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Keep the Car Running, Part II

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Part II: Depending on Your Focus: Magnussen, or Sherlock & John

Chapter 1

“Look at you,” said Eames, exhausted, tumbling into bed. “You didn’t even reach for your gun. I could have been anyone. I could have been an intruder.”

“I knew you weren’t,” Arthur yawned. “Tate didn’t bark.”

“I could have been an intruder with peanut butter,” Eames said. “That dog is a tart.”

“Welcome home,” said Arthur sleepily, and snuggled into him. “How was the flight?”

“Didn’t crash.”

“You smell like an airplane.”

“Tell me about it.”

“And also like chocolate milk.”

“That’s an interesting story, but I’ve been in, like, five different time zones in the past four days, so I’ll tell you in the morning.”

“You haven’t been lying to me about this job being a cakewalk and it was actually awful and now I need to put out hits on yet another stupid fucking incompetent team for you, have you?” demanded Arthur, sounding more awake than Eames would have liked.

“You realize your tendency to try to kill people is the reason why I’d have to lie to you in the first place,” said Eames drily.

“Yes, I’m a horrible person who wants to keep you alive.”

“The job was fine. I’m just tired because I got back here to you as quickly as I could, and the airports are all a mess, and do you really think I could effectively lie to you anymore?” Because Eames couldn’t resist calling Arthur at least every day, just to hear his voice (which was only bearable because Arthur did the same, whenever they took jobs that separated them). It had been nearly a year, a Year of Arthur, and still Eames couldn’t resist calling him every day, relishing the fact that not only could he do that but that Arthur expected and welcomed it. And Eames called Arthur more when the jobs were frustrating and he needed to vent, and he wouldn’t have been able to resist snarling at Arthur if the job had been a disaster.

“You could never lie to me,” Arthur pointed out confidently.

“That’s what you always thought,” said Eames, pressing his nose into Arthur’s dear neck and inhaling Arthur’s familiar sleep-scent and thinking how glorious it was to be home. To have a place to call home, actually, and to have it be wherever this astonishing man was. Eames’s hand still itched for his totem, just to check. “That’s what I wanted you to think.” Eames settled, feeling the tension from the travel leak away from him as he fit himself around Arthur with effortless instinct.

“Uh-huh.” Arthur’s hand came up and brushed through Eames’s hair, and Eames made an embarrassing noise of helpless approval. “And I totally let you think that.” Arthur’s lips made an appearance against his head, and then he said, “Sex later?”

“Sex later,” agreed Eames. “I couldn’t even stay awake for sex now.”

“I don’t really need for you to be awake,” said Arthur, lips dipping down across Eames’s temple, hands dipping down toward other places, and Eames thought that it had been an incredibly long time since he’d had Arthur’s hands and not just the pixels of them over Skype.

“You’re actually the world’s most insulting person and I missed you like crazy,” Eames told him, and suddenly tackled him back onto the bed.

“I thought you said sex later,” said Arthur, and dimpled up at him, and Eames’s heart thudded the way it still did, every single time, tipping right over at Arthur’s feet.

“Yeah. I lied to you,” said Eames. “Still got it.”

“I hate you,” said Arthur.

“Oh, darling, I know,” said Eames, with a grin, before he made it his own personal mission to get Arthur to admit that no, actually, he really, really loved him.

Eames was very good at that particular mission.

***

Eames woke to bright sunshine and Tate in Arthur’s spot in the bed.

“Morning,” Eames yawned at him, and Tate wagged his fluffy little tail and pounced onto Eames’s chest, and Eames covered him with kisses because Arthur wasn’t around to see that yes, Eames spoiled the dog.

Tate settled down, and Eames scratched behind his ears and looked up at the Titian over the bed. The placement had been Arthur’s idea, because Arthur had a devious streak that Eames hadn’t previously suspected. Eames had consented only because he liked the idea of being extravagant enough to have priceless art on their ceiling, but he’d told Arthur the first time he was called Titian in bed the thing was coming down.

Which meant Eames was almost always called Titian in bed these days, and he’d developed a bloody Pavlovian response to the name.

Eames rolled himself out of bed and went in search of Arthur or coffee. He dragged himself through the small living room, where his first Paris painting of Arthur hung over the fireplace, because Arthur insisted it wasn’t redundant to have a painting of Paris in a flat in Paris. The door to their tiny balcony was propped open and a breeze was coming in, giving away Arthur’s location, so Eames paused for coffee first. There was a fresh pot in the kitchen, and Eames called out, “Bless you, darling!”

“I didn’t sneeze!” Arthur called back.

“For the coffee, pet,” Eames clarified, pouring himself a cup, and it was halfway to his mouth, the first glorious sip almost there…

And then he spotted the Kandinsky, propped up against the kitchen counter.

Eames blinked at it, and then he stumbled his way onto their balcony. “There’s a Kandinsky in our kitchen,” he told Arthur.

“Is there?” said Arthur, and filled in a word in the crossword puzzle he was doing.

