To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. ~source unknown
It’s small. It’s cramped. At least it’s clean.
His calf is going to hurt like a bitch. He knows because it has already hurt like a bitch, when the bullet went through, then again when Arthur fired three rapid shots into the dirt and cauterized the wound with the barrel of his gun. Arthur hasn’t changed his shirt and it’s full of holes: burns, ragged tears, neat slits. There is a long thread coming loose at the bottom hem, which isn’t tucked in.
Eames has an idea why Arthur still insists on wearing white: it’s because when it gets soiled, when it gets sliced and punctured and pulled free of the waistline of Arthur’s trou, the color makes Eames want to drag him to the ground and shag him senseless.
“Nngh,” he says and relaxes back onto the narrow, inclined… well, it’s not exactly a chair, is it? Foamy patient thing, then, unisex because it has stirrups tucked in there underneath and that butcher paper pulled down over the top to shield his precious bum from any wayward germs. He’s still dressed, though, so that hardly matters. Except for the part where the lower half of his right trouser leg is missing.
Arthur’s frowning at the phial he just lifted from their overworked doctor’s pocket. Eames leans in, pointedly studies the label as well until Arthur heaves a sigh and shoves him back with a palm flat to his chest. “What?”
“Feels good, you know. Not like it’s been laced at all.”
Arthur glares at him, but he does put the phial down. Hitches his shoulders back sharply as if snapping something off them. He has developed a worrisome cough, worrisome because it’s already a month old. His breathing is visibly shallower these days. “We have one clip left to our name. One.”
“Which will be more than enough, now.”
Arthur eyes him sidelong and Eames sighs.
“Don’t tell me you don’t trust Saito anymore.” He’s praying Arthur doesn’t confirm. Because if he does, Eames is going to combust into a little weepy pile of exhaustion. It’s come, he’s reached it: his very last nerve.
He personally thinks taking eight months to get there is pretty damned impressive. Arthur even more so, because as far as Eames can tell, his husband still has a few nerves left to work with.
But Arthur’s expression turns exasperated. “Yes, I trust Saito.”
Eames resists the incredible urge to groan ‘thank god’ while collapsing back onto his foamy unisex patient thing.
The door to the tiny room opens at the hand of a scrub-clad man, and Arthur has his gun out from the hollow at the small of his back almost too fast for Eames to react. Almost. Eames scrabbles with the coat in his lap and throws it over the weapon and Arthur’s wrist, trapping both against his thigh.
“Would you stop?” he hisses. Arthur yanks his hand away, leaves the gun behind.
“Oh, I’m so sorry for covering our asses,” he hisses back. The bridge of his nose pinches tight, his mouth puckers irritably. “Go ahead. Do whatever.”
“Just— take this, take it. Now.” He pushes the gun at Arthur but it gets swamped in his coat.
Arthur glowers at him. Opens his mouth, and stops.
They look up to find the nurse eyeing them. He’s holding a clipboard full of papers in one hand and a set of crutches over the other arm. His pale eyebrow is almost lost in his hairline. “I’d come back later, gents, but this really can’t wait.”
Arthur gets off the un-chair with that smooth grace Eames hasn’t seen in… oh, eight months. At least, not in its entirety. It’s always been colored by other things, tighter somewhere than it should be. Its return settles something squirmy inside him with such unexpected abruptness that Eames’ mouth drops open. He closes it as quickly as he remembers.
“Look,” the nurse says, not sparing more than a glance at the coat— must not have seen the gun after all. “I have instructions to forward all bills to a Mr. Saito, but I need you to sign off on it, because he’s also claiming the remainder of your medical care.”
Eames and Arthur’s eyes meet, and Arthur reaches out for the paperwork. Reads swiftly but not carelessly, and signs each sheet as he gets to the end. Eames shares an awkward smile with the nurse who wrapped his leg in the first place, and then spends the rest of the time splitting his attention between the ceiling and his husband’s rapt profile.
Eventually Arthur hands the stack back to the nurse, who has just watched him forge Eames’ signature seven times at point blank range. The expression on Arthur’s face challenges the man to go ahead, say something about it to my face, why don’t you.
The nurse is smart: swallows a little bit, but doesn’t utter a word.
Hold on a tick, it’s… possible there’s something else in that look. Eames clears his throat, reaches, slides his left hand over Arthur’s left where it has returned to his side and keeps both their rings in view. “He’s got a bit of a cough; you don’t have anything we can…?”
