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Pavlov's Bell II

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There are some upsides to working in Arthur's business. They've been planning this extraction on a politician for a month now and it's led to this: three tickets for a tropical cruise, paid for by the client, to better access and waylay their mark while he vacations aboard the ship with his family. It's a seven-day cruise and they'll only need an hour or so to drug the man's drink, steal him away, extract what they need and leave him passed out by the pool.

“Where were all the jobs on cruises when I was in the business?” Cobb grumbles, when Arthur tells him.

There are some upsides to dating a werewolf, too. And some downsides, but Arthur's resigned himself to having his throat licked during sex (kind of likes it by now, even). The best part, by far, is Eames' strength and stamina, particularly when combined. He christens the suite he and Arthur are sharing by immediately fucking him up against every available surface.

“We are going to have to tip the cleaning staff so well,” Arthur says, his legs hooked over Eames' elbows, a hot cradle of muscle, and his back braced stickily against the wall. The complimentary baskets and things that had lain across their dresser are now strewn across the floor; cooling sweat-prints and drops of lube stain the surface of the desk.

Eames growls and bites at his throat. “Stop talking.”

Arthur doesn't mind obeying. He likes this position, even though his thigh and stomach muscles are cramping, even though his hips thump into the wall with Eames' every energetic thrust and the sweat between his shoulderblades makes his skin cling to the wallpaper. He likes this position because his tail hangs free, so it can thrash all it wants.

He flings a hand out to help support himself and ends up sending a framed painting clattering to the floor. Eames growls again and suddenly his hands, braced against the wall, are at Arthur's lower back, and he's lifting him effortlessly without pulling out. Arthur immediately grabs his shoulders and digs his nails in to cling on, his tail instinctively going stiff for balance, while Eames turns, staggers the few steps toward the bed and drops Arthur onto it, landing atop him. The thrust of his swollen cock inside Arthur when they hit the bed causes a most intense sensation, and Arthur can't help it; the sounds bursts out of his throat before he can catch it a breath later. Judging by Eames' expression, he doesn't miss it.

“You purred,” he says, grinning—well, wolfishly.

“That wasn't a purr.” Arthur tries, awkwardly, to kick at his lower back with one heel. “Keep fucking me.”

“You purred.” Eames drops his head and nuzzles Arthur's neck, nosing under his jaw and licking up the sweat he finds there. “Purr for me again, kitten. Or I'll wring it out of you. I'll keep you here, riding my cock all night, until you've come so many times you can't even speak, all you can do is purr for me when I fuck you deeper and faster ...”

Arthur groans, clenching involuntarily and scoring Eames' back with his nails. His tail curls up stiffly and he doesn't even realize it until the curve of it is tickling Eames' balls. Immediately Eames swears and presses him down, until he's folded Arthur in half, the better to plunder him utterly. He fucks Arthur's hole relentlessly, taking what he needs, and Arthur's already come once but he can feel that he's well on the way to a second orgasm. Eames bites his neck, hard, and the sounds leave Arthur's throat without his knowledge or permission: little cat-grumblings of arousal that eventually climb into throbbing, hitching purrs on each inhale and exhale.

“I can feel you purring inside.” Eames slides deep on each thrust. He buries his nose in Arthur's hair. “God, you smell so good. You don't purr for anyone else, do you? Only for me. You know you're mine. My little kitten.”

He braces his weight on one arm and wraps his other hand around Arthur's cock, hard again. They've been at this for half an hour and Arthur came almost twenty minutes ago, but it's still an oversensitized spike of pleasure-pain when Eames jerks him off, using the drying come on Arthur's cock as slick. I'm not a kitten, Arthur had been about to say, but it comes out an embarrassing mewl.

