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I Dream of His Laughter

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Chapter One

~ He laughs at my dreams, but I dream of his laughter. ~

Eames had never had a crush before. Sure, there had been girls, and eventually guys who he thought were cute, but never crushes, like ones you see in movies where the guy acts like a total idiot around them, where he thinks about her the first thing every morning, and the last every night, and he can't get her out of her head, and he draws hearts with their initials in it. Never that.

That is, until Arthur crawled his way back into Eames' life, and weaseled his way into his heart. And this would be okay, except for the deal they made to never be anything more than friends.

Friends... with certain benefits.

~

It had started after the Inception job was officially over; they had done the impossible, and it had done relatively well, give or take a few glitches. But in the end, they had finished what everyone had assumed to be the job that couldn't succeed. That thought, plus the extremely generous sum of money deposited into their bank almost instantly after the job was done had Eames in a very, very good mood that afternoon. And, so it seemed, everyone else. Cobb being reunited with his family, Saito getting exactly what he wanted, enough money for Ariadne to continue her schooling in Paris for the next twenty years, etc, it seemed like a perfect fairytale ending.

He had given Arthur one quick nod, and had recieved a, "Goodbye, Mr. Eames," in return, in the usual Arthur fashion. And then Eames had gotten into a cab, without a permanent destination yet set in his mind.

Eventually, he decided to stay in a hotel in LA, one of the more expensive ones, since he could definitely afford the best the city had to offer.

~

He was about to get into bed, after an especially exhausting day. Although technically, he had been sleeping for most of the day, it was draining, being in the dream world. He was turning the lights off in the suite, making his way over to the bed before he got a call from a kind of familiar number. Curious, he pressed his phone to his ear.

"Eames." He raised his eyebrows at the sound of his name, coming from the very voice of none other than-

"Arthur?" He asked, the surprise apparent in his tone.

"Yes, it's Arthur. Where are you?" Arthur was obviously drunk, not fully wasted, but enough that his syllables had started to slur. Eames smirked to himself, enjoying Arthur being anyone but his cool, polished self.

"Uh, my hotel room."

"What's the address?" Arthur asked, being a little too loud than he needed to be.

Eames sat down on the satin sheets, frowning. "Arthur, I'm sure if you ask your cab driver, which I'm assuming you're taking one, because you are much too drunk to driving, about a hotel, he'll take you to one."

"No, no, no, no. I'm not going to need a room. I'll just stay in y-yours."

"Darling, what in the world are you getting at?" Eames asked incredulously. He could hear the sounds of glasses clinking and music playing in the bar Arthur was presumably getting hammered at in the background.

"Are you kidding me, Eames? You, me, hotel room, how much clearer could it get?" Arthur said, actually giggling, fucking giggling after, as if it was an everyday thing, them meeting up at hotels.

"Are you-"

"The address, Mr. Eames. The address." He repeated, and Eames felt some of that Arthur seriousness sneak back into him. Eames chuckled, and before he knew what he was saying, he was telling him the name of the hotel, and the street. He could hear Arthur repeating it back to the cab driver, echoing him almost perfectly.

"Room 528." He added, his heart beating just a little bit faster. Arthur said some sort of confirmation, and then Eames hung up, before the realization hit him. The strangeness of everything suddenly was clear to him.

The room number was the same one they used in the Fischer job, for one. And what were the odds in real life that Arthur, stick in the mud kind of hot Arthur, wanted to hook up with him, drunk or not?

Eames reached into his pocket, and pulled out the red and black poker chip, the one that was worn out around the tough edges, the paint chipping off, and the value fading away. But what he felt was real, and he was suddenly alarming lucid.

This was his poker chip.

He wasn't dreaming.

Arthur did call him, and apparently, truly wanted to hook up with him. Eames laughed to himself a thought, nah, Arthur'll come to his senses sooner or later.

And with that, Eames slipped under the covers, and closed his eyes, before he drifted asleep.

~

Eames was ripped out of sleep by sudden, impatient knocks on the door. He groaned, not wanting to answer whatever idiot was knocking on his door at this hour. He closed his eyes, hoping the prick would just leave him alone.

"Eames, open up," It was a pleasant surprise to be once again dragged out of sleep by the intoxicated voice of lovely Arthur, and it was then that he remembered their conversation before.

"Darling, I think you have the wrong room," he muttered, as he sleepily made his way to the door, reaching blindly in the dark for the knob and turning it, as light flooded the room.

Arthur stumbled drunkenly into the room, not saying a single slurred word before he slammed his lips against Eames', meshing against him in a seemingly perfect kiss, drunk as he was.

Eames' groaned in spite of himself, the feeling of Arthur's thin lips against his simply mesmerizing. Arthur hummed in response, moving forward, and kicking the door closed behind him. His limber arms wound their way around Eames' neck, as he closed the space between them, pressing his body flush against the forger's. He worked his lips languidly against Eames', as they stumbled back towards the bed; their mouths open wide and exploring every inch of the other's.

"Wait, wait," Eames insisted, as he broke away, gasping for breath in the darkness of the suddenly heated room. He was fully awake now, not one ounce of fatigue in him. “Arthur, what are you doing?” Arthur sighed, avoiding his eyes. “What are we doing?”

Arthur let out a shaky, so uncharacteristically hesitant laugh, and rested his forehead against Eames’, not caring if the level of affection was way above his personal limit.

