking weeks away from Eames, and reaches down and guides Eames back up so they can kiss again.
“I really need a nap,” Arthur says as Eames leans over him, chin resting on Arthur’s stomach. “But I promise, as soon as I wake up, we’re going to make up for the three weeks I was away.”
Eames smiles and presses his lips to the almost invisible line of hair on Arthur’s stomach, before flopping down on the bed on his back, and pulling Arthur onto his chest.
“We haven’t had sex in three weeks, darling. I’m sure I can wait a couple more hours.” Eames says, grabbing a book off the bedside table.
And as Arthur starts to fall asleep, he lets his fingers begin to trace over the outline of the tattoo on Eames’ chest. The red and yellow poker chip that for so many years was by itself, the meaning and secret known only to Eames. But now, it’s kept company by a red die. And even though Arthur knows deep down that it’s dangerous for them, he still can’t help but love the idea of the tattoo. So obvious while at the same time not being obvious at all.