Blood is pounding in his head, he can feel it, but that isn't the reason for his scarlet cheeks. Eames takes pity on him then, though, fitting his mouth to Arthur's and swallowing every embarrassing sound he makes. He can't entirely stifle the yowl Arthur makes when he comes for the second time, making the ratio of his orgasms to Eames' equal, but after that he's completely quiet and quiescent in the sheets, too exhausted even to kiss. Eames leans back and just looks at him with naked, unabashed reverence, and Arthur manages a lazy smile.

He thinks Eames is going to say something, but he doesn't. He speeds up his pace, and Arthur recognizes that he's getting close. He let it go the first two times, letting Eames pull out swiftly and come on his cock, take a minute to breathe before plunging back in with no less enthusiasm, but this time he tightens his thighs around Eames' waist.

“Don't pull out,” he says, his voice ragged. “Don't pull out. Don't ...”

It's no difficulty for Eames to break the hold Arthur has with his legs. He arches away and comes in burning hot spurts against Arthur's twitching hole. Not inside.

He disengages from Arthur slowly, actually spent this time, and shifts aside. Arthur slides a hand between his own legs. The heat of Eames' come is always a shock, but it cools quickly. He traces a finger around his hole, collecting the stuff, and tries to push it in a little way.

Eames growls softly, a sound of pure contentment.

“You know what you smell like?” he says hoarsely.


Eames leans over, nuzzling his throat. “Me,” he says. “You smell like me all over.”

“Great,” says Arthur. “Wet dog.”

He catches a flicker of a wry grin on Eames' face and it strikes him, not for the first time, how very canine Eames really is.

“Don't shower before dinner,” he says.

“Are you kidding me? I'm practically drenched in your come. And slobber,” Arthur adds tartly, wiping his neck off pointedly. Eames kisses him like he doesn't even hear.

“I want everyone to smell me on you,” he rumbles softly. “I want everyone who gets close to you to know that you belong to me and that I was fucking you up here just an hour before and making you purr.”

That possessiveness of Eames'. It's admittedly hot, if a little misguided.

“The problem with that, Eames,” says Arthur, pushing away Eames' hand on his belly where it trails through their mingled streaks of come, “is that normal people really will smell that. So I need to shower.” He has to push Eames' hand away again so that he can get up. Eames watches him go, dark eyes hooded, licking their fluids off his palm.

Somewhat surprisingly, Eames doesn't join him, which means that for once Arthur is able to take a quick shower. He washes just enough that he can't still smell Eames' scent on him—which, he has to grumblingly admit, is not really a bad smell. It's a rich, earthy musk, powerful and overwhelmingly masculine, nothing like the subtle spice of Arthur's own scent. But he knows he can't sit through dinner smelling sex and Eames all over himself, at least not without blushing like a virgin and wondering who else can pick up on it, and especially not with Eames sitting right there across from him and leering.

Yeah. There are some downsides to having a werewolf boyfriend.

Eames hasn't moved when Arthur leaves the bathroom, towel wrapped around his waist. For a moment he thinks Eames is asleep. Then he opens one eye.

“You think I'm not being practical,” he husks softly, sort-of-but-maybe-not-quite joking anymore. “I am. There's all sorts of werewolves who'd want to have you for themselves, darling. They'd do all sorts of filthy things to you if I didn't mark you as mine.”

That's a lie. Arthur's never met another werewolf in his life. He'd know: it used to be that Eames' presence alone set his teeth on edge. He imagines it would be just the same with another werewolf. Anyway, now he's sore and his tail is shedding and crackling with static from the blow-dryer and he's angry that Eames denied him, yet again, so he doesn't joke along this time.

“I'm not a tree to piss on, Eames,” he says finally.

Eames gets up and goes to shower in silence. Arthur gets ready for dinner.