Arthur.”

“Happy birthday,” Arthur said, and looked up at him, beaming with pride at his own ingenuity. “Slightly belated. Sorry we missed it.”

Eames shook his head to show how much that didn’t matter. Arthur’s last job had run over and interfered with Eames’s birthday, and Arthur had obviously felt awful about it even though Eames hadn’t cared and even though it clearly hadn’t been Arthur’s fault since Arthur’s jobs almost always ran like clockwork. And it was Eames who had had another job scheduled that had overlapped with the end of Arthur’s, and altogether it had been far too long since they had been in the same place at the same time. Eames thought he’d needed no bonus on the perfection of his current morning, and Arthur was amazing for having arranged such a bonus. “Is it a forgery, or stolen, or legally purchased?” he asked.

“I thought you’d prefer to figure that out on your own,” said Arthur.

Madame Fouchard, kindly turn around, I’m going to give my boyfriend a blow job right here on this balcony!” Eames shouted to their neighbor.

Bonjour, monsieur!” she called back happily, because she didn’t speak a word of English.

Eames didn’t drop to his knees, though. He leaned forward and gave Arthur a kiss. Just a kiss. Because he was Arthur, and Eames loved him so much that he was dizzy with it, even on mornings when Arthur didn’t surprise him with Kandinskys (fake or otherwise) over coffee.

And Arthur kissed him back, in that miraculous way he had, that way of saying, Yes, I love you, too.

“Best gift ever,” Eames mumbled, and didn’t really mean the Kandinsky. “Thank you, darling.”

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you like it.”

“I don’t like it, I love it.”

“Even better,” Arthur smiled. “Now sit down and have your coffee. Look, I ran out and got you a croissant, too.”

“Being home is the best,” said Eames happily, as he sat and ate his croissant and pretended he didn’t slip bits to Tate. Arthur tipped his chair back and worked on his crossword puzzle and pretended not to see him slipping bits to Tate.

“Are you awake now?” Arthur asked him eventually, setting his chair down on all four legs and putting his crossword puzzle aside.

“I’ve been awake,” said Eames, poking a toe underneath the cuff of Arthur’s trousers so he could see what socks Arthur was wearing.

“You’re never awake until after your first cup of coffee,” Arthur said. “I try to have conversations with you before your first cup of coffee, and you never remember them.”

“That’s because they’re usually conversations about bloody dry cleaning, darling.”

“You’re really a terrible person,” said Arthur. “I like it much better when you’re not home.”

“But then who will drive you wild with lust until you’re begging to come?” asked Eames loudly, and Madame Fouchard waved cheerfully at him.

“Would you stop in your attempt to teach our French neighbor English words only about sex?”

“No, actually, because I like it.” He raised his voice. “Why, yes, darling, the lube is hidden in the window box.”

Arthur rolled his eyes. “Listen up, Titian.”

“Oho, playing dirty now, are we?”

“I’m always playing dirty, you just caught up. I got a call from an old friend.”

“Is it Saito? Because he pays well.”

“Sherlock Holmes,” said Arthur.

Eames blinked. “Sherlock Holmes. Huh. What’s he want?”

“He has a job for us.”

“Christ, no.”

“Eames.”

“No, no, no.” Eames shook his head. “Arthur, that job was a fucking disaster and we’re lucky we’re alive. Absolutely not.”

“Fine,” said Arthur. “You’re right. Of course you are. You don’t have to do it.”

Eames looked at him. “I don’t have to do it?”

Arthur fiddled with the mug that Eames knew had held hot chocolate that morning and said, “I owe him.”

“You owe him? For what?” The idea boggled Eames’s mind.

Arthur met his eyes. “He told me to tell you,” he said, simply.

Eames looked at Arthur, whose hair was tumbled in loose waves and who was dressed in a T-shirt. A ridiculously expensive T-shirt, yes, but still just a T-shirt. Arthur, who looked not at all at the moment like the best point man in dreamsharing but just looked like a man eating breakfast with his boyfriend. They were sitting on their balcony with a table between them on which they’d eaten fresh croissants Arthur had run out to get, coffee Arthur had made for Eames because Arthur never drank coffee at home. He looked at their dog snoozing in the sun, at the living room beyond, with Arthur’s coffee table books on architecture and fashion and Eames’s dog-eared paperbacks. And he’d woken in their rumpled bed, well-shagged and comfortable in a way he’d never have thought possible, relaxed, happy. He’d woken up with a home, which he’d never had before and had never even bothered to imagine. And he’d woken up with the knowledge of Arthur, somewhere nearby and waiting for him, waiting to kiss him good morning, which he had imagined but still couldn’t believe. Arthur, who procured him Kandinskys and croissants and coffees. Arthur, whose dimples used to be such a challenge for Eames and now Eames’s mere presence seemed enough to bring them forth.

Eames rubbed the arch of his foot against Arthur’s calf and he sighed and said, “What does he need help with?”

“Some guy named Magnussen,” said Arthur.