“I can’t,” He stopped himself, not wanting to say something he’d regret later. “I can’t be alone, tonight. Please, Eames.” Arthur’s voice was so desperate, so needy; Eames didn’t need to be asked twice.

“Of course, darling,” Eames agreed, and then he kissed him briefly on the corner of the mouth. “Come here.” And he tilted Arthur’s head up onto his full, pink lips, capturing him in a mind blowing kiss, one that Arthur would later look back on and think of how he almost literally saw stars.

Their movements became frantic as Arthur pushed them back, letting Eames flop onto the bed, and be climbed on, by Arthur’s skinny legs, that remarkably had enough strength to straddle him, and pin him down under him. Their lips stayed locked, neither one of them breaking away.

Eames’ gently worked his hands up to the small of Arthur’s back, and then dragged them down, hooking his thumbs in the point man’s belt loops, pulling him much, much closer.

Arthur was the first to break away, eager to press kisses to Eames’ neck and slightly stubbly jaw line, leaving tiny marks, biting and nibbling at the soft, tanned skin. Eames let out a heavy groan, and his hands found Arthur’s ass.

He squeezed the taut flesh, and Arthur arched up at a perfect, incredibly erotic angle, with the limited light from the open window that highlighted all of his soft edges, and darkened all the forbidden places Eames would soon get to explore, an adventurer in an unknown, previously off limits land, full of sexy hills and valleys Eames had sometimes checked out from the safe confines of the warehouse.

“Oh, Eames,” Arthur moaned. The sound of his name on those always tightly pressed lips made the forger’s mind spin, as if he weren’t already crazy with lust.

“Fuck me.” Arthur pleaded, bringing himself back for another kiss, this one long and passionate, all tongues, not teeth.

“Say- say it again,” Eames whispered, and Arthur complied, almost purring out the sexy reply.

“Fuck me, Mr. Eames.”

And he did.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

The first thing that Eames became aware of in the morning was the slight pressure, the easy confinement of two arms curled around his torso, holding him tight against a warm body. He was never much for cuddling after sex, especially one night stands, but in the past, previous lovers had discovered his secret affection for waking up with a body pressed flush against him, their arms draped lazily across his, pulling him close, being connected.

The second thing Eames became aware of was the fact that these toned arms, these smooth hands, they belonged to Arthur. The same Arthur that had always had the confident strut. The polished smile. The answer to everything. The very same Arthur who had come to his door, so drunk he could barely walk, let alone think straight, and asked, well practically begged him to fuck him senseless. Which, if his memory served, he did rather well.

The third thing the forger became aware of was the fluttering, growing feeling bubbling up inside of him as Arthur tightened his grip around his torso. It sent shivers up his spine, and fear down his back, because he shouldn't be feeling like this after a drunken one night stand that Arthur will probably regret, and not remember anyway.

"Mm... Eames," Arthur mumbled, halfway stirring in his sleep.

Eames felt a rush of ... something scream up his spine, and he involuntarily tensed. He felt Arthur move slightly, and then press warm lips to the back of his neck. Shivers travelled up and down Eames' back, and he exhaled.

"Mmm..." The point man hummed, kissing Eames' tanned skin, letting his mouth trail from the back of his jaw, to the crease of his shoulder blade before he pressed his front, to Eames' back, and tightening his grip on him even more.

Eames couldn't help but groan, as he fully regained consciousness. His senses were now fully focused, totally aware of everything.

"Darling, it's much too early in the morning for you to be turning me on."

Arthur laughed.

It was a particularly gorgeous sound, Arthur's laugh. A genuine one so rare Eames promised himself right then and right there he would do anything to hear it again.

"We fucked last night, Eames."

In response, Eames sighed. He had expected this come to realization, this one moment filled with regret. He’d predicted the next part would go something like, “I hope it never happens again,” or “let’s just forget it ever happened.”

He felt Arthur lay his chin in the dip of Eames' shoulder, and it took all of Eames' strength to keep facing forward, to not spin around, plant another loving, no, that's not the word, that can’t be the word, lustful kiss to those thin, expertly trained lips.

"Yeah. Yeah we did."

"It was fucking fantastic."

Well. That, he certainly did not expect.

"Wait, you remembered it?" Eames asked, incredulous. He was sure Arthur was beyond wasted last night.

"Mhm," he confirmed, before he took Eames' earlobe into his mouth, and nibbled it, playing with the skin with his lips and teeth. "Actually, I remembered all of it."

Eames was about to turn around when he felt the space next to him seem suddenly very, very cold, and empty.

"Arthur, where did you-"

When he finally looked, the point man was pulling up boxers over his bare ass. His clearly defined back bones shifted as he stretched his arms over his head, slipping on a t-shirt.

Eames knew Arthur would leave, he just hadn't hoped it would be so soon. Eames closed his eyes, and let his tough exterior cover him again. He would not feel for Arthur, this heartless man. He would not care for Arthur. He would not let himself. Not this time.

"It was a nice fuck, I'll admit that. It would be interesting to see you top next time, though." Eames grumbled, meaning it entirely as a joke. He buried his face in the cotton pillows, trying to drown out his hopefully not apparent sorrow.

"Maybe I can try that, next time." Arthur said, though his tone was anything but joking.