They get comfortable aboard the ship. Arthur lounges on his and Eames' balcony and reads, basking in the sun, while Ariadne and Eames take full advantage of the ship's twenty-four-hour buffets. Eames, who has a werewolf's metabolism and an enormous appetite, has never been so spoiled. Arthur, therefore, is the one who has to abandon his books and his sunshine for a good chunk of each day in order to surreptitiously tail the mark and his family, hoping to determine when they can make their move. He's lucky: every evening after their scheduled dinner, the family splits up; kids off to do their own thing, mother to the spa or reading cafe, the mark to the craps table. All their jobs should take place on a cruise, Arthur decides, it's very conducive to what they have to do.

He doesn't mind letting everyone relax for the first few days. Especially when he can peel Eames away from the food and back to bed with him.

They finish dinner on the fourth night, bidding a good evening to their French tablemates who pretend they don't speak any English but listen keenly in on all their conversations, and have an hour to kill before a show Ariadne wants to see, some comedian. She leaves Arthur and Eames to their own devices to get ready for it and, thirty-five minutes later, they're ready to start getting ready. They stay in bed awhile longer, though, Arthur lying comfortably on his stomach with his arms folded under his cheek, Eames lazily carding tired fingers through Arthur's rumpled hair.

“Sometimes you purr in your sleep,” he says. “What is that, anyway? I know science says there's no known reason for it in cats.”

Arthur's tail sweeps over the sheets. “I don't know.”

“Do the rest of your kind purr?”

“I don't know.” The tail makes another sweep, sharper and brisker. “I've never met anyone like me.”

“What about your parents?”

“I never knew them.”

Eames looks across at him. Then down at his tail, which is positively wagging now, stiff and mechanical. Arthur stops himself forcibly. He doesn't know how much of his body language Eames has learnt to read. He can't stop his tailtip from switching sharply back and forth, though.

“I suppose your parents are werewolves,” says Arthur, to break the silence.

“Yeah. Whole family's afflicted. It's mainly passed on by mating, you know. I mean, a bite will do it, but if a human gets close enough to a werewolf to get bitten, they're not very likely to survive the encounter.”

“So you breed,” says Arthur. “You make little baby werewolves.” The mental image is kind of absurd. Or kind of cute. He's not sure which.

He wonders what Eames looked like. Probably cute.

“Yeah,” says Eames again. He pulls his hand away from Arthur, flops onto his back and folds his arms under his head, staring up at the ceiling. “It's hard, though. We're a dying breed. It's not getting a female pregnant that's the problem, it's that in the first trimester, her body often reabsorbs the young during a regeneration. It's just a bundle of cells. The body sees it as recycleable tissue. So the issue is getting the pregnancy to stick.”

“I see,” says Arthur. He doesn't really like this talk, female werewolves and breeding and things. He's not that, he never will be that, will not be able to bear Eames young (for all that he has a heat cycle; it means nothing). Eames' bloodline will end right here, because Eames' kind mate for life, and Eames has chosen Arthur.

Not that they've ever had a conversation about that.

The tempo of Arthur's heartbeat picks up. Is now the right time to do it?

Before he can say anything, however, Eames goes on: “That's why males are built to impregnate. We know when our partner's ready, we can shag them all day and night if we're driven—”

“And the tie,” Arthur breaks in. He tilts his head to glance down between Eames' thighs, can see that the swelling of his knot has not entirely gone down yet. “That's part of it? For breeding?”

There's an awkward silence, and then, “Well,” Eames says, no less awkward for breaking it, “that, and. It's ... an intimacy thing, too. Between mates.”

Oh, Arthur thinks, so that's why they only tie with their mates. Would kind of suck to tie with a random one-night stand and end up stuck together for twenty minutes—

And then, oh.

Between mates.

He tries to say, and ends up coughing up the words like a hairball, “So that's why—”

“I'm sorry for that one time,” Eames hastens to cut him off. “I should've pulled out. I just wasn't thinking, it was—you were in heat, and it was all so mental, and it just seemed like the thing to do at the time, instinctively ...”

He seems embarrassed. Arthur's tail has gone rigid now.

“Oh,” he says flatly. “Makes sense.”

