Eames presses a kiss to the back of Arthur’s neck as he pulls out of him. Arthur hums in content, curling back into Eames’ body as he basks in the afterglow. “Arthur,” Eames murmurs against Arthur’s skin, trailing kisses across the expanse of those slim shoulders.
“Mmm?” Arthur arches into the kisses with a breathy exhale.
“I’ve been thinking,” Eames plants a kiss behind Arthur’s ear, “We’ve been doing this how long now?”
“The first time was last spring...so, a half year?” Arthur tilts his neck to give Eames better access. “What of it?”
“Don’t you think it would be prudent to inform Cobb? I mean, for the sake of the workplace of course. Not that I think our romantic entanglement will affect our professional dynamic, but Cobb’s the lead. He should maybe know, disclosure and all that.”
“Romantic entanglement? Tell Cobb?” Eames knows every dip and curve of Arthur’s voice, and even now he can hear the frown lacing Arthur’s words. Eames’s lazy, warm glow evaporates near instantly.
“You know. about this, us,” Eames says, gesturing at the two of them lying curled and naked in bed together. “Being a couple.”
Arthur tugs away enough to roll over and face him with a look of awareness dawning on his face. “But we’re not,” Arthur says tightly. “There isn’t anything to tell.”
“But...” It’s Eames’s turn to be confused. His brows knit together, and he’s beginning to feel a bit pathetic, far too exposed—something he’s never felt before with Arthur. “But, we’ve been doing this for ages. I took this job because it brought me to you. Doesn't that mean something?”
“Eames.” Arthur slides away from Eames. Propping himself against the headboard of the hotel bed, he speaks slowly, choosing his words with precision: “I told you when we started that I wasn’t in for anything serious.”
“Yes,” Eames says. “But that was at the beginning. Then this kept happening, and I thought that meant something changed between us. Don’t tell me I’m wrong, darling.”
Arthur doesn’t say anything. He just stares at a spot on the wall over Eames’s shoulder.
And, goddamned, Eames’s heart is clenched so tight, a weighted knot beneath his breast bone. He swings his legs over the edge of the bed, facing away from Arthur because he’s afraid to look. “So, this isn’t a relationship. You don’t want to be in a relationship.”
“No, I don’t.” Arthur doesn’t even hesitate.
Eames stands abruptly, letting the sheets fall from his naked body. He can’t sit still anymore, so he paces, trying to fit the words paces instead, trying to fit the words coming out of Arthur’s mouth a way his mind can process. “You never wanted to be in a relationship,” he repeats again for clarification.
“Never. Eames, I’m sorry, but I told you from the start—"
“You just wanted to sleep around then,” Eames concludes. It’s petty, he knows. But he’s hurting, so he lashes out—“That's what you do--you just sleep with people, make them fall in love with you so you can fuck with their heads. Is that right?”
Arthur’s reply comes out slower this time, weaker. “No, that’s not what I wanted.”
Eames turns and catches Arthur’s eyes. The other man looks back at him, so guilty and wrecked that Eames almost feels bad for speaking so cruelly. As if Arthur hadn’t known that Eames has been head over heels for him long before the first time they slept with each other.
“Well, that’s what you did,” Eames snaps. Arthur doesn’t reply, but Eames is okay with that. He dresses in a furious silence and leaves after, no sound in that room except Arthur’s shallow breath and his own imploding heart.