"Are you- are you serious?" Eames asked, lifting his face up, and flopping onto his face. "You want a next time?"

Arthur just looked at him.

"Are you serious? You said it yourself, it was a great fuck. Why not try it again?"

Eames scoffed. "Is this like, a relationship?" He painted his voice with think sarcasm, though in his mind, there was a small part of him hoping for Arthur to say yes. He pushed away that small part of himself, locking it away.

"Of course not. Just friends. With certain benefits." He answered, Arthur's smooth, practiced response for everything rolling off his tongue.

"Right." Eames replied, masking his disappointment in his tone. He watched as Arthur turned away from him, and he couldn't help marveling at the great body that was Arthur's, and the great, formed ass he owned as well.

"Screw this." He muttered under his breath, almost growling as he made his way off the bed. If he couldn't be with Arthur, he could sure fuck Arthur, for all he was worth.

Eames attacked Arthur's waist with his hands, gripping him tightly as he ran his tongue up the small of his back. He felt Arthur gasp, the response obvious as the point man writhed in pleasure.

Eames held him tight, hooking his thumbs in Arthur's belt loop, and tugging, hard, the slick material of his pants falling instantly, and they brought his boxers along with them.

He spun him around, face to face with Arthur's already semi hard cock. Eames moaned at the sight. He didn't hesitate before he took him full in his mouth, and swallowed him to the base, nuzzling into neatly trimmed hairs. He felt Arthur's dick spring up at the contact, and he felt his own erection harden in his boxers.

"Come here," he growled after he broke away, backing up onto the bed, pulling a flushed Arthur along with him.

"Fuck," Arthur moaned, as Eames' mouth found his dick again.

Eames let himself take care of Arthur, pleasing him the way no man ever could come close to doing, and he let himself forget how much he wanted to make love to this man, not just fuck, to take him out on a proper date, to kiss him on the cheek. But he couldn't. They were just fuck buddies, nothing more, and for now, Eames was content with that as he pulled him underneath the satin sheets once more.

Chapter Text

Author's Note:

Wow, thank you everyone who has been giving me kudos/subscribing/bookmarking and commenting on this fic, it really means alot <3 I've gotten mostly positive feedback so far, thankfully, but just saying, I graciously accept all types of criticism. Thank you again, and hope you enjoy this next chapter.

Chapter Three

At first it was easy for Arthur, being fucked by Eames every night. Contrary to what he'd said, he never really did top, and Eames never really was one for bottoming, and so that was usually how it went.

Arthur would come home from a job, muscles all tense from the day's work. It'd be around seven, or eight, after a quick dinner that usually came from a packet, or a can, or some takeout place a block away, and he would glance over to the side, at the glowing fluorescent screen of his phone, and remember.

Eames.

He remembers no, he does not have to sleep alone tonight.

It's a sadly comforting thought, actually, the promise of a warm body, of a good fuck. Arthur would debate it for a quick second in his mind, as there was always the chance that
Eames would be busy, and the last thing Arthur wanted was to come off as desperate. But he always brought himself to do it, scrolling through his contacts until he reached
Eames, who hilariously changed his name to "Fuck Buddy" that one time.

He would call, and listen to the steady ring, and close his eyes, bracing himself. There was something about Eames, something he could never quite place, that always made Arthur revert back to his old high school habit of stuttering, and saying far too much, at all the wrong times.

"Uh, Eames." He would start, before the forger could even put a word in. "You up for something tonight? My place?"

And then there was always the Pause. The split second of silence that Arthur dreaded so greatly, the hesitation, the intake of breath that would be the last thing he heard before

Eames had the opportunity to reject him.

But Eames never said no.

Not once.

"Of course, darling. Be there in twenty."

~

At first it was easy for Eames, fucking Arthur every night. He would walk home from the casino, pockets empty save a few dollars, along with the old, weathered poker chip he found himself checking every so often by force of habit, until he got to whatever rundown motel he'd found himself in these days. Although plenty rich from the Fischer job, he usually preferred a cheap, easy motel, since he would usually spend the night at Arthur's anyway.

He'd be ripped from his afternoon nap by the insistent ringing of his cellular. He'd glance at the clock, and just by the time, he could tell it was Arthur. He'd wonder, briefly, if he was still “Fuck Buddy” in his phone, and he'd let a smile grace his features for just a second.

He would never say anything first; he'd always let Arthur talk, the sweet calm tone of his voice jarring Eames fully from sleep.

And Arthur would ask.

Eames would agree, almost instantaneously. He never said no, not once. It wasn't really an option for him.

"Of course, darling. Be there in twenty."

~

But of course, their relationship slowly derailed.

They were lying there, in the post sex afterglow that the two men had come to know all too well, and for once, Eames didn't move. He hovered there, body propped up shakily over
Arthur's, his elbows keeping him above him.

"Mmm. Arthur, you're gorgeous like this," Eames whispered, his voice suddenly so different from the dirty mouth he usually used during sex. It was so sweet, so hesitant to confess his affection; Arthur literally felt the blush creeping up his neck.

"Dont- don't say shit like that," Arthur muttered, as he felt a thunder of emotions spiral upwards in his chest. He pushed Eames to the side, the forger rolling smoothly off of him, and turned to the side, his eyebrows drawing together.

"Wow," Eames stated. A wall of hurt slammed itself against him, but he brushed it aside, regaining his composure. "I'll think twice before I compliment you next time, then."