“Look,” Eames says, looking him in the face suddenly. “I know you're not a female. I didn't mean anything by it, I never meant to demean you or anything. That's not what this is about.”

“What is this about, then, Eames?” Arthur asks, his throat sticking all at once. He can feel his face burning and his stomach twisting.

“Well,” and Eames sounds confused, now, and then not a little resentful— “We both know this was always for convenience's sake, Arthur.”

Arthur's breath slowly leaves his lungs. Convenience's sake. That's what this is. He's here and he's convenient. Eames can lick and bite Arthur in bed all he wants, can fuck him for hours on end like a champion stud and not have to pass for a middle-aged human with failing stamina, and he doesn't care about Arthur's tail.

So, really. It's win-win.


Everything in Arthur feels like it's being squeezed tight. His ribcage, his lungs, his throat, his head. His heart. It's all in iron bands. He can't believe he ever mistook this for anything else.

“I'd better get ready for the show,” he blurts out, grabbing at the sheets to try and clean himself off, as quickly as possible. “Ariadne will be really disappointed if we're—”

“Hey,” Eames says quietly, propping himself up on his elbows. “What's wrong?”

“Nothing,” Arthur spits. Nothing is wrong, because how can anything be wrong when they had nothing to begin with? Fuming, he pulls his clothes on and he hates, hates that he still smells like Eames. He dresses in record time and says bluntly, “I'll see you at the show.”

“Arthur,” Eames starts, but by then Arthur has flung open the door and stormed out.

He doesn't even know where he's going. Not to the show, that's for sure; the last thing he needs right now is to be surrounded by a laughing crowd. He needs to—to shred something, just rip it up into pieces the way Eames just ripped up his insides (he refuses to think the word heart). He stalks up and down staircases, burning with humiliation and anger and hurt, and when he finally shoulders through a door onto the deck, he finds himself on the lowest, near the back of the ship. The evening air is pleasantly cool; the sun is hanging low in the sky.

Arthur wanders to the back of the ship. Nobody else is there. He leans on the railing and stares down at the water and foam churned up by the great propellers under the surface. The ship leaves a shining trail almost all the way to the horizon.

He wants to jump off this stupid ship. Better than being cooped up at sea with Eames. He wants to turn back time half an hour ago and never get into that stupid conversation. He'd rather go on thinking they actually had something, him and Eames, that somebody actually saw something inside him that they wanted for themselves, forever.

It isn't fair. Eames is the only person Arthur knows will never judge him. But ...

But Eames has other people who won't judge him. He has a family. He could be surrounded by werewolves if he wanted to and never feel judged at all. He can walk the streets in broad daylight wearing shorts and not feel like a freak. Not like Arthur. Arthur, who takes a deep breath and, for the first time, truly despises the tail tucked down his pant leg.

It's his own fault. He read too much into a single gesture, that was all. He read too much into it, and made an incorrect assumption, and let Eames in, and he knows what Eames is, after all: a con man. He feels used. Used for non-judgemental sex. And it's his fault, but it just doesn't seem fucking fair.

His throat feels almost swollen shut when he hears a hesitant voice behind him, nearly drowned out by the ship's engine. He turns and is surprised to see the mark's twenty-year-old son standing there.

“Hey,” Arthur says, guardedly.

“Mind if I join you?”

Arthur shakes his head. The boy comes to lean on the rail next to him.

“I'm Josh,” he offers.

Arthur knows this. He also knows when Josh's birthday is, that he's allergic to seafood and is on the honour roll at Cornell.

“Arthur. Nice to meet you,” he says.

“I saw some porpoises out here last night,” says Josh, “tailing the ship. I was hoping there might be more today.”

“Haven't seen anything,” says Arthur, although a Kraken could have risen from the deep and started attacking the ship and he probably wouldn't have noticed.

“I've seen you around the ship,” Josh offers, after another pause. “Are you here with anyone?”

Arthur takes a deep breath. “Just a couple friends.”

