Arthur opens his door wearing nothing but a pair of grey, as-yet beltless trousers. His hair is loose over his forehead, a little damp and curling at the ends. Eames nearly swallows his tongue. He fixes his gaze on the way one stray curl is catching at the corner of Arthur's eyelashes.
"What do you want, Eames?" says Arthur finally.
"You, darling," says Eames. He's surprised to find his voice is not nearly so light as he usually makes it, rasping rough and low in his throat.
Arthur sighs and shuts the door in his face.
It's a full minute before Eames gathers himself enough to remember what he's actually there for. It seems unimportant, now. Far less important than the trail of soft dark hair dipping below Arthur's waistband, in any case. He knocks again.
Arthur opens the door looking long-suffering, and wearing a half-buttoned shirt.
"Cobb summoned me," says Eames.
Arthur frowns. "He didn't tell me," he says.
"That would probably have something to do with your admittedly warm welcome," Eames says.
"Fine," says Arthur. "Why are you here?"
"Cobb was terribly light on the details," says Eames. "I'm yet to be informed where we're working."
Arthur twists his mouth, like he's not sure he believes Eames. Like Eames would think to turn up on his doorstep in the hopes of catching him unawares and half-dressed.
Eames smiles winningly.
Arthur rolls his eyes. "Come on then," he says, and holds the door a little wider. Eames steps inside and opens his mouth. "Don't move," says Arthur, before Eames can speak, pushing the door shut and turning away, fingers on his shirt buttons. "And don't say anything. We're leaving in two minutes."
Eames sighs, and watches the way his shoulderblades shift beneath the crisp white fabric before he disappears into what must be his bedroom.
Eames spends the entirety of Arthur's twenty minute monologue staring at his mouth.
Arthur finishes with, "So, any thoughts?"
"Yes," says Eames. "You really should wear your hair loose sometime."
Arthur closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose. "Any relevant, legitimate thoughts?" he tries again.
"Yes," says Eames.
"No," says Arthur.
"I was just going to say, if this man is unreliable as your research leads us to believe, perhaps we ought to take the precaution of setting up a second level, just in case." Eames smiles, sprawling his legs more carelessly out across the floor. "Really, Arthur, what kind of unprofessional do you take me for?"
Arthur's fingers tighten around the whiteboard marker in his hand. Eames watches his wrist twitch delightedly.
Beside him, Ariadne stifles a giggle.
"I'm the Forger," says Eames. "You're the Point Man. We both need information."
Arthur frowns, but Eames knows he's won. Arthur's been running irritatingly low on useful information about their latest Mark.
He meets Eames at the hotel at seven o'clock sharp ("No, you may not pick me up," he snapped), sleek and tucked-away and perfect.
Eames stays a half-step behind as they traipse into the glitteringly-lit function, smirking, immeasurably pleased with himself.
He doesn't actually plan on doing it. The problem is the Mark's wandering eyes are easy enough to follow, and Eames has his type pegged not half an hour into the evening.
"It's so nice to see you've brought your boyfriend along," a woman smiles at him in passing.
Eames blinks. "Husband, actually," he says without missing a beat. "Newlyweds. We're very happy."
"Oh!" says the woman.
It's not hard to pinpoint the moment Arthur catches on. Eames watches him chat to the woman from across the room, sees the tiny furrow appear between his brows, the huge fake smile, the muscle tick in his jaw, in that precise order. The way he so determinedly doesn't look over towards Eames.
He approaches Arthur and the woman slowly.
"It really is lovely to see you so in love and proud," she sighs, beaming at Eames.
"I'm going to kill you," says Arthur through his teeth.
"Say it proud, darling," says Eames, throwing an arm over his shoulders.
Arthur fingers jerkily at his tie as they exit the hotel, three hours, five flutes of over-priced, over-sweet champagne (Eames) and seven unnecessary disappearances to the bathroom (Arthur) later.
"Glad you came?" Eames smirks, breathing in the cold nighttime air.
"I most certainly am not," says Arthur.
Eames watches the tips of his fingers trace the knot of his tie. If it were anyone but Arthur, he's sure it'd be tugged away from his throat by now, his top button popped, collar flicked away from his neck. Arthur, though, just drops his hand to his side and throws Eames a withering look.
"Well," Eames nods understandingly, "I suppose with all those trips to the bathroom, there can't have been much time for research."
Arthur's Adam's apple bobs prominently as he swallows, most likely past some churlish, sarcastic return, dragging against his throat. "No," says Arthur, "There wasn't much time for research, considering how I was bombarded with well-wishers the entire time."