Arthur swallowed the lump in his throat, and forced his eyes closed. He willed himself to sleep, but he just couldn't suppress the butterflies bubbling up in his stomach.

~

Then there was the first time Eames said no.

"No, sorry."

"Okay, I'll see you in - wait, what?"

"I'm going out, with friends. Sorry, darling."

Arthur stalled. He hadn't quite prepared himself for this.

"Oh. Um. Okay."

There was an awkward, tense, silence.

"Well," Eames started, "I'll be going now, Arthur."

And just like that, Eames hung up, leaving Arthur to stare at his screen in half dazed silence.

He slept that night still on his side of the bed, covers all gathered around him. Arthur was thoroughly surprised at the vacant feeling he was so strongly experiencing at the moment. He had thought sleeping alone for the first night in three weeks, after twenty one warm, Eames filled nights, would be easy.

It wasn't.

For the first time in a long time, Arthur dreamed.

He dreamt of full, pink, lips, with a British accent to match, and strong, taut muscles that pulled him into hot, steamy kisses all night long, and of, surprisingly, the one moment which had happened so long ago, but had all the vivid clarity of it happening yesterday; the day they'd first met.

It was slipping in and out of focus now, the memory of Eames walking through Mal's front door, bottle of brandy in one hand, a sarcastic smile plastered onto his face, tales of his world wide travels just waiting to fall off his tongue.

But the dream ended with an abrupt wake to reality, the shrill ring of his phone stealing him from the comfort of Eames. Well, his memory of him.

~

Eames was finding it harder and harder every night, sleeping with a man who only thought of him as a good fuck, nothing more, while he often found himself daydreaming about holding the point man's smooth hands, slipping an arm around that skinny waist in public, in front of everyone, and pressing a kiss to his cheek, catching him by surprise, making him blush. But he had Arthur, he was able to kiss him, and touch him like no one else, and he tried to be content with what Eames had at the moment.

But sometimes, it just wasn't enough.

Chapter Text

Eames loved the feel of Arthur. The way Eames would slip his hand behind Arthur's neck, and the younger man would practically melt into the touch, lolling his head back, and humming contently. And Eames would feel this fluttering in the bottom of his chest, which he tried to ignore, but sometimes, it was too much, and he would let himself move closer to Arthur, maybe wrap an arm around his waist, or let himself nuzzle into Arthur's side, and he would say,

"Arthur."

And Arthur would kiss him, soft and slow, a kiss so different from usual, and Arthur would feel the fluttering, too, but he would just turn the affection into simple lust, and turn the sweetest of kisses into greedy open-mouthed collisions, and Eames would just tell himself he would speak to Arthur later.

He never does.

~

There are times when Eames oversteps the boundaries. There are times when Arthur pretends not to notice that he does, there are times that he tells Eames to shut up, that he shouldn't be too intimate, that this is just for sex,remember? And then there are those few fragile moments when Arthur wants, desperately, to give in to Eames, who is basically a walking temptation. He wants to return his hug and not to pull away from a kiss that was way too sweet and much too affectionate; sometimes he truthfully, wholeheartedly wants to.

He never does.

~

They had been fucking for thirty days now.

Tomorrow, it would be one month.

Eames chuckled to himself when he realized that. He could call it an anniversary, couldn't he? One month of being hurt, toyed with, used and broken down by a man he was slowly falling in love with, with every collision of teeth and tongues, with every exploring hand, and every sinful touch. It almost made him wince whenever he thought about it.

It was getting much too hard for Eames to resist. He was determined not to slip, but inevitably, love trumps determination without even a moment's hesitation.

"You act like you've done it before" Eames noted, when they were lying in bed, totally naked, totally exposed save a few sex-stained rumpled sheets pulled hastily over each other. There was a foot or so of space between them, as there always seemed to be. The post-sex high was still very much present, and Eames decided to take advantage of it.

"Well, we have been doing this for a month, Eames." Arthur said. Eames ignored the fact that he remembered how long it had been going on; it was probably just a rough estimate.

"That's not what I mean. You... You seem like you've done this before. This friends with benefits thing." Eames felt the words leave his lips with just a twinge of disappointment, or rather, no, it couldn't possibly be jealousy. He mentally scolded himself for overanalyzing just about everything nowadays. Arthur did rub off of him, after all.

"I have, yeah."

"Oh."

"Yeah."

"Care to elaborate?" Eames offered, turning onto his side, so he had a better view of the man next to him. He was so beautifully not Arthur at the moment: in the way that he looked completely carefree, no wrinkles coming together above his brow or creases near his eyes. He looked serene.

The point man lay on his back, and Eames could almost hear cogs and gears turning inside the other man's head in the silence around them, as Arthur continued to gaze at the ceiling.

"Maybe someday." Arthur said quietly, and his tone made it clear he didn't want to talk about that for now.

"Why did you come to me that night, Arthur?" Eames asked, changing the subject.

Arthur visibly stiffened, his eyes shutting at the thought. Whether it was because of what they did, or the reason he did, Eames couldn't tell.

"Can we talk about something else?"

Eames let out a frustrated sigh:

"Arthur, just tell me something. Anything. You can't just bottle up like this whenever I ask you something other than what time do you wanna fuck tonight."