Josh seems to perk up at that. “I'm here with my family.”

“Oh, yeah. I think I've seen you,” says Arthur, and he makes a conscious decision to engage in this conversation. “Hey, isn't your dad—?”

“Senator McMartin.” Josh huffs a quick, embarrassed laugh. “The one who took that big stand against gay rights. Yeah, we're all really proud.”

Arthur considers. He knows Josh has an earring in his right ear even before he turns his head to confirm it. This information didn't seem pertinent in text, but in person, combined with Josh's tight-fitting capris and t-shirt, it says a lot more.

“So,” says Josh, with forced confidence, “how old are you?”

“Twenty-nine,” says Arthur. What's the point in lying? “You?”

“Twenty-four,” Josh does lie. Arthur bites back a laugh. The kid's not even old enough to order his own drinks. He considers taking Josh to one of the ship's bars, just to see what he does.

And then he considers taking Josh to a bar.

He eyes the boy up, taking stock. It's ridiculous, of course, it's not like they could do anything, what with Josh sharing a room with his sixteen-year-old sister and Arthur sharing with Eames, but he imagines, if he could get the kid to make out with him or something, just get close enough that Eames can smell the unfamiliar masculine scent on him ... even for a matter of convenience, Eames' possessiveness of Arthur is very real.

“So,” Josh says again, sidling closer, “where'd you go to school?”

“The military,” Arthur answers. Josh's eyes widen.

“Really?” Then, with half a cocky grin, “Do you have any scars?”

“Oh, yeah,” says Arthur, his voice sinking low enough to almost be a purr. Josh's grin becomes a truly interested smile, maybe showing a bit of relief at not being rebuffed, and he inches closer.

The wind changes, drifting lazily over the ship like the wake it leaves in the water, and Arthur turns his head. Eames is standing there.

Should have taken an elevator, Arthur thinks, too late.

Josh turns his head too, uncertain, and the waves of jealousy and anger rolling off Eames are positively palpable. The kid wilts.

“Arthur,” says Eames, looking straight at Josh.

“Maybe I should go,” Josh says tactfully, obviously sensing that he's in the middle of something.

“Don't,” says Arthur, fully aware that Eames can hear him, but then Eames growls and Josh slides away from the rail.

“Nice talking to you,” he says, and disappears in a hurry.

Angry, Arthur turns around, but Eames has already closed the distance between him and is flattening him against the rail so he can feel the humming of the ship all the way up his spine. His huge hand cradles Arthur's face.

“You tracked me,” says Arthur, glaring.

“You weren't at the show,” Eames counters.

“You have no right to stalk me, Eames—”

“You're still dripping in my scent,” says Eames, almost acerbic enough to be derisive. “What were you thinking, Arthur? Were you going to leave with the little college boy and fuck him while you could still smell my come all over yourself? While you smell like a filthy mess—”

Arthur shoves his hand away, but Eames is still boxing him in, up against the rail, and Arthur's eyes narrow, tailtip lashing minutely in its confines.

“We're not having this conversation here,” he hisses. Not where anyone can walk up and hear them.

Eames takes a step back from the rail. Arthur shoves past him and heads back up to their room, seething to himself.

He half doesn't expect Eames to follow him, but when he's opening their door with his key card, Eames is right there behind him, bulling him into the room and slamming the door shut at their backs.

“What would you have done if he saw the marks on your neck, Arthur?” he asks. Arthur barks a laugh.

“Told him my dog did it.”

The scowl returns to Eames' face. He reaches for Arthur's wrist, but Arthur bats his arm aside and then is kissing him, suddenly, angrily, biting at Eames' lip. He feels Eames relax slightly, then a bunching of muscles like a steel coil under his hands and suddenly his surroundings whirl away and they're on the bed, Eames pinning him bodily.

“Arthur,” he pants against Arthur's open mouth. “I'm going to fuck you now.”