"I do truly apologise," says Eames. "I was carried away in the moment. Swept up on the flight of fancy. Snatched up by the --"
"Eames," says Arthur.
"Arthur," says Eames.
Arthur rubs at his temples. "Married, Eames? Married? Really?"
"A man can dream," Eames sighs. "You must allow me my little indulgences in fantasy."
"That's what actual dreams are for," says Arthur.
"Dreams are never this much fun," says Eames. "You're never quite so delightfully antagonistic, in my dreams. It must be all this repression. If you'd just give an inch, Arthur dearest, I'd happily return to wooing my admittedly slightly sub-par projection of you."
"You wouldn't," says Arthur. He sounds completely certain.
Eames chuckles. "You're right," he says. "I wouldn't."
Eames ducks his chin inside his collar, leaning back against the wall outside Arthur's apartment building, and twists his mouth, thinking with a sigh about Arthur standing disheveled and half-dressed in his doorway, eyes sharp, perfect frown still in place.
It really is too much gorgeous incongruity for any ordinary person to handle.
"Eames," says a familiar, frustrated voice.
Eames looks up, beaming.
"What are you doing here? Again." Arthur purses his lips.
"Waiting for you, of course." Eames blinks at him.
"Eames." Arthur closes his eyes momentarily.
It's tragic, really, how put-together he still looks. Eames wants to peel that perfect three-piece suit off of him, run his hands through his slicked-back hair until it's tumbling loose over his forehead, all damp, mussed curls. "You could ask why," says Eames. He smirks.
"I'm not sure I want to know," says Arthur.
Eames tilts his head. "Yes," he says, "I can see why that would be."
Arthur's lips twitch.
Eames steps closer. It's rather terrible, in all honesty, the way such a tiny slip makes the warmth pool low in his belly.
He doesn't really give a fuck.
Arthur watches him, eyes dark, inscrutable.
"Can I come up, darling?" says Eames, low, touching a finger to the corner of Arthur's mouth.
Arthur's reply is a long time coming. "No," he says.
There's a heartbeat of slick heat pressed to the pad of Eames' finger before Arthur steps away.
It's three months before he sees Arthur again. Eames heads rather grudgingly back to Mombasa to take care of a few matters, and when Cobb finally calls it's not a moment too soon, his skin sweaty and itchy, his fingers too twitchy, restless.
Arthur isn't actually the first person he sees, when he pushes his way into the little studio-space Cobb's set up for them three streets from his house.
"Saito!" he calls, grinning and dropping his bag. He's yet to book a hotel.
He's hoping he won't have to.
"Mr. Eames." Saito turns, smiling. "A pleasure to see you again, my friend."
"The tedium of reality finally reasserted itself, I see." Eames steps forward to shake his hand.
"Let's just say, there are certain," Saito pauses, "Opportunities the everyday life of a businessman does not offer."
"I can only imagine." Eames grins.
He catches movement over Saito's shoulder.
"Arthur!" he beams. "Hello, gorgeous."
Arthur sighs loudly and pointedly.
Saito chuckles. "Still as charming as ever, I see."
"It is terribly vexing, my charms wasting away from such neglect," says Eames mournfully.
Arthur rolls his eyes.
"Mr. Arthur is a man of great principle," says Saito. There's the tiniest hint of a smirk curling at the corners of his mouth.
"I don't see your point," says Eames.
Saito laughs. "I wish you happiness, my friend," he says, clapping Eames' shoulder, "But it is not my place to interfere."
"He means you should leave me alone," says Arthur, watching Saito cross to one of the windows, talking into his phone.
"I'm quite certain that's not what he meant," says Eames, stepping closer to where Arthur's bent over a series of blueprints, spread out on the table. "It really is lovely to see you again, Arthur. I'm doing very well, thank you for asking. I hope you didn't miss me too terribly."
"I wouldn't dream of it," says Arthur absently.
"No," says Eames. He smiles. "I should hope not."
Eames leans back in his chair and kicks his feet up onto the armrest of Arthur's, watching Cobb outline the job on the whiteboard through slitted eyes.
Arthur breathes out sharply through his nose, and scrapes his chair out of reach.
Eames inches his chair close again, and resettles his feet.
Arthur's knuckles whiten around the corners of his notebook. He shifts away.
Eames edges forward.
"Eames," snaps Arthur.
"Yes, Arthur?" Eames rolls his head lazily in Arthur's direction, raising an eyebrow.
Cobb turns from the board to look at them. "Problem?" he inquires.
"Not at all," says Eames. "I was just wondering where our dear little Architect has got to."