Eames felt anger bubble up in his chest, and he couldn't exactly pinpoint why, but he didn't even care anymore. He wanted Arthur to open up, to let go, to tell him something, anything, and it was clawing at him now, the need rising, pulling at him feverishly, and it took all of his willpower to just lay there and wait for an answer from the man that wouldn't even look him in the eyes.

"I was alone."

"What?"

"I was alone," Arthur continued. "After Inception. Everyone had something, someone to go back to, and then there was me. Lonely Arthur. Wretched Arthur. Sorry, pointless, unimaginative stick-in-the-mud Arthur," he snarled, and Eames saw a glint of something he had never seen before in this man.

"It just kind of dawned on me that I would always be the one leaving by myself. Always coming home to an empty hotel room. And I guess, I couldn't-" Arthur breathed in shakily, "I didn't want to be by myself again."

It was at this point that Eames's heart broke. He couldn't stand to see Arthur, who was so gorgeous, so intelligent, so different from everyone, so perfect, so impervious, so... so Arthur, being like that. He knew Arthur didn't want him as anything more than a warm body, but Arthur deserved someone. He shouldn't have to ever be alone.

"Hey," He whispered, reaching his hand out to grasp Arthur's arm in the darkness. The moment his fingertips touched the younger man's skin, Arthur's head fell to the side, locking his gaze with Eames's. Eames only had a second to take in his glistening eyes before Arthur was colliding into him, arms slipping under his and around his waist, heat surrounding them both now.

"Mmm.." Eames hummed, letting the breath he'd been holding out, as he instantly curled his arms around the other man, pressing him closer and stronger.

Finally.

The smell of him - of old parchment, and ironed suits, and foreign to Arthur sweet innocence - flooded the Brit's senses. He breathed in deep, knowing that wouldn't last long, but he craved it. The closeness, the simple act of being with Arthur. He worshipped it, as these moments were extremely, painfully rare, almost nonexistent.

But Arthur didn't move. He kept his forehead leaning against Eames's shoulder, not saying a word. He tightened his grip around the muscular man's waist, feeling the bones in his back.

There was a lovely, comfortable silence, before Eames felt Arthur's shoulders shaking, and small breaths stutter from his lips.

Arthur was crying.

It made Eames's heart melt more and he pulled back, pressing his lips to Arthur's forehead, and then using his fingers underneath Arthur's chin to tilt his face up, and look him in the eyes.

It pained him, to see newly formed tear tracks under the other man's eyes, salty drops making their way down the pale cheeks.

"Come here," the Brit whispered, one arm still draped around him. Eames closed the space between them, lips meeting Arthur's in the sweetest kiss they have ever shared.

It was void of any lust, or hunger, or urgency, and that's what made it so beautiful. It was slow, and careful, and gentle, and Eames was just glad Arthur was kissing him back.

Eames could sort of taste the salt of Arthur's tears on his lips, and he did his best to trace his lips with his tongue, wiping them away.

Arthur broke away, and Eames's heart quickened. However, Arthur didn't move away completely, he just kissed Eames's cheek, letting his lips linger before he nuzzled into Eames's tanned skin in the dip of his neck, and the curve of his shoulder. This was the most affectionate Arthur had ever been, and words couldn't accurately express the emotions screaming in Eames's chest.

Arthur had finally given in to temptation. Temptation of the sweetest, most complicated kind.

"I don't - don't want to be alone, Eames," Arthur stuttered out, his shoulders still heaving up and down.

"Shh...shhh...," Eames murmured, closing his eyes, and kind of rocking them, as Arthur kept choking out sobs.

"You're not alone, darling. Not tonight." He pulled them closer, until their bodies were molded perfectly together.

And they stayed there, until sleep took them both.

~

Eames tried to tell himself he was being naive, thinking that Arthur would suddenly want to be lovers now and not stay what they were. It was foolish to get his hopes up.

But still, when he blindly let his hand roam the sheets early the next morning, expecting to find Arthur and instead finding cold sheets, and waking up to a completely silent, utterly empty hotel room, he still felt let down.

But he shook it off. Put up his walls, and just let it bounce off of him, as he gathered his clothes. He still had Arthur, even if not in the way that he wanted.

And there was always tomorrow.

Chapter Text

It had been three months, seventeen days and five hours, when Eames had decided he had finally, finally had enough.

After the incident neither of them ever mentioned again, things quickly went back to normal, much to Eames's dismay.

What he said next, he had known for several weeks now. He was certain of it, in every single way, and the fact that he did troubled him.

One morning, after a long, late night session of unusually passionate, more affectionate than lustful sex, on one of the few mornings when Arthur was still there when Eames woke up, he gave him a tender, chaste kiss and told him:

"I love you."

Arthur looked as if a freight train hit him square in the chest. And then, not quite regaining his famous composure, he began to babble, words spilling out of his mouth faster than Eames thought humanly possible:

"No, Eames— don't say that, you don't- I mean you can't possibly-"

"Arthur, yeah, I… I do. I have, for a while now, and I have something to say, so if you could please not interrupt," Eames said, firmly and quietly, as if he was measuring each word, being incredibly careful on how he said his confession .

Arthur nodded quickly; and Eames smiled softly – the younger man seemed to be without an appropriate response to the situation at hand.