The nurse responds with efficiency enough to make Eames feel a little stupid, but then Arthur turns back to him— his eyes, his whole body, it’s complete— and Eames sort of forgets there are other people in the vicinity.
They haven’t been able to sit still for five days. No hotels. No couches, no beds. Just a car they alternated driving, planes they hopped until the layovers took too long. It’s been a day since they ate. Two days since either one of them has properly slept. That last burner phone they finally, finally used two weeks ago is long gone; they no longer have belongings save for the guns concealed so haphazardly in the folds of Eames’ jacket.
At long last, their substantial lead had been eaten up. This was the last, desperate sprint. Eames knew it. Arthur knew it. Neither of them said it out loud, not even when that one shot had hit clean and Eames stumbled to his knees in the middle of a grimy alley.
This time when the nurse returns, he looks positively spooked.
“There’s a car waiting for you,” he says, handing over a pair of prescriptions. He peers nervously back toward the door. “Outside.”
It doesn’t take long for the nurse to disappear again. Eames looks his husband in the eye and gives him back his gun.
They leave the ‘doc-in-a-box’, where everyone is beautifully uneasy about extraneous questions. The air is hot and heavy, filled with the buzz of insects. Eames limps on his crutches into Arthur’s shadow, Arthur, who blocks him with his body and trains his gun on the low, sleek black vehicle idling on the street. The door opens and the driver gets out with both hands in plain sight.
Arthur levels the barrel unapologetically at his head.
The man moves slowly out of the way and points to a small laptop perched on his seat.
“I expect you will not get into the car,” Saito intones from the screen, “without some reassurance that it is, in fact, mine.”
“Truer words,” Arthur answers, and lifts his chin.
Saito gives them their insurance in pictures, slideshowing neutralized pursuers across the screen, along with a picture of snow. A taxi cab in the rain. A single word: tourist. Eventually Arthur lowers his weapon.
“A belated gift that I am pleased to present.” Saito’s face is so passive he looks etched in wood. “Though I would have preferred an invitation to the wedding itself.”
“Hello, Saito,” Eames sighs. Arthur turns and Eames drifts into his arms, leaning more heavily than he’d intended. Arthur cups a hand against the back of his head, a single, slow pass over his hair.
“You should have contacted me much earlier.”
Eames has absolutely no argument for that.
“Get in,” Saito orders.
It’s plush, Eames supposes. Truthfully, he doesn’t really notice. Arthur’s body drapes over the leather like he’s molding himself to it, head lazed back, fingers entangled firmly with Eames’. There is water, ice cold and perspiring, and Eames downs an entire bottle while Arthur watches from beneath hooded eyelids. They have company in the back seat, a suited woman with a formidable weapon held serenely across her lap. She is politely not looking their way, and Eames’ instincts try to force surveillance, but it’s like everything has shut itself off.
Everything but his awareness of Arthur.
They end up at a posh condominium that is somehow still tucked neatly out of sight, one among many in a nondescript high rise. The rooms are lavish and almost clinically clean. There is clothing set out for them. Food. Their prescriptions filled and a number to call if and when they require anything else medical. People outside the door, and the building, just in case.
Eames drops his crutches to the side, lowers himself gingerly onto the couch, then wishes he’d held out for the bed. Then decides, fuck it.
“How’s your leg?” Arthur asks. He’s checking the rooms, like he has done for the past eight months, and Eames doesn’t have the heart to stop him.
“Feeling no pain,” he singsongs.
Arthur finishes an albeit abbreviated perusal and then looks around the condo with a less analytical bent. “God. Last time we were in a place like this—”
“I know,” Eames drawls.
The corners of Arthur’s mouth shiver upward. “Few months shy.”
Eames waves him over, keeps waving until Arthur actually sits down beside him, and flings the same arm around his shoulders, hauling him as close as he can get him. Arthur smells of smoke and gunshot residue, and weariness. “Celebrate early this year,” he murmurs into Arthur’s hair. Inhales the scent of it slowly through his nose because at last he can. “Yeah?”
“Fuck, yes,” Arthur sighs, giving way so completely Eames would call it a fall. He slumps utterly against Eames’ body, his next exhalation whooshing out in one long gust. Wraps his arms tight around Eames’ middle. And there they sit, breathing in tandem while the sun’s rays drag down the walls.
It’s not who you are to the world, it’s who you are to me. ~Anon