“Fine,” Arthur croaks, feeling dangerously close to tears, because he wants so badly to pretend that they're okay and that he doesn't know what he knows. “Do it.”

Eames literally rips Arthur's jeans off when he's trying to get their clothes off. It's the last article of clothing standing between them, so Arthur doesn't even have time to complain before Eames is throwing the wrecked pants off the bed and hitching Arthur's waist up and pushing himself in.

He fits in Arthur like he was made to reside there. He picks up a rapid, brutal pace.

“Mine,” he growls, over and over, nipping at Arthur's jaw. “You're mine.”

“I'm not,” Arthur forces out, angry and humiliated, loving this, hating Eames. He can feel Eames' sharp teeth on his neck when he grins.

“As if you'd ever be anyone's bitch but mine,” he says.

“Why?” Arthur demands. His eyes are streaming and he can't tell if it's from mingled hurt and fury or from the pain of Eames' cock stretching him. “Because I can't let anyone fuck me without them realizing I'm a freak with a cat tail? Because it's true, alright, you're the only one, is that what you want to hear—”

“Oh, Arthur,” Eames says on a shuddering breath, and before Arthur can see it coming, Eames is kissing him again, devouring him, sweet and gentle in sharp contrast to the force with which he pounds Arthur's hole. Arthur has the same thought he always has—that he kisses like a lover—and suddenly he wants to stop, wants to get off this ride, off the world altogether. He scrabbles weakly at Eames' shoulders, trying to convey this, but isn't strong enough to stop kissing him.

He's hard—he can't help his body's reaction—and Eames brings him off quickly and deftly with his hand. He realizes, when he blinks away the starbursts, that Eames is getting close, too. But instead of pulling out, Eames just goes on fucking him, until with a low growl and a gasp he pushes himself in as deep as he can, flattening Arthur's hips at an awkward angle against the bed, and Arthur can instantly feel Eames' knot binding them tautly.

He forgot how much it hurts.

He tries hard not to speak—not to say “ow” or anything—but he's got his eyes squeezed shut and the sheets bunched up in his hands and is making soft ah, ah noises before Eames is even finished swelling. He feels Eames pressing their faces together, panting raggedly.

“Squeeze down around me, Arthur. It helps.”

His voice is so hoarse he barely sounds human anymore. Arthur tries to do it, but his muscles won't obey him, any of them. He just has to lie there and take it until Eames' body is evidently satisfied that they're sealed together and Eames comes with a series of soft grunts, his face buried in Arthur's neck.

For a few seconds longer Arthur lies there, his heartbeat thundering in his ears, listening to Eames' rough attempts at breathing. Then Eames stirs, leaning his weight on his elbows, and turning his face he presses a kiss to Arthur's shoulder.

“There,” he says. He sounds wrecked. “Is that what you wanted?”

No, Arthur wants to say. No, he doesn't want to be stuck with Eames for any extended period of time. But the blood is pounding in his head and he only manages a mute nod.

Eames laughs harshly, a short breathless burst of air against Arthur's face.

“You want to be my mate?”

“I like you,” says Arthur. His eyes are watering. He feels filled to the brim with Eames, Eames' prick and his knot and his come, and the words are squeezed out of him like there's no room for anything else inside him but Eames. This time Eames doesn't laugh.

“You like me, Arthur?” he says, gazing fiercely into Arthur's eyes.

Arthur nods again, breathlessly.

“Do you love me?” Eames asks. “To the very marrow of your bones, do you love me? Do you pine for me when I'm not in the same room as you? Does it kill you to imagine a future if I'm not in it?” Arthur can only shake his head, and Eames finishes bitterly, “Because that's how I feel about you.”

“You said—”

“What I thought you wanted to hear,” says Eames impatiently. “Arthur, I'm fucking arse-over-teakettle mad about you. Almost literally mad about you. I saw you with that boy just now and I wanted to kill him. A twenty-year-old kid, and I wanted to rip him apart for looking at you and wanting to touch you. Werewolves mate for life, Arthur, and we don't share. It's not exactly something I thought you'd want a stake in.”