Eames lifted himself off of Arthur, and sat down on the edge of the bed, facing away from him. He wanted to tell Arthur everything without having to confess, because rejection after confession would be devastating, wouldn't it?

"I thought I could do this, you know, this sex thing. I truly did not want to fall for you, Arthur. But how could I not? With the way your eyes crinkle when you laugh, and you get dimples sometimes, you're lactose intolerant, but you love milk and cookies, and the way you look unravelled on the sheets— you are beyond compare and lovely, and I've had a thing for you since before the Fisher job, and I'm so, so sorry for doing this to you, but… but I just can't do this, not anymore, darling.

"You don't think of me as anyone worth loving, you don't think of me like, like as anything more than a co-worker with benefits, and I'm okay with that, I am. But doll, I'm not going to do this to myself." Eames finished, and reached up to rub his face to get the tiredness this conversation brought him out (and to clear away a tear or two).

Arthur wasn't rendered speechless very often, but at the moment, he undoubtedly was. Eames could only hear his rapid breathing and… silence the size of a black hole. And Eames took it as confirmation, so he nodded to himself, letting out a short, cruel laugh before standing up to gather his things, and make his way to the door.

"S—sorry," was all Arthur could manage to croak out as Eames was almost at the door.

"Yeah, me too." Was the last thing Eames said, before he was gone, without a trace of him left in the now empty room.

Arthur sat on the bed, for what seemed like days, in shock, mouth half-open. After several minutes he got back courage to talk, the courage he needed ten minutes ago, dammit.

"Don't—," Arthur choked out, his fingers gripping the sheets desperately. "Don't you do this to me!" he shouted at the top of his lungs, to an empty apartment.

"Don't you fucking leave me alone, Eames!" his voice was strained and violent, as he screamed to no one, his face twisted in utter despair. "Don't— don't do this, please," he said, softer, but still loudly, as he fell back against the wrinkled sheets.

"I'm so sorry."

And sorry, he was.

Chapter Text

It was, seemingly to Arthur, at least, one of the worst months he’d ever had.
It started as a perpetual numbness, he called it, the few weeks after Eames left. After Arthur talked to no one until his throat was scratched out raw by jagged promises and violent confessions, regret coiled up inside him and he fell off of his bed, (one that smelled too much like Eames’ cologne for him at the moment anyway) and dropped onto his hardwood floor.
There, he stayed, tears staining his cheeks amber as he curled up, hands bringing his knees closer to his chest.
I’m sorry I’m sorry Forgive me Forgive me
It ran through his mind, and out through his lips like a mantra, soft and persuasive, and when he had finally quieted down, the thought slammed into him.
I’m all alone.
And so for the couple of weeks, that’s what Arthur was. Alone. He drank his tea alone, and sat, watching reruns of some show alone, and he let himself forget that Eames ever existed. Alone.

~

After denial, it was moping. He would sulk around his flat, doing almost absolutely nothing. Arthur ignored calls from Dom, Ariadne, Yusuf, even Saito (who hadn’t been in contact with Arthur even remotely after the Fischer job) without thought. He felt himself crumbling inside, he knew he did.

But it just stayed there, in the back of his mind, nearly unnoticeable.

~

Things got better for him after he decided to finally talk to someone, to Ariadne, just once. They had dinner and didn’t mention Eames, and talked about how well Ariadne was doing. And the idea that Eames might never come back, it stayed in his subconscious, resting patiently as they sipped champagne.

He snapped back like a rubber band, suddenly wanting to go out and experience everything, to thoroughly fuck someone again.

And so after he moped, he fucked.

Everyone.

He’d come back from the gay bars, or even the straight ones sometimes, with muscular, tattooed men, and Arthur would try not to think about how they weren’t- how they would never be- how they weren’t as good as-

He tried not to think in general.

And for another two months or so, Arthur didn’t think of anything except for tattoos and pink, full lips between dimly lit sheets.

~

One night, it was different.

“I- I dunno, I thought they made a cute couple. It sucked they had to break up.” Ariadne told Dom at the bar, as she twirled around the straw in her drink. Dom said something back, smiling at her softly.

Arthur came up behind them, reaching for his drink at the bar. He grinned.

“Who made a cute couple?” He asked, cheerful. He could feel Dom’s glare at Ariadne, and the mood shifted drastically.

Suddenly, everything was tense.

Amidst the bar din and background noises, Arthur could hear only silence. He knew the answer.

“Oh. I see. Well,” Arthur replied.

“Arthur, we’re sorry-” Ariadne started.

“No, no, it’s fine, I uh- I’ll just go-” he stuttered, world all of the sudden very, very blurry, but not nearly enough.

Making his way to the other side of the bar, Arthur closed his eyes tight, trying to forget to forget to forget, stumbling past sickening couples dancing too close, and looking too happy with each other. He yelled out an order, and drinks were put in front of him, and Arthur, he drank, or rather, he swallowed down the pain.

Each memory was a slap in the face, a stab in the chest, the floor opening up beneath his feet, Eames lying in bed, Eames on the phone, Eames at – I don’t want to be alone, not tonight – Eames.

Past six shots, he lost count. Everything was black, and spinning, and out of his control, and that was okay, because he’d stop thinking about what could’ve been.

Vaguely, he felt Dom shaking him at one point, and the drinks stopped coming and arms were wrapped around him.