"Classes in Paris," says Cobb. "She couldn't get away."
"Ah," says Eames. He glances at Arthur; he looks unimpressed.
"So." Cobb places the marker onto the ledge at the bottom of the board. "Straightforward job this time, guys. Run of the mill one-level extraction. From what Arthur tells me, our guy isn't too bright, so there shouldn't be too much trouble."
Eames frowns. "So my presence here would be," he trails off questioningly.
"Pointless," mutters Arthur.
"You're always good in a tight spot," says Cobb vaguely, turning back to the board. "It never hurts to be careful."
"Arthur, dearest," says Eames, as the sky outside fades slowly from a deep, glowing orange to night, "I have nowhere to stay."
"How terrible," says Arthur, rolling the blueprints neatly and efficiently into a pile at the end of the table.
"It is," Eames agrees. He watches Arthur expectantly.
Arthur looks up at him, after a silence, frowning. Eames watches the comprehension dawn. "You are not staying with me," he says.
"Pretty please?" Eames grins.
"No," says Arthur.
"Is it your testimony that you'd rather I wander the streets, cold and hungry and alone?"
"I'm sure you're used to it," says Arthur dryly.
"Your opinion of me never ceases to flatter," Eames smiles. He cocks his hip against the table. "Let me stay with you. I'm sure your refusing isn't what Cobb had in mind."
"My," says Arthur. "What?"
Eames smirks, leaning in close, conspiratorial. "I have my suspicions about Cobb's motives in inviting me here," he whispers. "Hiring a man of my considerable skill for such an inane job does seem a little out of character, don't you think?"
Arthur stares at him. "Clearly he sees some redeeming quality I've managed to miss," he says finally.
"Oh." Eames licks his lips. "I don't think there's anything you miss, do you, Arthur?" He leans even closer. "You are the best in the business, after all."
There's a long silence.
"Stop it," says Arthur quietly.
"Why?" says Eames.
Arthur exhales slowly. "Just stop it," he says, sidestepping around Eames.
"You know I'm not going to," Eames calls after him, lightly.
Arthur doesn't reply.
He books a hotel room for the night. Just the one. He likes to think he's an optimist.
In his dreams, Arthur is there.
In his dreams, Arthur steps up close, mouth wet, collarbones dipping like wings from his shoulders to form the hollow at the base of his throat, and says, glancing up through his hair, all soft feathery curls, and his impossibly dark lashes, "Is this what you want?"
Eames growls, "Yes," and lifts a hand to reel him in.
Arthur ducks away, laughing, and says again, "Is this what you want?"
Eames lunges after him.
Arthur is still, for a moment, long enough that Eames can splay a hand over the warm, downy skin on his stomach, and dip a finger into his navel.
"No," he says, stepping away.
Eames reaches for him, blindly.
"No," says Arthur. "No, this is what you want."
Eames wakes up hard, muscles twitching. He palms his cock with one hand, and fingers the grooves on his poker chip thoughtfully with the other.
"Jesus Christ, Eames." Arthur stops short in his doorway.
Eames straightens from where he was slouched against the wall opposite his apartment.
"Good morning," he says.
Arthur sighs. "What do you want?" he says.
"I'm tired," says Eames.
"If only you'd thought to use this time for sleeping, instead of harassing me at my own apartment." Arthur rolls his eyes.
"No," says Eames, stepping forward until he's pressed chest-to-chest against Arthur. "I'm tired, Arthur."
"So, what, you're actually finally going to leave me alone?" Arthur raises an eyebrow, but his voice is just a little too flat to be hopeful. Eames' chest tightens.
"Quite the opposite, actually," he says.
He dips his head in close to Arthur's, breathing out warm over his mouth.
"Eames," says Arthur warningly, and too soft.
"For such an assiduous Point Man, you have a rather dismal read on my character," says Eames quietly. "Or at least parts of it. But I'm willing to overlook this. I understand that my roguish good looks may have distracted you."
"Eames," says Arthur again.
"I'm not going to hurt you, darling," says Eames. "I'm actually quite benign. Docile. Domestic. A real sweetheart, actually, if you --"
Arthur kisses him.
It's rough and wet and stinging, all claiming, relentless tongue and chapped, thin lips.
It's utterly, perfectly nothing like Eames has dreamed about.
"Fucking finally," mutters Eames, backing into the wall and sliding his hand up Arthur's chest to curl around the knot of his tie.
"Don't you dare," says Arthur, slapping his hand away.
Eames breaks away, and stares, and then laughs, long and loud and happy, muffled against Arthur's shoulder.