Arthur digests all of this, still struggling to draw breath normally while he's spitted on Eames' cock, his tail crushed under their bodies.

“It's your choice,” Eames says finally, some of the harshness leaving his tone. “Either you're my best friend, and we do this because we have great chemistry and it's convenient, and I hope that someday I find someone who makes me half as happy as you do and that you find the person you're truly meant to be with—or you're my mate, and I love you with all my heart till the end of my days, and I do this to you, hurt you like this, every time we fuck, because I almost can't bear not tying with you when all my instincts say it's the right thing to do. That it makes you mine. Think about it, Arthur.”

“Okay,” Arthur says, voice strained. “I'll think,” and Eames' eyes soften and he leans down and takes Arthur's mouth gently in a kiss. And secretly Arthur doesn't want to think about it, because it's scary, the immensity of Eames' feelings for him, when nobody has ever loved Arthur so wholly and completely before; but with Eames kissing him, quietly loving him like this, it seems less overwhelming. More like something Arthur can get behind.

He says, “We can try this,” and Eames kisses him again with a broken sound of relief.

When they're finally able to part, Eames slides down the bed and pushes Arthur's legs back in order to examine him for damage. Arthur can only imagine how red and swollen his hole must be, and Eames strokes over it gently with a thumb as if in contrition.

“I hurt you last time,” says Eames. “I didn't want to do it again. I've never tied with anyone else, Arthur.”

“I kind of like it,” Arthur admits, now that the pain is less real, and Eames grins. He rolls Arthur over onto his stomach, and starts stroking a hand down his tail, smoothing out the rumpled fur over and over, and Arthur closes his eyes and has to swallow a purr.

“There's something you should know about me, Eames,” he says, opening his eyes again. “Before we get any more serious.”

Eames goes on stroking and looks up at him. Arthur has to swallow hard.

“When I was—a newborn, a couple of hours old, I was found wrapped up in a towel outside a hospital with my ears cut off.”

Eames' hand stills. “Your ears—?”

“My—other ones.” Arthur gestures to the top of his head, where he can never feel the scars but knows they're there. “You asked me about my parents. I'm guessing my father was like me and my mother didn't know him well enough. Or maybe he was normal, too, and he helped her do it. I don't know. But she saw the kind of freak she'd given birth to and when she couldn't fix it, when she realized my tail wasn't a weird backwards umbilical cord or something, she wanted nothing to do with me.”

Eames' hand grips his tail very tightly, almost hard enough to make Arthur's eyes water.

“I don't like to feel rejected or—unwanted,” Arthur says. “Especially because of what I am.” And he turns so that he can look Eames in the eye. “If you ever make me feel like that again, I'll leave you.”

For once, Eames' expression is gravely serious. He lets go of Arthur's tail and climbs up the bed, dropping down next to him and pulling Arthur up against him with an arm cradled possessively around him.

“Arthur,” he murmurs. “I love everything about you. Especially that you're slightly feline.” He presses a kiss to Arthur's hair, where Arthur imagines one of the scars might be. His voice dips to a growl. “And I will gladly spend the rest of my life making sure you always feel wanted.”

Arthur twines his fingers with Eames', then cranes his neck back so they can kiss properly.


The extraction goes very well. Before they kick out, Arthur tells McMartin, “You should have a conversation with your son.”

When the cruise is over and the ship is docked once more off the coast of Florida, and they're all waiting in a line to disembark, Arthur spots the McMartin family. Josh catches his eye and gives him a little wave, and Arthur nods back.

Eames, noticing, tightens his arm around Arthur's waist and growls under his breath.

“Down, boy,” says Arthur dryly. He slips a hand into Eames' and squeezes, smiling lazily. “I'm all yours.”