They were in a bathroom stall where Arthur had somehow ended up, with a guy with strong framed shoulders. He was too drunk to even fool around, though, and ended up throwing up in the toilet.

“No, Dom, No,” He whimpered, his cheek pressed against what he guessed was the inner leather of Dom’s jacket. He breathed him in, his smell that wasn’t Eames, that wasn’t his cologne that Arthur complained about all the time, it wasn’t what he wanted.

He must have told Dom this, words slurred and all, because he just shushed him, holding him to his chest, patting his hair down.

“I was so, so stupid, Dom, so, so stupid,” he whispered, when he felt him begin to pull away.

“I know.” He said, softly.

“Do- do you t-t-t-hhhiiink Eames-” Arthur choked then, throat seizing and closing up, tears soaking his flesh like a sponge.

Dom waited patiently, holding him close.

“Do I think he what?”

“Do- does he even remember me?” He leaned against the back door of the stall, eyes puffy and red, hair mussed and wily. He looked at Dom, who in turn, looked beyond concerned. “Does he ever even think about me anymore, you know? Does h- he know how much I regret losing him? He- he doesn’t p-pick up his phone, or anything, and I- I don’t like being alone right now, Dom. I don’t-” he exhaled, shutting his eyes once again. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Do you love him, Arthur?” He asked, simple and soft.

The lights were burning into Arthur’s eyes now, much too bright. But he pried them open, to look Dom in the eyes.

“More than anything.”

Cobb just nodded. “I know. But Eames doesn’t. You need to change that.”

Arthur just nodded, before everything became too much.

He blacked out.

~

“Hey, um, it’s me,” Arthur said, into the cold metal of his phone screen. “I know you don’t want to hear what I have to say, um, at all, but…” Arthur exhaled, breathing soft and shaky. “I… I miss you. A lot. And I understand if you never want to do anything with me romantically, I get that. But I just miss you. In general, Eames. Sorry for bothering. Bye.”

He hung up.

~

“Fuck you.” Ariadne hissed, bells ringing as he walked through the door.

Eyebrows raised, Eames put his arms up in resignation. “Wow. Nice to see you, too, darling.” He was glad it was a slow day; no customers were around.

“You can’t just drop off the face of the planet, you know!” She protested, voice still angry, but now lighter, as he wrapped around him in a hug.

He breathed her in, smiling.

“Eames, shame on you!” She said, a bit playfully. “Leaving us all to work in some… diner?” She asked, looking around at the incredibly cliché diner she’d found him in.

A diner, she thought. Of all fucking places, a diner?

“Well, what can I say?” He grinned, glad to see her.

“Arthur misses you, you know.” She whispered.

She could see his features stiffen immediately.

“So, how’s Dom, Ariadne?” He asked, while he bent down to wipe a table clean, focusing on his reflection.

“He’s fine. Did you hear me?”

“Ariadne, listen-”

“No, you listen.” She gripped the hand he had on the rag he was using to clean, and glared at him.

“Because of you,” She started, her voice low and menacing, a side Eames had never seen before from her, “He’s lost himself. He’s been burying himself in drinks and work and
other guys,” Eames cringed at the thought, “and all he wants to do is talk to you, Eames. Just talk. You could at least give him that.”

He looked at her, and shook his head, looking down.

“No, I really can’t, Ari, I-”

“What? What would be so terrible if-”

“I’m still fucking in love with him! I’m not going to talk to him, that’ll just make
things worse. I’m trying to get over him, understand?”

She stared, eyes wide, a smile tugging at her lips. “So is he.”

“What?”

“He’s in love with you, too, he said so.”

“Ariadne, he had his chance, that’s it, alright?”

“Fine. Goodbye, Eames.”

And she left, running her hands through her hair with frustration. “These fucking idiots.” She muttered under her breath.

Chapter Text

Eames looked happy.

And that, Arthur thought, is what hurt him the most.

He stood, dressed in a tight fit chef’s outfit, not nearly as storybook cliche as Arthur pictured a chef’s attire, but white and slimming, with a burgundy apron tied slack around his front.

He looked good. And happy.

And for some reason, that hurt excruciatingly worse than the guy he was flirting with.

Arthur had done much, much more than flirt with other men, so he couldn’t possibly blame him. But he just looked so carefree, so fucking joyful, so happy without him, suddenly Arthur forgot completely how to breathe. His lungs heaved in and his chest felt this crushing pressure, and from the outside, he would have looked completely normal.

But on the inside, he was void of all warmth.

“Yeah, so, thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the meal. And uh,” Eames slipped him, (a gorgeous, blond, muscular guy, with a chiseled jaw, and strong shoulders) a piece of paper across the table, with a wink and a half smile, “let me know about that movie.”

And Eames left, smirking to himself on the way to the kitchen.

“Can I help you sir?”

Arthur turned, giving a quick, automatic smile. “Yes, please. Um. Table for two?”

 

~

 

Eames saw him from the kitchen, while he was showing one of the newer bus girls where to go.

He looked beautiful.

Hair slicked back, skin tanner than it was before, probably still just as smooth. He wore a fine, fine suit, one obviously tailored to his measurements, black and sharp, and it literally took Eames’ breath away.

“Jesus,” he muttered to himself, steadying his weight on the counter next to him.

“What’s wrong?” One of his co-workers, Lacey, came around a corner, frowning.

“Nothing.”

“You sure? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

Eames laughed in spite of himself. “Right...” He made his way into the kitchen.

He needed to take a breath.

 

~

 

“Arthur.”

In that one word, it was love.

It was love, it was lost, it was heartbreak, it was anger, it was passion, it was ‘I love you’ and ‘I loved you’ and ‘baby I miss you’ and ‘I want you’ all in one word, two lifts of syllables, six letters of regret and sorrow, one name of everything that could have been, but never was.

Eames whispered it, after he slipped into the seat opposite him, eyes wet and warm.

Arthur could feel everything in his name then.

Everything.

But he said nothing. He kept his eyes fixed on his plate of fries in front of him.

“Arthur.” Eames stared at him. “What are you doing here?”

Arthur smiled halfway.

“Did he let you know yet?”

Eames paused, frowning. “What?”

“The male model that you gave your number to,” Arthur finally met his eyes then. “Did he let you know about the movie?”

Eames just stared, incredulous.

“Arthur, darling, I-”

“You. Don’t. Get,” Arthur fumed, slamming his fist down on the table, and leaning close to Eames. “To call me darling anymore.”

His mouth was curled up in anger, but his eyes were soft.

The diner was empty, thankfully.

Eames bit down on his lip, eyes wide with concern.

“You got a table for two.”

“My date never showed up.”

Eames couldn’t tell if he was serious.

“I loved you, Arthur.”

The confession struck the point man like lightning, his heart hammering against his chest. He tried to contain himself, swallowing down feelings he didn’t want to feel at the moment.

Why the fuck did he even come here?

He knew Eames would have moved on, he knew he wasn’t going to take him back, he didn’t know why Ariadne lied to him, but she must have.

He loved him.

Loved.

Arthur choked down a sob, and blinked away the wetness in his eyes, staring at the red and black tiles that made up the table. He breathed in. He breathed out.

“I have to go. Break’s over. If you ever want to talk. You know where I am.”

Arthur kept his head down.

Eames looked at him, a long look, one trailed down his jaw, and across his cheeks, to his thin, pursed lips.

He nodded to himself, and then left.

“Oh, and Arthur?” He called out, “I told the ‘male model’ he could save it for some other time. Said I was still getting
over someone who once meant a great deal to me.”

All Arthur could do was listen to his heart threatening to rip itself out of it’s chest.

He suddenly remembered what this was called.

La douleur exquise.

Noun. The heart wrenching pain of wanting someone’s affection who no longer feels the same.

He grimaced.

What a beautiful, painful bunch of letters.

 

~

 

Eames always had been a heavy sleeper. It would take him several minutes to be fully awake, to be pulled out of his usually Arthur injected dreams.

And so when he felt his bed dip in front of him, hesitant weight shifting on top of his covers, he did not realize his dream had ended.

“Mmm..” he hummed, body arching up immediately, finding toned arms in the dark, pulling them close.

“Arthur, baby, come here,” eyes closed, his lips found other lips, mouth open and willing, he devoured him. The sweet smell of his cologne wafted up into his senses as he found his waist in the dark, bringing him flush as him.

“Eames,” Arthur melted into his touch, moaning loud and uncensored, “Fuck.” He thrust his hips down, and spread his legs, straddling his waist so tightly there was not an inch of space between their clothed erections.

Eames shuddered, finally opening his eyes, and seeing Arthur’s in the blackness, before the realization swam through his mind.

“Arthur, goddammit, we’re not together anymore, we’re not-” he ran a hand through his hair, sighing. “We’re not doing this again. Get- get off of me.”

The forger pushed Arthur off, maybe a bit harsher than he should have, and Arthur just looked at him, hurt.

“Arthur, bloody hell, how did you get in here?”

“I- uh- came here just to talk. I still knew where your key was and I- I’m sorry.” He stared at Eames dejectedly. “You were saying my name in your sleep, and I wanted to wake you up, but you sort of just...” He trailed off, motioning between them.

“Arthur, you need to leave, I’m sorry-”

“I love you, goddammit!” Arthur yelled, furious and happy and passionate all at once. “I love you, and I’ve been trying to get the courage to tell you, and I know I’ve been a prick all this time, but it’s not about the sex, Eames, it was never just about the sex.”

Eames stared, pupils blown out wide by lust and astonishment.

“Eames, you’re the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met, and one of the kindest, and funniest, too, and I want to know you, more than I should, Christ, I just want-”

Arthur took a deep breath.

“I just want you.”

Eames collided into him, their kisses nothing but a collision of tongue and teeth, moving languidly and lovingly, tasting all that they had wanted to taste but had never thought right.

“About damn time.” Eames said, smiling, before leaning in again.

They stayed like that for what seemed like an eternity, hands roamed, and tongues explored, until they finally came
up for air.

“Fuck me.” Arthur commanded, growling, purring into his ear.

“As you wish.” Eames murmured, voice low, and beyond sensual. It sent chills up Arthur’s spine like a bullet.

“I really love you, you know.” Arthur whispered, the palms of his hands resting on the fabric surrounding Eames’ crotch.

“I know.” He leaned up to kiss him. He caught his token in the corner of his eye, but he tore his gaze away.

If this was real life, great.

If this was a dream, he really didn’t want to be proven wrong.

 

~

 

He laughed at my dreams, and I dreamt of his laughter.